The dehumanization of Afghans.
The American military has officially sanctioned the dehumanization of the Afghan people and put a dispensable price on their heads. A while back the Pentagon issued a word of warning to its combatants in Afghanistan: before undertaking a bombing campaign which may result in the loss of civilian life consider how many innocent people are likely to die, if less than 20 then the mission is a Go if more than 20 better to reconsider. The Pentagon cautions restraint in the latter not because kill more than 20 is simply too many civilian deaths, but because such a high figure will likely produce more news reports than a civilian death toll number say nine. So the Pentagon is explicitly stating that concerns about Afghan civilian deaths should be made from a P.R. prespective. That it does not matter how many innocent Afghans die per se, but whether such deaths produce bad press for the U.S. military press. The concern is public image and the Afghan lives have no value in and of themselves but solely in relation to what they mean for American P.R. and winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people.
Memo to Afghans: Always gather in large circles.
When the senior officials define such an atmosphere and when American culture constantly engage in the dehumanizing of Muslims as people whose lives are cheap, dispensable and ‘they do not value human life as we do’ it is not surprising that some American troops would behave like this:
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies. Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.