U.S. Justifies Bombing of Doctors Without Borders Hospital After Calling it “Collateral Damage”!
It’s hard to imagine a more horrific thing than a large hospital full of patients, doctors, nurses and other staff, who care for the sick out of compassion, being bombed and burned to ground, killing doctors, nurses and patients alike, including children who are burned to death. Imagine the horror. I’m sure you can, if you’ve ever had the misfortune of visiting or staying at a hospital.
And, imagine being told by the perpetrators that it was just a case of “collateral damage”, which is how the Pentagon and Obama Administration initially described and nonchalantly shrugged off the bombing attack on the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the other day. I wonder which is more maddening: the bombing itself or their dismissive “collateral damage” excuse.
But, even if we take that to mean an “unintentional” consequence of the war and ignore the issue of who started it, which has gone on for 14 years, without meeting the original stated goal of the war, which was to eliminate terrorism, which is now clear to everyone to not work through wars, it’s still a crime, even if a crime of gross negligence, to bomb a hospital and burn it to ground with all the patients and doctors inside.
As lame, hackneyed and offensive the “collateral damage” excuse is by now, it wouldn’t be so bad, if it really were just another case of “collateral damage”, as the Pentagon initially claimed and President Obama reiterated, resisting giving a cheap apology until today. But, in the face of the revelation that only three days before the bombing raid, Doctors Without Borders that operated the hospital gave its exact coordinates to US military to prevent such a catastrophe and the fact that only the hospital was bombed, leaving the rest of the compound untouched, and that the bombing continued for 30 minutes even after the organization telephoned US officials to tell them to stop, as well as statements made by US and Afghan military officials since, showed that it wasn’t an accident, after all. It was an “accident” only before additional facts surrounding it surfaced and spread, forcing them to change their story. Now, we’re being told that the reason it was bombed is because it was being used “as a base, and the civilians there as human shields”, as Fox News reported, quoting anonymous “defense officials”. This was reiterated by Afghan military and government officials.
Then, The New York Times quoted Pentagon officials that the reason for the attack was that U.S. troops fighting on the ground near the hospital asked for air support. Then, that too was later contradicted by Army Gen. John Campbell, who told NBC News yesterday that there were no US troops there and only Afghan troops prior to the bombing. But, even if that new story were the case, there is the question why only the hospital was hit and not its surroundings or the compound.
It really is true that the first casualty of war is the truth. And the US does everything it can to destroy that too as it does lives. No wonder it routinely attacks and kills journalists in every war it goes to. Targeting and killing of journalists in Iraq was one of the things that Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 36 year sentence exposed. This time, however, the target wasn’t a bunch of brown-skinned poorly clad Afghans for US media to easily call liars.
It’s also true that going to war is barbaric to begin with. But, any barbarism pales in comparison to bombing a hospital. For those who haven’t followed US military actions of the past, this may come as a surprise, but bombing hospitals is nothing new for the U.S. It does it in every war. BBC News reported on 6 November, 2004, that U.S. forces bombed a hospital in the center of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, after carefully identifying and choosing locations to bomb.
And, where have we heard the excuse that militants hide in hospitals to justify bombing them and leveling them to ground? In Israel’s attack on Palestinians, including last year’s brutal attack on defenseless inhabitants of Gaza, where residential apartment buildings, schools, hospitals and even designated UN shelters with previously provided coordinates were bombed, using American made and provided bombers. We were told it was all done on purpose because there were militants in those hospitals. Even if you’re sure there are “enemy combatants” in a hospital, it’s hard to imagine a more barbaric act than bombing and razing a hospital to ground, killing all its patients, including sick children, mothers giving birth, mothers who just gave birth, doctors, nurses, janitors and other workers. This is the ugly face and nature of the governments of the United States and its client state, Israel.
Article 18, Part II of Geneva Convention (IV), relative to the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War”, adopted in Geneva, 12 August 1949, prohibits striking hospitals. Article 54 of the first of the two 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions states that “it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population,” which includes “foodstuffs and livestock”, as well as “drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.” Yet, some of the first targets for US and Israeli bombing raids are water treatment facilities and food depots for civilian consumption.
And how many times have we heard of entire families being blown up by US bombs in places like Afghanistan? Those mass killings are inconsequential because they are done by the empire and because the lives of those people living in those villages are inconsequential. No recourse, no access to lawyers, no access to courts or to justice, just some modest graves marking their bodies and reminding the passerby that there once was a family here who were having a wedding before they all died together.
There comes s point for us all, no matter how blind and deaf we are to the realities around us and how good we are in denying the obvious and how patriotic we feel and how proudly we stand up in sport events and how loudly we sing the national anthem with our hands on our chests when we finally stop and think: this is wrong. This is very very wrong. Where is that point for you?