US-led coalition forces killed 76 Afghan civilians in western Afghanistan yesterday, most of them children, the country's Interior Ministry said.Years after Robert Fisk described his first hand experience (2) of the hatred and violence that the coalitions shoot-first-deny-everything-afterwards attitude had created we still have not learned anything. Remarkably, the tolerant - or perhaps innured - population of Afghanistan still have not turned on us. Pwerhaps their fear of a return to all out civil war compels them to practice restraint in the face of the coalitions bloody antics.
The coalition denied killing civilians. Civilian deaths in military operations have become an emotive issue among Afghans, many of whom feel international forces take too little care when launching air strikes, undermining support for their presence.
"Seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred today in a coalition forces operation in Herat province," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Coalition forces bombarded the Azizabad area of Shindand district in Herat province on Friday afternoon, the ministry said. Nineteen of the victims were women, seven of them men and the rest children under the age of 15, it said. (1)
Every dead civilian in Afghanistan will come back to haunt us, one way or another. They will become the faces that rally young muslims to the terrorist cause - not becuase the young men or women support the terrorists ends, but because they will be convinced that the West either does not care if it obliterates innocent Muslim lives - the best interpretation - or is actively seeking to do so.
This naive view was espoused by Muhammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer, who blew themselves - and 52 innocent people - to pieces in the London bombings on the 7th of July, 2005. Tanweer cited the sufferring of "our mothers, children, brothers and sisters in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya" and Khan made a direct link between the the actions of Western governemnets and the culpability of the British people (3). Every story like this one - whether or not is is finally verified - or an Abu Grahib, or any act of stinking hypocrisy carried out by the governments we vote in and suffer to act in our name - adds to the culpability of the West as a whole and the price that may one day be exacted.
This is not to say we shouldn't stand up to terrorism. But we should be alert to when it is being committed in our name by our leaders, because - ultimately - it isn't our leaders who suffer the consequences. George Bush wasn't incinerated in the World Trade Centre on September the 11th. TOny Blair was not killed in the London underground. We have to stop taking what our imbecillic leaders say on trust, just as the deluded fools like Khan and Tanweer have to stop listening to the poison being spewed by their leaders. And we have to find ways to combat terrorism that will not spread more hatred and rage against us, or there will be more Khans and Tanweers.
1 - "Afghanistan: 76 civilians die in airstrike, ministry claims," by Sharafuddin Sharafyar, published in The Guardian, 23rd of August, 2008. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/22/afghanistan.usa)
2 - "My beating by refugees is a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war," by Robert Fisk, published in The Independent, 10th of December, 2001. Reproduced on findarticles.com. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20011210/ai_n14426800)
3 - "Video of London suicide bomber released," by Adam Fresco, Daniel McGrory and Andrew Norfolk, published in The Times, 6th of July, 2006. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article683824.ece)