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Matter of shame

Filed on May 10, 2007

US ARMY spokesman Col John Nicholson will no doubt excuse the Afghan and indeed international public for not taking his "deeply, deeply ashamed that Americans have killed and wounded innocent Afghan people" apology at face value.


That is so especially since the botched US attack that killed 19 civilians near Jallalabad was followed the next day by a repeat performance down south, this time taking 21 lives.

The American administration struggling with the so-called war-against-terrorism on practically all fronts will no doubt remember that the Afghan campaign especially was predominantly meant to be a 'battle for hearts and minds'. And it comes as little surprise that increasing unforced-errors are coinciding not only with unprecedented fighting since the Taleban's fall, but also with a call from the Afghan senate for direct dialogue with local Taleban militants. The stakes in Afghanistan have no doubt never been higher since the campaign began. Unfortunately for Washington, its grip over things has never been this loose.

Human rights organisations will no doubt quickly pounce on reports from on-ground journalists, indicating that American troops resorted to indiscriminant firing when fired upon, making little or no difference in civilian and militant targets. The troops also quickly seized and removed journalists' material, including cameras, violating international media rights.

More importantly, that women and children have also been killed will no doubt stand out as a stain on America's honour, as implied by Col Nicholson. In addition, it will fuel fires of hatred already spreading fast against the Western occupiers, at a time when the resurgence is cause for many more hearts and minds converting than the occupation coalition.

As NATO and American commanders prepare their next round of politically correct rhetoric to justify continuing mishaps, and pay 1,200 odd dollars to each new affected family, there is a chilling realisation on Afghanistan's streets that the ousted warrior-clerics' resurgent militia may have more of a say in determining their future than the self-professed liberators. And as each passing day confirms that assertion, one thing the West will be wary of is needless killing of civilians, and the Pandora's Box it snaps open.





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