What these soldiers did was clearly, inarguably sadistic and horrifying, but I want to point out briefly that when human beings are essentially incarcerated; forced to fight; confronted by a seemingly endless war with no clear purpose or definition of success; immersed in a violent, warrior military culture and subjected to intense violence on a repeated, near daily basis; isolated from family, friends, and loved ones; largely forgotten by an apathetic general public; traumatized emotionally and physically; struggling daily with the dissonance between mission objective and reality:
it is almost guaranteed for this kind of horror story to happen. My Lai anybody? I am not justifying anything these murderers did, but we are sending kids, literally kids, half way around the planet to one of the most hostile and desolate environments inhabited by man to fight for increasingly abstract reasons.
This is not just a total breakdown of individual morality and decency, its a failure by the country, by the military and foreign policy establishments, to meet our and their responsibilities to the soldiers and the Afghan people.