In the wake of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, among the many things barely mentioned or already long forgotten (if ever even noticed), were the wedding parties U.S. air power took out there. Since the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by al-Qaeda’s four-plane air force in September 2001, the U.S. military has returned the favor in the distant lands where it’s fought its “war on terror.” In those years, that military proved to be, all too literally, a wedding crasher of the first order. Yes, American air power repeatedly wiped out weddings in Afghanistan and at least one each in Iraq and Yemen (where Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post headlined the story, ever-so-charmingly, “Bride and Boom!”).
From 2008 on, I tried to cover the slaughter of such wedding parties at TomDispatch. By 2013, I had counted eight such massacres in which brides, grooms, celebrants, even wedding musicians had been killed, sometimes en masse. In one of those Afghan slaughters, among 102 guests, only two women reportedly survived. In 2018, I noted a ninth wedding that had been devastated, also in Afghanistan, and suggested that when the U.S. finally departed from such wars we would leave behind “the equivalent of unending ‘towers’ of dead women and children in the Greater Middle East.” And there can be little question that I missed more such disasters.
As far as I could tell, however, few in this country gave a damn about such massacres. (Imagine the coverage and outrage if even one such event had ever happened here!) Nor, by the way, did our military high command bother to apologize for almost all of them and those slaughters were often barely noted in the news here. I don’t believe that any other media outlet even tried to keep track of them, though each was a kind of grim 9/11 for those involved.
So many passing mistakes, so many thousands of miles away, and here’s the sad truth of it: when Joe Biden finally withdrew those last American troops from Afghanistan (against the recommendations of his closest military advisers), even I had more or less forgotten about this country’s wedding slaughters and the record I had tried to keep of them. Fortunately, TomDispatch managing editor Nick Turse, in his latest one-of-a-kind piece, brought them all-too-sadly to my mind again.
You’ll see just why — and if what he’s written doesn’t take your breath away, well, join the crew in Washington. Despite CENTCOM commander General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr.’s recent pathetic and rare apology for our final drone assassination of seven Afghan children in Kabul, few in Washington have ever displayed the slightest sense of sorrow or remorse when it came to the staggering death toll this country caused in so many distant lands in response to one horror that befell us. That wedding record alone should have (but hasn’t) given “payback” new meaning. Tom
A Blue Kia and a Wall of Carnage on the Washington Mall
As a parting shot, on its way out of Afghanistan, the United States military launched a drone attack that the Pentagon called a “righteous strike.” The final missile fired during 20 years of occupation, that August 29th airstrike averted an Islamic State car-bomb attack on the last American troops at Kabul’s airport. At least, that’s what the Pentagon told the world.
Within two weeks, a New York Times investigation would dismantle that official narrative. Seven days later, even the Pentagon admitted it. Instead of killing an ISIS suicide bomber, the United States had slaughtered 10 civilians: Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group; three of his children, Zamir, 20, Faisal, 16, and Farzad, 10; Ahmadi’s cousin Naser, 30; three children of Ahmadi’s brother Romal, Arwin, 7, Benyamin, 6, and Hayat, 2; and two 3-year-old girls, Malika and Somaya.Read More