Doubts Assail NATO in Afghanistan and Beyond

NATO commanders insist that their mission in Afghanistan is one of reconstruction, but that combat is an inevitable byproduct. Now, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is under pressure from its Afghan hosts to reduce mounting civilian deaths, even as member nations such as Canada face renewed pressure to withdraw completely. Italy’s ADNKronos says a NATO bombing run gone awry killed nine Pakistani civilians on the Afghan border, including three women and four children — prompting the suicide of the 70-year-old patriarch of the family. The Associated Press reports that U.S. commanders don’t feel any procedural changes in military operations are required, however, asserting that current measures help “minimize” the civilian toll. A Pentagon spokesman also vehemently denied that NATO troops are killing more civilians than the Islamist militants they are fighting.