Wednesday, January 13, 2010


The New York Times has a report in today's paper by Dexter Filkins on the Afghan protests against combined U.S./Afghan military raids conducted several nights before. Afghan police apparently fired on the demonstrators and eight fell dead.

Writes Dexter Filkins:

"When the riot was over, at least eight protesters were dead and about a dozen wounded, shot by Afghan intelligence officers. Much of the town of Garmsir blamed the Americans.

"The episode, which American officers said they were investigating, highlighted how easily suspicions and resentment can flare out of control in an area as contested as the Helmand River Valley."

Juan Cole in his post today in Informed Comment places blame on the Taliban for inciting the villagers to near riot. Writes Juan Cole:

"Similar controversies over Qur'an desecration provoked anti-American rallies by the Muqtada al-Sadr group in Iraq some years ago. This cycle, of charges of foreign blasphemy, big rallies to protest it, and then the shooting of protesters, is a deliberate ploy by the Taliban to turn locals against NATO and the Afghan army."

I don't disagree with Juan Cole on the influence of the Taliban to stir up hornets nests against the American military. But I also feel that the American practice of conducting raids in the middle of the night which entail storming into homes of suspects, rousing the whole family, scaring the children, wrecking furniture and personal belongings, must of necessity lead to resentment and feelings of being humiliated.

Furthermore, many Afghans see American raids at 2 AM as violating the sanctity of their homes and especially offending their wives and women. This is no small matter in Afghan or Muslim society.

Dexter Filkins describes the events and aftermath of the raid:

"The protest began when several thousand Afghans gathered in the central bazaar in Garmsir, after reports of abuse by American servicemen during a raid at a nearby village two nights before. Local officials said the protest was organized by the Taliban’s shadow governor for Garmsir, Mullah Mohammed Naim.

"“The Taliban were provoking the people,” Kamal Khan, Helmand Province’s deputy police chief, said in a telephone interview. “They were telling the people that the Americans and their Afghan partners are killing innocent people, bombing their homes and destroying their mosques and also blaspheming their religion and culture.

"“The Taliban were telling the people, ‘This is jihad; you should sacrifice yourselves.’ ”

"No witnesses to the disputed raid could be located; it took place Sunday night in the village of Darweshan. American officers in Kabul said that Afghan soldiers conducted a nighttime operation in the village, with the Americans in support. But they said that no shots had been fired and that no one had engaged in any inappropriate conduct."

I thought Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Gen. David Petraeus were aware of the severe and lasting damage to U.S. interests that raids at 2 AM can cause. Consider how you would feel if foreign troops banged on your front door at that hour and forced their way into your home, saying that they were searching for weapons or other contraband. How would your children react?

That's why I want to see Pres. Obama order an immediate end to U.S. forces entering anyone's home after 9 PM.

1 comment:

  1. I concur whole heartedly on this issue.