Human Error or War Crime? An Analysis

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Publish Date : 05/21/2016 10:07
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Human Error or War Crime? An Analysis
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In a news conference, US military commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph Votel, gave the conclusions of Pentagon’s investigation into the Doctors Without Borders hospital missile attack conducted by US planes in Qunduz in Afghanistan

According to his statement said the cause of last September’s attack was a collective of errors and cannot be deemed as a war crime. Dozens of people were killed and injured in the attack children and medical workers among them. Nonetheless the American commander has admitted that some American personnel had not observed the rules of engagement and had been disciplined.
Although the method and quality of Pentagon’s investigation is not clear and no explanations have been given, but it is clear however that it will not be acceptable by the international charity group, Doctors Without Borders, because the group had immediately after the attack called for an independent enquiry, and it cannot now accept the explanation of the Defense Department, and it is natural that it has not been convinced by the US military officials explanation. Particularly when the coordinates of the hospital had been announced to all parties in conflict prior to the air attack, and at the time of the attack there were no armed individuals in the hospital. Furthermore the hospital was repeatedly attacked which seriously questions the attack being an error. Therefore for as long as an independent investigation is not conducted by neutral organizations, Pentagon’s investigation will be deemed as biased, and not only will it remain unacceptable by Doctors Without Borders, but it will not provide a convincing answer to public opinion, who deem the attack on the Qunduz hospital as a war crime.
In view of the discrepancy in the view of the United States and Doctors Without Borders and public opinion the question that now arises is why does America treat such an important subject as an internal military matter? And ignores its dangerous consequences. Popular belief in this regard is that it is clear for US military officials what took place which resulted in the aerial attack on the hospital, but it is not easy for the Pentagon to own up. Such a confession will massively dent its reputation, and can prevent similar operations from taking place in the future, and this is while US soldiers who are on active duty outside the country have impunity from many military codes and rules, and if they commit a crime, they are not treated as criminals inside America. This Pentagon double standard has been seen many times. Incidents such as what took place in Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Belgram in Afghanistan is such an interpretation. Therefore it was already expected that the Pentagon would not investigate the subject of war crime and instead concentrate on human error. The conclusion of the investigation have proven this trend.
It is clear that a case with such importance which is investigated as an internal US military disciplinary case, there will be no other conclusion other than the officially announced one. The investigations conclusions will be convincing when they are conducted by independently and by neutral organizations. The Pentagon investigation conclusion is as unconvincing as the initial claims that suggested there were armed individuals in the hospital. It was later clarified that there were no Taliban or other armed groups in the hospital, and the US military knew the exact coordinates of the hospital previously. Therefore in view of Doctors Without Borders and world public opinion will continue to be seen as the attack on the hospital as deliberate and a war crime,and the US military cannot cover this up. Furthermore, no explanations have been given regarding what kind of disciplinary action is to take place on the 16 servicemen that were found guilty. Is there a proportionate disciplinary action for the committed crime, be it even if it’s due to wrong information being the reason behind the bombing of the hospital, been considered by the Pentagon or not? On the other hand there is no room for doubt that if there is no proportion between the crime and punishment, it will not have a preventive effect which is the main objective. Apparently in its investigations the Pentagon has not considered this certain fact.
Therefore no matter which angle the conclusions of the Pentagon investigation is looked at it still is still hard to convince public opinion and at the same time due to its bias, it cannot have any preventive effects. In such a viewpoint, the hospital bombing incident will not be the first or last which will be deemed as war crimes in public opinion, and US military officials deem them as human errors. In any event the bitter truth is that it makes no difference to the victims of these incidents whether others deem them human errors or war crimes. They lose their lives without knowing why.


Iran newspaper, By: Pir Mohammad Molazehi

“ Human Error or War Crime? An Analysis ”