Don’t make us come back, Afghanistan
We came to Afghanistan “at war” with the Taliban and al Qaeda there. We did what we could to help the Afghan people set up a government. We did what we could to help them set a direction that was free from Taliban’s grasp.
Did they want their freedom, or a government? Or, did they just want to be left to the archaic ways. I think the latter.
America’s enemies are still in Afghanistan. When we depart, they will see better days. Hopefully, we won’t see that place become another launching pad for attacks against us.
Like other places in the Middle East, transparent to me and many other Americans, our policy is “We need the oil. Don’t get in the way or we will kill you.” If you understand that, we can do business.
“Retired general: Afghan killings fallout could see troop return within weeks
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:16 AM EDT, Mon March 19, 2012
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- As the attorney for an Army soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians prepared to meet his client for the first time Monday, a retired U.S. general suggested the fallout from the massacre could see American troops begin to return home from Afghanistan within weeks.
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales stands accused of a shooting rampage in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province, allegations that have significantly heightened already tense U.S.-Afghan relations and intensified a debate about whether to pull American troops ahead of 2014 planned withdrawal.
Following the March 11 shootings in two neighboring villages just outside a U.S. outpost in the Panjwai district, Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded troops withdraw from villages and return to their bases. He said relations between the two countries were "at the end of their rope."
If U.S. troops are not allowed to return to the villages and resumetheir mission, "the United States mission is changed," retired Maj. Gen. James A. "Spider" Marks, a former commander of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, told CNN's Don Lemon on Sunday.
"Our commanders on the ground will determine that probably within about another week. Within a couple of weeks, it would not be unusual if there has not been a change in our posture inside those bases, that you can see forces coming back. It's not inconceivable that that could happen."
Karzai is pressing for the NATO-led International SecurityAssistance Force to hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces by 2013, a year ahead of an agreed upon plan.
President Barack Obama has made clear he intends to stick to the timetable set by NATO, though he is facing a growing demand inside and outside the United States to bring troops home early.
Afghans are demanding that the suspect in the shootings be returned to face trial in the country where the crime allegedly occurred, even as villagers and lawmakers question the U.S. military's account of what happened.
U.S. officials have said that Bales left his outpost and single-handedly carried out the killings in the villages that left nine children, three women and four men dead.
One villager, Ali Ahmed, told CNN there were multiple attackers, who had come into a home before dawn, asking his uncle where the Taliban were and shot him dead. Another villager, a boy, claimed it was just one person.
Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States insisted that his nation trusts the U.S. investigation into the rampage. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta promised Karzai a full investigation and said the United States will bring the shooter to justice.
Bales is currently being held at the U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the military is preparing charges.
"You couldn't imagine a more difficult case, I don't think," John Henry Browne, Bales' civilian attorney, told reporters shortly after arriving Sunday at the Kansas City, Missouri, airport.
"This case has political ramifications. It has legal ramifications. It has social ramifications."
Accounts from the military, Bales' family, friends and neighbors paint a portrait of a man who bore scars from wounds he received during previous combat tours to Iraq but remained passionately committed to service to his country, deploying to Afghanistan in January.
Bales suffered a traumatic brain injury during a roadside bomb explosion and lost part of his foot in separate tours in Iraq, his attorney has said.
In between deployments, he settled down with his wife and their two young children near Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Tacoma, Washington.
Family friends who knew Bales growing up in the Cincinnati suburb of Norwood, Ohio, couldn't reconcile the allegations against the man they described as "quiet" and "very nice."
But the accounts also show a man facing enormous financial pressure, being forced to put his Lake Tapps home on the market last week while another property was foreclosed.
The family owned a townhouse in a modest, middle-class neighborhood in Auburn, about 30 minutes from the base, before purchasing a house in 2006 for $280,000 near Lake Tapps, according to realty records.
Tim Burgess, whose Auburn townhouse shared a wall with that of the Bales family, described his former neighbor as "a really good guy (who) just wanted to serve."
"I know he just wanted to go back and serve overseas, that was his goal," Burgess recalled from their conversations, while noting the two hadn't spoken in about five years.
Robert Baggett, president of the Riverpark Homeowners Association, said after the Bales moved out there were occasional renters.
But several years ago, their townhouse was foreclosed upon, according to Baggett and Burgess. The Bales also didn't pay homeowners association fees for "at least three or four years," said Baggett.
"We don't know what happened," Baggett said of the Bales and their Auburn property, which Sunday had a notice posted on its door that read "Do Not Occupy."”