Like clockwork, following an atrocity like the bombing by the US of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, we see the five stages of public relations manipulation by the US government, aided by its media allies. The first is: We didn’t do it, it must have been someone else. Next we have: Well, let’s not jump to conclusions but wait and see for a full and thorough investigation that may take months or even years. The third is: We may have done it but we’ll have to look into what might have gone wrong. The fourth is: It looks like we did it but if we did it was justified because those devious enemies tricked us into doing it. The fifth is: Yes we did it but we didn’t mean to, it was an accident due to the ‘fog-of-war’ etc. and we will pay compensation to the victims (ignoring the fact that there was absolutely no fog involved).
Glenn Greenwald looks at how two leading US news outlets CNN and the New York Times have begun the process of exonerating the US government for the bombing following the lines above.
First they tried to avoid directly identifying the US as the source of the aerial attack that caused the deaths and destruction, leaving it as some sort of inexplicable mystery how it could be that the US was bombing in that general area at the same time the hospital was hit.
Then, as avoidance of responsibility became unrealistic, it slowly shifted to justification of the bombing by having Afghan government officials suggest that the hospital was being used by fighters opposed to the government.
But this time, rather than the victims being faceless and voiceless foreigners whose voices can be ignored, MSF was the target and they are not letting the US government weasel its way out of this the way they usually do. MSF has repeatedly emphasized that “the hospital was repeatedly & precisely hit during each aerial raid, while the rest of the compound was left mostly untouched” and that “To be clear; not a single member of our staff reported any fighting inside #Kunduz hospital compound prior to US airstrikes Saturday morning” and that the bombing went on for 30 minutes even after they protested.
The real crime of MSF may be that it is their policy to treat any injured person irrespective of whether it is one of ‘ours’ or one of ‘theirs’. This is an idea that tribal warmongers simply cannot get their heads around.
But as Greenwald says:
Even cynical critics of the U.S. have a hard time believing that the U.S. military would deliberately target a hospital with an airstrike (despite how many times the U.S. has destroyed hospitals with airstrikes). But in this case, there is long-standing tension between the Afghan military and this specific MSF hospital, grounded in the fact that the MSF – true to its name – treats all wounded human beings without first determining on which side they fight. That they provide medical treatment to wounded civilians and Taliban fighters alike has made them a target before.
But even if there were, only the most savage barbarians would decide that it’s justified to raze a hospital filled with doctors, nurses and patients to the ground. Yet mounting evidence suggests that this is exactly what the U.S. military did – either because it chose to do so or because its Afghan allies fed them the coordinates of this hospital which they have long disliked. As a result, we now have U.S. and Afghan officials expressly justifying the consummate war crime: deliberately attacking a hospital filled with doctors, nurses and wounded patients.
As the facts of this atrocity become ever-more apparent and hard to deny, expect the usual tap dancing by the triumvirate of the political-military-media allies to try and dump this into the memory hole.