Thursday, October 8, 2015

US Hospital Bombing because Taliban was using Civilians as Human Shield

Initially the US defended the bombing of the Afghan Hospital as "Collateral Damage".  Now the latest justification is that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.'”  Isn't that the very same thing Sri Lanka was accused of; i.e bombing places where the LTTE was using human shields, which Sri Lanka denies.  This was considered a War Crime and the US wanted a International investigation.  So, will the US also agree to an International investigation.  I very much doubt it.  Definitely sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander
U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, its official statement suggested: an airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that.

This obfuscation tactic is the standard one the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes.

But there’s something significantly different about this incident that has caused this “mistake” claim to fail. Usually, the only voices protesting or challenging the claims of the U.S. military are the foreign, non-western victims who live in the cities and villages where the bombs fall. Those are easily ignored, or dismissed as either ignorant or dishonest. Those voices barely find their way into U.S. news stories, and when they do, they are stream-rolled by the official and/or anonymous claims of the U.S. military, which are typically treated by U.S. media outlets as unassailable authority.

Fox News yesterday cited anonymous “defense officials” that while they “‘regret the loss’ of innocent life, they say the incident could have been avoided if the Taliban had not used the hospital as a base, and the civilians there as human shields.” In its first article on the attack, The Washington Post also previewed this defense, quoting a “spokesman for the Afghan army’s 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan” as saying that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.'” AP yesterday actually claimed that it looked at a video and saw weaponry in the hospital’s windows, only to delete that claim with this correction:
So now we’re into full-on justification mode: yes, we did it; yes, we did it on purpose; and we’re not sorry because we were right to do so since we think some Taliban fighters were at the hospital, perhaps even shooting at us. In response to the emergence of this justification claim, MSF expressed the exact level of revulsion appropriate (emphasis added):
“MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present. 
This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as ‘collateral damage.’

1 comment:

  1. Hello Barr.

    The difficulty is partly in trying to determine 'the rules of war' and the response can vary depending on the potential impact of those wars- on those making up the rules. Countries fighting to save their own populations from destruction; their nationhood and independence as was the case in the world wars appear to have placed such objectives above death and destruction to civilians. This was then extended to reprisal bombings of Dresden and ultimately Hiroshima and Nagasaki albeit to save the loss of Allied lives in the invasion of Japan.
    Later in Vietnam the destruction of civilian life and infrastructure continued to achieve military outcomes and save face - extending with to Laos and Cambodia. We then have the limited engagement wars - Iraq/ Afghanistan - limited that is in impact on the aggressive invader - which allows for a greater freedom of reporting and support for humanitarian rules driven by groups admirably pushing for human rights within the hell of war - views that may well change if their own countries / lives and those of their loved ones were threatened? The cold war was kept 'cold' by the threat of nuclear response to a possible Soviet led invasion of Europe - the only way the US could counter overwhelming ground attack superiority of the USSR. No room here for any other considerations. So ultimately each war deserves its own rules? In the case of 'arms length' wars waged in places like Syria / Iraq there has to be a greater accountability for civilian deaths and especially attacks on hospitals ( could there have been warning given to MSF before?) whereas as we all may understand an overwhelming destructive attack by country A on B may well produce a retaliation in which such rules become irrelevant? In the case of our own Sri Lanka the final ending came after decades of attempts to resolve the conflict. The loss of civilian life then in the final battles was inevitable as is the case with all wars. I would like to think that attacks on hospitals can be avoided and if such places are used for military action that other mechanisms are available to deal with such situations - but it is only those who have had to deal these challenges who can best advice as to what these are? Worth noting that in SL it took nearly 30 years of battle for such allegations - In Syria it has taken less than a year? PN