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Worse than Obsolete: NATO Creates Enemies

NATO’s and the US military’s desecration of corpses, attacks on wedding parties, mosques, hospitals and market places — along with the bombing of allied troops, torture of prisoners, and their notoriously unaccountable drone warfare — are a few of the alliance’s more infamous outrages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia.

Twenty years’ worth of “unintended” or “collateral” damage hasn’t created friends in the war zones:

+ On April 23, 1999, NATO rocketed the central studio of Radio Televisija Srbije (RTS), the state-owned broadcasting corporation in Belgrade, destroying the building. Sixteen civilian employees of RTS were killed and 16 wounded. Amnesty International concluded the attack was a war crime.

+ In a Feb. 12, 2010 atrocity that was kept secret until March 13, US Special Forces killed a teenage girl, a pregnant mother of 10, a pregnant mother of 6, a police officer and his brother, and were accused of then trying to cover-up the killings by digging bullets out of the victims’ bodies, washing the wounds with alcohol and lying to superior officers.

+ While bombing Libya in March 2011, NATO refused to aid a group of 72 migrants adrift in the Mediterranean Sea. Only nine people on board survived. The refusal was condemned as criminal by the Council of Europe.

+ On Nov. 26, 2011, NATO jets bombed and rocketed an allied Pakistani military base for two hours, killing 26 Pakistani soldiers and wounding dozens more. NATO refuses to apologize.

Allies have reacted angrily. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave his “last” warning against NATO’s bombing of Afghan homes on May 31, 2011, saying, “If they continue their attacks on our houses … history shows what Afghans do with trespassers and with occupiers.” On March 20, 2012, Pakistani lawmakers demanded an end to all NATO/CIA drone strikes against their territory. The drone attacks continue, and newspapers repeatedly remind readers of the self-defeating hopelessness of using atrocities to fight a tactic or to enforce US military occupation.

Headlines Record NATO’s Global Crime Spree

“Civilians Killed in US-Afghan Operation,” New York Times, Nov. 29, 2018

“Navy SEAL is Accused of Bloodthirsty Killings,” New York Times, Nov. 16, 2018

“Report: 3,301 civilians killed in US-led strikes in Syria since 2014,” Duluth News Tribune, Sept. 24, 2018

“Study: US killed 500 civilians” (“Pentagon may be grossly undercounting”), Mpls. StarTribune, June 3, 2018

“More Afghan Civilians are Victims of Targeted Attacks, UN Says,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 2018

“Afghan Pedophiles Get Pass from US Military, Report Says,” New York Times, Jan. 24, 2018

“‘Killed, Shovel in Hand’: Afghan Farmers are the Latest Victims of a Chaotic War,” New York Times, March 19, 2018

“American Airstrikes in Afghanistan Stir Debate Over Who Was Killed,” New York Times, Nov. 11, 2017

“US Airstrikes kill at least 13 civilians,” Mpls. StarTribune, Nov. 5, 2017

“Airstrike Kills at Least 25 at Street Market in Yemen,” New York Times, Nov. 2, 2017

“Civilian deaths from US-led strikes on ISIS surge under Trump administration” (“Airwars, a UK-based watchdog group, estimates the civilian death toll from coalition airstrikes at over 3,800.”), The Guardian, June 6, 2017

“11 Afghans Killed in US Airstrike,” New York Times, Aug. 31, 2017

“3 Children Among Dead in a Raid In Somalia,” New York Times, Aug. 26, 2017

“Afghans Say US Strike Hit Civilians,” New York Times, Aug. 12, 2017

“Civilian deaths a windfall for militants’ propaganda,” AP/Mpls. StarTribune, April 2, 2017

“US Airstrike ‘Probably Had a Role’ in Mosul Civilian Deaths, Commander Concedes,” New York Times, March 29, 2017

“US strike reportedly killed 30 Syrians,” New York Times/Mpls. StarTribune, March 23, 2017

“US military says fight with Taliban killed 33 civilians,” Mpls. StarTribune, Jan. 13, 2017

“US-led strikes in Iraq, Syria have killed at least 188 civilians, military says,” Duluth News Tribune, Jan. 3, 2017

