McGovern warns Obama, don’t make Afghanistan your Vietnam

From Alternet in the USA:

McGovern Warns Obama of LBJ Legacy in Afghanistan

May 5, 2009

Former Senator George McGovern claims military escalation will jeopardize Obama’s domestic goals.

In 1964, President Johnson said of Vietnam that “I don’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I don’t think that we can get out. It’s just the biggest damn mess I ever saw.” Yet Johnson escalated the conflict and America became bogged down in Southeast Asia for more than a decade. Former Senator

and Democratic Presidential candidate during the Vietnam war

George McGovern recently sat down with ANP and said that President Obama runs the risk, like Johnson’s Great Society, of hobbling his ambitious domestic goals if he continues to send troops into Afghanistan.

On the eve of a tripartite summit between the US, Afghan and Pakistani presidents in Washington, US air strikes in western Afghanistan killed scores of civilians in one of the worst atrocities in the seven-and-a-half-year-old war: here.

If the claims are verified, the deaths in Farah province on the western border would be the largest loss of civilian life in a single incident since US-led forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001: here.

Robert Fisk: Of course there will be an inquiry. And in the meantime, we shall be told that all the dead Afghan civilians were being used as “human shields” by the Taliban and we shall say that we “deeply regret” innocent lives that were lost: here.

Witnesses say deaths of 147 people in three villages came after a sustained bombardment by American aircraft: here.

Thousands more civilians were fleeing fighting between the army and Islamic militants in Pakistan‘s Swat Valley after the military lifted a curfew: here. See also here.

36 thoughts on “McGovern warns Obama, don’t make Afghanistan your Vietnam

  1. Dozens killed in Afghan air strikes: ICRC

    6 May 2009


    Dozens of people including women and children were killed in US-led coalition air strikes in western Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday.

    Related photos / videos
    An Afghan boy looks on as French soldiers search a house in Kapisa province, Afghanistan Enlarge photo

    President Hamid Karzai ordered his government to investigate amid reports that more than 150 people were killed in Tuesday’s strikes in the western province of Farah.

    The US military has also announced an investigation.

    “Dozens of people were killed, including women and children,” ICRC spokeswoman Jessica Barry told AFP.

    The Red Cross had sent a team to investigate after they were contacted by locals asking for help, Barry said.

    “Their impression was that there were dozens of dead,” she said. “We can absolutely confirm that there are civilian casualties.”

    One of the dead was a community volunteer for the Afghan Red Crescent Society, who was killed with 13 members of his family, she said.

    Karzai said he would raise the issue with US President Barack Obama, who he is due to meet in Washington on Wednesday.

    He “ordered the ministry of interior and relevant authorities to investigate possible civilian casualties,” the statement said.

    A member of the Farah provincial council, Balqis Roshan, said her information, based on talking to locals, was that more than 150 civilians were killed.


  2. Truckloads of dead civilians after Afghan battle

    6 May 2009

    HERAT, Afghanistan – Villagers brought truckloads of bodies to the capital of a province in Western Afghanistan on Tuesday to prove that scores of civilians had been killed by US air strikes in a battle with the Taleban.

    The governor of Farah Province, Rohul Amin, said about 30 bodies had been trucked to his office, most of them women and children. Other officials said the overall civilian death toll may have been much higher, with scores of people feared killed while huddled in houses that were destroyed by US warplanes.

    US forces confirmed that a battle had taken place with air strikes and said they were investigating reports of civilian casualties, but were unable to confirm them.

    ‘There was an insurgent attack on an ANA (Afghan National Army) group and the ANA called for assistance, and some coalition troops joined them to help fight this group,’ said US military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian. ‘There was close air support, but I can’t give any detail on the type of aircraft.’

    He said US and Afghan officials would head to the site to investigate the reports of civilian deaths. ‘Once we get eyes on the ground we will have a better idea of what may have happened.’

    Ghulan Farooq, a member of parliament from the province, said he had been told by family members in the Bala Boluk district where the fighting took place that as many as 150 people had died. He said US air strikes had destroyed 17 houses. …

    Before the reports of large numbers of civilian casualties emerged, the governor said four Afghan security forces members and about 25 insurgents had been killed.

