southern Afghanistan bomb 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The ravages of the Afghanistan war were displayed for all to see. Tens of
thousands of documents, most of them descriptions made by lower-ranking
servicemen of specific incidents that took place between January 2004 and
December 2009, detailed the day-today realities confronted by the coalition
forces in Afghanistan.
There was the duplicity of Pakistan, suspected of
receiving aid from the US and other coalition countries, while at the same time
providing Taliban forces with vital support. There was the widespread corruption
of Afghanistan’s officials and police, which prevented funds earmarked for
orphanages, hospitals and other humanitarian needs from reaching their
But what received the most Israeli media coverage – because
of the pertinence to Israel’s battles against Hamas and Hizbullah – were the
extensive reports of civilian deaths caused by coalition forces.
Assange, founder of Wikileaks, who this week made public the 91,000
sensitive US military documents on the war in Afghanistan, said at a
conference on Sunday, “It is up to a court to decide clearly whether
is, in the end, a crime. That said, on the face of it, there does appear
evidence of war crimes in this material.”
Assange did not seem
concerned about the possible criminality of his own decision to leak
that could endanger coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.
Richard Goldstone to look into the incidents of civilian deaths detailed
paperwork, he would probably agree with Assange. Judging from
verdict on Israel during Operation Cast Lead, as detailed in his UN
would all but ignore the Taliban’s use of Afghanistan’s civilians as
shields, while incriminating the US, Britain and the other coalition
perpetrating war crimes such as disproportionate collateral damage.
fact, applying Goldstone’s ethical standards would effectively rule out
possibility of warfare of any kind against foes like the Taliban.
you send a lot of soldiers to a place like Afghanistan inevitably there
some civilian casualties,” Prof. Asa Kasher, an internationally renowned
on military ethics and author of the IDF’s moral code, noted in response
Wikileaks material. In other words, it is impossible to launch a war
Taliban in Afghanistan, or for that matter, against Hamas in Gaza,
committing what Goldstone and other human rights activists would
consider to be
According to Kasher, Israel’s rules of engagement
utterly ethical and essentially the same as those of all other western
countries, including the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and other
countries fighting in Afghanistan. Professionalism, another important
maintaining a high ethical standard, is also equivalent.
actions in Gaza were judged to be illegal, so would the coalition’s in
THE IMPLICATIONS of Goldstone’s thinking are
and not just for Israel – as the leaked documents underline.
parameters accepted, they would mean that Israel, unable to engage in
with Hamas without causing civilian casualties, would have to refrain
defending itself altogether. Instead, it would have to rely on diplomacy
organization that refuses to recognize the right of Israel to exist.
nothing to protect residents of Sderot and other settlements near Gaza
constant barrage of Kassam missiles is, apparently, not
Meanwhile, the US, Britain and the other coalition
have to give up their war against the Taliban and Al-Qaida, launched
Religious extremism would be free to run rampant, murderously settling
against those who cooperated with the coalition forces in the hope of
in a freer society – women who removed the burqa, politicians who pushed
democracy and freedom, and educators who hoped to supplement the Koran
math, science and literature.
But morality does not demand
terrorists and violent religious extremists. Terrible things happen in
including the unavoidable deaths of civilians.
war against evil, or defending what is good, is a betrayal of the human
obligation to champion freedom.
That would be truly immoral.