Two violent acts of murderous betrayal: Gulbuddin, the Afghan policeman, a determines fighter against the Taleban who switched sides, and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, the psychiatrist who opened fire on soldiers at Fort Hood on Thursday.
Two acts which further undermine the fragile trust which exists between Western soldiers and their colleagues and allies who happen to be Muslim.
The Afghan army and police are almost certainly riddled with Taliban sympathisers and sleepers.
The Muslim community everywhere is continually radicalised by the War on Terror, which is not called the War on Terror any more, but has not been given another name. I propose somehting like "Pointless and Counterproductive War" to fill the terminological vaccuum .
Politicians will utter mealy-mouthed regrets, statements of continuing resolve, and determination to secure victory, but this will not happen while the profits from the poppy fields go to support the Taliban.
How can trust be rebuilt? Pulling out would help, but that in itself could lead to the Somalisation of AfPak, leaving the region in a worse state that it was before.
There is a technological solution that could somewhat help to build trust.
Latent Taleban/insurgent sympathisers or plants could be identified by use of polygraphs, picking up subconscious responses in response to images of Osama bin Laden &c. This could be applied to all army personell, screening Caucasians for racist views and other signs of instability.
Polygraphs are not perfect, and need a great deal of interpretation, but nevertheless as a screening test, idenfifying people who need closer examination, they have a role.
I have suggested the same technique in weeding the proverbial "rotten apples" out of the police service in this country, receiving a chorus of protest against the proposal from police commentators here.
OK, it ain't going to happen, because the Civil Service never accept anything that is not beaten out on their own anvil. But it still is a practical option, the only practical option on the table, along with purchasing the poppy crop and using it as medicine.
[Update 7 Nov 2009: The challenge we should be putting to the apologists for the war is this: "Can you supply evidence to show that the number and intensity of terrorists and would be terrorists is less now than it was when George W Bush initiated the War on Terror?"
It is true that many terrorists have been killed, and Al Qaeda has been weakened as an organisation, but are there less disaffected Muslims, especially young males, than there were? We should doubt it. These two cases, especially Nidal Hasan, suggest not. The fact that Hasan showed no signs of fanaticism suggests that there was an unconscious process of dissidence going on within his mind, and that this welled up into action when he was faced with the reality of going out to help in a war effort that would involve killing fellow Muslims in support of an ostensibly Christian empire.
We are in a vicious circle: Hasan is critical of the war, and cracks in a murderous way. Americans have a backlash on Muslims in their community, which creates more latent and active Islamic backlashers, which creates more "Christian" backlasher and so on until kingdom come.
I would not wish anyone to think I am advocating polygraphs as a way to fight this ill-considered war more efficiently and safely; like all wars, it is mad, bad and sad.]
[Update: Gulbuddin had been sodomised by Afghan officers, and was aiming to kill that officer.]