What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The September 4 Kunduz air strike, no show of force

On September 4 this year, two hijacked fuel tankers were bombed in Kunduz province at German request, with a significant number of civilian casualties. Since then, the ramifications reached quite far. I am not detailing those. I am merely noting that what eventually, by now, transpired about this case was my instinct as well, as I wrote about it for Atlantic-Community.org back in September.
"A stated purpose of bombing the stolen fuel tankers was to deny insurgents the opportunity to use them in an attack on the German base in Kunduz. For this, damaging the vehicles was required. But, for example, why not have rather a show-of-force flown over the target first, to clear the area of people? How is word from an informer, who reportedly needed to give a matching description of the scene to let the tactical operations center ascertain his presence near the site, reliable enough to prefer straight-off dropping a bomb in the middle of a very large group of people?"

Now it is clear, from the video of the air strike obtained by Bild, that there was a question addressed to the TOC (the officer there, "Red Baron 20") about the need for a show-of-force to scare people off the target. Because the targets were the tankers, not the people, as we are not enemy-centric, right? Unfortunately, the answer on this occasion was negative. It was presumed that all the people at the scene, around the tankers, were almost certainly insurgents.
There really is no vindication in this development for me. What I said was just the obvious - it was obvious to me on the basis of attentive monitoring of the situation in Afghanistan. And all other attentive observers could have offered the same sort of insight: the Taliban are generally not so stupid as to offer a mass congregation of theirs to be easily bombed, not even at night. If they would be, the neo-Taliban insurgency would have been a more simple story. It could very well be over by now. In fact, that must have played into why the F-15 pilot felt it was necessary to ask about the need to fly a show of force.
Anyway, here is the video, embedded:


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