Afghanistan

Being a Neocon Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

National Review writer blames U.S. bombing of hospital in Kunduz on...Taliban

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Over the weekend, U.S. military forces bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that was operated by Doctors Without Borders. At least 22 people were killed. That's not speculation, that's what the Pentagon admits:

A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.

Suffice it to say that such an outcome is horrific, not the least of which because 12 of the killed were staff for Doctors Without Borders, which has now pulled out of the city, citing safety concerns.

The area is a hot battleground between allied forces and resurgent Taliban fighters. U.S. spokesmen say that Afghan forces called for the strike, which lasted at least 30 minutes. Doctors Without Borders claims that the U.S. military must have known the precise coordinates of the hospital, which had been in operation for several years now, and that the group alerted the military to the mixed-up target while the airstrike was happening. Some people are calling this a war crime and the Pentagon is promising a full investigation.

But over at National Review, David French has a decidedly different take. Sure, it's a war crime, the one-time leader of The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) asserts. But it's the Taliban's fault.

The international outrage over the American bombing of the Kunduz hospital is indicative of the despicable, upside-down legal standards so often applied to the U.S. military in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria…

The critics are correct that a war crime has been committed, but the Taliban are the perpetrators. The Taliban choose to fight in built-up civilian areas, without wearing uniforms, and shelter in civilian sites. So the natural and inevitable collateral damage that occurs is the their moral and legal responsibility…

Western militaries (including Israel) take pride in their "higher standard" and the obvious moral differences between terrorists who intentionally target civilians and our soldiers who try to protect the innocent, but our enemies ruthlessly exploit our standards — often putting American forces in the position of either killing civilians or allowing terrorists to prevail. Both choices are bad, but one outcome is intolerable.

BBC

Let us pause for a moment to say a prayer for the dead—including that fragged dozen of Doctors Without Borders personnel who gave their lives while volunteering to make the world a slightly less horrific place—before puzzling over exactly what's "despicable" and upside-down" when it comes to celebrating the "higher standard" of morality for which America is so forever goddamned proud.

The U.S. military totally fubars a bombing, which the Pentagon itself acknowledges, and its handmaidens in the press can only find yet one more reason to blame someone—anyone—other than the people responsible for, you know, actually dropping the bombs.

What was the catchphrase of that awful 1970 movie, Love Story? "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

These days, being a neocon hawk means never having to say you're sorry, no matter how many countries and whole regions and millions of people are laid waste. Shelley's Ozymandias ironically proclaimed over a barren desert, "Look on my works, ye might, and despair!" Uncritical masters of war look on the still-smoldering bodies of slain innocents—"I saw doctors and patients burning," survivors told the BBC—and invoke the unimpeachable higher standards for which we stand as proof that we are without sin.

If there are no lessons that the supporters of the past dozen-plus years of failed foreign policy can draw even from unequivocal mistakes and disasters, they've finally kicked free of any possible constraints that reality might impose on their fever dreams. They are like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, who "had kicked the very earth to pieces," and whose actions could no longer be bound by anything as trivial as basic morality.

And to the extent that such people remain at the helm of American actions throughout the world, we can only barely imagine the horrors that our "higher standard" will inflict over the coming months, years, and decades. Is it really so difficult to admit that just as America is not always wrong, it is not always right? America: Love it or STFU.

In 2014, Reason TV interviewed Errol Morris, whose documentaries include The Fog of War, a long interview with Vietnam architect Robert McNamara, and The Unknown Known, a similar conversation with Donald Rumsfeld, whose inability to question any of his war-time actions or judgements should chill anyone with a scintilla of conscience. One hoped that as Rumsfeld exited public life, his obtuseness would follow him out of the spotlight. Apparently not.

Watch Morris here or below:

NEXT: Yes, the Second Amendment Protects Individual Rights

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  1. Oh Nick, if you deny your government’s exceptionalness then the terrists have already won.

    1. What’s the difference between a war monger neocon and an enviro-marxists?

      …the address on K Street.

