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Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 22:26:31 -0700
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 17)
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
War Hurting Afghani Children the Most
Published on Thursday, October 17, 2001 by the Inter Press Service
by Nadeem Iqbal
ISLAMABAD - Seven-year-old Muhammad Mugheez, who reached a slum in the
Pakistani capital Islamabad two weeks ago after coming from Afghanistan,
spends the day begging in the streets with his mother.
In the night, he and his unskilled father join hundreds of others sitting
for hours outside a bakery to get free bread.
For the last two decades, Afghan children, who constitute around half of the
total Afghan population, have been exposed to the ravages of war inside and
outside their country.
They have been suffering from hunger, disease, illiteracy, child labor and
forced recruitment as soldiers, besides being easy victims of war who will
live with its effects today and in coming years.
Mugheez's family is part of 200,000 other Afghans who have found their way
to Islamabad, a much better place to live in compared to the crowded, filthy
camps near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
The refugee population living in and around the capital now equals 20
percent of the 8 million people of Islamabad. Most of the Afghan children
here -- half of Afghanistan's 21 million people are under 18 years of age --
Pakistan hosts around 3 million Afghan refugees, half of whom are children.
Some 1,000 people from Afghanistan are pouring into Pakistan daily.
On Monday, Eric Laroche, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
representative in Afghanistan, says that the situation was bad enough for
Afghan children before the Oct. 8 bombings - and look even bleaker now.
Afghan children are malnourished and lack warm clothing as the winter
approaches, he said.
Some 100,000 children are likely to die in Afghanistan in the coming winter
due to diarrhea, pneumonia and other diseases, according to UNICEF.
U.N. officials estimate that more than 95 percent of Afghan children do not
go to school - a situation that depicts the total collapse of the education
system in the war-ravaged country.
In fact, an entire generation of Afghan children is growing without
education. Girls are most affected as they are prevented from going to
school under the brand of strict Islam by the ruling Taliban.
To add to their misery, there are reports that in the aftermath of the air
strikes against Afghanistan, unprecedented levels of child recruitment and
mobilization into the ranks of the Afghan militia and the opposition
Northern Alliance has been going on unhindered.
The Pakistan-based non-government group Society for the Protection of the
Rights of the Child (SPARC) has appealed to the UN Security Council to
integrate specific measures to prevent the use of children as soldiers in
the impending conflict in Afghanistan.
''The United Nations must take into account child protection in its
political actions on Afghanistan, including the incorporation of action to
stop child recruitment and to task the UN Special Mission on Afghanistan
with monitoring the recruitment of children and deploy child protection
advisers with any future UN peacekeeping or humanitarian operations," reads
In an interview, Masroor Gillani said the group is demanding this under the
new Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
involvement of children in armed conflict, which was adopted by the UN
General Assembly in May 2000.
The protocol ''prohibits governments and armed groups from using children
under the age of 18 in hostilities; bans all compulsory recruitment of under
18; and raises the minimum age and requires strict safeguards for voluntary
Article 4 of the Optional Protocol also provides that ''armed groups that
are distinct from the armed forces of a State should not, under any
circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons under the age of 18
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan are not signatories to the Optional Protocol
to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children
in armed conflict. Pakistan however is signatory to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child (CRC).
According to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, children have
been used as soldiers by all warring parties in Afghanistan's during two
decade-old civil war. Forced and compulsory recruitment by the Taliban and
Northern Alliance continues to be reported, despite international
commitments to the contrary.
In its September 2001 report, the coalition says: ''Reports of child
recruitment continued to emerge, particularly in connection with
'madrasah' -- religious schools in Pakistan -- whose young Afghan refugee
students became a main source of recruits for the Taliban when they first
became party to the civil war in 1994.''
''As the conflict receded in Taliban-held areas, recruitment has
progressively taken place within Afghanistan. But the Taliban continue to
draw recruits from networks of 'madrasah' in Pakistan sponsored by various
Islamist parties and groups,'' the report adds.
''Where once these institutions were confined largely to the border regions,
today they are spread throughout the country (even in urban centers of
Punjab and Sindh) and draw beyond the Afghan refugee diaspora,'' it
Pakistani social scientist Kaiser Bengali traces the root cause of the use
of child soldiers to Afghanistan's decades of war, and its damaged society.
In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. and
western-sponsored counter-military campaign, thousands of children were
orphaned, Bengali explains.
As the United States engaged Islamist clergy in its war against Soviets, it
found it expedient to employ these children to fight.
''Hundreds of thousands of these orphans were collected in scores of
'madrasah' in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistani cities where they grew up in
an environment devoid of women. So they do not know any norm of
civilization," Bengali adds.
SPARC researcher Saifur Rehman, who just returned after conducting a survey
of children in Darra Adam Khel, a tribal town at the Pakistan-Afghanistan
border, said that around 2,500 children, both Afghan and local, are not only
involved in active war but also in small arms manufacturing and cartridge
filling, among others.
Their daily wages range between 5 rupees to 30 rupees (8 to 48 U.S. cents).
In addition, despite strict checks to monitor the cross-border movement of
Afghan refugees at the border town of Torkham, many children are involved in
the smuggling of items across the border. These include petrol, cloth,
cosmetics, washing powder, toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, processed food
items, scrap, and auto parts into Pakistan.
Smuggling of fine quality foreign cloth by roping it with the child
carriers' bodies, is also fast becoming a practice because it is difficult
for the security guards to detect.
Stench of death in a flattened village
by Zeeshan Haider in Khorum, Afghanistan
Monday October 15, 2001
An old man deferentially removed his turban as he spoke. "We are poor
people, don't hit us," he said. "We have nothing to do with Osama bin
Laden. We are innocent people."
