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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Editorial: Deaths in Kunduz speak for modern war re-adjustment

In light of the U.S.-led airstrike that bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Saturday, it is time to reconsider the role the U.S. plays abroad. The airstrike, which killed 22 people — 10 patients and 12 staff members — and left 37 wounded, resulted in the departure of Doctors Without Borders in the area. "No medical activities are possible now in the M.S.F. (Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders’ international name) hospital in Kunduz, at a time when the medical needs are immense," said Tim Shenk, a spokesman for the organization, to The New York Times.

These deaths are the latest casualties in what has become America’s perpetual state of war in the Middle East. The declaration of the "War on Terror" 14 years ago created (at least in its most modern iteration) a continual war machine that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. Although the "war" in Afghanistan has mostly "ended," the amazing technological advances of the last decade have meant the U.S. can still play a decisive militaristic role in the region without having a fleet of boots on the ground.

This past July, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, issued a report in which he urged the Pentagon to brace for a continuous state of war in the decades to come. "We are more likely to face prolonged campaigns than conflicts that are resolved quickly…" Dempsey wrote. "We may have to adjust our global posture."

The blight ISIS has inflicted upon the Middle East speaks to the difficulty of resolving military campaigns neatly and traditionally; how does one quash a movement that is fueled by a memetic ideology rather than a strict desire to amass land and resources?

Indeed, the chaos that has engulfed the Middle East — and has now spread to Europe, which is most obviously visible through the refugee crisis — has also been aggravated by the machinations of other global powers such as Russia and Iran. The question is this: Given other powerful actors seek to achieve nefarious ends through decentralized means, how does the U.S. respond in an intelligent fashion?

If this tragedy is any indication, airstrikes are not the solution. With the proliferation of drones, intelligent missiles and seemingly effective bombing campaigns, it has become easier than ever for the U.S.-led military campaigns to simply bomb the hell out of enemy strongholds and headquarters. What these maneuvers fail to account for is humanity: Although it had become a Taliban stronghold, the city of Kunduz still has innocent human lives whose situations have worsened because of this action.

In an increasingly complicated geopolitical world, it would seem the only sane response would be to act with intelligence and precision. As appealing as drone strikes and bombings might be on account of taking the "work" out of "dirty work," these methods relieve military actors of having to face the consequences of war directly, resulting in the impartial murder of innocent lives. War never has and never will have simple, convenient stratagems and solutions. However, there is no conceivable way that the deaths of innocents can serve as an endorsement of an effective, well-thought out strategy.

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