Karzai Complains Again

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- President Hamid Karzai ordered an inquiry Tuesday into a U.S. bombing that killed at least 16 civilians, including some at a religious school, and called for a meeting with the commander of American forces in Afghanistan.

Let me emphasize something here before I rant: This same bombing by the Americans destroyed a Taliban stronghold and may have killed up to 80 Taliban.

The equivalent of this, hypothetically speaking, would have been De Gaulle launching an inquiry over French civilian deaths when we kicked the Nazis out of France.

The question being dealt with here is if collateral damage should be permissible in war, and how much. Karzai has taken the position that 16 lives is too much for the tactical gain we achieved in this attack. However, the Geneva Convention as well as traditional Just War Theory agree that civilians being used as human shields can be killed if it is unavoidable. It’s tragic that non-combatants die in a war, but nonetheless, it IS war, and collateral damage is impossible to avoid altogether. In a just war, victory for the righteous side will protect more lives than it destroys. Karzai should be thanking us that we go to such extreme lengths to avoid civilian casualties.

Karzai’s action implies blame against America, and surely many in the Muslim world will learn of Karzai’s probe and harden their attitude toward us. It was the terrorists who chose to hide behind those people like cowards. It was the terrorists who got them killed. The problem is the terrorists…not America...and until Karzai figures this out, he will get nowhere.

I recently spent some time in Afghanistan as an Infantry Scout in the Army. From my point of view, there are three major things that Karzai needs to do with his country before America can leave them to handle the Taliban on their own:

#1...Fix the Afghan National Army (ANA).

If I had to sum up the problems with this group into one thing, I would say they lack direction. While they are not cowards by any definition, they are poorly disciplined and lack motivation. The American trainers can only do so much…The ANA needs leadership from among their own people they can unite behind. Lafayette may have trained the Continental Army, but it was Washington who led them to victory. If Karzai cannot be that leader himself, he should appoint someone under him who can.

#2...Eliminate the corruption that dominates the local law enforcement.

When they do their job right, the Afghan police are the most effective weapon against the Taliban. They know the territory and the people in it…Their place of work is also their home. In the close-knit villages that make up most of Afghanistan, it is much easier for the police to track down the bad guys than it is for anyone else. Unfortunately these small units are also easy to reach through corruption. If this can be stopped or reduced, Afghanistan will be well on its way to taking care of itself.

#3...Unite your people against the Taliban.

Much of the civilian population my unit dealt with was opposed to the Taliban, but would not help us against them. We were foreigners, and the Taliban were their own people. I can’t say I totally disagree with this sentiment. If the ANA and the police were doing their job, this wouldn’t be a problem. Since this has not yet come to be, Karzai needs to exercise some leadership and persuade his people that working with America is in their own best interest.

Only when Karzai stops pointing a finger our way and starts dealing with his own problems will he be a leader who can defeat the Taliban.

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3 Comments

Good points, and Thanks for your Service!!

Great post, N.R., your perspective is invaluable.

Sophrosyne said:

Fantastic post!

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