"I lost my four daughters, my son and my wife in this attack," said Toray,
a distraught farmer, who was out of his house when the bombs struck.
To underline his point, he held up a piece of shrapnel with the words "fin
guided bomb" stencilled on it - virtually all he recovered from the debris
of his flattened home.
There are not many witnesses to say what happened to Khorum village in
eastern Afghanistan last Wednesday night; there are not many survivors. One
thing is clear. The simple collection of mud huts and livestock pens in
this village, around 38 miles from the east Afghanistan town of Jalalabad,
was hit by a devastating firestorm.
Villagers said 20 to 25 bombs or missiles rained on the area in two waves
Taliban officials say Khorum was flattened in an air raid by US warplanes
and as many as 200 people may have been killed. Officials say 160 bodies
have already been pulled from the rubble, and villagers from neighbouring
hamlets were scrambling around yesterday looking for more.
The stench of death enveloped the village. In the rubble of one house, the
remains of an arm stuck out from beneath a pile of bricks. A leg had been
uncovered nearby. There was also a bloodstained pillow.
The carcasses of livestock - by which many Afghan farmers measure their
family's wealth - lay bloated in the surrounding fields, attracting swarms
When our group of reporters - the first foreign nationals to be allowed
into Afghanistan since all foreigners were ordered to leave just days after
the September 11 suicide plane attacks - arrived in Khorum we saw villagers
still sifting through the rubble of houses pulverised by the attack from
We were besieged by more than 100 students from a nearby Islamic school,
chanting "Down with America," "Long live Islam" and "We are ready for jihad
It was not easy to tell if the protest was spontaneous or orchestrated, but
it was clear that their feelings were genuine.
"We have brought you here to see the cruelty of the Americans," Maulvi
Atiqullah, director of the Jalalabad information department, said before
our Taliban-organised trip to Khorum began.
However, some questions remained unanswered last night. Reporters saw only
a dozen or so freshly dug graves that officials said included the bodies of
children killed in the raid.
What happened to the other bodies which officials say they have recovered
is unclear, but Muslims generally observe Koranic requirements that the
dead are buried before the next sunset.
Many training bases operated by Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network were known to
have previously been situated around Jalalabad, although residents of
Khorum insisted there were none there now.
"I ask America not to kill us," said Hussain Khan, who said he lost four
children in the raid and survived only by racing out of the house when he
first heard a plane overhead.
Pentagon officials have said at least one of its bombs had missed its
target since air raids in pursuit of Osama bin Laden began last week. But
that was near Kabul. Washington has so far declined to comment on reports
Zeeshan Haider is a Reuters correspondent. His party of journalists was
accompanied by the Taliban to Khorum
Uncontrolled Flow of Arms into Afghanistan Will Lead to More Human Misery
16 October 2001
The unconditional flow of weapons and other military equipment and
expertise to the warring parties in Afghanistan will lead to further human
rights abuses and war crimes, Amnesty International said today in a
briefing on such transfers.
"To date, both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance have been heavily
armed by foreign governments regardless of their appalling human rights
records," the organization said.
"While the shifting of arms is inevitable in a conflict situationhome, it
is crucial that further transfers of arms and expertise are rigorously
Amnesty International is calling for independent monitors to be put in
place to verify that commanders who have been responsible for gross human
rights abuses in the past are removed before any transfers take place. The
monitors should remain in place to ensure that the arms and expertise are
not used to commit human rights abuses.
During the 1980s and 1990s, arms and related supplies were sent from the
USA and some of its West European allies, as well as the former Soviet
Union, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and were used for perpetuating
massive human rights abuses by various armed groups in Afghanistan.
Civilians in Afghanistan are suffering the legacy of these uncontrolled
transfers, thousands have died from anti-personnel landmines alone.
Since 1994, the main supplies of arms and related items to the Taliban have
come from official stocks in Pakistan or from Chinese or other sales
through private dealers based in Pakistan and with private funding from
Recent supplies to the Northern Alliance have been reportedly sent from
Iran and the Russian Federation via the Central Asian states, especially
Tajikistan, as well as from the Slovak Republic, although the Central Asian
states have denied their involvement.
Amnesty International is concerned that the Russian government is
reportedly planning deliveries of up to $45 million worth of arms to the
Northern Alliance which are not conditioned to any human rights criteria.
Furthermore a bill has been introduced in the US Congress to provide up to
$300 million of direct military assistance to "eligible Afghan resistance
Amnesty International also urges all governments to refrain from the use of
cluster bombs near civilian areas, from using depeleted uranium weapons
whose effects are not fully known, and to refrain from providing such
weapons to any of those involved in the conflict.
Read the report: Amnesty International's position on arms transfers and
military aid to Afghanistan:
PDF format <http://www.amnesty-usa.org/usacrisis/position_on_arms.pdf>
'I hear the bombs drop and I pray that they will end our suffering'
FROM the blasted heart of Kabul, a brave young woman smuggled a letter out
to our correspondent Christina Lamb in Quetta through a friend. This is her
dramatic account of the Taliban's destruction of her nation and of her hopes
that 'Bush and Blair mean what they say'
THIS week I listen to the bombs falling on the airport and military command
just a few miles away and though we are scared by the bangs which shake our
flat, we believe they will not hurt us and we come out and watch the flashes
in the sky and we pray this will be an end to our suffering.
You asked me to write a letter about our life under the Taliban regime and I
hope this will help you outside to understand the feelings of an educated
Afghan female who must now live under a burqa.
Although Marri is not my real name, please use this as what we are doing is
dangerous. I'm 30 years old and live in a three-roomed flat with my family
on the outskirts of Kabul. I graduated from high school and speak Dari,
Pashto and English as my father was a diplomat and my mother an English
teacher. My mother went to university in India.
