Kunduz: Afghan lives matter

picture from MSF
picture from MSF

The bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz is a terrible tragedy. 

So why does it take so long for the US authorities to admit what has happened? Of course a full investigation is proper and will take time. But to issue mealy mouthed statements like these risks playing into the hands of Taliban propagandists and, perhaps more dangerously, risks alienating those among the Afghan population with a more favourable view of the US intervention.

Ash Carter, US defence secretary (full statement here):

Overnight I learned of a tragic incident involving a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that came under fire. The area has been the scene of intense fighting the last few days.  U.S. forces in support of Afghan Security Forces were operating nearby, as were Taliban fighters.

While we are still trying to determine exactly what happened, I want to extend my thoughts and prayers to everyone affected.

And here’s Barack Obama (full statement here):

On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to the medical professionals and other civilians killed and injured in the tragic incident at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.  The Department of Defence has launched a full investigation, and we will await the results of that inquiry before making a definitive judgment as to the circumstances of this tragedy.

But the worst has to be the statement The New York Times received from the US military:

The United States military, in a statement, confirmed an airstrike at 2:15 a.m., saying that it had been targeting individuals “who were threatening the force” and that “there may have been collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”

A hospital has been hit by your bombs. So far 22 people are dead – including aid workers and patients. We can worry later about the exact circumstances – the whos, the whats and so on. Why can’t you just hold up your hands from the start and say this shouldn’t have happened and that you’re very sorry?

These legalistic formulations of words make it sound as if Afghan lives don’t matter.

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