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.

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165 thoughts on “Lesson From Kunduz

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  • KingOfWelshNoir

    The BBC are carrying the story of the hospital bombing alongside a report that Michael Fallon has been condemning the Russians for using ‘unguided’ bombs in Syria. We’re in the land of make-believe.

  • fedup

    Craig when Taliban were in power in Afghanistan the price of opium was roughly 391 percent higher that the current prices, that is the inflation unadjusted price, if that is to taken into account the price fall would be far more dramatic.

    Dostum losing his grip, CIA must find another patsy, who can pose as a commander and ride around in tanks.

    However, why was the hospital targeted for an extended attack lasting one and a half hour is a question that seems to have not been asked?

  • 5566hh

    “General Dostum… has for decades been a key CIA asset.”

    It might be interesting if you could make a general list of people you suspect of being intelligence agency assets, with associated background info.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    03/10/2015 12:24pm

    Well said. This is so amazing that I think it could benefit from a bit more detail.

    BBC News Website, 03/10/2015 8:15am

    ‘”Russia has carried out “unguided” bombing in Syria that has led to the deaths of civilians, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.”

    “Mr Fallon said initial Ministry of Defence intelligence suggested only one in 20 Russian air attacks so far had been on targets to damage IS.

    He said: “We’re analysing where the strikes are going every morning. The vast majority are not against IS at all. Our evidence indicates they are dropping unguided munitions in civilian areas, killing civilians, and they are dropping them against the Free Syrian forces fighting Assad. He’s shoring up Assad and perpetuating the suffering.”‘

    BBC News Website, 03/10/2015 12:05pm

    ‘The medical charity MSF has condemned “in the strongest possible terms” deadly air strikes on its hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

    Medecins Sans Frontieres said at least nine of its staff were killed in the attack. Many are unaccounted for.

    It said the strikes continued for more than 30 minutes after US and Afghan authorities were told of its location.

    US forces were carrying out air strikes at the time. The Nato alliance has admitted the clinic may have been hit.

    At least 37 people were seriously injured, 19 of them MSF staff.

    More than 100 patients were in the hospital, along with relatives and carers; it is not known how many of them were killed.

    MSF says that all parties to the conflict, including Kabul and Washington, had been told the precise GPS co-ordinates of the hospital in Kunduz on many occasions, including on 29 September.

    After staff at the hospital became aware of the aerial bombardment in the early hours of Saturday morning, US and Afghan military officials were again informed, MSF said.’

    You really, really, really, really couldn’t make it up, could you?

    Kind regards,


  • craig Post author


    Dostum would not be on a list of people I suspect of being a CIA asset. He is somebody I know for certain to be a CIA asset. You forget my previous employment history.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    As I recall, the more relevant bit about Kunduz was the leaking of the unredacted Afghan File by The Guardian et al., especially about German troops overreacting to residents trying to collect gasoline from a leaking truck.

    The translation of the intercepts was done by GCHQ agents Gareth Williams on loan from Mi6 and german language expertGudrun Loftus, and was provided by Julian Assange;s Wikileaks.

    When the file was published, they all were put in the eavesdroppers’ cross-hairs.

  • fwl

    We (UK & Cousins) have big intelligence budgets. The M in Mi stands for military. ‘We’ are always involved in one war or another and regardless of the rights and wrongs of such wars and use of military force why is our military intelligence not better. Are we blind-siding ourselves with this obsession on terrorism? Why did we not know what Russia was about to do. Knowing that is what would have justified the budget. Why did we get our intelligence so wrong on this tragedy involving the hospital. So going back to remembering what the M stands for might be a start.

  • Laguerre

    I would have thought it self-evident that any Afghan warlord who survived the US/NATO occupation in power was necessarily on good terms with the CIA.

    The point that puzzled me though was the remark that Kunduz was the territory of Dostum. I thought his power was seated further west at Mazar-i Sharif, although I understand the population of Kunduz is Uzbek. Kunduz always seemed to me the only town in the north that was constantly slipping in and out of Taliban control. It was the first into Taliban control in the 90s, and the last to be lost.

    Even now, in spite of US announcements, it is evident that the Afghan army is far from controlling the city. Perhaps only has a foothold. Otherwise the hospital attack would not have happened.

  • Peter Beswick

    I can’t think why the day after the US and UK were decrying the accuracy of Russian air strikes and the killing of civilians that the US would deliberately bomb a hospital.

    Russia have embarrassed the US before when the US have crowed about their superior technologies and Russia’s inadequacies. It wouldn’t surprise me if the yanks are scratching their heads right now thinking how the hell did that happen and their Russian counterparts are toasting them with vodka and a smile.

  • Beth

    The Interior Minister of the Afghan government has said on BBC that the hospital was deliberately targeted because there were 15 terrorists inside. He said quite cheerfully–all the terrorists have been killed.
    The hypocrisy of US/UK government and media is absolutely mind blowing. Then you remember Obama’s kill list and see how he doesn’t care how many innocent people are killed in his drone strikes and you realise the world is literally mad. But never mind—isn’t the X factor on tonight.

