Lesson From Kunduz 165


The destruction by US bombs of the Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Kunduz – killing doctors, nurses and patients – comes as a stinging corrective to the media pretence that Russian bombs are somehow uniquely evil and destructive. The West has inflicted far more damage in recent years. But the Russians also showed just how ruthless they can be in their brutal suppression of the legitimate desire for national independence of the Chechen people. It is the Americans who today expose most starkly the evils of attempting to solve complex political questions by bombs.

Kunduz is ethnically Uzbek. I have written of it as the place where Alexander Burnes met the fierce Uzbek chief Murad Beg. Burnes was disguised as an Armenian, and would very probably had been killed if his disguise had been penetrated. Today it is very much the territory of an equally fierce Uzbek warlord, General Dostum, the narcotics kingpin, murderer and serial war criminal who has for decades been a key CIA asset and is now Vice President of Afghanistan. That Dostum can lose Kunduz to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, even temporarily, shows how weak the central authority still is. The decade long official western occupation has brought no significant progress, at a cost of billions in money and the waste of many young lives: except progress in achieving a 1200% increase in heroin production.


165 thoughts on “Lesson From Kunduz

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  • Dave Lawton

    @Kempe
    “The period of greatest development of precision guided weapons co-incided with the fall of the old Soviet Union and there was no money for such expensive R&D projects. Russia slipped behind and still hasn’t caught up.”

    Your argument is weak. Served in the military have we? You have knowledge of such things do
    you? Tell me. Maybe we could exchange views.
    The Russians are well in advance using AI optical targeting.
    “They have also been accused of using cluster bombs, outlawed by most other states, in Syria as they did in Georgia.”
    Not in America.
    https://theintercept.com/2015/09/03/nyt-claims-u-s-abides-cluster-bomb-ban-exact-opposite-reality/

  • Kempe

    Hah! I knew you’d do that. Yes, the US China and Russia all refused to sign the cluster bomb ban but we’re not talking about the US here.

    I worked in the defence industry for over a decade and lived through the Cold War. There were frequent claims that the Soviets, as they were then, had developed some fantastic weapon or the other that could destroy NATO in the blink of an eye. These invariably originated or were promoted by an organised cabal of US arms companies and their pet politicians intent on increasing western defence spending. These claims were always at odds with intelligence that correctly put the Soviets years behind. You might want to read up on the Mig 25, a Soviet wonder weapon invincible in aerial combat so we were told until a fed-up pilot defected with one. It was found to be built of steel because they hadn’t discovered how to work titanium, couldn’t hit it’s top speed without trashing it’s engines and used valves in it’s electronics.

  • Tony M

    Valves are still very commonly used in high-frequency high-power radio work, for which there is no substitute, everywhere.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “A Sunni muslim colleague of mine hates Shia. He told me so. And this guy is as friendly and likeable as anyone you could meet. The fact is, Sunnis and Shia are in an internecine fight to the end and have been for a thousand years.” Jemand.

    Jemand, this has been cultivated in recent times by the Saudis and their cohorts, and more generally by ‘the West’. A lot of people have been brainwashed by this bigoted propaganda. And so, yes, i know people like your friend too. There have been periods when Arabs and Persians have fought, where Indians and Persians have fought, where Arabs and Indians have fought and where Sunnis and Shias have fought. but to portray this as some kind of inherent, unending, impossible-to-resolve innate political fact would be grossly misleading.

    For example, in recent times the denomination largely was a non-issue until the 1980s. In Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, India and indeed all over the world, Sunnis and Shias got married, had kids and indeed were in the armies of their countries. For instance, right now, the majority of the Syrian Army and the majority of Baath Party members in Syria are is Sunni. You are unlikely to hear this simple fact stated on the BBC.

  • fedup

    Valves are still very commonly used in high-frequency high-power radio work, for which there is no substitute, everywhere.

    Valves are still used in the high end electronics (expensive specialist kit), you cannot beat the damn performance of the old technology. But there again an old fart whose ears’ frequency response can no longer discern the note that is being played, so a £2 pounds transistor kit would do just fine.

  • Resident Dissident

    @Kempe

    They have also been accused of using cluster bombs, outlawed by most other states, in Syria as they did in Georgia.

    They also use white phosphorus in Chechenya.

  • K Crosby

    ~~~~the Russians also showed just how ruthless they can be in their brutal suppression of the legitimate desire for national independence of the Chechen people~~~~

    Do you endorse this Craig? “the Russians also showed just how idealistic they can be in their support of the legitimate desire for national independence of the Crimean people.”

  • Dave Lawton

    @Kempe “It was found to be built of steel because they hadn’t discovered how to work titanium, couldn’t hit it’s top speed without trashing it’s engines and used valves in it’s electronics.”

    Pity the US has get lift from them to get their guys to the space station.It used valves to make it
    immune to EMP,even Mil spec hardened chips could not withstand EMP, the reason for valves.
    I know all about the cold war I was in the military but I cannot talk about it.Quite a lot of US technology is stupidly over engineered like their software.The reason being the companies like to keep the project going because it was all about $$$$$$.

    Remember Russia has the titanium.http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2014/08/12/how_long_can_the_us_rely_on_russian_titanium.html

  • Mary

    and

    The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification
    Glenn Greenwald
    Oct. 5 2015
    https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification/

    ‘Just as this article was being published, NBC News published a report making clear that even the latest claims from the U.S. and Afghan governments are now falling apart. The Pentagon’s top four-star commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, now claims that “local Afghans forces asked for air support and U.S. forces were not under direct fire just prior to the U.S. bombardment” of the hospital. As NBC notes, this directly contradicts prior claims: “The Pentagon had previously said U.S. troops were under direct fire.”

    See also from today: CNN and the NYT Are Deliberately Obscuring Who Perpetrated the Afghan Hospital Attack

    UPDATE: Responding to the above-referenced admission, MSF has issued this statement:
    “Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the US dropped those bombs. The US hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The US military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the US and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”

    The U.S. seems to have picked the wrong group this time to attack from the air.’

  • Kempe

    ” Pity the US has get lift from them to get their guys to the space station. ”

    Lack of funding rather than lack of ability wouldn’t you say?

    There are ways of protecting modern electronics from EMP which work out lighter, faster, less bulky and more reliable than everting to valves.

  • Dave Lawton

    @Kempe “There are ways of protecting modern electronics from EMP which work out lighter, faster, less bulky and more reliable than everting to valves.”

    How details please.

  • Jemand ( [*censored* - ask me why] )

    Suhayl @ 7:55p

    The periods of peace existing between Sunnis and Shia are merely hiatuses of war like those observable in many ongoing conflicts. There is only so much human life that can be thrown onto a bonfire before you have to retreat and regenerate your armies for the next episode of mass killings.

    To suggest that the story of Sunni-Shia conflict is “bigoted propaganda” is only half true. Facts are most useful in propaganda, especially historical facts. Observing those facts is no more “bigoted” than observing the reality that communism and capitalism are fundamentally hostile to each other – unless you believe that a Chinese made iPhone is the product of Marxist genius.

  • Mary

    NYT Continues to Obscure Responsibility in US’s Bombing of Hospital

    The New York Times followed up its euphemistic and equivocal coverage (FAIR Blog, 10/5/15) of the US bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, with an article (10/6/15) that continued to downplay the US’s responsibility for the deaths of 12 hospital staffers and 10 patients.

    First, the headline refers to the “airstrike that hit Kunduz hospital”–with no indication of whose airstrike it was:

    http://fair.org/home/nyt-continues-to-obscure-responsibility-in-uss-bombing-of-hospital/

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