(First published in Ade's blog)
The Globe and Mail is reporting today that "[a]t least 60 civilians were killed during NATO operations in a volatile southern area of Afghanistan this week":
NATO spokesman Major Luke Knittig said troops used "precision strikes" against militants who targeted aid deliveries and reconstruction projects in the area.
"Very sadly, civilians continue to get caught up in these engagements with tragic results," Maj. Knittig said.
Mr. Afghanmal said Taliban fighters ran into civilian homes, which were then targeted by NATO forces.
NATO says these deaths were the Taliban's fault because they entered civilian homes, which were then bombed. This justification is standard for the military, even though it is equivalent to the police flattening your home with your family inside because a fleeing felon sought refuge there.
In the comments after the article, 'Midtown Bob' asks "How many of the 60 dead civilians were closet [T]aliban?"
His remark is significant because it reveals the kind of thinking that is standard in the so-called 'War on Terror': a 'closet Taliban' is someone who is not outright Taliban but still supports the Taliban, and thus they are our enemy.
Their children, although they are not Taliban, are the children of those who support the Taliban, and will grow up to be Taliban or Taliban-supporters: thus they are our enemies.
All of whom ought to be killed. Or, at least, not mourned if that is their fate.
It's easy to forget, however, that the Taliban are Afghans too, and there are enough of them that they represent a significant portion of the population.
No solution to the situation in Afghanistan can be found without their involvement.
This is anathema to all those who have adopted the Taliban as enemy #1 - for now. The same logic led to the removal of Ba'ath Party members in Iraq from their positions by Paul Bremer in the aftermath of the US invasion. They were seen as the enemy, and it was impossible to deal with that enemy.
Now, the US recognizes its mistake and seeks to reinstate them, to bring them back into the political process, but it is too late. The US has lost in Iraq and everyone knows it.
The Taliban are the enemy today, but they may not be the enemy tomorrow - after all, they were not the enemy yesterday, when the Soviets occupied Afghanistan. Then, they were our friends, just like the war lords in Afghanistan are our "friends" today.
Canada should realize that a purely military solution is not possible and announce support for a United Nations summit involving all parties to the conflict, in the hope of achieving a negotiated, compromise peace.
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