The Taliban's latest evil

You know a group is a cancer on society when they murder international aid workers.

Ten members of a foreign medical team — including six Americans and three women, all doctors and technicians — were shot to death on Thursday in a remote corner of the Hindu Kush in northern Afghanistan, officials confirmed Saturday.

The Taliban has a good PR apparatus, especially when civilians are killed by ISAF, but the fact remains that the Taliban is killing two out of every three civilians, according to the UN.  If we had better info ops, we’d be using this information against the militant Islamists.  General Petraeus is tightening the rules of engagement to further prevent the loss of civilian life, but at the same time, he’s letting his soldiers on the ground make the decisions.

In his directive, Petraeus tried to reassure troops of their basic right to self-defense. With a nod to the inconsistencies, he forbade lower-level officers from making his guidance stricter “without my approval,” adding, “We must give our troopers the confidence to take all necessary actions when it matters most while understanding the strategic consequences of civilian casualties.” In other words, commanding officers should not make their soldiers feel too cautious about defending themselves when necessary. And, in the event they are at risk of being overrun by enemy forces, they are allowed to forgo stringent civilian-oriented protocols to defend themselves.


General Petraeus is not the only one hustling to shape perceptions. Last week the Taliban command released its own directive calling on fighters not to harm civilians, with the exception of those working for international forces or the Afghan government (“supporters of the infidels”), who are to be executed. “The Taliban must treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality to win over the hearts and minds of the people,” says the document, which appears to be in response to an aggressive NATO campaign to publicize how the Taliban is now responsible for most Afghan civilian deaths. But it’s not quite working. At least 43 Afghan civilians have been killed by the militants since the 69-page code of conduct was released, according to NATO, mostly from roadside and suicide bombs, including a Monday blast in Kandahar that left five children dead.

The Taliban justify the killing of Afghan civilians as mubah, which is a convenient excuse for their barbarity.  If there’s daylight between the Taliban and al Qaeda, I’m not seeing it.  Condolescences to Dr. Little, his team and their families.  They were just trying to assist poor Afghans with medical treatment.