Monday, July 28, 2008

Winning Their Hearts and Minds

So, a questionable bit of field judgment and an unfortunate bullet trajectory killed a couple of Afghani children today.

This is NOT how you bring the people of an occupied land to your side. If anything, it drives them into the arms of the already present adversary:

Shopkeeper Din Mohammad said foreign soldiers had better stop accidentally killing civilians or they will suffer the same bitter fate as the defeated Soviets.

"They must stop this," said Mr. Mohammed, who was visiting his son at Mirwais hospital when he saw the children's lifeless bodies carried in.

"Otherwise the day will come when everybody will stand up against the foreigners in a holy war – a jihad."

"It's happened once before [with the Soviets]. If things continue like this, history will repeat itself."

Anybody with their head screwed on will have figured out that this was likely to be the reaction - the occupying forces cannot afford to make a single slip - one incident like this will be remembered by thousands for a long time - much longer than a few "rebuilding" exercises will be - especially if more of those projects turn out to be prisons.

It really doesn't matter what kind of idiotic sophistry Mr. Mackay wants to use to spin things here in Canada:

"Look, soldiers do everything they can to make proper judgment. They exercise professionalism, they follow rules of engagement, but they're human and they're living in a very tense environment with these suicide bombs that have occurred in the past," the Defence Minister said.

"With these approaches, soldiers have sometimes a split second to make a decision on protecting their fellow soldiers and protecting themselves, protecting fellow civilians that are in the area."

That is quite irrelevant to the impact of these events on the ground in Afghanistan. What has happened in this incident has handed the Taliban (and other groups) a propaganda tool - one that is incredibly easy to exploit.

No matter how well-meaning Canadians convince themselves that our presence in Afghanistan may be, we cannot forget that a society that does not want to be occupied will ultimately win out - and Afghanistan's history is that of a society unwilling to be occupied.

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