Awful as these losses are, another reality should be considered –the photos of these same soldiers degrading Afghan prisoners. Through these photos we can see that these soldiers’ lives have been compromised by war but, equally terrifying, that war has changed them, has made them lose that essential humanity that makes us respect other people at their most basic level. And thus we suddenly have a vision of the essential evilness of war.
These thoughts are brought to mind after looking at three photographs recently released by the German newspaper Der Spiegel, part of 4,000 photos and videos taken by the soldiers. The photos are among a number seized by U.S. Army investigators investigating the deaths of three unarmed Afghan civilians during 2010.
Twelve soldiers from the Bravo company unit of the Fifth Stryker Combat Brigade in Kandahar province are accused of serious crimes against Afghan civilians. Those accused include Special Sergeant Jeremy Morlock, 22, and three other men who were allegedly following orders from Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, 25. These soldiers are accused of killing Afghan civilians for sport and collecting their body parts –including a human skull- as trophies.