Killing Unnamed Children in Afghanistan
December 4, 2013
Jacob G. Hornberger / The Future of Freedom Foundation & Tim Craig / The Washington Post
Commentary: US officials said that they were targeting a "mid-level Taliban commander" when they happened to kill an innocent Afghan toddler. The two-year old just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Let's face it. That two-year-old didn't have to die. If they haven't killed all the bad guys by now, then it's time to just declare the entire venture a failure and bring all the troops home now.
Killing Unnamed Children in Afghanistan
Jacob G. Hornberger / Hornberger's Blog, The Future of Freedom Foundation
(December 2, 2013) -- When I read this Washington Post article [see article below] about the two-year-old child that US forces just killed in Afghanistan, I wondered what the child's name was. Nowhere was it to be found in the article. Maybe the Post hadn't acquired the name. Or maybe it just doesn't matter. It's just one more death among the countless Afghan deaths at the hands of US forces during the past 12 years.
The commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., issued an apology for killing the child. I wonder if he cited the child's name in his apology.
In any event, no doubt Dunford is hoping that the apology will help the US government secure permission from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to keep US forces in Afghanistan past 2014.
The child's death was justified by the same rationale that has been used to justify the deaths of countless other Afghan people since the US invasion 12 years ago: what US officials call "collateral damage."
US officials said that they were targeting a "mid-level Taliban commander who had been involved in attacks" on coalition troops and "organizing and facilitating lethal aid to insurgents in the area." The two-year old just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
For 12 years, the US government has had carte blanche to kill as many people as it wanted in Afghanistan. Whenever US forces have dropped bombs and fired missiles at suspected "terrorists," "militants," or "insurgents," there has been no second-guessing on the part of US officials, no matter how many non-terrorists, non-militants, and non-insurgents have been killed in the process.
Oh sure, apologies are oftentimes rendered and nominal payments of money are made to aggrieved families, but nothing has stopped the onslaught of death for 12 long years.
If they haven't killed all the bad guys by now and if they haven't trained the Afghan government to stand on its own, then it's time to just declare the entire venture a failure and bring all the troops home now.
Let's face it. That two-year-old didn't have to die. If US forces had already exited Afghanistan, then US forces wouldn't have been there to fire the missile that killed that kid.
Of course, US officials would respond that then they wouldn't have been able to kill that militant -- the one who is "organizing and facilitating lethal aid to insurgents in the area."
Well, let's ask ourselves why that Afghan is a militant and why he's engaged in that activity. It's not because he was involved in the 9/11 attacks or planning on coming to get us here in the United States. It's because that militant is trying to rid his country of a foreign occupier -- and a brutal foreign occupier at that, one that fires missiles at people in reckless disregard of whether there are two-year-old children in the vicinity.
Long ago, the US occupation of Afghanistan devolved into a war that targets people who are resisting the foreign occupation of their country and a war to prop up a corrupt, illegal pro-US regime, one whose president requires bags full of cash to be regularly delivered to him by the CIA.
What about the possibility of the Taliban's regaining control of the government? Who cares? What difference would it make? Even those who cite the ballyhooed terms "terrorism" and "national security" don't get very far with those justifications anymore.
After all, let's not forget that if Karzai says no more occupation, US forces are exiting the country regardless of who raises those ballyhooed terms. If "national security" was really at stake (whatever that term means), would US officials really be exiting the country just because Karzai wanted them to?
Moreover, let's face it: If terrorists want to attack the United States, they don't need a friendly government in Afghanistan to plan it. They can always find friendly governments elsewhere in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, or simply some nice hotel room in Pakistan, Yemen, or even Berlin or London.
Moreover, let's not forget that the reason there is anti-American terrorism in the first place is owing to the US national-security state's interventionism in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the region. Stopping the interventionism equals stopping the terrorism.
For 12 long years, Americans have been subjected to a constant deluge of death of foreigners at the hands of the US national-security state. Death has become an everyday part of our lives. It seeps into our pores. It's ingrained into our minds.
Death has become so ordinary that most people don't even wonder what the names of those who have been killed were or what kinds of lives they were living when they got killed.
It just doesn't matter. All that matters is that the national-security state is "keeping us safe" by killing a never-ending stream of people. I wonder how many Americans ever consider the possibility that it is this constant barrage of death and destruction at the hands of US forces that is generating the very militancy, insurgency, and terrorism that US forces continue targeting.
It's obvious that the US Empire wants to continue occupying Afghanistan indefinitely into the future, knowing full well that that will ensure the endless cycle of death and destruction.
My hope is that Karzai stands fast, as did the Iraqis, and kicks the American forces out of the country, preferably now rather than later. It would be the greatest gift that Karzai could give his country, the United States, and the world.
At the very least, it would mean that there would be no more deaths of two-year-old unnamed children at the hands of US forces, no more deaths of Afghans who are doing nothing more than trying to rid their country of a foreign occupier, and no more deaths of US soldiers who kill and die for nothing.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News' Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows.
Coalition Apologizes for Killing Afghan Child, Seeks to Shore Up Prospects of Security Deal
Tim Craig / The Washington Post
KABUL -- The US-led coalition in Afghanistan apologized Friday for mistakenly killing a 2-year-old boy during an airstrike, the latest crisis to confront American officials hoping to finalize a long-term security agreement between the two countries.
Late Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai blasted the US military for the death and accused coalition troops serving in Afghanistan of "oppressions." Within hours, US and coalition military leaders were rushing to try to control the fallout of the strike, which also wounded two women.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, called Karzai to apologize personally. The international coalition also issued a statement saying it "deeply regrets" the incident.
The civilian casualties could not have come at a worse time for US diplomats, who have watched with dismay over the past week as Karzai appeared increasingly dismissive of the Obama administration's plans to keep up to 10,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan after 2014.
In a series of public statements, Karzai has insisted that he may wait until next year to decide on the matter, even though the administration is pressing him to sign the security agreement by the end of year. If he does not, administration officials say, they will begin preparations for withdrawing all US forces from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
The death of the child further complicates the already strained relationship, giving Karzai more grounds to cite in his quest for concessions.
Aimal Faizi, a Karzai spokesman, said Friday evening that the agreement will be signed only after there is an "absolute end to all military operations and airstrikes on residential areas by foreign troops which can result in civilian casualties."
He added: "Apologies cannot bring back lives."
Karzai said a suspected US drone fired into a house shortly before noon Thursday in the southern province of Helmand. The coalition acknowledged the incident Friday morning, saying that a child was apparently killed during an operation targeting "an insurgent riding a motorbike."
A senior coalition official said the child was on the road when the explosion occurred and denied Karzai's claim that a house had been targeted.
The intended target, who was also killed, was a "mid-level Taliban commander who had been involved in attacks" on coalition troops and was "organizing and facilitating lethal aid to insurgents in the area," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under coalition ground rules.
Coalition officials declined to say whether the strike was carried out by a drone or a manned aircraft.
In his call to Karzai, Dunford promised to launch an immediate investigation. But the governor of Helmand and other local officials denounced the attack, saying it was one of two coalition strikes in the province Thursday that had resulted in civilian deaths.
Abdul Bari Barakzai, head of the Helmand provincial council, said a "farmer in a field" also was killed by a suspected US drone strike Thursday.
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