Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 23, 2008

Around the Hindu Kush, 30 is a Magic Number

... or so it seems ...

U.S.: 30 militants killed in west Afghanistan, AP, Aug 22, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S.-led troops attacked a compound where Taliban leaders were meeting and killed 30 militants, American and Afghan military officials said Friday, but the Interior Ministry said a large number of civilians died. The U.S. said it would investigate.
The coalition said its troops called in airstrikes on the compound in the Shindand district of western Herat province Thursday
However, the Afghan Interior Ministry claimed U.S. coalition bombs killed 76 civilians, including 19 women and 50 children under the age of 15. The ministry called the bombing a "mistake."

... let's add 15 x 30 militants' killed  to that toll ....

US coalition: 30 militants die in Afghan battle, AP, Aug 21, 2008
KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S.-led coalition troops battled a group of militants in eastern Afghanistan, killing over 30 insurgents, while three NATO soldiers were killed in a roadside blast elsewhere, officials said Thursday.

The coalition troops used small arms and airstrikes during the raid in eastern Laghman province on Wednesday, killing more than 30 fighters, the coalition said. A cache of mortars and bomb-making material was also destroyed.


US and Afghan Troops Kill Dozens of Militants in Afghanistan, VOA News, Aug. 16
The U.S.-led coalition Saturday said more than 30 militants were killed in three days of fierce fighting in Zamto Valley, in southern Kandahar province. The coalition said its troops along with Afghan forces called in airstrikes during the clashes that began Wednesday and ended Friday.


Pakistan army targets militants in northwest, AP, Aug 8, 2008
KHAR, Pakistan---- At least 30 militants and seven Pakistani paramilitary troops have died in clashes near the Afghan border, where security forces pounded insurgent hideouts Friday with helicopter gunships and mortar fire, officials and residents said.

The offensive in the tribal region of Bajur came in the wake of a militant assault on an outpost manned by security forces Wednesday.


Taliban commander and 30 militants killed , Quqnoos, Feb 22, 2008
AFGHAN troops have killed 30 Taliban militants in Helmand, according to the Ministry of Defence.

Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Bari and 29 of his men were killed yesterday in the districts of Musa Qala and Kajaki (Wednesday) during a five hour battle that involved ground soldiers and air strikes.


Militants release students and teachers taken hostage at Pakistan school, Guardian, Jan 28, 2008
Last week, Pakistani forces killed up to 30 militants in clashes near the city of Peshawar, after militants seized four trucks carrying ammunition and other paramilitary supplies.

Security forces recently launched a ground and air assault against Baitullah Mehsud, the Taliban commander accused of orchestrating the assassination in December of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto.


Report: 30 militants killed in Swat , UPI, Nov 26, 2007
Pakistani forces say they killed 30 militants in their latest offensive to regain control of the violence-racked Swat valley, Dawn reported Monday.


Forces Kill 30 Militants, Find Weapons Caches in Afghanistan, AFPS, Sep 9, 2007
WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2007 – Afghan and coalition forces killed more than 30 suspected militants during an operation yesterday in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

The combined force suspected targeted compounds, located in the Garmser district, were providing sanctuary to anti-coalition militants. Precision munitions were employed to destroy the buildings, which had fortified fighting positions and interlocking tunnels.


Two British soldiers, 45 insurgents killed in Afghan fighting, AP, Sep 5, 2007
Taliban attacks killed two British soldiers and two Afghan police officers Wednesday in restive southern Afghanistan, while nearly 30 militants were killed elsewhere, authorities said.


U.S. Says Attacks Are Surging in Afghanistan , NYT, Jan 16, 2007
Shortly before Mr. Gates arrived along the border, the Pakistani Army announced that it had launched an airstrike on a suspected militant camp in South Waziristan, killing 25 to 30 militants that it said were Al Qaeda members, according to The Associated Press, which quoted a Pakistani Army spokesman.


30 militants killed in S. Afghanistan., Xinhua, Jan 14, 2007
Afghan and NATO forces killed 30 Taliban operatives in the troubled Helmand province in south Afghanistan on Saturday, provincial police chief Mohammad Nabi Mullahkhil said Sunday.

"In an operation launched by Afghan and NATO troops against insurgents in Kajaki district Saturday, 30 enemies were killed and 20 others were wounded," Mullahkhil told Xinhua.


