Ruins of the hospital in Kunduz say it all about the devastating results of US Middle East policy, while symbolizing the collapse of the cornerstones of Barack Obama’s national security doctrine, The Nation columnist Robert Dreyfuss wrote.
The Obama administration has yet to realize that his Middle East campaign is more harmful than it is beneficial, Dreyfuss wrote. For 14 years, the US has engaged in a “brutal, mismanaged and ill-conceived war,” and the October 3 aerial destruction is just a reminder of the bankruptcy of Obama’s policy.
“The ruins of the Kunduz hospital are a symbol of America’s unfortunate reliance on air power, including drone strikes and bombers, to combat a host of insurgent groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya,” the columnist wrote.
US airstrikes killed 22 people in a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, among them medical personnel and three children. After the attack MSF staff demanded an investigation by impartial international institutions, emphasizing they believe it should be considered a war crime. MSF’s general director Christopher Stokes expressed his disgust with attempts by Afghan government officials to justify the attack by saying Taliban fighters were present. Strokes claimed the excuse was invented and bashed the US for its amorphous excuses.
“Not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the US airstrike on Saturday morning. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients and their caretakers,” Stokes said.
“[The US] description of the attack keeps changing-from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government,” he added.
The mere fact that the hospital became a target of US airstrikes appears hard-to-swallow simply because MSF repeatedly informed Washington about its precise GPS coordinates, the analyst added. And something is just not right about White House calling the incident a “profound tragedy” rather than a “war crime,” reassuring that a proper inspection will be carried out by Pentagon, NATO, American and Afghan troops, and at the same time ignoring MSF calls for an independent investigation.
The Nation author noted that the number of civilian victims in Afghanistan is growing annually. Though mostly it is the result of Taliban attacks, many deaths were caused by “pro-government” forces, a.k.a. the US and its allies. Previously, Dreyfuss together with investigative journalist Nick Turse conducted research to provide an account of the ongoing slaughter. They found out that between 2001 and 2012 6481 Afghan residents died in 458 separate cases, and in all those cases the US was to blame.
According to other stats provided by the UN, human rights activists and research workers at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, there were even more victims, and still the numbers that exist understate the scope of the tragedy. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan only started keeping count eight years ago. According to data they have compiled, at least 14,728 people were killed between 2007 and 2012, and 8,250 since the scaling back of US military presence.
Dreyfuss believes that the pillars of Obama’s “national security policy” constitute an overreliance on air power and training and equipping of proxy forces and newly built national armies that perform all the dirty work on the ground. Both pillars are crumbling, he argues.
“The seizure of Kunduz by the Taliban, the first provincial capital it has controlled since 2001, is a glaring sign of that failure,” Dreyfuss wrote.
Despite US support for Afghan National Security Forces (ASNF), the Taliban has demonstrated that they can capture and control vast territories, threatening the safety of not only regional centers but Kabul as well.
It seems that the Obama administration have learned the lesson that deploying hundreds of thousands of US troops in useless “state building” missions doesn’t help to reorder affairs in the Middle East to conform with American ideas about democracy, Dreyfuss concluded.
“But it has yet to grasp the related lesson that Washington cannot defeat insurgencies, even terrorism-inclined ones, by remote control via drones or by air power that deploys fighter jets and AC-130 gunships,” he says.