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Sunday, 6 May 2012





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Opinion :

US troops commit inhuman acts ‘because they are ordered to’

In a world that has been taken over by those wanting to profit by any means, we are unlikely to see sanity prevail in spite of appeals to end wars and to allow people to live in peace.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan

It has become a trend to occupy countries and completely devastate life beyond levels of tolerance. Occupational armies send troops too young to understand the dynamics of what actually motivates nations, their leaders and those financing the wars. By the time they discover the truth, they have been psychologically affected and return home, very much a victim of the system.

As we take stock and count the unimaginable acts committed by troops of the First World, we begin to realise that their actions in reality stem from a history that has evolved from convicts and illegal immigrants.

Thus, as international media discloses photographs when it sees fit to enable enough media attention to catch the attention of the world, we must be able to pick much more from the images that are being released.

None of the countries that are experiencing conflict could have escaped what they experience today. It is because the “interventions” that have led to the arrival of “allied troops” were already pre-planned and mapped out to facilitate the intervention.

Even the UN is a tool of this mechanism, an international body that cannot even stop wars from occurring, stop countries invading and stop invading countries from killing.

Sadistic acts

While every photo being released depicts nothing short of sadism, the facts that these acts are not random and reveal a consistent pattern of behaviour cannot deny that much of the cruel and inhuman incidents taking place are as a result of soldiers being ordered to do such crimes by their senior officers.

That these acts are often excused and punishment given is barely minimal also depict that government heads and officials have little regard for the victims and prefer to simply put the matter aside by a formal excuse.

Hooded and wired prisoners at Abu Ghraib

When soldiers possibly in their late teens or early twenties, have been taught to feel angered by 9/11 and told to take revenge, they enter these nations with a preconceived notion of wanting to destroy the enemy. However, there was no Iraqi responsible for 9/11, but upon the arrival of US soldiers in Iraq, when orders were given to shoot everything in sight, to treat as hostile action someone holding a mobile phone, and to fire …naturally these soldiers would have privately wondered what was really going on.

Nevertheless, in a country large as the US, among allied troops from other parts of the First World, it is natural for soldiers not to share their inner thoughts, but simply take orders. It is these orders that have resulted in the blatant disregard for human life where US troops throw candy from travelling vehicles and fire upon the children running to pick them up. It is no different to the sniper teams that place objects for people to pick and troops fire upon them. Even people who have simply gazed at US troops have been fired upon for no reason.

We will never know the numbers of civilians that the US and allied troops have killed. Just as combatants are burned against Geneva laws, all we can do is guess how many civilians are dying on a daily basis though often it is excused for enemy attacks. Can the US really blame Iraqis or Afghans for hating them?

Pressures of war

Nevertheless, the high rate of soldiers returning from war, unable to withstand the pressures of realising what they are doing is wrong have turned them into mentally dysfunctional citizens, of no use to the US. They are psychologically affected by the orders they have been given and as more and more are now coming out to speak the truth, we begin to realise what exactly is going on in these invaded nations.

When the Los Angeles Times released pictures of soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division grinning over the body of a killed Afghan insurgent on April 18, 2012, it was not the first such incident. In March, a US soldier killed 16 Afghans including nine children and three women. The month before US soldiers at the Bagram airbase were seen desecrating the Quran. The UN response was that it was a “sad mistake”, while a US Marine sniper team posing in front of a flag with a Nazi logo was excused as a “naïve mistake” by the Marine Corps.

In 2010 a group of US soldiers from Bravo Company went on a shooting spree in Kandahar, killing 15-year-old Gul Mudin in cold blood, then posing alongside his dead body and cutting off the boys pinkie to keep as a memento. It was the soldiers of the same platoon that threw toffees and fired at children running to pick them up. Then came the photos depicting four soldiers urinating on three dead bodies and insulting the dead with jokes. The response of the Defense Secretary was “this is war”. I know that war is ugly and it’s violent and I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment sometimes make very foolish decisions”.

Such responses naturally do not add to any discipline or change the manner that entire units treat natives of the countries that the US has invaded.

It is easy to see that these acts are not random incidents and we recall the 2004 photos released from the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison where troops from the 372 military police were photographing themselves physically and sexually abusing detainees. Prisoners were put on dog leashes, hooded and wired while others were stacked one on top of the other, naked.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition against the US on behalf of three Afghans and three Iraqis in detention between 2003-2004. The same team of lawyers sued then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2005 and three senior military officials in a Federal Court for torture and abuse, but the case was dismissed on immunity grounds.

