High Civilian Toll in Herat, Afghanistan Backed Up by NYT, General McKiernan Cites ‘Emerging Evidence’

Posted: September 8, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

It looks like initial reports of very high casualties in Herat, Afghanistan, were valid, despite howling protests from the U.S. military:

The Afghan government, human rights and intelligence officials, independent witnesses and a United Nations investigation back up their account, pointing to dozens of freshly dug graves, lists of the dead, and cellphone videos and other images showing bodies of women and children laid out in the village mosque.

Cellphone images seen by this reporter show at least 11 dead children, some apparently with blast and concussion injuries, among some 30 to 40 bodies laid out in the village mosque. Ten days after the airstrikes, villagers dug up the last victim from the rubble, a baby just a few months old. Their shock and grief is still palpable.

For two weeks, the United States military has insisted that only 5 to 7 civilians, and 30 to 35 militants, were killed in what it says was a successful operation against the Taliban: a Special Operations ground mission backed up by American air support. But on Sunday, Gen. David D. McKiernan, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, requested that a general be sent from Central Command to review the American military investigation in light of “emerging evidence.”

I will repeat what I said earlier:

Joe Blow on the street might be able to claim blithely that we are “justified” in our war in Afghanistan because “they attacked us,” but the Christian appropriation of just war tradition is much, much more stringent than that. It requires more than a just cause…it also requires just means, which, among other things, must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants (which, by the way, puts it totally at odds with Jesus’ admonitions to love your enemies, but I digress). Out of expediency, the U.S. is intentionally using means that recent events – despite the hype – show do not discriminate. In other words, from [a more permissive] of the Christian ethical perspectives on war, our war in Afghanistan is not a just war and has not been a just war for some time, if ever.

Accordingly, [whether you are a believer in just war tradition or, like me, a firm believer in the] nonviolence of Jesus Christ, if you are a Christian fighting in Afghanistan, you should lay down your arms and refuse to kill for the U.S. government.

UPDATE: News reports indicate that the ’emerging evidence’ is a video obtained by the Times (UK):

The grainy video eight-minute footage, seen exclusively by The Times, is the most compelling evidence to emerge of what may be the biggest loss of civilian life during the Afghanistan war.

In the video scores of bodies are seen laid out in a building that villagers say is used as a mosque; the people were killed apparently during a combined operation by US special forces and Afghan army commandos in western Afghanistan. The film was shot on a mobile phone by an Afghan doctor who arrived the next morning.

Local people say that US forces bombed preparations for a memorial ceremony for a tribal leader. Residential compounds were levelled by US attack helicopters, armed drones and a cannon-armed C130 Spectre gunship.

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Comments
  1. N. Dan Smith says:

    What’s more, the “just cause” behind Afghanistan is deficient as well. Since when has a government not extriditing a criminal become justification for regime change?

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