Penalty not apology demanded for US troops involved in Kabul drone strike: Global Times editorial
Published: Sep 18, 2021 05:17 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the US Central Command, admitted Friday that a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 29 "was a mistake" that killed as many as 10 civilians including up to seven children. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin later expressed his "deepest condolences to surviving family members of those who were killed," saying, "we will endeavor to learn from this horrible mistake."

But is that only it? It was a serious act of state terrorism and constituted a war crime. Since the US has almost never seriously held its soldiers accountable for the killing of civilians in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we strongly call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate this matter. We also strongly call on the international community with conscience to press the US, demanding Washington to cooperate with the international investigation and severely punish those responsible for the killing. The US should compensate for the families of the 10 innocent Afghans who were killed. Such compensation and criminal liability are the least that should be done to address this crime. 

When the drone strikes took place, the then Kabul regime had already collapsed. Meanwhile, the US military intelligence network had also broken down. In such circumstances, drone strikes against so-called terrorists in non-battle zones couldn't be supported with reliable intelligence. Thus, it was highly likely that innocents would be killed in such operations. Had it not been for the political purpose of whitewashing Washington, or had they had any humanitarian scruple, no one would have carried out an almost "blind attack" at that moment.

We believe that the "last strike" by US troops in Afghanistan was just the tip of the iceberg regarding the countless "mistaken killings" of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past 20 years. Washington has sternly rejected an ICC war crimes investigation against US troops and has threatened sanctions against ICC judges. Now it is high time for the international community to say "No" to the US' bullying. The drone strikes were targeted at the wrong people, and this was crystal-clear when the attacks were initiated. However, the US military has made up an assertive story of launching a "defensive airstrike" in Kabul targeting suspected ISIS-K fighters with secondary explosions following up that may have killed the civilians. It exposes the rogue nature of the US military lying for political purposes. This exposes the deviant nature of the US military that lies for political gain. 

Had the media not followed up with a large number of reports to poke the lie, it would have been hard to believe that the US military would apologize publicly with Austin making a symbolic mention of "accountability measures." US media outlets have reported the truth regarding the matter. But this is far from enough. American public opinion should form strong pressure calling for the severe punishment of this war crime and push for actions to bring justice to the victims and the world. "Justice" has become the political slogan of the US military, who acts clumsily as if it is rusted. We hope that US public opinion will have real courage to join hands with global public opinion to bring to trial those American criminals who caused the death of 10 poor Afghans, just like the online and traditional public opinion of many other countries will do.

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