The Afghan government recently released a report documenting what they say shows the deaths of between 12-17 civilians in U.S. airstrikes on January 15th.
The New York Times yesterday ran an article on the report, and even though they themselves concede that ‘No one disputes . . . civilians died in the airstrikes’, here’s how they’ve chosen to frame it:
‘the kind of dossier that the Taliban often publish . . . the inflammatory dossier . . . apparent effort to demonize their American backers . . . crossed a line that deeply troubles Western officials here . . .’.
They basically accuse the people who compiled the report of exaggerating the death toll, and misrepresenting how the deaths happened. The U.S. claim that only two civilians were killed, for example.
While the Afghan government may indeed have exaggerated the death toll for propaganda purposes, the U.S. also habitually deny or downplay any civilian casualties they’ve caused, until such time that continuing to deny it becomes untenable. And most of The New York Times’ scepticism about the report comes from information being fed to them by Western ‘officials’ and ‘diplomats’.
In 2010, Afghan Rights Monitor reported how ‘people in Kandahar, Helmand, Zabul, Urozgan and other insurgency-infested provinces strongly rejected US/NATO’s allegations that all the killed and captured in counterinsurgency operations were insurgent fighters or were engaged in combat activities’ (the link to this report is now unfortunately dead, but the quoted passage was on page 13).
To give one example, in 2008 the U.S. launched airstrikes in Herat that killed 60 children, and 30 civilian adults, according to a U.N. report – just one of the many massacres committed by the Occupying forces which are instantly forgotten about, if they’re even noticed at all. The U.S., however, claimed that ‘its planes had killed 30 militants’.
Despite this, the New York Times, in reporting civilian deaths which even they concede did take place, choose to emphasise the claims of the perpetrators, and pour scorn all over the claims of the Afghan government. There is no scepticism whatsoever towards the claims of the ‘officials’ and ‘diplomats’, despite their serial dishonesty when it comes to this kind of attack.
Can anyone imagine them, in the event of the Assad regime being accused of killing civilians in an airstrike, conceding that civilians were killed, but then giving a platform for anonymous regime officials to label the reports as biased and propagandistic? And then giving credence to those claims? They wouldn’t in a million years, is my guess.
So here’s some advice to any global leaders who are unfortunate enough to have their country invaded and/or bombed by the U.S. and its minions: in the event of them killing your civilians, just smile politely and say thankyou, lest you come across as ungrateful and upset The New York Times.