      Other than that, they are the same person. Spend on my pet. protect my job. damn the consequences.

      This is the primary reason why americans have become cowardly nationalists and why capitalism is dead.

    2. Actually it’s the fault of W Bush. The USA should have been out of that country by the end of 2001 having bombed the hell out of the Taliban. This nation building crap and leaving troops behind for 70+ years has got to end.

      And I’m sure Hillary will make that so.

      1. I was going to blame Bush, but you beat me to it.

      2. Except we’re still in the Balkans, too.

        1. Well, that’s because they had the temerity to shoot at Hillary! and Chelsea! when she got out of that plane when she visited Bosnia in her official capacity of “Nobody Important”.

        2. Right. And In Korea and Germany and Japan…

      3. Actually, it’s the fault of Bush the First not Bush the Second, who himself is hardly blameless.

        See “Did Bush Burn The Koran?” at …
        Bush Burning The Koran: http://nationonfire.com/catego…..relations/ .

  2. Why bother writing that article at all? Everyone’s attention is focused on a campus shooting.

    1. True. And if Obama had an R after his name, they would be calling for him to be tried as a war criminal.

      1. And if Obama had an R after his name, they would be calling for him to be tried as a war criminal.

        Obamar?

      2. Note to self: I can get away with anything by joining The Right Party.

  3. right….because David French is the problem. I wonder when National Review gained the power to order air strikes.

    1. They might have a tiny bit of power determining the G.O.P. presidential nominee. But nothing to see here. Nope.

      1. I guess money really is speech after all.

      2. So we agree then, that if this is a war crime, it is Obama – being the current Commander in Chief and all that – who is ultimately responsible.

      3. you may have missed the point by an even wider margin than Nick did. National Review may be gung-ho about the wah on terrah, but none of its people is ordering strikes. Interesting that Nick holds a writer to a higher standard than he does the president.

        1. Nick holds a writer to a higher standard than he does the president.

          Citation — as they say — needed.

          1. this article makes for a good citation. It’s about phantom neocons, and not about a commander in chief.

            1. When one strikes not the Obama, one feeds the Obama. Ok. Got it.

              1. when one strikes a person commenting on an action instead of the persons who ordered the action, that is missing the point.

                Meantime, keep making up shit I didn’t say. Nick is more uptight about a scribe from a publication he dislikes opining than he is about the action that led to the opinion. He doesn’t even veer into “both of these can be wrong” territory, at least not to any substantive degree.

                1. Ah. In that case I suggest that Nick add “And Obama stinks too!” to the end of every Reason story, so as not to offend your sensibilities.

                  1. I just find it curious that Nick believes David French’s opinion is the story rather than the decision to bomb. Then again, Nick couldn’t toss out the “neo-conz!!1!” label if he focused the action itself.

                    1. David French’s opinion is this story. There’s lots of other stories related to this particular bombing. They don’t have to all be discussed simultaneously.

                  2. I guess it’s to much to ask Nick to note the irony of a neocon rising up to defend him from charges of being a war criminal as well…

                    1. him being Obama

                    2. How is it ironic? Obama is a neocon.

      4. They might have a tiny bit of power determining the G.O.P. presidential nominee. But nothing to see here. Nope.

        I’m pretty sure the Columbos Dispatch still has more subscibers the the National Review… and that ain’t saying much.

  4. You don’t answer this, Nick–

    The Taliban choose to fight in built-up civilian areas, without wearing uniforms, and shelter in civilian sites. So the natural and inevitable collateral damage that occurs is the their moral and legal responsibility…

    Why?

    This is the crux of his point. Nothing ‘neocon’.

    Just the simple fact that if you’re shooting from a crowd of civilians, you’re responsible if any of them get hurt.

    1. Earth is full of civilians. We should just blow it up. (After the moon, of course.)

      1. David French did not give the order to bomb civilians. He simply points out a tactic by groups like the Taliban wherein civilians are purposely put into harm’s way, arguably so deep-thinking scribes like Nick can find some boogeyman to blame.

