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Sunday, August 24, 2008


Another day, another war crime: 95 Afghans butchered by U.S. bombs

Let's count the lies amidst the war crimes.

The headline:

Afghan Leader Assails Airstrike He Says Killed 95.
Well, he did say it. But the clear implication in the headline is that it's just his word, his allegation. The truth is actually contained in the second paragraph:
Government officials who traveled to the village of Azizabad in Herat Province on Saturday said the death toll had risen to 95 from 76.
So it wasn't Karzai who "says" that 95 people, including 50 children (!!), were killed, it's people who actually went to the site of the crime (which certainly did not include the "Mayor of Kabul").

The third paragraph:

The American military said Saturday it was investigating the attack.
Well, it's not exactly a lie, I'm sure they did "say" that. Chances that they actually are investigating it though, at least in a way that any serious person would call an "investigation," as close to zero, and the chance that we'll ever hear anything about the results of this "investigation" are even closer to zero. By the way, as proof of that assertion, I note that the article mentions the July 6 bombing of a wedding party in Afghanistan which killed 27 people, mostly women and children, including the bride, and notes this: "The American military is still investigating that attack; it has not acknowledged that civilians had been killed."

A lie with a bit of humor thrown in:

President Hamid Karzai...said his government would be announcing measures to prevent the loss of civilian life in the future.
And what might those measures be? Kicking the "coalition" forces out of his country? Because short of that, or moving the entire population of Afghanistan to the U.S., his chances of "preventing the loss of civilian life in the future" are also pretty close to zero, whatever "measures" he announces.

One more:

The tension comes at a delicate time for the American-led coalition, which is facing a resurgent Taliban with a perceived shortage of troops, leading it to rely more on air power to battle militants.
Balderdash. The U.S. reliance on air power, in Afghanistan as in Iraq, has nothing whatsoever to do with a "perceived shortage of troops," and everything to do with their relative valuation of Afghan and American lives - the former zero, and the latter some positive number (I almost wrote "infinite," to emphasize the difference, but clearly if that were the case the troops wouldn't be there in the first place. No, the American ruling class places nearly as little value on the lives of their own troops as they do on the lives of the Afghans, but the U.S. military has a somewhat different idea, being a little closer to the situation).

Next lie:

"Coalition forces make every effort to prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives. An investigation has been directed," according to a statement issued from Bagram air base
The truth of the assertion can be judged in the facts of the latest case:
A presidential aide who declined to be identified said that the Interior Ministry and the Afghan intelligence agency had reported from the region that there were no Taliban present in the village that night.

A tribal elder from the region who helped bury the dead, Haji Tor Jan Noorzai, said people in the village were gathered in memory of a man who was anti-Taliban and was killed last year, and that tribal enemies of the family had given out false information.

"It is quite obvious, the Americans bombed the area due to wrong information,” he said by telephone. “I am 100 percent confident that someone gave the information due to a tribal dispute. The Americans are foreigners and they do not understand. These people they killed were enemies of the Taliban.
It seems rather clear what happened. Someone (could have even been the Taliban, who knows?) called up the U.S. military and said there was a big gathering of Taliban. The "every effort" the U.S. claims to take to "prevent the injury or loss of innocent lives" didn't actually involve on-the-ground investigation of the assertion; that would be far too risky to American lives. Instead, they flew overhead (or used their spy satellites) and said, "yup, there's a big gathering of people alright," and proceeded to bomb them to smithereens. Covering their tracks, they claimed that the strike had "killed 25 militants, including a Taliban leader, Mullah Sadiq." But that was just a claim they were pulling out of the air (or someplace else), because it's highly unlikely they actually landed on the ground to count or identify the dead.

And now, in this case quite quickly, the truth is emerging. Will "let's send more troops to Afghanistan" Barack Obama or John McCain issue any condemnation of this war crime, or rethink their commitment to a war sure to see an unending stream of such atrocities in the future? Sadly, the chances of that, too, are close to zero.

By the way, also in today's news, there's an article about another war, the one between Georgia and Russia. In that article, we learn all sorts of details, including individual names, about Georgians returning to their homes to find bombed homes, dead neighbors, etc. Do you think we'll see that kind of detailed, emotionally-involving reporting from the village of Azizabad in Afghanistan? Not likely.

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