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CIVILIAN CASUALTIES: VOICES RAISED

Acknowledging -- and Providing U.S. Help For -- Afghan Civilian Bombing Victims: Voices Begin to Be Raised

December 23, 2001

As readers of this website know, I have been calling since October 14 for the United States to help the innocent victims of its Afghan bombing campaign.  Even before that, I was decrying the perverted nature of our bombing campaign which deliberately sacrifices large numbers of Afghan civilian lives in order to keep our military personnel 100% out of harm's way.  I applied the term "cowardly" to this Bush war strategy back on November 3.

Now, thank goodness, some much larger media institutions have begun to pick up that same cry.

David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation, just called for the U.S. to "establish a fund that specifically makes payments to Afghan civilians whose families, bodies, homes or businesses have been shattered by errant U.S. bombs."  Regarding the repeated expressions of "regret" by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others, Corn says

In the end, even if that regret is sincere, what use is it to those who have lost family members, limbs or homes to U.S. bombs? If Washington truly cares about innocent people killed by its weaponry in Afghanistan, it needs to forthrightly acknowledge the damage done and offer compensation.

The Guardian just ran an article which appropriately utilizes the word "coward" in evaluating the Bush war strategy: "The Innocent Dead in a Coward's
War."  After referring to the study by Professor Marc Herold which estimates that over 3,700 Afghan civilians have been killed by U.S. airstrikes, the commentary goes on:

Champions of the war insist that such casualties are an unfortunate, but necessary, byproduct of a just campaign to root out global terror networks. They are a world apart, they argue, from the civilian victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center because, in the case of the Afghan civilians, the US did not intend to kill them.

In fact, the moral distinction is far fuzzier, to put it at its most generous. As Herold argues, the high Afghan civilian death rate flows directly from US (and British) tactics and targeting. The decision to rely heavily on high-altitude air power, target urban infrastructure and repeatedly attack heavily populated towns and villages has reflected a deliberate trade-off of the lives of American pilots and soldiers, not with those of their declared Taliban enemies, but with Afghan civilians. Thousands of innocents have died over the past two months, not mainly as an accidental byproduct of the decision to overthrow the Taliban regime, but because of the low value put on Afghan civilian lives by US military planners...

There will be no official two-minute silence for the Afghan dead, no newspaper obituaries or memorial services attended by the prime minister, as there were for the victims of the twin towers. But what has been cruelly demonstrated is that the US and its camp followers are prepared to sacrifice thousands of innocents in a coward's war.

Let's hope that in the immediate days ahead, these two instances of journalistic integrity are repeated many times over as prominent journalists focus on a terribly underreported aspect of the war on terror.

[Let me pass on what I myself just found, what appears to be by far the most comprehensive source of information about Afghan civilian casualties, this section of the Cursor website.]

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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