Obama Apologizes to Doctors Without Borders for Bombing Hospital

Presidential Apologies for Airstrikes Are Rare Over Recent Wars

In a surprise move that followed days of excuse-making and altered narratives, the White House today confirmed that President Obama called Doctors Without Borders president Dr. Joanne Liu to formally apologize for the Saturday US attack against one of their hospitals near Kunduz, killing 12 staff members and 22 overall.

Dr. Liu’s office issued a statement confirming the apology, but reiterating Doctors Without Borders’ position that the attack on the hospital requires a full, independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to figure out exactly what happened and why.

The US appears to be spurning that call, and keeps reiterating simply that the Pentagon is conducting its own investigation into the matter, and Gen. John Campbell has announced intentions to hold additional training for special forces troops on the importance of not bombing hospitals.

Interestingly, the White House noted that Obama also called and expressed “condolences” to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, a surprise since the Ghani government hasn’t been particularly critical of the attack, and indeed the Defense Ministry had referred to the slain staff and patients as “armed terrorists” in their own statements.

“Condolences” have been extremely common throughout America’s assorted recent wars, a common way of shrugging off major civilian death tolls, but formal apologies have been extremely rare, and suggest that the White House, in this case, was feeling pressure from the mounting criticism.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.