Karzai Wants Explanation for Civilian Killings

Gen. McKiernan Insists US, NATO "Working Hard" To Minimize Deaths

Afghan President Hamid Karzai once again contacted the commander of the international forces in his nation, US General David McKiernan, to request an explanation for the recent spate of civilian deaths over the past few days. McKiernan was also pressed by the media about the incidents.

The closest the general came to an explanation was conceding that international forces “make mistakes,” saying he apologized for the killings, but admitting that was probably insufficient. He also claimed, as he has several times in the past, that the US and NATO forces are working hard to minimize civilian deaths.

Yet the evidence so far points to little change in the way such operations are carried out, and instead rests on the hope that apologizing more quickly for the killings will maintain the support of the beleaguered populace. Gen. McKiernan says that no amount of money can replace the loss felt by Afghans who lost a family member in one of the assorted raids and air strikes. Yet the US government has a long-standing price for killed Afghan civilians, approximately $2,000 which comes with an official apology for the death.

The number of civilian deaths caused by international forces in Afghanistan has grown dramatically in recent years, driving a rift between President Karzai and the international forces which have been increasingly irked by his public discontent. The deaths have seriously undermined Karzai’s popular support at a time when he is gearing up for a reelection campaign.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.