I know from our friend that you have a kind husband and a beautiful son and
you travel the world reporting and meeting people. I dream of a life like
that. It's funny we live under the same small sky yet it seems we live 500
You see us now in our burqas, like strange insects scurrying in the dust,
our heads down, but it wasn't always this way. I do not remember much before
the Russian invasion as I was still young but even when the Russians came we
still went to school.
Women worked as professors and doctors and in government. We went for
picnics and parties, wore jeans and short skirts, and I thought I would go
to university like my mother and work for my living.
I know in the villages many schools had been destroyed in the war but here
in Kabul we were lucky. Only when the Taliban came were all the girls'
schools and university closed.
Hidden in our house, behind all the burqas and shalwar kamiz, is a red silk
party dress, my mother's, from the time when the king was in power and my
father was in the foreign ministry. Sometimes I hold it up against me and
imagine dancing but it is a lost world.
Now we must wear clothes that make us invisible and cannot even wear high
heels. Several of my friends have been beaten because the Taliban could hear
their shoes clicking on the pavement.
You might think we women are doing nothing but my friends and I struggle for
the rights of Afghan women, working secretly here for the Afghan Women's
League, trying to educate our women and young girls. There is not much we
can do as we are not allowed out, but some of our members make naan bread
and distribute it.
We have small rebellions. Maybe you do not know but we are forbidden to wear
make-up under the burqas but I have a red lipstick.
I have two brothers and two sisters, and right now my elder brothers work
and we women must stay home all day. We study or we try to teach our
neighbours some English but it is hard as we fear someone might report us
and we cannot get English books.
At night there is no light. Life here is very miserable. We have no rights
at all and we have asked many times other countries of the world for help
but they have been silent.
Now it is good that after all this time the world has turned its face
towards Afghanistan. Right now I want to laugh at the world a lot because in
other countries of the civilised and progressive world no one knew about our
problems before those attacks on America and now we are all the time on BBC.
You cannot imagine how an educated Afghan girl lives or how even when we go
out for something in the market; the Taliban, in particular Pakistani
Taliban, tease us a lot. They insult us and say: "You Kabuli girls, still
coming out in the streets, shame on you," and worse.
Now think, Afghanistan is my motherland and a Pakistani Talib treats me like
that. You might wonder why I am not married. It's hard to find love in this
situation, we are so tired. I look in the mirror and I see a face that does
not remember a time before war, and I would not want to bring a child into
this city of fear.
We do not have schools, the doors of education are closed on all, especially
us. We cannot paint or listen to music. The Taliban ran their tanks over all
We asked the world, are we not human beings? Do we not deserve to live in
peace? Can we not have our rights as women in other countries?
Many people have left but my family is staying, praying for change. The
market is still working - we Kabulis are tough - and there is food in the
market but we have stocked up in case it runs out. Already there is no oil.
The Taliban say this is a war on Afghanistan. Some of our friends say we
must now support the Taliban against the outside, but how can we support
those who lock us away? We listen secretly to the BBC and hope that Mr Bush
and Mr Blair mean what they say.
I hope they do not come and bomb, then forget us again. Maybe when you watch
the bombs on CNN you will think of me and know we are real feeling people
here, a girl who likes to wear red lipstick and dreams of dancing, not just
the men of beards and guns.
I do not know what you want me to write to you. If I start writing I will
fill all the paper and my eyes will fill with tears because in these seven
years of Taliban no one has asked us to write about our lives. In my mind I
make a picture of you and your family.
I wonder if you drive a car, if you go out with friends to movies and
restaurants and dance at parties? Do you play loud music and swim in lakes?
One day I would like to see and I would also like to show you a beautiful
place in my country with mountains and streams, but not now while we must be
Maybe our worlds will always be too far apart.
Please don't bomb my house...
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2001
PESHAWAR: Seven-year-old Ursal wakes up at night, crying. Her 6-year-old
sister Nazeen jumps when she hears any loud noise. Their 10-year-old cousin
Nasim is nervous when he is indoors, afraid the house will collapse around him.
These refugee children, whose family fled the Afghan capital of Kabul five
days ago, were already ragged, ill and malnourished before the US-led
bombing campaign began. Now they have added fear and displacement to the
long list of hardships already besetting them.
The extended Gul family four women and 17 children slipped out of Kabul
before dawn last Thursday, terrified after four nights of thunderous
bombardment that shook the poor neighborhood where they lived. Sometimes
the warplanes came back by day as well.
The family managed to arrange truck transport to a point near the border,
which is closed by refugees.
They crossed the frontier in the dark on a steep, rocky mule track, with
guides who charged what was for them the astronomical sum of $8 per adult.
Exhausted and nearly penniless, they finally arrived in the frontier city
of Peshawar over the weekend. Two of the women left behind husbands who
will try to follow later; two had already been widowed by earlier fighting
They were able to carry almost nothing with them. On their cross-border
journey, each adult was clutching at least one small child, and the older
children were responsible for shepherding along their younger brothers and
''We have what we are wearing that is all,'' said Qandi Gul, 40, the mother
of six girls and a boy, covered from head to toe in burqa. Only her
chapped, callused hands showed, palms turned up in a gesture of helplessness.
On Monday, the mothers and 11 of the children made their way to an Afghan
aid group, the Welfare and Development Organization. By word of mouth in
the refugee camps, it has become a crucial way station for new arrivals
Because they are here illegally and fear being picked up and sent home,
they are afraid to seek help anywhere else.
Almost all the children were ill with diarrhea or respiratory ailments,
said Al-Umera, a 28-year-old doctor treating them. As the family waited in
an anteroom at the aid group's offices, a chorus of racking coughs arose.
