Afghans Die, Who Were They?

Sis Afghans were killed in a night raid by American forces. This,in itself, is not significant news since thousands have been killed in night attacks, but the similarity to issues that were common in the Vietnam War continue to emerge. During the Vietnam war, the expression, “body count” signified pressure on US military leaders to kill people, particularly if one’s superiors were demanding dead bodies. The main problem in guerrilla style war is determining who represents the “enemy” and who doesn’t. An Afghan deputy governor, Gulad Shah Alikheil, said they were merely a civilian family and of the six, four were brothers. Alta Mohammad, a tribal leader, said “they were civilians. They were farmers. They were not Taliban.”

A basic problem confronting US or coalition forces is the inept and corrupt Afghan government of President Karzai. This has led to people using American forces to settle disputes. It is relatively easy, just tell Coalition forces that person “X” is a Taliban militant, and there goes another life. The problem must be solved at the beginning– ensure there is an honest and effective Afghan government. If not, we will not know in many cases whether the dead were Taliban of just “farmers.”