On Sunday 14 February 2010, 2 days after the launch of an allied assault against the Taliban held town of Marjah in Helmand province, Afghanistan, it was reported that a rogue NATO rocket had killed twelve Afghan civilians. General Stanley McChrystal, the NATO commander expressed his profound regrets at the deaths and added that avoiding civilian deaths had been ‘a cornerstone of the war strategy’. Some confusion then set in and it wasn’t immediately clear if one rocket had been fired or two. Meanwhile, as a result of the ‘tragedy’ the weapon used was withdrawn from use.
If there is one thing the US and their allies have become adept at sine 9/11 it is turning a negative into a positive when it comes to propaganda.
Since Sunday the allies have clearly been thinking about the very negative impact that the news of the killing of Afghan civilians would have on both public opinion at home and on the people that they are pretending to ‘liberate’. As a result, by yesterday, 17 February 2010, the one rocket that had somehow strayed off some 300 meters from its intended target, morphed into two rockets that were deliberately launched at the target it hit which the allies now say contained Taliban fighters and that the civilians killed were being used as human shields. Oddly, however, no Taliban fighters were found among the dead. Now the allies are using the ‘Taliban are using human shields’ theme as an excuse to explain their inability to progress in their onslaught against the few Taliban fighters left in Marjah. Of course, accusing the Taliban of using civilians as human shields kills three birds with one stone; it provides a vindication for the deaths of twelve civilians by putting the blame on those the allies are attacking, it provides an explanation for the slow progress of a major assault by 15000 highly trained and well armed soldiers against a handful of ill-equipped and poorly trained guerrilla fighters, and it demeans the fighters painting them as evil cowards hiding behind civilians. (Does all this sound familiar to you yet?)
Guerrilla fighters don’t have barracks to stay in, they have no use for open battlefields, in many cases the local civilians are also the guerrilla fighters and where they are killed is very often their home. Guerrilla fighting is a form of warfare that relies on being able to count on the local community’s help for food and shelter. The Western allies are trying to paint a picture where soldiers should be on a battlefield fighting each other that and that those that do not are cowards. We’ve seen this in every guerrilla war that the West, particularly the US, have been in. Most recent, of course, has been the wars launched against the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip.
The reality is; there is no evidence that Taliban fighters deliberately use civilians as human shields. Those that are making the accusations are merely covering for their own mistakes and the fact that have no right to be on dirt that doesn’t belong to them in the first place.