        If you want to blame someone, blame the folks who keep us in this ridiculous conflict; blame the people who authorize strikes like this one; blame the people unwilling to say it’s time for the Muslim world to police itself. It is this sort of shit that leads to the whole cosmotarian argument.

        1. ‘Cause ya’ don’t mess around — with God’s America!

          1. things I didn’t say for $600, Alex

            1. Other things you didn’t say:

              “The time is now. We can wait no longer. We have the technology. Children are our future.”

        2. It is this sort of shit that leads to the whole cosmotarian argument.

          Which is also why the “cosomtarian argument” is a sad joke.

    2. By (ostensibly at least) striving for a higher moral standard and failing to reach it, the United States is far worse than those who claim no moral standard in the first place. Or something.

      It goes without saying that we really have no business there. But I’m sure even Nick could conceive of a theoretical “good war”. And in that theoretical “good war”, this exact same type of thing would happen. I suspect the context rather than the fuck up itself informs Nick’s opinion as to whether war crimes tribunals are in order.

      1. You wouldn’t know that from his poorly written article.

    3. Whether or not you think French’s point is valid (the Afghan allies may not be as scrupulous about what is a valid target under rules of engagement as one would want). Gillespie’s use of neocon seems to be rather far afield from the origins of the term.

    4. The Clausewitzian rules of war are a modern fiction invented by European nation states and have no bearing in a largely tribal area. The Taliban doesn’t play by our rules, period. So we can point at them and rant all day about them hiding among the population or that they don’t have uniforms, etc… It does nothing to change the fact that we bombed our own damn hospital. And it only serves to highlight that Afghanistan is a clusterfuck. The only way to “win’ over there is to stomp on everyone with a lead boot and leave.

      1. So we can point at them and rant all day about them hiding among the population or that they don’t have uniforms, etc… It does nothing to change the fact that we bombed our own damn hospital.

        No, but it does explain why. And the “why” of something is pretty important when you are talking about moral, ethical or legal culpability.

  5. And we’ll be doing it during a full moon to make sure we get the whole thing.

  6. Typical Reason article. A Democrat run operation screws up mightily and it’s the neocons currently spilling nothing but ink who are to blame.

    1. If only someone had the authority to order US troops out of Afghanistan…

      A pen and a phone is really all it would take!

    2. Can you show me an article where Nick, or any reason staff writer, supports the current wars in Iraq or Afghanistan? It seems clear, at least to me, that Nick’s condemnation of the war is kind of old news.

      If he writes an article about police brutality to enforce the drug war, do you really need a line-item of “Yes, this is bad, but here are all the REALLY bad people who voted for the drug war, and here is what the current administration needs to do about it and these are the people who are actually guilty”? Maybe I am wrong, but I figure a lot of that stuff goes without saying.

      1. I don’t have to show you jack shit. Primarily (but not exclusively) because the article we are discussing is at the top of the fucking page.

        Yes, yes “the war” is ‘bad,’ so why don’t you offer an actual reply to my point – that the author is willfully avoiding the issue of who is waging it, and instead actively seeking to place blame elsewhere. Instead you’d rather point at something else.

        This article is a “squirrel!” piece and your reply is just another sort of “squirrel!” effort.

        GFY

  7. There is no reason that we should still be randomly bombing hospitals 13 years after an initial invasion.

    Maybe I’m an unfeeling monster, but I think the best way to fight a war is to go 100%. Warn the civilian population beforehand that you’re coming to wreck shit and that if they don’t want to be considered a target to need to get the fuck out. Then throw everything you have into fucking the place up right and proper. No rebuild, no hearts and minds, just achieve your goals and be done. This gives you (hopefully) a shorter war, keeps the human misery to the shortest duration possible, deters other countries from behaving badly next time.

    Of course this is really easy to say from my relatively safe 1st world city, so what do I know.

