By Mike Small
As of December 2010 there had been a total of 348 British Forces killed in Afghanistan, whilst 3,115 UK personnel were evacuated from Afghanistan on medical grounds. It’s estimated that over 2000 civilians died in 2010 alone and that nearly 7,000 have died since 2006. Wikileaks has exposed a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents. The question that none of our political leaders can answer convincingly is, why?
Saturday was Martin Luther King’s birthday (January 15, 1929 Atlanta, Georgia) and today is the day when Eisenhower gave his farewell speech in which he warned of a ‘military-industrial complex’ for the first time (17 January 1961) see full text here. Today is also the anniversary of the first Gulf War.
The British State is still at war in two countries where Scottish soldiers are committed and facing imminent death for dubious reason. We are still the sole location for WMD in the UK and atrocities are done in our name. As we wonder at the awfulness of Sarah Palins far-right convulsion the seeming impotence of Obama, and the development of the instruments of war and torture here is the inspirational MLK on war and empires of the mind:
John McTernan – Scotsman columnist and Labour spin-doctor – has described in correspondence the civilian death toll caused by coalition forces in Iraq as: “Not a great deal actually.” We are exploring the actual numbers to put this to New Labour supporters of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Over the next few weeks we’ll be exploring and publishing the facts. Fact-checkers, references and comments on Britains wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are welcome.
The ‘coalition of the willing’ famously refused to count civilian deaths. In place of such action the Iraq Body Count (IBC) database is an ongoing human-security project that seeks to record “all civilian deaths in Iraq caused by military actions perpetrated by the coalition forces and by military or paramilitary responses to them” since coalition forces began their assault on 20 March 2003. More straightforwardly, IBC measures civilian deaths caused by the war.
In 2008 the total was calculated as somewhere between 43,937 and 48,783. It’s now estimated to be between 99,374 and 108,492. A regularly updated spreadsheet tabulates the events one by one with time and geographical information indicating also which weapon caused the death (gunfire, roadside bomb, explosives, among others). As presented, the database allows for further computations, such as geographical distribution of deaths over time as well as their breakdown by cause.
On civilian deaths in Afghanistan the Guardian reports:
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan are getting worse, according to the latest statistics from the United Nations: the Taliban’s increasing use of homemade bombs and political assassinations has been responsible for a 31% increase in the number of civilians who killed or injured in fighting in Afghanistan this year so far.
And, even as the number of child casualities has soared by 55%, strict rules on the use of airpower by Nato troops has led to a 30% drop in the number of deaths and injuries caused by foreign forces in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period in 2009.
The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) publishes statistics on civilian casualties, splitting them into deaths caused by government/military forces, anti-government forces and so on. They published a report earlier this year which provided some details. Others have been released in press briefings. So the latest figures we have, reported by IRIN, show that over 2000 civilians have died this year so far (2010).
Nearly 7,000 have died since 2006.