Afghanistan Watch: Trophy Killing in War

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Jon Boone of The Guardian reports:

Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of “trophy” photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenseless Afghan civilians they killed.
Senior officials at Nato’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures published by the German news weekly Der Spiegel to the images of US soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-US protests around the world.
They fear that the pictures could be even more damaging as they show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue US Stryker tank unit that operated in the southern province of Kandahar last year.

Nauseating.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

39 comments on “Afghanistan Watch: Trophy Killing in War

  1. rc says:

    Thanks for that background on the Lebanon-Libya situation. UN sponsorship support makes sense now. And perhaps also why Israel was somewhat supportive of Libya if they were against the Hizbullah. How complicated can a region get?

    Reply

  2. Dirk says:

    The reason that Lebanon agreed to co-sponsor the UNSC resolution was touched on by Juan Cole at Informed Comment:
    “A note: The resolution was co-sponsored by the Lebanese government, in which the Shiite party Hizbullah (Hezbollah) is a leading element. In part, Lebanon was representing the Arab League, which in some ways was the major political force (along with Britain and France) pushing for world action. But in other ways something more personal was going on.
    When I was working for a newspaper in Beirut in 1978, I translated wire service reports on the disappearance of the great Shiite leader Mousa al-Sadr while on a trip to Libya. He was likely murdered by Qaddafi and put in a grave somewhere there. I once attended a lecture by Sadr in Beirut. He was a great man, charismatic and a force for uplift in his community and for outreach to other communities. He probably went to Libya in an attempt to convince Qaddafi not to send any more weapons to the factions there (such arms shipments and factionalization contributed to the long Lebanese Civil War). Lebanese Shiites, including Hizbullah, still lionize Mousa al-Sadr and despise Qaddafi.
    Payback is a bitch.”
    http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/the-un-to-the-rescue-in-libya-is-it-too-late.html

    Reply

  3. rc says:

    I note the 100 days to publish … at a suitable time when media and global opinion is distracted on other matters.
    “NATO, under the leadership of the US Army, has been preparing for possible publication of the photos for close to 100 days. In dozens of high-level talks with their Afghan partners, military leaders have sought to pursue the same strategy used by the US diplomatic corps in the case of the sensitive diplomatic cables released late last year by WikiLeaks. They warned those most directly affected and made preparations for the photos’ appearance in the public sphere. This “strategic communication” was aimed at preventing a major public backlash.” (link above)

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  4. rc says:

    No one seems to have actually put the Der Spiegel story link here.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,752310,00.html

    Reply

  5. rc says:

    POA Mar 21 2011, 7:47PM
    No, Pepe is not quite correct imo with his No. 10.
    They are still in the Trojan War but have just past the wooden horse trick.
    Troy has fallen.
    The horse?
    Playing to the global public false idol of ‘protect civilians’ script.
    This by a

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The men who committed these crimes will be executed (if they’re lucky) and in Leavenworth for decades (if they’re not)”
    Bullshit. They will quietly fade from the media spotlight, and recieve light sentences. Show me an instance of one single American serviceman that has been executed for wartime attrocities in the last twenty years.

    Reply

  7. Don Bacon says:

    War itself is an atrocity is the point, and the difference between body counts and trophy killing is inconsequential.
    KABUL, Afghanistan (March 21, 2011) – Afghan and coalition security forces killed one insurgent and detained several
    KABUL, Afghanistan (March 20, 2011)

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  8. drew says:

    Back on topic, this is a war, and there are always atrocities
    committed in war. To the people who say that this atypical of war,
    having .01% of the combatants losing their minds, go to the library
    and, I don’t know, read about what happened at Guadalcanal.
    The men who committed these crimes will be executed (if they’re
    lucky) and in Leavenworth for decades (if they’re not). That is the
    measure of American society, for no other society on earth in the
    history or warfare exacted this discipline. If that is not good
    enough, what is?

