September 24, 2011
Interview with Rick Rozoff, Manager for Stop NATO, Chicago
An analyst believes the actions of the US “kill team” charged with murdering Afghan civilians for sport is not isolated, but part of a systemic military mindset
Press TV talks with Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO in Chicago, about the mindset of the US military leadership and U.S. government indiscretion that is cultivating a carte blanche impunity toward the value of the lives of the civilians of Afghanistan and Iraq. The attitude filters from the top down, resulting in atrocities against innocent people by ground forces. Following is a transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Certainly this whole episode has been embarrassing for the U.S. Does that mean these “kill teams” still won’t pop up in Afghanistan, in Iraq?
Rick Rozoff: There’s all too much reason to believe that this is not an isolated incident, that in fact U.S. and other Western troops in Afghanistan have been given carte blanche to operate with comparative impunity. I fear that we may see more again along the lines of the monstrous and grotesque story you’ve just described.
Press TV: How much of the mentality, which allows soldiers to act out in such ways, is based on the leadership’s opinions of Iraqis and Afghanis?
Rick Rozoff: That’s a very astute question. Rather than singling out a 21-year-old infantryman for being solely responsible for this horrendous crime – and degradation and mutilation of the corpse of the teenager, the youth, he killed – the blame rests much higher up.
If the situation were reversed I can assure you that the U.S. would invoke so-called command responsibility and make sure the military commanders responsible for the troops in this sort of situation were held accountable.
We have to keep in mind, for example, that in the past two years, since 2009, U.S. special operations – so-called night raids, in particular – in Afghanistan have tripled, over the last two years.
There was also a report in June from a US-based non-governmental organization called Refugees International that stated, over the same period of time – over the last two years – 250,000 Afghan civilians have been displaced from their towns and villages because of similar special operations and attacks on the villages and the towns – these are helicopter gunships attacks; so-called night raids and so forth.
So, what we’re witnessing unfortunately is widespread and systematic abuse of Afghan civilians and the case in point we’re discussing now is one of the more atrocious, but I fear not a completely isolated development.
Press TV: Do cases like this provide hope that private contractors such as those from Blackwater, now known as Xe, will be held to account more often in cases where they do kill innocent people?
Rick Rozoff: One would hope so, but I live in Chicago in the U.S., the president of the US went to the White House from Chicago, and we might recall in his Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech in December of 2009, on the occasion of receiving a prize for peace, he openly boasted of the fact that the US is “the world’s military superpower.”
And I’m afraid that kind of arrogant attitude of being above the law, and obeying the law when one chooses, filters down through the ranks into occupation troops in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and the inevitable implication I suspect is that we can get away with it because we are Americans.
Afghan civilians often victims of US night raids
September 21, 2011
Night raids conducted by U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan create the perception among Afghan civilians – who are the main victims of such raids – that foreign troops are “lawless, renegade forces that can perpetrate crimes at will,” anti-war activist Rick Rozoff says.
“Even though the identified or alleged targets are al-Qaeda or most likely Taliban fighters, the raids as often as not result in the death and wounding of innocent Afghan civilians,” Rozoff told Press TV’s U.S. Desk in an interview on Tuesday.
“So of course they are going to have a deleterious effect in terms of popular opposition to the presence of U.S. and other NATO troops in Afghanistan, who are going to be seen not only as occupation forces – which they are – but as lawless, renegade forces that can perpetrate crimes at will.”
“And the infamous night raids which are increasing in intensity as are the drone strikes across the border in Pakistan are an indication of the shift to what the Pentagon refers to as counterinsurgency rather than counterterrorist activities, a doctrine that has been elaborated by former ISAF commanders Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus and now John R. Allen who is in charge of all the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan,” Rozoff added.