There are limits to what she will be able to do for them, said the doctor,
whose own family fled Afghanistan when she was 5. None of the children has
gotten enough to eat in a long time, she says, and malnourishment will
leave them susceptible to more illness, especially in the cramped, squalid
conditions in which they will be living.
Al-Umera, who like many Afghans uses only one name, questioned the children
gently about the bombardment and the family's flight.
Most are sleeping badly, their mothers told her. ''This one has bad
dreams she cries out at night,'' said Qandi Gul, mother of Ursal, a
luminous-eyed 7-year-old who carried her 18-month-old brother Lamzai on her
U.S. Bombs Hit Red Cross Warehouse in Kabul
Tuesday October 16, 2001
By Tabassum Zakaria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes dropped 1,000 pound
bombs on Tuesday that inadvertently hit one or more warehouses
used by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in
northern Kabul, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet jet dropped the bombs at 4:57
a.m. EDT on a series of warehouses believed to be used by the
Taliban to store military equipment, the Pentagon statement
``Reports from the ICRC indicate that wheat and other
humanitarian supplies stored in the warehouses were destroyed,
and an Afghan security guard was injured,'' the Pentagon said.
``Military vehicles had been seen in the vicinity of these
warehouses. U.S. forces did not know that ICRC was using one or
more of the warehouses,'' the Pentagon said.
ICRC officials said their warehouses were clearly marked
with a red cross on the roof. At least 35 percent of the food
and other equipment stored inside were destroyed, witnesses and
``It is definitely a civilian target. In addition to that,
it is a clearly marked ICRC warehouse,'' said Robert Moni, head
of the ICRC delegation in Kabul now evacuated to Pakistan.
``It is marked on the top with a red cross. People should
take all necessary measures to avoid such things,'' he said.
The ICRC complained to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and
its Geneva headquarters complained formally to the U.S. mission
there, he said.
``U.S. forces intentionally strike only military and
terrorist targets, and regret any innocent casualties,'' the
In another incident, a Taliban official said U.S. strikes
hit a hospital in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, killing
five people, Qatar's al-Jazeera television reported.
It quoted the Taliban official as saying a U.S. AC-130
gunship hit the hospital on Tuesday.
The Pentagon said it had no information of such an incident
and that it could be several days before it knew whether the
claims were true or not.
``My initial reaction is skepticism until we have proof to
the contrary,'' Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley
U.S. forces launched two AC-130s for operations this week
but defense officials declined to comment publicly on their
missions. However, one defense official privately said one of
the low-flying turbo-prop planes had attacked Kandahar.
The United States and Britain have bombed Afghanistan since
Oct. 7, targeting Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden and his
al Qaeda network, as well as the Taliban for harboring him.
The United States has accused bin Laden of orchestrating
the suicide hijacked-plane attacks on the World Trade Center in
New York and the Pentagon near Washington that killed more than
At Least 60 Killed in 2 Afghan Cities - Officials
Thursday October 18, 2001
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - More than 60 people have been
killed in a fierce bombardment of the Afghan capital,
Kabul, and the southern city of Kandahar since
Wednesday morning, the Afghan Islamic Press said on
Thursday, quoting Taliban officials.
In Kandahar, the attacks have killed 42 civilians
since early on Wednesday, AIP quoted Education
Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi as saying.
While the attacks were less intense on Thursday, at
least five people were killed early in the morning,
AIP quoted Taliban spokesman Abdul Haye Mutmaen as
AIP said its reports showed that 10 people had been
killed in the Qalaye Zaman Khan eastern suburb of
Kabul. In addition, two died in Kabul's Khair Khana
district and three near Kabul's airport, which has
been a constant target of attack in the last few days.
A Rational Alternative to Thoughtless Bombing
by Ted Rall, AlterNet
October 17, 2001
Beware collateral damage, for today's hey-nothing-personal victims give
rise to tomorrow's terrorists. As this goes to press, a bestiary of bombs,
a few 500-pounders here, some "bunker busters" there, is falling into
Afghan cities. Bombing, despite laughable assertions to the contrary, is
anything but a precision art. Bombs go off-course. Bombs hit things that
themselves blow up and kill people who weren't supposed to die. Civilians
hang out where they shouldn't. And information about bombing targets is
often plain wrong or out-of-date.
The bottom line is this: Ordinary Afghan people, men and women and children
who have never done anything wrong to anyone, are getting mangled and
killed by American bombs. The innocents have spouses, parents and friends,
and these spouses, parents and friends quite naturally hate those who
mangled and killed their loved ones. That hate festers, and some eventually
come to be persuaded that vengeance will soothe their pain. And one day
they'll fly planes into office buildings or blow themselves up in shopping
malls or do something as yet unimaginable.
Needless to say, getting even doesn't do much good if our vengeance only
creates more terrorism.
And yet: the right-wingers are absolutely correct when they assert that
doing nothing is not a viable option. Whether we had September 11th coming
or not, giving peace a chance is a supreme act of self-denial: there is no
peace. Whether the victims cry for vengeance or not is moot: no nation is
worthy of the name unless it's willing to react to the murder of its
citizens with force. Bush is, like it or not, doing something. People
respect that, even if that something later turns out to be counterproductive.
There is, however, an intelligent middle ground between the
commonly-considered binary of mindless bombing versus mindless
pacifism. Neither liberal nor conservative, a thoughtful solution can be
found by applying what we Americans do best: simple common sense.
The "war on terrorism" is, like previous wars on drugs and poverty, too
vague and nebulous to win. Our first priority ought to be to bring the
remaining perpetrators of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade
Center to justice; if they end up dead in the attempt, so be it.
