March 20th, 2012
07:06 PM ET

Overheard on Time to bring troops home? Afghan massacre makes some wonder

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

In the wake of controversy in Afghanistan and ongoing debate about U.S. military activity, lots of readers are talking about whether it's time to bring the troops home. Many answered the question we posed: Is it time for America to leave Afghanistan?

Suspect in Afghan massacre has memory loss, lawyer says

Many of our readers said they were opposed to the war and wanted to bring the troops home.

Joanne Ciccone of Charlottesville, Virginia, says there are many Afghan tribal units fighting with each other, and it's hard for Americans to try to police that.

Matt Sky of New York says we've been in Afghanistan for years, and they have to figure it out for themselves. He says we can't try to interfere in every country's business.

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, says he believes we need to decrease involvement. He says there are benefits in a business sense, but that is not enough. He adds that there is no easy solution: "If we pull out Afghanistan will revert back to its 'prehistoric' being. But we cannot help those unwilling to come into the present nor is that our responsibility especially when Americans are suffering."

This reader says we should be careful about getting too political and thanked the troops for their efforts and for protecting democracy.

Raymond Castellano: "Stay or go? Blame the President or not? Shoot or not to shoot? Do you think soldiers abroad are asking these questions, they just want to come home safe. They don't care if its a republican or democrat leading the way. They just want to be home safe with their families. Meanwhile disrespecting the very work and sacrifices our troops are doing is not necessary. Encourage our troops, give them hope. They will come home soon, meanwhile lets keep their minds free of bickering - they have enough to worry about."

But politics was all this reader could see.

shadow0529: "The timetable and decision to leave Afghanistan earlier or later is not a military decision; it is not a matter of national security; it is not a matter of defending the fledgling Afghan Democracy. No, this is purely a political decision – a national face saving decision – and a US reputation decision. Whether we leave Afghan in 9 months; in 9 more year; or in 9 more decades, the puppet and corrupt government the US is protecting will fall within 9 months of a US departure. This is the reality of Afghanistan – this is Vietnam II - this is Obama's 9-9-9-9 Plan."

Another said we should not lose sight of the troops' contributions.

radbowler1: "I love that people constantly demean what our military members stand for. Even if you think it's wrong, or for another cause than what we claim it to be, those military members still died for a cause they believed in, and that's far more important than any of these comments that sully their sacrifice."

There was a strong sentiment among readers that involvement should be decreased. Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, says there are lots of things we could do with troops brought back:

"If they came home, they could go to military posts, bases, and installations, depending on their service. They could prepare to transition out of the service. What about putting theses highly trained service members to work back at home, where they originated from or services are needed. They could be re-trained to help our nation's youth, the elderly, poor, and others in need at home, the United States. We could call it 'home duty' or something."

Another iReporter also suggested putting troops to different uses. Dina Boyer of Palo Alto, California, says we need to get troops out now. She'd like to see the U.S. use troops to help people who have been affected by disasters, like in Haiti and Japan.

Taking a slightly different angle, Omekongo Dibinga of Washington said he believes we should have brought the troops home long ago, but since we're in Afghanistan, we have to avoid arrogance.

Vera Richardson of Houston, Texas, said little can be gained from staying.

"The distrust on both sides is a recipe for disaster," she said. "It is time to leave."

She was a bit ambivalent about President Obama's role but confident he would find success in the next election.

"Although I commend President Obama goals and objectives for Afghanistan they weren’t sustainable in 2009/2010 and definitely aren’t sustainable now. It is time to bring the troops home in a responsible manner by the end of his first term in 2013."

Richardson also wanted to talk about Sgt. Robert Bales. She said the shootings did not help improve the relationship between the countries.

"I believe that Sgt. Bales’ alleged killings of women and children for whatever reason (mental issues or brutal attack) has irreparably damaged U.S.-Afghan relations not because they hate us, but because they trust us less than before the incident."

WJ O'Reilly of New York compares Bales to people who have a dark part of their identity, similar to a serial killer who everyone thinks is a wonderful - or just regular - person. O'Reilly is a Buddhist and says he applies that philosophy to his beliefs.

"How can such an apparently good person as the accused American soldier do something as heinous as murdering innocent people? David Brooks writes about the animal essence of people and the capacity to kill. The Buddhist model has good and bad residing in all of us - and it is upon us to empower the good and minimize the bad."

We also heard from a veteran who said they couldn't believe it, even after having been through war.

aldjflj: "My kids used to tend to lose their memory when I discover them doing something they knew they were not supposed to be doing. I've been in Iraq & Afghanistan 7 years seen & done it all etc., burned, concusions, lost 50 pounds etc etc. Since my return 10 months ago came back to difficulty finding employment etc etc. While I understand someones problems, I do not understand someone attacking innocent farmers, goat herders, women, and children under any circumstances. Nor do I believe for one minute he lost his memory, he got caught so he's seeking sympathy. Most likely his life was unraveling so he choose the easy way out. He's a coward and a traitor, period!"

But this reader said it's hard to judge.

armytxwife: "It's amazing to me how quickly you will take the side of someone other than a soldier, the person who sacrafices everything. Family, being home and sometimes his or her life for the freedom you have. Yes, even the freedom you have to post your idiotic opinion on this site. What's funny to me is, if you think any of the people of that faith would take your side against one of their own, even if they were clearly wrong, it would never happen. I do not know why this soldier did what he did, and I am not saying it was right regardless of why, but I will always support him. That's what it means to support the troops, and I support them through thick and thin. War is hell, and you cannot judge someone until you have done what they have."

What's your take? Share your opinion in the comments area below. We are rolling out a special button that lets you record your response to a story using your webcam. That's where some of the above responses came from. Be sure and visit the story to give video commenting a try.

Compiled by the moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Overheard on • World
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Opinoin, other.

    We should lower the legal voting age to correspond to the avg. brainpower of your typical inner city army grunt recruit What's that? 15 maybe?

    March 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Opinoin, other.

    ...and if you research what gave American's so much freedom of speech, you'll find it had nothing to do with the war in Vietnam nor Afghanistan. Many legal battles were fought all the way to the Supreme Court over our right to speak freely...even about God. Not one case was fought by the US military. If any of these cases had been lost, our freedoms would be reduced. Now you troops go stand guard in the middle east over a few American businessmen's and former politician's personal oil ventures and let us HS graduates worry about this stuff.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Goodguy55

    The part the media is not telling you is at, The Forbidden Truth dot Net

    March 23, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
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