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Some Radiation-Tracking Air Monitors May Not Be Working Properly, EPA Says
    By Jim Snyder – Mar 21, 2011 2:11 PM PT
    Eight of 18 air monitors in California, Oregon and Washington state that track radiation from Japan

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The Odyssey Dawn top 10
    Pepe Escobar
    War is peace. Protesters are now off-camera, missile diplomacy is on camera. Packaged in moral uprightness, Tomahawks, Typhoons, Tornados, Rafales, Mirages, B-2s and F-18s – not to mention sexy European Storm Shadow cruise missiles and possible guest star the F-22 Raptor radar-evading stealth jet – now speak the language of democracy. These “military assets”, displaying their “unique capabilities”, are now “protecting the Libyan people”. Run for cover – or become collateral damage.
    And now for our top 10 list:
    10. The return of Ulysses. Operation “Odyssey Dawn”? Gotta
    hand it to Pentagon ghost writers. Homer’s Odyssey is the archetype of all travel writing. So Odysseus/Ulysses roams the Med again. The return of the heroes who conquered Troy is now the return of the heroes who gave you shock and awe. Benghazi is Ithaca, with Tripoli in the waiting list. Muammar Gaddafi plays the Cyclops. But who’s Circe? Hillary Clinton? Homeric Ulysses was upgraded from a fishing boat to the USS Mount Whitney, the flagship of the US Navy’s 6th Fleet. So one must assume that, for now, Ulysses is commander Samuel Locklear III, who’s in charge of the bombing.
    As for Homer revised by Shakespeare, the trophy goes to chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. He told CNN Operation Odyssey Dawn “isn’t about seeing him [Gaddafi] go”. But then he told NBC Gaddafi could stay, as in “it’s very uncertain on how this ends”. No wonder no one in this Odyssey has yet claimed to be Penelope.
    9. The invisible Africom. There’s total radio silence about the commander of the US Africom, General Carter Ham. He’s in charge of all those Tomahawks, from his office in Stuttgart, Germany; after all, none among 53 African countries offered to host Africom. After the current phase 1, the command switches from Africom to the Anglo-French duo, or to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels. Africom’s main business is to guarantee the rapid deployment of “highly mobile troops” – to fight the never-extinct “war on terror”, laser in on all those oil fields, try to offset China’s business drive in Africa; talk about an open-ended mission. In short: Africom is about the Pentagon’s militarization of Africa – suavely sold as “bringing peace and security”. It’s all part of the time-tested Pentagon’s full spectrum dominance doctrine.
    8. The R2P enigma. Top American humanitarian imperialists – or liberal hawks – include US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and National Security Council senior directors Samantha Power and Gayle Smith. They are all suckers for R2P – “responsibility to protect”, the new international norm that supposedly prevents and stops genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
    R2P is still hazy. How many civilians must be killed before R2P kicks in? A few thousand? (a fair estimate of Gaddafi’s victims before Odyssey Dawn). And where next for R2P? Here’s a list of candidates. Yemen. Bahrain. Saudi Arabia. Israel. Uzbekistan. Ivory Coast. Sudan. Somalia. North Korea. Myanmar. Iran. Pakistan. And – remember Xinjiang and Tibet – China. Don’t count on the UN to “protect” civilians in any of these destinations.
    7. The new Obama doctrine, or Bush 2.0. The Obama administration turned George W Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into open-ended occupations; started an air/counter-insurgency war in Pakistan; bolstered a war in Somalia; bolstered a war in Yemen; and now started a war in Libya. The Western/Arab League war in Libya perfectly fits the new, two-pronged Obama doctrine of US outreach/regime alteration; outreach (former “regime change”) for “evil dictators”, alteration for “our” bastards.
    That accounts for Washington desperately trying to position itself on the right side of history at least in one chapter of the great 2011 Arab revolt – amid all the geostrategic imperatives of trying to somewhat control the course of the Arab revolutions, and to keep an eye on the oil.
    6. No R2P for Israel. In late 2008, while no one was watching, Israel bombed Gaza, killed 1,300 people, the absolute majority civilians, and destroyed at least 20,000 buildings. The UN didn’t bother to invoke R2P, or impose a no-fly zone over Gaza to protect its civilians (50% of them children). Israel never respected any of countless UN Security Council resolutions. By the way, George W Bush invaded Iraq in 2003 without a UN Security Council resolution.
    Tune in here for the rest of Pepe’s “Top Ten”…..
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC22Ak02.html

    Reply

  11. JohnH says:

    Kudos to Obama (nowhere man} for disabusing us of the notion that there actually is a budget crisis.
    Of course, when the dust settles over Libya, official Washington will resume its campaign to convince us of the imminent need to cut Social Security, else bankruptcy. And they expect people to believe that–after the $200 million given to Israel for its missile defense and the tens or hundreds of millions in ordinance dropped over Libya in the last few days.
    They really do play the American people for suckers (with a lot of justification).

