“A Warrior for Christ, a Warrior for Our Country”

The reporting on the U.S. army casualties in the recent downing of a Chinook helicopter by Taliban insurgents is, to put it kindly, inappropriate. Thirty soldiers were killed in the largest single incident of U.S. casualties to date. It is a tragedy, but it deserves a certain reflection not included in the “hoo-rah” chest-beating media attention it is getting. This CNN segment, wherein a widow of one of the Navy SEALs slain in the attack is interviewed, is a perfect example.

It is important to understand this widow’s heartbreak. The soldier’s children will grow up without him. His life was important to many people, and his loss will be difficult. But just as important is the obligation to question the circumstances of these casualties and the unnecessary war this man was asked to take part in. The widow’s final words in the segment are that her husband was “a warrior for Christ” and “a warrior for our country.” Placing these casualties in that context is not only inaccurate, but it does nothing to contribute to an understanding of what’s going on in Afghanistan. It merely clouds the reality of the war with very human emotions about national greatness.

Perhaps more importantly, I know of no CNN segment in the last decade of this war which took the time to interview the family members of civilians slaughtered in Afghanistan. As The Independent recently reported:

Human rights groups warned that civilians are paying an increasingly high price for “reckless” coalition attacks, particularly aerial ones. The Ministry of Defence confirmed last week that five Afghan children were injured in an air strike carried out by a British Apache attack helicopter.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) has found that the rate of civilian casualties has reached a record high, with 1,462 killed in January to June this year. But, while the number of civilian victims of “pro-government action” fell, those who died as a result of coalition air attacks were 14 per cent higher than in the same period in 2010 – despite the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) issuing “tactical directives” designed to minimise risk to civilians.

The helicopter incident left dead 30 individuals engaged in combat. But various incidents, particularly U.S. airstrikes, killed unknown numbers of civilians – that is, men, women and children not engaged in combat. The American media had over 1,400 opportunities in the past six months to explore the human costs to the innocent people of Afghanistan and missed every single one of them. That’s thousands upon thousands of anecdotes of immense human suffering gone totally unreported, while this rare event that resulted in 30 combat casualties meets every newspaper headline and television set in the country. Just as an example, one of these fine opportunities was in 2008 when an Afghan wedding was bombed in Nangarhar province, massacring civilians, mostly women and children. But this was a nasty little truth regarded as unwelcome in the halls of power. Therefore, treat it as if Afghans won’t feel anything similar to what the families of the 30 SEALs killed this weekend are now feeling.

This headline from Stars and Stripes reads “U.S. troops in Afghanistan sad, angry over deaths in downing of chopper.” How often has the sadness and anger of Afghans been a headlining story? Do they not feel anger towards U.S. troops? Is that anger not at least as justified as the anger felt by the U.S. troops right now?

This sort of bias exemplifies two flawed assumptions on the part of the media as well as the conscience of ordinary Americans. First, Americans are more important, and more human, than Afghans. And two, any mission U.S. soldiers engage in is inherently good, brave, for the good of the country. On both counts, of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.

A more appropriate media response to this incident would be to question how important really were these casualties to the safety and security of Americans? How just is our war and occupation in Afghanistan?

Update: I should have linked Medea Benjamin’s piece today on how needless and counterproductive this war – and these deaths – are.

  • skulz fontaine

    The widow’s final words in the segment are that her husband was “a warrior for Christ” and “a warrior for our country.” WTF???
    So, the Afghaniscam is ACTUALLY a Crusade?

  • liveload

    Where the f*ck is Jesus when you need a flare and some chaff ?!?!?

    • liberal

      LOL!

  • andy

    Its really sad what this woman believes. But maybe it is less painful for her then considering he died needlessly in a dumb war.

  • mike

    Paging Col. Boykin!

  • Tom Mauel

    What is really disgusting is the way the media normally ignores US combat dead. It's difficult to hide an incident like the downing of a helicopter but nearly 100 US soldiers have died this summer in Afghanistan in addition to the 30 killed Saturday, and almost none of those combat dead were reported by the corporate media. It's true that civilian casualties should not be ignored, as they also are by the Corporate media, but in order to convince Americans this war is being lost US combat dead must be reported by someone on a regular basis. Unfortunately the alternative media also ignores US combat dead unless there is a major incident. And they almost always use the phony moniker of "NATO" soldiers even though 90% of the time the NATO soldiers are American. The top Australian ground commander said a few months ago that the Taliban have "overwhelmed" foreign forces and the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily. ABC did a piece that showed the number of US double amputees has tripled since last year because US soldiers are forced to walk patrols. The US repeatedly claims progress in Kandahar and Helmand even as the combat dead from there continues month after month. The US is loosing this war militarily as well as politically and that story needs better coverage by the alternative media.

    • John Glaser

      Tom,

      Fair point. Most days, the media lets us down on both fronts. You reminded me of my memorial day piece: http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2011/05/30/this-memor

      The more people know about the death of every individual in this war, the sooner Americans turn against it.

  • Zoar

    too many uber patriotic right wing fanatical Christians getting all angry now when people in a country occupied by foreign forces sights back for THEIR freedom.

  • zoar

    Fights back, not sights back… sorry, typo.

