March 02, 2011

On Nine Afghan Boys

I spent a bit of time this afternoon explaining to some colleagues the effect the Qana massacre of 1996 had on Israeli military operations in southern Lebanon and then came back into the office to read this:

KABUL, Afghanistan — Nine boys collecting firewood to heat their homes
in the eastern Afghanistan
mountains were killed by NATO helicopter gunners who mistook them for
insurgents, according to a statement on Wednesday by NATO, which
apologized for the mistake.


The boys, who were 9 to 15 years old, were attacked on Tuesday in what
amounted to one of the war’s worst cases of mistaken killings by
foreign-led forces. The victims included two sets of brothers. A 10th
boy survived.

In 1996, on the same day as the Qana massacre, the IDF also accidentally killed a family of seven in Nabatiyeh.The IDF compounded their errors by initially refusing to take any responsibility for the horror, so, by contrast, it was good to see Gen. Petraeus personally apologize for the killings in Afghanistan. Civilian casualties have a serious effect on military operations (.pdf), and anyone who argues that we can just apply force indiscriminately in this kind of war simply doesn't understand the nature of the war itself.