Civilian Deaths From Our Bombing Are
October 11, 2001
If the Bush administration
means what it says and doesn't want to cause civilian deaths and casualties
in its bombing, then why doesn't it stick with purely military targets --
military airfields, barracks, troops, tanks, artillery -- that are not
located right next to civilians?
The vast majority of targets
seem to have been precisely such purely military ones, and for that I
commend the Bush administration.
So why does it insist on also
hitting targets right next to civilians?
Four Afghan civilians who
worked for a U.N.-supported mine-clearing program were killed
by an errant U.S. bomb or missile:
The group's officials
said they thought that the intended target was a radio tower in an
adjacent building. The antenna belonged to a station that had been
defunct for the last decade, they said.
innocent have been killed for no reason," the local supervisor, a
man who uses the single name Usman, said, speaking by telephone from
Kabul. "We know we have four dead, but the bodies are so torn apart
we don't know who is who."
So it seems like it was an
irrelevant target that was being aimed at, and four civilian deaths
resulted. Wouldn't that bomb or missile have been better utilized by
being directed toward tanks or Taliban troops?
Surely the amount of
additional damage we can do to the Taliban and Al Qaeda by including these
few additional targets near civilians, is far outweighed by the certainty
that there will be many civilian deaths caused by the bombs and missiles --
including the "smart" ones -- that will go off course.
Even if the Bush
administration is not particularly concerned in a moral sense about those
civilians being killed, our attempts to build a broad coalition and to win
the hearts and minds of the "Arab street" are seriously undermined
by any civilian deaths.
The Taliban have claimed that
hundreds of civilians have been killed, including in a mosque that was
hit. These reports have not been confirmed.
I fervently hope that like
many of the things the Taliban claim, these reports about civilian deaths
[more on the absolute
necessity of avoiding civilian deaths]