“US admits its airstrikes likely killed Afghan civilians.” Washington Post/Mpls. StarTribune, Nov. 6, 2016

“US Drones Hit Civilians, U.N. Says,” New York Times, Sept. 30, 2016

“Residents Say US Strike Killed Civilians” (killed at least 15 civilians), Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2016

“Pentagon: Errors led to hospital strike” (“which killed 42 people”), New York Times, & Mpls. StarTribune, May 1, 2016

“A Moral Debt for Bombing a Hospital” (“killing 42 innocent people”), editorial, New York Times, April 30, 2016

“Airstrike on Afghan hospital stirs fury,” New York Times/Mpls. StarTribune; and “19 die in apparent US airstrike on Afghan hospital,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2015

“US marine pleads guilty to urinating on corpse of Taliban fighter in Afghanistan,” The Guardian, Jan. 16, 2013

“US troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers,” Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2012

“Drones At Issue… Raids Disrupt Militants, but Civilian Deaths Stir Outrage,” New York Times, March 18, 2012

“G.I. Kills 16 Afghans, Including 9 Children In Attacks on Homes,” New York Times, March 12, 2012

“NATO Admits Airstrike Killed 8 Young Afghans, but Contends They Were Armed,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 2012

“Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say” (seven shepherd boys under 14), New York Times, Feb. 10, 2012

“Video [of Marines urinating on dead fighters] Inflames a Delicate Moment for US in Afghanistan,” New York Times, Jan. 12, 2012

“Commission alleges US detainee abuse,” Mpls. StarTribune, Jan. 8, 2012

“Six Children Are Killed by NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan,” New York Times, Nov. 25, 2011

“American Soldier Is Convicted of Killing Afghan Civilians for Sport,” New York Times, Nov. 11, 2011

“US Drone Strike Kills Brother of a Taliban Commander,” New York Times, Oct. 28, 2011

“Afghanistan officials ‘systematically tortured’ detainees, UN report says,” The Guardian, & BBC, Oct. 10; Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2011

“G.I. Killed Afghan Journalist, NATO Says,” New York Times, Sept. 9, 2011

“Cable Implicates Americans in Deaths of Iraqi Civilians,” New York Times, Sept. 2, 2011

“Civilians Die in a Raid by Americans and Iraqis,” New York Times, Aug. 7, 2011

“NATO Strikes Libyan State TV Transmitters,” New York Times, July 31, 2011

“US Expands Its Drone War to Take On Somali Militants,” New York Times, July 2, 2011

“NATO admits raid probably killed nine in Tripoli,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 20, 2011

“NATO airstrike blamed in 14 civilian deaths,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 30, 2011

“Libya Effort Is Called Violation of War Act,” New York Times, May 26, 2011

“Raid on Wrong House Kills Afghan Girl, 12,” New York Times, May 12, 2011

“Yemen: 2 Killed in Missile Strike,” Associated Press, May 5, 2011

“NATO Accused of Going Too Far With Libya Strikes,” New York Times, May 2, 2011

“Disposal of Bin Laden’s remains violated Islamic principles, clerics say,” Associated Press, May 2, 2011

“Photos of atrocities seen as threat to Afghan relations,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 22, 2011

“Missiles Kill 26 in Pakistan” (“most of them civilians”), New York Times, March 18, 2011

“Afghans Say NATO Troops Killed 8 Civilians in Raid,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2010

“A dozen or more” Afghan civilians were killed during a nighttime raid Aug. 5, 2010 in eastern Afghanistan, NATO’s officers said. Chicago Tribune, Aug. 6, 2010

“Afghans Say Attack Killed 52 Civilians; NATO Differs,” New York Times, July 27, 2010

“Afghans Die in Bombing, As Toll Rises for Civilians,” New York Times, May 3, 2010

“Pakistan Angry as Strike by U.S. Kills 11 Soldiers,” New York Times, June 12, 2008

“Marines Used ‘Excessive Force’ in Afghan Civilian Deaths,” Washington Post, April 14, 2007

To end NATO’s recruitment of terrorized enemies, a lesson from Dr. King needs to be learned: “The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”

 

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John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

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