Second, while we'll never eradicate terrorist attacks on American soil we
can minimize their number and their intensity when they do occur. This
requires a delicate combination of force and tact: We must be kind as well
What To Do
Afghanistan's Taliban regime is at best indirectly involved with the
September 11th hijackings. (The Bush Administration admits that it couldn't
indict Osama or the Taliban on the evidence it currently possesses.) Follow
18 out of the 19 hijackers were Egyptian; 1 was Saudi. The smart money
points to one of the Middle East's most venerable militant Muslim
organizations, Gama'at al-Islamiyya, or the Islamic Group. Founded by
Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, currently serving a life sentence for the 1993
World Trade Center bombing, Gama'at al-Islamiyya is best known for the
November 1997 massacre of 62 tourists at the Temple of Luxor in Egypt and
the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981. Though the
Islamic Group is composed of numerous splinter cells whose ideology varies,
they share a common aim: the replacement of the secular government of Hosni
Mubarek by an Islamic theocracy. The Islamic Group resents the U.S. for
propping up the Mubarak government as well as Israel.
Egyptians are, according to most reports, the main suspects for September
11th. So why are we attacking Afghanistan? American intelligence should
work with the Egyptian government to track down any members of Gama'at
al-Islamiyya who had anything to do with the New York and Washington
attacks and put them on trial for mass murder. Arresting murderers ought to
take precedence over bombing the places where they trained.
A targeted approach would demonstrate to all but the most fanatic elements
in the Arab world that the United States is a nation whose retribution
takes place in a measured, just manner. It would also serve to destroy the
one network to have drawn the most American blood, and reduce the odds of a
Though we should continue providing economic and military assistance to
Israel, that aid ought to be predicated on several conditions. First, all
Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories ought to be closed.
Second, Israel should guarantee an end to its more egregious human rights
abuses, such as the demolition of Arab homes and rocket attacks on civilian
targets. Finally, internal border blockades of Gaza and the West Bank
should be permanently halted. This bilateral policy, supporting Israel
while refusing to tolerate religious apartheid, would show that we stand
behind our friends but only to the extent that they behave in a civilized
fashion. Best of all, it would end an absurd state of affairs in which a
superpower is repeatedly manipulated by a resource-free desert nation the
size of New Jersey.
We should drop sanctions and military action against such nations as Iraq
and Afghanistan in exchange for verifiable assurances that neither nation
will harbor terrorists who target the United States. Then we should pour in
humanitarian assistance to show ordinary Muslims that Americans care about
their plight. Let a co-opted postwar Taliban root out Al Qaeda and other
groups in their territory; it's a hell of a lot easier to let the locals do
our dirty work than to send in American ground troops.
But first, let's stop this stupid bombing.
Ted Rall, a syndicated cartoonist for Universal Press Syndicate, is the
author of the new books 2024 and Search and Destroy.
Three Arguments Against the War
By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman
Unspeakable acts of violence were committed on September 11. The
perpetrators of the horrific attack of September 11 must be brought to
justice, using the instruments of domestic and international law. The
unconscionable slaughter demands prosecution.
But bombing a desperately poor country under the yoke of a repressive
regime is a wrongheaded response. The U.S. bombing of Afghanistan should
It is a policy that will diminish U.S. security, ignores overriding
humanitarian concerns, and precludes more sensible approaches to achieving
justice and promoting security in the United States and around the world.
1. The policy of bombing increases the risk of further terrorism against
the United States.
This is an uncontested claim.
The Bush administration along with virtually every commentator
acknowledges that the U.S. bombing and military response is likely to
worsen the possibility of additional terrorism on U.S. soil.
The recent Congressional leak that so outraged the White House involved a
Washington Post report that an intelligence official, responding to a
senator's question, "said there is a '100 percent' chance of an attack
should the United States strike Afghanistan, according to sources familiar
with the briefing."
The horror of September 11 allows for no satisfactory response. But surely
the United States must not act to increase the risk of terrorism.
No matter how great one's outrage at September 11, no matter how intense
one's desire to "do something" -- it doesn't make sense to pursue a course
of action that intensifies the very problem the Bush administration says
it is trying to solve.
And the increased risk of terrorism will not be short-lived. Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the war against terrorism will take years to
win. Former CIA chief James Woolsey and others have talked about a two- or
three-decade war. That's coming from proponents of the U.S. military
action, people who view terrorism as something that can be defeated,
rather than as a tactic assumed by weak and disgruntled parties.
2. The bombing is intensifying a humanitarian nightmare in Afghanistan.
"The terrorist attacks of 11 September, in terms of security and access
within Afghanistan, have created the potential for a humanitarian crisis
of massive proportions," according to the UN's World Food Program (WFP).
The WFP estimates 7.5 million people are in danger of starvation in
The U.S. threat of military response to September 11, and now its bombing,
has made a horrible situation worse. The WFP has predicted nearly two
million additional people will need food assistance due to the disruptions
caused by the expectation, and now the reality, of a U.S. military
"It is now evident that we cannot, in reasonable safety, get food to
hungry Afghan people," says Oxfam America President Raymond C.
Offenheiser, "We've reached the point where it is simply unrealistic for
us to do our job in Afghanistan. We've run out of food, the borders are
closed, we can't reach our staff and time is running out."
After September 11, relief agencies pulled their staff out of Afghanistan,
though the WFP has managed to continue to deliver some food supplies via
But aid agencies warn that time is running out to deliver food supplies.
By mid-November, heavy snows block key roads, making it impossible to move
trucks into many areas of the country.
