Were Strikes Against Kunduz Hospital Revenge Attacks?


Photo: USAF / Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford

Posted, 2015-10-11  Exclusive content, Article by WN.com Correspondent Dallas Darling

Before U.S. forces bombed twice the Kunduz Hospital in Afghanistan, the Taliban shot down a US C-130 plane. Prior to striking the Abu Graib Infant Formula Production Plant in Iraq, Saddam Hussein attacked Israel with Scud missiles and paraded captured allied airmen on Iraqi TV. Ahead of U.S. forces targeting Amiriyah’s Air Raid Shelter in Iraq which was solely used to protect civilians, there were more U.S. casualties and Iran’s offer to mediate a cease fire. In addition, prior to destroying Sudan’s Al Shifa Pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, there were the U.S. Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. And while the targeting of Kabul’s Red Cross Complex in Afghanistan followed the 9/11 attacks; the bombings of the Palestinian Hotel in Baghdad, targeting of population centers in Tripoli, and downing Iran’s passenger plane over the Persian Gulf followed other American casualties and challenges to U.S. hegemony.


Prior to discussing the bombing of the Kunduz Hospital, U.S. revenge attacks against civilian population centers and humanitarian organization are not new. To be certain, there is a lengthy unholy litany of retaliating in order to not only gain satisfaction but indiscriminately hurt and punish in order to establishing a climate of psychological fear and intimidation. For example, in 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, before destroying the Abu Graib Infant Formula Production plant U.S. captured airmen were paraded and interviewed on Iraqi TV. Moreover, Scud missiles struck Israel killing 17 people. As allied casualties mounted, U.S. forces sent a clear message of revenge and retaliation when it destroyed the civilian air raid shelter in Amiriyah, Iraq, killing at least 408 people, mostly women and children. In all likelihood, the revenge attack was an attempt to anger Iraqis into more fighting, thwarting Iran’s mediation.

Following al-Qaeda’s deadly 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the Pentagon targeted a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, despite Sudan ordering the departure of Osama bin Laden in 1996. Along with killing 100 civilians, human rights groups claim 50,000 more died from a lack of baby milk and medicines, mainly children and elderly. After 9/11, at the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, the bombings of a Red Cross Complex in Kabul was likely another revenge attack to inflict harm on Afghanis, specifically since the second attack destroyed warehouses containing food and supplies for refugees. And just as the 2003 Palestinian Hotel attack against journalists avenged two suicide attacks in Israel, targeting Tripoli in 1986 and an Iranian passenger plane in 1988, both killing hundreds of civilians, was a pathological need to punish those thought responsible for the West Berlin discotheque bombing and a US frigate explosion.

The “fog of war” also always entails the “passions of war,” both of which can become overly fanatical, disguising true intentions or clouding more reasonable assessments and judgements. For instance, new reports revealed U.S. forces may have exceeded their authority in bombing twice the hospital in Kunduz.(1) Given the history of repeated revenge attacks against civilian population centers or humanitarian and journalistic organizations, it is plausible the war crime was committed by emotionally charged U.S. servicemen desiring to seek revenge for a military transport plane-killing 6 U.S. soldiers-that the Taliban shot down during the battle of Kunduz. In effect, the revenge attack also appears to be a warning shot not only to emboldened Taliban insurgents, which briefly seized the city of Kunduz, but a forewarning to locals and outsiders not to support the insurgents. Otherwise, they too might be targeted and slaughtered, as were those in the hospital.

Although some societies and civilizations reject the rationalization and justified use of revenge attacks against civilians and humanitarian organizations, it is evident that at certain times U.S. officials and military personnel have expected, even demanded revenge attacks as part of a code of loyalty and honor. Seeing that the repeated histories and endless cycles of revenge attacks against civilians and humanitarian groups seldom accomplishes their goals, the U.S. Pentagon and political leaders might want to consider seeking a more reasonable, emotionally controlled, and peacefully sustainable approach.

Source: Dallas Darling



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