Civilian deaths in US wars

Updated: 2012-03-22 08:15

(China Daily)

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The mounting civilian death toll in Afghanistan and Iraq is a stigma on the way the United States has waged war in the two countries.

The vulnerability of civilians was brutally demonstrated on the morning of March 11, when 16 civilians, including women and children, were murdered in their homes in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

A lone US soldier, Sergeant Robert Bales, has been accused of the lethal rampage, which has understandably infuriated Afghan people and strained the already tense Afghan-US relations.

Washington owes the Afghan people an honest explanation of how their homes became killing zones.

As Washington is poised to gradually withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, there is no guarantee that the transition period leading up to the withdrawal will be a smooth one.

There is also no guarantee that the US will not leave Afghanistan in as big a mess as it did Iraq. The US pulled its troops out of Iraq in December, leaving the Gulf country in a quagmire of political instability and sectarian strife.

Tensions among political rivals have been on the rise, while bombings and killings happen on a daily basis. On March 20, which marked the ninth anniversary of the Iraq war, a torrent of violence and bombings ravaged 13 Iraqi cities and killed 44 people.

The US has unshirkable responsibilities to protect civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, and it should be held accountable for the loss of civilian life in the two countries, as those who have lost their lives are victims of the US strategy in the two countries.

The soaring civilian death count in Afghanistan and in Iraq has aroused widespread concern among the international community over US strategy in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Conservative estimates put the number of civilians who have lost their lives in Iraq at more than 100,000 since the US invasion in 2003. There is no single figure for the overall number of civilians killed by the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, but according to the latest report from the United Nations, 12,793 had been killed in the past six years.

Certainly people around the world are sickened by the ever-growing number of civilians who have been killed since the US launched its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of anti-terrorism.

One cannot help asking when will it end?

(China Daily 03/22/2012 page8)