Thursday, November 6, 2008

The civilian toll continues in Afghanistan

Another wedding party, this one in Kandahar province, has been mistakenly hit by a U.S. air strike, resulting in 40 deaths, the BBC reports. Hamid Karzai is quoted as saying that his "first demand" on the Obama administration after it takes office will be to end civilian casualties.


Jake Liscow said...

I feel like there is (scary?) optimism from the "terrorist" world regarding the Obama presidency. I can't tell if they sincerely think that his policy will result in a better, more peaceful relationship between the US and the world, or if they think they can trick him into being soft on terrorism so they can carry out their agenda US-interference free. I guess that's why the government doesn't pay me.

LFC said...

As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I don't think scaling back on air strikes equals being "soft on terrorism" (not that you were suggesting this, but just to be clear). The more civilian casualties, the easier it is for the Taliban to get recruits. Indeed, the Taliban are probably trying to *provoke* such strikes, realizing that they benefit from them.

The world's positive reaction to Obama has mostly to do, I think, with the entrenched, and largely accurate, perception that the Bush admin has not been interested in listening to 'world opinion' or that of other governments, and the hope/expectation that Obama will be different in this respect. I don't expect the Obama admin to pursue policies that could be called 'soft' on terrorism, but it will be interesting to see whether or to what extent there will be a rhetorical and/or substantive re-framing of the 'war on terror'. The WashPost recently had an article about the weaknesses that have appeared in the system set up to deal with terrorist financing -- I only glanced at the story, but I seem to recall it said that the European Ct of Justice recently ruled that some of these financial controls violate EU privacy protections. This part of the so-called war on terror is as important, if not more important, than the military part, and will present a clear challenge to the incoming administration.