Monday, June 18, 2007

US Kills Children In Afghanistan – Will This Light The Fuse?

This isn’t exactly a new trick at all. Hezbollah and Hamas have been playing this trick on Israel for years and years, always with the goal of igniting international condemnation of the young Jewish state. And now the US has fallen for the same trick, this time played out by Al Qaeda.

The plot is simple: do whatever necessary to show your enemy a juicy target, one ripe with combatants and seemingly free of civilians, hide some civilians in the location, and then wait for the enemy to bomb the location. After the bombing, show the innocent casualties and bemoan the evil ways of the aggressor.

During the Grapes of Wrath campaign in South Lebanon, Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets from behind a hospital, and the retaliation by Israel killed many infirmed Lebanese. In Gaza, Qassam rockets were fired from behind an orphanage last years, and the retaliation resulted in the deaths of children. And in the latest war in South Lebanon, Katyushas were regularly fired from populated areas, with civilians as human shields.

In all these examples, as well as many others where similar tactics were used, the goal was simple: foster international condemnation of Israel, cutting it off from the international support the country relies upon to survive. However, it’s equally obvious that the United States would neither receive such international condemnation nor would the condemnation affect it so radically. So why employ this strategy at this time?

With chaos prevailing in many countries in the Middle East, the goal seems apparent to me: to unite the Muslim people behind a common enemy, the United States!

The first rule of warfare in the Middle East is that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, at least for today. Because of this, two parties who have been feuding for decades or centuries can suddenly find themselves united against a third party at the drop of a hat. The rapidly changing allegiances in the region are what make fighting there so challenging, and so deadly.

The US has already experienced this once before, in Lebanon, where the US Marines suddenly became the common enemy and was attacked by a coalition of Lebanese forces that had been fighting each other only for years. In 1983, the US didn’t realize that they had become the common enemy as early as February. Not understand the rules of war in the Middle East cost the US 241 servicemen in Beirut that year.

Once again, we are seeing the push to make the US the common enemy. Perhaps the goal is to stop the Muslim on Muslim fighting being seen in Lebanon and Palestine. Maybe the desire is to pull countries like Jordan and Egypt, which have been on the sidelines during all the latest conflict, into the fray. But any way you look at it, while children were the victims here, the target was the US military.

The story is fairly well buried in the American press; CNN shows the story half way down their main page, and doesn’t even list it in the Middle East section, Fox News includes it in their third section, and Google News only adds it at the very end of their World News section. But Al Jazeera leads off with the story, as do other local news portals from the Middle East. Even BBC news makes this a top headline.

The American press focuses on the fact that children were told to stay inside the building, and weren’t allowed to go outside all day, preventing the military from knowing of their presence. Also, the American press, points out lack of damage to a nearby mosque, pointing to our respect for Islam. Al Jazeera doesn’t even mention these things, and links the killings to the 1500 civilian deaths in Afghanistan over the past 17 months.

Only time will tell if this tactic will be at all effective in provoking retaliation against the US military, or even against US civilians. But one thing is apparent to me, this morning when the US conducted an air strike against an Al Qaeda compound, we were actually the targets.

Posted by Scottage at 10:42 AM / | |