For years (ex: this post from 2005), we have been talking about how the U.S. war in Afghanistan has been taking a toll on civilians in the country–a prediction that was first made by the anti-war movement back in 2001.
In recent years, air strikes have continued to devastate the country and target its civilian population. Civilian casualties increased last year and this year there are continued reports of casualties along with an expansion of the use of unmanned drones to carry out attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The killings have become frequent enough that even the Afghani government–which has been fairly uncritical of the U.S.–has been forced to make the attacks an issue.
Last month, there was a U.S. air strike that killed “dozens” (Red Cross estimates put the casualties at 120). At the time, the U.S. blamed the Taliban for the civilian casualties, but it is now admitting that it was responsible:
A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American military official.
The official said the civilian death toll would probably have been reduced if American air crews and forces on the ground had followed strict rules devised to prevent civilian casualties. Had the rules been followed, at least some of the strikes by American warplanes against half a dozen targets over seven hours would have been aborted.
In many cases, it has been suggested that these continued attacks are motivating Afghanis to oppose the U.S. presence–and in some cases–to join insurgent groups. Can you really blame them?