'How can the hi-tech US military accidentally bomb its Afghan allies with such frequency?'
The friendly-fire incident occurred in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province late on Friday afternoon with the US military killing up to 16 Afghan policemen while they were clearing Taliban militants from a village, a police spokesman told AFP.
Along with promises to investigate this incident the US military also expressed deep condolences to the families.
RT: Not that long ago US Senator and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, said the US is losing in Afghanistan. Would you agree with him?
Michael Maloof: I think so. It really reflects the fact that we don’t have a strategy, even though we’ve been there going on the 16th year, and it has been strictly military. We’ve pulled troops back, we increased them, then we pulled them back, now we are going to increase them again. When we had them up to 100,000, it didn’t make any difference anyway. At one time we had the Taliban defeated in Afghanistan. Now the decision by the Trump administration is to send in more troops, but what would be the outcome? Clearly, that is not going to be the answer. And unfortunately, the Trump administration doesn’t have geostrategic thinkers looking at this with a very critical eye. It is my view we need to bring in the countries surrounding Afghanistan that have a vested interest in Afghanistan’s future, to sit down at the table and work this thing out once and for all. I am talking about members of the SCO, for example. Every participant in Afghanistan right now is somehow affiliated with the SCO: China, Russia, Pakistan, even Turkey can bring in NATO participation on this kind of thing. But we have to also bring in India and Pakistan, as I said earlier. All these countries have a very vested interest in the future of Afghanistan and why that has not happened is beyond me. Yet it still remains a US war. And that has got to change.
I have spoken to individuals who are very familiar with the battle scene and they say: ‘You are right, military is not the answer, the military solution is not the answer.’ But, we don’t know that the US wants to do. They are not going to find out because we haven’t enunciated a strategy in 16 years. And that is why I believe that those countries that surround Afghanistan need to take the initiative finally and do something about it. If that means bringing in their own peacekeeping forces or working with the Afghan government to bring in more representation, so be it. At least, we will have other countries that are engaged and can deal with the future of Afghanistan. Right now, however, what is going on is not working and it is very unfortunate what happened with this latest development of the bombing of these police officers. It is just going to go on and on. With that increase in bombing it really reflects the fact that we don’t have the troops there, we are taking the word of the Afghans and things shift on the battlefield very rapidly. And clearly we continue to get all these reports followed by all of these investigations, and what is the result? It is the same thing over and over again, and it has got to change.
RT: The US air war in Afghanistan has significantly increased recently. Does this not increase the risk of incidents like we saw today? Is that why we are seeing more innocent people killed?
MM: When you’re bombing from on high or sending in drones, they are inevitably going to be some civilian casualties involved because it's not as precise as having people on the ground. If you’re going to take the military approach, that’s what you need – you need people on the ground that can guide the forces in the air to be accurate. We don’t have that, and given the number of US troops that are in highly remote areas, they are sparsely sprinkled around - unlike the way they were before - and their primary goal now is to try to contain and secure Kabul, the capital, which itself is continuously under attack, whether it’s by the Taliban or even ISIS (Islamic State). And so, it’s clear to me, there needs to be a new direction, a new strategy that needs to be undertaken, because what is happening right now is just not working.
‘Afghani people fed up’
RT: Do you think today's incident will be followed by a strong reaction from Afghanistan?
Abdel Bari Atwan, writer and commentator: Yes, definitely. They would be appalled by the so-called friendly-fire which has been repeated literally every day, Afghani soldiers were killed by American airstrikes or by missiles. I believe those people are definitely fed up with these kinds of incidents because it does embarrass them in the eyes of the Afghani people. And it shows that they are not capable of protecting even the soldiers. Definitely, this incident will stir a lot of anger among the Afghani leadership, the Afghani military leadership and also among the families of the victims who have been massacred by this American incident.
RT: Is there somehow blame that lies on Afghan part? Does that somehow reduce the responsibility of the US forces?
ABA: No, definitely. It wouldn’t make any difference. The Americans should be aware of those people. They are not part of Taliban, they are not wearing a Taliban uniform or clothes. And they should have the correct information on the ground. They have their own surveillance devices. They have their own people on the ground. A superpower like this should not make such a mistake, which will have huge negative repercussion among the Afghani leadership or among the Afghani people. Definitely, these kind of attacks or massacres actually play to the hands of Taliban. It does strengthen the Taliban position. It makes many people join them and also it will make their recruitment process much easier…
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.