On the 3rd of October 2015, for a whole hour, the hospital of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) was bombed. 12 MSF staff died, 10 patients died and 24 people are unaccounted for.
All I have heard in the past eight days has been a bland excuse for what happened: at first it wasn’t clear who had bombed the only medical facility in northern Afghanistan, then we were told it was the US Army but that it had been requested by NATO and the Afghan government. Before some pathetically attempted to say they didn’t know it was a hospital, MSF released a very strong press statement saying that all the parties involved in Afghanistan had been made aware of the geolocation of the hospital and of all its wards.
Now Peter Cook, spokesperson of the Pentagon, is offering, on behalf of the United States of America, a lump sum to rebuild the hospital and compensate the families of the victims.
A lot has been said about the Geneva Convention (and its explicit clause on the imperative prohibition to attack any medical facility) by all of those that, whenever a tragedy occurs, become instant experts of any matter.
I honestly don’t know enough about the Geneva Convention to be giving out advice on how to interpret it, if there’s a clause on proportionality or not, if it establishes how much compensation should be.
I appeal to those responsible for this bombing (knowing full well that they will probably never read this post) as a person, as a human being.
What mistake, what proportionality, what reason may push you to bomb a place where doctors and paramedics work day and night, to the end of their inner strength to provide a service that would be unaccessible otherwise? You knowingly bombed for an entire hour a hospital where you knew there were people who couldn’t move and run away, where there were doctors who would not abandon their patients.
What this incident proves is that the strong powers, in this case America, do get away with wiping their asses with international Conventions. They want to compensate MSF and the families of the victims, but you compensate when you have made a mistake, when you accidentally do something wrong. Not when you bomb a hospital knowing that dozens of people will die.
You don’t compensate the My Lai victims, you don’t compensate the victims of rape by the military in Somalia, you don’t compensate those you knowingly wronged. You get tried and pay for it. If the US weren’t the US we would be sceaming for the International Court of Human Rights to intervene, if it wasn’t Obama apologizing, but some obscure and anedoctical African leader we would find a way to depose them.
Those we don’t depose are the ones we fear or we need. Assad may be a murderer but he is very clear about wanting to keep Syria free of ISIS, so we don’t bat an eye when he kills those who rebel against him and calls them terrorists. Putin is a cold blooded psycopath and we make fun of his (frankly ridiculous) ego but don’t really stick our nose into Crimea. Obama is the face of tomorrow, of an America who can vote for a black president. So we let him apologize for what happened in Kunduz, gladly forgetting that it is the first time in history that a Nobel Peace Prize winner bombs another Nobel Peace Prize.