Sunday, March 14, 2010

Civilian Death Tolls

All wars have civilian casualties as we know. Civilians are always present in war zones often becoming victims of the conflict at hand. These global conflicts in recent decades have seemed to focus more on these unfortunate fatalities. They seem to occur as accidents, however it appears many of these losses could have been avoided. While looking at the War in Afghanistan, these civilian casualties have been seen as being a necessary loss in efforts towards an end to Taliban rule. In a recent article concerning this issue in Afghanistan I was drawn towards the way in which an Associated Press writer portrayed some of the latest civilian deaths. The thing that struck me about the article is that many of these poor civilians can do nothing when it comes somehow being involved in the conflict between the Taliban and American troops. Much of the conflict in their hometowns is out of their control. Residents are most noticeably under the control of Taliban forces. It is extremely dangerous to be seen with NATO forces and are threatened with death if they don’t follow Taliban orders. They are basically the puppets of Taliban forces, something I had never known or thought about. Due to this, many of them despite not wanting to help the Taliban are forced to do so putting themselves in a position to be more likely killed.

One of the obvious goals of the Americans initiative in Afghanistan is to help free Afghan citizens from Taliban rule. This would provide them a safer environment to live in as well as basic human rights. Aside to this, the war has resulted in an extremely dangerous setting. As the article states, three recent civilian deaths has “highlighted the toll on the population from an offensive aimed at making them safer.” The article goes on to state that “two errant U.S. missiles struck a house on the outskirts of the town of Marjah on Sunday, killing 12 people, half of them children. Afghan officials said Monday three Taliban fighters were in the house at the time of the attack.” I find the diction of the writer to be interesting in his use of the word “errant.” This makes it seem as though the missiles were accidentally fired upon this house. Therefore, these civilian casualties are not a direct result of American forces. In addition, three Taliban fighters were still killed, which is good according to this statement. Again, civilian deaths are simply a result of achieving a better effort of ridding Afghanistan of the Taliban. This is something always apparent in recent global conflicts. It is disappointing to see the reporting on this incident hinder the truth most likely, however it is not surprising and is an effect of the American press system. The article does interestingly provide the fact that NATO officials stated there were only 15 civilian deaths in another incident, while an Afghan human rights group reported 19 deaths. The writer is able to give voice to a group that would otherwise never be heard.

As I stated, the thing that struck me was the unfortunate involvement Afghan civilians have in this conflict. One man in the article proclaims, “When they come, we try to tell them not to use our house, but they have guns so they do what they want.” The Taliban forces clearly do what they want within communities in Afghanistan. This puts these civilians in harms way of NATO forces. By using Afghan civilian homes to attack NATO forces this makes it harder for NATO forces to distinguish Taliban fighters from Afghan civilians. There is nothing these Afghan civilians can do about this unfortunately. They play an unlucky role in this conflict that often gets them killed. I never took this into consideration until reading this article. My question is then are the Taliban forces to blame for this or do NATO forces still need to be more careful and thorough in their operations? It appears that both are to blame. They both attribute to the ill-fated civilian casualties of war. Sadly, there will always be civilian casualties. It will be interesting to see how much longer this war will prolong causing more and more civilians deaths.

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