    1. This was not random. Someone on the ground called this in on purpose, perhaps stupidly,perhaps maliciously.

      1. Random maybe wasn’t the right word. Arbitrary, perhaps?

        My point is that 13 years later we’re still dinking and dunking. Fight a war; or don’t. We need to stop half-assing these things.

        Obviously not going to war in the first place is ideal, but if we are going to fight, fucking fight.

        1. I thought we fought a war there and won. Didn’t we kick the Taliban out of power and kill Bin Laden? I suppose we need to stick around for a few decades, though, to make sure all of their rural areas have wifi.

          Mission Accomplished means we pack up and go back home.

    2. Maybe I’m an unfeeling monster, but I think the best way to fight a war is to go 100%. Warn the civilian population beforehand that you’re coming to wreck shit and that if they don’t want to be considered a target to need to get the fuck out.

      Yes, you certainly are a monster.

      1. No he’s not. Those insisting that America sacrifice itself for a civilian population in a far away land are the monsters.

    3. I agree with you. These “wars” seem like we are slap fighting not trying to get hit instead of fucking going in there throwin’ ‘bows.

      Your philosophy could make it so that war occurs less often as the cost of life of our men would be much greater and I think the citizenry would eventually hate war.

      1. Wouldn’t it be great if people actually recognized how terrible war was, and so did not want to take that option as often?

        I think Chipper’s right here. We should avoid going to war, but if we are going to do it, we should destroy our enemies and salt the earth they live upon. No half measures, total war. It’ll bring peace domestically and abroad.

      2. “It is good that war is terrible, else we would grow fond of it” R.E. Lee

    4. You are correct. We should be far more reluctant to go to war, and far more ruthless in our prosecution of it when we do.

      1. +1 General Curtis LeMay

      2. My dad gave me a bit of advice when I was dealing with a bully: “Don’t fight, unless you have to. Do everything you can to not fight, short of taking a beating yourself. But if you do have to fight, if that is what it comes down to, then hit first, hit hard, and then hit again, and don’t stop until one of you can’t move any more.”

        Not bad advice, all things considered, and it would be good advice for our own military to take.

        1. Of course if you were a politician on that playground you would:

          1. Dupe a bunch of na?ve young kindergarteners into enrolling in your gang run by a bureaucrat
          2. send an army of propagandists to convince the student body that the bully was a threat to your freedom
          3. steal a bunch of money from students who are not born yet.
          4. drive the school into massive debt that can never be repaid.
          5. build a jobs program around your weapon of choice so the fight would never end.
          6. then tell everyone that war is peace.

    5. I’m guessing the civilian population is not going to remove itself the area, while the bad guys stay behind on the future battlefield to take their pounding. If you’re in the business of using civilians as shields you will go where they go.

    6. This. Nuke Tora Bora, and leave.

  8. I’ve mocked many commenters in the past for projecting onto The Jacket.

    But seriously, what the fuck is this?

    1. Come on, Playa. You know what it is.

      1. +1 cocktail party invite?

  9. According to releases from MSF:

    1. David French’s assertion that the Taliban were built up and/or sheltering in the hospital compound is utter horseshit

    2. the hospital was destroyed over the course of 30+ minutes (during which MSF contacted Coalition Forces HQ to let them know MSF personnel were being killed) of bombing and nearly nothing else was hit

    And yet Nick says this may be a war crime. If this is not a war crime, then WTF is a war crime?

    1. And yet Nick says this may be a war crime.

      It’s ’cause he loves him some Obama, natch.

      1. And hates Murica, of course.

    2. I don’t know. Is mens rea a necessary component for a war crime? Is there such a thing a war manslaughter?

      1. You would think mens rea would be necessary, but it’s been killed off for every other crime so who knows.

      2. It’s a very high bar to clear to prove a “War Crime”. Typically, you’d need to demonstrate not just mens rea but also a systematic rationale for, and pattern of behavior. I think it’s probably way too early – based on the evidence we’re being fed – to make a reliable armchair lawyer’s determination one way or the other.

