‘The Not So Lone Gunman’

‘The Not So Lone Gunman’ by Tariq Ali for the London Review of Books blog, 12 March, 2012

In most colonial wars people are arrested, tortured at random and killed. Not even a façade of legality is considered necessary. The ‘lone’ American gunman who butchered innocents in Afghanistan in the early hours of Sunday morning was far from being an exception. For this is not the act of a deranged maniac killing schoolchildren in an American city. The ‘lone’ killer is a sergeant in the US army. He’s not the first and won’t be the last to kill like this.

The French did the same in Algeria, the Belgians in the Congo, the British in Kenya and Aden, the Italians in Libya, the Germans in South West Africa, the Boers in South Africa, the Israelis in Palestine, the US in Korea, Vietnam and Central America; and their surrogates have behaved similarly against their own populations throughout South America and much of Asia.

The Russian occupation of Afghanistan also witnessed ‘lone gunmen’ behaving in this fashion, but better-educated than many of their US counterparts they would write about the whys and wherefores in anguished diaries after they had been withdrawn. Rodric Braithwaite’s Afgantsy cites chapter and verse. There is no such thing as a ‘humanitarian’ war. The sooner this fact is accepted by the citizens of the occupying countries the easier it might become to mobilise support to oppose neocolonial adventures and the attendant atrocities.

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