Last week, an airstrike by U.S. fighter jets in Afghanistan killed over 70 people, mostly civilians. Taliban militants stole two tanker trucks of fuel and nearby villagers gathered to siphon off gas. Then the U.S. fighter jets attacked.
When I first heard of this, I felt that it was sad but it’s not that unusual. Civilian collateral damage has been going on ever since the war first started in Afghanistan, and this is just the latest (and probably not the last) in a long string of mistakes. However, this latest incident is turning out to be a major dispute for NATO.
It seems German forces were the ones who ordered the attack and now both the both German and U.S. officials are trying to deflect blame to each other. The United States is blaming Germany for ordering the attack, while the Germans say that a pilot can refuse an order to drop the bomb if he sees that there are civilians in the area.
In Singapore, we call this ‘taiji’. Each party pushing the blame to the other and standing by their version of events. Frankly I find this taiji kind of stupid. Who cares if the Americans or German forces are to blame? They are both from NATO, so you are both guilty.
And that’s my view, a Singaporean. So guess what the views of Afghans will be? NATO should worry less about who is to blame and more about how to prevent this from happening again.