There is a rather nauseating but not entirely surprising story in today’s Independent on Sunday about British soldiers gathering to watch ‘war snuff movies’ at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan for ‘morale boosting’ sessions.
These’Kill TV nights’ consisted of video clips showing people being killed by Apache helicopters, and were accompanied by a commentary from Warrant Officer Andy Farmer. According to the Independent:
”In one clip an Afghan woman is targeted after a radio dialogue between pilots refers to her as a ‘snake with tits’.
Another clip from a recent “Kill TV” night shows the cross-hair of an Apache helicopter taking aim at an insurgent. WOII Farmer gives a running commentary: ‘OK, so he’s walking along… then thinks… I’m gonna go off and get my 70 vessel [sic] virgins ’cause daylight’s coming quite quick.”
As the missile hits the target and kills the person, he says “Goodnight princess”, adding ‘this is where you see he’s actually had the clothes ripped off him by the blast’. ”
Uplifting stuff eh? This isn’t the first time that ‘war porn’ has made an appearance in the course of the ’9/11 wars’ in Afghanistan and Iraq. An American porn website once offered US soldiers free access in exchange for posting gruesome mobile phone clips of Iraqis shot at roadblocks etc. It was this fondness for trophy clips and photo-souvenirs that caught out the grinning morons standing by pyramids of naked bodies during their ‘enhanced interrogations’ at Abu Ghraib prison.
Lyndie England, Charles Graner et al thought that what they were doing was fun and they clearly expected those to whom they sent these images to react in the same way. Whoever filmed the infamous clip of military contractors in Iraq randomly opening fire on passing cars to a soundtrack of Elvis Presley’s ‘Mystery Train’ shared the same expectations. British soldiers also took trophy photos and video clips from Iraq, including one clip of soldiers beating up Iraqi prisoners accompanied by a commentator who can be heard taking a disturbing relish in every kick and punch.
The history of colonial wars and military occupations is filled with episodes of the brutalisation of the occupying army on one hand, whether in colonial Algeria, Vietnam or the West Bank, and the reduction of the ‘native’ enemy to a killable object of violence and casual atrocity on the other But the idea that ‘snuff’ footage can have a morale-boosting effect points is something I haven’t heard before. Warrant Officer Farmer has no apologies for the practice, telling a Channel 4 Documentary which begins tonight:
No doubt they do. But that doesn’t entitle the army to transform the act of killing into a pleasurable form of entertainment to cheer up its soldiers. Armies that need this kind of ‘morale boosting’ are clearly losing the plot. Coming after the Baha Moussa inquiry and another incident in which British soldiers are alleged to have carried out a ‘sickening sex assault’ on a 14-year-old Iraqi boy, ‘Kill night’ is further evidence of the corrupting impact of corrupt, futile and immoral wars on those who fight them.
And it does make you wonder about the kind of people ‘our finest men and women’ are turning into out there, who Michael Gove would like to place in the nation’s classrooms to act as role models to the nation’s youth.
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