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The Kill Team

The US war in Afghanistan had the goal of liberating the country from Taliban rule.

KABUL –  In 2010, a group of rogue US soldiers in Afghanistan decided to turn war into sports, as they killed Afghan civilians for fun and collected body parts as trophies. One of the soldiers who was forced into such a "kill team", the 20-year-old Adam Winfield,  has exposed these horrors that are usually kept confidential.

The kill team collected trophies such as fingers from the victims and posed for photos alongside the bodies. Eventually in 2011 twelve soldiers were charged with war crimes, with the lengthiest sentences being up to 24 years in prison, while whistleblower Winfield got three years and was recently released. The story of these murders and Winfield can be seen in the film THE KILL TEAM, which has been nominated for the Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin 2014 on February 10. This story also highlights the fact that "whistleblowing for reasons of humanity and ethics" should start from the very bottom levels of our society and continue all the way to the top, so that unjust, abusive and corrupt behavior could be exposed and uprooted. 

The existence of such kill teams under the auspices of the US army further goes to show that there can be no clean war; the kill team in Afghanistan is just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of the counterparts, war eventually corrupts even an army with stated good intentions, and conflict turns dirty with such brutal outcomes. The US army is not alone in this: one must only look at the slaughter in for example Chechnya, Bosnia and Rwanda, not to mention the ongoing civil war in Syria.

There can thus be only one clean solution: to avoid and end wars completely.

Currently the world is investing trillions of dollars in arms. What if a small part of these amounts were diverted  towards preventive measures such as education and development, and towards an UN system that aims to prevent and stop conflicts before they escalate?

While it seems appropriate to criticize the US Army and question the chain of command that has ignored such crimes, the US Army is being given credit for acting on behalf of most of the world's population. It has protected the world from greater destruction in World War I, stopped the Nazis in World War II and ended the slaughter in Bosnia, to name a few. As Bill Schneider from Third Way writes: "Whenever a threat to world peace or stability has emerged -- in Kuwait or Kosovo or Afghanistan or Iraq or Libya -- if the U.S. had not acted, nothing would have been done." On the other hand, you have the massive failures in Vietnam and Iraq among many others, where the US went to war for unjustified reasons, while killing many innocent civilians. At the last Cinema for Peace screening the audience could listen to original taped conversations from the White House, where Richard Nixon suggested to Henry Kissinger to drop a few "nukes" on Vietnam, wondering why everybody wouldn't immediately favor his idea to use nuclear bombs.

The question is whether there can be a successful and independent kind of "World Police" which would replace the US as the only global power to take action on a larger scale? Since 1993, a small United Nations Police Division has existed, and its activities and mandate have been broadened in the past years. Should this UN Police be developed further towards a World Police Force that could focus on stopping conflicts before they escalate, with the mandate of protecting every citizen of every nation from war?

We invite you to watch also the following trailers on the topic of conflicts around the world and how they turn dirty, how peoples minds can degenerate to taking pleasure in killing, as they did for example in Indonesia (The Act of Killing), where also ordinary people killed over 1 million of their fellow Indonesians in a short period of time, while nobody cared or helped:

  • THE KILL TEAM by Dan Krauss is a story about a young soldier in Afghanistan who attempted to alert the military to horrific atrocities being committed by U.S. soldiers, and who then himself became a target of one of the largest war crimes investigations in U.S. history.
  • COCA, THE DOVE FROM CHECHNYA by Eric Bergkraut. What has been declared an "anti-terrorist operation" by President Putin has taken on features of genocide. Up to thirty percent of the Chechen population may have been killed. The world is looking away; be it out of ignorance, helplessness or opportunism.
  • SRI LANKA'S KILLING FIELDS by Callum Macrae is an investigatory documentary about the final weeks of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
  • THE ACT OF KILLING by Joshua Oppenheimer examines a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes, challenging them to reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love.

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