"What happened in this village [Azizabad] last summer tightened the rules about the use of air strikes. They should only be used in life or death situations."Life or death situations: that is a statement that Yossarian would appreciate! Bowman doesn't mention that the lives that count in Afghanistan are US-NATO service members and the throw-aways are any and all others that get in the way of preserving those lives. Robert Fisk summed it up last May after another US air-launched massacre:
"And of course, the reason is quite simple. We live, they die. We don't risk our brave lads on the ground – not for civilians. Not for anything. Fire phosphorus shells into Fallujah. Fire tank shells into Najaf. We know we kill the innocent."Being embedded with US special forces also tends to constrict and simplify the complexities of Afghanistan into US/them, good-guy/bad guy nonsense. Though he mentions a "tightening of the rules" - Bowman fails to mention the lengths that the US-military went to in trying to cover-up and deny the Azizibad killings - and the subsequent Callan report (critiqued here by HRW) put out by the US military which undercut the premises of "tightening the rules" in the first place.
Bowman's report also features the typical lumping of all insurgent forces under the Taliban name - a distortion that Anand Gopal of the CSM noted in this discussion of insurgent forces in Afghanistan. Bowman has so adopted the language the Green Berets that he states that after the US massacre in Azizibad, US forces pulled back and "allowed the Taliban to regroup and move into the void. Coalition forces call them anti-Afghan forces or AAF." Anti-Afghan forces? According to who? According to what impartial evidence?
Bowman ends his report with this extra shiny assessment of what the US is up to in Afghanistan:
"Fighting among civilians, winning a counterinsurgency takes a particular patience, these soldiers say, and a willingness to make sure your weapons are precise, helping the people, killing only the enemy."This from a man who last fall reported on the wonderful counterinsurgency efforts of the US during the Vietnam War and then in December gave a glowing report on the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan.