As the United States’ interminable war in Afghanistan drags late into its seventeenth year with no end in sight, the death toll of innocents continues to rise. Reuters is reporting that U.S. airstrikes have killed 30 civilians in the province of Helmand after bombers hit a compound they believed contained Taliban fighters but turned out to be full of innocents.
A resident of the Garmasir district, Feda Mohammad, told the Guardian that “the area is under the control of Taliban but all of the victims of last night’s bombing are civilians” and that more casualties lay buried in the rubble. Another witness, Mohammadullah, said that a staggering sixteen children were among the dead.
Afghan government forces and their US advisors came under fire in the district and called in the air strike, but claim that they were “unaware” of any civilians in the area.
“At the time of the strike, the ground force was unaware of any civilians in or around the compound; they only knew that the Taliban was using the building as a fighting position. We investigate every credible allegation of error and review every mission to learn, adapt and improve” said a NATO support force spokeswoman.
The civilian death toll has taken a sharp uptick during the Trump presidency; the United Nations warned that more innocents have been killed so far this year than any year since 2009, and this year is far from over.
Since the war began in 2001, over 31,000 civilians have been killed and over 110,000 Afghans have lost their lives in the fighting.
And what does the United States have to show for all that death? After seventeen years, the war against the Taliban has ground to a stalemate as the militant group controls more territory now than it did three years ago. Tepid efforts to reach some kind of peace deal are underway, but it’s unclear whether or not the notoriously bellicose Trump would be willing to accept what he would surely see as an admission of defeat — or whether his military advisors, who have now spent what must be a significant portion of their careers waging this war, would allow him to do so.
When Trump was asked why Americans are still waging this fruitless, endless war last night by the Washington Post, he had this to say.
“We’re there because virtually every expert that I have and speak to say if we don’t go there, they’re going to be fighting over here. And I’ve heard it over and over again. We’re in the process of doing some — you know, as you know, we are talking about peace over there with the Taliban, with the group of people that have a lot to do with it. They would like to see it after all these years, and we’ll see what happens. A little bit too early to say what’s going to happen. But we are talking about things. But it’s a very sad situation when I look — we have incredible people, incredible fighters. But we’re going to see what happens. We’re going to see what happens. But it’s very sad. I just heard about the three people this morning. Terrible.”
His last line refers to the three U.S. soldiers who lost their lives on Tuesday in a roadside bombing, bringing this year’s casualty total to twelve. In all, over 2,300 Americans have lost their lives and over 20,000 have been wounded in this $1 trillion war.
As we continue to pour more blood and money into the graveyard of empires, we seem to only come away with needless destruction and more dead children. When will enough be enough? While Trump continues to flirt with the idea of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s unlikely that his neocon advisors and the defense industry lobbyists who have made a literal killing off of the incessant conflict will let him do so.
The next Democratic Party platform must substantially reassess their relationship with the imperialist foreign policy juggernaut and do whatever it takes to stop our nation from being responsible for horrifying war crimes like the murders we just committed in Garmasir.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES TO FOLLOW
MASSACRE: US airstrike killed 30 civilians last night during an operation targeting the Taliban in the #Garmser district of southern #Helmand province. #HelmandMassacre #Afghanistan #WarOfTerror pic.twitter.com/b7gaHoa1Tx
— DOAM (@doamuslims) November 28, 2018