Home Social Justice Featured Blog: Outrageous U.S. policies in international conflict perhaps most visible in Kunduz killings

Featured Blog: Outrageous U.S. policies in international conflict perhaps most visible in Kunduz killings

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The United States has committed a war crime, and there doesn’t seem to be any way around that fact.

An Oct. 3 bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that killed at least 22 has ignited international controversy.

Pending an internal investigation, the world awaits answers. From the MSF and others, cries for an independent investigation ring out even louder. And this means investigations from actors other than NATO and the Afghan and U.S. governments.

This isn’t to say that U.S. actions on an international scale in the past, or even currently, haven’t been war crimes or in violation of numerous international standards of conduct.

But why this particular story is gaining traction has more to do with who it happened to as opposed to how many people it happened to. Jon Schwarz of “The Intercept” examined this effectively in a piece on U.S. bombings of civilian facilities.

“While the international outcry has been significant, history suggests this is less because of what happened and more because of whom it happened to,” said Schwarz. “The U.S. has repeatedly attacked civilian facilities in the past but the targets have generally not been affiliated with a European, Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian organization such as MSF.”

While this audacious attack on civilians has many wound up, what has others up in arms is the obvious scuttling of military and intelligence leaders in deflecting and changing the story.

As “The Guardian’s” Spencer Attackerman pointed out in a story about U.S. responses to the strike, the given narrative has changed multiple times.

General John Campbell testified to a Senate panel on Tuesday that American special operations forces called in the airstrike in response to a request from Afghanistan’s government. Before that, the U.S. claimed, in chronological order, that:

Saturday: The U.S. did not know if it had hit the hospital.

Sunday: That the hospital had been accidentally struck. “Collateral damage” excuse used.

Monday: Campbell claimed that U.S. forces weren’t threatened but that the Afghan government had requested the strikes.

Could MSF and the patients it treated have been protected under international law? Maybe under the International Committee of the Red Cross’ Geneva Conventions, which are supposed to set precedent for actions under wartime conditions? Well, they hold little power, that’s for sure. They are, for the most part, just standards of conduct that “should” be observed. The ICRC has little to no power to apply pressure on forces who defy these “conventions.” There are ways in which law is supposed to protect civilians in war.

But here is a blatant example in which the U.S. has overstepped its bounds in a conflict it should not be involved in. International pressure is mounting because of the nature of just who was killed in these attacks. It is yet to be seen if the pressure applied to the U.S. will result in lasting change, but if the past teaches us anything, the answer is probably not. Obama pulled the United States out of Afghanistan, right? Remember how he promised the American public that?

Instead, here the U.S. is still committing what can and should be called war crimes. They are consistent violations of international law. Here we are once more. Will people allow this to be pushed under the rug, too?


Here are three helpful pieces of media for more information on Kunduz bombings, international law and the Geneva Conventions.

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  1. […] MSF Hospital bombing Oct. 9 […]


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