Last February, responding to charges that U.S. raids had targeted Afghan civilians among the Taliban and al-Qaeda, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers was “unwilling to say” that the military had “misidentified” targets. Instead he said, “I don’t think it was any sense on our part that we’ve done something wrong.” (AP 2.6.02) Soon after Afghanistan’s interim prime minister Hamid Karzai was in Washington where he told the Washington Post that “U.S. forces have admitted to him they ‘accidentally’ killed dozens of Afghans prior to his inauguration when U.S jets destroyed a convoy of trucks near the city of Khost.” It was in December of 2001 that 65 Afghans were killed by American jets. At the time, Karzai’s said only that “war is war.” He would soon excuse as “a mistake of sorts” a January raid on a village killing 17 civilians and wounding an undisclosed number. He explained that the U.S. had “quietly” apologized and paid money to survivor families. Not surprising. If not for Washington, Karzai might not be in Kabul, he might be in his brother’s restaurant in Baltimore.
According to Independent columnist Robert Fisk, “One of the untold stories of this conflict is the huge amount of money handed out to militia leaders to persuade them to fight for the US. When Taliban members changed sides for an Alliance payment of $250,000 and then attacked their benefactors, we all dwelt on their treachery. None of us asked how the Alliance–which didn’t have enough money to pay for bullets a few weeks earlier–could throw a quarter of a million bucks at the Taliban in the middle of a fire site. Nor how the Pashtun tribal leaders of Kandahar province are now riding around in brand-new four-wheel drives with thousands of dollars to hand out to their gunmen. I wasn’t surprised to read that a Somali warlord is now offering his cash-for-hire services to the US for the next round of the War on Civilization … Fortunately for us, the civilian victims of America’s B52s will remain unknown in their newly dug graves. Even before the war ended, around 3,700 of them–not counting Mullah Omar’s and bin Laden’s gunmen–had been ripped to pieces in our War for Civilization…. Let’s just remember that the new Kabul government is as committed to support ‘Islam, democracy, pluralism (sic) and social justice’ as Mr. Bush is to Good and the Destruction of Evil.” (12.22.01)
On May 26, 2002, Carlotta Gall reported from the Bneh Temur, “An airborne assault on this village by United States-led troops three nights ago has raised anti-American fury among villagers, who say soldiers shot several people, killed the headman of the village and caused a 3-year-old girl to flee and fall to her death down a well.” Five days later AP reported that U.S. troops killed three Afghan “allies” and wounded two. The Pentagon claimed “errors in coordination” between U.S. and anti-Taliban fighters. (5.31.02)
On July 1st a U.S. fighter plane bombed an Afghan village during a wedding party. First reports put the number of dead at 30. In Washington the Pentagon admitted that “at least one bomb dropped by Western warplanes had missed its target in southern Afghanistan” but “could not confirm claims that members of a wedding party had been killed.” From Bagram airbase in Eastern Afghanistan, Colonel Roger King announced that a coalition reconnaissance operation had come “under anti-aircraft fire overnight” north of Kandahar. “We understand there were some civilian casualties during the operation. Extending “deepest sympathies” he insisted that “coalition military forces take extraordinary measures to protect against civilian casualties.” Meanwhile a villager told BBC, “There are no Taliban or al-Qaeda here. These people were all civilians, women and children.” (Reuters 7.1.02)
Shortly thereafter, AP reported that 40 civilians mostly women and children were killed and 70 injured during the wedding celebration. “We have many children who are injured and who have no family,” said nurse Mohammed Nadir. “Their families are gone. The villagers brought these children and they have no parents. Everyone says that their parents are dead.” (AP 7.1.02)
Local Afghans did not take well to the news. Said Kabul grocer Jabbar, “We consider the Americans our liberators, but after this, they may soon become occupiers.” To which a customer added, “Americans made so many mistakes here, and we cannot accept hat hitting a wedding party was just another one. They should set their aiming devices right, or just pack up and go. We fought the Russians in 1980s, we’ll fight Americans if need be.” According to AP, “Such sentiment was rare here after the Taliban fled in November when Afghans wanted a larger U.S. presence. “But no more. Anger is rising.” (AP 7.4.02)
Afghan provincial governor Jan Muhammad Khan warned that local residents could wage a ‘holy’ war’ against the U.S. if another attack “goes awry,” that the U.S. had already wrongly attacked his province three times. Major General Shair Mohammed Karimi assured reporters that there would be a joint investigation led by the Americans and that the Karzai government was prepared to accept whatever conclusions U.S. investigators drew regarding the wedding attack. Yet a UN report on the village of Kakarak leaked to the Times of London indicated that “the U.S. military may have ‘cleaned up’ evidence.'” (AP 7.5.02)
In late July AP listed “Mistaken U.S. Attacks in Afghanistan:” On Dec. 21,2001 the U.S. bombed a 40-vehcle convoy of Afghan tribal elders on a mountain road in the eastern province of Paktia. As many as 65 were killed. The Pentagon said that intelligence sources had indicated the convoy was carrying member of Al-Qaeda. Afghans said the victims were tribal leaders on their way to Kabul to pay respects on the inauguration of new leader Hamid Karzai. On January 23rd during a raid on compounds in Hazar Qadam, the U.S. military killed 126 people and captured 27. None turned out to be Al-Qaeda or Taliban. The 27 captives were released. The Pentagon claimed that the men in the compound began shooting back when the U.S. military attacked them. On April 16th an American pilot accidentally dropped a 500-pound bomb on Canadian forces conducting a night exercise. He killed four and wounded several others of our Canadian allies. On May 31st U.S. troops killed three of the Afghans helping them to root out Taliban and Al-Qaeda. (AP 7.2.01)
At the end of August the administration suggested that more peacekeepers were needed beyond Kabul, citing “difficulties in rebuilding the country and establishing law and order.” (Reuters 8.30.02) Less than a week into September Hamid Karzai escaped an assassin during a ceremony in the Kandahar province. The assassin was a member of his security guard. The elected leader of Afghanistan first guarded by U.S. special forces, is now protected by a private U.S. security service to keep his own people from killing him. (MSNBC 9.5.02) And we call this success.
When a grandmother in Pittston, Pennsylvania was told by a psychiatrist that her young grandson was suffering from a newly discovered mental malaise called Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), she sighed with relief, “It’s not my fault. It’s not his fault. It’s not anyone’s fault.” Her response is normal in a climate where the majority of Americans who vote the U.S. government into office have no qualms about denying responsibility for its actions. That’s ODD.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Kurdish Library
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