“Mistake” is it ever really acceptable?

In early October, Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan, was hit by a U.S. airstrike, aimed at the Taliban, which accidentally killed 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital. The non-profit called the airstrike a “war-crime” and has demanded a private investigation. As a result, after a couple of weeks, a top US commander admitted that the airstrike was a mistake.

“Accidentally killing” must never be a phrase that should be used, especially by the government of one of the world’s super powers. The U.S. is taking 100% of the blame for the tragedy, however John Campbell, the commander of the US and Nato war, has called it a “mistake” and has given ambiguity over what really happened. Something as critical as an airstrike, that can take hundred’s of lives in a matter of seconds, should be precisely carried out. There is no room for overlooking the effects of the airstrike, there is also no room for miscalculations, especially when it comes to the lives of innocent civilians. No such weapon should ever be used without being 100% certain that it is necessary and that its effects won’t be catastrophic. How far can a “I’m sorry” go and is it ever really enough? “I’m sorry” is acceptable when you accidentally break your mom’s favorite mug, not when innocent lives are taken. Death is not equivalent to ceramic breaking into pieces. “I’m sorry” or “it was a mistake” does not justify twenty-two funerals. Although the government is taking full responsibility for it and Campbell is doing his best to soften the blow, are wrong-doings actually being made right?

Nowadays, it seems that when something goes wrong, the first action the government does is to point a finger at everyone else, except themselves. Campbell has changed the story three times: first he stated the strike was within the “vicinity” of the hospital, then he said that the Afghans called in the strike and finally, that US forces called in the strike. The government and its agencies should be transparent to its citizens, especially when mistakes are made, but it’s far from it. Maybe this is an effect of U.S. citizens not holding bureaucrats to high accountability and oversight, or perhaps a result of corruption and the need to “save face.” This is all evidence that there is a need for government reform. When a person murders another one, they don’t get to say “I’m sorry” and eventually carry on with their lives normally, so why isn’t the government and it’s institutions held to such standards? If the case is brought to court and is defeated, those responsible for such mistake will no longer be held accountable. There will be no real consequences and this is where the American system is truly flawed.

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