Doctors Without Borders is a highly respected medical organization that is often first on the ground when a disaster strikes. The group works without a political agenda to alleviate pain and suffering among some of the world's poorest and most needy individuals. Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for its heroic work.
I feel some ownership in Doctors Without Borders. My first donation was in December of 2004 in the aftermath of the horrific earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Shortly after that I began donating a small amount each month through a draft to my checking account, a practice that has now continued for over a decade.
So, to say that I am pissed about what occurred in Afghanistan last weekend would be a gross understatement.
Last Saturday a US Special Forces unit stationed in Afghanistan delivered a prolonged air strike upon a Doctors Without Borders humanitarian hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing twenty-two patients and medical personnel and leaving others wounded. Now that venerable charitable organization has announced that it is pulling out of the area.
After all the dust settled, a couple of significant facts came to light regarding the aerial bombing that devastated the international aid facility. First, Doctors Without Borders said that it had filed the coordinates of the hospital with American forces prior to the attack. Second, the aid organization said that it notified representatives of the American government multiple times during the a bombardment that they were striking a hospital, but the bombing continued unabated - for at least half-an-hour.
As seems to always be the case with controversial military actions, multiple stories as to the cause of the action are being floated. The initial account was that American troops were under a direct military threat from people inside of, or in the vicinity of, the hospital. Now, the new version is that the United States troops were not in harm's way, but were instead responding to a request from the Afghan army to bomb the site. It now appears that there were no Taliban fighters anywhere in the vicinity of the medical facility and no Americans were under any direct threat at the time of the attack.
This was a shameful incident that needs to be fully investigated by a neutral party - with the findings made public.
US direct involvement in the Afghanistan supposedly ended nine months ago, yet we are still there and remain mired in a geopolitical mess that has little hope of resolution - and almost no hope of any outcome that would be of a sustained benefit the Afghan people.
All we seem to be doing is buying and expending armaments - and the only true beneficiaries of that process are the arms' manufacturers and merchants - and the American politicians who suck up contributions from the weapons' industry. The game is about continuing the fight at whatever cost. It is not - and never has been - about winning.
Doctors Without Borders is not the enemy. The enemies are those who relentlessly beat the drums of war.