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Red Cross warehouses hit. Again.
October 26, 2001 9:34 AM   Subscribe

Red Cross warehouses hit. Again. Note to the British and American military: the red crosses painted on the tops of those buildings are not meant to be bullseyes. Thank you.
posted by shylock (22 comments total)

 
It's terrible that this happens, but not surprising. There have been hundreds of bombs dropped, and yes, sometimes they'll miss their target.

There's no doubt that American forces are doing their best to limit casualities. I think they've done a pretty good job.
posted by jragon at 9:48 AM on October 26, 2001


There's something about the tenor of the response to civilian casualties that is, in a way, confounding. It's obvious that both our friends and enemies expect us to avoid civilians. The Taliban are taking advantage of this and placing both troops and equipment in city centers, mosques, etc.

What does this say of our morals and attitudes? Even our enemies expect us to take the high road and try to avoid killing the innocent. Our enemies make no such distinctions: the WTC attack was deliberately staged to kill as many civilians as possible.

It's also interesting to note that when these things happen, they are due to human error: a mis-entry of a GPS coordinate, or a pilot who overshot the mark by a bit. I just think it's telling that even our enemies expect us to act in an honorable fashion.
posted by mrmanley at 9:53 AM on October 26, 2001


It sucks, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Taliban launched a barrage on the warehouses that coincided with a nearby bombing run.
posted by groundhog at 9:58 AM on October 26, 2001


Some possibilities:

1) Ace pilot's finger slips and hits the ICRC warehouse instead of the pile of rubble/Taliban convoy/donkey he was aiming for.

2) What groundhog said. The Taliban are wacky, and more importantly, desperate.

3) What if...

The Taliban are taking advantage of this and placing both troops and equipment in city centers, mosques, etc.

Could it be possible that the T's are using Red Cross warehouses as storage facilities for their assets? Wouldn't suprise me. If some relief supplies have to be destroyed to get to a concentration of Taliban troops and equipment, maybe the sacrifice is worth it. The "essential food supplies, tents, tarpaulins, blankets and other aid supplies intended for the impoverished people of Kabul" contained within those warehouses wouldn't have gotten where they needed to go anyhow, given the current state of things.
posted by andnbsp at 10:41 AM on October 26, 2001


If they were desperately needed one would thing they would be in use and not in storage.
posted by revbrian at 10:48 AM on October 26, 2001


revbrian:

As andnbsp said, those warehouse supplies couldn't have been distributed anyhow given the chaotic nature of things. I'm not excusing the strike on a Red Cross building -- our targeters and pilots need to be extraordinarily carefull -- but we need to understand that, for all this talk of "smart weapons" and "pinpoint strikes", we are still primarily talking about old-fashioned iron bombs with large warheads. Given that kind of munition, our accuracy has been absolutely incredible.
posted by mrmanley at 11:19 AM on October 26, 2001


If American bombing was really as good as the Pentagon says it is, we would've completely destroyed the Red Cross compound the first time.
posted by dack at 11:25 AM on October 26, 2001


The President of the American Red Cross resigned today. Among other reasons, Healy said some of the policy differences had to do with how the organization should handle a decision by the International Red Cross to exclude the Israeli branch from membership.

Anyone know why they've 'isolated' the Isaeli branch? Are any other branches isolated this way? Is the International Red Cross sympathetic with the Arabs?
posted by schlyer at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2001


Why should we assume these aren't deliberate attempts to terrorize, err, demoralize the Afghans? This war has already cut off their lifeline to aid agencies and the ICRC foodstuffs and supplies could be used by the Taliban to feed and clothe their soldiers.

I don't believe the US rhetoric about protecting the Afghans after clearing the country of vital aid agencies, ineffective food-drops in a country full of land mines, and ordering Pakistan border closings. Afterall, this is a war and civilian casualties don't seem to be much of a real concern as much as a PR concern.
posted by skallas at 11:55 AM on October 26, 2001


Smart bombs?
posted by athensltd at 12:05 PM on October 26, 2001


Anyone know why they've 'isolated' the Isaeli branch? Are any other branches isolated this way? Is the International Red Cross sympathetic with the Arabs?

Senator Clinton Calls for Inclusion of Israel in International Red Cross: For more than 50 years, Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross, has been excluded from becoming a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross simply because MDA uses the red star of David as its emblem, rather than the red cross. In the Muslim world, countries are welcome to use the red crescent as their symbol.
posted by Carol Anne at 12:12 PM on October 26, 2001


Methinks swarms of B-52's carpetbombing the hell out of the joint would be a more effective way to "demoralize" them if that was truly the goal.

