Saturday, July 14, 2007

They can kill...but they can't count

As more and more Afghan citizens are pulverized by air strikes, the military admits that it doesn't know how many Afghans have been killed, and they don't seem to care.

Over 230 Afghan civilians have been killed this year by NATO troops, the U.S.-led coalition and/or Afghan forces, according to one recent report. But an Associated Press tally says the number's actually 203. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission contends 380 civilians have been killed, though adding that Western forces were only responsible for half of those deaths.
...[B]ut judging from statements made earlier this month, the U.S. military doesn't either. "It's difficult for me to believe that you can actually capture an accurate number," U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins told a Pentagon news briefing.
Meanwhile, the giant brain that is the secretary of state for foreign affairs shifts the blame, even though we are the ones holding the guns and rockets and ordering in the U.S. air strikes. I hate to tell you this Helena, but we are the ones responsible for the carnage. Maybe if she spent more time reading real reports and less time on her hair, she might see what's going on there.

...[H]elena Guergis, secretary of state for foreign affairs, told a conference in Rome this week. "It's important to remember that the Taliban extremists forcefully oppose efforts to improve the life of the Afghan people, and it is they who must be held responsible for bringing violence to the Afghan people."
Foreign Affairs doesn't count either. After all, they might actually have to accept responsibility.

...[A] spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs in Canada admitted to that the department doesn't keep an official tally. "This isn't something that we would monitor, since there are a number of ways they could be killed or injured," she said. "It wouldn't necessarily be linked to us."
They'd never get away with this sloppiness in any "first world" country.

...[A]dded Sloboda: "Clearly it's a natural impulse of people to want to know who died. And if you look at what you might call more 'official' disasters, like 9/11 or rail crashes or air crashes, no one disputes that what we need to know is the name of everybody who died. It's absolutely what you have to have."
So, exactly what kind of education are we dealing with here?

So how many people have died in Afghanistan this year?
"In complete honesty, nobody knows," Kahl said. "These are all educated guesses."
I'm pretty sure that most Afghans would rather be alive under the Taliban than dead under rocket fire and the lethal rain of bombs. Freedom ain't much good if you're dead.

From the article in the Nation about treatment of civilians in Iraq by U.S. military personnel:

Last September, Senator Patrick Leahy, then ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, called a Pentagon report on its procedures for recording civilian casualties in Iraq "an embarrassment." "It totals just two pages," Leahy said, "and it makes clear that the Pentagon does very little to determine the cause of civilian casualties or to keep a record of civilian victims."
Maybe the officials in Foreign Affairs Canada who can't or won't count the civilian casualties should take note. You people are an embarassment too.

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