American General Speaks About Civilian Deaths

The Bush approach to making mistakes was most dramatically illustrated during the 2004 election when he was asked on TV about his mistakes. The president paused a moment and said he would have to do some thinking before being able to identify a mistake made during his administration. General David McKiernan, top American leader in Afghanistan, said international troops have made mistakes and killed innocent civilians in the course of operations, and for that, “I apologize.” He went on to make clear, “apologies are not sufficient, so we do try to compensate families and communities where we’ve made mistakes. But, that’s not sufficient either…. There’s not enough money in the world to replace the loss of a family member.” His comments came after the loss of more civilians due to action by American forces.

Any military operation anywhere in the world will entail mistakes, that is the nature of war. It is refreshing that American military leaders are now admitting mistakes. It shows the era of George Bush is over–at least we hope it is. McKiernan is right on one point, money does not replace a dead family member, but honesty and acknowledging of errors sends a message as to the meaning of democracy.