Almost two weeks ago, the inspector-general of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) released a report on alleged war crimes committed by ADF soldiers in Afghanistan, claiming to have credible evidence.
The report has sparked outrage across the international media; many are demanding justice for the incidents and the Australian government has already apologized and is moving to hold the suspects accountable.
The report, now dubbed the Brereton War Crimes Report, alleges that 19 soldiers with the ADF's elite Special Air Services and commandos regiment had killed at least 39 Afghan civilians, including children.
According to the report, the murders of "prisoners, farmers or civilians" from 2009-2013 resulted from a "warrior culture" among some soldiers.
In addition, it found that junior soldiers were instructed to shoot prisoners to get their first kill. Often, it alleges, weapons were planted on bodies to cover up these crimes. None of the identified incidents could be "described as being in the heat of battle," according to ADF chief General Angus Campbell.
The 19 soldiers implicated could now face prosecution for these murders and an additional 13, who are alleged accessories to the murders or are suspected of lying in testimonies, have been sent notices of likely dismissal by the Australian military.
The Australian government has also said that it will set up an independent panel to review the ADF and provide "accountability and transparency."
Make no mistake, these incidents were not isolated and must have been deeply embedded in the institution of the ADF.
They also represent something much bigger: a deeply rooted cultural problem in the anglophone world.
The former British colonies, such as Australia and the United States, are among the most dehumanizing countries in modern history. That is to say that their foundation on white supremacy and subsequent treatment of the "other" make them unrivaled in their propensity to commit wanton violence against human beings under the auspices that the victims are lesser or sub-human.
In fact, Nazi Germany, the most infamous example of a white supremacist state, was deeply inspired by the former British colonies, which they regarded as sister nations.
They saw the creation of the United States of America and its ascendance to power after World War I, for example, as one of the most significant historical moments for white supremacy, and their jurists drew serious inspiration from American race law, immigration law, "anti-miscegenation" law and even the political construction of whitehood.
Hitler himself marveled about the American immigration system in his unpublished sequel to Mein Kampf, referencing immigration quotas while praising its exclusion of "foreign bodies" from immigration.
The Immigration Act of 1924, according to the Office of the Historian under the U.S. State Department, "limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States through a national origins quota. The quota provided immigration visas to 2 percent of the total number of people of each nationality in the United States as of the 1890 national census. It completely excluded immigrants from Asia." This was an immigration policy that was inspirational to other anglophone countries, like Australia.
During World War II, the Nazis frequently channeled America's genocide of the Native America in their eastward conquest, murdering the Eastern European population for lebensraum (living space) much in a way that also can also be related to Australia's massacre of the aboriginal population.
It is widely taught in Western schools and in the media that Nazi Germany, its brutal war effort and unspeakable crimes during the Holocaust are quintessential example of the dangerous consequences of racism and dehumanization.
There's no question that there are obviously serious divergences between Nazi Germany and the former British colonies. But the fact that the Nazis drew so much from the anglophone world – including Australia and the United States – on how to dehumanize people should really say something about their cultures.
All of America and Australia's genocidal actions and their "racist past" are gone, just a bad memory or a blemish on an otherwise rich history of liberal democracy.
Yet these countries were and continue to be the pioneers of racism and dehumanization.
Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) began investigating alleged war crimes by the United States and other actors in Afghanistan.
It follows a 2016 reported by the ICC, which has been under continual attack by the current American administration for this reporting, that established a reasonable basis to believe the U.S. has torture programs in Afghanistan operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Taliban and Afghan government were also implicated in crimes.
The UK is also coming under fire.
Last week, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission called on the UK "to open an independent public inquiry to review and investigate the allegations of unlawful killings by the UK Special Forces." The UK's High Court is also probing whether the government has properly checked alleged incidents of human rights abuses.
It is only after a serious media frenzy that any of this is getting any attention, which shows that these countries' militaries cannot keep themselves accountable over human rights abuses. And the reason is that the victims of these crimes, to them, are not actually human.
It's not an isolated incident – not within the ADF or even to Australia itself – but rather a profound cultural problem of white supremacy across the anglophone world that needs correction.
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