How to downplay the death of 27 Afghan civilians

“No sympathy for the occupied, all the sympathy for the occupiers”

“The greatest myth concerning American foreign policies is the deeply-held belief that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the American government means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well.” – author William Blum


We should honor those who show respect, tolerance, and mercy towards others, especially when they are in a position of power and authority, because that’s when it counts most. But America spares no mercy towards its militarily inferior opposites; thus, should expect none in return. I’m referring to Gen. McChrystal’s worthless apology, as he described NATO’s airstrike that killed 27 Afghan civilians on February 22 as merely “unfortunate.” In response, I felt obliged to ask my fellow Canadians an important question: As we continue to occupy Afghanistan and respond to civilian deaths with words like “unfortunate,” and “accident,” would it be equally acceptable to us if our attackers described the deaths of our civilians as merely “unfortunate?”

This was not the first “accident” that’s been brushed off by Western politicians and media outlets. I can give you countless examples of when we didn’t consider such events “newsworthy,” such as the killing of 8 Afghan children on December 28, 2009 by NATO’s ISAF. At most, Afghan casualties are dehumanized statistics, showing up in a side-column on page 6 of our newspapers only later to be forgotten.

It is ironic that the casualties belonging to the country in occupation are downplayed, while we know the names and stories of the casualties amongst the occupying forces, forces who flew halfway across the world to occupy a people who had nothing to do with 9/11. How can we continue to say “we’re there for the Afghan people”? Our army refuses to do civilian body counts! If we really did care, let us give as much attention to their casualties as we do ours, so that we can detect reality from prejudice. Biased reporting evidently seeks to alter public opinion and establish nationalistic support for war. A good friend of mine once said “the ability to empathize with others is the prevailing quality which makes us human.”

I agree, it is important to stay committed to a just cause. But this is not one of them. The theory of escalation of commitment refers to the tendency of an organization to continue on a path which poses a losing proposition simply because of time and money already invested. Sound familiar? The number of Afghan civilians NATO has killed is more than quadruple the amount of those killed in 9/11. Where is their memorial?

The acceptable and moral choice is a complete withdrawl, leaving the Afghans to choose their own government. What’s that? You say there would be much civil chaos if we did that? Then tell me, what third party interfered in the American Civil War? The American Civil War, which is often attributed as being the war that “made” America, left 600,000 dead.

I suggest we look to Afghanistan’s neighbouring states like Uzbekistan and Pakistan for a moment. They portray a real life example of what happens when democracy is thrust upon a people in Western interest. We need to remember that Afghanistan is not Japan. Afghans are Muslims and hence have their own political system, whether we approve of it or not. The Japanese on the other hand were Buddhist. Being open to different political ideologies, they accepted democracy for themselves. The Afghans will not — they realize that the version of democracy planned for Afghanistan will most likely result in the installation of a puppet, a human rights violator and dictator who will remain in power for the next 30 years. With this realization has come an awakening, we see the Afghan civilian population rising up—and according to a recent US report, the insurgency has in fact “quadrupled” in the last four years. Their position has been made clear to us: They are a people who would rather die standing than live on their knees.

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harves…
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero, and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.
Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking…”

– Christian-Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran


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