Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

No news yet on why the US military struck the Kuduz hospital

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The military promised a full investigation, and just to be extra sure that the investigation proceeds to a good conclusion, the military (and President Obama) have absolutely rejected any independent investigation. In their experience, if an organization makes a serious error, it works best for the organization to investigate itself. And, no doubt, it’s best of all if those directly responsible for the error do the investigation—after all, they were right on the spot when it happened, so they know more about what happened than anyone else. Do you see any problem with that?

Still, it would be good to have an update, especially since the military floated several different stories. From this excellent summary by Laura Gottesdiener at TomDispatch (and the whole column is definitely worth reading), following her detailed summary of the events of the attack:

. . . That’s one version of the story, based on a Doctors Without Borders preliminary report on the destruction of their hospital, released on November 5th, as well as on articles published by Reuters, the Associated Press, theWashington Post, the New York Times, and Al Jazeera, the testimonies of medical staff published by MSF, and a Democracy Now! interview with the executive director of MSF USA.

Here’s the second version of the story, the one we in the United States are meant to believe. It’s far more confusing and lacking in details, but don’t worry, it’s much shorter.

On October 3rd, an American AC-130 gunship “mistakenly struck” a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz. The attack was ordered by U.S. Special Operations forces, possibly at the behest of the Afghan army (ormaybe not).

Earlier contradictory accounts, all issued within the span of four days, go as follows: (1) it may not have been an American air strike; (2) the U.S. launched airstrikes in the neighborhood of the hospital and the facility was hit by accident; (3) the hospital was hit because American Special Operations forces were under fire near the hospital and called in the strikes in their own defense; (4) the facility was hit because Afghan forces supported by that Special Ops unit “advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces.”

As the story changed, culpability shifted back and forth. The Afghans, not the Americans, had called in the attack. No, the Afghans never directly called in the attack. The Americans called in the attack from within the U.S. chain of command.

In the end, the bottom line from Washington was: we’re conducting a full investigation and one of these days we’ll get back to you with the details.

This second version of the story (in its many iterations) came from commander of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan General John Campbell, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest, and Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook. Unnamed sources added some colorful, although unsupported allegations about a Pakistani intelligence agent or armed Taliban fighters being inside the hospital — despite all evidence to the contrary.

Campbell offered his “deepest condolences.” President Obama called the head of MSF and personally apologized for the “tragic incident.” The Pentagon promised to make “condolence payments” to the families of those killed.

Several investigations into the “incident” were launched by the Pentagon and a joint Afghan-NATO team. However, MSF’s repeated call for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, established under the additional protocols to the Geneva Convention, have been ducked or ignored.

There is, at least, one aspect both accounts agree on: the timing.

It’s undisputed that the attack occurred on October 3, 2015 — just over nine months after President Obama officially declared the ending of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan. . .

One thing I had realized: the number of US attacks on wedding parties is greater than I thought. From the column introduction by Tom Englehardt:

. . . [A]t least eight wedding parties wiped out in whole or in part between December 2001 and December 2013 in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen by U.S. air power, and evidently two more barely a week apart this fall by the U.S.-backed Saudi air force, also in Yemen. In the first of those, two missiles reportedly tore through wedding tents in a village on the Red Sea, killing more than 130 celebrants, including women and children; in the second, a house 60 miles south of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, “where dozens of people were celebrating,” was hit leaving at least 28 dead. Cumulatively, over the years (by my informal count) close to 450 Iraqis, Afghans, and Yemenis have died in these disasters and many more were wounded.  Each of the eviscerated weddings made the news somewhere in our world (or I wouldn’t have noticed), though with rare exceptions they never made the headlines and, of course, never did any of them get anything close to the 24/7 media spotlight we’ve grown so used to; nor, except perhaps at this website, has anyone attended to these disasters as a cumulative, repetitive set of events. . .

We lucky that this slaughter of civilians has not triggered a backlash from inhabitants of the region. Or, come to think of it, perhaps it has.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 November 2015 at 8:38 am

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