Read This Very Carefully And Ask Yourself What Is Wrong

September 8, 2008 at 6:44 am | Posted in American politics | 2 Comments

this article in the New York Times gets into the details of the latest in a string of blunders by the Americans in Afghanistan, the latest in a string of killing innocent civilians. In this particular incident, the Americans had called in airstrikes (as usual in such incidents) and killed tens of civilians. Previous incidents included bombing wedding parties and killing forty or fifty people who happened to be celebrating a joyous occasion. In this case, there was some firefight between US and Taliban forces. Airstrikes were called in and well, the rest is history. The Afghans claim up to 90 civilians were killed, mostly women and children. The Americans claim 35 bad guys and maybe 6-7 civilians (in collateral damage talk, those are acceptable numbers for the Americans—as long as more bad guys than innocents are killed, they are just fine with it). But alas, the evidence continues to mount that this was a terrible mistake by the Americans, and truly up to 90 innocent Afghans were killed by an American airstrike. Read the whole article. For me, I am struck by one particular section. Two simple sentences.

Sentence #1:

The doctor, who works for a reputable nongovernmental organization here, at first gave his name but then asked that it be withheld because he feared retribution from Afghans feeding intelligence to the Americans.

Read that very carefully. This doctor, working for a reputable nongovernmental organization, refused to give his name because he feared retribution. The retribution wasn’t to come from the Afghans. The retribution was to come from the Americans! Certain Afghans apparently have the Americans’ ear and whisper all sorts of lies into them to the point that people are afraid to speak out in Afghanistan for fear that other Afghans will tell the Americans they know where an enemy resides, after which, the Americans swoop in with their airstrikes and kill them. What’s wrong with this picture?

Now, read sentence #2:

The United States military, in a series of statements about the operation, has accused the villagers of spreading Taliban propaganda.

So the Americans were fed false information by the Afghans whispering in their ears, and they believe that shit so much that they accuse any other Afghan in the region of “spreading Taliban propaganda.” How many more innocent Afghans will die before the Americans realize that it is THEY THAT HAVE BEEN DUPED! The Americans continue to make it worse by saying:

Speaking on condition that their names not be used, some military officials have suggested that the villagers fabricated such evidence as grave sites — and, by implication, that other investigators had been duped

Can you imagine being someone in that village. Your little brother was just bombed to little bits by American war planes. You tell the truth, that it was an American war plane that killed your brother, and then the Americans say you fabricated evidence, such as the actual grave site of your little brother. How would you feel?

Yakhakhan, 51, one of several men in the village working for a private security firm, and who uses just one name, said he heard shooting and was just coming out of his house when he saw his neighbor’s sons running.

“They were killed right here; they were 10 and 7 years old,” he said. In the compound next to his, he said, four entire families, including those of his two brothers, were killed. “They bombard us, they hate us, they kill us,” he said of the Americans. “God will punish them.”

That’s how I would feel too.

His brother, Haji Rashid, said the American forces “should question the people who gave them the wrong information.”

“We want them brought to trial and punished for what they have done,” he added.

His claim was supported by the district chief, Mr. Umarzai, who said, “The victims did not fire on the Americans.” He said he suspected that an informer falsely told the American forces that Taliban fighters were in the village and also staged the firefight. The gunmen first fired on the police checkpoint on the edge of the village that night, he said. “When the Americans came, they laid down heavy gunfire and then they left the area. Then the Americans called in airstrikes,” he said.

Villagers also challenged the American military’s claims that it successfully conducted its planned operation against a Taliban commander, Mullah Sadiq, and a group of his men.

A man claiming to be Mullah Sadiq called Radio Liberty several days after the raid and declared that he was alive and well and was never in the village of Azizabad that night. Reporters at the radio station, who asked not to be identified, said they knew his voice well and double checked the recording with residents of Shindand and they were sure the caller was Mullah Sadiq.

American military officials have said that the man who called the radio program was an imposter and that they are confident they killed their target.

A senior American officer who has been briefed on the military investigation’s findings said in an e-mail message: “I will simply say that the soldiers — U.S. and Afghan — reported what they saw and found at each building site as they looked for material, weapons, bodies. I cannot explain why later the numbers are so far apart.”

Members of the Afghan government investigation commission said that the Americans were just covering up the truth. “The Americans are guilty in this incident: it is much better for them to confess the reality rather than hiding the truth,” said Abdul Salam Qazizada, a member of Parliament and the government commission from Herat Province, where the village is located.

Note what is important in all of this. The Americans are LOSING the propaganda war in Afghanistan. They are unwilling to accept that they made a mistake, because in so doing, they will be curtailed from taking the kind of quick action that they feel they need to make. But in taking quick actions like this, they still don’t seem to realize that they undermine their very own goals! In counterinsurgencies, you simply CANNOT KILL INNOCENT CIVILIANS! All your efforts must go toward protecting the civilians or they will eventually turn against you and you will lose. This isn’t just me saying this. This is General Petraeus saying this in the official Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual that he recently updated!

The operation in Azizabad once again raises questions for the military about whether it is worth pursuing members of the Taliban with airstrikes inside a densely populated village where civilian casualties and property damage can be so high. A similar raid in the same district by American Special Forces in April 2007, which killed 57 people, led American and NATO commanders to tighten rules on calling in airstrikes on village houses.

“This is not fair to kill 90 people for one Mullah Sadiq,” said Mr. Umarzai, the district chief. “If they continue like this, they will lose the people’s confidence in the government and the coalition forces.”

Exactly.

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2 Comments »

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  1. “They bombard us, they hate us, they kill us,” he said of the Americans. “God will punish them.”

    With the financial fallout that is bound to follow the government’s bailing out of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, it’s entirely possible that the punishment will arrive much sooner than we think.

  2. We should never have gone into Afghanistan in the first place. Every single death of an Afghanistan person by NATO or US forces is a murder which should never have happened. There is no “just” excuse for ever having entered Afghanistan in the first place. Let’s get out of there now before we kill again.


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