If you think dropping bombs right on target from thousands of feet while going hundreds of miles an hour is a 100% deal, you might want to reflect on why it takes years to train a military pilot. 'cause it ain't easy no matter how many techie gizmos you have.

Hell, I can't even get a wadded up piece of paper into a trashcan across the room most of the time.
posted by Cyrano at 12:14 PM on October 26, 2001


The Red Cross building had to be destroyed in order to save it.
posted by 40 Watt at 12:28 PM on October 26, 2001


That can't be right, Carol Anne: everyone knows that Hillary's a Jew-hating bitch because she gave Mrs Arafat a hug once. Or is this just her typically hypocritical attempt to curry favour from the New York Jewish lobby, masquerading as a sincere demand for social justice?
posted by holgate at 12:33 PM on October 26, 2001


Methinks swarms of B-52's carpetbombing the hell out of the joint would be a more effective way to "demoralize" them if that was truly the goal.

Like I said that would be PR suicide and this is in a lot of ways an unpopular war. Toss in the fact that the US has a history of "happy accidents" like a couple embassies our bombs somehow hit and a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant and you practically have a precedent.
posted by skallas at 12:34 PM on October 26, 2001


Are humanitarian aid groups choosing sides?

But the deeper reason that humanitarian groups believe the food drops taint relief efforts has nothing to do with their effectiveness. Despite their protestations of neutrality, the aid agencies simply oppose American bombing and, in their view, anything associated with it is morally tainted--regardless of whether or not it saves lives. Criticizing the military for dropping food is really a way of criticizing the military for dropping bombs.

Some of the aid groups have also called our food drops military propoganda. The drops certainly have a political message--namely that the United States bears no ill will toward the Afghan people--but this is only objectionable to those who disagree with it.

The Red Cross or Red Crescent but no Red Star seems to indicate this as a real possiblity.
posted by schlyer at 12:43 PM on October 26, 2001


Like I said that would be PR suicide and this is in a lot of ways an unpopular war.

Well, hitting a Red Cross building is hardly a good PR move. Hitting it twice even less so.

The Sudanese Chemical plant was a deliberate cruise missile strike, no? (that the target may or may not have been what the military though it was when they launched the attack is a different issue.) I don't think it falls in the same category as the Chinese embassy as far as setting a precedent. That is unless there is some proof that the embassy was an intentional strike rather than an accident, because all I've ever seen is conspiracy-laced assumptions.
posted by Cyrano at 1:22 PM on October 26, 2001


My driving instructor spent 15 years working with humanitarian organisations in Malawi, and he had plenty of stories about how the upper echelons of charity management are as politicised and self-serving as any corporate or state entity. On the ground, the aid workers muck in together, but when it comes to arranging seats around the conference table, it's positively Machiavellian.

Criticizing the military for dropping food is really a way of criticizing the military for dropping bombs.

Having heard reports on tonight's news from refugees who would gladly trade in their TV dinners for a bag of grain, I suspect it's really a way of criticising the military for dropping food that's totally unsuited to the circumstances.
posted by holgate at 1:59 PM on October 26, 2001


shit happens in wartime.....get over it already!
posted by billybob at 2:04 PM on October 26, 2001


shit happens in wartime.....get over it already!

good call. yep. real good call.
posted by mcsweetie at 4:50 PM on October 26, 2001


What BILLYBOB said, + that's our stuff in the warehouse anyway.
posted by Mack Twain at 6:58 PM on October 26, 2001


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (which is the true umbrella organization; the ICRC is more like a multinational org that goes where it's needed, especially where there is no local affiliate) has been trying to solve the emblem issue by adding a "red diamond" to the list of approved emblems. Note that the sanctity, such as it is, of the red cross emblem is written into the Geneva Conventions on the rules of war. Because of this there has been resistance to simply adding any old emblem desired (a red mandala? a red prayer wheel? etc.), so Magen David Adom has been excluded since long before the existence of the state of Israel. It's not specifically discriminatory though one supposes there may be some part of the pushback that's anti-Semitic or at least anti-Zionist.

It wasn't until some Red Cross workers were killed in Chechnya by Muslim guerrillas, apparently merely offended at the Christian symbol on their building, that the international organization got cracking on a solution. (Note that ObL has been financing and training Chechen rebels. Hmmmm.....)

The American Red Cross supported adding Magen David Adom and the red Star of David emblem, and thus opposes the red diamond emblem proposal; but this may change now that Healy's out. Apparently that tied into her conflict with the board somehow.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on October 26, 2001


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