Monday, May 22, 2006

Massacre in Kandahar

Massacre in Kandahar by Left i on the news

I wrote about the most recent American murder of Afghans in the post just below this one, but a headline in the San Jose Mercury News (not online because the article is a New York Times article) made by blood boil enough to post again. Here's the headline:
U.S. planes attack Taliban
Several civilians killed and wounded, Governor says
"Several"? In the first sentence of the article, we learn that 16 civilians were killed and 15 wounded, for a total of 31. 31 is "many" or "dozens." Certainly not "several" ("more than two or three, but not many").
But why do I call it a "massacre"? Here's something I wrote last year on the subject, on the occasion of the U.S. bombing of an Iraqi wedding party:

Perhaps the most famous "massacre" on American territory, the Boston Massacre, involved the killing of five men by British soldiers. The equally famous St. Valentine's Day Massacre involved the killing of seven men. What makes all three of these events a "massacre" is their one-sided nature; the fact that the people killed were not fighting back, but were simply gunned down in cold blood.
Yesterday I cross-posted my article about the most recent Israeli murders in Gaza on Daily Kos, and (in one of the 413 comments!) someone asked, "What would be a better way for Israel to capture REAL terrorists as opposed to firing rockets into crowded intersections?" To which I replied, "Firing rockets into crowded intersections isn't a way to 'capture REAL terrorists' at all. It's a way to kill alleged terrorists, and pretty much guarantee that you'll kill some totally innocent civilians at the same time."

And here in Kandahar we have the same story repeating itself. The U.S. military says, "The purpose of this operation was to detain individuals suspected of terrorist and anti-Afghanistan activities." But it's kind of hard to "detain" people when you are dropping bombs on them from the air. The U.S. military also says, "These individuals were active members of the Taliban network and have conducted attacks against coalition and Afghan forces as well as civilians" (note how the word "suspected" suddenly disappears; between the last sentence and this one the individuals went from being "suspected" of certain activities to having "conducted attacks," no question about it). And to top it off, this was a night-time operation. The assertion that, even with the best night-vision goggles, a pilot could identify "individuals" is implausible to put it mildly.

Incidentally, one of the villagers says that "when the bombing started, the Taliban were desperately trying to take shelter and were not trying to fight." Which seems plausible considering the no doubt inferior, if not total lack of night-fighting capability on the part of these alleged Taliban, not to mention their probable lack of anti-aircraft weapons. So "massacre" -- the murder of a group of people who were not in the process of fighting back -- is definitely the right word.