Coalition predicts "significant fighting" in southern Afghanistan, 30 militants killed, AP, June 21, 2006
Dateline: KABUL, Afghanistan Southern Afghanistan will witness "significant fighting" between U.S.-led coalition and Taliban forces for several months before NATO takes control of the region, the military said Wednesday.

The grim warning came a day after coalition and Afghan forces conducted raids in southern Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, killing 30 insurgents, Afghan and coalition forces said.


'Scores of Afghan Taleban killed' , BBC, June 10, 2006
A statement by the US-led coalition said "more than 30" militants were killed in a clash with Afghan and Canadian forces in Arghandab district in Zabul on Monday.


Rumsfeld arrives in Kabul as 30 Taleban killed in Helmand, Times Online, July 11, 2006
US-led forces hunting a Taleban commander have killed an estimated 30 Taleban militia in an overnight raid on a hide-out in southern Afghanistan, the US military said today.

The raid came shortly before Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, arrived on an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he expressed confidence that the Taleban would be defeated.


Up to 30 militants killed in Pakistan, CBC News, Mar 11, 2006
Pakistani security forces backed by helicopter gunships have attacked a suspected hideout of Islamist militants in a tribal region near the Afghan border, killing up to 30 people.

The overnight attack in the North Waziristan tribal region was ordered after intelligence reports suggested that militants were gathered in a compound along with a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives.


Afghan, U.S. troops battle insurgents in Afghanistan, at least 19 dead, AP, Feb 3, 2006
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) - Fierce fighting involving U.S. warplanes and Afghan troops in southern Afghanistan left at least 16 suspected Taliban rebels and three police dead, an official said Friday.
A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara, said American forces, including A-10 war planes, responded to an initial attack on Afghan security forces by up to 30 militants.

Why did the marketing/propaganda buffoons chose 30 as the magic number?

Posted by b on August 23, 2008 at 4:11 UTC | Permalink


come on B, why should these guys have to pull a new number out of their ass when they already have one memorized?

Posted by: ran | Aug 23 2008 6:35 utc | 1

In ancient and medieval chronicles, standard round numbers are par for the course. An army is said to be 100,000 strong, and no matter that it is really only 6,745. Not only the normal exaggeration of enemy numbers (and dead, as here), but also what is culturally typical when you don't actually have any statistics, as a medieval chronicler would not have. Medieval historians don't take numbers in their texts seriously any more. That's what you have here, a standardised round number. The only question is why they settle on thirty, rather than twenty or forty.

Posted by: Alex | Aug 23 2008 7:02 utc | 2

30 is one-a-day and that keeps CenCom off your ass until your next $1500 paycheck.

Posted by: Pey Czech | Aug 23 2008 7:20 utc | 3

Well, at least it seems neither of the guys on the Dem ticket are gung-ho to nuke Iran. Not that it's much reassuring, but you gotta go with what you get, I suppose...

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 23 2008 13:57 utc | 4

Ooops. Wrong thread, sorry. I guess some clean-up will be required.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 23 2008 13:57 utc | 5

They got suckered. The Afghan resistance is divisible by 30 an infinite number of times. Please, don't nobody tell them.

Posted by: Pvt. Keepout | Aug 23 2008 16:13 utc | 6

Didn't they have colossal body counts in Viet Nam, usually divisible by five or ten? At least they're staying on message, anyway.

Posted by: | Aug 23 2008 17:39 utc | 7

& again in this instance, the western media follows centcom & lies through their rotten teeth. they massacre over 100 women & children authenticated by prvincial govt leaders, the interior ministry & as much as aljazeera who also follow centcom - they hold documentary proof of the massacre - which they have been showing today.

by monday - they will no doubt follow centcoms line. i'm not in the least surptised - that this will be covered up as is the everyday massacring of the afghan people

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 18:10 utc | 8

My daughter worked as an intern at China Youth Daily when she was studying at Beijing University (First American to do so). In China reporters need special permission to report any death toll greater than 29. Whenever an incident is reported with 29 casualties, people understand than it code for probably much more.