    The head of public health and hospitals in Farah province, Abdul Jabar Shayeq, said 11 civilians and three policemen had been admitted to hospital with wounds from the fighting.

    ‘Civilian lives are in danger from both sides and they don’t care about it,’ Ahmad said. ‘We beg President (Hamid) Karzai to save our lives.’

    Civilian deaths have become a bitter source of friction between Afghan authorities and US forces. Washington says it is working harder this year to limit civilian deaths and investigate reports of such incidents more rapidly after the number of civilians killed by American forces soared last year.

    In the worst incident last year, the Afghan government and the United Nations said a US strike killed 90 civilians. Washington initially denied it, but after three months said it had killed 33 civilians as well as 22 people it called militants.


  3. Afghans protest civilian casualties, one wounded

    Thu May 7, 2009 9:26pm IST

    By Sharafuddin Sharafyar

    KABUL (Reuters) – Police opened fire during an angry demonstration in western Afghanistan on Thursday, where marchers protested against a U.S. airstrike that the Red Cross says killed dozens of civilians.

    One person received a gunshot wound from police fire aimed at trying to control the crowd and prevent them from breaking into the provincial governor’s compound in Farah City, Deputy Governor Younus Rasuli told Reuters by telephone.

    “They threw stones at the compound and police had to stop them,” he said. The crowd of about 200 demonstrators chanted anti-U.S. slogans as it pelted the building with rocks.

    The protests ended peacefully, residents said, but most shops remained shut in Farah City.

    The U.S. airstrikes hit villages in Bala Boluk district, Farah province during a battle on Monday night and Tuesday, with the full extent of the casualties only coming to light late on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The Red Cross said it had seen dozens of dead bodies and provincial officials said more than 100 civilians could be dead. Those higher figures, if confirmed, would make it the deadliest incident for civilians since the Taliban were toppled in 2001.


  4. Nine killed is US missile strike in Pakistan

    By Associated Press

    Saturday, 9 May 2009

    Nine people were killed in a suspected US missile strike on a militant stronghold near the Afghan border today, Pakistani officials said.

    And doctors rushed to treat an influx of wounded civilians as thousands of troops backed by bomb-dropping warplanes sought to purge Taliban militants from a north-western valley.

    It was not immediately clear who the victims of the suspected US strike were.

    Pakistan’s leaders, encouraged by the US, launched a full-scale offensive in the Swat Valley this week to halt the spread of Taliban control in districts within 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad.

    But the fighting has caused hundreds of thousands of terrified residents to flee, adding a humanitarian emergency to the nuclear-armed nation’s security, economic and political problems.

    Witness accounts indicated that scores of civilians have already been killed or injured in the escalating clashes in Swat and the neighbouring Buner and Lower Dir districts.

    Today, medics at the hospital in Swat’s main town, Mingora, were at full stretch to deal with dozens of residents caught up in the fighting.

    Riaz Khan, a 36-year-old schoolteacher, his wife and two daughters occupied four of the beds, the shrapnel wounds on their arms and legs covered by bandages.

    Mr Khan said his other two daughters were killed three days earlier when a mortar shell hit their home near Mingora.

    “We buried our daughters on Thursday when the army relaxed the curfew,” he told an Associated Press reporter. “We reached the hospital only with great difficulty.”

    Nisar Khan, one of only three doctors left at the hospital, said there were about 25 war-wounded among the 100 patients.

    The unidentified bodies of three women and a man apparently killed in the fighting were also being kept there, even though the hospital had no morgue, he said.


  5. Swat offensive ‘to last months’

    Pakistan: The military offensive to expel the Taliban from the Swat Valley could take another two months to complete and troops may have to stay for a year to prevent militants from retaking control.

    The armed forces have secured control over several key towns during the month-old campaign in the volatile north-western region, but the fighting has uprooted some 3 million people from their homes and triggered a series of suspected reprisal attacks elsewhere in the country.


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