Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dead Children at War

A team of official Afghan investigators has determined that NATO forces killed eight children last week in the Narang district, after NATO officials claimed they had killed only insurgents. As I never tire of saying, such tragedies are inevitable at wartime, warring powers need to do their best not to make such mistakes, but the deaths of innocents are not the single, critical component of the justness of a war.

The item also contains some UN figures on civilian deaths in Afghanistan between January and October 2009 - i.e not including the deaths of those children who were killed in December:
The latest figures released by the United Nations show that 2,021 civilian died during clashes in the first 10 months of this year, up from 1,838 for the same period last year. Taliban insurgents were blamed for 68 percent of the deaths this year — three times more than NATO forces, according to the U.N. (Actually, 68% is twice as many, not thrice- ed)
Since the article helpfully doesn't quite do the maths, I'll do it for them. 32% of 2,021 is 646.72 dead civilians, killed by NATO forces in Afghanistan by the end of October this year, or 65 a month, or two a day. Afghanistan is mostly a rural place, not densely populated.

It looks to me, reading the UN numbers, as if NATO killed about the same number of civilians in Afghanistan this year as Israel did in Gaza, though the Gaza numbers may be a bit higher or lower depending on whom you ask. But the magnitude is similar.

The Solidarity March For Afghanistan will be setting out soon, I expect. Mondoweiss will have the details.


Barry Meislin said...

Could you kindly clarify what the number of dead children or women or men in...wherever...has to do with the struggle to destroy Israel?

If anything, such arguments must be ignored, downplayed, denied.

If anything, such arguments are regarded as irritating Zionist-inspired distractions from the real problem at hand (i.e., Israel's destruction).

Which is why the progressives amongst us can only ignore what's going on around them, can only ignore what's been happening in Sudan (or blame it on the Zionists), must regard the Iranian regime as the world's last best hope and must loathe those Iranian demonstrators who seek the downfall of that source of hope.

Or at least, downplay what's going on there. (Still, if the Iranian regime can only hang on just a bit longer and pull it off!...)

Leave the righteous indignation to the haters of Israel as they continue to tie themselves up in knots.

Yaacov said...

You have a cheery outlook on life, don't you Barry? :~)

Anonymous said...

here's my personal always-keep-in-mind-text
whenever I read UN statistics on casualties. If anybody under 18 who is not wearing a uniform qualifies as civilian or even as child then the first question one should ask before imbibing any of these statistics how civilians were defined. If the UN applies the same criteria as the UNRWA does then my concept of when a youngster starts becoming a man and a potential fighter are completely wrong. BTW even by German marriage laws a 16 year old may gain permission to marry but continues to be a child in UN-Statistics?

Anonymous said...

Yaakov, it looks like your math hinges on the notion that civilians were killed either by Taliban or NATO forces. The article is clearly implying that some civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers, etc.

That's why it says the Taliban killed three times more civilians than did NATO.

Anonymous said...

The UN itself has contrasting definitions:

Q - What does the UN mean by "youth," and how does this definition differ from that given to children?

A- The United Nations, for statistical purposes, defines ‘youth’, as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by Member States. This definition was made during preparations for the International Youth Year (1985), and endorsed by the General Assembly (see A/36/215 and resolution 36/28, 1981). All United Nations statistics on youth are based on this definition, as illustrated by the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the United Nations system on demography, education, employment and health.

By that definition, therefore, children are those persons under the age of 14. It is, however, worth noting that Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines ‘children’ as persons up to the age of 18. This was intentional, as it was hoped that the Convention would provide protection and rights to as large an age-group as possible and because there was no similar United Nations Convention on the Rights of Youth.

Which also explains why Ma'an was calling the 20 somethings killed in Gaza a few days ago 'youths'. As long as it makes Israel sound bad, it doesn't need to reflect reality does it?

This Is Hell said...

When I lived in West Africa, 'children' as young as 13 or 14 were recruited to lug an AK-47 and to kill people or rape them. The west's notion of what a 'child' is is more along the lines of the rights we prohibit 'children' such as driving, drinking, smoking, entering into contracts, etc.