We’re talking dead children here

Afghan orphans

I started reading this article but didn’t get very far before sheer disbelief and a wave of nausea brought me to a halt. Are these people sane?

My furious comments are in red, to match the mist that came down.


UK officer calls for US special forces to quit Afghan hotspot

High civilian toll as teams rely on air strikes to provide cover

Declan Walsh in Islamabad and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday August 10, 2007
The Guardian

Tension between British and American commanders in southern Afghanistan erupted into the open yesterday as a senior UK military officer said he had asked the US to withdraw its special forces from a volatile area that was crucial in the battle against the Taliban.

British and Nato defence officials have consistently expressed concern about US tactics, notably air strikes, which kill civilians, sabotaging the battle for “hearts and minds” and infuriating Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.

So, it’s not the violent deaths of innocent men women and children that’s the problem, its the blow to the propaganda efforts, and the irritation of the president that’s wrong?

Des Browne, the defence secretary, recently raised the issue with Robert Gates, his US counterpart, and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Nato’s secretary general, admitted last month that an increasing number of civilian casualties was undermining support for alliance troops. He said Nato commanders had changed the rules of engagement, ordering their troops to hold their fire in situations where civilians appeared to be at risk.

Hang on again – lets translate, “growing numbers of dead women and children are making locals angry at the foreign troops”. Now why would you ever have opened fire when civilians were at risk as part of your legitimate rules of engagement?

Unnamed British officers were quoted yesterday as saying the US had caused the lion’s share of casualties in their area and that after 18 months of heavy fighting since British forces arrived in Helmand they were finally making headway in securing key areas, but were now trying to win back support from people whose lives had been devastated by bombing.

So the Americans drop bombs on a war-weary people then the Brits go in to ask them for ‘support’?

The newspaper estimated the number of civilian casualties this year in Helmand at close to 300 – most caused by foreign and Afghan forces, not the Taliban. Human rights and aid groups estimate that 230 Afghan civilians were killed throughout the south of the country last year.

In one province alone, 300 lives lost without so much as a raised eyebrow of an international reaction.

Nato officers admit they are troubled by the high toll. One medic told the Guardian that during a 14-day period last month, British soldiers rescued 30 Afghan civilians wounded in bombings or firefights – half of whom were children.

Troubled? Troubled??? 15 wounded children in just two weeks…dear God.

[…]Whereas the British troops operate under Nato command, the American special forces are commanded from the US-led coalition in Bagram airbase outside Kabul. That means the Americans can call on a wider range of airstrikes, and also that British officers have little control over which munitions are dropped in populated areas.

Which munitions are dropped? The problem is about which kind of bomb to use? Indiscriminate bombing in a populated town or village is fine though.

Officers also argue that where Taliban fighters mount ambushes from inside heavily populated areas, civilian deaths are unavoidable. “When you are working in a high intensity counter insurgency environment like this, regrettably you are going to have civilian casualties,” Col Mayo said.

Did you just confirm that you are ok with killing innocents to get at the Taliban, Mr Mayo? and that makes them the bad guys and leaves you as the heroes how exactly? So why is it that acceptable (but regrettable) casualties are always those on the other side, never on your own? How many white British men women and children make up an acceptable (but regrettable) death toll Mr Mayo?

There is a war for hearts and minds going on alright, but not the one they’re talking about. I refuse to allow the deathmongers of any creed, nationality or uniform persuade me with their relativism. Everything is relative til we’re talking about your beloved relative! Collateral damage, unavoidable civilian casualties? Black Brown White Muslim Christian or Jew. Human life is sacred. Full stop.


2 thoughts on “We’re talking dead children here

  1. Olga

    the topic of the Afghan civilian death toll came up a few weeks ago i think in the new york times. the humanitarian side is horrific and you highlighted it very well. at the same time tho i can’t imagine the frustrations of a military commander trying to secure an area and having a rogue military force (the US special forces it seems) doing whatever they like. the coordination issues are so basic its amazing they’re allowed to continue-why are the US forces not strictly under NATO command like all other forces are? apart from causing the deaths of more innocents surely it exacerbates the fighting and like the article said, undermines the development of areas of afghanistan.

  2. Zanjabila

    98% of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians. These weapons are banned by international treaties. Yet the US army is using them in Afghanistan.

    If you can stomach it, here’s an article on the sinister aims of “Shock and Awe”:

    Shock and Awe: the Truth

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