OK, that's a misleading title, I admit. The killing of 23 Afghan civilians was done in Afghanistan, of course, when they were rocketed from a helicopter in February this year. Yet a key role in the identifying of the target, three vehicles driving along some dusty road not near any American troops, was done by some drone operators sitting in a facility in Nevada; they watched the three cars for three hours before directing the attack.
Once the extent of the mistake became clear there was a serious investigation, and four American officers were reprimanded. The whole story is summed up in the New York Times, here. I recommend reading it.
As I never tire of saying, I'm in favor of the American war in Afghanistan. It's a just war, being waged mostly with just means, and when mistakes are inevitably made, the Americans seem to be doing their best to learn from them and not repeat them. Still, reading the report does raise a number of points.
1. The deaths of 23 Afghan civilians is truly tragic. No ifs and buts.
2. It is now commonplace for deaths in combat zones to be the result of actions taken by well-fed, well-clothed professionals sitting in air-conditioned facilities literally half way around the world from the events. These professionals have probably never heard shots fired in anger, if they've heard shots fired at all; they are in no personal danger at any time, cannot plead to have operated under the stress of battle conditions nor emotional turmoil caused by, say, violence threatening their families. Nor do they have any personal experience of the land they're attacking: it's appearance, smells and sounds, nor, bizarre as it ought to sound but probably no longer does, any personal encounters with any of the people of the nation their actions are impacting upon.
3. The investigation seems to have been done entirely by military investigatory outfits. No so-called "independent investigations" were involved.
4. The identity of the investigators and their institutional proximity to the targets of the investigation raise no eyebrows. No-one is demanding that civilians investigate the military, and no-one's dreaming of bring in the United Nations, or any other international outfit.
5. No-one assumes that if civilians died, it must be that civilians were intended to die.
6. All of this in spite of the fact that the killings apparently took place in a sparsely populated rural area, and even according to the report, there were indications that not all was well, and that women and children might have been present, even before the attack; the attack happened some seven miles from the nearest American ground forces, if I'm reading the story correctly.
One of the reasons I read the entire 575-page Goldstone report, as well as many other shorter documents, was to understand how Israel's enemies operate. The modes of thought and speech they routinely use against Israel are totally lacking in this report: not surprising, of course, but important to keep in mind. There are various wars going on these days, but Israel is judged by uniquely harsh and negative standards.