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Killing Unnamed Children in Afghanistan

by Jacob G. Hornberger

30children_killed_in_strike_2011.jpg

December 2, 2013

When I read this Washington Post article about the two-year-old child that U.S. forces just killed in Afghanistan, I wondered what the childís name was. Nowhere was it to be found in the article. Maybe the Post hadnít acquired the name. Or maybe it just doesnít matter. Itís just one more death among the countless Afghan deaths at the hands of U.S. forces during the past 12 years.

The commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., issued an apology for killing the child. I wonder if he cited the childís name in his apology. In any event, no doubt Dunford is hoping that the apology will help the U.S. government secure permission from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan past 2014.

The childís death was justified by the same rationale that has been used to justify the deaths of countless other Afghan people since the U.S. invasion 12 years ago: what U.S. officials call "collateral damage." U.S. officials said that they were targeting a "mid-level Taliban commander who had been involved in attacks" on coalition troops and "organizing and facilitating lethal aid to insurgents in the area." The two-year old just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

For 12 years, the U.S. government has had carte blanche to kill as many people as it wanted in Afghanistan. Whenever U.S. forces have dropped bombs and fired missiles at suspected "terrorists," "militants," or "insurgents," there has been no second-guessing on the part of U.S. officials, no matter how many non-terrorists, non-militants, and non-insurgents have been killed in the process. Oh sure, apologies are oftentimes rendered and nominal payments of money are made to aggrieved families, but nothing has stopped the onslaught of death for 12 long years.

If they havenít killed all the bad guys by now and if they havenít trained the Afghan government to stand on its own, then itís time to just declare the entire venture a failure and bring all the troops home now.

Letís face it. That two-year-old didnít have to die. If U.S. forces had already exited Afghanistan, then U.S. forces wouldnít have been there to fire the missile that killed that kid.

Of course, U.S. officials would respond that then they wouldnít have been able to kill that militant ó the one who is "organizing and facilitating lethal aid to insurgents in the area."

Well, letís ask ourselves why that Afghan is a militant and why heís engaged in that activity. Itís not because he was involved in the 9/11 attacks or planning on coming to get us here in the United States. Itís because that militant is trying to rid his country of a foreign occupier ó and a brutal foreign occupier at that, one that fires missiles at people in reckless disregard of whether there are two-year-old children in the vicinity.

Long ago, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan devolved into a war that targets people who are resisting the foreign occupation of their country and a war to prop up a corrupt, illegal pro-U.S. regime, one whose president requires bags full of cash to be regularly delivered to him by the CIA.

What about the possibility of the Talibanís regaining control of the government? Who cares? What difference would it make? Even those who cite the ballyhooed terms "terrorism" and "national security" donít get very far with those justifications anymore. After all, letís not forget that if Karzai says no more occupation, U.S. forces are exiting the country regardless of who raises those ballyhooed terms. If "national security" was really at stake (whatever that term means), would U.S. officials really be exiting the country just because Karzai wanted them to?

Moreover, letís face it: If terrorists want to attack the United States, they donít need a friendly government in Afghanistan to plan it. They can always find friendly governments elsewhere in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, or simply some nice hotel room in Pakistan, Yemen, or even Berlin or London. Moreover, letís not forget that the reason there is anti-American terrorism in the first place is owing to the U.S. national-security stateís interventionism in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and elsewhere in the region. Stopping the interventionism equals stopping the terrorism.

For 12 long years, Americans have been subjected to a constant deluge of death of foreigners at the hands of the U.S. national-security state. Death has become an everyday part of our lives. It seeps into our pores. Itís ingrained into our minds. Death has become so ordinary that most people donít even wonder what the names of those who have been killed were or what kinds of lives they were living when they got killed.

It just doesnít matter. All that matters is that the national-security state is "keeping us safe" by killing a never-ending stream of people. I wonder how many Americans ever consider the possibility that it is this constant barrage of death and destruction at the hands of U.S. forces that is generating the very militancy, insurgency, and terrorism that U.S. forces continue targeting.

Itís obvious that the U.S. Empire wants to continue occupying Afghanistan indefinitely into the future, knowing full well that that will ensure the endless cycle of death and destruction. My hope is that Karzai stands fast, as did the Iraqis, and kicks the American forces out of the country, preferably now rather than later. It would be the greatest gift that Karzai could give his country, the United States, and the world. At the very least, it would mean that there would be no more deaths of two-year-old unnamed children at the hands of U.S. forces, no more deaths of Afghans who are doing nothing more than trying to rid their country of a foreign occupier, and no more deaths of U.S. soldiers who kill and die for nothing.



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