June 12, 2012 · 0 Comments
I don’t understand this New York Times article.
Following outrage by Afghanistan officials and citizens over yet another deadly airstrike on Afgan civilian residences last week, US/NATO commanders announced they will restrict further air strikes on residential homes . . . except when they decide to strike residential homes.
“Given our commitment to protect Afghan civilians, restricting the use of air-delivered munitions against insurgents within civilian dwellings is a prudent and logical step in the progression in the campaign,” Jamie Graybeal, a NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, said in an e-mail on Sunday.
“Prudent progression?” Does anyone believe that U.S. commanders are just now realizing that bombing civilian residential areas in a war for “hearts and minds” is problematic?
You’d think the war had just begun and this is the first time the problem of killing civilians had arisen. But we’ve been doing this for nearly a dozen years of brutal war in Afghanistan and now Pakistan. During that period, air attacks from bombers and drones have been standard fare, including in those years in which we chose to send more soldiers to Iraq than Afghanistan. Reliance on aerial bombing has continued now that we claim we’re bringing troops home, sometime, maybe.
And what are we supposed to make of promises to be more careful about civilian targets, when the military spokesman follows it up with this clarification:
After a meeting on Saturday between Mr. Karzai, General Allen and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker of the United States to discuss the issue, aides to Mr. Karzai released a statement saying that General Allen had pledged to halt attacks altogether on residential areas and homes.
On Sunday, however, American officials said General Allen’s order did not necessarily go that far and sought to describe it in more nuanced terms, saying that NATO would continue to conduct operations against insurgents who use civilian dwellings for shelter.
“When there is concern over the presence of civilians, air-delivered munitions will not be employed while other means are available,” said a senior United States defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly on the policy deliberations. [emphasis added]
Quoting a “senior [US] defense official” tells us this gibberish isn’t the result of some clueless or renegade commanders or inept briefers over there. This is American policy, directed from Washington and the Oval Office. Congress supports it, and it’s being done in the name of the American people.
We’re bombing civilian residences and killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan, because that’s what our leaders insist we have to do to hold off those who want us out of their country and to prop up those we’ve put in power.
That’s our policy, and that’s our propaganda for explaining it, and no one should pretend otherwise.