        The quality and depth of reporting we’re seeing here is abysmal. The same 5 or 6 still photos, mostly showing a burned out lightly constructed building. Frankly, I see nothing to indicate *bombing* there at all. What I see is damage consistent with a ground strafing by an AC-130 with 20mm and 40mm cannon, but as I say, we’re seeing a very small sample of photographic evidence, so my speculation is of very limited value.

        What I will say though, is that if this was a bombing attack we’re getting very little bang for our buck. The kind of munitions that are typically deployed should have flattened that building with a much higher level of collateral damage. If you look for pictures that show the damage done by a single Mk-82 (I think they’re the smallest iron bomb still in service) – at 500lb – it would have flattened that building. If there really was “30 minutes of bombing”, there really wouldn’t have been much left to photograph, whereas I can totally expect that an AC130 would loiter and take shots at what it believes to be targets of opportunity.

        1. Why does this matter? If my hypothesis turns out to be correct, there will be footage from the AC-130. The cameras on those things allow the gunners to identify individual targets, and it’s my understanding that gunners require authorization to engage.

          I’m somewhat skeptical of MSF’s press releases on the topic. Not because they’re lying, simply because it’s hard to collect objective information when you’re being blown up and shot at, and Field Mission Teams typically aren’t staffed by people with military experience that might help them (correctly) interpret the ground conditions.

          So in conclusion, I’d say it’s way to early to determine what happened, why it happened, and – apropos this thread – whether it was a “good shot gone wrong” or not.

          1. Good post, 6. Interesting point about the level of damage. Your last sentence (whether/how the attack was justified) is dead on. At this point, one looks around in vain for a reliable source on what actually happened and why.

          2. According to MSF all of their personnel present were indigenous.

            Likewise the latest version from our government is that the Afghan forces were reporting that they were taking fire from the vicinity.

            Either way, you have people taking the word of someone else.

            Yet Nick is ready to declare TRUTH!

    3. David French’s assertion that the Taliban were built up and/or sheltering in the hospital compound is utter horseshit

      That is the key fact in dispute, anyway.

      And who knows where we might get good info on it. Not, probably, from our military. Certainly not from the Taliban. DWF isn’t necessarily reliable, either.

    4. The rape of Nanking would be a warcrime.

      This is just a typical wartime bumblefuck that happens on a daily basis.

  10. Anyone else here like appletinis?

  11. The international outrage over the American bombing of the Kunduz hospital is indicative of the despicable, upside-down legal standards so often applied to the U.S. military in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

    before puzzling over exactly what’s “despicable” and upside-down” when it comes to celebrating the “higher standard” of morality for which America is so forever goddamned proud.

    Ok class, which of you can tell me the formal fallacy Gillespie engages in here?

    1. “Is this gonna be on the test?”

    2. The Fallacy of the Jacket? No, wait…

      1. Argumentum ad tunicam, which we can now define as the fallacy of the four terms due to equivocation due to Nick’s penchant for it.

        1. Thank you. My son is starting his formal logic studies and I’m trying to refresh my skills in this area (which were never that great to begin with since it was not part of my school’s syllabus).

          Please post more as you spot them.

    3. Negging the question?

    4. David French @ National Review specifically says =

      “The Taliban choose to fight in built-up civilian areas, without wearing uniforms, and shelter in civilian sites. So the natural and inevitable collateral damage that occurs is the their moral and legal responsibility…”

      If there’s conflation of the two, its only because that’s the argument he’s responding to.

    5. The fallacy that Nick is a competent writer?

  12. If we aren’t allowed to bomb hospitals, then the terrorists have won….wait a minute.

    1. Chip, your government has to blow up hospitals over there so they don’t blow up hospitals over here.

      Joe Klein explained this type of necessity quite well when defending President’ Obama’s drone policy several years ago (during the following exchange with Joe Scarborough):

      Scarborough: “You have four year old girls being blown to bits because we have a policy that says, ‘You know what, instead of trying to go in, take the risk, get the terrorists out of hiding? we’re just going to blow up everyone around them.”

