Soon after the bombing of a MÃ©decins Sans FrontiÃ¨res (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on October 3, an MSF medic was interviewed, saying he and his colleagues had repeatedly alerted the Pentagon of the facility’s precise location before the attack and had also contacted the Pentagon during the attack to urge the United States to stop dropping bombs on the hospital.
I knew immediately that this was yet another case of US military hubris. It brought up graphic memories of the results of a prior US military assault on a humanitarian refuge.
I think it’s safe to say that most US residents assume the military that operates thanks to their tax dollars has a permanent, blanket order to not bomb hospitals, schools, clinics, places of worship, community centers, neighborhoods and other civilian structures. Like bomb shelters.
MSF is an internationally acclaimed – and widely beloved – organization that was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize (yes, the Nobel was also awarded to Henry Kissinger, Barack Obama and the European Union, among other unworthy recipients, but in the case of MSF, no rational person could argue it was undeserved). That alone should have ensured that calls from MSF would yield a top-level order to US bombers to steer wide of the hospital, even if a suspected terrorist or two was being treated or even, unwounded, had sought refuge there.
And if there had been a “mistake” at first, the urgent calls should have brought an immediate halt to any further bombing until the situation was clarified.
But none of this happened.