Imagine that a foreign army comes to occupy your country. Drones and jet aircraft launch missiles and drop bombs on your homes. Helicopters strafe your neighborhoods with machine guns. They kill people you love: your wife, your grandparents, your parents, your teenagers, your little children who make you laugh. People you love die by the dozens and by the hundreds.
When you and your friends gather to bury your loved ones, they kill you there as well, out in the open where you cannot protect yourself. After each massacre, the occupying army apologizes for the regrettable incident. “We are sorry,” the army says. “We will do everything we can to prevent such incidents in the future.” Then it kills more members of your family.
At last you have had enough. You say, “We want you to go. We mean it: we truly want you to go. You say you want a friendly relationship, but we know you will continue to kill our families and say how sorry you are. If you try to stay here, we will make you go.”
Then one Sunday at two in the morning, a soldier who has had too much to drink walks off a military base in the Panjwai district of Kandahar to a nearby village. His weapon is loaded. The soldier walks into a home and murders eleven people, going from room to room as they try to escape. The victims include women and little girls age under age six. Blood spatters the walls. The soldier moves on to two more homes and kills more civilians with his automatic weapon.
He pours chemicals over the still-warm bodies to burn them.
The soldier’s superior officers and public relations officers respond rapidly. They issue statements to reassure everyone, statements designed to protect the army and its mission. The people who speak for the occupying army say, “We’re sorry. We truly wish this regrettable incident had not happened.”
If a soldier walked into your home and shot your little girl, would you believe that?