Villagers in Wech Baghtu, Kandahar say 37 people have died, including 23 children and 10 women after planes flattened houses shortly after US troops had fought Taliban insurgents nearby on Monday afternoon. Photo: EPA/UK Telegraph
While messages of congratulations to President-elect Obama flowed in from heads of state from around the world, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had something somewhat less festive to say:
We cannot win the fight against terrorism with air strikes. This is my first demand of the new president of the United States to put an end to civilian casualties.
Karzai was responding to the latest U.S. military outrage in Afghanistan, an airstrike on a wedding party in southern Kandahar province on Monday that killed mainly women and children. Reports of the death toll range from 37 to 40, but there is no doubt that it happened.
While Obama is believed by many to be a force for peace in the world he made it clear during his election campaign that he will escalate the war in Afghanistan, while withdrawing US forces from Iraq. Obama has also pledged to continue the Bush policy of hot pursuit of insurgents into Pakistan.
The defense industry, which has benefited from a 70% increase in military spending since 2000, appears confident that Obama will keep is promise to build America’s military forces. Obama’s platform says
Obama and Biden will complete the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines. They will also invest in 21st century missions like counterinsurgency by building up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, foreign language training and other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply.
I’ve lost count of the number of Afghan wedding parties that have been bombed out by the Americans. Unless Obama can be convinced to shrink his Empire, marriage will continue to be a risky affair in Afghanistan and the new President’s name will acquire a new spelling: O-BOMB-A.