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Certifiable War Criminals / By: Bruce G. Richardson
Saturday, 02.16.2013, 10:00pm (GMT+1)

War crimes are crimes committed with group and or state approval, and therefore different from crimes committed by single individuals in ordinary society.  In Afghanistan war crimes are of such magnitude that it is imperative for us to understand what its motivation was, and it is the duty of sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and international-jurists to study these facts and make them generally understood. As liberal democracies are more likely to support war crimes tribunals than illiberal countries, however, according to realists, international relations are primarily a matter of power relationships which therefore may help to explain and or understand the uncritical power-relationship that exists between the United States and their ally, Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance… inarguably, certifiable war criminals.  International organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have failed to protect the innocent and demobilized combatants (prisoners of war) during a time of war. This profound failure is manifest by a lack of resolve and hence enforcement against powerful nations who hold veto power in the prestigious international assemblies or have refused to ratify such jurisdictional-bodies as the International Criminal Court (ICC). Both Russia and the United States have refused to ratify the International Criminal Court.

For a majority of the world’s citizenry, ordinary conversational dialogue or language seems unable to process, explain, understand, articulate and hence catalogue the magnitude and unmitigated horror associated with war crimes.  As a result, war crimes are often hidden from public view and hence discussion. Also, nation’s that find themselves at war, generally limit public knowledge regarding allegations of war crimes and therefore participation in such dialogue through control of the information highway and in so doing marshal uncritical public support for the war.

Recently, in a sacrilegious expression of disrespect, a group of U.S. Marines were video-taped urinating on the deceased remains of Taliban soldiers who had fallen in battle. Generally, amongst soldiers there exists an unwritten and often unspoken reverential accommodation for those fallen in battle. This isolated and unceremonious incident by a small number of irreverent Marines is illustrative of a profound lack of military tradition, discipline, respect and recognition of the human condition in a theatre of war. In yet another bizarre incident, an American soldier was discovered to be collecting body parts from fallen Afghans as souvenirs in an isolated and macabre-demonstration of the dark, grisly and unseemly underside of war. These criminal acts, while the acts of a small group or individual, have drawn scant criticism and or outrage due in large part to government sanctioned censorship extant in the Western media and an ever-present reluctance to confront powerful nations by those less-powerful. There exists nothing that can pre-empt, disrupt or negate international relationships as can the commission of war crimes by an army of occupation. Liberal democracy’s aid to countries under siege, no matter the order of magnitude, will be seriously or profoundly compromised and or undermined by the psychological and physical assault on a nation’s psyche that results from the commission of war crimes.

In a demonstration of political-expediency, the United States has accumulated a long and sordid history of support for and use of war criminals, drug traffickers and petty criminals of assorted stripes in their multiple wars in the Middle East, Indo-China, Asia, and  the Near East and South Asia in their quest for  global domination.  Sadly, Afghanistan has been and is no different. A case in point is America’s new-found ally, Abdul Rashid Dostum, Northern Alliance member, certifiable war criminal and current Deputy Defense Minister in the administration of the American-appointed Afghan President, Hamid Karzai.

America’s proxy-military ally in the so-called war on terror, Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek, is a pro-Moscow, US, Iran and India militia commander of the infamous 53rd Division, known locally as the Gilamjan for their propensity to looting, are alleged to have found joy and entertainment in strapping hapless prisoners of war and their political enemies to the treads of tanks and then driving around until the victims are crushed to death under 40-tons of steel, reducing them to minute, unrecognizable shards of raw flesh.

Dostum and his Jowzjani  militia, in but a single incident amongst many certified, indictable crimes , also stands accused of the massacre of 8,450 Taliban prisoners of war at Dasht-i-Laili in the most inhuman and brutal fashion imaginable.  Prisoners were stuffed inside metal cargo containers and then hoisted over raging fires and subsequently burned-to-death. In another collateral act of barbarity, and just before the containers were placed over the fires, Dostum’s troops fired live ammunition into the containers killing and injuring a number of the prisoners. Dostum’s propensity to conduct acts of sadism and torture on prisoners in his custody are well-documented. For example, there are reports of prisoners being beheaded with heated swords in order to induce convulsions for the pathological and twisted entertainment of Dostum’s troops who irreverently refer to them as “the dancing dead.”

All during the Jihad-period, Dostum sided with and fought alongside and in support of successive Communist governments and the occupational forces of the USSR against the Mujahideen. Presently, he is allied with the occupational forces of the American-led ISAF contingent. That Dostum, a certifiable war criminal, enabled with and by the connivance of the United States, is allied with and in an illegal war of aggression in Afghanistan, is in and of itself an unconscionable war crime and a hypocritical act of self-serving hyperbole by the United States, a nation that prides itself on democratic ideals, the rule of law and constitutional guarantees.

Fifteen years ago, (1997) while in Kabul, I observed and photographed the exhumation of human remains by torrential rains from a number of mass-grave sites known as the Pul-i-Charkhi, Polygon, (Mushad Shohada) without doubt an unforgettable, deeply disturbing and grisly sight that haunts me to this day. Those interred there, were brutally murdered, executed by successive Communist governments at the behest and direction of their Soviet patrons. It is my hope that one day in light of the photographic evidence collected at the site, that a war crimes tribunal will be convened to investigate and adjudicate these and more recent crimes against the Afghan people and thus humanity.

American and Russian refusal to ratify the International Criminal Court (ICC) is demonstrably parochial and self-serving, as both the US and Russia have participated in multitudes of war crimes over time, and is illustrative of a profound disconnect for the human condition.

The commission of war crimes must enumerate and include the commissioning of militia forces such as Afghanistan’s nefarious Northern Alliance.  When an occupying force (Russia and the US) solicits and deploys a band known and certified for their commission of war crimes, elevates them to the highest portfolios in the land, they are by extension and foreknowledge guilty of the most heinous of war crimes themselves.


For corroborating text see: (Afghanistan, Political Frailty and External Interference, by Dr. Nabi Misdaq, 2006, American Raj, Liberation or Domination, Resolving the Crisis between the West and the Muslim World, by Eric S. Margolis, 2008, and Afghanistan, a Search for Truth, by Bruce G. Richardson, 2008)

Bruce G. Richardson




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