A few days ago I wrote about the conspicuous absence of any news reports of the aftermath of the MOAB strike in Afghanistan. The point of my post was not to declare there had or hadn’t been civilian casualties or civilian collateral damage in the area that was bombed, but simply to say that news organizations and non-governmental organizations likely could not get that information for logistical reasons. That logistical difficulty may very well have been why that particular target was chosen.
Someone at The Guardian must have known what I was writing up because that same day a piece on the devastation left by the MOAB was finally published. But let’s note that it took journalists four days to get access to and release the story, which in this day and age is quite a long time.
The first paragraph describes an Afghan commando capturing the moment of the blast with his cell phone. Whatever he caught, we cannot see. Somebody somewhere has likely decided it would be a “security issue” if such images were allowed to be published.
While there is no mention of civilian casualties, we can see that the Nangarhar province already bore many scars of war. Whatever the US strike accomplished in removing the threat that ISIL posed to the local villagers (and let’s remember that it was the Afghans of the area who were primarily threatened by ISIL and not “American interests”) war is still there. Perhaps any assessment of the damage done by MOAB would be difficult to differentiate from the wounds already inflicted.
And yet, the images that are most likely to remain with the American public are those of the unexploded bomb and the ambiguous black and white aerial footage of its impact. They were the first images and the most palatable. Whatever victory was scored against ISIL in the strike, the scenes from Nangarhar wouldn’t inspire much celebration.
If you catch any other images being circulated on television or on digital sources like the Huffington Post, let me know.