Those years have accomplished very little.
November 6, 2013 3:10 PM   Subscribe

The A-Team Killings
"Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base – was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war?"
posted by andoatnp (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
[few comments removed - RTFA don't just commentbot because you saw the words "war crimes"]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:26 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Warning: there is a graphic picture of a dead person in the middle of this article. Maybe that should be added to the tags?

I have only read the first part and skimmed the rest, but it looks pretty damning. I just don't understand how regular people start to do things so atrocious. I know it must be a gradual process, but ... ugh.
posted by annsunny at 3:42 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


JSOC's mission in Afghanistan seems like a sure recipe for this sort of insanity cropping up for as long as they are operating there.

Not to derail on the presentation of the article, but that sudden appearance of the image of the exhumed body that the body of the text scrolled through was kind of odd. Is that done for gravitas?
posted by planetesimal at 3:43 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


“They’re venomously anti-American there,” one U.S. official says. “It’s always been that way."

I suspect there was a time when they didn't give a fuck about America...
posted by Drinky Die at 4:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I just don't understand how regular people start to do things so atrocious. I know it must be a gradual process, but ... ugh.

I suspect that, unfortunately, context is everything, and that all you have to do to get regular people to commit atrocities is create a context in which it's okay for them to do so.

Most of us have probably never hunkered down to eat an animal raw after killing it by biting its throat or braining it with a rock. We're omnivores, and omnivores do that kind of stuff all the time, but we exist in a context that makes it both unnecessary and unacceptable to behave that way.

This is why it's so disturbing when your government says, "Torture people? Sure, we do it all the time. Works great." Because it changes everybody's context.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:39 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


“Sometimes our adversaries are the men and women of a community.”

Maybe you should send them another memo about how you're liberating them?

On deployment in February 2010, the A-Team was responsible for calling in an airstrike on what turned out to be a convoy of civilians, killing 23 people, many of them women and children.

Oh. Ok then.
posted by xqwzts at 4:54 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


> all you have to do to get regular people to commit atrocities is create a context in which it's okay for them to do so.

It isn't so clear. Initially the Milgram experiment appeared to show that - but it's clear that there are serious flaws with taking those results and applying it to anything else (for example, imagine how the experiment would change if you allowed the subjects to go home and think about it - or even go out to lunch and take a break?)

More recently, records from concentration camps seem to show that a lot of soldiers who were assigned to them were unable to actually do the job, and the Nazis allowed prompt transfers away from the camps without any blemish on a soldier's record - leading one to suspect that they knew that a lot of soldiers simply wouldn't do it, and didn't want to break otherwise good military men for this.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:56 PM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Under the well-established legal principle of command responsibility, military officials who knowingly allow their subordinates to commit war crimes are themselves criminally responsible.

OK then, let's see more prosecutions and people being held accountable. The US is not alone in covering up atrocities, but they could take the lead and send the message that this is not acceptable.
posted by arcticseal at 4:58 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Too bad the U.S. government doesn't expend as much effort investigating these animals and their superiors as it does trying to fuck with the likes of Snowden, Greenwald, and Assange.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:01 PM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Wow, the Facebook chatter at the end of the article is just the cherry on one big, insane sundae.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:01 PM on November 6, 2013


all you have to do to get regular people to commit atrocities is create a context in which it's okay for them to do so.

It isn't so clear.


Okay, I'll amend it to 'all you have to do to find out which regular people will commit atrocities is create a context in which it's okay for them to do so'.

If you want to stop this stuff from happening, though, you can't do it by creating the context in which this kind of stuff happens, letting it happen, and then picking somebody at the low end of the command chain and throwing the book at him because he cracked and did what you asked him to.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:08 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Okay, I'll amend it to 'all you have to do to find out which regular people will commit atrocities is create a context in which it's okay for them to do so'.

Sure, that's how anyone recruits people for criminal activities, basically.


> If you want to stop this stuff from happening, though, you can't do it by creating the context in which this kind of stuff happens, letting it happen, and then picking somebody at the low end of the command chain and throwing the book at him because he cracked and did what you asked him to.

I agree completely - but both are at fault - the people who set up the system to allow and encourage this, and the people who implemented it. The people at the top should, of course, get much greater jail sentences because of their kingpin positions.

It is to be noted that, under treaties that the United States has signed, refusal to investigate war crimes is in itself a war crime and is punishable with severe penalties under US law. Also worth noting is that the Obama Administration has steadfastly refused to make any sort of systematic investigation of war crimes and has generally had the attitude of "looking forward, not backward."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:21 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"looking forward, not backward."

--which is a euphemism for 'looking the other way'. Yeah, it's a disgrace, and one gets tired of consoling oneself with the thought that the OTHER guys' disgraces would have been even more disgraceful...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 6:47 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know about guards at concentration camps, but groups of civilians (including children) used as slave labor were a regular sight in Austria by the end of the war.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:10 PM on November 6, 2013






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