By Ahmad Barqawi
Beyond the sensational news headlines of America’s ‘humanitarian’ interventions and democracy-spreading escapades lies a grim reality; one of a brutal military occupation, systematic torture practices and horrendous abuses of basic human rights.
The entire world got to witness first hand what an imperial power, drunk on its military supremacy and callous sense of self righteousness, had in store for the indigenous populations whom were unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of the U.S.’s vigilantism in Afghanistan and Iraq; both countries have become disastrous cautionary tales for the kind of democracy that is served with F-16s, indiscriminate high altitude bombings and Tomahawks.
The heartbreaking consequences of the extensive use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium in the bombing of fallujah city in Iraq seven years ago are still evident till this very day in the city’s deformed newborn babies, the leaked photos of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib reeks with the gore and terror that took place behind its walls and the sweeping attacks of unmanned fighter jets have –so far- claimed the lives of innocent civilians by the hundreds in Afghanistan and Pakistan where entire villages have virtually become burial grounds to its inhabitants; and while it’s been almost three years since that woebegone George W. Bush-era, let’s just say that things haven’t changed a bit, on the contrary; predatory drone strikes have only increased in frequency and intensity; trigger-happy private military contractors still roam the streets of Afghani towns using local residents as dartboards for their automatic machine guns and “sport killing” has become the preferred pastime for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The latest (graphic) evidence of this sinister and dark reality came from the German publication "Der Spiegel" which, in its most recent issue, published photos of several U.S. Army officers, high on their "unmatched" military might, posing "victoriously" with the bloody corpses of Afghan civilians.
One picture showed a soldier kneeling down on an Afghani victim; holding the dead body’s head towards the camera with one hand and a cigarette in the other; invoking the image of a hunter celebrating his "kill"; another picture showed a different soldier assuming the very same position with the same victim; albeit with a smirk on his face; one would assume that the entire unit took turns taking "trophy pictures" with the mutilated corpse.
In a proactive move to soften the sting of criticism; the United States Army offered a meek apology; stressing that “rogue” elements within the ranks of its military bore the brunt of the blame and that the actions depicted in these photos were “contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army" according to a statement released by Col. Thomas Collins.
Like a sleight of hand magician; Col. Collins wants us to believe that these were isolated incidents carried out by a handful of "bad apples" –so to speak- within the U.S. military; but in light of the notorious Abu Graib scandal, the pictures of Guantanamo Bay detainees and last year’s video footage of an American apache helicopter gunning down nine Iraqi civilians at close range in Baghdad; one has to wonder; how many individual “rogue elements” will it take Col. Collins to realize (or admit) that there is in fact an endemic pathological pattern at play here?
Incidentally; these "trophy" pictures remind us of the infamous “facebook” photos of one Israeli female soldier; of which one snapshot showed her posing in front of handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners and smiling sneeringly for the camera while another showed her cozying up to a young Palestinian detainee and using him in that posture as a punchline for sleazy jokes and comments among her friends on the social networking website; and of course who can forget that tasteless Youtube video of yet another Israeli soldier dancing hysterically around a blindfolded Palestinian woman prisoner; cornering her into a wall and preying on her public humiliation, the parallels between these two “incidents” and the “Der Spiegel” story are both so eerie and horrid that it leaves little room for doubt that the Israeli Army cooks in the same kitchen with the same toxic ingredients as its American patron.
Under the farcical guise of democracy, protecting civilians and ridding the region of dictatorial backward regimes; the United States has laid complete waste to entire nations all the while desperately attempting to cloak its hegemonic ambitions in a "moral authority" it can’t even afford; the “Der Speigel” images are too powerful to be ignored; it revealed one more time; the true ugly face of an imperial super power inching closer towards complete moral breakdown.
Ironically; the revelation of these scandalous photos itself has taken a backseat to the ongoing escalation of yet another western military intervention; this time in Libya; one more oil rich country where the American empire and its European cronies can really sink their sharpened teeth into; but as the sea of innocent blood overflows in Libya and the western coalition hands the whole operation over to the ill-famed NATO forces; we need to temper our exuberance and expectations for what the Odyssey Dawn might eventually bring us and pray that in a year’s time we won’t be confronted with "trophy" photographs of Libyan civilian victims.
– Ahmad Barqawi, a Jordanian freelance columnist & writer based in Amman, he has done several studies, statistical analysis and researches on economic and social development in Jordan. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.