Obama’s Collateral Damage

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HAT TIP:  Al Jazeera English

An investigation into a missile strike carried out by US-led forces in Afghanistan earlier this week has found that 13 civilians were among 16 people killed, the US military has said. The military made the admission on Saturday, after originally saying that 15 opposition fighters had been killed in the strike in the Gozara district of Herat province.

Afghan officials insisted all along that six women and two children were among those killed. Following Afghan outrage over the attack, US generals undertook an investigation, travelling to Gozara and talking to locals there. The generals said some anti-government fighters had also been killed in the strike. Michael Ryan, a US brigadier general, said that the investigation proved how seriously the US takes civilian casualties.

The US has come under increasing criticism over the past few months over the deaths of civilians in military operations in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said that rising civilian deaths was a source of tension between Kabul and Washington. There are currently 80,000 US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan, battling Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Barack Obama, the US president, is expected to approve the deployment of about 30,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan soon.

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An earlier Al Jazeera English article from late January amplified the criticism of the Pakistan’s President toward U.S.  bombing raids in his country.

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, has called on Barack Obama, his US counterpart, to end American missile attacks in South Asian nation’s tribal border regions with Afghanistan.Zardari’s comments were reported in the local media on Saturday, a day after the first US attacks in Pakistan since Obama’s inauguration.

“With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach toward dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism,” a ministry statement said. Such strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters are counterproductive, the private NNI news agency quoted Zardari as saying.

Eight alleged foreign fighters, including one aligned with al-Qaeda, were killed with 14 other people in a double strike in the Waziristan area on Friday, according to Pakistani security officials.

The foreign ministry said that an unspecified number of civilians were also killed in the air raid by an unmanned aircraft.The foreign ministry said that it had informed US officials of its “great concern”.

“We maintain that these attacks are counterproductive and should be discontinued,” it said.”

While there are some on this board that discount the collateral damage of U.S. Imperialism, I cannot.   Historically, foreign invasions of this region have yielded nothing but death and failure.  They’ve never succeeded.  For the last thirty years, these people have been subjected to unending war and it has reduced the Pashtun region spanning both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Dark Ages.   Primitive tribalism, Muslim extremism and Sharia Law reign supreme and repress the collective promise of the people.

Even more troubling are signs that President Obama is continuing Bush Administration policies immunizing government officials and their private sector agents from accountability for torture and extra rendition.   Democracy Now reports:

The Obama administration has decided to continue a Bush administration policy of invoking “state secrets” to dismiss a lawsuit accusing a Boeing subsidiary of helping the CIA secretly transport prisoners to torture chambers overseas.

On Monday, a San Francisco appeals court heard arguments on the American Civil Liberties Union’s attempt to reinstate the case against Jeppesen International Trip Planning on behalf of five former prisoners.

The lawsuit accused Jeppesen of arranging at least seventy flights since 2001 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Bush administration successfully won the case’s dismissal on the grounds it would risk exposing “state secrets.” On Monday, Obama administration lawyers told judges the government’s stance is unchanged.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said, “The] Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same.”

The Administration has made great strides and taken major steps toward intelligence reform in the thirty days it’s been in power, but its policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is troubling and deserves far more scrutiny than it is getting from the corporate media.  It damn sure deserves more scrutiny by blackfolks. Unnecessary civilian deaths and immunizing the facilitators of torture are not  and will never be “Change We Can Believe In.”