on regret

An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province. Photograph: Abdul Malek/AP
An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province. Photograph: Abdul Malek/AP

listening to hillary clinton express “deep regret” yesterday over the american massacre of over 100 afghan civilians i couldn’t help but think about the meaning of regret. here is the times report on her remarks:

Hillary Clinton has expressed “deep regret” that American jets bombed two villages in western Afghanistan yesterday killing at least 30 men, women and children.

The Secretary of State addressed the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as anger grew over the loss of innocent life.

“We will work very hard with your governments and your leaders to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life and we deeply, deeply regret that loss,” she said in Washington.

No exact casualty toll could be confirmed after the incident in Farah province, but the provincial governor and police chief estimate civilian deaths at more than 100.

for me, regret does not merely express sorrow or empathy. it also means learning from your mistakes and doing what you can to not do that thing that caused you to regret what you did in the first place. but, of course, clinton and obama want to create more such occasions for regret given their desire to place more american troops on afghan soil, which will only bring us promises of more massacres in the future. jeremy scahill shows us precisely why this “regret” is complete hogwash:

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “apologized” for US airstrikes that may have killed as many as 130 people in Afghanistan, NBC News is reporting that the US military is preparing to blame the deaths of several Afghan families—that were reportedly killed in US bombing raids this week in Farah Province—on Taliban fighters. The network’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said military sources told him Taliban fighters used grenades to kill three families to “stage” a massacre and then blame it on the US. At present there are few details on this.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, however, has stated bluntly that US airstrikes hit civilian houses and revealed that an ICRC counterpart in the Red Cresent was among the dead. “We know that those killed included an Afghan Red Crescent volunteer and 13 members of his family who had been sheltering from fighting in a house that was bombed in an air strike,” said the ICRC’s head of delegation in Kabul, Reto Stocker. “We are deeply concerned by these events. Tribal elders in the villages called the ICRC during the fighting to report civilian casualties and ask for help. As soon as we heard of the attacks we contacted all sides to warn them that there were civilians and injured people in the area.”

Read the entire ICRC statement here.

here is nick clark’s report on the massacre on al jazeera today:

here is robert fisk’s take on the massacre and the so-called “deep regret”:

Of course there will be an inquiry. And in the meantime, we shall be told that all the dead Afghan civilians were being used as “human shields” by the Taliban and we shall say that we “deeply regret” innocent lives that were lost. But we shall say that it’s all the fault of the terrorists, not our heroic pilots and the US Marine special forces who were target spotting around Bala Baluk and Ganjabad.

When the Americans destroy Iraqi homes, there is an inquiry. And oh how the Israelis love inquiries (though they rarely reveal anything). It’s the history of the modern Middle East. We are always right and when we are not, we (sometimes) apologise and then we blame it all on the “terrorists”. Yes, we know the throat-cutters and beheaders and suicide bombers are quite prepared to slaughter the innocent.

But it was a sign of just how terrible the Afghan slaughter was that the powerless President Hamid Karzai sounded like a beacon of goodness yesterday appealing for “a higher platform of morality” in waging war, that we should conduct war as “better human beings”.

And of course, the reason is quite simple. We live, they die. We don’t risk our brave lads on the ground – not for civilians. Not for anything. Fire phosphorus shells into Fallujah. Fire tank shells into Najaf. We know we kill the innocent. Israel does exactly the same. It said the same after its allies massacred 1,700 at the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982 and in the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in Lebanon in 2006 and after the death of more than a thousand Palestinians in Gaza this year.

And if we kill some gunmen at the same time – “terrorists”, of course – then it is the same old “human shield” tactic and ultimately the “terrorists” are to blame. Our military tactics are now fully aligned with Israel.

The reality is that international law forbids armies from shooting wildly in crowded tenements and bombing wildly into villages – even when enemy forces are present – but that went by the board in our 1991 bombing of Iraq and in Bosnia and in Nato’s Serbia war and in our 2001 Afghan adventure and in 2003 in Iraq. Let’s have that inquiry. And “human shields”. And terror, terror, terror. Something else I notice. Innocent or “terrorists”, civilians or Taliban, always it is the Muslims who are to blame.

of course the american government sounds far too close to the israeli government (and given both are the largest perpetrators of state terrorism on the planet this should not come as a shock) on a number of levels, some of which fisk addresses. and i don’t see any regrets leading to investigation and prosecution of those who dropped the bombs.

meanwhile as news of this massacre was just emerging, hamid karzai stepped off a plane in washington dc to meet with clinton and obama and other americans who create the conditions of terrorizing afghan people. i began to wonder about karzai’s regret. i began to wonder how do these people sleep at night? is it really possible you can have so little self worth or so little regard for your own people that you can move from learning of this massacre to meeting with the regime that continues to occupy your land and terrorize your people? and it is not just karzai, of course. asif ali zardari joined him in these meetings. but zardari didn’t seem to get any statements about the united states’ “deep regret” over the fact that because of the american war on pakistan there are upwards of 500,000 pakistanis who are internally displaced people as andrew buncombe reported in the independent:

By bus, by car and on foot, thousands of people continued to pour from the Swat Valley yesterday as the Pakistani military used helicopter gunships and pounding mortar rounds to try to drive out Taliban fighters. Aid officials said they had registered 45,000 people forced from their homes in the last four days but said that number could soon soar. The government has estimated that up to 500,000 people might flood out of the Swat valley ahead of a possible major offensive against the militants.

