In War That Didn’t End, UN Finds Afghan Civilian Deaths Up 25% Over Previous Year

Washington has tried its very best to sweep the war in Afghanistan under the rug. Most of the press dutifully went along with the fiction of declaring the war to have ended in December. The military joined in, trying to classify virtually all information coming out of Afghanistan. That classification move has been backtracked somewhat, but we still haven’t seen a revised quarterly report from SIGAR with the newly released data.

For those who care about the truth of what is really taking place in Afghanistan as a result of the misguided US action, it is a good thing that Washington cannot stifle information flowing out of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. UNAMA has been tracking civilian casualties in Afghanistan since 2009, and their latest report was released today (press release is here and full report in pdf form is here). The news is not good at all. Deaths jumped by 25% from 2013, going from 2969 to 3699. Injuries also showed a sharp increase, from 5668 to 6849. These numbers simply do not comport with the rosy statements coming out of the Pentagon on what our troops in Afghanistan “accomplished”, how the Taliban are being defeated and how the ANSF are now “hugely capable”. Civilian casualties in Afghanistan have shown a relentless rise since the UN started collecting data:

UNAMA Civilian casualties 2014

It is harder to find data for the years leading up to 2009, but here is one report (pdf) in tabular form from Costs of War:

costs of war afghanistan 2001-2010

The figures from this report include only a subset of the types of death tracked by UN, accounting for the slight discrepancy in the years of overlapping data.

US military operations and continued presence in Afghanistan has been a disaster for civilians there. The insurgency which has arisen in response to the US presence is responsible for most of the casualties, but it is hard to see how these numbers would be as high if the US had simply left after deposing the Taliban in the first few weeks of the operation.

In addition to tracking casualties, the UN collects information on war crimes. Units of the Afghan Local Police are notorious in this regard (ALP most often are comprised of private militias that have been given a brief bit of training by US death squad trainers from JSOC and/or CIA). From the report:

For example, on 11 July, an ALP member shot and killed a local shopkeeper after an argument over ice. On 7 July, an ALP commander and four of his men assaulted (and injured) four civilians in Jorum district, Badakhshan province, during a wedding party. The reason for the beating was reportedly that the family had failed to provide food to the ALP as demanded.

UNAMA documented multiple examples of ALP intimidating and ordering the displacement of families from their communities. For example, on 12 October, ALP forcibly displaced 150-200 families from Khak-e-Safed district, Farah province. The ALP had warned the local population not to allow the Taliban to launch attacks from the village. The Taliban had also threatened the local population not to cooperate with the ALP. After Taliban fighters established positions in the area, the ALP ordered the 150-200 families to leave the area, resulting in displacement of an entire village, mainly to Farah city.

I would imagine that someone in Washington is busy today trying to find a way to prevent UNAMA from releasing its next report.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

6 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    The mainstream media is currently running headlines about how villages, cities and even whole countries are ‘stricken with grief’ etc about some “terrorist” killings, but these same media have never reported such grief-stricken populaces with the estimated 1.4 million Iraqi deaths from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” nor all the deaths from “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan.

  2. Don Bacon says:

    The Pentagon is (falsely) reporting on the wonderful attributes of the Afghan Army but COIN success is measured quite differently.
    .
    First, support of an affective government is essential. But in fact the US has never done so in Afghanistan, it has instead demonstrated enmity toward the Afghan government and in fact acted as the government. Example: Night raids with imprisonment and assassinations despite Afghan government disapproval
    FM 3-24 COIN*
    Legitimacy Is the Main Objective
    1-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government.
    .
    And surely COIN isn’t successful when violence is increasing.
    FM 3-24 COIN*
    5-93. The two most common types of assessment measures are measures of effectiveness (MOEs) and measures of performance (MOPs).
    .
    Table 5-7. Example progress indicators
    * Acts of violence
    * Dislocated civilians
    * Human movement and religious attendance
    * Presence/activity of businesses
    * Level of agricultural activity
    * Presence or absence of associations
    * Participation in elections
    * Government services available
    * Freedom of movement of people, goods and communications
    * Tax revenue
    * Industry exports
    * Employment/unemployment rate
    * Availability of electricity
    * Specific attacks on infrastructure
    .
    *FM 3-24 COIN = Field Manual 3-24, Counter-Insurgency

  3. emptywheel says:

    Very depressing. Too bad they’ll have more involvement from the agency that specializes in destabilizing governments and less from any agency (which the US doesn’t have) that can help put this country back together.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    Too bad there aren’t more countries in the world that have the financial balls to tell the US to get out and stay the hell out. Maybe we need more Irans?
    *
    The recent analogizing of the Mafia to ISIS, in the way they take over territory and demand ongoing tribute, perhaps should be extended to the United States.

  5. wallace says:

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, and TOTALLY blacked out by US MSM, the Empire try’s to overthrow yet another South American government…and fails.

    http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/11212

    note to self..file under

    Great Moments in Continuous War entrepreneurship epic fails around the planet

    • bevin says:

      it is an indication of the deepening corruption of the MSM that almost nothing was published-or, to put it another way, everything was suppressed- about this conspiracy, which was, quite obviously, quarterbacked by the US Embassy.

      I was tempted to say “US government” but the truth is that the White House was almost certainly unaware of the detail of what the coup plotters were doing.

      The real story is the Venezuelan government’s mild response to these murderous conspiracies: the principal, aka the Opposition leader, was involved in his fourth attempt to carry out a coup backed by the imperium, and yet he lives to run again a democratic election.

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