Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Kunduz Hospital Atrocity

The number of killed and wounded at the Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital run by MSF is somewhat uncertain. Dozens are dead or injured, at any rate.

They were killed and wounded during a nighttime attack from above. At least one US AC-130 and possibly one or more helicopter gunships fired on the hospital's main building around 2am, largely destroying the hospital and causing significant death and injury to patients (some of whom are reported to have "burned in their beds") and to staff.

MSF has called the attack a war crime.

The Defense Department has characterized it as an "accident," or perhaps a "tragic" incident justified by reports of Taliban fighters using the site to fire on American and/or Afghan forces operating in the area to retake Kunduz from Taliban insurgents, yadda yadda.

MSF insists that there were no Taliban fighters on the grounds or in the hospital, and there was no firing from the compound before or during the attack.

Of course under the shadowy Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan and other theaters of our many overseas wars, it doesn't matter whether the reports of Taliban fighters using the grounds and hospital as positions from which to fire on American and Afghan forces are true or false. It only matters that there are reports of suspected enemy presence or action from such and such a location to unleash Death From Above. Confirmation is never required as actual confirmation might jeopardize a troop on the ground. Can't have that. Good heavens no.

Force protection is All Important. The deaths of untold numbers of civilians, and the destruction of protected infrastructure such as hospitals, power plants, water treatment and pumping plants, etc, matters far less (actually not at all) compared to the necessity to protect the force.

Such death and destruction is patently a war crime under various treaties, but it's routine in the US pursuit of Empire, and there is no plausible prosecutorial means to hold the Imperial forces liable. Much the same is true of Israel's actions in its attacks on Gaza. Israel routinely attacks and destroys protected sites and infrastructure, killing untold numbers of civilians and other protected individuals, and Israel justifies it through reference to reports of enemy action at or near these sites -- or doesn't bother justifying it at all, it just does it.

"Investigations" by the United States or Israel into these frequently repeated actions are typically farces which exist solely to exonerate those who conducted the operations. In any rational world they would be considered war crimes.

But we are not in a rational world.

We are in a world of illusion and deception, in which literally any presence or action -- or lack of action -- can be interpreted as a "threat" to Imperial forces, and such "threats" can be/will be suppressed with lethal force. There's nothing rational about it. It's all "gut" and "perception," illusion and deception. And above all, it's force protection. From phantoms.

I've compared these incidents with domestic police actions which result in death and destruction. It literally does not matter whether there is an actual threat involved in police use of lethal force. All that matters at law is that there is a perception of a threat -- or simply reports that there is a threat -- for domestic police forces to justify use of lethal force.

False or inaccurate reports are sufficient.

Thus, for example, John Crawford III and Tamir Rice were killed by police on the basis of false/inaccurate reports of 911 callers and dispatchers. It didn't matter what Crawford and Rice were really doing, nor did it matter that they weren't threats of any kind. All that mattered was that they were suspected and reported as potentially threatening.

That is sufficient justification for police use of lethal force in this country, and it is sufficient justification for military action overseas -- such as the constant drone attacks on "suspected militants," the frequent attacks on wedding parties by US forces and their allies, and the recent deadly attack on the Kunduz hospital.

In a rational world, they would be crimes against humanity.

But we are not in a rational world.

[Maybe some links later; busy day today.]

No comments:

Post a Comment