That’s right: $40 a head for each innocent dead Afghani. If you aren’t ashamed of your arrogant, criminal government, we’re ashamed of you.
Afghanistan: Reaction to NATO massacres
By G. Dunkel, Dec 10, 2007, 18:35
A NATO air attack on Nov. 28 dropped two bombs on tents where workers were sleeping in Nuristan, a rugged province in eastern Afghanistan. The bombs killed 14 workers, with no survivors. These workers had been building a road for the NATO occupation forces.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) admitted it conducted air strikes against Taliban fighters in the area but denied any workers were killed. ISAF spokesman Brig. Gen. Carlos Branco claimed at a news conference a few days later that a “Taliban leader” was targeted and that “there were no civilian casualties.”
While it may be no surprise that Gen. Branco denied the bombing, it wouldn’t be the first time NATO forces in Afghanistan have caused heavy civilian casualties. According to United Nations reports, NATO and Afghan government forces killed 314 civilians in the first six months of this year. The same source says 279 civilians were killed by the Afghan resistance.
Mark Herold, a well-respected economist at the University of New Hampshire, estimates that U.S. forces killed 3,767 civilians in Afghanistan—and that’s only between October and December of 2001, during the initial bombing. Many more have been killed in the six years since. The U.S. Department of Defense admits to 401 military fatalities as of July 2007. Another 278 from other NATO countries have also been killed. Many more Afghan civilians than NATO troops have been killed, and most have been killed by NATO troops.
Past examples indicate that even if it were clearly established that the ISAF air and helicopter attack was aimed the road workers, it is highly unlikely that any serious charges would be brought against the forces involved, especially if they are from the U.S. or other big imperialist powers.
U.S. Marines’ impunity
During a routine patrol last March 4, U.S. Marines were attacked by a suicide bomber. They responded by killing at least 50 civilians and seriously injuring an unspecified number more. Three weeks later, after large, angry protests, Marine commanders agreed to open an investigation and announced that they would keep the platoon implicated in the massacre in Afghanistan even though they were sending the company involved out of the country.
On May 9, Col. John Nicholson, who commanded the brigade to which the Marine Special Forces were attached, apologized to the families of the 69 civilians who were killed or wounded. Nicholson said he was “deeply, deeply ashamed” about this “terrible, terrible mistake.” On behalf of the U.S. government, he turned over $2,000 as compensation for the deaths and injuries.
A few weeks later, the Marine Corp’s top general said that Nicholson was wrong to apologize because investigators had yet to determine whether any wrongdoing occurred. As of the middle of November, the Defense Department was saying that a formal investigation would be opened sometime in December.
Polish troops jailed
The Polish military reacted differently. When the military prosecutors in Poznan, Poland, became aware that Polish soldiers, who were operating together with U.S. troops, mortared the Afghan town of Nangar Khel on Aug. 16, killing six civilians including women and children, they jailed the troops on Nov. 15. The authorities are holding the Polish troops in separate cells, to avoid collusion. The investigating judge has held that it is established that the killings took place.
Poland currently has about 1,200 troops in Afghanistan and 900 in Iraq. The new prime minister, Donald Tusk, appointed at the end of October after his Civic Platform party won the parliamentary elections, had run on a platform of withdrawing from Iraq by the summer of 2008. His platform also included trying to strengthen Poland’s ties to the U.S. Tusk says he will continue to keep a significant Polish force in Afghanistan.
According to a recent public opinion poll, 72 percent of Poles want Poland out of Afghanistan.
The Polish edition of Newsweek ran a front-page headline, “Blood on the uniform,” the week the news broke of the Aug. 16 massacre. The Polish Business News Agency raised the charge that Polish army commanders knew about the massacre and the cover up.
Tusk announced that if the charges were proven, he would apologize to the Afghani people. The Polish military prosecutor intends to try the soldiers early in the spring of 2008.
Washington, the imperialist capital with the most powerful military, has insisted its soldiers be exempt from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, and that the actions of its occupation troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are virtually unpunished. Poland is a poor neo-colony of U.S. and Western European imperialism.
More than two million of Poland’s young workers have left for Western Europe in the past three years. Though Poland’s youths are also acceptable as cannon fodder for imperialist wars and occupations, they don’t get the same arrogant protection as the imperialist troops when they commit war crimes.
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