      Klein: “The bottom line, in the end, is” Whose four year old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that four year olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”

      I hope that helps.

      1. Wait, this whole thing is Chip’s government?

        Dammit, Chip, you had one job. You are worse than that damned Dinosaur Superior. People died, Chip, people died!

        http://ak-hdl.buzzfed.com/stat…..5450-1.png

  13. Under the Geneva Conventions, it may be a war crime to bomb a hospital even if it’s being used as an enemy base without first providing notice to the occupants (to allow evacuation of medical personnel and patients)…

    Regardless of whether or not it was used as a Taliban hold, it is without dispute that American armed forces knew it was a hospital (because MNF had told them multiple times over the years) and that they provided no warning before attacking it.

    Whatever the Taliban may be doing in Kunduz is completely irrevelant.

    1. All the more reason to tell the Geneva Conventions to take a hike.

  14. “Under the Geneva Conventions….”

    Now, now, bassjoe, the terrists didn’t sign the Geneva Conventions and therefore the U.S. Government doesn’t have to obey/be limited by that set of restrictions.

    (I’m being sarcastic here, but this argument has been used several times against me and others over the course of the last two administrations)

    1. It’s maddening.

      I consider the Geneva Conventions kind of akin to the due process protections of the 4th Amendment in that they either protect everybody from government power….or nobody.

      1. Well, they’re not. They are just an arbitrary encumbrence on America’s ability to win a war.

  15. Sigh

    “”Over the weekend, U.S. military forces bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that was operated by Doctors Without Borders. At least 22 people were killed. That’s not speculation, that’s what the Pentagon admits:

    – A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital”

    If it was an AC130, it didn’t drop bombs; it shelled them.

    Also, FUBAR is an acronym.

    The thing completely unmentioned in this entire piece harping about “Neocons” is that Obama made political hay out of his ceremonial “Ending of the War in Afghanistan” only 9 months ago, reminding people of his Peace-Bringing Powers on Memorial Day shortly thereafter (while quietly aiding in the bombing of Yemen)

    What happened was awful, but it only happened because US forces were still there, while the media keeps pretending they aren’t.

    Referring to “neocons” also seems to help deflect credit for the current policy back to people unrelated to Afghanistan entirely.

    1. It’s disappointing to see (seasoned) journalists and pundits who we might expect to be objective, slide into these old tropes of “neocon” etc. After all, it’s just decades’ version of ‘racist’ or ‘feminist’. As I scrolled down, I was expecting the stock footage of Rumsfeld to have a set of devil horns photoshopped onto it.

      I can expect this kind of thing from news sources who have a vested interest in othering some subset of their ideological enemies constituencies, but Reason has no reason (double drink!) to resort to lazy, one-sided and inaccurate characterizations of the writers’ foe-de-jour with no semblance of subjective analysis.

      Oh, and while we’re at it, the essence of Rumsfeld’s much-derided “Known Unknowns” is indisputably true. It’s merely the practical recognition of Hayek’s “Information Problem”. There’s plenty to beat Rumsfeld up about without picking on an ineptly phrased truth.

      1. My point was not to defend or to change the subject to the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the previous administration.

        My point was that “Neocons” never had much interest in Afghanistan at all, and that term is probably misused.

        It was Obama who tripled the forces devoted to Afghanistan, expanded and prolonged the war there, resulting in far higher casualties and resulting in Zero actual progress in terms of any defined or undefined objectives.

        By all measures, Afghanistan is far worse for Obama’s “Doubling Down”. And no one says this.

        In addition, Obama has gotten substantial credit for “Ending” wars that have not ended.

        I think the desire to assign proper “blame” for deaths here is probably less helpful than pointing to the media’s lack of attention, and sloppy coverage of ongoing conflicts.

        1. Not taking it out on you G? – I’m just bored with the lazy, uninspired habit of labeling policy hawks “neocons” when they aren’t, and the elevation of a guy who’s had no influence on government policy in almost ten years ago.

