Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

More Serious Than Abu Ghraib?

First there was Abu Ghraib. Then the reports of the abuses being committed at Guantanamo. The allegations surrounding the Fallujah offensive.

And now, from Afghanistan, comes another chilling example of how when it comes to war, Americans are as capable as our enemies of sinking to levels of barbarity. The Sydney Morning Herald published this story in Thursday's edition:

US soldiers in Afghanistan burnt the bodies of dead Taliban and taunted their opponents about the corpses, in an act deeply offensive to Muslims and in breach of the Geneva conventions.

An investigation by SBS's Dateline program, to be aired tonight, filmed the burning of the bodies.

It also filmed a US Army psychological operations unit broadcasting a message boasting of the burnt corpses into a village believed to be harbouring Taliban.

According to an SBS translation of the message, delivered in the local language, the soldiers accused Taliban fighters near Kandahar of being "cowardly dogs". "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burnt. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be," the message reportedly said. (Read the entire article.)

The story names names. The Pentagon doesn't deny it.

The story moved in Australia on their Wednesday morning news cycle, late Tuesday in this part of the world. On Wednesday, the New York Times picked it up on its website, leading with the Pentagon's reaction:
The Pentagon announced Wednesday night that the Army had started a criminal investigation into allegations that American soldiers in Afghanistan had burned the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters and then used the charred and smoking corpses in a propaganda campaign against the insurgents. (Read the entire article.)
The Associated Press picked it up the following morning and distributed it all across the country, where numerous newspaper websites picked it up. Thursday, the Washington Post ran Bradley Graham's piece (that shed no additional light on the incident) inside the A section. Richard Serrano's piece in the Los Angeles Times was similarly unenlightening.

Afghanistan "president" Hamid Karzai condemned the incident, which was picked up by the wire services as well. (That was the first we've seen of this story in The Des Moines Register, which buried it in the A section this morning. Apologies to those of you who can rely on other sources for your news instead of "the newspaper that Iowa depends upon.")

Here in the wilderness, we would prefer to believe that America and Americans are always in the right. War has proven us wrong. War changes us, changes the people who fight in it. The brutalization that is necessary to instill in the troops to transform them from caring people into unthinking, efficient terminators removes from them the sense of humanity.

So the next time you hear someone righteously declare that Americans always fight just wars and always fight them fairly, just respond that there is no such war.

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