11 maio, 2016
in “WIKIPEDIA” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AC-130
On the 3rd October 2015, a US Air Force heavily armed AC-130 blazed away against a Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. After 30 minutes of heavy fire, the aircraft was finally ordered to pull back. Forty two people were killed and more than thirty were injured.
I do not pretend that war is a clean or sterilised affair. Actually, I believe it to be very difficult, sometimes close to impossible, to predict, control and avoid any possible mishap, or the so-called collateral damages. War is violent, vicious and dangerous. Those who fight endure tremendous stress, constantly going through life or death situations; mistakes and accidents happen; and rage too.
What brings me back to this event is an article published by “The Washington Post“ on 29th April: Pentagon: 2015 Strike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan Was Not a War Crime. *
The piece essentially runs a description of the tragic events of that October night, but the main point is a press conference by the head of the US Central Command, Army General Joseph Votel who stated: “They [the military personnel] were trying to do the right thing. They were trying to support our Afghan partners,” said Votel. “Unfortunately, they made a wrong judgment in this particular case and ended up targeting this Doctors Without Borders facility.”
Accordingly, 16 service members were punished (??) with formal counselling or letters of reprimand.
And that is it. Case closed.
Wait! Half an hour of incessant firing, 42 dead and the punishment is the same you would give to some misbehaving primary school kids? Really? I think this goes without further comments.
It is also interesting that the Pentagon ran its own internal inquiry and came out with the definitive conclusion that there was NO war crime. Apparently no one in the media questioned the outcome.
It is even more interesting that when it comes to Russia’s Air Force conducting bombing operations in Syria, for example, the United States is quick to dub them unlawful warfare, other times, Washington demands international investigations into certain incidents or combats, but this time, there was no need for any international investigative commission and the war crimes charge was promptly and unilaterally dismissed.
I really do not believe that the unfortunate attack in Kunduz was a war crime. However, I cannot ignore another example of American exceptionalism: accusing everyone as they see fit and rejecting any kind of equivalent control of their actions by third parties.
The supreme irony is to listen to US Army spokesman in Iraq, Colonel Steve Warren, accusing Russia of using mostly dumb bombs, guided only by gravity and fins** and then watching an American dumb aircraft strafing a hospital for 30 minutes non-stop. That is exceptional, as they say. Exceptionally dumb, says me.
* “The Washington Post” at
** “The Washington Times” at