"If WFP is to meet its target of delivering 52,000 tons of food aid each
month to millions of hungry people inside Afghanistan, it urgently needs
to fill-up its warehouses before the region's harsh winter sets in," said
Mohamed Zejjari, WFP assistant executive director and director of
Oxfam has called for a pause in the bombing on humanitarian grounds. "We
just don't know how many people may die if the bombing is not suspended
and the aid effort assured," Offenheiser says.
Here the humanitarian imperative is aligned with the most narrowly defined
U.S. national interest. No action can better serve to reduce the risk of
future terrorism than providing sufficient food aid to the suffering
3. There are better ways to seek justice.
If law is to have meaning, it must constrain and guide our actions in the
times of greatest stress and challenge, not just when it is convenient.
Reviewing the principles of international law, Michael Ratner of the
Center for Constitutional Rights, urges the United States to:
* Convene a meeting of the UN Security Council.
* Request the establishment of an international tribunal with authority to
seek out, extradite or arrest and try those responsible for the September
11 attack and those who commit or are conspiring to commit future attacks
* Establish an international military or police force under the control of
UN and which can effectuate the arrests of those responsible for the
September 11 attacks and those who commit or are conspiring to commit
future attacks. It is crucial that such force should be under control of
the UN and not a mere fig leaf for the United States as was the case in
the war against Iraq.
A fair trial of bin Laden -- one perceived as fair not just in the United
States but around the world -- is essential to avoid turning him into a
martyr and worsening the spiral of violence.
Opponents of the war should not be content to be a dissenting minority.
While there are many compelling arguments against the war, it is critical
to emphasize those with the best prospect of moving the U.S. public and
The widespread U.S. public support for military action against Afghanistan
is based in part on a desire for a modicum of justice and for action to
reduce the risk of future terrorist action.
These are both vital goals, but both -- especially reducing the risk of
future terrorism -- can be better achieved through peace than war.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based
Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The
Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common
Courage Press, 1999; http://www.corporatepredators.org)
Active Duty 'Conscientious Objectors' On The Rise
By Michael Betsch
CNSNews.com Editorial Assistant
October 17, 2001
(CNSNews.com) - An increasing number of U.S. military personnel who
enlisted prior to Operation Enduring Freedom are now seeking conscientious
objector status, claiming they were misled by their
local recruiter and military advertising, according to groups that assist
people in obtaining conscientious objector status.
Many of the enlisted personnel who are now seeking honorable discharges
argue they didn't sign up to defend America; they just wanted to learn a
trade or earn money for college.
Those seeking discharges based on conscientious objections to the current
war on terrorism and military action in Afghanistan insist that military
advertising failed to present the reality of military conflict, focusing
instead on money for college, job training, leadership and disciplinary
aspects of the military.
Bill Galvin, a counseling coordinator at the Center On Conscience and War,
said his organization has seen "a significant increase" in military
personnel who claim to be conscientious objectors since the Sept. 11
attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
Galvin defines the term conscientious objector as those "who would identify
moral or ethical qualms about being in the military or being a part of war."
All conscientious objectors must explain what happened since they joined
the military that would now cause them to say they can't do this, said
Galvin, who provided anecdotal information about a rise in the number of
active duty military personnel now seeking discharges based on conscience.
He claimed that recruiters paint an attractive portrait of patriotism for
potential recruits and "play up the training or the money for college. They
don't play up fighting, because that's not what gets people to join."
Others who work with conscientious objectors agree that military recruiting
ads that downplay or ignore the inherent violence in military action have
an air of deception.
"There's very little in military advertising that talks about combat, that
talks about killing, that talks about fear, loneliness and all of that
stuff. It's not there," said Titus Peachey, a director of peace education
for the Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
According to Peachey, potential recruits, many of whom are teenagers, "are
at a very vulnerable age" when they meet with military recruiters that
visit high school campuses.
He added that the teens are lured into military life by the "sharp
uniforms" worn by recruiters and the "very attractive packages" offered by
Peachey said he's counseled a number of military men and women who've
called the G.I. Rights Hotline seeking assistance with applying for and
receiving conscientious objector status.
They enlisted, Peachey said, only because they felt the military "seemed
like the way out," of their pre-enlistment lives, and an easy way to get an
education and a job without considering the reality of war.
"It seems logical that a high school kid would think about the possibility
of fighting in a war," during a time of hostilities, he said. But in
peacetime, war is "the farthest thing from their minds."
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Ryan Yantis said such arguments are thin. "It's
made very clear to every recruit when they come in through the recruiting
and enlistment process that they're joining the Army," said Yantis.
Those who enlist or receive commissions from the Army "are grown-ups who
are making adult decisions," said Yantis, who also said he was not aware of
a particular increase in the number of Army personnel seeing discharges
because they object to war.
But sometimes, grown-ups make "mistakes," Galvin commented. "We get lots of
calls from people who are just in their training status saying, 'what did I
get myself into?'"
According to Yantis, recruits claiming to be conscientious objectors fail
to recognize that their situation is nothing new, and he said medics and
other conscientious objectors in non-combatant roles have historically been
a "benefit of the military."
Yantis also said it would be "disingenuous," for a soldier to say, "'Oh, I
joined up to be an infantryman. I never knew that that meant I might have
to go to war.'"
He bolstered his argument by saying there's little mistaking the words and
meaning of the oath that military personnel take upon being sworn into the
Among other things in the oath, military personnel promise to "support and
defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign
Another Army public affairs spokesperson, who asked to not be identified,
said, "Anybody who has ever joined the military at least ought to have it
in the back of the mind that at all times we could go to war, that there's
never a guaranteed peace."
Now that the U.S. is actively engaged in military operations, Peachey said
he thinks potential recruits "might think more than once," about the
prospect of fighting in a war.
