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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Afghan Civilians Killed in Airstrike

17 Afghan civilians were murdered by an American airstrike in late June. The Washington Post reported the story on July 5. The US military apologised for the mistake but claimed they had targeted a "known operating base for terrorist attacks."

How comforting for the victims and their families. Another fine example of Western humanity in the face of war.

Scott Burchill explains the hypocrisy: "Some of 'our values' on display again, this time in Afghanistan. Why would this make anyone angry? We kill with the very best of intentions. Don't suppose these people will get a memorial. Of course what we have done to Falluja is many times worse than the terrible tragedy in London. For how much longer can Afghanis and Iraqis withstand the onslaught of our values?"


Anonymous Doylie said...

The people responsible for this awful event are terrorists, trying to achieve their political aims via indiscriminate murder. These people are clearly immoral scum who should be hunted down and killed without mercy, as should all those who support them, politically and financially.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:26:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Er, the American pilots above Afghanistan or the London bombers?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:35:00 pm  
Anonymous doylie said...


Tuesday, July 12, 2005 6:37:00 pm  
Anonymous Dennis Smith said...

The truth is that, to the rich and powerful, all life is cheap. To them, American soldiers dying in Iraq to secure oil supplies for America are no more important than the unfortunate Afghanis killed 'accidently' (usually described as collateral damage.

The difference is that the Americans get a better funeral.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:06:00 pm  
Anonymous doylie said...

Well said, Dennis. The other difference is that there is no media saturation when kids are killed in Afghanistan.

Howard said this about the deaths of innocents in London last week:

"This brutal, indiscriminate, unforgivable attack on people going about their daily lives is a mark of the depraved character of the people who carried these out."

I would be truly astounded if he said something similar about the deaths of civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:12:00 pm  
Blogger Mike Jericho said...

"17 Afghan civilians were murdered by an American airstrike in late June."

Antony, how do you define "murder"?

Does intent have nothing to do with it, in your view?

Those people died inadvertantly. Of course that is no comfort to their grieving relatives, but at least they can know - with certainty - that their loved ones were not killed deliberately.

If they were noncombatants, it was an accident. That is quite beyond doubt. The US does not deliberately target civilians, Antony, has not done so since Korea. It did so then only because North Korean infiltrators were using large crowds of refugees as cover for their incursions.

I have two questions that go towards the credibility of your post, Antony.

1) Have you any proof whatsoever that US troops in the last decade have deliberately targeted civilian noncombatants, justifying your use of the word "murder".

2) When terrorists have deliberately targeted civilians for death, how many instances of which have you covered, and in your articles referred to their actions as "murder" instead of "killing" or something else more neutral and indicative of an accidental death, which the victims of terror are not, by definition.

If you do not reply to this, I will take it as an open declaration that your argument is innately flawed, you are aware of that fact, yet you make no effort to retract or amend your remarks, because your ultimate allegiance is to the same people - the only people in this conflict - who deliberately murder civilians.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:21:00 pm  
Anonymous doylie said...

MJ, someone once wrote that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

How many "accidental" deaths will be allowed to occur before we see public outpourings of grief from our leaders?

If you argue that the intentions of the killers in Afghanistan excuse them from guilt, then you are valuing one life (or death) more highly than another.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 8:52:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

The central question remains: how many more bombings of civilian areas, towns, and cities have to happen before an 'accident' is seen as more than that?
In Israel, for example, Israel deliberately targets civilians through bombing refugee camps and firing indescriminately into the occupied territory. Palestinian death are therefore far from accidental. It's all about making a point, as twisted as that point clearly is.
Similarly in Afghanistan and Iraq. America and British are engaged in a war that involves the regular killing of civilians, whether bombing villages, or at checkpoints etc. To suggest that none of this is accidental misses the point entirely. The rules of engagement are so skewed that civilians are likely to be killed, rather than avoided.
And no avoidance of the reality will change that.
To suggest that I have an allegience with those who carry out 'terrorism' is absurd, offensive and downright childish.
I'm simply able to see "our" terrorism little differently than "their" terrorism.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005 9:10:00 pm  
Anonymous Dennis Smith said...

You can't drop cluster bombs on villages (or napalm) then claim that civilian deaths are accidental!

Those who do this are no better than the London bombers!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 8:02:00 am  
Anonymous Glenn Condell said...


how balanced and reasonable your post appears. I wonder if you had actually been on the recieving end of this assiduously targeted mayhem and lost your wife or daughter, if that reasonable tone would survive.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 12:30:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Israel, for example, Israel deliberately targets civilians through bombing refugee camps and firing indescriminately into the occupied territory

When the HELL does Israel bomb refugee camps? THat's just plain slander.

On the atrocity scale of 1-10, how bad would you rank Israel compared to other states in the Middle East?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 1:07:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Too many examples to name here, but Israel consistently bombs and destroys houes in refugee camps. Eg:

On a scale of atrocity? Jeez, great question. To suggest Israel is more democratic than, say, Iran, isn't really the point. Israel claims to be a democracy which it patently is it. If you're a Jew, of course, but otherwise, you'll be treated like a second class citizen.
Seeing Israel increasingly as South Africa under apartheid makes logical sense, and the campaign is gathering steam. Israel cannot claim uniqueness because of its history or geography. Its action are illegal and excessive. What, we shouldn't highlight Israel because, say, Sudan is worse?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 1:34:00 pm  
Anonymous doylie said...

Anonymous, the "atrocity scale" has only two levels: 0 and 1. How can one act of terrorism be less atrocious than another?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 1:34:00 pm  
Blogger weezil said...

With all the claims of simple error etc. from the USAF, do you sometimes wonder if the software for the 'smart' bombs is written by Microsoft?

Thursday, July 14, 2005 10:30:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Yes, strangely I do.
Gates would be a wealthy man. Oh wait a minute...

Thursday, July 14, 2005 11:25:00 am  
Anonymous michael said...

"If they were noncombatants, it was an accident."

Good thing we've got God to retrospectively (and posthumously) sort it out.

If the victim is an innocent baby the negligent pilot pushed the launch button accidentally. If it was an armed anti-US militant the heroic pilot struck the launch button with righteous intent.

But what if the bomb killed combatants and non-combatants indiscriminately?
Could the pilot have dropped the bombs both accidentally and deliberately?

Funny the perverse twists of logic (and the historical record) that consequentialist virtue ethics imposes, no?

"Have you any proof whatsoever that US troops in the last decade have deliberately targeted civilian noncombatants, justifying your use of the word "murder"."

Very important qualifier - 'in the last decade'.

We now have proof from declassified documents that the US had a deliberate strategy of targeting civilian areas in bombing raids over Germany and Japan in WWII so as to demoralise 'enemy populations'. Although many people claimed this was the policy all along, authorities flatly denied it for about fifty years until the indisputable proof reached the public record.

'mj' apparently expects us to have faith that the US have now abandoned their terror bombing policies - in spite of their continued use of indiscriminate anti-personnel weapons in populated civilian areas in Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq and the continued appalling toll of civilian casualties - even though it will take many years for the 'proof' that they keep killing civilians because they mean to kill civilians to be declassified.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 1:53:00 pm  
Anonymous anthony said...

"Israel has destroyed hundreds of Palestinian homes in Gaza which the army says militants use as firing posts or to hide tunnels dug on the Egyptian border to smuggle in weapons."

What? That article has only one reference (above) to the policy on demolishing houses (which I’m against), but its not at all clear. It certainly doesn’t support your claim that 'Israel consistently bombs and destroys [houses] in refugee camps'.

Thursday, July 14, 2005 5:10:00 pm  

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