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Civilian Deaths From Our Bombing Are So Unnecessary

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.

"The totally 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 prove false.

[more on the absolute necessity of avoiding civilian deaths]

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

Listing of articles on Civilian Deaths

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