‘Difference in Western media reports on NATO & Russian or Syrian ops propaganda of highest order’

An Afghan man carries the dead body of a child (C) following a NATO coalition airstrike on the outskirts of Kunduz on November 3, 2016. © Bashir Khan Safi
When the Western media reports on NATO bombings, it’s rare we hear about civilian casualties, as if they are non-existent, but in the case of alleged victims of Russian or Syrians operations, it’s headline news, says Michael Raddie, co-Editor of BSNews.

More than 30 civilians were killed and dozens injured in an airstrike during a joint Afghan-NATO operation against the Taliban in the city of Kanam in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province on Thursday.

NATO acknowledged in a statement that there had been fatalities, but only mentioned soldiers, not civilians. Meanwhile, the US State Department confirmed the attack was an Afghan airstrike.

RT: We heard State Department spokesman Mark Toner repeatedly saying this was an “Afghan-led” operation, without specifying what role the US might have had. What do you make of that response?

Michael Raddie: I suspect he was correct in terms of it was an Afghan operation, but it might not have been the Afghans coordinating it and directing US air fire. But it is almost 100 percent likely that it was US airplanes that struck the civilians. They tell us in the Western media that there were two US soldiers killed in the attack. But there were 30 Afghan civilians killed. We don’t hear about this. We may hear about this on page seven or page nine in paragraph five, but the Afghan civilians are the victims of this war, and it has been ongoing for so many years now. It is almost as if the West, the UK, and the US have forgotten about Afghanistan. There is so much stuff going on in the world that the carnage that the Afghan civilians suffer and the devastation that they have to live on there is almost just not existent to the Western audience.  

Historian Mark Curtis would refer to this people as ‘unpeople’ – they are not worthy of Western column inches, or Western air time, Western media air time, because they are victims of military aggression. Compare this, obviously, with the alleged Russian victims of military aggression in East Aleppo – what I would refer to and most Syrians would refer to as dead terrorists in eastern Aleppo… There is a huge difference in how the media reports this in the West. When it is British or American or NATO airplanes dropping bombs, then it is very rare that we hear about civilian casualties. But if it is Russians or Syrians, then we read about it in page one in the newspaper – it’s headline news. This is propaganda of the highest order.  

US not doing job of seeking political solutions in Afghanistan 

If the US really wanted to protect Afghan civilians, it would put its energy into political solutions rather than continuing the longest war in US history, says Medea Benjamin, cofounder of www.codepink.org.

RT: It was a joint US -Afghan operation. However, US officials are blaming it on the Afghan forces. What’s your take on that?

Medea Benjamin: I don’t think the Afghan forces can fly without the US support, whether or not it was an Afghan who was the pilot, there are the US planes, US maintained; the US provides logistical air support. So, I think we have to say that, at the very least, it’s share blaming for the killing of these civilians.

RT: NATO raised the subject of causalities during this operation, but only mentioned solders and nothing about civilians. Why do you think that is?

MB: It is terrible when any US soldiers are killed overseas, and it is important to mourn those losses. But it is also important to talk about the civilian casualties, and that is something that here in the US we almost never hear about. During these eight years of the Obama administration, the US has been bombing seven different countries, and it is very rare that we hear about any civilian causalities.

RT: We normally only receive such reports when a large number of civilians are killed in a one-off strike, but this is all happening on a daily basis. Do you think the US is doing all it can to protect civilians?

MB: If it really wanted to protect civilians, it would put its energy into political solutions instead of continuing the longest war in US history – now 15 years, and… this is on top of more decades of war for the poor Afghan people. Certainly, the US has been using its US military intervention and not doing the job of seeking political solutions, whether it is in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

RT: At the same time, Taliban is still in the area. How would you asses the US-Afghan operation there?

MB: The fact that the Taliban not only still exists, but controls vast parts of the country and seems to be getting stronger shows that military solutions are no solutions – they are not the answer. A long time ago there should have been a solution with the Taliban, but unfortunately it’s been hard to get to, not only because of intransigence on the part of some of the Taliban, but also because the US has continued its own bombardments. I think if we want to see in the next administration put an end to these never-ending wars post 9/11, there has got to be a very different attitude that does focus on looking for ways to resolve the conflicts not through military means.

RT: If confirmed, it would be another deadly US air strike in Kunduz.  Last year, a US airstrike hit a Doctors Without Borders’ hospital, killing 42 people. Is the Pentagon taking civilian safety seriously enough?

MB: The fact that we’re never able to convince our government or the Afghan government of the need for an independent investigation into that bombing of the hospital is an example of the continual attempts to hide what is going on, even though there are calls globally for more transparency and accountability. So unfortunately, neither the Afghan people, nor the American people are able to get a clear understanding of what the military forces in our control are doing.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.