Friday, February 13, 2009

Gunning for Afghan Druggies? NATO Mutinies

NATO's top general, an American as always, recently ordered NATO forces in Afghanistan to target any and all drug traffickers and their facilities. Shoot to kill, kill'em all - that was the intent of the order. From Der Spiegel:

On Wednesday, SPIEGEL ONLINE reported that a dispute had emerged internally among the highest NATO commanders in Afghanistan over the circumstances in which the alliance can apply deadly force. In a classified letter, a so-called, "guidance," which is equivalent to an order on the strategic level, NATO Commander Craddock calls for an immediate offensive hunt for "all drug traffickers and narcotics facilities."

The content of the order is explosive. It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock writes in the guidance.

I searched the web sites of the G&M, Toronto Star, National Post and CBC and couldn't find a single mention of General Bantz John Craddock or his "kill'em all" order. While it seems to have caused a near-mutiny at NATO headquarters in Brussels and an uproar in some European capitals, the whole thing went unnoticed in North America.

Craddock's order has now been watered down. NATO forces are to attack traffickers and facilities but only those clearly affiliated with the Taliban. In other words, only those individuals and facilities that could be construed as legitimate military objectives are to be attacked.

The distinction may seem subtle or vague but it's not. Craddock's order would have compelled NATO soldiers to kill ordinary criminals, something tantamount to murder. It would have turned NATO commanders and soldiers acting under this order into war criminals.

It's rumoured that General Bantz John Craddock has worn out his welcome as NATO commander and will be sent packing in short order. The sooner, the better.

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