“The US has shown a poor record in investigating such allegations”
A week ago the US Army was accused of complicity in the killing of 18 civilians in Nerkh province in Afghanistan. It is a matter of serious concern, but unfortunately the US has shown a poor record of investigating such allegations of abuse. If they show that they’re sincere in bringing their soldiers to justice, then the local people may warm to them little by little. If there is no investigation or prosecution it will reduce the confidence of ordinary people in both NATO and the Afghan government.The people trust the Afghanistan National Army [ANA] more than the international troops. I myself have seen courts that the ANA has held against people accused of crimes similar to this, and they were given long terms in jail. I think the ANA has shown a better record than NATO troops in sticking to the law.But in cases that have implicated US soldiers, there have rarely been prosecutions [in the US]. And when a prosecution is made, ordinary Afghans rarely hear about it: only about two million people here have access to the internet. To restore trust between its forces and the Afghan people, NATO needs to prove that accused soldiers are innocent. If they can’t, they need to say who they have prosecuted, and how long they have been sentenced for. Right now, we just don’t know what’s happening. This lack of information is part of the problem.
“All we can hope for is that it was reported to the Afghan leadership. Then let them handle it as they will”
The unfortunate thing about situations like this is firstly that it’s their country. In a theatre like Afghanistan where we are essentially in someone else’s country you have to tread lightly. If the occupying forces in a country tell its soldiers what they can’t do, that reinforces an imperialistic sentiment. In a way, that would spoil relations. I don’t think it [the abuse] should’ve been done, but we have to be careful when it comes to what we call the status of forces agreement in these situations. We should try to stop this from happening, but unfortunately these Afghan soldiers may have been outside of our chain of command. If any NATO troops were indeed there, all we can hope for is that it was reported to the Afghan leadership. Then let them handle it as they will. But if they [the Afghan soldiers] did it for the sheer pleasure of torturing someone, they need to be punished severely.It’s easy to look back and say to yourself that you should’ve intervened. At the very start of my tour [in Iraq], if I had seen what was going on in that video, I would’ve tried to stop it. But by the end of my tour, I would’ve just wanted to get out of there. War is hell, and by the time you’re half way through your tour, you just want to get home.