Friday, January 13, 2012

This is not about 'bad apples'. This is the horror of war

How many other abuses took place off camera? How many Hadithas? How many My Lais?

By Robet Fisk

"So now it's snapshots of US Marines pissing on the Afghan dead. Better, I suppose, than the US soldiers pictured beside the innocent Afghan teenager they fragged back in March of last year. Or the female guard posing with the dead Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib. Not to mention Haditha or the murder videos taken by US troops in the field – the grenading of an old shepherd by an Iraqi highway comes to mind – or My Lai or the massacre of refugees by US forces in Korea or the murder of Malayan villagers by British troops. Or the Bloody Sunday massacre of 14 Catholics by British troops in Derry in 1972. And please note, I have not even mentioned the name of Baha Mousa.

The US Marines' response to the pissing pictures was oh so typical. These men were not abiding by the "core values" of the Marines, we were informed. Same old story. A "rogue" unit, a few "bad apples", rotten eggs. Maybe.

But if there is one game of pissing on the dead, how many others happened without pictures? How many other shepherds got fragged in Iraq? How many other Hadithas have there been? There were plenty of other My Lais....

For note, it was not the killing of these men that worried the Marine Corps in the US – it was the pissing. Nothing wrong in killing amid the "core values" of the Marine Corps; you just shouldn't urinate on the corpses. And even more to the point: YOU MUSTN'T DO IT ON CAMERA! Too late. It comes to this. Armies are horrible creatures and soldiers do wicked things but when we accept all these lies about "bad apples" and the exceptionalism of crime in war – "there may have been some excesses" is the usual dictator-speak – we are accepting war and going along with the dishonesty of it and we are making it more possible and easier and the killings and rapes more excusable and more frequent.

And how should armies react? With one word: guilty."

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