We sleep soundly at night….

……because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.

Winston Churchill

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was photographed cheering on an American soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a suspected Afghan militant whose death is now the subject of a war crimes investigation into the war hero.

The world is divided in to exactly three types of people;

  1. Those who see the photo above and think, “so what?”,
  2. Those who see the photo above and think, “that’s disgusting, get the lawyers in The Hague on the blower”, and
  3. Those who see the photo above and think, “the infidel dogs in the west must die”.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained two photographs that show Mr Roberts-Smith, the country’s most decorated living soldier, posing with the prosthetic leg which was used as a novelty drinking vessel.

Obtained” or, in English; “paid top dollar for“.

The photographs appear at odds with claims made by Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyer in the Federal Court last year that the war hero was utterly disgusted by the use of the leg as a drinking vessel. Lawyer Bruce McClintock stressed Mr Roberts-Smith “never drank from that thing … Because he thought it was disgusting to souvenir a body part, albeit an artificial one from someone who had been killed in action.”

He’s not drinking from it. He’s next to a person drinking from it, neither of whom probably realised that, years after risking their lives on our behalf, investigative journalists would be frothing up a story where front line soldiers in Afghanistan are judged by standards applicable to wine bars in Glebe.

The fake limb gained further notoriety earlier this month when photos of soldiers and non-commissioned officers drinking from it were leaked to The Guardian. The photos supplied to The Guardian did not include any images of Mr Roberts-Smith posing with the leg.

In other news, I visited Dallas once but the authorities are still struggling with collecting the evidence necessary to convict me of assassinating JFK.

The Guardian story, written by freelance journalist Rory Callinan, included photos of two soldiers with faces blurred posing with the boot. The story claimed “rank-and-file” soldiers believe they have been unfairly criticised by the Brereton report and suggest that drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging because the leg was property taken without the consent of its owner.

Rory Callinan’s Twitter feed is to be found here. It is fair to say he posts little else other than allegations of Australian war crimes and the reporting of the investigations. That’s fair enough, he can be a single issue journalist if he wants. Readers may wish to bear this obsession in mind when reading his output, however.

“…drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging“. Perhaps this is technically correct, but when detailing the backlog of various breaches of the Geneva Convention to be prosecuted and in what order, this may be close on the list to the whole of class detention your child got last week because two other kids were misbehaving. Collective punishment is a war crime under the 4th Geneva Convention, after all.

Perhaps it’s time for a comment from an adult:

Australian Defence Association chief executive Neil James wrote on Friday that, “to our national detriment, much of the public discussion on war crimes alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is focusing on secondary, peripheral or irrelevant issues.”

Quite.

Bill’s Opinion

Unfortunately, I’ve no doubt war crimes have been committed in my name. I am certain, at times, armed forces acting for my country have shot first, asked questions later. After the fog of war has lifted, it’s correct to investigate these incidents and take appropriate action against the individual and to examine whether it indicates a culture that should be addressed.

However….I don’t give a flying fuck about our “rough men” drinking out of a dead Taliban’s false leg. In fact, send me the GoFundMe page link and I’ll chuck a few quid in to buy a round of beers for them.

My suspicion is this is the view of most people outside of the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald and Grauniad’s news rooms.

5 Replies to “We sleep soundly at night….”

  1. “An unarmed militant.” Did he have prosthetic upper limbs as well?

    In my admittedly very limited experience of this kind of thing, dead hostiles can’t normally be described as “armed,” i.e. carrying a weapon with the intention of using it.

  2. While waiting for the skull to be properly cleaned out, disinfected, and possibly fitted with a silver rim and tasteful ornamental chasing, a chap still needs something to drink out of.

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