War Trophies from
Afghanistan: A Clash of Morals
April 21, 2012
The awful pictures, published in the Los Angeles Times, show US soldiers
posing with the remains of dead Afghans. For sure they have an audience in their
military bases and back at home; such people must be consumed with immense hate
to take pleasure from such macabre images. Similar pictures have also surfaced
earlier, including a video showing US Marines urinating on dead Afghans. Then
followed the Anders Breivik like killing rampage, by a lone US soldier; 17
innocent and defenceless civilians, including women and 9 children were murdered
in cold blood. All these examples show an underlying trend; deep contempt for
the Afghans, which correlate with the xenophobic and racist culture that runs
deep within US history.
There is a history behind the Ďartí of collecting parts of mutilated dead
bodies as war trophies. During the Vietnam War, some U.S. soldiers collected
skulls of Vietnamese soldiers. Similarly in World War II, teeth and skulls of
dead Japanese service personnel were commonly taken and sent home. Their
ancestors, who migrated from Europe, engaged in taking scalps from dead Native
Americans as trophies.
Body parts of slain enemies have served as trophies since antiquity; however,
a mark of civilisation is to pay respect for the dead by burying them with
dignity, rather than mutilating their bodies. In this respect, the Islamic
Taliban fighters have excelled, by not behaving like the US soldiers. Everyone
has a mobile phone with a digital camera and a video facility; they could easily
pose like the American soldiers, and upload the videos and pictures on the
internet. This good behaviour of the Taliban reflects the Islamic prohibition of
mutilating dead bodies. In fact, there is a general prohibition to even speak
ill of the dead. The underlying philosophy is - once you have departed from this
world itís the end of the matter, and everything rests between the individual
and the Creator in the hereafter. This example of collecting trophies depicts a
clear clash of values; freedom expressed by the xenophobic US soldiers and the
Islamic values of the Taliban fighters.
Just prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, the US-led leadership proclaimed
they were on a mission to restore democracy and freedom in Afghanistan as these
are universal values, thus the Afghans would naturally welcome them as
liberators. At a broad level, many values are universal, for example everyone is
committed to justice, but it has different meanings for different societies. And
taking the example of freedom in Afghanistan, it would not lead to the right to
license brothels and gambling joints. Likewise, democracy is often understood as
the ability to select a ruler who is representative. Hence, when you get into
the details, the clear differences emerge as there is a fundamental clash of
In the early phase of the war, the propaganda machine went into overdrive;
the US soldiers were going to liberate the Afghan women. How ironic, when rape
is rampant inside the US military where women are more likely to be attacked by
these male Ďliberatorsí than to be killed by enemy fire .
The prediction was, once the Taliban were ousted, freedom would reign and the
women would rush to exchange the Islamic veil for the bikini. To kick start the
process, they propagated a lone Afghan woman entering a beauty contest in a
bikini held in the US. You can imagine the crude soldiers looking on, whistling
and cheering with their vulgar gestures. Of course, itís not due to the fear of
the Taliban or Al-Qaeda, the bulk of the people uphold Islamic values, that is
why the women did not exchange their modest clothing for crass nudity.
In any case, if there are such things as universal values, they would
naturally exist in all societies; there would be no need to proclaim them and
even less need to invade a country.
The US government and officials have condemned the action of the soldiers and
some tried to give some level of justification Ė being a reaction in a war
situation. This shows the failure to recognise or to acknowledge the root cause
of such problems. The American soldiers do not see themselves as liberators but
as occupiers; many have a xenophobic racist mindset, they are just there to hunt
Muzzies, Towel Heads and Sand Niggers to use their racist pejorative terms.
Yamin Zakaria is the author of
Suicide Bombings - Jihad or Terrorism?, published by AuthorHouse UK.
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