Saturday, March 26, 2011

We are Deeply Sorry (But We're Not Counting)

Article first published as We Are Deeply Sorry (But We're Not Counting) on Technorati.

Any idea how many innocent civilians have been killed by our (“our” as in NATO) forces in Afghanistan? No? Well neither do I. No one seems to know. What’s worse, no one seems to be counting. Even worse again, no one seems to even care. Yet it is our taxes that are paying for the killing.

According to Iraq Body Count, the number of civilians killed in the war in Iraq now tops 100,000, at least. But for Afghanistan, a war that we have been fighting now for nearly ten years, numbers, even inexact numbers, are hard to come by. Yet we do know that innocents are being slaughtered by our forces. And it goes on and on and on. Just take a couple of cases from the past few of weeks.

In early March the crew of a US helicopter gunship shot and killed nine boys who had been gathering wood; the oldest victim was 15, the youngest was seven. Shouldn’t we be appalled by this? Chance is, it’s the first you’ve heard about it. But I’m not making it up. President Obama declared his “deep regret” while General Petraeus issued a rare apology, saying: “We are deeply sorry.” The thing is, the apology got more news time than the actual killing – that’s how we’ve become. We hardly notice it when we kill, but we’re so proud of ourselves when we apologize.

Drone attack in Pakistan
While some of us were celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, news came in that a US drone, the preferred lethal weapon of President Obama, had just killed 40 village elders in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. There are conflicting reports about what happened (which is always good when you kill civilians); some say a few al-Qaeda operatives had been targeted and were indeed killed, and the rest were simply collateral damage. Others claim it was all civilians that were killed. Like I said, we’re not really bothered, we’re not even counting. But the Pakistanis are. They, like the Afghans, are counting their dead, and they will remember.

No comments:

Post a Comment