NST Leader: US Military Strategy

















The American military is incorrigible. It kills civilians and calls it a "mistake". What's worse, it exonerates the killers.


The latest such killing — massacre may be a more appropriate word — happened on Aug 29 when American soldiers obliterated an Afghan family of 10, seven of them children, in a drone strike in Kabul. The youngest was a girl of 2.


Air Force Lieutenant General Sami Said, who headed the "independent" watchdog, made the appalling report public at a press briefing on Friday.


With very rare exceptions — Al Jazeera was one — the media were reporting like they were part of the military. Even by the standards of Said, there were many loopholes. Start with the car which was bombed.


According to the general, as reported by the BBC, the intelligence received was about a white Toyota Corolla car thought to contain explosives, but the soldiers tracked the wrong car.


How is it that the military couldn't tell the difference between explosives and water, which the victim Zemari Ahmadi was delivering, is left unexplained. All Said could proffer is: "We just didn't pick up the Toyota Corolla that we believe we should have picked up." To him, there wasn't a breakdown in intelligence, but a breakdown in the correlation of the intelligence to the specific house.


The general has got hair-splitting to a tee. But we are not impressed. First, the military gets the car wrong and now the house wrong.


Later in the report we learn the soldiers get the computer bag (which was supposedly filled with explosives) wrong, too. Ahmadi had a computer bag, but there was only a computer. Baffling.


With the military being prone to such repeated fatal "mistakes" — Kabul isn't America's first My Lai, to quote Andrew Mitrovica of Al Jazeera — the US should not be fighting wars in other countries.


Said's report is baffling in another way. It fails to address how the top generals' description of the drone strike in August as being "accurate ambush of terrorists" metamorphose into a "tragic mistake" on Sept 17 when the Pentagon went on a public relations blitz. Perhaps Said wanted to say what his masters in the Pentagon wanted to hear. Consider this telling fact.


Watching a surveillance video clip of Ahmadi's car before the drone strike, Said admits to seeing a child near the vehicle minutes before the drone strike — who the soldiers should have spotted — yet he told the news briefing that the image wasn't obvious. "You have to be looking for it".


Well, general, shouldn't the soldiers be looking for it before pressing the trigger?


The US military has given "independent watchdog" a whole new meaning.


The soldiers — and the Pentagon, too — could not have had a better defence witness. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin could not have had a better investigator.


After all, he said in a press statement issued on Sept 17, the day of the Pentagon's public relations blitz, "we now know" that there was no connection between Ahmadi and the terrorists. He didn't stop there in Reuters' telling: "Ahmadi's activities on that day were completely harmless and not at all related to the imminent threat we believed we faced." We have heard this "we now know" and "we believed we faced" so many times before.


And trust us, we will hear them many times more. Isn't that the meaning of incorrigible?


This article was published in The New Straits Times dated 11 November 2021. Republished with permission from The New Straits Times.