The Shifting Narrative on the Kunduz Attack

Over the weekend, the US bombed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 doctors and patients. We first discussed this story on Saturday, highlighting some examples of US hypocrisy on the subject of civilian casualties. And today, we must reluctantly return to the topic as the story continues to develop along the predictable government-commits-atrocity plot line.

Essentially, the government starts out portraying the story in the most favorable terms possible until their version of events is contradicted by the evidence. Then, the story is revised as necessary to a slightly less favorable version until that too is contradicted, and the cycle continues. The goal is to minimize (or justify) the tragedy long enough that everyone loses interest and moves on to something else. Then by the time any internal investigation is completed months later, few people will notice or care that no one was held accountable. That’s usually how this goes.

Of course, what’s unique about the Kunduz bombing is that a group of western aid workers from Doctors Without Borders was attacked, making this story far harder to downplay with the standard approach.

Once again, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent write-up on this story and how the US version of events has changed over time. He also highlights the heroic efforts of Doctors Without Borders to challenge the US narrative and keep this story in the news. The full article is available here:

And if you’re still interested in knowing more about the issue, you can also check out Greenwald’s complementary piece on the media coverage of this story. This case provides an excellent illustration how established media outlets can use language to subtly downplay events like this and mislead its audience. Check that out here:

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