Though the soldiers are already facing military justice and could get the death penalty for their actions, Der Spiegel chose to publish photos that a US Army “kill team” took of themselves making sport of civilians they had allegedly intentionall killed in Afghanistan. Now US commanders are getting ready for a major backlash.
Commanders in Afghanistan are bracing themselves for possible riots and public fury triggered by the publication of “trophy” photographs of US soldiers posing with the dead bodies of defenceless Afghan civilians they killed.
Senior officials at Nato‘s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul have compared the pictures published by the German news weekly Der Spiegel to the images of US soldiers abusing prisoners in Abu Ghraib in Iraq which sparked waves of anti-US protests around the world.
They fear that the pictures could be even more damaging as they show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue US Stryker tank unit that operated in the southern province of Kandahar last year.
Though the Taliban accounts for about 75% of all civilian deaths in Afghanistan — killing civilians being their MO — these actions by US troops, who are being prosecuted as they should be, will generate far more outcry from the Afghan government we’re keeping alive and from the populace we’re there to protect and democratize.
The choice to publish these photos was Der Spiegel’s to make. I think they made the wrong choice. Western news media routinely ignore or downplay the savagery our enemy does to civilians, but they just as routinely maximize the heinous actions any rogue American troop commits. The fact that our troops end up punished, while our opposites pass out congratulations and candy, for similar actions is evidently lost on our amoral media betters.