Petraeus Promises to Reduce Afghan Civilian Deaths to ‘Absolute Minimum’

Offers No Suggestion of How This Will Happen

Speaking today in the Khost Province, Gen. David Petraeus vowed to take unspecified actions to reduce the number of civilians killed by NATO forces to the “absolute minimum.” Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been demanding an end to air strikes after recent killings.

NATO has ruled out ending the attacks on civilian homes, saying Karzai has no right to demand them to stop such strikes. Two major attacks over the weekends, killing scores of civilians.

Of course, calls to reduce the number of civilians killed have come pretty regularly over a decade-long war. Gen. Stanley McChrystal announced a number of curbs which eventually did reduce the civilian toll. But most of those reforms were removed outright by Petraeus, citing damage to troop morale, and he dramatically escalated the number of air strikes.

And it seems unlikely that Petraeus will go back to the McChrystal strategy, since officials have credited the massive escalation of air strikes as part of the “success” they maintain is just around the corner. This suggests any change will likely be superficial, and as the civilian toll mounts, anti-US sentiment will continue to soar.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for 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.