On purpose or by accident, all Americans should be concerned about what gets carried out in their name
The airstrike on a Médecins Sans Frontières (M.S.F.) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan which resulted in the death of 12 medical workers, 10 patients (which included 3 children,) and 37 wounded is not only a tragic incident, much less “collateral damage”; it is a heinous war crime and should be treated as such.
Article 18 of the IV Geneva Conventions states that “Civilian hospitals… may in no circumstances be the object of attack but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.” Not only was this incident a violation of an international agreement which the United States is a party to, but it also shows extreme carelessness in complying with international obligations.
The negligence is shameful, and should leave us with one important question. Was it deliberate? This question seems reasonable when one considers that M.S.F. had informed both the American army and the Afghani government of their GPS coordinates, or the fact that M.S.F. provides medical assistance to all combatants, regardless of what side the wounded are fighting for, hence the airstrike possibly targeted wounded Taliban fighters. Even more compelling; the airstrike was concentrated on one specific part of the compound for a prolonged period.
The thought that these airstrikes might have been deliberate is only a theory, and one that Médecins Sans Frontières believes to be the case. But until an investigation is launched into this incident, the fogginess around this incident will continue to get thicker.
In a hearing on Tuesday (Oct. 6) before the Armed Services Committee, General John Campbell declared that the US army would never deliberately target a hospital or any other civilian base, and also assured us that there would be a “thorough, objective and transparent” report on the incident.
Should we take his word that the military will be objective in issuing the unadulterated truth? No. Because honestly, who’s ever trusted a criminal to conduct a thorough report on his own crime. Ludicrous.
If there was no purposefulness in this incident, there should be no problem complying with M.S.F.’s request that the U.S. government allow an independent human rights commission investigate the incident. If not, Congress should create an independent committee to launch an investigation. This would give Congress something better to do instead of creating a smear campaign against a presidential candidate and wasting millions of dollars in the process.
Regardless of what any investigation reveals about this incident, the undeniable truth stands that lives were lost in an event where there was no reason for an attack. Whether the cause was deliberate or negligence, there has to be strong action to set precedent that will deter the possibility of these type of incidents happening again, as they have for the last 14 years in the Middle East.
And if you’re an American who hasn’t given much attention to this incident because it occurred in foreign land, well think again, you should.
If you’re someone who believes in America the exceptional, you should be concerned that autocratic countries like Russia can rightfully criticize our government for its continued hypocrisy in promoting all these beautiful concepts like “human rights” and “justice”, meanwhile bombing the hell out of civilian areas.
If you have a family and you’re worried about “Islamo-Nazi” terrorists, you should be concerned that terrorist organizations like ISIS can use this tragedy to further spread the idea that the U.S. continues to kill innocent Muslims, and therefore lure more vulnerable youth into the war on America.
As tax payers, we should be concerned that this war crime was perpetrated in our name, with our own tax dollars. Money better spent fixing our nation’s crumbling public infrastructure, providing better health care, or helping underfunded governmental agencies and non-profits, instead of being used to destroy humanitarian organizations.
As a human being, you should be unnerved that people who were willing to risk their lives in order to help others were needlessly killed, along with innocent children and people who regardless of their reason for being there, were defenseless.
As a democratic nation, we have the right to be well informed of our government’s actions , and it is our responsibility to hold our government accountable for any misuse of power, whether abroad or at home. For this same reason the public needs answers, and our officials need questioning, from an independent body with no other interest in this incident but to find the truth.
To stay quiet and not demand an independent investigation is equivalent to being complicit in this war crime.