Glossing the Hospital Massacre

Wasn’t there some grandiose purpose to having U.S. military forces operating in Afghanistan?  What was that, again?  I’m having a hard time understanding just what was the point of the initial invasion and subsequent occupation of that country, and why it is continuing.  Events such as the October 3rd bombing of a hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz, where 12 medical staff and 10 patients were murdered in a US airstrike, should make every US citizen pause and ruminate over just what their government has been up to in all these countries they consented to the invasion of, during the drunken rage of nationalism that erupted immediately after 9/11.  The hospital was operated by Doctors Without Borders, and had been there for four years, offering the only medical and surgical treatment in the region.  That’s over and done with now, they’re packing up and leaving the conflict zone and taking their lifesaving services with them, thanks to the US airstrike that destroyed their facility.

The United States is now scrambling for a scapegoat, something to sweep this incident under the rug. But it’s a rug overflowing with the innocent who met their demise in the crossfire of a US intervention, and this bombing will not go away as easily as US officials desperately want it to.  The story has changed a couple of times, from the “US ground forces were under direct fire from Taliban”, to “Afghan forces called in the airstrike after taking fire from Taliban”.  Whether they were actually taking fire is up for debate, but it stretches credibility to believe the Taliban were using the hospital as some sort of base, as the Afghan forces claim.  The hospital’s treatment of the wounded, regardless of their allegiance in the battle, has irked Afghan forces as well, and the airstrike could be seen as a way for both Afghan and US forces to get rid of an inconvenient obstacle to total war. 

As Glenn Greenwald notes in his piece at The Intercept, Doctors Without Borders isn’t some backwater insignificant organization that no one will listen to.  They’re heroes to pretty much everyone in the world for risking their own lives in warzones to save lives.  They even intentionally gave the coordinates to US and Afghan forces to avoid being caught in a crossfire.  If they say a war crime occurred, and was committed by US Forces who deliberately bombed a hospital, people will listen.  And they aren’t going away.  This scares the US officials who want to see the Afghan campaign to continue indefinitely.  DWB, also known as MSF International, tweeted this the day after the bombing:

"The hospital was repeatedly and precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched."

This is indeed rattling the Warfare State, and no amount of interviews by ancient warmongers with medals adorning the entire upper half of their body will be able to counter it.  Army General John Campbell referred to the bombing as a “mistake made within the US chain of command”. 

Pre-empting an independent investigation is what’s on their mind at the moment, it would be terribly bad for the war effort if the belief that the hospital was intentionally targeted gained traction.  So the US government is now planning to conduct its own investigation, which means constructing the plausible deniability narrative necessary to undercut whatever comes out of an impartial scrutinizing of the massacre.  Doctors Without Borders is calling for just such an independent investigation on their web page:

"This attack cannot be brushed aside as a mere mistake or an inevitable consequence of war. Statements from the Afghanistan government have claimed that Taliban forces were using the hospital to fire on Coalition forces. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital, which amounts to an admission of a war crime.

"This attack does not just touch MSF, but it affects humanitarian work everywhere, and fundamentally undermines the core principles of humanitarian action. We need answers, not just for us but for all medical and humanitarian staff assisting victims of conflict, anywhere in the world. The preserve of health facilities as neutral, protected spaces depends on the outcome of a transparent, independent investigation."

The US government has attempted to impose order through force of arms on the Arabian Peninsula for years, and the result has been nothing but chaos and an ocean of blood.  To attempt to force order from above is an impossible task, order grows up from below.  Whatever social order or stability existed in the various states before the Imperial war machine invaded Iraq, it has now been blown to dust.  Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, they’ve been thrown into turmoil, and any “liberation” of the civilians that has occurred due to the interventions has been a liberation from country, family, stability, and even life itself.  Isn’t it ironic that these preventative, humanitarian wars, sold as a means to prevent some massacre, have become the chief progenitor of some much innocent life lost?  It will be impossible to gloss the airstrike on the hospital, but will it tip the scales for non-interventionism as well?

Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.

Read more by Shane Smith