At What Point Is It Called Murder?

by James Glaser
July 22, 2002

A United Nations spokeswoman said 52 people died there. "There," was the Afghan village of Niazi Qala, 50 miles south of Kabul. "American AC-130 gunships, which employ machine guns and heavy cannons, strafed four villages." "They attacked quite a big area, four villages, and you cannot just assume that everyone there is the enemy."

Now seven months after this attack reporters are talking to some of the six survivors from Niazi Qala. This from the New York Times report. "Ahmed Gul, a 13 year old boy with an ill-fitting plastic eye, and his 12 year old cousin, Lal Muhammad, torso crisscrossed with scars" are among some of the six survivors that now live in a nearby village. "All the Americans had to do was come here and they could have seen for themselves that there were no Taliban among us." Said Janat Gul, one of the survivors.

Afghanistan is far from being the first time the American Military has been found to kill way too many civilians. "After 78 days of air strikes over Serbia in 1999, American military officials conceded that damage to the Yugoslav Army was far less extensive than originally thought. Human Rights Watch, an American organization said at least 500 civilians had been killed in the bombings.

General Tommy R Franks, the head of Central Command, called the Afghan Campaign "the most accurate ever fought in this Nations history" This may very well be true.

Field workers with Global Exchange, An American organization that has sent survey teams into Afghan villages, say they have compiled a list of 812 Afghan civilians who were killed by American air strikes. They expect that this number will grow as their survey teams reach more remote villages. This loss of life, in America's "most Accurate" campaign ever fought.

On July first of this year, during an operation to hunt Taliban leaders the New York times reports that an American AC-130 gunship attacked another four villages around the hamlet of Kakrak. American troops later found villagers gathering up the limbs of their neighbors. Local officials counted 54 dead most of them women and children, and at least 120 wounded.

Now Tommy Franks knows, but the President and most of Congress have not the faintest idea of what that day will do, not only to those survivors of the attack, but to those American troops that had to go there that day. Witnessing carnage like that by Americans, when they can see first hand that those murdered were women and children, will stick with them until they die. American troops take on some of that guilt of killing children just because they know that it was our mistake for killing them. Even though you didn't personally pull the trigger or drop the bomb, for the rest of your life you will know that you participated in that action. Repeated viewing of innocent dead, cements that guilt into your brain and yes it should.

That is why Tommy Franks is sitting in Florida and the Commander in Chief is in Washington. Even those in charge would be hard pressed to prosecute a war, if they had to repeatedly see what their orders were doing to the bodies of little children. Out of sight, out of mind.

There are other groups that claim over 3500 innocent dead Afghans, the New York Times is accepting around 1000. It is probably some place in the middle, which would be 2250. Let us take just 2000 for a working number and think about with 2000 killed, how many might have been wounded. From other wars that number could be anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000. Does anyone count those that die later from lack of medical attention? Just how much money do you think the typical Afghan will get in disability pay from their government? How long do you think an Afghan will have to wait for a artificial leg?

If this is as Tommy Franks says our most accurate war, how many thousands are still mourning loved ones and suffering wounds from America's other 25 or 30 conflicts since WW2? Just how many American troops are suffering now, even years later, because they know that they helped the American government murder thousands of innocent women and children and yes even little babies.

You see, after one comes home from war and his officers are not there all the time pumping him up about the great job he is doing, he one day realizes that all those visions of dead or screaming in pain kids are part of something called a conscience. This typical American service man that had the misfortune to see several groups of dead or dying women with their kids, starts to question what really happened. Some even do some research, call others from their unit and find others thinking like they are. It gets real heavy on ones mind and it becomes harder and harder to put away.

Many veterans turn to drugs and alcohol to stop the thinking of war. There are thousands of veterans all over America that know they helped those in Washington murder children and that is a hard on anyone. This is not just a problem for Vietnam Vets, but thousands of World War 2 veterans suffer with the horrors of war as do those from the Korean War and any other action we have had. Those at the top never see the destruction that they have inflicted on those whose lives were just beginning and they can blow off reports as untrue, but those in the lower ranks that were there, have those images with them always

What Congress and our President have failed to realize is that repeated killing of the innocent, in war after war, means that these "mistakes" are no longer excusable. To continue to use the same tactics that have killed thousands of innocent people in the past, makes this continued use of these tactics premeditated murder.

If that is what this President and this Congress want to do, fine, but please leave those young men and women in our service out of it. They have to get up close and personal with these deaths and there- fore live with it for ever. Those in Washington, at the Command Center in Florida, and those in the Halls of Congress can pat themselves on the back and think we are winning.

Every murder of innocent children makes generations of potential terrorists that our children will have to guard against. We will never win this war with terrorists this way, as we are making more potential terrorists than we are killing.

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