U.S. Targets Civilians in Afghanistan

July 2, 2009

After a U.S. airstrike in Farah province in May, mass outrage led Afghan officials to produce a type-written list of the 93 children, 26 women, and 22 male civilians killed. Only when confronted with the widespread public condemnation did U.S. officials admit that the 2,000 pound bomb dropped on a building resulted in "some" civilian casualties. The U.S. finds itself confronted so frequently with condemnation for killing civilians that last year the military instituted a practice of sending soldiers house to house after airstrikes to "apologize" to families for killing their relatives.

At the same time, the U.S. insists that it has the right to bomb civilian areas whenever it asserts "there are Taliban operatives there." This is the logic of "shoot anything that moves and ask questions later" and with this "logic" the Pentagon gives itself the right to bomb civilian targets. When forced to acknowledge the body count, Pentagon officials shrug it off as "accidental" or even more cynically, call the deaths a "setback for public relations."

While minimizing such atrocities as "accidents," U.S. officials simultaneously insist that "if 'militants' hide among the civilian population we have no choice but to bomb these areas." In other words, U.S. imperialism has the right, in practice, to target anything and anyone while the people must be content with the crocodile tears of U.S. officials.

It is just this kind of "logic" about the killing of civilians that serves as an alert to the further tragedies in store for the people of Afghanistan as the U.S. sends more troops and escalates the war. Already Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is warning people to expect more bloodshed as "there is a heavy fighting season ahead."

As we join with all of progressive world public opinion in denouncing the U.S. government for its savage killing of Afghan civilians, the American people are also called upon to continue and step up our struggles against this reactionary, aggressive war.