Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Kunduz War Crime

ISIS is not the only group committing war crimes these days. ISIS toppled its third ancient ruin in Palmyra, a roman arch that stood for 2000 years. But contrary to Obama's often repeated promise to remove US combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, US advisors are still fighting on the ground against a resilient Tailban. In an effort to retake Kunduz, largely in the hands of insurgents, US advisors called in an airstrike by a Spectre gunship [photo] against a hospital manned by Médicines Sans Frontières, one of the few still operating in the country. The strike killed 22 people including 12 members of staff. Some were burned alive in their beds by the cannon rounds. At first the American military said the hospital was occupied by Taliban firing on US soldiers. That cover story did not live long. An American general testifying before Congress yesterday about the incident called it "a mistake". MSF officials also flatly reject that explanation, saying the hospital was identified by GPS coordinates which were given to all sides. It also had a signal repeater on its roof; everyone in the area knew it was a working hospital. The gunship attack continued for thirty minutes after the hospital was again identified to American and Afghan military officials. A deliberate attack on a hospital would qualify as a war crime under international law. Médicines Sans Frontières is demanding a full, transparent (international) investigation of the incident.

The charity organization ran afoul of the Afghan military in July. Afghan special forces raided the hospital when they learned a terrorist operative was being treated there. MSF says no Taliban were on the hospital grounds when the attack occurred; even if a protected facility is being abused by the enemy, a retaliatory attack must be proportional. The AC-130 gunship employed 40 and 120mm automatic cannon rounds to completely destroy the hospital. This latest outrage epitomizes the unqualified failure of the American expedition in Afghanistan, one that could have been predicted at the outset. After killing Osama Bin Laden, the American purpose there was fulfilled and troop withdrawn. In an effort to prop-up a failed state, the United States has only become more deeply embroiled in a region that is historically ungovernable. The pressure for results in the longest war of America's war strew history is immense. Incredibly, Pentagon generals are now calling for a reintroduction of American soldiers to fend off the Taliban. Troop levels are now scheduled to decline to 1000 by 2017. Here is what former President Jimmy Carter said about US foreign policy in the last half of the 20th century, "...it's generally accepted that the most intense warmonger for the last 35 or 40 years has been the United States of America. We're the country in the forefront of almost every war that has started....eager to go to war to resolve differences. We have proven that, as you know, in a number of cases for a long time. When we went into Korea, when we went into Vietnam, when we went in to Iraq both times. I think all those wars were unnecessary."