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US Military decides that Afghan lives are worth up to $2,500

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How much money is a human life worth? In Afghanistan it can range from $1500-$2500, the value of a few paychecks for the average worker here in the United States.

According to The Washington Post, US Army units now fighting in the Helmand province have instituted a "compensation" system that callously tries to make up for the continuing bloodshed and occupation of Afghanistan by throwing money, (what amounts to very little when compared to most wrongful death lawsuit settlements in the US) at local family members of civilian victims of NATO strikes and to owners of damaged property.

The article states:

The death of a child or adult is worth $1,500-$2,500, loss of limb and other injuries $600-$1,500, a damaged or destroyed vehicle $500-$2,500, and damage to a farmer's fields $50-$250.

The system is also useful for gathering intelligence on insurgents, says 1st Sgt. Gene Hicks of Tacoma, Washington.

The military pays villagers in local currency for information about the location of roadside bombs as well as "where they've seen people at, where they've seen people moving, where they've seen people shooting from," Hicks said.

What's remarkable, other than the amounts paid and the fact that a vehicle could be priced the same as a human life, is how ripe for abuse such a strategy is.The article mentions very little of what safeguards are put in place to keep locals with personal axes to grind against their own enemies, or just for financial gain, from falsely turning each other in for "aiding the Taliban." Nor does it explain how claims are investigated to prevent locals from committing fraud by destroying their own property for profit or placing bombs themselves on roadsides in order to report the location to the military and collect the money.

The article continues...

"It's not an exact science, but some Afghan civilians in the area of Badula Qulp, northeast of the contested Taliban stronghold of Marjah, have been quick to exploit it. In any casualty case, the Americans are mindful that they might be asked to compensate for the death of an insurgent, rather than a civilian."

Another article from The Nation in November of 2009 titled, "How the US Funds the Taliban," revealed how the US Military pays money to former Taliban members to "protect" American supply routes:

"In this grotesque carnival, the US military's contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban.

"It's a big part of their income," one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon's logistics contracts hundreds of millions of dollars consists of payments to insurgents."

All of this money being thrown around Afghanistan, along with the troop surge and the installment of around 700 bases paints a sobering picture of what the motivation behind the Afghan War continues to be under Obama -- not liberation, but occupation. Caught in a quagmire and unable to force the population into an unconditional surrender, US dollars are being dumped into the country to temporarily buy-off the opposition while the US seizes control of the natural resources and creates a long-term presence there, all the while quietly expanding its war into Pakistan.

Paying locals to tattle on each other allows a constant conflict to ensue as new enemies are created, and even possibly fabricated, to justify the military's presence in Afghanistan. Bestowing a pittance to the families of civilians killed conjures the illusion of compensation for the lives cut short to concerned Americans at home, many of whom are becoming increasingly resigned to the United States' execution of perpetual war.

In reality, civilian deaths stir up hatred in Afghanistan from the friends and families of the victims, some of whom take revenge and become "the enemy,", thus strategically prolonging the stay of our soldiers who are caught in the middle of Washington's geopolitical chess game.

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Andrew Steele is the editor of America 20xy-- an independent news service that highlights articles from around the web focusing on international and economic policy, and human rights abuses. The mission statement for the page is a quote from Thomas (more...)
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