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
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
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.]