The Wikileaks disclosure of thousands of pages of military documents dealing with the war in Afghanistan today highlight, among other things, “how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents.”
This is a particularly important disclosure in light of a report released earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). NBER’s report, titled “The Effect of Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq,” studied the blowback among the population from civilian casualties caused by international forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It concludes that blowback is a considerable problem faced by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. It finds “strong evidence for a revenge effect in that local exposure to ISAF generated civilian casualties drives increased insurgent violence over the long-run.” The BBC notes that NBER’s report finds that “in areas where two civilians were killed or injured by Nato…there were on average an extra six violent incidents between insurgents and US-led troops in the following six weeks“:
They say that in areas where two civilians were killed or injured by Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), there were on average an extra six violent incidents between insurgents and US-led troops in the following six weeks. The report concludes that civilian deaths frequently motivate villagers to join the ranks of insurgents.
“In Afghanistan, when Isaf units kill civilians, this increases the number of willing combatants, leading to an increase in insurgent attacks.” “Local exposure to violence from Isaf appears to be the primary driver of this effect.”
The report also notes that General Stanley McChrystal’s new rules of engagement that he imposed upon soldiers under his command in Afghanistan “led to a decline in attacks by insurgent fighters.” General David Petraeus, who has just taken command of American forces in Afghanistan, is currently reviewing McChrystal’s rules and is considering altering them.