  • 5566hh

    Craig: even better, make two lists, one certain, one possible. You could share it as a Google Doc for example.

  • 5566hh

    And while we’re on it, why not a global campaign to end (or at least raise awareness of) covert political interference worldwide? Might be an interesting project – I’m sure you could find allies, Chomsky et al.

  • fwl

    Craig would be ill advised to do as 5566hh suggests. Peoples should take the signing of the official secrets act seriously just as those who authorise extra judicial killing should take that exceptionally seriously.

  • Clydebuilt

    there’s 600 odd Scottish soldiers in Afghanistan right now, Haven’t heard anything off them since they left,

  • Jemand

    NATO should create a large non-muslim province and invite Afghans who want to leave Islam to migrate and settle there under protection. All the other maniacs would then be free to live in the remaining Taliban Utopia, free from bad western interference.

  • Mark Golding

    John Spencer-Davis
    3 Oct, 2015 – 12:39 pm –

    Thank-you John for the detail. The strike is against humanitarian law and I will request Medecins Sans Frontieres to implement prosecution in the international courts. Sky News are reporting 15 terrorists hiding in the Kunduz hospital. This cannot however be used to mitigate this abhorrent violation of laws that protect hospitals and medical personnel in areas of conflict.

  • Mark Golding

    Fwl – The OSA is outdated. Section 2 has been described as the “catch-all” section. The main offence which section 2 creates is the unauthorised communication of official information (including documents) by a Crown servant. The leading characteristic of this 1258 offence is its catch-all quality. It catches all official documents and information. It makes no distinctions of kind, and no distinctions of degree. All information which a Crown servant learns in the course of his duty is ‘official’ for the purposes of section 2, whatever its nature, whatever its importance, whatever its original source. A blanket is thrown over everything; nothing escapes.

    What is more important to me is Craig’s life and stability; exposing CIA assets in a list would endanger both.

  • Laguerre

    “NATO should create a large non-muslim province”

    You really are a bigot, aren’t you? I’m not surprised that you accuse everyone of being an anti-semite. You are much the same.

    Everyone in Afghanistan is Muslim, barring a handful of Sikhs.

  • fedup

    Why did we not know what Russia was about to do. Knowing that is what would have justified the budget. Why did we get our intelligence so wrong on this tragedy involving the hospital.

    Russia stopped playing the compliance game and took the initiative for a change, hence no need for any intelligence. Although this morning Carey has been bluntly threatening the Russians with; other countries involved would take aim at Russia! This is the same promises of fire and brimstone that the Saudis threatened the Russians with the last time!

    The hospital was on the target list, the Afghans have already let that cat out of the bag.

  • Jemand

    “You really are a bigot, aren’t you? I’m not surprised that you accuse everyone of being an anti-semite. You are much the same.

    Everyone in Afghanistan is Muslim, barring a handful of Sikhs.”

    – – –

    And the abuse starts again with apparent aquiescence. I should ask the commentator why “everyone in Afghanistan is muslim”. But I won’t bother because we all know the answer. If you are not muslim, then you either dead or driven out.

  • Peter Beswick

    “The hospital was on the target list, the Afghans have already let that cat out of the bag.”

    Just because someone tells the media that it was deliberate doesn’t mean it was deliberate, it might have more weight if it was a US spokesperson but in wars (no strike that) we can no longer believe goverment sources or the MSM.

    And just because Craig was told bloke was a spook doesn’t mean he was, I suspect he probably was an asset in much the same way Mangold was used as an asset by the CIA. poor bloke didn’t have a clue if what he was being told was true or false, he didn’t care, he just made a career from it.

    My money is on the US not knowing what went wrong. (No Knowledge of EW or GPS jamming / disruption / shifting so the can’t wave the OSA at me, suppose they can still cart me of to cuba.

  • MJ

    “My money is on the US not knowing what went wrong”

    Is there any reason at this stage to believe that anything went wrong?

  • Becky Cohen

    If Israel had done this then the Jewish people all over the world whether Israeli or not would have received the backlash from the word go. Yet strangely, even though the USA presents itself as a strongly Christian country, we hear no blame being levelled at a sinister Christian lobby with its immense wealth that manipulates and controls governments and media throughout the world. Surely since Jews in Britain, France and the USA are routinely judged for everything that Israel does and Muslims are being pressured into openly condemning groups like ISIS by Cameron as if it’s expected as their duty, then surely we should be damning the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury right now, too? RIP to all the innocent victims of this heart breaking tragedy.

  • MJ

    “surely we should be damning the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury right now”

    No worries. Damn the pope and damn the archbish.

  • Peter Beswick

    “Is there any reason at this stage to believe that anything went wrong?”

    I suppose not if you think that the US want their allies to think they are happy to murder their medical staff. Then clearly nothing went wrong.

    12 years ago the US were putting guided weapons through targetted windows of buildings in Iraq, I have no reason to think their technology has gone backwards, if they wanted to hit a hospital then that is in their capability. They were aware of the hospital’s co-ordinates ( both given then and acquired by themselves) so if they made an error with colateral damage assessment or for some reason the weapons flew into the hospital then something went wrong or it was deliberate.

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