Glen Greenwald in one of his articles asks who is this Lara Dadkhah whose editorial appears in a recent edition of the New York Times in which she says
American and NATO military leaders — worried by Taliban propaganda claiming that air strikes have killed an inordinate number of civilians, and persuaded by “hearts and minds” enthusiasts that the key to winning the war is the Afghan population’s goodwill — have largely relinquished the strategic advantage of American air dominance.
So in a modern refashioning of the obvious — that war is harmful to civilian populations — the United States military has begun basing doctrine on the premise that dead civilians are harmful to the conduct of war. The trouble is, no past war has ever supplied compelling proof of that claim.
In Marja, American and Afghan troops have shown great skill in routing the Taliban occupiers. But news reports indicate that our troops under heavy attack have had to wait an hour or more for air support, so that insurgents could be positively identified. “We didn’t come to Marja to destroy it, or to hurt civilians,” a Marine officer told reporters after waiting 90 minutes before the Cobra helicopters he had requested showed up with their Hellfire missiles. He’s right that the goal is not to kill bystanders or destroy towns, but an overemphasis on civilian protection is now putting American troops on the defensive in what is intended to be a major offensive.
There is also little to indicate that the “hearts and minds” campaign has resulted in the population’s cooperation, especially in the all-important area of human intelligence. Afghans can be expected to cooperate with American forces only if they feel safe to do so — when we take permanent control of an area. Obviously, this involves defeating the enemy. With NATO intelligence services recently noting that the Taliban still have a “shadow government” in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, it’s hard to say we’re close to accomplishing that feat. Just last month, the Taliban set off a series of bombs in the heart of Kabul; the insurgents, it appears, no longer need to winter in Pakistan.
It is that realization that the Taliban controls a majority of Afghani territory that has forced Hamid Karzai, the US installed president to reach out to them and attempt to bring them into his government; it was this fact on the ground that had the US Defense Secretary say in a visit to Afghanistan that the Taliban are a part of the fabric of that country, it is that reality that until recently had the US attempting to negotiate with the Taliban as well. In a Miscellany101 article earlier this week, we linked to a story that said the US sought to ally itself with the number 2 man in the Taliban hierarchy but had their move countered by Pakistani intelligence which it seems is now able to insert itself in the best interest of the United States…..go figure. Dadkhah still has it wrong however when she/he(?) somehow implies the US is more concerned with civilian casualties than its own forces. America has had unrestricted access over the skies of Pakistan and Afghanistan with drone aircraft and missiles of all types and descriptions, intermingled with the grisly deaths of civilians that occur at the hands of soldiers on the ground, and if Dadkhah has any illusions NATO/US forces are concerned with civilian casualties, then this article should put those rumors to rest.
…..NATO took the exact opposite approach with Sunday’s Marjah killings, revising their story to insist the killings were not an equipment error, but were part of a deliberate US targeting of a house full of civilians.
The initial story on Sunday was that the US troops tried to fire the rockets at suspected militants resisting the US-led invasion of the town. NATO claimed the rocket malfunctioned and veered 300 meters off course, destroying a house full of women and children…….NATO announced today that the HiMARS did not malfunction, and the missile hit the house deliberately. Officials are now suggesting that there may have been militants in or near the house, though there appears to be no evidence of that and only civilians were killed in the house’s destruction.
So it would appear people are heeding Ms. Dhadkha’s advice after all and prosecuting this war full speed ahead, civilian casualties be damned. The other issue however is how does someone so well unknown get to put such a provocative op-ed in such a prestigious newspaper as the New York Times? Working for a defense contractor helps, no doubt.