Half-staff: Oregon to Afghanistan

[UPDATED 10/6] I saw the flag flying at half-staff today, and wondered — could it be because of the 19 22 medical personnel and patients killed by a U.S. bombing raid that repeatedly hit a hospital in Afghanistan on Saturday? No, of course not. The United States would never fly a flag at half staff for a mistake made by our own military, no matter how many doctors and nurses and children were killed. The flag is flying at half-staff because of another tragedy, the shootings that killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Two tragedies, one perpetrated by an individual acting against all laws and morality and the other, an official act done by our government in our name.

The Washington Post reports:

“Doctors Without Borders said its facility came under attack beginning at 2:08 a.m. It was hit by a series of aerial bombardments, lasting until 3:15 a.m. The main central hospital building, housing the intensive care unit, emergency rooms, and physiotherapy ward, was repeatedly hit very precisely during each aerial raid, the group says, while surrounding buildings were left mostly untouched.”

Doctors Without Borders said they repeatedly notified the United States military of the precise coordinates of the hospital over the past weeks. They also notified U.S. officials that the hospital was being hit, and the bombing still continued for half an hour after that notification.

Doctors and children are collateral damage in war, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Syria or Iraq. The U.S. Embassy said that, “our thoughts and prayers are with their team at this difficult moment.”

So the flag is flying at half-staff today for Oregon. Politicians are sending “thoughts and prayers” to Oregon. In his powerful speech, President Barack Obama said “thoughts and prayers are not enough.” That’s right. Thoughts and prayers are not enough for Oregon. But U.S. lives are not the only ones that count in the calculus of terror. Thoughts and prayers are not enough for Afghanistan either.

U.S. bombing headlineUPDATE 10/6/2015
The number of people killed in the hospital is now at 22, as three more of the wounded have died since this post was written.
Additional good information here: CNN and the NYT are deliberately obscuring who perpetrated the Afghan hospital attack (The Intercept)

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