          How long, Nick, do we have to cower under the blankets, a-feared that beneath the bed, atop a pile of playboy magazines and curiously stiff tube socks, there lurks an evil, plotting Rumsfeld acolyte, who is to blame for all our current military successes and failures?

          These days, being a neocon hawk means never having to say you’re sorry,

          Why do you want people who aren’t running our current military misadventures to apologize for decisions they made a decade ago, Nick? Don’t you get it? the reason (drink again) that we look like evil dickheads on the international stage is not because of “neocons”, it’s because of foreign policy naifs who make their decision based on popularity polls at focus, and an apparent desire to fuck over all our allies. There’s no underlying, unified strategy (unless it’s to make the US look like evil, incompetent, unreliable dicks – in which case, maybe I just disproved my point).

          The fault for today’s failures lies with the CURRENT ADMINISTRATION; Bush and Rumsfeld have been “Goldsteined” enough. Leave their legacy to historians. It’s 2015. Wake up. It’s not the “neocons”.

          1. “‘I’m just bored with the lazy, uninspired habit of labeling policy hawks “neocons” when they aren’t,””

            Yes. You’re not the only one.

            Neocons were a narrow group of policy wonks who thought unilateral use of force in the *Middle East* could permanently re-shape power dynamics there… in order to ensure Israel’s lasting security, and to end the perpetual risks to oil supply from the gulf.

            Anyone who talks about “Neocons” in contexts unrelated to Iraq, Israel, or Oil politics… is usually an idiot. Nick’s not an idiot and should probably know better.

            1. Given how poorly written the article was I’m not so sure he isn’t an idiot.

      2. “Reason has no reason (double drink!) to resort to lazy, one-sided and inaccurate characterizations of the writers’ foe-de-jour with no semblance of subjective analysis.”

        Yes they do. They’ve lost the foreign policy debate. They can’t win, because non-interventionism is a crock, and that makes them so mad.

    2. Actually, there is a variant of the AC-130 that does carry a limited number of “small diameter” bombs (for minimizing damage in urban areas), but I agree that they probably were being shelled by a howitzer. I doubt most people care about the difference (since the outcome — explosions — is the same), but it does sort of undermine the credibility of journalists in the eyes of people that have some knowledge of the subject matter.

      1. Not even sure the damage I saw was consistent with a 105mm.

        40mm cannon (with tracer?) would be enough to inflict the damage I’ve seen in the limited number of photos I have seen.

      2. Didn’t know that, re: bombs

        “”I doubt most people care about the difference””

        well, i think technically the issue between “bombing” and “shooting” is that bombing generally risks being indiscriminate (despite “smart” bombs), whereas “shooting” suggests that they knew exactly what they were aiming at

    3. Also, FUBAR is an acronym.

      So is LASER.

      1. And this word “fragging”, Nick. It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

      2. ….ok, fair enough.

        But as far as the process of Acronyms devolving into commonly used terms goes…. “Laser” made the jump back in the late 1960s some time after the term “Ray Gun” was being phased (pun intended) out.

        FUBAR, on the other hand, has never even been as widely employed as other military acronyms like “AWOL” or “SNAFU”… and is generally used in sentences as shorthand for actually *Saying* the words… as an shorthand-adjective

        i.e. “Things are getting FUBAR” (fucked up beyond all recognition)

        ,,,as opposed to being used as a verb like nick does, = ‘The military Fubars a Bombing” …. which i’ve never heard people say or write in that way before.

  16. Thirty years ago , in the glory days of conservative foreign policy under Reagan, America, the Afghans, including the Taliban, , and medicins sans fronteres were all on the same side making common cause against the Soviet invasion.

    Twenty years after the neocons kicked the conservative old guard out of National Review , the Russians are laughing out loud at the policy consequences – somebody ought to apologize to France

  17. How dare the Taliban try to invade Kunduz?!?! It isn’t like it’s the most important city in northern Afghanistan and its successful capture would embarrass the Kabul government (is the government still considered “provisional”?), providing the group with a huge strategic and moral victory…

    Seriously, they should keep their invading and rampaging to the countryside, away from the prying eyes of western media….

