Yet More Airstrikes in Afghanistan

| Fri Sep. 4, 2009 12:10 PM EDT

Another NATO attack, this time on a pair of trucks hijacked by the Taliban, another public relations disaster:

The Taliban had stolen the trucks and were driving them across Char Dara district, an insurgent stronghold, when the vehicles got stuck on a bridge, officials and locals said.

....Local Afghan security forces alerted the international NATO-led command, known as the International Security Assistance Force, who then called in an airstrike. The bomb struck the tankers, causing a huge blast that immediately killed those in the vicinity and burned many others in the area, locals said.

The NATO-led command, in a statement, said it had "observed insurgent activity and assessed civilians were not in the area" before ordering the strike.

Unfortunately, it turned out the when the truck got stuck on the bridge, villagers flocked out to start siphoning fuel away.  So when the trucks were attacked and exploded, lots of villagers were killed along with lots of insurgents.

And our man Hamid Karzai?  Naturally he stepped right up and thundered that "targeting civilian men and women is not acceptable."  Thanks, Hamid.  That should help keep things calm.

More troops aren't likely to help with this sort of thing.  Maybe there was an Afghan screwup, maybe there was a NATO screwup, maybe no one screwed up and it's just impossible to ever be 100% sure that civilians aren't around.  So it's going to happen again.  And apparently, when it does, Karzai will make our position even worse and more dangerous than it already is by making the most inflammatory possible suggestion about how it happened.  Does this really sound like a country we should be sending more troops to?

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