The Atlantic, August 10, 2010

The Deaths And Maiming Of Children

IEDs alone accounted for 29 per cent of all civilian deaths in the period, including 74 children, a 155 per cent increase in IED-related deaths of children in the same span in 2009

By Andrew Sullivan

Victims of Coalition forces' bombings
Asan Bibi, 9, (R) and her sister Salima,13, (L) stand in the hallway of Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. Both were burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. Three members of the family were killed in the incident. The family belongs to the Kuchi ethnic tribe, nomads living in tents out in the open desert whom are very vulnerable to a war they have little understanding of. The Taliban are now staging suicide attacks and IED blasts in densely populated areas to create a bigger impact as more of Afghan's war wounded hit the headlines (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.)

As we fight an unwinnable war in an ungovernable country, the enemy simply ratchets up the evil by targeting more and more innocent civilians, especially women and children. HuffPo's headline misleadingly suggests that US policy is behind the yearly increase in civilian fatalities but the UN report actually notes that casualties caused by the US and UK fell by 30 percent and by 64 percent in aerial bombing in one year, which strikes me as a real achievement for McChrystal. But then you see an image like that above (having scanned many of them I feel numb from the images of agony and despair) which was the result of a Coalition air-strike gone awry and you see the awful, horrible, gut-wrenching moral dilemma we are in. But the vast majority of child murders are by the Taliban:

Fatima victim of IED
Five-year-old Fatima is held by her mother Sabaro as her daughter recovers from an I.E.D attack where she was hit by shrapnel outside of Kandahar city along the airport road October 12, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.)

IEDs and suicide attacks killed 557 Afghans and injured 1,137 in the first six months of 2010. IEDs alone accounted for 29 per cent of all civilian deaths in the period, including 74 children, a 155 per cent increase in IED-related deaths of children in the same span in 2009... Analysis by UNAMA Human Rights Unit identified two critical developments that increased harm to civilians in the first six months of 2010 compared to 2009: AGEs [Anti-Government Elements] used a greater number of larger and more sophisticated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) throughout the country; and, the number of civilians assassinated and executed by AGEs rose by more than 95 per cent and included public executions of children.

I still favor withdrawal as soon as possible. I do not in any way discount the moral price. If I thought there was any way to win, my calculus might change. But I don't. And we're broke. And evil like this occurs tragically every day all over the world. The art of politics and warfare is the art of the possible within certain limits. We've reached them - and then some. It gives me no pleasure to say this, and my heart is torn. But politics is not the art of the heart in the end. It's the art of the mind.

(And, yes, this photograph is graphic and the Dish's policy has always been to show reality. These children were maimed by your and my tax dollars. We have no moral standing if we simply look away. A photograph of an innocent killed by the Taliban is after the jump.)

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