“It is an all-out war there. Rockets are landing everywhere,” Laiq Zada, who fled the danger zone, told the Associated Press. “We have with us the clothes on our bodies and a hope in the house of God. Nothing else.” The sharpened military offensive came as Pakistan’s leader, Asif Ali Zardari, yesterday met in Washington with Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. Many in Washington will be heartened by the decision by Mr Zardari and the military to take the fight to the militants.

But there are doubts over the military capacity for the operation, and the human costs involved. A drawn-out conflict will only increase the longer-term exodus. Some may feel they would have nothing to return to. “I do not have any destination. I only have an aim – to escape from here,” said Afzal Khan, who was waiting for a bus with his wife and nine children. “It is like doomsday here. It is like hell.”

part of the reason for this flight is pakistan fighting in the region, now, too, but this is just proof that the pakistani regime is a tool of the americans creating havoc against its own people for a country that continues to assault them from the air. declan walsh describes some of this context in the guardian (his other article includes video footage of people fleeing to safety in pakistan):

Pakistani helicopter gunships pounded a Taliban-controlled emerald mine and other militant positions in the Swat Valley today, killing dozens of militants, as fighting intensified across North West Frontier province.

Amid expectations of an imminent army operation, militants dug into positions across the main town, Mingora, as terrified residents fled the valley on foot across mountain paths. Taliban reinforcements have been pouring into the area from adjoining districts since Monday, many arriving under cover of night and in some cases crossing into the battle zone by boat.

As President Asif Ali Zardari met President Barack Obama in Washington, his government was bracing for a flood of up to 500,000 internal refugees, making it the largest displacement crisis in Pakistan’s history.

The army said it killed more than 60 militants in Swat and neighbouring Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad where a major anti-Taliban drive has been under way for the past nine days. Four soldiers were killed due to fighting and a roadside bomb, a military spokesman said, but local reports suggested a higher toll.

it is in this context that zardari and karzai met with the leaders of the regime that is terrorizing afghan and pakastanis alike in to flight when they are able to escape these massacres. tellingly, the puppet leaders had these remarks to make at their press conference yesterday as ewen macaskill reported in the guardian:

Karzai thanked Clinton for her expression of regret and added: “We hope we can work together to completely reduce civilian casualties in the struggle against terrorism.”

Clinton said the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan faced “a common threat”. Zardari described the Taliban as “a cancer”.

here is james bays report on al jazeera on this meeting in washington yesterday and today:

obama’s offensive rhetoric–along with his puppets by his side–is so deeply offensive not the least of which because any so-called commitment to the people of afghanistan and pakistan means that you would need to do things to improve their lives–this would not, of course, include massacre and forcing people to run from their homes because they are being terrorized by american drones and the pakistani army that is taking orders from the united states:

Barack Obama, the US president, has pledged a “lasting commitment” to both Afghanistan and Pakistan after holding talks with both nations’ leaders in Washington.

He said all three nations shared a common goal of dismantling, disrupting and defeating the al-Qaeda network, the Taliban and its allies and improving security in both countries.

“Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth, the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are linked,” Obama said at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, flanked by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Asif Ali Zardari, his Pakistani counterpart.

He praised both men as fully appreciating the “seriousness” of the current situation in the region.

to get an idea of how real people who are subjected to this savagery feel in afghanistan just read some of the things they said today in the farah province during their protest against their puppet regime and the american occupiers of their land:

Afghans have staged an angry protest following the suspected deaths of up to 100 civilians in a US-led air raid in western Farah province.

Shots were fired on Thursday as the demonstrators threw stones at government offices in the town of Farah, the provincial capital.

Several people were wounded in the melee, Gul Ahmad Ayubi, a health department official, said.

The protest came as a team of US and Afghan government investigators arrived in the Bala Baluk district to gather more information about Monday’s incident.

If the casualties are confirmed, it would be the largest loss of civilian life in a single attack since US troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Haji Nangyalai, one of the protesters, said the demonstration had been called to “show our anger at the crimes committed by the American forces”.

“They have killed our innocent people carelessly, that is why we are protesting.”

Another demonstrator, who gave his name only as Abdullah, told the AFP news agency: “People are really angry and they shout ‘death to America, death to the invaders.

“They are hurling stones at government buildings and there is some gun fire in the air – at this stage we don’t know by who.”

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3 thoughts on “on regret

  1. this is what i don’t get- how many times can the us say “oops, my bad. i regret it.” i say that when i accidentally step on someone’s foot. in this case, 200 people died! and all hil can say is “oops. my bad. we regret it.”

    1. It seems like The USA and Israel have the same philosophy about collateral damage.

      I guess when it is “dark, swarthy, ragheads”, it’s not like killing real people.

      However, I just thought of Waco, Texas. They were white. Maybe it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with power.

  2. Her actual quote was:

    “We will work very hard with your governments and your leaders to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life and we deeply, YOU KNOW, deeply regret that loss,”

    “..You know..”

    That was says it all to me, about how deeply she regrets anything.

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