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From page 8 of today’s Washington Post: “The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday he had dispatched a joint U.S.-Afghan team to investigate U.S. airstrikes that killed more than two dozen people in the western part of the country and prompted an outcry from Afghan officials.”
This from a former CIA official I spoke with recently about the fallout from these types of strikes:
You need to lower the U.S. footprint in the region; you can’t just have Americans dropping bombs on Afghanistan. We keep dropping bombs to kill one bad guy and 15 bystanders also get killed. Hearts and minds matter to an insurgency.
The military and the CIA don’t have the tools they need to fight the war, mostly they’re relying on bombs and Predator strikes. Those can be useful but the collateral damage is so bad. Outside of the moral issue, it doesn’t work. For every person you kill, multiply by 20 the number of new enemies you have.
If Osama bin Laden was in downtown Washington, and we killed him with a bomb but 25 civilians were killed, they would have the heads of the people responsible. So why is it any different in Afghanistan? People there see it the same way, but it’s worse because they believe we have pinpoint accuracy so the collateral damage can’t be a mistake.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”