    Reply

  12. non-hater says:

    “Nauseating.” –Clemons
    It is, but these things happen in all wars, which is why countries should go to war only when it is really, truly, and absolutely necessary.
    It is long past time that we keep putting American soldiers in a position to do horrible things. Bring the troops home.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    $$$76 mil????? Oh come on, it probably cost us that just in logistics and putting our assets in place, before we launched a single missile.
    I just finished reading where if we had a nuclear disaster like Japan is experiencing, we are woefully unprepared for it. We don’t even have the Pottasium Iodine stocks in sufficient amounts to do any good.
    I have a molar broken in half, no dental insurance, and a quote of over three thousand bucks to fix it.
    Snowed here, and they have stopped graveling the roads due to fuel costs. I had work today, but couldn’t get out to the 58 to drive down the hill, because of ice.
    Gas is four dollars a gallon here now, and next week I work in Glennville, a two hour commute, one way.
    Lets buy another bomb, shall we? Anyone reading this seein’ a return on their tax dollars??? Can you eat a Tomohawk??? Put it in your gas tank? Pay your dentist bill with it?
    I want my effin’ money back.

    Reply

  14. DakotabornKansan says:

    According to Der Spiegel

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    In Los Angeles, the Selective Service center, where we took our physicals, had a urinal that had to be thirty feet long. When I took my physical, being the “smart” one in the batch, I made sure that I stood at the drain end.
    My logic??? Well, with twenty guys pissing in the tank after filling their cups, there just simply had to be a guy or two with some sort of ghastly and exotic disease that would cinch an “exempt” status for me. I must admit I got more than my fair share of odd looks when I put my cup down to the drain.
    Smug, and sure I had pulled one over on the man, I turned around, cup in hand, only to see a gigantus black dude, in dress uniform, standing at parade rest directly in front of me.
    “Pour it out, son” he ordered. Pouring it out, I was then commanded to follow GI Joe to a small private room that had a urinal and a toilet in it, nothing else. I was handed a cup, and ordered to fill it.
    Ever tried to piss with GI Joe standing six inches off your left shoulder, staring you in the eye??? I’ll never forget that guy’s red eyes, bad breath, and shaved pate. Nor will I ever forget the three hours it took me to finally provide the small trickle that ended my ordeal.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    “Any regrets? You still think this was a good idea?”
    Too early to say definitively. But the UN intervention has already succeeded in thwarting a major assault that was underway against Benghazi, and has at this point probably saved far more lives than have been lost.

    Reply

  17. Tank Man says:

    Events like this happen when you a.) treat our kids like fodder and run them through the war machine over and over and over, b.) refuse to provide meaningful evaluations and health care on the field of battle or during dwell time because of cost, time, and mission capability metrics, c) you don

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Most of the comments I see by military and former military say the entire chain of command in Afghan is incompetent”
    But, by golly, those running the show in Libya are gonna be sheer geniuses!!!
    “A lot of the comments also say that military training today except for specialized services lacks basic military discipline.But todays soldiers were raised in todays US society before the army got them…look there first”
    Well, truth is, the standards have now been set so low that watcha see is watcha get. High standards were not helpful in recruiting, as anyone with two brain cells to rub together can’t help but notice how we treat our returning vets.
    I kinda question the wisdom of teaching gang members and felons the fine art of urban warfare and sophisticated weapons handling.

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hey Dan.
    Any regrets? You still think this was a good idea?

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    http://www.allgov.com/US_and_the_World/ViewNews/Petraeus_Suspends_Commander_and_Troops_Involved_in_Killing_of_Afghan_Children_110320
    Most of the comments I see by military and former military say the entire chain of command in Afghan is incompetent.
    So when are they going to remove Petraeus?
    A lot of the comments also say that military training today except for specialized services lacks basic military discipline.
    But todays soldiers were raised in todays US society before the army got them…look there first.

    Reply

  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Very effective and astute statement, in my view, from Alli Zeidan:
    http://www.kansascity.com/2011/03/21/2742275/ap-exclusive-rebels-want-gadhafi.html

    Reply

  22. DakotabornKansan says:

    More on our government lawyers

    Reply

  23. Tank Man says:

    Only 1% of the country is touched by war directly, while the vast majority of Americans are being sucked dry to prop up the Empire’s war machine. Unfortunately most are too distracted simply trying to make ends meet and survive. Then there is a large segment of society mislead and manipulated into attacking those barely scrapping by and dragging all of us down to the lowest common standard. Whether it

    Reply

  24. DakotabornKansan says:
  25. rc says:

    Looks like Nato is under internal pressures.

