Doctors Without Borders calls for international inquiry into US bombing of Afghan hospital

GlobalPost
Doctors Without Borders International President Joanne Liu poses after a press conference in Geneva on Oct. 7, 2015. Liu has called for an independent, international inquiry into the US bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

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NEED TO KNOW:

The United States has admitted that it bombed a hospital near Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 22 innocent people. Gen. John Campbell, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, sat before a Senate committee yesterday and called it a “mistake.”

There will be an internal investigation to find out just how high up the chain of command mistakes were made. Doctors Without Borders, who lost 12 staff members in the attack, says that’s not good enough and has called for an independent, international inquiry. The humanitarian organization has called the attack a “war crime.”

“It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake,” Joanne Liu, the international president of Doctors Without Border, said at a press conference.

The New York Times spoke to military officials close to Campbell who said the general now thinks that US troops did not follow their own rules of engagement.

Here is what we know so far: The Afghan government asked the United States for the airstrike. American troops, however, must still confirm that the target is legitimate and cannot oblige Afghan requests except under certain circumstances (such as aiding Afghans in battle, protecting American troops, or killing terrorists). Campbell apparently believes that none of these circumstances were present.

The strike was “a US decision, made within the US chain of command,” the general told the Senate committee.

Meanwhile, journalists in Afghanistan are reporting — contrary to official statements — that the Taliban has regained the advantage in Kunduz and now controls more than half the city. Street battles continue between Afghan forces and the Taliban. But the Taliban now has the use of American-made Humvees and other equipment they managed to seize from Afghan forces.

WANT TO KNOW:

The general, like all American generals in Afghanistan before him, also said the United States needed to rethink its Afghanistan strategy, suggesting that more troops would be needed in the coming years to contain the threat of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The current plan is in 2016 to reduce the nearly 10,000 troops now in Afghanistan to about 1,000, a force that would be based at the US Embassy in Kabul. Campbell, however, thinks we should extend the mission of the nearly 10,000 troops longer. He did not say if he wanted more troops than that.

"Based on conditions on the ground, I do believe we have to provide our senior leadership [with] options different than the current plan we are going with," he told the Senate committee. Campbell said the revised plan was needed to fight the rise of the Islamic State in Afghanistan, “an increased Al Qaeda presence,” and the resurgence of the Taliban.

Much like the fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had nothing to do with each other way back in 2001 when the United States first invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban these days is not allied with the Islamic State. In fact, the two groups really don’t like each other and clash often. Some analysts believe that Iran is actually supporting the Taliban in its effort to beat back the Islamic State.

So a sustained American effort to combat the Islamic State in Afghanistan would put it in an awkward military alliance with the Taliban and possibly Iran. Before long, the situation in Afghanistan could begin to sound a little too much like the situation in Syria, where dozens of countries and groups with confusing alliances are vying for control.  

STRANGE BUT TRUE:

There is not a lot of Chinese television that manages to cross over to English-speaking audiences. It’s hard to think of any, actually. Until now.

“If You Are the One” is China’s most popular dating show. It reaches 50 million people in China every time it broadcasts. The format is simple: One male contestant faces 24 single women. The girls ask the guy questions and based on his responses they decide if he is worthy of a date. If he’s not, they flick a switch that turns off a light in front of him. If any lights are left on at the end, the male candidate chooses between the willing women and takes one of them on vacation.

It sounds pretty typical. Yet, somehow, it has managed to breakthrough in a big way to Australian audiences. A small Australian television station has picked up the show and added English subtitles. And now Australians are going crazy for it.

Part of the appeal seems to be the brutal honesty. “When you came out on stage you looked like a noodle. Sorry,” one woman says of a contestant. “I think I may be better than you,” another one says. In a post-game interview, one of the male candidates says, "I think the reason I didn't get a date is that I'm not good enough."

It’s hard to watch sometimes, but always entertaining.