  • Angel Cintron

    I personally do not feel that this war is directed for a sole purpose, countless casualties (Both American) and middle-eastern, from men, women, and children are suffering. This war started back when 9-11 terrorist attacks took place, it was said to be in response to discoveries that middle-eastern countries like Iraq and Afghanistan were holding weapons of mass-destruction.

    • kev

      we find get those afghan nukes!

      you realize the first gulf war was a decade before 9/11, right?

  • Angel Cintron

    Has the U.S. Military reported any discoveries to date, NO!!! Here we are 2011 nearing 2012 and many innocent people are dying for a cause that does not exist. I believe that soldiers exist to fight for our freedom, but due to this war and presence of U.S. military in the Middle-East, matters have only gotten worse. This woman states that her husband was a warrior for christ, and a warrior for our country, yet this war is not based on a religious or holy battle, it is simply for U.S. to present it's power and authority in another nation and try and establish resources for the greater good of our country. I'm a firm believer that if our country really needed to be at war in the middle -east, I too would put my life on the line in order to protect our nation. Viewing this war and the unnecessary need for us to be in Iraq or Afghanistan I would not choose to enlist for wrongful causes. I salute our soldiers and nation with pride, but I highly disagree with the U.S. Defense, Government, and it's numerous accusations for us to put our soldiers and innocent people to a sentence of death.

    • unVet

      Angel,

      I disagree with your belief that the soldiers exist to fight for our freedom. I believe they exist to insure that the territory of the USA stays under the control of the current national government. (They are misused to project US power around the globe.) The national government continuously attacks our freedoms, and yet the soldiers do nothing about. And, that is a good thing. I really don't want the military to defend our freedom other than refuse to follow unconstitutional orders. Defending our freedoms from the government is our job, as well as, backing up the members of the military who refuse to obey unlawful orders.

  • Lear K

    “a warrior for Christ” and “a warrior for our country?

    Sadlythis view is held by so many Americans especially church going Americans.

  • he was a warrior for delusional politicians, bankers and religious fanatics

  • Lear K

    He was fighting in an un-just war of aggression.And how is the US goevernment a representative of Christ?This the ultimate delusion that American politicians keep feeding the American sheeps.That every thing the US does is right and for the good of Humanity unlike many other countries.

  • Lear K

    And he was “a warrior for Christ" because?

    • liberranter

      Because, why, don't you know that AMERIKA is GOD'S CHOSEN NATION, along with its easternmost province of Israel (or is Amerika Israel's westernmost province? I forget which it is.)? Just ask any evangelical "minister of the gospel" (just don't demand too many specifics on WHICH gospel) on any given Sunday morning. They'll make sure you understand that Amerika is the world's greatest nation, the one that Jesus Himself will return to before He returns anywhere else on Earth. After all, it says so in the Bible. Somewhere. Maybe. They're pretty sure….

  • Dave Boyer

    Ummmm….I thought Jesus was an unemployed illegal alien carpenter union organizer who used a whip on a group of Pax Romana bootlicking businessmen and Clerics in order to make them aware of market externalities…. But now it seems the narrative is that Christians are called on only to worship Capital made manifest in a class.

  • Kathy J

    The greatest evidence that civilian deaths in Afghanistan are not important can be found in the original reports of the helicopter incident as written in a BBC News article and repeated in many reports on that first day.

    "The size of Team Six, an elite unit within the Seals, which is officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, is not known.

    Several air force personnel, a dog and his handler, a civilian interpreter, and the helicopter crew were also on board, AP reports."

    The "dog" was always mentioned. I guess even an animal casuality on "our" side is more important than Afghan civilians.

  • NavyVietnamWarVet

    ALL US troops who have been killed or maimed in Afghanistan have been victims of the Big LIE – that they are dying and being maimed fighting for our freedoms when in fact it is so that the Texas Oil Company buddies of war criminals Bush and Cheney can build a gas pipeline through that country.
    The families of those killed would like to believe otherwise – BUT – they just cannot handle the truth, that their loved ones have died in vain, have died for that gas pipeline.
    NO one mourns the thousands of Afghan civilians – men, women, children – that we have MURDERED.
    We are 'invaders' – those we call 'insurgents' are defenders of their homeland.
    History doesn't record Afghanistan as being "the graveyard of soldiers and of empires" for nothing.

  • jojo

    The real Christians, when it comes to this war, are those from "Voices In the Wilderness", and other peace groups, who have consistently and bravely stood up for the Iraqi and Afghani citizens, and outlined the horrors of our mass muder over there.
    Jesus ame to save sinners, and open their eyes to t
    he possibilities of loving one's neighbor…..so the most sinful people are attracted to the Church….what is really frustrating is that so few priests and ministers will point out that these are not JUST wars by any stretch of the imagination….at least John Paul 2nd took the unprecedented step to say the first Gulf War was unjust, in his opinion….the Vatican has consitently spoken out against modern warfare, saying it is unjust by its very nature in almost all situations.

  • High time for Americans to get out in the streets and make their country stop these counter-productive, illegal, unnecessary, way-too-expensive, and UNAMERICAN wars. Only the American people can get these wars stopped, and its too obvious by now that Obummer won't stop them.

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  • Jack

    The "Warrior for Christ" comment echoes the reported exclamation of the SEAL who shot bin Laden – "For God and Country – Geronimo! Geronimo! Geronimo! E.K.I.A." (Enemy Killed In Action)

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