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Freedom, Democracy, Stupidity and War Crimes

US Marines: Not the sharpest tools in the shed, but I guess one only need a blunt object to bludgeon a country to death. Writes Reuben Brand.

Burning copiesof the Qur’an in Afghanistan – just another day at the office for the pride of America, the US Marines.

Hundreds of angry Afghans have vented their fury as violent protests around the country continue after reports that the US Military had burned copies of the Qur’an.

Two US Soldiers were gunned down and killed on Thursday at a military base in Kandahar less than one week after two Senior US officers were killed at the Afghan Interior Ministry.

These killings really highlight the overt frustration of the Afghan people at the current occupation and puts further strain on Western relations in the region.

The US has since apologised for the inappropriate conduct towards the religious material and has called the incident “deeply unfortunate.”

Leon Panetta, the US secretary of defence said in a statement that “These actions do not represent the views of the United States military. We honour and respect the religious practices of the Afghan people, without exception.”

“We honour and respect the religious practices of the Afghan people,” an interesting statement indeed, considering earlier this year footage of US soldiers urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban insurgents circulated the internet.

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The soldiers can be heard laughing and saying “golden like a shower,” “Yeeeaaah,” and “have a great day, buddy!” as they stand over the dead bodies and relieve themselves.

The anonymous person who uploaded the video wrote “Scout sniper team 4 with 3rd battalion 2nd marines out of camp lejeune peeing on dead talibans.”

Was this the same Scout Sniper team that US Marines supposedly paid tribute to with the aid of a Nazi SS flag? But of course, this was yet another rookie mistake and in true US fashion, none of the soldiers were reprimanded due to the lack of malicious intent.

According to Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton, Calif.” The Marines mistakenly believed the “SS” in the shape of white lightning bolts on the blue flag were a nod to sniper scouts – not members of Adolf Hitler’s special unit that murdered millions of Jews, gypsies and others.”

Is Nazi iconography and memorabilia really that vague? I can’t wait until US Marines brandish a swastika, to which they will have no doubt “mistakenly believed” to be an ancient Buddhist Sun sign.

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Unfortunately the actions of US Marines resonate more with Nazi sentiments than that of anything remotely Buddhist.

In 2010 twelve US Marines, who referred to themselves as “Kill Team,” murdered at least three unarmed, innocent Afghan civilians, including Gul Mudin, a 15 year old boy. They collected their body parts as trophies and photographed themselves posing with the dead bodies immediately after they were murdered, grinning and lifting the head of Gul Mudin up by the hair.

"Kill Team" member Jeremy Morlock smiles after murdering Gul Mudin

Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs, the ringleader of “Kill Team,” apparently used medical shears to sever several fingers from his victims and kept them as a form of human trophy collecting. Gibbs also gave one of these body parts to a fellow Marine involved in the killings, Pfc. Andrew Holmes, who kept it in a zip-lock bag and tried to dry it out in order to “keep the finger forever.”

Last week’s outrage at the burning of copies of the Qur’an happened in Bagram, a small town in the Parwan Province, notorious for all the wrong reasons. In 2002 Dilawar and Habibullah, two detainees at Bagram prison were victims of such repeated torture, that it resulted in their deaths.

Both men had been shackled by the wrists to the ceiling of their cells and both incurred repeated, violent beatings. So bad were the injuries sustained, that the coroner for Dilawar, Dr Elizabeth Rouse, said “I’ve seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus.” Dr Rouse testified that had Dilawar survived the torture, his legs would have had to be amputated.

Some US interrogators involved in the deaths of both Dilawar and Habibullah were then sent to Iraq, where they were assigned to Abu Ghraib prison where the torture continued.

To date direct and indirect civilian deaths caused since the beginning of the war in 2001 in Afghanistan is approximately 17,611 – 37,208people, who all had names, faces and families.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are over three million refugees originating from Afghanistan, over three hundred and fifty thousand Internally Displaced Persons and the total population of concern is now over 4.4 million people.

Let’s also not forget the incessant drone strikes that plague the countryside and kill indiscriminately – “collateral damage” is the official term.

Is this the legacy that the West will leave for the people of Afghanistan? A legacy of torture, terror and abuse?

If this is how US forces plan to “win the hearts and minds” of the people of Afghanistan, then I think we all have a lot to fear.

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