Friday, November 05, 2010

Why does distance ameliorate a war crime?

By HIROAKI SATO, The Japan Times, Oct 31, 2010

NEW YORK — One aspect of the modern sense of war, be it delusional, duplicitous or both, was palpable in two articles paired at the top of the front page of The New York Times toward the end of September. The headline of one said “Drug Use Cited In Killings of 3 Civilians”; the headline of the other, “CIA INTENSIFIES DRONE CAMPAIGN WITHIN PAKISTAN.”

One had to do with old-fashioned murder by infantrymen on the ground, the other with ultramodern murder by electronically operated vehicles in the sky. Those involved in the former sometimes face charges of war crime. Those involved in the latter face no such bother — though they may be at times “criticized” for their incompetence.

The main points of the first story are these: Five soldiers in a U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan are investigated by a military court in Washington State for killing three unarmed Afghan civilians on three separate occasions earlier this year, for “no apparent reason.” They are provided with defense lawyers to raise some fuss.

“The soldiers are accused of possessing dismembered body parts, including fingers and a skull.” Some were photographed with the heads of dead Afghans.

One of them may or may not have been under medication for battlefield trauma. In any case, the use of “illegal drugs” was rampant among the soldiers of the unit — on “bad days, stressful days, days that we just needed to escape,” as one of them said.

Continues >>
Post a Comment