Afghanistan: Order to Kill Angers German Politicians

Spiegel Online - 29 January 2009 - From Matthias Gebauer and Susanne Koelbl

German polticians expressed dismay on Thursday over the fact that NATO high commander Bantz John Craddock wants to permit the targeted killing of drug traffickers even without proof that they are involved in terrorist developments. NATO is trying to downplay the paper, saying it is merely a "guidance," but that's not correct.

The news broken by SPIEGEL ONLINE on Wednesday about a controversial order issued by American NATO High Commander Bantz John Craddock to the commanders of the NATO peacekeeping troop ISAF in Afghanistan has angered politicians in Berlin, who are now demanding answers. Members of Germany's parliament from across the political spectrum are calling for an explanation of a fight simmering inside NATO command.

They have also expressly criticized an order that calls on NATO to conduct targeted killings of drug traffickers and to attack narcotics laboratories, even without clear evidence that the targets provide support for terrorist acts against Afghan or Western security forces.

On Wednesday, SPIEGEL ONLINE reported that a dispute had emerged internally among the highest NATO commanders in Afghanistan over the circumstances in which the alliance can apply deadly force. In a classified letter, a so-called, "guidance," which is equivalent to an order on the strategic level, NATO Commander Craddock calls for an immediate offensive hunt for "all drug traffickers and narcotics facilities."

The content of the order is explosive. It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock writes in the guidance.

In concrete terms, if the order were implemented, it would represent a fundamental new direction for the NATO deployment. Up until now, ISAF troops have only gone on "capture or kill" missions against high-ranking Taliban commanders and al-Qaida terrorists. But the new line of argumentation would make any person involved in the drug business a legitimate military target. The Craddock order could affect tens of thousands of Afghan citizens.

German defense policy experts have expressed outrage over the development and (...)