Anton Goryunov writes from Kabul: As news spreads about the lucky families of the 16 victims of a crazed US soldier, who went on a shooting spree outside his base in Kandahar, in the Panjwai district, each getting $50,000 in compensation, millions of Afghans are thinking to themselves: why the hell couldn’t our loved ones have got whacked that night? Why is it that such luck comes to others but not us?
Even more temptingly, each of the six people who were wounded in the massacre, got eleven grand in compensation. What is even more exciting, they will be actually able to spend it themselves, unlike the dead ones.
The beauty of the whole thing was that the money wasn’t just delivered by couriers but given at a ceremony at the Kandahar governor’s office, with local officials and tribal elders cheering the lucky ones. There was supposedly even a party held afterwards, with the new rich Afghans getting the VIP treatment and independent financial advice. (So that you know, 50 grand in American money in Afghanistan equals something like fifty million in America itself.)
Anyway, the feeling among the Afghans is that the US and its NATO allies could from now on pay compensation in advance for the people they would kill, making a lot of families happy and content. Imagine if you get fifty grand how it would soothe the devastating effect of losing a loved one, or even a couple. In fact, in some cases families who would receive the payments might even select the victims themselves and whack them, to save the US troops the bother and the hassle.
But why apply the system only to Afghanistan, you might ask. And that would be a good question. Why not offer compensation to the people of Syria, for example, in advance, and avoid a full-blown invasion, letting the locals kill each other in the knowledge that the fewer family members they have left, the more money they would get? This would save the US billions of dollars in these hard- pressed times, turning the war into loads of fun for everyone.
And how about Washington telling Iran that instead of an invasion it would pay millions of Iranians compensation, if they would whack one member of the Revolutionary Guard who is related to them? And, as a result, the world would avoid a terrible conflict that would have the potential to develop into a regional and even multi-regional war.
Let’s face it, the instigator of that massacre in Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, probably, without realising it, has opened the doors to a new type of conflict where victory could be bought in advance by offering compensation payments for future victims. Robert, who has returned to America to a hero’s welcome, is awaiting a free and fair trial. His grace under pressure – Robert actually had returned to his base between the killings to relieve himself and watch an episode of Desperate Housewives – could teach generations of US warriors how to behave in combat situations. Robert has been told that his trial would probably not happen until 2014, so he spends his time writing his memoirs Born To Kill and giving imaginary interviews to non-existent media outlets. And if you think I am joking, call the Pentagon and they’ll tell you that it’s the case.
Poorer nations, which lack the sort of money that America has, will have to go on killing people in the usual manner, giving wars a bad name that they don’t really deserve.