Obama apologizes for MSF airstrike

On Wednesday morning, President Obama contacted Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) president, Dr. Joanne Liu, to express regret for the accidental bombing of the MSF hospital facility in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3rd.

At a White House briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated the president spoke to Dr. Lui by phone and said:  (Mr. Obama) “offered a heartfelt apology and a commitment to find out what went wrong.”

When pressed by a reporter if Mr. Obama had offered an account for the bombing to Dr. Lui, Earnest replied: “No.”

MSF repeated its call for an independent probe into the attack which left 22 dead, 12 of whom were MSF staff members.

Stating “even war has rules,” Dr. Lui pressed the Geneva Conventions’ International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to empanel a board to investigate the bombing.  MSF dispatched letters to 76 nations calling on them to support the creation of a board of inquiry.

“It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake.  This was not just an attack on our hospital. It was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated,” Dr. Liu said at a news conference in Geneva.

Dismissing three separate inquiries into the bombing conducted by the U.S., the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Afghan security services, Dr. Lui said:  “We cannot rely on only internal military investigations.

MSF legal counsel, Francoise Saulnier, approved of Dr. Lui’s call for the Geneva Conventions’ investigation and said:  “We work on the assumption of a war crime.”

It appears as if the only actor which provokes white-hot anger is the United States.

How often does Dr. Lui or Ms. Saulnier hold press conferences to denounce atrocities committed by the Taliban which provide MSF with an endless stream of civilian and military casualties?

The difference between the American and Taliban military strategy is elementary:  The bombing of the MSF hospital by the U.S. was inadvertent and the Taliban’s terrorization of the Afghan people is a matter of deliberate policy.

The Americans admitted the error and Mr. Obama apologized; on the contrary, the Taliban is unrepentant for inflicting injury on the Afghan populace.

While we understand Dr. Lui’s and MSF’s frustration and anger at the loss of colleagues, this was an accident.

This sad event is being investigated by three separate entities.  Should Dr. Lui achieve her goal of an inquiry supervised by the Geneva Conventions, it may only draw slightly different conclusions.


[Reuters] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy Inserbia.info]