By David Swanson
The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones.
Also this week in Afghanistan, eight CIA assassins (see if you can find a more appropriate name for them) were murdered by a suicide bombing that one of them apparently executed against the other seven. The Taliban in Pakistan claims credit and describes the mass-murder as revenge for the CIA’s drone killings. And we thought unmanned drones were War Perfected because none of the right people would have to risk their lives. Oops. Perhaps Detroit-bound passengers risked theirs unwittingly.
The CIA has declared its intention to seek revenge for the suicide strike. Who knows what the assassination of sleeping students was revenge for. Perhaps the next lunatic to try blowing up something in the United States will be seeking revenge for whatever Obama does to avenge the victims (television viewers?) of the Crotch Crusader. Certainly there will be numerous more acts of violence driven by longings for revenge against the drone pilots and the shooters of students.
In a civilized world, the alternative to vengeance is justice. Often we can even set aside feelings of revenge as long as we are able to act so as to deter more crime. But at the same time that the puppet president of Afghanistan is demanding the arrest of the troops who shot the handcuffed children, the puppet government of Iraq is facing up to the refusal of the United States to seriously prosecute the Blackwater assassins of innocent Iraqis. Justice will not be permitted as an alternative to vengeance — the mere idea is anti-American.
No one so much as blinks at the CIA’s avowal of vengeance for the recent suicide attack, never mind the illegality, because the entire illegal war on Afghanistan/Pakistan was launched and is still maintained as a pretended act of revenge for the crimes of 9-11. Of course, we’re not bombing the flight schools or the German and Spanish hotels. Of course , we admit that there are fewer than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Of course we openly seek massive permanent bases and an oil pipeline. Of course, Obama’s decisions are all electoral calculations computed by the calculus of cowardice. Of course, we’re prosecuting the Butt Bomber as a criminal, just as we always used to prosecute criminals as criminals. Of course, revenge would not be a legal justification for war even if we could persuade ourselves it was a sane one. But the war is publicly understood as revenge, the resistance by its victims is understood as revenge, the escalation is understood as revenge for the resistance, and an eye for an eye slowly makes the whole world blind.
But here’s what we’ve forgotten: nothing is ever remotely as horrible as war. So, nothing can ever constitute a justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war. Dragging children out of bed and killing them is not a freak blip in the course of a war. It is war reduced to a comprehensible scale. It’s less war, not worse war. Everything we are spending our grandchildren’s unearned pay on, borrowed from China at great expense, all of it is for the murdering of human beings. And it will remain so for eternity, no matter how many times you chant “Support Duh Troops.”
I know many soldiers and mercenaries had few other options, given our failure to invest in any other industries. I know they’ve been lied to. I know they’re scared and tired. But they wouldn’t be there if we brought them home. And I support a full investment in their physical and mental and economic recovery. What I don’t support is anyone participating in these wars, and that includes every single American who is not putting every spare moment into demanding that Congress stop forking over the money.
Not another dime. Not another dollar. Not another death. Not another thought of revenge.
By David Swanson
Silly me. I thought I could comment on something that was in the news without proving that it was in the news. Maybe this will help:
UN says Afghans slain in troop raid were students
By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press Writer, Thu Dec 31, 1:26 pm ET
KABUL – The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.
The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14. . . .
UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement that the preliminary UN investigation showed “strong indication” that there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack.
But, he added, “based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools.” . . .
Eide said the UN remained concerned about nighttime raids by coalition troops “given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded.” . . .
A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and “international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them.
“They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan,” the statement said.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.
I’ve excerpted much of the above article, but not the military denials. Go read them at the link above. Here’s the Los Angeles Times:
Western troops killed civilians, Afghan investigators say
The government investigators say eight of those killed over the weekend in a remote eastern province were boys under 18. Western military officials say there is no evidence to back the claim.
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2009
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghan government investigators asserted Wednesday that foreign troops had killed 10 civilians in a raid this week, including eight students younger than 18. Western military officials called the charge unsubstantiated and urged a joint investigation. . . .
A statement from the presidential palace said Karzai had offered condolences to the families of the dead, and endorsed the initial findings of an investigative panel that had traveled to Kunar at his behest.
The head of the Afghan delegation, Asadullah Wafa, said 10 males, all civilians, were taken from their homes in Ghazikhan village, in the Narang district, and then shot dead by foreign troops. The report cited the village schoolmaster as identifying eight of them as pupils between the ages of 12 and 17. . . .
Wafa, a close aide to Karzai, suggested that an informant had provided misleading information to Western forces, triggering the strike. Afghan villagers have sometimes tried to settle scores with rival clans or tribes by falsely reporting insurgent activity to the authorities. . . .
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
The above article has been dismissed by commenters on progressive websites because it was posted by the progressive website Common Dreams. Never mind that Common Dreams has been right far more often than the Los Angeles Times. Below is a collection of sources put together (and presumably thereby tarnished) by Talking Points Memo:
Afghan Children Handcuffed, Then Killed By American Soldiers
January 1, 2010, 7:38AM
Talking Points Memo
TPM starts with the Times:
From the London Times, December 31, 2009…
President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.
“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.
Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.
Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”
In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.
“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them.”
Directly from Karzai’s website…
President Karzai in a telephone contact expressed condolences and shared grief with the families of the victims of the recent attack in Kunar province.
Following the attack, President Karzai tasked a delegation on Monday led by the Chief of Complaints Commission and composed of representatives from the ministries of Defense, Interior, National Directorate of Security and the Office of Administrative Affairs for an immediate investigation of the incident.
The findings by the delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan Village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took 10 people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead.
Eight of those shot dead were confirmed as school students by the village school principle.
From the New York Times…
The governor of Kunar, Fazullah Wahidi, said that “the coalition claimed they were enemy fighters,” but that elders in the district and a delegation sent to the remote area had found that “10 people were killed and all of them were civilians.”
From the United Nations…
The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and that it warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.
That last quote is simply from the same AP story I quoted above, but posted on the MSNBC website. The UN special representative, you’ll recall, is named and quoted above.