Posted by: biklett | Aug 23 2008 20:26 utc | 9

i was reprimanded by fellow poster for thinking al jazeera disgraces itself. s/he was right to point out it was a corporate entity & followed those imperatives. what i did not say at the time was that for some time aj had been prudent with the truth & had shown a degree of excellence - completely absent in the western media. & i mean, completely

but quite rapidly, especially in the coverage of latin america which some times rival foxnews for its utter one-sidedness. in it's open access to centcom, to flunkees of bush & other republican administrations of whom they gave space even the most rightist of american media doesn't, their stable of ex bbc hacks who treat al jazeera like a theate-in-education gig on their way to the main stage. then for two years - its coverage of asia & africa also suffer from either schematic analyis or an
over dependance & what the quataris receive from either the state dept or centcom

& it is sad that a source becomes impoverished. oerhaps i was being unrealistc - but that is the strange thing in our times when we are alomst overwhelmed by the darkness that the empire brings - their is a hunger for knowledge & knowing, a profound hunger

si i will not be surprised if by the middle of next week this story doesn't exist or that they do a deal on the numbers - so there's a little of this & little of that - but we know - that there was blood & bone in herat & we know in our hearts that that blood & bone were women & children

but we will be beat about the head with 30 militants, 30 militants as if by, 30 militants, 30 militants - as if by a baseball bat -& as wittgenstein would say , that will become the frame of reference - the lies over 30 militants & not the reality of a massacre of over a 100 women & children

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 23 2008 21:47 utc | 10

i remember tyat it was kao-hsien-chih who made that intercession & i am glad for it. for in the end it underlines the fact that while the empire is failing on every front, & i mean every front - collapsing daily - in the domain of cultural domination it is far from beaten. it is its instrument the most loyal & it would seem that they have won what they so endearingly call the 'culture wars', when what we are talking about is the descent into barbarism & savagery

a civilisation that concerns itself with the conceit that it is above the bloody slaughter taking place from one part of the globe to the other - in large part if not wholly initiated by the empire. a civilisation that imagines itself knowing everything but proving by its acts that it knows nothing

& it cannot hide the fact that the rudest afghan peasant is elementally & infinitely more refined than the paragons of western 'culture' whp parade their wares in new york, paris, tokyo, sydney, london or berlin

some times i think i have been able to live as a poet all my life in part because of will but in another it is perhaps because i entered the drawing room of culture through the holes in the wall or holes in the wire

& that is what i consider we are doing here - one part is will - the other is that somehow we communicate through the holes in the wire

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 24 2008 0:04 utc | 11

Afghan Leader Assails Airstrike He Says Killed 95

President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned on Saturday a coalition airstrike that he said killed up to 95 Afghans — including 50 children — in a village in western Afghanistan on Friday, and said his government would be announcing measures to prevent the loss of civilian life in the future.

Government officials who traveled to the village of Azizabad in Herat Province on Saturday said the death toll had risen to 95 from 76, making it one of the deadliest airstrikes on civilians in nearly seven years of war.

The American military said Saturday it was investigating the attack.

'30 militants' ....

Posted by: b | Aug 24 2008 5:01 utc | 12

more from the piece linked above

A tribal elder from the region who helped bury the dead, Haji Tor Jan Noorzai, said people in the village were gathered in memory of a man who was anti-Taliban and was killed last year, and that tribal enemies of the family had given out false information.

“It is quite obvious, the Americans bombed the area due to wrong information,” he said by telephone. “I am 100 percent confident that someone gave the information due to a tribal dispute. The Americans are foreigners and they do not understand. These people they killed were enemies of the Taliban.”

'30 militants' ...

Posted by: b | Aug 24 2008 5:04 utc | 13

The front pages of all papers would be filled for weeks with news of someone blowing up close to 100 people in London or LA, including 50 kids. Imagine the outcry, the hatred people would feel against the perpetrators. And now look at the media coverage we get of this atrocity in Herat. A disgrace if ever I've seen one. No one in the EU or the US gives a fuck about the people there. If ever proof was needed that our troops act like Nazi swines supported by the good people at home, here it is. State terrorism, sanctioned by the electorate. Time to go underground.

and [Karzai] said his government would be announcing measures to prevent the loss of civilian life in the future.
Sure thing Karzai, what exactly are you going to do? Shake your dirty finger at the puppet master leading you around the stage like the dodo you are? This man has as much power to do something about coalition forces killing indiscriminately as many people as they possibly can as Dick Cheney has power over which color underwear Putin is going to choose when he gets up. None. He is a useless prick who is more than happy to sent Afghani people down the drain.

