Perfect Taliban propaganda
By Tim Foxley
The Taliban these days are quite good at combing through the internet and looking for stories, quotes and items that work in their favour as part of their hearts and minds effort. They could do worse than post up this entire article that I came across through a link from the Travels with Shiloh blog.
It helps you to understand why the Taliban and the ANSF both seem to want to kill American troops and the Afghan population might be very keen for ISAF to leave. This thoughtful and well-written piece by Neil Shea for “The American Scholar” discusses the issue of war crimes and atrocities and is based on the author’s time embedded in a US infantry platoon in the summer of last year. It reads like an updated screen play of Oliver Stone’s classic war film, “Platoon”. In fact it reads like an updated version of pretty much all the Vietnam war films I have ever seen. A couple of the most depressing moments to give you a flavour:
“Up ahead, in the stream of black shapes, were the American soldiers I had come to fear. They were men who enjoyed demolishing Afghan houses, men who shot dogs in the face. The pair who had embraced like lovers, one tenderly drawing the blade of his knife along the pale, smooth skin of his friend’s throat. There was a guy who’d let the others tie his legs open and mock-rape him, and there were several men who had boasted of plans to murder their ex-wives and former girlfriends.”
and then this,
““Feels like it’s been a month,” a soldier said.
“I can’t wait to wash my hair,” said another, smoothing his dark mop. “Man, we fucked up some houses, shit.”
Givens laughed and leaned against his gear. He was slim, boyish, unscalded by his own anger. He hated Afghans.
“Yeah, we definitely made some Taliban out here,” he said. “It was like a week-long Taliban recruiting drive. And we had fun doing it. I love recruiting for the Taliban. It’s called job security.”
They passed around packs of Pine cigarettes they had “liberated” during the raid and taunted each other with gay jokes. On the walls the Afghan homeowners had hung posters and odd pictures torn from magazines. An image of a yellow sports car, a photograph of Mecca, an idyllic scene of a cabin in Austria or Germany. Dreams beyond war. Beneath them, the men tipped cigarettes onto the floor and lit detonation cord on the rug, burning black coils into the fabric. A few men retold plans to kill former wives and girlfriends. Givens and one of his close friends talked of blowing up the qalat as they left, a parting thank-you to the residents of the valley.”
And this quote in particular, about the Afghan National Army unit they were working with:
“The soldiers of Destroyer talked about how their house searches had become demolition parties. They shattered windows and china, broke furniture, hurled civilians to the ground. Earlier that day, they had blown up a building. They tornadoed through Afghan houses and left such destruction that their ANA allies at first tried to stop them, then grew angry, sullen.
“They were so pissed they wouldn’t hang out with us anymore,” Givens remembered. “They kept saying ‘No good, mistah. No, mistah.’ And I was like, ‘Yes, fucking good. Plate? Smash. Is this a drum? Smash.’ ” He laughed. “ ‘Oh, mistah, no.’ ”
I imagined the Afghan soldiers standing by, helpless, while Destroyer destroyed. I thought of attacks over the past several years in which Afghan policemen or soldiers had suddenly turned on their NATO allies and opened fire. Such betrayals have been increasing. Sometimes the Taliban claim responsibility for them, but often it seems the assailants have been taking revenge on foreign soldiers for some perceived insult to their honor. It was not hard to envision the seeds of such an attack sown in the ruts of Destroyer’s visit.
Slowly, the soldiers began adding more stories, and tales of the past week blended with memories of killing and destruction during other missions and battles, in Afghanistan and Iraq, during many tours of duty.”
Well worth reading in full…