    The US wants to hand over command of Operation Odyssey Dawn to another country within a matter of days, but so far NATO has been unable to reach an agreement on taking control of the implementation of the no-fly zone in Libya. Turkey is leading the objections.
    Info
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    The conflict in Libya is being described as the first war to be initiated by United States President Barack Obama since taking office, but Washington would like to hand over command for Operation Odyssey Dawn to Britain, France or its partners in the NATO alliance as quickly as possible.
    The US has said it would continue to support operations as well as engage itself militarily, but that it would not continue to maintain the “pre-eminent role,” US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters traveling with him on a trip to Russia on Sunday. On Monday, however, it didn’t look likely that a NATO role would develop as quickly as the US government might like.
    So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone. …

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,752222,00.html

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Meanwhile, our trusty NRC sluts declare that the Fukushima reactors are “stable”, making the announcement simultaneously with workers being evacuated from the areas around reactors number 2 and 3 because of smoke rising out of both reactors. And these are the sluts that Obama is handing the responsibility of examining the safety of our own nuclear plants???
    Wall Street Journal, 10 minutes ago-
    “US Says Japanese Nuclear Reactors Are Stable”
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703858404576214463674197784.html
    Workers evacuate Japan nuke plant as smoke rises
    CTV.ca – ?32 minutes ago?
    Grey smoke rises from Unit 3 of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 21, 2011.
    http://winnipeg.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110321/japan-fukushima-nuclear-plant-containment-effort-110321/20110321/?hub=WinnipegHome
    And the bizarre media statement of the day has got to be…..
    “But perhaps the biggest immediate fear in Japan isn’t from airborne radiation

    Reply

  27. DakotabornKansan says:

    @POA
    Perhaps???
    The real culprits are the ones who lurk in the halls of Washington DC and are more than eager to wage war for profits, power, and political gain. I am not sure they do KNOW what horrors war brings. I tend to doubt it. They have proven to be cold, heartless bastards. They can

    Reply

  28. Matthew says:

    Thank God for Wikileaks, Der Spiegel and every other media outlet that finishes off once and for the lie about the “civilizational” differences between us and Islam. Wake up America: This is what a “Christian” soldier is actually doing. How does that taste?
    Kudos to the US military on convicting this disgrace of murder. That action is what we are also about.
    Our actions–and only our actions–is what distinguishes from terrorists. The rest is just noice.

    Reply

  29. JohnH says:

    Charming, simply charming. Our enlightened leaders want to cut Social Security so that our “defense” forces can prove their manhood shooting defenseless Afghans.
    After a series of bombings of wedding parties and funeral processions, these photos should come as no surprise. They’re part of the general pattern.
    Kudos to der Spiegel for publishing what no mainstream American magazine would likely ever show.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that when war does what it inevitably does to our soldiers, ANY soldiers, those unfortunate enough to get caught are branded as “rogue”, and presented as some sort of uncommon anomoly.
    Perhaps the real culprits lurk in the halls of Washington DC, for they KNOW what horrors war brings, yet are eager to wage it for profits, power, and political gain.
    I awoke this morning immersed in a surreal aura of disbelief. These lying posturing pieces of shit have started another one, as casually as I slipped on my robe this morning.
    Obama doesn’t even vaguely resemble what he claimed to be.
    There is no honor in what we’ve become. I’m ashamed of our flag, it has become a symbol of death, corruption, and inhumanity.

    Reply

  31. Don Bacon says:

    People who advocate war think that it’s some kind of garden party, but it’s not. When you get war, you get the whole sick package: murder on a grand scale, displacement, maiming (largely women and children), rape, detention, torture — the whole nine yards.
    In the United States, war has become the health of the state. Randolph Bourne wrote about it many years ago. It’s worth reading.
    http://struggle.ws/hist_texts/warhealthstate1918.html

    Reply

  32. DakotabornKansan says:

    Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: “… President Obama on Sunday all but invited the young population of Iran to throw off the government there in a Web address transmitted to the region, adding, ‘I am with you.’

    Reply

  33. rc says:

    Well there you go … the Queens men are baying for blood.

    THE British government has raised the possibility of assassinating Muammar Gaddafi to force regime change in Libya, after a barrage of allied air strikes successfully imposed a no-fly zone over the country.
    British Defence Secretary Liam Fox said yesterday that Gaddafi was a “legitimate target” after airstrikes flattened the control and command centre in his Tripoli compound and as strains started to appear over the multinational operation. …

    It concludes with an interesting little twist: why would Hezbollah controlled Lebanon agree to sponsor the UN resolution?
    Hmmmm,… Palestine…?

