Members of the Armed Services Committee did their due groveling diligence, politely requesting that he keep them apprised of the military's investigation into its own war crime. No big rush, they'll be happy with a rough draft by Halloween. Not one of them, either Republican or Democrat, ever once uttered the phrase "war crime," of course. The euphemisms they employed to describe the bombing, resulting in critically sick patients being incinerated to death in their own hospital beds, ranged from "tragedy" to "accident" to "incident" to "mistake."
At best, the lawmakers politely asked the general if his feelings would be hurt in the event of an independent United Nations investigation of the atrocity. At worst, they apologized to the general for having to inconvenience him with their oh-so-delicate questions. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) even went so far as to reassure Campbell: "Do you think there's anybody here who regrets this incident more than the pilots of that airplane?"
Campbell could barely contain his sigh of relief and the sanctimonious smirk on his face at that little doozy. He confidently informed lawmakers that he was "not yet at liberty" to tell the truth of what really went down on Saturday. It would not be appropriate to comment while he is still getting his story straight. He's already had to change his story four times in four days. First, he said he didn't know anything about the attack. Then he wasn't sure who bombed the hospital and if the pilots knew about the hospital. Then the hospital was attacked because American soldiers were in harm's way. Then he said that Afghan troops had simply snapped their fingers, and the Americans complied by killing doctors and sick people, no questions asked.
The outlandish stories seem not to matter, either to him or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Now that he appears confident that his job is not on the line, he is magnanimously able to take "full responsibility" for the atrocity.
How unfair would it be, sympathized Dave Sullivan (R-Alaska) if the United Nations presumed to investigate Exceptional America! After all, this international body doesn't investigate every Taliban atrocity, so why should they be allowed to investigate a beneficent American mistake? Did Campbell know of any such precedent?
"No Sir," Campbell obligingly replied.
To the extent that Campbell was grilled at all, it was over recent revelations of American military complicity with an epidemic of child sex abuse by Afghan security troops. When Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) pressed him about the scandal, he lamely responded that rampant pederasty hasn't been a problem on his own watch. He claimed he knows nothing about reports that American soldiers reporting the abuse up the chain of command have themselves been punished for being whistle-blowers. That was so 2010, or maybe 2011, he huffed.
But he vowed that if he ever does find out that child sex abuse and cover-ups are still continuing, he'll take it all the way up to the President. Gillibrand foolishly thought that he meant President Obama, until Campbell quickly disabused her at of that notion. When Campbell says "the president" he means President Ghani, the current Afghan puppet. Ghani will also be "investigating" the hospital bombing while continuing to give the American military full immunity from prosecution for it and all other war crimes, now and in the future. That friendly "status of forces agreement" he signed with the Obama administration was a condition of his elevation to official puppethood, after all.
Republican senators did their utmost to pressure Campbell into openly criticizing President Obama's current plan to start removing half the current troops by next year.The general was too smart to take that obvious partisan bait, but the text of his opening statement was already perfectly clear. He wants it to be a true Forever War.
"Based on conditions on the ground, I do believe we have to provide our senior leadership with options different from the current plan. As I take a look at conditions on the ground, when the president made that decision it did not take into account the changes over the past two years," he declared.
He did not add, nor was he asked, about one current condition on the ground being a burnt-out hospital which might elicit just the blowback situation that the War Machine needs to justify its own perpetual presence in the Graveyard of Empires.
Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), who sometimes poses as a conscientious objector, rhetorically asked Campbell about this perpetual presence. A rough synopsis of the exchange, from my own notes:
Manchin: Should we stay? Why repeat the failure in Iraq?
Campbell: Afghanistan is not Iraq. The Afghans want us there!
Manchin: Do we continue pouring money in? Isn't our presence their entire economy? Is there even an Afghanistan economy?
Campbell: We had a recent meeting in Dubai. Investors are interested in coming in and purchasing all the airfields we're closing!
Manchin: What do you say about the C-130 that just crashed on take-off? (killing one of Manchin's constituents.)
Campbell: Thoughts and Prayers.
Perhaps the most Kafkaesque moment of the Senate testimony came toward the end of the session, as Campbell congratulated himself for the alleged improved living conditions of Afghan citizens thanks to the American military occupation. And then he bemoaned their mass exodus from the country because of horrific conditions on the ground engendered by the 14-year-old occupation. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the American military to stay in order to prevent even more people from fleeing all the horror.
The Senate has no immediate plans to hold a hearing for the victims or witnesses to the American bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital.
|"Collateral Damage" (photo, Doctors Without Borders)|