Saturday, April 30, 2011

Let’s Talk

I am having “one of those sleepless nights”. You probably know the ones I mean. One of those nights where you just can’t get to sleep no matter what you do. You lay down, get comfortable, close your eyes and nothing happens. You just toss and turn. There is no real reason for it. I am physically fine (all things considered) and mentally fine (no cracks, please) –that is to say, there are no big problems bothering me. I just simply can not go to sleep. Well, this happens once in a while. I guess it is best to just go with it and use the time productively –by writing about it and annoying you guys (who stopped by to read about something slightly more important than my nocturnal inconveniences….).

So, since I did not have anything prepared, let’s just see where the conversation leads….

Here is one story in the headlines that caught my attention this morning. In what officials term the deadliest such incident to date, eight U.S. servicemembers and an American contractor working for the International Security Assistance Force were gunned down by an Afghan pilot at Kabul airport early Wednesday. 

Apparently the shooting involved troops at a compound used to train the Afghan air force. The shooter was a 50 year old Afghan Air Force pilot that had spent several years here in the United States being trained.

The story caught my attention because of the way in which it was reported. I first saw it as an AP article in the Times and it talked about how this was another of a series of attacks in which some 13 troops with the International Security Assistance Force had been killed this year when Afghan police, soldiers or security guards — or insurgents who infiltrated their ranks — attacked coalition forces. These types of killings have accounted for the deaths of at least 38 coalition personnel since 2009. 

The implication was, of course, that this was a person who was either a “sleeper” agent of the Taliban or who had changed sides to fight against his former friends in the coalition.

But then I saw another report of the incident in Stars and Stripes and discovered that this wasn’t the case. What actually happened was that the man was on duty, armed with an AK-47. He got into a heated argument with another soldier. Things got out of hand and he went for his gun, which drew the attention of several soldiers nearby, who were also armed. A shot was fired and then all hell broke loose until the man was shot dead. It was tragic, useless and pointless but it was not a terrorist attack by a traitor. It is simply something terrible that can happen when you have human beings walking around with loaded automatic weapons all the time. 

I have seen this kind of reporting before. The journalists write about something so as to give a misleading impression –either to sensationalize it to get us to read it, or to put a slant on it for political reasons. I hate it but I am afraid I see it all too often. That is why, when I see something like this I will try to read more than one account before I tell you about it. It is, unfortunately, also a very common tactic of “historians”. I can not tell you how many times I have researched a historical event and found completely different accounts and interpretations of the same basic facts. 

The best thing to do is to not take anyone’s word about things on face value –even mine, as accurate and reliable as I am (snicker). As President Reagan said, “Trust -but verify”.

OK, I think I have bored you all with my sage wisdom enough for one night. I will go and see if the sandman has taken a liking to me yet. You all have a good day, ya hear!

--And, as always, Live Long and Prosper….

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