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With Power Comes Irresponsibility? US Army Twitch Channel Won't Answer Questions About War Crimes

CC0 / / U.S. Army soldiers prepare to clear and secure a building during exercise Hammer Strike at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait
U.S. Army soldiers prepare to clear and secure a building during exercise Hammer Strike at the Udairi Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait - Sputnik International
Recently, Trump's administration gave the green light to sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials over the organisation's decision to proceed with an investigation of numerous reports of war crimes committed by the American military in Afghanistan.

The US military has been actively exploring ways of recruiting new generations of soldiers by making appearances on media platforms popular among the youth such as TikTok or Twitch streaming service, featuring the army branches' own esports teams. The stated goal was to "accurately portray [...] range of opportunities" available to young Americans in terms of serving in the country's military.

But apparently the US Army's Twitch channel was not ready to educate them on opportunities to commit "war crimes", as channel moderators would ban any person who asked the esports team members about that part of the service in the United States' military.

During one of the playing sessions in Call of Duty: Warzone videogame, Green Beret and 12-year veteran Joshua "Strotnium" David was bombarded with questions about the airstrike on an Afghan hospital and massacre in one of the villages during the Vietnam War, as well as inquiries such as "what's your favourite US war crime?" The askers were soon banned from leaving new messages in the chat and David condemned their efforts, calling those wondering about the US troops' misdeeds "internet keyboard monsters".

The discussion on the channel emerged due to players in Call of Duty: Warzone being able to use white phosphorous, an incendiary weapon banned by international law, against their enemies and due to the US military actually using it against Iraqi militants during the Second Battle of Fallujah. Back in 2005, the American government tried to deny having used the banned weapons at first, later switching the narrative in a bid to prove that the troops were eligible to use white phosphorous and that it was legal under international norms to do so in specific circumstances.

The moderators of the US Army's Twitch channel later argued that they tried to show the service in the American military "through a realistic lens", and that the banned users were trying to divert it based on "an optional weapon in a game". The moderators claimed that in their opinion such behaviour could be seen as "harassment", and hence the people engaging in it could be kicked from the channel's chat under the Twitch general policy. While the latter indeed forbids users from harassing someone via chat, it doesn't prohibit open conversations about war crimes committed by any country and doesn't specify what can be understood as "harassment", leaving the Army's Twitch channel moderators at liberty to interpret the term.

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This incident comes hot on the heels of the US introducing sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) officials over the international body's prosecutors choosing to proceed with the investigation into accusations that American troops have committed war crimes during their operations in Afghanistan since 2001. While the ICC can't prosecute American citizens due to the country not having ratified the Rome Statute, it can still investigate crimes committed on the territory of its full-fledged member, Afghanistan, regardless of the nationality of the possible perpetrators.

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