Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wholesale Slaughter

Desensitization to multiple killings in foreign countries is nothing new. Fighting in Iraq kills around 100 people every single day. But it is a vaguely defined enemy or even a vaguely defined insurgency that is doing the killing. Factional fighting and infighting; nothing to do with ‘us.’ But what happens when it is ‘us’ that are killing hundreds of civilians? Griff Witte and Javed Hamdard report of such a massacre in today's Washington Post Foreign Service Section:

Afghan officials reported Saturday that possibly 100 or more civilians had been killed in a NATO and U.S.-led assault.

"More than 100 people have been killed. But they weren't Taliban. The Taliban were far away from there," said Wali Khan, a member of parliament who represents the area. Another parliament member from Helmand, Mahmood Anwar, said that the death toll was close to 100 and that the dead included women and children.

Sometimes collateral damage is just a nice word for massacre. "Oops" is just not good enough and the military's continuing lackadaisical mumblings about being "deeply saddened by any loss of innocent lives," just doesn't cut it.

It is not feasible to uphold an ethical code condemning Taliban attacks on civilians when your own military is killing even more of them. The repeated claims that these women and children are being used as human shields is not an excuse to then target and kill them.

The Afghans have had thirty years of warfare in their country - we have taken over where the Russians left off. A sense of shame however, would be too much to ask from the belligerent, all knowing, all seeing, holders of the supposed moral torch that we in the West have become.

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