Mittwoch, Juni 20, 2007

Still Not Understanding It...redux

The FT once again doesn't get it.

In one of today's editorials, here, they lament the deaths of children in Afghanistan and make it the fault of the US - well, the West - for this happening. Hearts and minds, after all.

But do they take even a nanosecond to consider why this is happening?

It's not because the West fails to discriminate and simply kills everyone on sight. Even the FT says that new rules of engagement aren't needed: they call, instead for a "sharper" sense of deciding to kill Talibans with the risk of civilian casualties or to let them get away, and that the decision is one that should be made throughout the military chain of command.

What I don't understand is why it's our fault: the Taliban chooses to hide amongst civilians, avoiding open combat (which they know they cannot win). What the coalition in Afghanistan needs to make clear is that civilians need to know this as well: if you let the Taliban hide amongst you, your children may die because we will go after them.

That is the recipe for winning hearts and minds, not abdicating the battle space to the Taliban by allowing them to hide in civilians. When civilians die, the West needs to have its people there telling the rest of the population that this is regrettable, that this is not what we wanted to do, the cowards that are the Taliban are responsible because they chose to hide amongst you, and if you let us know where they are, help us find them, we'll keep you out of the line of fire and destroy them without hurting you.

Fail to do that, and the civilian casualties will continue, because the Taliban aren't dumb: they know that the West doesn't want to kill civilians.

Which is exactly why they hide amongst them.

Change the population's willingness to hide them, and their game is over. That is the solution.

Instead, the editoriall writer of the FT wants the coalition there to, basically, allow the Taliban to continue to use civilians as shields - I scarcely must say that this is, of course, contrary to the Geneva Conventions - because civilians might be killed if the coalition goes after them.

Who do they want to win over there?

That is not entirely a rhetorical question.

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