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. Yawn

    Before bringing the troops home you folks may want to consider your fellow American citizens and their giant oil corporations and investment banking operations in Afghanistan. I mean, how are The Carlyle Group, for example, going to keep using the T.A.P.I. (trans afghan pipelines) without any security forces? We even need guards at some of our own domestic oil much moreso Afghanistan filled with people who HATE the Bush Bin Laden Group aka "carlyle group". The Carlyle is a hotel. Bush's and Bin Laden's are among the groups founders. Nomenclature.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Retro Twist

    Hay! I gotta gerd idea. What say we pull the troops outta Kuwait and see if any of the locals blow-up Bush-Zapata's oilwells.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Imagine all the people

    Imagine what all you people would be saying about a foreigner caught murdering 16 American citizens at ground zero, esp. if the perp wore a turban. You'd all justify gunning him down in the street in cold blood. Just like you did for those two uS citizens droned down in Yemen recently. This newly aquired view you folks have is gonna backfire on you ya know.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. I'm Going To Change My Name For Every Post

    Oh, for God's sake! I know it never occurred to you that Americans are just bloody SICK and TIRED of our troops being killed in the name of your stupid oilmen, did it? Any answers?
    Then why can't we wish that our troops be SAFE? Why can't we wish them HOME?
    SOMEBODY is like a teenage brat poiting out to another teenager that he has a giant zit on his forhead! YOU GOT A ZIT! Next day, YOU GOT A ZIT! Next day, YOU GOT A ZIT! But you have no answer as to how to get rid of the zit sooner............YOU GOT A ZIT!

    March 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dott

      Say What? H U H ?

      March 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dott

    Wake up people. If we won the war in that nation. What will be the prize? How will we know we have won? I can not understand why we are still there. We should have stayed there and got this over with early by getting Bin Laden instead of running over to Iraq to fight Bush's personal grudge war. Get our men and women out now and spend that money finding jobs for our troops. That is what I want from our next president or this one which ever. I will vote for the person that promises us a war free USA. For some time anyway.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Portland tony

    Out Now. For all the good we've done with our war and aid money , we could could have given each Afghani Talibani a million bucks. This would have probably more effective than 10 Years of war.

    March 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    Definitely out now.
    There isn't going to be a conclusion that satisfies everyone; just bring out troops home.
    We need out sons and daughters back, safe.
    That's the best conclusion I can come up with.

    March 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Look people. The government of Afghanistan would not allow US corporations access to the T.A.P.I. Cases were fought in US courts over these matters, even all the way to the sumpreme Court. (Terkmenneft v Bridas case "03-1018) They had the LEGAL right, not only the word of the Koran, to deny access to the wannabe invading infidels. So the Taliban gov. had to go. Afghanistan is OCCUPIED, not "warred on". If you pull the troops, it's like pulling all of Texas' sherrifs off the payroll. (Tx and iraq have about the same pop.) Fortunatly, we have Cobat svcs. Ltd. who recruited foreign trained troops for this task of replacing, and we have "Blackwater" type corporate militia. Expensive, but more bang for the buck and total deniability. Hage.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    *Colin Powell's Combat Services Ltd., specializing in recruiting foreign trained troops to go AWOL and lend a hand in Iraq and Afghanistan. Services offered 5,780.00 per mo. starting pay, with bonuses that included US CITIZENSHIP, and possibly even citizenship and educations for wives and kids, if the AWOLly survived to see that day. These guys get into some hairy sh/t.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. High Hopes

    I agree, we might as well bring them home. Because of the Koram burnimg.abd thus latest purposeful, brutal attack against 16 innocent civilians, we might as well pack it in.

    nothing is gonna bring it back.

    God bless the proud and the.brave. You made the difference for years and we thank you! It only tales s few bad apples; and, lately, we've had our share.


    March 20, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    I'm Going To:
    You screen names amuses me.
    You are right in one thing though; nobody posting has an actual solution.
    Bringing our troops home may not be ideal, but it WILL perhaps curtail the violence over there.
    They've been there under false pretenses long enough.
    Bring. Them. Home.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Army Wife

    Is it time to come home? This is a question I hear on a daily basis. This nation has been at war for over a decade. The war in Afghanistan is one of the longest wars in history. Some of our service members are currently on their 4th & 5th deployments. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, & Airmen have sacrificed so much to defend this nation. Military families have endured so much throughout this war. Should we withdrawal troops, my answer would be yes. Mothers & fathers deserve to see their children grow & kiss them good night. It is not our nation responsibility to rebuild Afghanistan nor is it to help govern & patrol. But this is just the opinion of an Army wife.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GeoNne MisSing RIP

    I say again. Troops aren't just coming home. They are being replaced. What sane individual would pull security from an inner city gas station let alone an entire nations pipeline infrastructure, the largest and most-used in the region. Think people.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GeoNne MisSing RIP

    @Army Wife. If Afghanistan hasn't been occupied all these years, what nation ever was? Even Nazis had their Vichy Regime made-up od turncoat Frenchy's who sided with Hitler. Well, that's the exact situation we see in Afghanistan. President Karzai, a US citizen, in cahoots with the invading infidels...allowing western foreigners access to the T.A.P.I. Afghanis whom side with the infidels are viewed as "Renegade" Muslims in the Koran. Just as in the US, country folk know their holy book and follow it best they can. Getting carpet bombed kinda makes the pages curl a bit though.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Grande Finale

    ...and for the grand finale, the world will become democratic. And the US will either be voted out, or scared out of their blind flag waving nationalism that easily foments war. Of course organized religion will need to be abolished to be fair on the war fomenting, but that's getting ahead of ourselves. Or you folks anyway.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
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