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It is just over ten years since NATO led sustained airstrikes against Serbia and NATO has bombed two hijacked fuel tankers in Kabul today killing over forty civilians.  Do we not learn from the mistakes and tragedies of the past?


AFP/Getty Images [source]

Link: NATO airstrike kills more than 90 in Afghanistan [CNN]

In Kabul, Afghanistan today NATO carried out airstrikes on a pair of hijacked fuel tankers.  Ninety people were killed, including Taliban militants but reports from Afghan officials say that almost half of the victims were civilians.

The spokeswoman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, Captain Elizabeth Mathias, has claimed that they had believed there were no civilians near the fuel tankers at the time of the attack.  It is difficult to know who is telling the truth because Afghan officials might have motives for inflating the number of civilian dead and of course NATO officials are going to say that they believed there were no civilians in the area.

I have a friend who lived in Serbia at the time of the 1999 NATO attacks.  Over the years that I have come to know her, I’ve learned that she is just like me.  We like the same music, share similar social and political interests and for several years we’ve shared a dream of one day meeting up in her town of Novi Sad.

In the years I have known her, I’ve also come to know about the devastation that Novi Sad experienced during the NATO bombings. 

“Devastated by NATO bombardment, during the Kosovo War of 1999, Novi Sad was left without all of its three Danube bridges, communications, water, and electricity. Residential areas were cluster bombed several times while its oil refinery was bombarded daily, causing severe pollution and widespread ecological damage” - Wikipedia

Apart from the immediate injuries and deaths and the continuing suffering due to pollution and environmental damage, there is also lasting psychological damage.  The residents experienced almost three months of sustained attacks; that is three months of fear and trauma.

So when Captain Elizabeth Mathias says of today’s attacks:

"Because of the prevalence of reports of civilian casualties, we don't want to be seen as ignoring the situation," Mathias said. "We don't want to wait. If something happened, we want to apologize." - CNN

I have to say that it is not enough.  It is not good enough and they have not done enough to protect civilian lives or ensure that human beings do not experience pain, suffering, fear, trauma and loss of life.  The human cost of this war has been unacceptable and while I support the men and women that choose to fight for their country, I do hope that one day all parties are brought to account for the deaths and injury to military personnel and civilians on all sides.

“Thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-English speaking countries as to those that occur in English speaking countries” – Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip

I just get the feeling sometimes that if we had declared war on an English speaking country such as Australia or even South Africa that maybe people would care. If we were bombing France or Sweden, maybe people would take more notice. This war and the killing of civilians will continue for as long as we think of the Afghan people as somewhat different to us, as somehow less than human.

About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is an accountant living and working in London. She is passionate about world events such as genocide and apartheid and has a desire to understand how these events continue to occur in the modern world. With a focus on the 20th and 21st centuries, A Passion to Understand reflects her continuing research and reading on these topics.
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