The reality, he said, is that a "significant number of youth either ignore
or don't really think that deeply about," the combat aspect of the military.
Peace rally at lake draws diverse crowd
by Michal Lando, Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, October 16, 2001
In one of several recent anti-war demonstrations across the East Bay,
protesters gathered at Lake Merrit on Sunday afternoon to speak out against
the government's "war on terrorism." Many demonstrators - including some
from the hills area of Oakland - believe non-military options are being
ignored, and they want to change that.
Organized by the East Bay Coalition Against the War, a coalition which
sprang up immediately following the terrorist attacks, the event attracted
roughly 75 protesters. The crowd was fairly mixed, encompassing young and
old participant with a wide variety of political views. Speakers included
David Hilliard, a former Black Panther Party member, who made a surprise
"We launched an emergency response to say that we mourn the deaths of the
victims in New York and Washington D.C., but the solution is not to launch
a war in the Middle East," said Jessie Moldoon, an Oakland resident and
member of the coalition. "In terms of a solution, every one has a different
solution. The thing we agree upon is that bombing (Afghanistan) is not a
Several Montclair residents said they were disappointed that the rally's
tone was aggressive, even in talking about alternatives to aggression. "We
were saying we wished we had music and more poetry, "Sterling O'Grady said,
"something that would uplift the spirits and inspire peace in people's
hearts instead of more aggression. The way that the (speakers) were talking
was the way that terrorists think. It wasn't very peaceful for a peace rally."
The rally gave some attention to American foreign policy in the Middle
East. A few protesters called for an ending of America's support of Israel,
which disturbed some other participants.
"It really bothered me that someone had a sign that said 'Dump Israel',"
Montclair resident Mike Ratener said. "This is supposed to be helping to
build a coalition, and there may be legitimate gripes about Israel's
policies and policies towards Israel. But I think that 99 percent of the
people that might join this cause would not want to see Israel go out of
existence or be attacked."
The East Bay Coalition Against the War is focusing its efforts on three
main themes: stop the war, end racial scapegoating and defend civil
liberties. Many protesters explained that they are strongly opposed to the
military attacks, but not to retaliation. Some said to be against terrorism
does not necessitate supporting military intervention.
"I am not against the idea of bringing terrorists to justice, but I am
against the killing of civilians in any way," said John Previtali, a
demonstrator who passed out sheets of stickers that denounced the bombings.
"It is like you are either pro-war or against the war, and if you are pro
war but against killing civilians, that is almost too complicated of an
issue to protest."
Much of the protest focused on the causes of the recent terrorist attacks,
condemning U.S. foreign policy for sowing the seeds of its own
destruction. Few protesters, however, offered alternative solutions -
except for Hilliard. The younger generation, according to Hilliard, has a
prime opportunity to move an agenda forward so America can "really become
the bastion of democracy" it claims to be.
"That agenda must be an agenda for survival, and how do you do that?"
Hilliard asked. "We can go to our leader Congresswoman Barbara Lee and
suggest that we send a delegation to the United Nations." Lee was the only
member of Congress to oppose the use of military force in response to the
Like many of the protesters, Hilliard said that the current crises in the
Middle East has come about as a result of a long-standing tradition of
aggressive U.S. foreign policy. "We have got to listen to the reactions
from around the world; they are telling us what the problems are," Hilliard
said. "It is the arrogance of the American administration - politicians
denouncing people by bombing them, rather than trying to sit around a table
and negotiate, addressing peaceful solutions. That is what peace-loving
people should be about. And that is how we should make sure we are
represented, because our very lives are at stake."
Hilliard also said he thought the current crisis went well beyond America's
support of Israel. "It is about the struggle of the haves and the
have-nots, and it has always been about that. Now violence has been visited
upon people here within the confines of this country, but this is violence
that has been happening around the world. There is nothing new about this."
Seth Schneider, a member of the coalition, criticized American foreign
policy for similar reasons and related the recent crises to America's
energy consumption. "Over the last 50 years, we have really been a bully in
the Middle East, and I would bring it back to oil and energy and say that
it is tied to our vast need for and use of energy resources," Schneider
said. "The U.S. consumes one-fourth of the world's energy, and we need to
address our own consumption issues. We don't have a sustainable model right
now, and we need to look at the root cause that gets us so involved in the
Susan Ravanti, a demonstrators at Sunday's protest, said the bombing
Afghanistan is immoral and also plays into bin Laden's plan. "There is a
sign that says 'Don't let George W. Start World War Three,' and I think it
should say 'Don't Let Bin Laden Start World War Three,' because that is
what we are doing. He wanted a holy war, and we are giving it to him."
Anti-war protestors gather outside Dil
By Fiona McCann
Demonstrators outside the Dal protesting against the war in Afghanistan
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Dal this evening to protest
against the war in Afghanistan.
Those gathered chanted slogans and carried banners protesting at the
bombing of civilians in Afghanistan and calling on the Irish Government to
withdraw its offer of the use of Irish airspace and airport facilities to
the US military.
Speaking to protestors, Mr Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party said there
was no justification for the bombing of Afghanistan. "What is happening now
in Afghanistan is an obscenity," he said.
Mr Higgins said that he believed that the war did not have the support of
the majority of the people of Ireland. "It is to the absolute shame of the
Irish Government that it is continuing its usual subservience to the US
government," he said.
Other speakers included Mr Roger Cole of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance,
Mr Andi Storey of Action from Ireland (AFRI) and Ms Mary Van Lieshout of
the newly-formed US Citizens living in Ireland for Alternatives to War.
The protest was organised by the Irish Anti War Movement, a broad-based
anti-war group formed before the launch of attacks on Afghanistan last Sunday.