  18. Just because at some point someone was told there was a hospital there doesn’t mean the people making this decision had that information. There’s my issue with this being called a war crime. The military is a bureaucracy and you are coordinating with another national military at the same time here.

    Who gets charged with a war crime? Who knew this was a hospital and attacked? That hasn’t been demonstrated. So, sorry, I’d rather not see the guys who carried out the attack charged for doing the dirty work of their politicians (who will skate free). A war crime requires intent, and unless that’s shown there is no war crime.

    1. Just because at some point someone was told there was a hospital there doesn’t mean the people making this decision had that information.

      If only the military had some technology that would allow troops in, say, Kunduz, enter information into and update a large list of civilian infrastructure and other non-military targets that people planning attacks or authorizing attacks can consult before approving the attack…

      1. Funneling all warfare in the hands of a glorified 911 operators doesn’t exactly sound like a winning argument.

  19. Can Reason just fire Nick already? He’s a shit writer. No attempt to make a case here, just a temper tantrum. “YOU NEOCONZ R BAD SO BAD” is not a good article.

    The Taliban is of course at fault here. They started this war and continue to fight it. They started the Kunduz war.

    The USG puts ridiculous restrictions on its fighters. Basically ties their hands behind their backs.

  20. Asusual, ick Gillespie shoots off his big mouth before knowing the score. The bombings were
    called in by the Afghans, not the Americans.OK, Nick, you can now be considered stupid-ass numero uno on this website. This is not the first time Nick has spouted pure BS and I’m sure it won’t bethe last. You just can’t explain stupid.

  21. The critics are correct that a war crime has been committed, but the Taliban are the perpetrators. The Taliban choose to fight in built-up civilian areas, without wearing uniforms, and shelter in civilian sites. So the natural and inevitable collateral damage that occurs is the their moral and legal responsibility…

    In terms of “war crimes” that is absolutely correct.

    (Contra DWoB, note that “knowing there’s a hospital there” is mostly irrelevant – if someone’s firing from it right now, it’s not off limits under international law.

    If it’s being used for shelter or operations by a military force [apart from military members acting as unarmed doctors, as patients, and as mere security forces, naturally – a military hospital is not a valid target, in itself], it’s a valid target.

    Otherwise the laws of war would encourage everyone to militarize hospitals, giving those who do so an asymmetrical advantage.

    Same argument as against Iraq in Desert Storm and the like – “you can’t blow up that AA site because it’s at a school!” gets the entire thing exactly goddamn backwards.

    Blending in with civilians and operating from civilian-rich areas to encourage collateral damage is the war crime, not firing on the people doing so.

    I also join commenters above disparaging the overall line of argument; enough with Neocons, Nick.)

  22. The neocon is no different than the government bureaucrat or EPA zealot. They are all cheerleaders for protected interests and guaranteed jobs. They care not about the misallocation of and destruction of capital and have no repercussions about f*cking over future generations to protect their sacrosanct pet interests.

    The neocon is as evil as the climate change warrior.

    They all advocate the suffering of a select few, sometimes masses, for the betterment of their moral beliefs.

    1. The Neocons stole our dates!

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  24. Yes, if only the Taliban would wear uniforms and march around in formations……
    but then, they would be classified as Lawful Combatants under the Rules for Land Warfare.
    How do we know that though different people were involved in the targeting of Kanduz, that the same cultural philosophy didn’t prevail that dropped that bomb on the Chinese diplomatic facility in Yugoslavia during the Clinton Administration? Do we know what relative altitude the plane was at when it released its payload? ISTR that everything in Yugoslavia was done from at least Angels-15 or greater, and even “smart bombs” go astray.

  25. I don’t remember this current Regime ever apologizing for anything.
    Lord knows they have screwed up eight ways to Sunday, practically on a weekly basis.
    The new nomenclature for Progressives is: The NeoComms: “The New Communists”

    1. Go Bernie!

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