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Collateral Damage in Afghanistan: What Are Civilians Worth?

Updated on March 18, 2012
Collateral damage
Collateral damage
Destroying Poppy harvests
Destroying Poppy harvests

The answer depends on the country the soldiers who killed innocent Afghans accidentally were from. It sounds callous, but a study revealed that it does make a difference.

Collateral damage is a military term regarding civilians or others who die accidentally during combat operations. They, themselves, were not the target, just either in the wrong place at the wrong time or bad karma or luck. In war, shit happens. A lot of unintended and unforeseen events occur so fast there is only time to react. It is like experiencing a sudden earthquake or hurricane.

Whatever the responsible country pays for such damage is probably more than the Afghanistan family will see their entire life. Of course, it does not make up for a loss of any loved one, nothing ever does, but is better than nothing and a wimpy, "I'm sorry" in a language they don't understand.

Britain has paid as little as $210 to as much as $7,000, while Germans have paid as much as $25,000 for deaths. The U.S. usually pays up to $2,500 for civilians killed in lawful operations. In one payment, Germany provided $20,000 in cash and a car worth $5,000 after shooting three people. Italy paid $13,500 for the death of a 14 yr. old girl. Since the war began, over 3,000 accidental civilian deaths have occurred excluding those resulting from terrorist bombs. The irony is that the US also pays the same amounts of money to Afghans for not growing poppy fields that produce heroin and to grow wheat.

In this case, money really does not matter. Collateral damage only causes deep resentment towards foreign troops.


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      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago


      The war zone is rarely good for all present: some soldiers (mentally or physically impaired) should not be in the war zone. The citizens of the war zone are always subject to errors by soldiers (from both sides).