Sunday, August 08, 2010

Killing More Afghan Civilians, A Success For The West

What's the best way to save Afghan civilians? By killing them apparently.

Where a recent Globe and Mail article written by Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez hails the attempt by Western forces to reduce civilian deaths in Afghanistan, labelling it a success, the numbers indicate that we're actually killing more civilians.

The article begins with the somewhat questionable paragraph:

Civilian war deaths in the first seven months of 2010 rose by 6 per cent over the same period last year, Afghanistan's human rights commission said Sunday. The modest increase suggested that U.S. and NATO efforts to hold down civilian casualties were having some success.
In reading this one may wonder how an increase in civilian deaths may suggest a success for Western forces. The only possible explanation would be that the increase in civilian deaths is a result of a drastic rise in insurgent killings, however the article clearly shows this is not the case. The proportion of insurgent and Western forces' civilan deaths have remained almost the same from 2009, the only difference is both are killing more.

The article states that in the first seven months of 2010:
The Taliban and their allies were responsible for 68 per cent of the at least 1,325 civilian deaths recorded by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the organization said in a report. Twenty-three per cent were ascribed to NATO or Afghan government forces.
Compared to 2009:
In the first seven months of 2009, 1,252 civilians were killed — 67 per cent of them by insurgents and 23 per cent by government-allied forces, the group said.
These numbers translate into 304 civilians killed by western forces in 2010, compared to 287 in 2009.

So yes, Vogt, Faiez, and the Globe, Western forces are enjoying a success in their attempts to reduce deaths of civilians, if by success you mean killing more of them.

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