There's since been much handwringing about the NATO mission in Afghanistan and the effects of multiple deployments on the volunteer armed forces. Some argue that we should have a draft army so as not to tax the resources of the volunteer forces so heavily. Evidently these folks are forgetting how many problems there were with the draft army in Vietnam and how hard the armed forces had to work after that to bring some respect to their service.
But none of that is the focus of this post. What I haven't seen anywhere is anyone noting how screwed up Afghanistan's culture is. When several Quran's were accidentally burned there was rioting. There were assassinations of NATO troops. There was bloodshed that killed quite a few more Afghans than Sgt Bales (presuming he actually did it).
How many riots have their been over these 16 dead civilians? How many attacks on the troops attributed to it (as opposed to the usual attacks that were happening anyway)?
What's even more amazing is that in a country with a literacy rate of 28.1% (43.1% male, 12.6% female), is that anyone believes that the riots were due to the Qurans being burned for their contents (the original contents, not the allegedly insurrectionist notes scribbled in the margins). People rioted in Afghanistan because the Quran is a talisman. Over half the males and nearly 90% of the females in the country can't even read the book. They're not upset over the idea of a book being burned but over a talisman being damaged. (This is highly ironic in a faith in general and a cultural application in particular, that is so opposed to idol worship. I'll address that topic more tomorrow.)
To me, the lessons of the Quran burnings and the killing of the 16 civilians is that human life, even human life of the native population, is far less important to Afghans than the worship of a book. Not the contents and message of the Quran, but the physical book itself. Burned, really singed around the edges, books were worth killing. Other Afghans? Not at all. That's a seriously screwed up value system.