Wikileaks revelations

In March 2006 Wikileaks revealed how US troops handcuffed and brutally executed 11 Iraqi civilians including an infant and a 70-year-old woman in the town of Ishaqi and covered up the killings by carrying out an airstrike. This expose was combined with the confirmation by Philip Alston, UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions that the murdered civilians were all handcuffed and shot in the head. These conclusions were carried out after autopsies were completed and not by looking at photos like the Channel 4 forensic experts.

US troops are also accused of running “killing squads”, murdering Afghan civilians and collecting body parts to keep as “trophies”.

One of the most brutal killing sprees was the 2005 Haditha incident where US Staff Sergeant Frank G. Wuterich took 45 minutes to kill 25 Iraqis, breaking into homes and shooting the sleeping men, women and children including an elderly man in a wheelchair.

After taking six years to investigate the Haditha killings of 24 innocent Iraqi civilians, all that Staff Sgt Wuterich who pleaded guilty received in terms of justice was a demotion and a pay-cut. Wuterich had ordered his troops to “shoot first, ask questions later”.

In view of pleading guilty, charges of manslaughter and assault were dropped and he escaped facing 152 years in prison on nine counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon and three counts of dereliction of duty in 2005. For the victims it was a case of how unjust the US judicial system was simply because of a pre-trial agreement.

In 2004 Sergeant Jeffrey Waruch was angered by an improvised bomb going off and went half a mile from the explosion and shot a woman and her two daughters who were weeding a beanfield. Waruch was simply discharged, citing no evidence to prosecute him.

In what is likely to be a signal to others planning to blow the whistle on fellow comrades for their sinful and sadistic acts, the US soldier who gave away his colleagues wrongdoings was severely beaten up by 10 members from the 2nd Infantry Divisions Fifth Stryker Brigade in Kandahar in 2007. Joshua Keys seeking asylum in Canada has claimed that he and his comrades were told that international law was just a “guideline” and orders were to “shoot first, ask questions later”.

This may well explain the string of startling behaviour of troops and the pattern of aggressive tactics, the indiscriminate shooting even so far as to order 360 degree shooting.

While we can empathise with these soldiers who are in climates that are far from what they are used to, most possibly just out of college, and completely clueless about the terrain they are in, it is understandable the type of stress they would be experiencing, not knowing who or what they are to go after. None of this, however, can explain or excuse what happened in any of the barbaric and sadistic crimes that were committed not just by individual soldiers, but by entire units.

War crimes

How much of these war crimes have the media actually exposed? How many of these crimes have the media chosen to cover up and how many more photos are being kept for suitable times?

When can we see an end to deaths of civilians who are simply excused for “collateral damage”?

Is this type of sadism to remain or are the international bodies really interested in taking action?

Have these murders any deep-rooted reasons? For one thing US history is one of atrocities. Slaughter, starvation, slavery and exterminations were all part and parcel of life in America. Some of the most inhuman and unimaginable acts of punishment became the fates of black slaves by their American masters. Water boarding was no different to water torture upon Filipinos during Roosevelt’s time and certainly no different to the 1995 Presidential Decision Directive 39 by Bill Clinton authorising extraordinary rendition for interrogations and torture.It appears war crimes by US and allied troops are actually a way of life. Feeling superior to the people in other parts of the world, they seem to believe that they can do what they like and they are above justice and what they do is justified.

But can this type of action continue to be tolerated? When troops accused of atrocities walk away without punishment we know that the leaders of the First World have scant regard for the human rights of others especially people of the nations it targets. This is perfectly displayed in the manner US deploys unmanned drones which have killed thousands of civilians.

The real reason for the US to invade Afghanistan was to build a 1,080-mile long gas pipeline across Turkenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) and that pipeline is to be completed in 2014, the year US troops are to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. It was to facilitate the construction of this gas pipeline that thousands of US and allied troops were deployed on the pretext of a war and the casualties take place exactly on the route of the proposed gas pipeline (Helmand and Kandahar). India and Pakistan will receive 1,325 million cubic feet of gas per day while Afghanistan will receive only 500.

All the “wars” and “invasions” are nothing, but a hoax and sooner than later, just as some US soldiers are beginning to realise, others are likely to as well.

Courtesy: Asian Tribune


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