Afghan victims reveal indiscriminate killings by US troops: Global Times editorial
Published: Aug 30, 2021 10:33 PM
A US soldier (center) points his gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul airport on Monday as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country. Photo: AFP

A US soldier (center) points his gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul airport on August 16 as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the country. Photo: AFP

The anti-terror attack the US launched in Afghanistan on Sunday reportedly killed 10 civilians. And a stunning truth behind Thursday's suicide bombings at Kabul airport that killed 13 US soldiers and around 170 Afghans was also revealed: It turns out that many of those Afghans were shot dead by US soldiers. The combination of the two pieces of information has quickly fermented into the latest scandal of indiscriminate killings by US forces.

The US military did not deny the possibility that they had "accidentally killed" Afghan civilians. It promised to carry out an investigation, but its attitude is quite indifferent. The US military actually wants to downplay the two incidents. It is still unknown how many civilians have been "accidentally killed" in Washington's "anti-terror operations" in Afghanistan and the Middle East over the decades. The number of civilian deaths caused by US troops must be much higher than the number of "terrorists" the US has killed.

The US constantly downplays those "accidental killings," while the mainstream media in the West, including those of the US, play a supporting role in this regard. Western media have reported about these tragedies, but they have never treated them as a prominent human rights crisis or have not bashed them frequently, let alone call for an investigation of these crimes.

On Sunday, the US drone strike on ISIS-K, the terrorist organization which claimed to have launched the bomb attacks at Kabul airport, was carried out in haste. As soon as the operation was over, the US military immediately announced that it had killed two ISIS-K militants and detonated the explosives in the vehicle. It also noted the operation ended successfully with no civilian casualties. These announcements are pure propaganda, which cater to the US general public's desire for revenge on what happened at Kabul airport. This is the narrative about Afghanistan that the Biden administration needs badly right now. As to whether there was actually any terrorist in the exploded vehicle, there is no third-party information to verify it.

What third-party sources have said so far is that 10 civilians, including seven children, were killed in the drone attack. Most of them were part of a large family, and the youngest victim was a two-year-old girl. If the US side had used intelligence to track the attack from the beginning to the end, it is impossible to be utterly ignorant about the "accidental killings." So the US troops have either concealed most of what they knew or made up the whole story.

The US military should also have been very clear about the shooting of Afghan civilians by US troops at Kabul airport. However, they have decided to hide relevant information. Meanwhile, more and more deaths were confirmed by local reports, but the number doesn't match the possible death toll that a suicide bombing could have caused. Moreover, many witnesses and families of the victims came forward to accuse the US military of shooting civilians that led to a large number of casualties. At last, the truth was gradually disclosed.

US troops at Kabul airport were in a panic after the sudden terrorist attacks. At that moment, everyone looked like a terrorist to them. This might be a reason they had indiscriminately pulled the trigger to kill. Yet the US military should at least tell the truth and should have made best efforts to prevent the indiscriminate killing of innocents due to personnel's psychological vulnerability in such a chaotic scenario. Apparently, such an attitude and efforts were missing. The US troops only care about their own safety regardless of the serious risks the locals might have to face. And the US military's orders show a tendency that they would rather get 1,000 innocent people killed than get one terrorist attacker missed. 

The US military apparently covered up the truth on the retaliatory drone strike against ISIS in Afghanistan. Targeted clearance operations are in need of not only drones, but more importantly, the accurate intelligence support from the ground - the capability to provide precise information about the location of terrorists and the movement of targets. Unfortunately, most of the US military's intelligence system in Afghanistan has collapsed, and US drones could be completely wrong when aiming at the targets. The US military needs to face the reality and tell the American public about its inability in the anti-terror operations in Afghanistan. 

It must be noted that most of the time, the US military has been fighting "political wars" in Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries. What they often care about is not the actual effect of their actions, but how much their moves accord with the sentiments in US public opinion and the US political needs. They cannot win the wars anyway, so they will fight in accordance with what the incumbent US president needs, to jointly deceive Americans. 

If every US attack could precisely hit the target, the situation in Afghanistan could have long been different from what people see today. If the US military could retreat while carrying out the last-gasp offensive accurately against the attackers from the air, the Biden administration and the US military which is now guarding Kabul airport would not have been so panicked. 

The above-mentioned two "accidental killings" of civilians can be argued as the epitome of most US military operations in Afghanistan and even in the Greater Middle East. No wonder former US president Donald Trump arbitrarily opposed the International Criminal Court in The Hague to try the case of possible war crimes by the US forces. He even sanctioned relevant personnel from the court. This is because Washington elites are more aware than anyone else how much blood of civilians from war-torn countries is on the hands of US troops they command.