After a successful summit with the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan at the White House this week to rid both nations of the Taliban as well as Al Qaeda serious "collateral damage" incidents in both nations have created some some new difficulties on both war fronts. In Afghanistan, an incident blamed on U.S. bombing in which 120 civilians were killed has resulted in an angry pledge from that nation for the u.s. to halt all bombing missions on suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. And in Pakistan, the ongoing and renewed war on the Taliban has now resulted in up to 500,000 refugees and a huge humanitarian crisis. Within days, it is likely that the number of refugees could top 800,000.
This is a serious problem that threatens the success of the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in both nations. During the Vietnam Civil War, when Viet Cong fighters began to use bases in Cambodia, American efforts to combat these forces only helped to hurt the population of that country and destabilize that country and ensure that it fell to Communist forces.
As hard as the Obama Administration is attempting to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in both nations, the huge problem with collateral damage as well as refugees only serves to defeat the overall purpose, and endanger the ultimate success of the mission.
The real problem for war is that it is always the civilian population that pays one of the highest prices of warfare. These recent problems in both Pakistan and Afghanistan both well illustrate this. And the populations left homeless or those whose friends or family members die at the hands of American bombs only will grow to resent the U.S.
Some problems it seems are far more difficult than just bombing away. And the continued war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan will only leave more civilians dead or homeless.
War is indeed a messy business.