Marine video exposes systemic abuse by US troops?
As US defense secretary Leon Panetta condemned the footage “in the strongest possible terms,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai released a statement on Thursday calling the alleged desecration of the dead bodies “completely inhumane.”
With Karzai imploring the US military to punish those responsible, Panetta promised "those found to have engaged in such conduct will be held accountable to the fullest extent."
Meanwhile, two of the four Marines seen in a video have been identified, according to a Marine Corps official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. Both the identified soldiers are still part of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, based out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. That unit served in Afghanistan's Helmand province from March until September of 2011, the official said.
But while the Pentagon attempts to fight off claims that there are systemic problems in the American military, David Swanson, author and campaigner at rootsaction.org, told RT the latest scandal is not an isolated incident.
“This is not a group of four or five sociopaths who somehow made it through screening and got into deployment in the service of the United States. This is the result of the inevitable training that is necessary to get men and women to take part in a war that is not defensive, that has no reasonable moral or legal justification.”
In fact, Swanson argues that scandals like this can actually lead people to overlook greater injustices being committed.
“My outrage in particular is in the fact that these soldiers have apparently murdered these people and the scandal is that they are urinating on them. The hatred that is necessary to get people to do such a thing is necessary to motivate soldiers to fight in a war that has no other credible rationale. The war itself is an atrocity, and so we pick out these particular atrocities and we get outraged. But we don’t look at the underlying fact, and we end up with this incredibly bizarre phenomenon of being upset that someone is peeing on a body that he has killed.”
But John Glaser, assistant editor at antiwar.com, told RT it would be misguided to think that “every single US soldier is the type to urinate on the faces of dead Afghans.”
However, he does believe that efforts to minimize the fallout from this scandal will be thwarted by deeper problems stemming from the decade-long US occupation of the country.
“The problem with damage limitation is that this is not a limited incident. The abuses borne on a daily basis by Afghans, including the embarrassment of being militarily dominated for more than a decade, exceed the imagination of most ordinary Americans,” Glaser said.
Glaser also believes that, despite promises from the US government, there is virtually no chance that a proper investigation into the incident will be carried out.
“If recent history is any guide, that is almost an impossibility. Take for example, a couple of months ago, American troops forced Afghan civilians to march ahead of them on roads that they believed to be filled with bombs and landmines planted by insurgents. That is a war crime, and it was basically ignored. Military officials said ‘yes, it will be investigated, don’t you worry,’ but now everyone’s forgotten about it.”
Watch RT's full interview with John Glaser
Afghanistan war veteran Jake Diliberto says this latest scandal – coupled with previous abuses committed by the US military – is very good news for terrorists' recruiters.
“Just to remind people of a few accidents that occurred a while back. There was the burning of the Koran, then there was the Abu Ghraib incident and before that there was a decision to invade Iraq that had nothing to do with 9/11. So all of these situations pile on and add up. And what happens is Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations using this video and they put it in their recruiting videos that end up on YouTube and across jihadist web channels and they end up breeding anti-American sentiment,” Diliberto told RT.