NATO has come under fire today for the accidental shooting of nine Afghan boys. This is the second attack by American coalition forces in Afghanistan that has resulted in the death of civilians in recent days. As The Wall Street Journal's Dion Nissenbaum and Habib Khan Totakhil point out, "most civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by the insurgents and not by coalition forces." Still, "deaths such as these often fuel animosity towards the U.S.-led fight to cripple the Taliban."
Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. forces have long been presumed to drive local people towards the insurgency, in both of the current wars and previously, in Vietnam, as well. But though we usually don't get much anecdotal evidence of this widespread assumption, one particular reaction to General Petraeus's public apology for the accident--the first of its kind since he took over for Stanley McChrystal in July--struck us as we looked through coverage of this event: The Wall Street Journal contacted Mohammed Bismal, the brother of two of the boys killed in the helicopter shooting. Over the phone he told the paper, "I don't care about the apology. The only option I have is to pick up a Kalashnikov, RPG, or a suicide vest to fight."