Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tragedy at Azizabad

I haven't seen any of my usual daily reads covering this, so I guess I will.

On August 22, 2008, U.S. forces acted on intelligence about militants in Azizabad, Afghanistan (as far as I can tell, it's a village about 100 miles south of Herat, the largest city in Western Afghanistan). They went in and cleared the place out, killing (according to the UN and the Afghan government) 90 people. The UN also claims that the 90 dead were civilians, not insurgents. Today, Robert Gates expressed his personal regret for the deaths.

So what happened? "But villagers say their homes were targeted because of false information provided by a rival tribesman named Nader Tawakil." In fact, the villagers were working with Brits and Americans, and a rival decided to use unwitting Americans to settle a personal score.

The number of casualties was (at least initially, I don't know if it still is) disputed by the Americans, but as Joshua at Registan pointed out, "At this point, it doesn’t even matter how many died. Simply, the U.S. looks bad." Which is true, because the Taliban is fighting a propoganda war, and this is great propaganda for them.

I'll have more to say about Azizabad and Afghanistan in general, but it will take some time to put a post together.