[Among the other flaws in U.S. military policy in Iraq and Afghanistan is the constant killing in both nations of civilians through the use of weapons of war not designed for control of civilian populations.  Just the other day our headlines were boasting the deaths of scores of Taliban fighters — with a small qualification to the effect that local residents were claiming that civilians, not soldiers had been killed.

The follow up from our guy, Hamid Karsai, objecting to our military killing of civilians is pretty devastating.  One cannot win the hearts and minds of occupied people through killing their friends and family and scaring their children and vulnerable ones that they may be next in line.

Read the following report and think through its implications.  Ed Kent]


Subject: Hamid Karzai Says Civilian Deaths ‘Unacceptable’

Photo: More than 1,000 Afghan students protested to
demand the withdrawal of US troops [AFP]

Karzai says killings ‘unacceptable’

May 2, 2007

Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has said he
is enraged at the killing of scores of civilians by
Western forces hunting Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Karzai summoned the US ambassador and Nato’s senior
commander to his presidential palace in Kabul on
Wednesday to tell them that the death of civilians is
“not acceptable anymore”.

He said: “We can no longer accept civilian casualties
the way they occur. It’s becoming heavy for us.”

Karzai’s complaints followed a spate of high-profile
incidents in which local people accused US and other
Western troops of killing large numbers of Afghan

About 50 civilians have reportedly been killed in raids
by US-led coalition troops in the past week, sparking
four days of anti-American and anti-Karzai protests
around the country.

The US army recognised that civilian deaths had occured
in the raids and said that more than 136 Taliban
fighters were killed in the clashes.

In the latest incident, the governor of Kandahar said
that Afghan and Nato forces killed 13 people, including
two women, during clash with suspected Taliban in the
southern province on Wednesday .

Resignation calls

Hamidullah Tarzi, a former government minister, said
the current small protests were not yet a major problem
for Karzai, but they would become more serious if
killings continued.

“Now that has been eroded and that is not a good sign.
That may have future repercussions,” he said.

Karzai said he had repeatedly told US and Nato
commanders to co-ordinate their anti-Taliban raids with
his government, stop searching civilian houses and
exercise caution to avoid civilian deaths.

Karzai said: “Unfortunately, that co-operation and co-
ordination as we tried it has not given us the result
of what we want.

“That is something that must be changed, must be
corrected or the consequences will be bad for all of

Government reshuffle

In addition to protests over civilian deaths, Karzai
faces rising dissatisfaction over the lack of
development and rampant corruption in the country since
the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.

The Afghan president said on Wednesday that he is
working to reshuffle his cabinet.

Senior members of the Afghan government are trying to
curb the president’s powers and have formed a political
party to push for the creation of a new post of prime
minister, who would take some of the powers held by

Some pro-Karzai members of parliament have said the
dissidents should leave the government if they want to
oppose the president.

Karzai said: “The government as a whole should be
reformed. Efforts are under way in this regard.”

He did not say which ministers would be affected by
changes to the government.

The National Front Party, formed last month, wants
provincial governors and mayors to be elected, which
would remove from the president an important lever of
power in a country where central control has often been

As president and commander-in-chief of the armed
forces, Karzai chooses his cabinet, although ministers
have to be endorsed by parliament. He also appoints
governors and mayors.

Opposition politicians have called for a loya jirga,
Afghanistan’s traditional grand assembly of tribal
chieftains and elders, to amend the constitution.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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