Ten civilians-eight children-were killed by International Forces, Monday, in Afghanistan. Read the article ‘Karzai: Civilians Killed By International Forces During Fighting’. This is not the first time the U.S. or NATO forces have accidentally destroyed civilian life in the Middle East, and, I assure you, it won’t be the last.
For obvious reasons this news report bothers me, and it is probably for the same reasons that it may also bother you. The first reason, of course, is that people have been killed-which always makes me sad. But what is worse is that these civilians weren’t just killed, but murdered, with weapons, by my country. Accidents happen, and we’re sorry that they do, the military often says. But that’s not good enough. You have ended the lives of children that had nothing to do with your foreign aggression. Is there a worse transgression? Does this not blur the boundaries of ‘terrorism’, and what constitutes a fatal, wartime mistake, in comparison to a concerted effort to create terror?
Another main reason this news report perturbs me is for a more selfish reason. It has to do with national security. Why are American military forces in Afghanistan in the first place? For reasons of national security, we’ve been told. But imagine, for those people living in the Middle East that witness one of these little military accidents, how much resentment toward the Western world, especially America, is newly created.
Every misguided bomb or bullet holds within it the potential to produce another generation of ‘terrorists’. I hate that word, which is why I lightly marked it. Every dead civilian or inhumane action carried out by Western forces gives credence to our enemies, and removes the fragile trust America needs to establish and maintain.
Obama says we are not at war with Islam, or the peaceful people of Iraq or Afghanistan. He also says America cannot win this ‘war on terror’ without the strength and willingness of the Afghanis. It is hard to imagine acquiring this willing assistance from Afghanistan if we sometimes kill their schoolchildren. I understand I’m beating the same drum, and that my mentality is simplistic and hard to the left, but these egregious, accidental military strikes keep happening.
Some people say that civilians die in wars; it’s just the way it is. As if it has to be that way. War is the only way to bring peace into this world, is the seeming sentiment in America. If anybody disagrees, they are considered naïve. As Obama said, the Taliban are not people that can be bargained with. And neither can America, is what he forgot to say. As William James postulates in ‘The Moral Equivalent of War’, if you think war is an ugly necessity, then you suffer from an unwillingness to imagine.