    The issue of civilian casualties will be crucial in whether the operation keeps any Arab League support in coming weeks.
    Coalition leaders were hoping that Qatar would provide at least four fighter jets imminently and were talking to Kuwait and other Arab countries to try to get at least a nominal involvement.
    The Arab League involvement is a complicated one – one of the sponsors of the UN resolution was Lebanon. The US, France and Britain wanted an Arab country to be sponsor, and Lebanon volunteered.
    However, since militant Islamic group Hezbollah effectively controls the country following the collapse of the government earlier this year, any military involvement by Lebanon alongside the US would be impossible.
    —-
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/britain-refuses-to-rule-out-targeting-muammar-gaddafi-in-airstrikes/story-e6frg6so-1226025712007

    Reply

  34. DakotabornKansan says:

    “Trophy” photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenseless Afghan civilians they killed.
    Nauseating, yes.

    Reply

  35. The Pessimist says:

    So when did the UN’s mandate change from “mediating” disputes to “escalating” disputes?
    Now the UN takes sides. It’s time for the rest of the world to disassociate themselves from the UN Security Council and implement an alternative mediating body that simply ignores the aspirations of the G8.

    Reply

  36. erichwwk says:

    BTW, in Googleing for that Erich Fromm quote,I found it at the wikipedia entry of “sanity”.
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Sanity
    I also did not mean to single out the Germans, although they were certainly insane as a society during that period.
    One of the treasures I have from my late mother is an etching, of two dogs growling at each other. Above these dogs is the inscription “Wenn der eine nicht will” and underneath “K

    Reply

  37. erichwwk says:

    War is fundamentally and essentially a mental illness. In WWII only 20% of American soldiers were able to shoot at the “enemy” with an intent to kill (as opposed to deliberately missing, finding other tasks,etc). In the Korean War it was 50%, and up to 80% by Vietnam.
    See eg Lt.Col Grossman: “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society”. Killing is against human nature.it took a lot of video games (In a single one played today, the ENTIRE population of the US is virtually killed EVERY 24 hrs) to “train” the American public to this mental illness.In Taos the USNG paid for the installation of one such “game” at the youth and family center. One shoots at people popping up in a desert environment, with no visual clues to distinguish them as “military”. Scores are kept and high scores reported to recruiters. The game begins with the caveat “This game is suitable for children of all ages”, and 5 and 6 years olds play this game.
    I have seen a kid play this game at his grandfather’s funeral gathering.
    Thoughts on War
    If you hold a real weapon in your hand, you will feel its character strongly. It begs to be used.
    It is fearsome. It’s only purpose is death and it’s power is not just in the material from which it was made, but also from the intention of it’s
    makers.
    It is regrettable that weapons must be used, but occasionally, survival demands it. The wise go forth with weapons only as a last resort. They
    never rejoice in the skill of weapons, nor do they glorify war.
    When death, pain and destruction are visited upon what you hold to be the most sacred, the spiritual price is devastating.
    What hurts more than one’s own suffering is bearing witness to the suffering of others.
    The regret of seeing human beings at their worst and the sheer pain of not
    being able to help the victims can never be redeemed.
    If you go personally to war, you cross the line yourself. That alters you forever. That is why no one rushes to be a soldier.
    Think before you want to change so unalterably. The stakes are not merely one’s life, but one’s very humanity.
    –Den Ming Dao
    …Several hundred years before Christ
    We have crossed that line as a nation, as Germany did in the late 1930’s. We have lost our humanity.
    In The Sane Society, published in 1955, psychologist Erich Fromm proposed that, not just individuals, but entire societies “may be lacking in sanity”. Fromm argued that one of the most deceptive features of social life involves “consensual validation.”[3]:

    Reply

  38. rc says:

    And just in case there is not enough chaos in the region …
    March 20, 2011, 9:09 pm
    Obama Urges Iran

    Reply

  39. rc says:

    Certainly one sick society at work!
    Any nine-year-old Afghan child wood collector hunting trophies up for grabs on ebay yet?
    It has to be close to popping in Afghanistan & Pakistan soon.
    BTW, this interview (just recorded) reports that the Egyptian army are beating the crap out of protesters in the square but no press will touch it. So much for the revolution. Our way or no way!
    Egyptian Update (when it gets uploaded in due course)
    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2011/3169845.htm

    Reply

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