Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Killing Civilians in Afghanistan

Clayton Swisher of Al Jazeera English has a new blog posted. Swisher, a former Marine, is currently embedded with the 82nd Airborne, (2-508th parachute infantry regiment, more specifically), in the Arghandab Valley of southern Afghanistan.

Swisher bluntly describes the use of AC-130 "Spooky" gunships against occupied Afghan villages, calling them "flying collateral damage machines".

What is an AC-130? It is the heir to "Puff the Magic Dragon" of the Vietnam era. But whereas "Puff" of 40 years ago carried a trio of .30 caliber miniguns, "Spooky" of today carries a 40mm cannon and a 105mm howitzer.

And they are using these against villages. Where people live. Civilians, much like you or me.

Clayton Swisher talks about the heavy casualties (nearly 50%) suffered by one unit of the 82nd airborne, and then says-

"Thus the late night calls from Spooky. Though pummelling the villages around Western Arghandab will hardly bring a solution, however good the vengeance feels."

When viewed alongside yesterday's revelation by Wikileaks of far greater civilian casualties than the military has publicly admitted, and of those civilian casualties being deliberately covered-up, Swisher's blog becomes all the more worrisome.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what are we doing in Afghanistan? Just why are we there, and when can we leave? Is it really all about that gas and oil pipeline that Haliburton is supposed to build across Afghanistan?

Some things never change.

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