Saturday, October 22, 2005

Burning of Taleban Corpses - the Saga Continues

The US is in serious damage control over the bad publicity in the Islamic world following the burning of the corpses of two Taleban fighters. The US administration, unable to blame Newsweek magazine this time for desecration against Muslim beliefs, has come out with an explanation.

According to the US military, after killing the two Taleban insurgents the US soldiers sent word to nearby Gonbaz for the villagers to collect the corpse. The Americans claimed that the villages refused to do so probably because the dead men were not Afghans but Pakis.

Note the US explanation contained the qualification of “probably”, which means they didn't know, are guessing or just plain bullshitting. In the American and English-speaking spinworld one should always look out for such tell-tale signs in a statement.

[On spinned bullshit please read my earlier post New English Terminology - Courtesy of US Military]

Then the explanation went, that since the US soldiers were sharing a hilltop with the uncollected bloating corpses they had to cremate the bodies to neutralise the stench.

But if the hilltop was so important, why couldn’t they remove the bodies elsewhere?

A few questions remained to be asked of the US military:

(1) Did the villagers refuse to collect the bodies because they could be killed or arrested (for torture), a belief that seems to be supported by the next question;

(2) What about the US soldiers taunting for the villagers through loudspeakers to have some ‘balls’ to collect those bodies? The following insulting message was what had been provocatively broadcast to the villagers:

"Attention Taleban you are 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 ladyboys we always believed you to be."

Hardly the sort of message to help us believe for one instant that the US military had been civic enough to ask the villagers to remove the bloating blodies for decent burial.

Then one US officer in Kandahar truly descended down to the level of the al Qaeda and Taleban terorists by pointing out that “the Taliban and al-Qaeda never show any qualms about defiling the bodies of dead Afghan or American soldiers."

In my previous post on this issue I clarified to reader mob1900 that the US shouldn’t compare itself to those that they alleged to be lawless terrorists, because if they do then they themselves are like the scumbag terrorists they condemned.

When one is the armed Service of a civilised nation one is expected to conduct oneself according to the norms of civilised society that have already been internationally codified and observed by civilised nations.

(1) US Troops Burned Muslim Corpses to Taunt Taleban

(2) No Civilian Killed, Only Suspected Insurgents

(3) Rumsfeld Authorised Guantanamo Torture Techniques!


  1. You seem to be pretty quick to judge these troops guilty. And while you are correct that we (the U.S.) should be held to a higher standard, it is worth noting that many SENSITIVE MUSLIMS have no qualms cutting off heads, burning, dismembering and decapitating corpses.

    In this case, burning the bodies was a prudent, but ultimately bad, decision. No question.

    Here is what the Australian reporter Stephen DuPont, who was embedded with the troops, had to say (after his film and story had been manipulated by others back in Australia):

    "I actually believed that the guys that were involved in the burning did it for honorable reasons - they did it through their orders or did it for hygiene - I had no doubt in my mind that they were telling me the truth. If they were doing something that was problematic or controversial, there is no way they would have shown me this."

    Dupont admitted that "Psy-Ops" troops later used these still smoldering corpses to intimidate and challenge any nearby Taliban over loud speakers, but he did not feel that the burning itself had been staged or inappropriate.

    There you have it.

  2. timmer,
    I do NOT hold the US troops to a higher standards, just the norm for an armed forces of a civilised nation, in accordance with codified rules of conduct espoused under the Geneva Convention.

    Being better 'behaved' than al Qaeda or Taleban is not setting a higher standards because, of those two groups. the former is a radical/extremist terrorist organization, while the latter, although once a legitimate government, had demonstrated the most heinous barbaric behaviour towards its own people and own culture. These scumbags are at the bottom of the cesspool. Being better than them is not good enough.

    The trouble with 'embedded' journalists is that they have been labelled as 'in bed' with the unit they have been attached to - I believed Dupont wanted to have it both ways, that is have his cake and eat it as well, by showing a controversial video clip or at least knowing the value of the likely controversy but at the same time not wanting to burn the bridges with regards to his future prospects for further embedding.

    The general impression of US troops being deliberately provocative has not been based merely on this incident. The US military has a notoriety of torture, abuse, murder and disrespect for the norms of the Geneva Conventions, particular so in Afghanistan.

    Ever heard of the notorious Bagram Air Base where an innocent taxi driver who had the misfortune to pass the US base during a mortar attack, was hauled in on suspicion, tortured (beaten in the legs until he could no longer stand up), not provided any drinking water and eventually died from the shock of the torture? The military eventually admitted he was innocent. But the culprit was merely given a light slap on the wrist.

    Then there were the US Special Forces who stood by as their allies, the Northern Alliance massacred Taleban soldiers locked up in a cargo container. The Northen Alliance was once allies of the former USSR while al Qaeda and Taleban were allies of the US - ironical, isn't it?

    Reporters discovered a mass grave near the site of the massacre very much alike the mass grave in Iraq as a result of Saddam's atrocity, except this one in Afghanistan had the US Special Forces being knowing accessories to the war crimes.

    Unfortunately the misconduct of US military getting away with virtually murder has had a long history - let's just stick to the recent era - some horrendous examples have been Vietnam's infamous My Lai and the free fire zones, South Korea's numerous cases of rape and even murder of young schoolgirls, likewise with Japan's Okinawa Islands, Italy's cable car disaster, Afghanistan's Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah's cold blooded execution of an already wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a mosque, even in Australia where a couple of US Navy sailors murdered an Aussie bloke in a bar, but were never trialled or punished even though the US Navy promised the Australian authority they would do so if the two sailors were handed to them.

    No non-American, even and especially its allies, believe in or respect American sense of justice esepcially when American soldiers have been accused of crimes. These non-Americans are only allies in the wider strategic/political sense but the military of America's allies actually despise American soldiers in general.

    I mention "in general" because there are many good American officers that I am personally acquainted and have had the honour of working with.

    Think about it. People don't think very highly, in fact au contraire, that is, very lowly of the general behaviour of the US military, and I am talking about America's allies, not even its enemies.