January 16, 2010

POWER WATCH: THE FOG OF WAR

According to Der Spiegel, based on the Eyes Only report by Nato, the bombings of Kunduz that killed somewhere between 100 to 140 people were based on one Oberst Klein's, now, how shall we carefully phrase this? Somewhat inaccurate descriptions? Outright lies? Retarded idiocy? For those who can speak German, here it is, make up your own mind...
Bei dem Bombardement auf die von Taliban entführten Tanklaster am 4. September 2009 waren nach Regierungsangaben 99 Menschen umgekommen, darunter 30 Zivilisten. Andere Quellen schätzen die Zahl der Toten und der Zivilisten unter ihnen noch weit höher ein. Vor dem Angriff hatten die von Bundeswehroberst Klein angeforderten US-Piloten mehrfach Bedenken geäußert und nachgefragt, ob tatsächlich eine "akute Bedrohung" vorliege. Daraufhin ließ der deutsche Oberst seinen Fliegerleitoffizier antworten: "Ja, diese Menschen stellen eine akute Bedrohung dar", die Aufständischen versuchten, das Benzin abzuzapfen, "danach werden sie sich neu formieren, und wir haben Erkenntnisse über laufende Operationen und darüber, dass sie vermutlich Camp Kunduz angreifen werden". In dem rund 500 Seiten starken Untersuchungsbericht, der bisher nur in Auszügen bekannt war und dem SPIEGEL vorliegt, korrigiert die Nato dagegen, dass es keine sicheren Erkenntnisse gegeben habe, "die auf einen geplanten Angriff der Taliban" gegen das deutsche Feldlager hinwiesen. Gegenüber den Nato-Ermittlern gab Klein zudem zu, dass er gezielt die Unwahrheit angegeben habe, um sich die amerikanische Luftunterstützung zu sichern. Dafür musste er den Eindruck erwecken, dass seine Soldaten Feindberührung hatten, also "troops in contact" waren, kurz: TIC. "Sein Problem sei gewesen, dass er gewusst hätte, dass es in Wirklichkeit keine TIC-Situation gab", heißt es in dem Protokoll von Kleins Befragung zusammenfassend. "Er war der Ansicht, dass er bei Meldung einer TIC-Situation die gewünschte Luftunterstützung bekommen werde."
So, in essence we have a German major willfully deceiving his American allies about the prospective danger of a situation, claiming that his own troops had enemy contact (which he now admits he only said to get the US planes in the air), and that there was immediate danger to the German base camp.

Now, I have been in the German army myself, and while I do believe that essentially every  decision made in a war zone (and make no mistake, boys and girls. Afghanistan is a war zone. Obviously, the German Lady Chancellor cannot say that, because it would cause all kinds of constitutional havoc in my country, first and foremost of all that we are not allowed to go to war and are only allowed "policing actions" and "defensive actions") has the possibility to turn into a clusterfuck of FUBAR proportions... this was an operation that was based on an outright lie committed by a C.O. A lie that resulted in at least 100 people dead (I always find it funny when they then claim, well, 30 of those were civilians. What? Did they count the tits and the little people, said, well, it's women and children, they gotta be civilians, we'll just count every man as a Taliban...).

I know what to call that. It's called the My Lai massacre.

It's the very definition of a war crime.

And considering that Oberst Klein did lie, let me repeat that, he lied in full knowledge of the facts, he has to be court-martialled. At the very least that, if not handed over to the Hague International Court for war crimes.

And again, while some asshole in a room made a decision, people died who shouldn't have. According to the report, the US fighter pilots requested numerous times clarification as to whether the danger was real and imminent. They are not to blame, even though they were the ones who had to pull the trigger. My heart goes out to them, because to be conned by your own C.O. or by the C.O. of your Allies into killing innocents... is the worst thing that can ever happen to a soldier, and to find this out after the fact must be a weight on their shoulders they will have to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Sure, some people will say, what do you know? You were not in that room, and maybe Oberst Klein was afraid and maybe... bullshit. When you're in the armed forces, when you are out on the front lines, you have to believe, have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ones who will give you the information that leads to a battle... are telling you the truth, or you cannot function.

A lie... invalidates all that, because the next time these boys are being sent out into battle, they will subconsciously have doubts about the truthiness of their superiors. That will make them slower to react, that will make them possibly misjudging a situation on the ground, that will cost lives.

A soldier needs to know. A soldier needs to trust. And in this case, I do hope that the truth will set those US boys free.