Written by Dr. Leon Tressell exclusively for SouthFront
WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange languishes in a British maximum security prison for exposing American war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. All those politicians and so called journalists who applauded Assange’s arrest are deafening silent when it comes to American war crimes in countries such as Afghanistan. This conspiracy of silence includes the International Criminal Court which, to its eternal shame, has recently decided not to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a new report from the UN lays bare the continuing war crimes committed by the United States and its allies over the last year. In the first quarter of 2019 the Afghan army and US forces killed more civilians than the Taliban and Isis. During this period the US carried out 39 bombing operations that caused 145 civilian deaths and wounded 83 with women and children making up 50% of the casualties from aerial operations. The UN report briefly mentions a massacre of civilians on 23 March in Kunduz City where American bombing killed 13 civilians including 10 women and two children.
The huge escalation in American bombing of civilians is apparently part of the US strategy to force the Taliban to negotiate peace in the country. Massive bombing of civilians failed to win victory in the Vietnam War and committing such war crimes in Afghanistan will also not help facilitate an American victory.
American war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan are nothing new. They have a long history as revealed by WikiLeaks.
It is important that we remind the world of American war crimes in Afghanistan at a time when the Trump regime and its allies seek to repress the truth about their bloody regime change wars, while truth tellers like Assange languish in jail.
In July 2010 Wikileaks released the Afghan War Diary which was an extraordinary collection of 91,000 reports that revealed the killing of hundreds of civilians by the US led coalition. This came at a time when President Obama had sent 30,000 extra soldiers to prop up the failing American war effort.
Night raids by US soldiers and their allies have been major source of anger within Afghanistan due to the high number of civilians killed by such actions. In 2010 alone, 472 civilians were killed or wounded by soldiers from the US led coalition (ISAF). As Julian Assange pointed out in 2010 the Afghan War Diary contains many examples of “war crimes’’ that need investigation. Nine years later and there has been no justice for the victims who are inconvenient facts about how the United States conducts its so called war on terror.
Throughout the naughties the city of Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province, was a government stronghold yet ISAF night raids dramatically increased in the region.
One infamous massacre in the region came on 4 March 2007 when US Marine Special Forces slaughtered 15 civilians and wounded 35 others. In their defence the marines claimed that they were merely responding to a Taliban attack in the area. A response that somehow left 15 civilians dead.
The large death toll from this murderous raid against civilians, they were supposedly protecting, did little to dissuade US commanders from pressing ahead with further night raids in the province.
On the night of April 28 2007 ISAF and Afghan government forces raided a so called suicide bomb cell 20 miles south east of Jalalabad. During the raid 4 alleged “insurgents’’ were killed along with a woman and teenage girl. Two children were also wounded, a 15 year old and three year old. The two girls had been taken to the US Bagram facility without the escort of any male relatives causing great anger in the local community.
This raid was the last straw for the long suffering residents of this province. Their anger exploded the next day. Between 500-1,000 residents blockaded the highway running from Jalalabad to the border. These protests continued for four days with the government having to dispatch high level representatives to quell the public anger.
The classified report of these raids makes the ironic observation that ISAF forces faced major challenges while, “minimizing civilian casualties and disruption to the lives of local residents.’’
It also notes how President Karzai, in a meeting with NATO ambassadors, “expressed concern that these incidents could affect popular attitudes toward ISAF and the Coalition.’’ Talk about understatement of the decade. US bombing and night raids have undoubtedly been one factor in shoring up support for the Taliban in its 17 year campaign to evict international forces from the country.
The United States is repeating its tactics from the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Massively increase the bombing of civilians in an effort to force your enemy to the negotiating table as an exit strategy from a war that you are losing.
The two American raids in 2007 that were exposed by Wikileaks and the recent UN report illustrate how American war crimes have been and still are a common occurrence in Afghanistan.
The jailing of Julian Assange should remind us all of the terrible price paid by a journalist for exposing how the American empire conducts its foreign wars.