How NATO copes with protection of Afghan civilians
Late on Wednesday, seven civilians, including six children, were killed in a Nato air strike in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan, the BBC reported.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the bombing. The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said it has begun a high level inquiry into the “unfortunate incident” and would also undertake a join assessment with Afghan authorities. Isaf commander Gen John Allen said: “Protecting the Afghan civilian population is central to our mission here in Afghanistan and we will investigate this situation fully to determine exactly what took place and whether any further actions need to be taken.”
First civilian casualties were reported in Afghanistan before the US and NATO-led invasion into the country in 2001, and the situation has not changed for the better since then. In 2011 the death toll among civilians has risen by 15% on the year, and in Jan-Jun was reported at 1462. These are “unfortunate incidents”, indeed.
General Allen says he needs to find out what exactly took place as if it was unclear that it was an air strike. It appears that almost 1500 deaths in the first half of the year “is not enough” for him.
What are other results of the US campaign in Afghanistan? Against expectations, the Taliban is not destroyed but becomes even stronger and enjoys growing population support. Actually, Talibs represent the only force capable of maintaining stability in the country. Compare to the pre-Taliban era, drug production has decreased when in the early 2000s the Taliban reduced poppy cultivation.
And what is most important here is that in the past decade the West has managed to worsen its relations with its appointee in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai, as well as with Pakistan and its other allies in the region. The trend has grown even more evident this year, and negative public attitude in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to foreign invaders has also strengthened, especially following a widely covered killing of Osama bin Laden.
Now the US is thinking whether Barack Obama should fulfill his promise to withdraw his country’s troops from Afghanistan by 2014 or not. On the one hand, the way the situation unfolds proves that the US presence in the country is no longer reasonable and even harmful for both Afghans and US citizens. On the other hand, by leaving Afghanistan the US would admit their failure to change the situation there for the better and ensure security. Of course, neither President Obama nor his probable Republican successors would approve of this. The recent election debates have shown that if a Republican candidate wins in 2012, the US military presence in Afghanistan will get only stronger, causing new casualties among the civilians and the military.
Umberto Eco, one of the most outstanding intellectuals of our time, said in an interview with Russky Reportermagazine: “I`ve always said that if George Bush had had read at least a couple of books about Afghanistan, written by Russian or British authors, he would have never invaded it. He would have understood that all such attempts made throughout the history were not successful; even Alexander the Great lost. But Bush did not happen to have an aide who could have advised him not to begin the Afghan campaign.”
Although George Bush is no longer in politics, his successor neither seems to have learnt lessons from history. But maybe it is not too late.