Monday, May 30, 2011

NATO airstrike kills Afghan civilians. Yes, it's time to end this war.


Afghan officials said Sunday that a NATO airstrike had killed 14 civilians, most of them women and children, in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday night.

Local officials said the strike was aimed at Taliban fighters and missed, hitting two family homes.

But in a conflicting account, a high-level NATO official said Sunday night that nine civilians were killed in the strike, which was aimed at five insurgents who attacked a coalition foot patrol and killed a Marine. The insurgents continued to fire from inside a compound when NATO forces called in the strike.

"Unfortunately, the compound the insurgents purposefully occupied was later discovered to house innocent civilians," the official, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, commander of NATO forces in the Southwest region, said in a statement. The general apologized for the civilian deaths on behalf of all coalition forces, including Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top coalition commander in Afghanistan, and said the investigation into the episode was continuing.

"While I know there is no price on human life, we will ensure that we make amends with the families in accordance with Afghan culture," he said. 

This isn't about "us" being as bad as "them," it's about the quagmire the Afghan War has become, that it has been for a long time now. And making "amends" just won't cut it. It's time to get out.

Now, I'm not sure Hamid Karzai's "last warning" really means anything. NATO (and particularly the U.S.) will stay in Afghanistan as long as it wants.

But what is the point of staying? What is the war for?

There are several answers to that question -- including supporting the country's "government" (i.e., Karzai, who barely controls Kabul), rooting out the Taliban in the name of the "war on terror," building a sustainable state with a legitimate democratic government, as well as a healthy civil society, etc.) -- but not a single one is satisfactory anymore.

It may be impossible to avoid civilian casualties entirely, but this latest incident serves as a reminder of just how pointless the war has become.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • It is unclear if Karzai has the power to order an end to such strikes. NATO and American forces are in Afghanistan under a United Nations mandate that expires in October. The United States is negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government on the presence of its forces in the country going forward, but this has already become contentious, with Karzai declaring that he will put strict controls on how US troops conduct themselves in his country.

    By Anonymous Home Inspector Training, at 1:05 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home