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. ♔Mmmmm♕

    PTSD is a very dangerous the point where the soldier undergoes a debriiefing period and transition period when coming from combat zone to civilian life...unreconized they can do alot of harm.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • High Hopes

      The Sgt. doesn't have ptsd. He's got a drinking problem with a little over-the-top anger issues. Sure hope the investigators have done their jobs!


      March 21, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ahkmed

    ...not to mention getting carpet bombed. How to translate into arabic PTSD+carpet bomb?

    March 21, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

      @ Ahkmed:
      Good evening (GMR) Most Serene Master of Terror!
      It always makes my early morning brighter when you walk onto the puppet stage in the polished-brass bazaar of clever bargaining.
      I miss the oily-tuna-like scent of your graciously patterned turban when you are absent, as you are your master's finest creation: the glorious wisdom of the water-rich camel at Giza without his rare stench of Shalimar and musk is like unto all the promised virgins of Paradise without Viagra.

      March 21, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. Greek American

    What a fu*#ing mess this idiocracy leader GWB and his butt buddy Dickey Cheney have left this world in! Shambles! And to think that two of the biggest uneducated hicks in the world couldve caused such chaos.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. High Hopes

    Het, Greek!

    I thimg George Sr. and Jr. were a couple
    crooks… and that's putting it nicely!


    March 21, 2012 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

      @ High Hopes:
      "A couple crooks?"
      Is that like, "a piece bread?"
      Every politician political enough to become POTUS has, somewhere in his Inner Castle, at least one room where his crookedness lives, and that room is probably at the top of the castle's highest tower.
      Some politicians may be a little less crooked than others, but even saints and potential saints–Padre Pio, Mother Teresa, St. Francis–had a place to sleep somewhere in the monastery. They were not absolutely homeless.
      Only the Son of Man had not a place to lay His head.
      Imagine the money you could make in an Israeli hotel...the Jesus Hilton...were there a real Jesus' Palace still there...
      "And this was where He worked out, and this was His laundry room..."
      Nobody in the Bush family claims to be divine. They'll tell you that they work.

      March 21, 2012 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. bansay©

    I care not one jot about those who claim to know the machinations concerning the greed of the politicos and the pipelines and all of the rest of it it.
    They have no solutions AT ALL, only to send our troops over there to pave the way for their pipelene with the blood of innocents.
    The people posting here have none, either, other than to try and explain instead of solve.
    I care about out about our troops.
    If that makes me contemptible is some eyes, so be it.
    What I find contemptible is that there always seems to be a justification for sending OTHERS to do their dirty work, while our troops are being re-deployed over and over and over.....What is the message?
    Oh, I know what it is: eff our troops as long as an agenda is being pushed.
    God, just shut up.

    Send our troops home.
    We don't belong there.

    Easy to pontificate when it's someone else's blood being spilled, isn't it?

    March 21, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mary

    "love thy neighbor as you would love yourself" = WAR ?

    Anger is best directed towards the correct source.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    @Joey...lmao. But your Sheryl, not Ahkmed's turban, fishy smell. 🙂 Solutions? The problem of having taxpayer funded troops going to work overseas has already been solved: replace them with corporate militia recruited from around the world. (as I've said numerous times)

    March 21, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Imagine the look on the young recruits face when he saw that he would be facing the mighty Nazi Porsche Tiger Tank in his puny little tightwad taxpayer Sherman Tank. Or the national guardsman sent to fight in Iraq's desert driving a gutless HumVee that can't go over 45 mph in the sand without taking-out the transmission. (and that's before any armor gets installed) 2 weeks of boot camp and you are now a fully trained soldier fully equipped to fight men overseas that have been doing this for a living for decades. Lamb to slaughter or Wolf to Grizzly Bear fight. Take your pick.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Almost 4 years and the troops still aren't home, Mr. Obama. And I see that you renegged on your gay military platform. Why won't you even allow US troops to enjoy the goodness of sodomy, Mr. Obama? You owe them at least that much if you aren't going to allow them home.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Military Commander

    Heck no don't send that brand-new Blackhawk helicopter up that canyon until it's been cleared by grunts. And tell those 40 Sherman Tank commanders fighting that one Tiger Tank to hold their ground till we can get some more Harley Davidson's uo there.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. FemBot

    As I sit in Afghanistan in an MWR reading the news (because I don't have internet in my 20 man tent, or television, or a phone), as my muscles ache from wearing full battle rattle all day, my head hurts from my kevlar, my shoulders ache from carrying my M4 and my heart hurts for being away from my family and friends... I wonder who most of you people are and why you feel you even have the RIGHT to comment on things you know absolutely nothing about. In my personal opinion, if you haven't SERVED in the armed forces you shouldn't be able to voice an opinion, serve on a jury, Vote, hold office or be considered a full citizen. Until you've ridden the IED Roads and stood on Afghani soil outside the wire praying you don't get shot (like we did today), you should sit down, strap in and shut the eff up. If you don't like that opinion, move to the European union and quit trying to turn us into Them. 'Nuff Said –Female Soldier

    March 21, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. Asif

    @maRy. As if the Clinton's never heard of the NWO? Just the Bush's?

    March 21, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Your opinion

    In others opinions joining the military because you can't find any other work does not overly qualify someone to vote or voice an opinion.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Your opinion

    ...not to mention going into the army in lieu of going to prison. You didn't know jack about what was going on in the world before you "joined" and you don't know squat now. Getting shot at by some angry locals in Afghanistan does not make you wise.

    March 21, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  15. DOC

    @ "Your opinion" 1st off "go to war or go to prison" hasnt been around for a hot minute. 2nd Before you start running your trash hole, take the time to thank and support the troops fighting for your right to spew that BS! @ Fembot...Stay safe over in the "Stan", and get state side in one peice, thank you for what you do!...........Doc out

    March 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
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