Monday, February 15, 2010

War is Not Nice

The headline says it all:
"Civilians die in second day of Afghan offensive"
CNN (February 14, 2010)

"Twelve Afghan civilians were killed Sunday when two rockets fired by coalition forces in southern Afghanistan missed their intended target, as the Taliban showed stiff resistance to the NATO assault against the militant group.

" 'We deeply regret this tragic loss of life,' U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said in a statement. 'The current operation in Central Helmand is aimed at restoring security and stability to this vital area of Afghanistan. It's regrettable that in the course of our joint efforts, innocent lives were lost.'..."

War is Not Nice: Things Get Broken, People Get Killed

I think it would be nice to live in a world without war.

I think it would be nice if nobody ever got sick, or stubbed their toes, or had a toothache.

And I think it would be really nice if airliners hadn't been piloted into New York City's World Trade Center and the Pentagon a few years ago: with another crashing into a field as the passengers were regaining control.

That would be nice.

I think war is not nice. Things get broken. People get killed. Sometimes people who don't think God is telling them to kill other people get killed.

That is not nice.

The Taliban is Not Nice, Either

Afghanistan was run by the Taliban for quite a few years. I've gotten the impression that not everybody in Afghanistan was entirely pleased with how that particular bunch of self-proclaimed defenders of Islam acted when they were in charge. Banning soccer wasn't the best idea, from a public relations point of view.

Then there was what was done to the Bamiyan Buddhas. ("February 17, 2009)

If the Taliban had stopped with destroying irreplaceable ancient works of art, I might not be so unwilling to regard them as nice people. But killing their fellow-Muslims for being Islamic the 'wrong' way?

That's not nice.

Civilians Got Killed in Afghanistan: That's Not Nice

The BBC's article on this incident had the same headline for a few hours yesterday. They've changed it: which I think is nice. And, just as accurate as CNN's more old-school "Civilians die..." line. Here's how the BBC article started, with the new headline:
"McChrystal regrets Afghan deaths"
BBC (February 14, 2010)

"Nato has confirmed that two rockets fired at militants during its offensive in Helmand, south Afghanistan, missed their target and killed 12 civilians.

"The rockets struck a house in Marjah as thousands of Nato troops continued their operations to oust the Taliban.

"Nato's commander Gen Stanley McChrystal said that 'we deeply regret this tragic loss of life'.

"Coalition forces are aiming to build on gains in Operation Moshtarak, tackling snipers and booby-traps on day two...."
Credit where credit is due: Both CNN and the BBC acknowledge that NATO tried to warn people in the area that not-nice things would be happening there. That act stood out in my eyes, because one of the advantages a military force can have is that of surprise.

Distributing leaflets and warning civilians that a military operation was going to happen soon reduces that element of surprise, a lot.

I suppose it helps that this is a NATO operation, not one involving those awful, nasty, rough Americans.

American Imperialist Warmongers?

Oops. Actually, over 4,000 Marines are involved.

I think there's a strong tendency to identify military operations where American troops are involved as "NATO" or some other not-American name.

When it's fairly obvious that an effort is being made to keep innocent civilians from being killed, or when things are going well.

When something's amiss, though: It's often "America" and "American." It's really hard to shake the impression that a 'blame America first' attitude is behind quite a bit of news coverage.

I've written before, that I don't think America is perfect. (More: "United States of America: 232 Years in the Freedom Business" (July 3, 2008))

I don't think this country is the source of all the world's ills, either. And I do think that America is one of the few countries around with the ability and the willingness to take on - and occasionally take the lead - with unpleasant tasks like dealing with outfits like Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.