The unjustified killing of two Afghan families by an American soldier, coming so soon after the offence caused by the burning of copies of the Koran, is proving inflammatory already, and by his action he has made the "war" far more difficult for western troops and also done much to help the Taliban cause. Meanwhile, the tally of loss for Nato troops continues to rise, not just through bombs and battle in this war-weary country but through rogue Afghan soldiers turning on their colleagues and mentors in shocking betrayals of trust - very like the staff-sergeant who chose, it seems, to run amok on his first tour there.
So, the fatalities and damage are not one-sided even if the apologies from the US are more fulsome than those of Afghan leaders when crises of war occur, and the Afghan expressions of outrage are louder. Now, however, as the British prepare to bury six young men all killed together by a Taliban bomb and resentment boils in the hearts of most Afghans, it is clear that a tipping point has been reached in this bloody, pointless war. The western presence is unwanted and ultimately unsuccessful as it waits to leave a medieval land which it has never understood, and the people who are funding it - largely the American and British taxpayers - dislike it intensely too.
The Americans who burned the Koran and now this unfortunate staff-sergeant have precipitated a situation which is a call to action in Afghanistan - action by the Afghan people and action by western leaders who must decide what to do, for apologies are not enough and their people have had enough. The course and tenor of the war has changed in just a few days and whatever the result, change is good particularly if it brings about a change of heart, in every sense.
Do not judge the soldier for what he did, sad and unnecessary though his violence appears to be. Whatever his human frailties and whatever the short-term outcome, it may be he has done the world a service - but that only time will tell.]]>