Thursday, October 08, 2015

Fifteen years of U.S. war in Afghanistan

We can call it fifteen years as of today, if we don't count arming Afghans and various foreign mujahadin against the Russians starting in 1979. Perhaps we do need to include that phase, since it produced Bin Laden and 9/11 ...


So this week we marked the war's anniversary with an apparent war crime. The medical aid folks, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), who saw their staff and patients incinerated have been wonderfully clear:

"Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government.

The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical."

C. Stokes, MSF, October 5, 2015

Accounts in U.S. media have been weaselly. Maybe there were Taliban in the building (though U.S. forces had every reason to know there were not.) Maybe this atrocity was a mistake ... The New York Times even tried to suggest that maybe the hospital bombing wasn't so bad because Russia commits similar crimes. What's this irrelevant snippet doing in a story on President Obama's apology to MSF?

On Wednesday, Physicians for Human Rights, an advocacy group, said it had confirmed that Russian airstrikes had damaged three medical facilities in Syria.
“With these actions, Russia is damaging hospitals, putting patients and medical staff at risk, and depriving civilians of lifesaving access to health care,” the group said in a statement.

Pathetic special pleading that tack: so American exceptionalism means someone else is always worse? Apparently.

The Afghanistan adventure has long shown the brutality and futility of our imperial project. Amy Davidson got to the crux:

Do we understand our own motives and priorities in Afghanistan? If not, fourteen years after invading, when will we?

No hope for that, that I can see. Bring 'em home, Obama!
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