Is it time people? Time to get of our asses and do something substantially more than writing comments on blogs on how bad things are, albeit we'll risk loosing the right to watch movies about Sophie Scholl or Rachel Corrie without having to feel guilt ourselves? These acts of sheer terror are committed by soldiers wearing uniforms with our flag on it, getting paid with our taxes. We need to storm the Bastille.

And yet, despite my rage, I feel helpless. Short of standing in front of a bulldozer, what can we do? Hand out fliers condemning the hypocrites war? Write letters to deaf senators with money sticking in their hole? Stop paying taxes? Protest somewhere to get mazed and dragged away by cops in riot gear? What for I ask. All been done, tt leads nowhere, nowhere but the status quo. Hoping that Obama and Biden will fix it? As if! Might as well put Madeline Albright in charge of Afghan children welfare.

To stop the country from slowly bleeding to death, Afghanistan would have to be relocated, but it is where it is, right next door to Iran, China, Pakistan, Pipelinistan etc. Prime real estate in any Emperor's hand book. To help the people there from being invaded over and over again, having their children massacred by troops who wouldn't understand a word of their cries for mercy, what can/should be done? If Karzai has none, what meaningful actions are available to us to prevent any further civilian casualties?

I'd like to know what the actual Afghani thinks we, the citizens in those western nations who send our troops there, should be doing? What do they wish we'd do to help them end their plight? Do they hope for an immediate withdraw of all NATO forces, which in all likelihood would cause a civil war to sort out who'll fill the vacuum?

Rarely does one see a poll taken amongst the Afghan population, and if there is one, the question rises who financed it. I wish I could for a period become a Dari-speaking Afghan looking man, and at least try to graze the surface of Afghan dialog on this issue, as I expect something else would come out, something that can hardly be framed within a culturally unfamiliar tool such as a western type poll.

The few polls I have seen over the last couple of years have shown an Afghani public opinion heavily divided on this issue. And I guess it always will be. Not that our politicians would care of course, NATO is there for the long run, no doubt in my mind. There are bigger fish to fry, and Afghanistan is the designated bridgehead for those missions, regardless of what the "majority" of its people think.

Anyway, before I start repeating myself, in conclusion, the situation in Afghanistan is catastrophic and I'd be damned if I'd knew what I can do about it.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Aug 24 2008 7:09 utc | 14

now the afghani commanders, who of course lead their u s colleagues are blamed for the massacre

it is repulsive, the way responsibility is placed far from where it belongs. the u s's inablity to accept any responsibility, anywhere - marks this administration as consistently more bloody than any other & thoughtless, to boot

Posted by: | Aug 24 2008 19:10 utc | 15

The Afghan government says it wants to renegotiate the terms of foreign forces in their country after more than 90 civilians were killed in a US bombing.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 25 2008 18:08 utc | 16

fghanistan's cabinet has demanded a change in the rules governing international troops in the country, after more than 90 civilians were killed in US-led air attacks last week.

The cabinet said on Monday that a review should focus on the "authorities and responsibilities" of troops and demand an end to air attacks in civilian areas, illegal detentions and unilateral house searches.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) human rights team said on Tuesday it found "convincing evidence" that 90 civilians, including 60 children, were killed in the US-led air attacks in the western province of Herat on Friday.

Kai Eide, the UN's special representative in Afghanistan, said: "Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men."

Based on UN investigations, it is the highest civilian death toll from international military action since US-led forces invaded in 2001 to remove the Taliban government.

"The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident with some seven-eight houses having been totally destroyed and serious damage to many others," Eide said.

"Local residents were able to confirm the number of casualties, including names, age and gender of the victims."

The US-led coalition said Friday's air raids were on Taliban fighters and 30 of them had been killed, although it is investigating claims of civilian casualties.


Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 26 2008 17:35 utc | 17

"No one in the EU or the US gives a fuck about the people there."

Well, it got the international headlines of all of Norways main papers, at least, with followup interviews with Kai Eide the day after. So some folks care, but we are the UN-focused minority.

Posted by: fnord | Aug 30 2008 6:23 utc | 18

Pakistani army says 30 militants killed

something about that number 30....

Posted by: dan of steele | Aug 30 2008 9:23 utc | 19

The comments to this entry are closed.