The death of kidnapped British aid worker Linda Norgrove during a rescue attempt by US Special Forces in Kunar has prompted much debate, especially after it was revealed that she may have been killed by a US grenade and not a Taliban suicide bomber as initially reported. Some are asking if the US military should have exercised more restraint or whether the operation was even necessary.
If the goal of such questions is to prevent more aid workers from dying in future, this line of inquiry is counter-productive at this stage. I sincerely doubt the British government would have green-lighted the military option had Ms. Norgrove’s life not been in extreme danger. Hostage rescue is extremely high risk and there is always a possibility that the person or persons you are attempting to free could be killed during an operation, especially in a dangerous location like Kunar (parts of which are so untameable that US forces withdrew from them earlier this year). Instead of pinning blame on the rescuing party, a more useful question is why are aid workers being encouraged to come to Afghanistan when they are such obvious targets? Continue reading