Friday, May 8, 2009

The Lies of War

An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province.

This past Monday and Tuesday U.S. air strikes struck at "suspected militants" in the western province of Afghanistan. When the smoke cleared, perhaps over 130 Afghan civilians lay dead. What followed next were a series of denials by the Pentagon and a bizarre cover-up that ended in an eventual admission by U.S. officials by week's end. As the Obama administration moves along with plans for a "surge" in the region, this nexus of so-called "collateral damage" and military propaganda may be an ominous vision of what's to come for the people of Afghanistan and the American public.

On Monday and Tuesday, in the Western province of Farah in Afghanistan, following a U.S. air strike, some 130 or more people--civilian men, women and children--lay dead. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an apology for the bombing, but the U.S. maintained only 15 civilians were killed in the aerial bombardment. After the governor of the region however began speaking of "tractor trailers full of pieces of human bodies," the U.S. changed it's position--somewhat. The official Pentagon line became that the high death toll was carried out by the Taliban, staged in a way to frame the U.S. Late Wednesday it was being claimed that Marine special operations forces believed the Afghan civilians were "killed by grenades hurled by Taliban militants, who then loaded some of the bodies into a vehicle and drove them around the village, claiming the dead were victims of an American air strike." U.S. officials even managed to find evidence that a senior Taliban commander was said to order the grenade attack.

This bizarre claim, which would have been the first for the Taliban, went over like a lead brick in Afghanistan and much of the Middle East. Local villagers, and some decent foreign reporters, began to ask how Taliban guns and grenades could flatten houses and kill so many. And the International Red Cross reported on the devastation the bombings caused.

By Thursday, the Pentagon' version of events began to show cracks. And an official admitted to the New York Times that initial claims of a Taliban massacre was “thinly sourced.” In the meantime, thousands of Afghans have marched in the capital to protest the U.S. air strikes, the continuing occupation and the propped up government in Kabul. Afghan security forces of the emerging democratic state shot at the protesters, And the anger, along with continued denials by the U.S. government, is only growing. Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues undaunted with its plans to place 21,000 more troops on the ground and is seeking support to ramp up its war effort.

This scenario where Americans burn down villages to save them, and then blame civilian casualties on vicious enemy propaganda, is not a new tactic. Replace Afghanistan for Vietnam and Taliban for Vietcong, and it's 1968 all over again. Then, like now, even in the face of such horrors, the Pentagon war machine and the administration that authorizes it, continue along with their notions of expanding the fight which can only be won with more blood, treasure, "regrettable collateral damage" and firm moral resolve.

And we know how well that ended...

More on the lies of war below:

After U.S. Strikes, Afghans Describe 'Tractor Trailers Full of Pieces of Human Bodies'

By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports. May 7, 2009.

Rage spreads in Afghanistan after a U.S. bombing kills some 130 people; Meanwhile the Pentagon spins a cover-up and Obama readies more troops.

Full story here.


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