How much is a life worth? Online publication, The Intercept can tell you how much an Afghan life is worth according to the US military.
The Intercept reports…
A decade of war in Afghanistan has left a legacy of death and destruction for the Afghan people, often at the hands of U.S. forces. Attaching a dollar figure to that suffering may be difficult, but that’s precisely what the U.S. military has done.
The Intercept obtained records for thousands of compensation payments made by the U.S. between 2003 and 2013. Some are “condolence payments” for innocents killed or injured in combat operations, while others are for a wide variety of damages — a child’s bicycle run over, an onion field crushed, twenty-one sheep killed in rocket fire. The payments presented here are not a comprehensive accounting of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but scrolling through these mundane indignities can offer a small window into thousands of fractured lives and personal tragedies.
In summary, the US military compensated Afghan families for civilian deaths and injuries as part of its campaign to win hearts and minds…after bombing those very hearts and minds to begin with.
The Intercept said…
“Condolence payments were approved… in Afghanistan beginning in 2005. They soon became part of the ‘hearts and minds’ approach to counterinsurgency.”
The report ,“Our Condolences: How the US Paid for Death and Damage in Afghanistan,” was based on thousands of death and injury claims filed through 2011 that the US Army released to the Intercept.
According to The Intercept…
Of 5,766 claims filed, 1,671 were paid for a total of $3.1 million, 733 were denied while “the rest are in various kinds of accounting limbo.”
The US Army counterinsurgency manual categorizes condolence payments as “a weapons system,” a seemingly dubious practice that has nonetheless been welcomed by humanitarian groups.
“While it might seem cynical to offer token compensation for a human life, humanitarian organizations embraced the policy as a way to acknowledge deaths and the hard economic realities of war zones.”
Some disturbing examples of compensation amounts include $181 for a man killed in a combat mission to $20,000 for a 5 year-old child crushed by a convoy.
As of February, 2014, at least 21,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the war in Afghanistan, according to Brown University’s Cost of War Project.
— The Intercept (@the_intercept) February 27, 2015
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.