The group is currently organising further protests, with a national
demonstration in Dublin scheduled for November 3rd.
Cats, Dogs and 'Collateral Damage'
October 16, 2001
(The village referred to throughout this article is variously spelled
Kadam, Karam, and Koram. It is unclear which is the correct spelling.)
"One week after United States-led forces began bombarding Afghanistan,
disturbing evidence is emerging of unacceptably high civilian casualties
and ill-defined military and political objectives. Afghans reaching the
Pakistani city of Peshawar 60 kilometres from the border said the
bombing on Friday of Kadam, a small rural community in Surkh Rud
district near the eastern city of Jalalabad, had killed scores, possibly
hundreds of civilians." (1)
So said the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday, October 15. This
was just one of many reports filed Sunday and Monday concerning the
destruction of an Afghan village. The first of these reports were based
on the eyewitness accounts of the survivors of the attack, some
seriously wounded, who fled into neighboring Pakistan.
A report in the Guardian began: "Serious blunders by American
warplanes may have killed at least 100 civilians in Afghanistan,
according to eye-witness accounts obtained by the Observer. Two U.S.
jets, they said, had bombed a village in eastern Afghanistan, killing
more than 100 people." (2) According to one witness cited, the jets
circled back twice to unload additional ordnance on the village.
The Guardian also noted that while "Western politicians have
been quick to dismiss the claims as propaganda ... apparent confirmation
of serious casualties among non-combatants is beginning to emerge. If
the evidence is accurate, an attack on Karam village, 18 miles west of
Jalalabad, last Thursday was the most lethal blunder yet by Allied
An article in the Independent held that Karam was just one of
several villages to be targeted: "Something went terribly wrong at the
end of the week. In conversations with refugees, a string of names come
up again and again: Darunta, Karam, Torghar, Farmada - insignificant
villages where, according to consistent accounts by eyewitnesses, as
well as those of the Taliban propaganda machine, hundreds of civilians
were killed." (3)
Among the refugees that Independent reporter Richard Parry spoke
to, he found that "many have seen at first hand the devastating effects
which the attacks have begun to have on civilians. In hospitals, refugee
camps and in the homes of friends, they describe how it feels to find
yourself directly below one of the most technologically sophisticated
bombing campaigns in history." (3)
U.S. officials were quick to deny civilian casualties and
denounce the witness accounts as propaganda. Taliban officials countered
by allowing Western reporters into the country to view the carnage at
Karam first-hand. The journalists, skeptical of what they assumed would
be a staged scene, filed reports that revealed their shock and revulsion
at what they encountered.
A reporter for The Times described the scene at a nearby
hospital: "In a gloomy Jalalabad hospital ward Ahmed Zai clings to his
one-year-old son as they lie on a dirty sheet. Both have shrapnel wounds
... Across the crowded ward three-year-old Rahmed cries for his mother.
Bandages cover his head, arm and legs. Blood is oozing through ...
Doctors tell us that both of his parents are dead ... Along with
twenty-five others in this hospital Ahmed and Rahmed were in the village
of Koram." (4)
In the village itself, the reporters were met with harrowing
scenes of carnage and human suffering. First, however, their Taliban
escorts had to subdue the wrathful villagers: "As we approached Koram,
climbing a rocky hillside, the villagers erupted in fury, charging down
the hill with shovels in hand. We had experienced orchestrated protests
during our drive from the Pakistan border, but this was altogether
An Associated Press writer made a similar observation: "Waving
shovels and sticks, enraged villagers surged toward foreign journalists
brought here Sunday by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia to see what
officials say was the devastation of a U.S. air attack. 'They are coming
to kill us! They are coming for information, to tell the planes where to
bomb!' angry and terrified villagers shouted as they charged the
These were, mind you, ordinary Afghan villagers who - after just
one week of terror bombing allegedly aimed at eliminating terrorism and
keeping the Western world safe for democracy - were so enraged that they
were prepared to violently attack the first Westerners they laid eyes
on. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm feeling a whole lot safer
Ian Williams of The Times graphically described the village:
"One man said that he was burying his wife bit by bit as he dug her out
of the rubble. He put a severed leg into a plastic bag and dropped it
into the hole that he had dug. The stench of rotten bodies was
overwhelming in places. Dead cows and goats littered the hillside, as
did chunks of metal, shrapnel from the bombs. Of around 40 stone houses
more than half have been completely destroyed." (4)
Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press took in the scene as well:
"Villagers pointed out other evidence of an attack: a bloodstained
pillowcase by a house, bomb craters and what appeared to be a rotting
human limb. Dozens of sheep and goat carcasses were strewn about the
mud-hut village, and the air was thick with a rancid stench." (5)
Williams reported seeing "at least thirty fresh graves,
villagers praying beside them." (4) Gannon watched as an "old man knelt
by one grave, sobbing. He looked up, furiously, at journalists and their
cameras and lobbed stones to drive the outsiders away." (5) Witnesses on
the scene told the reporters that "more bodies were buried up in the
mountains, taken there by residents as they fled the now mostly deserted
One villager showed the visitors a piece of bomb shrapnel with
English writing on it. His wife and all five of his kids had been killed
by the bombs. Another villager demanded answers: "They are innocent
people living here. There is no military base. What is it they are
looking for in Afghanistan? Where is Osama bin Laden? He is not here.
Why did they bomb us?" (5)
Williams ended his report with the following observation: "from
the evidence we have seen Koram is no terrorist training camp or
military base. There appears to have been a horrible mistake." (4) Not
according to the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who put
forth the preposterous story that it was an ammunition dump near the
village that had been bombed.
As the Guardian reported, Rumsfeld claimed that "US bombs had
hit the opening to two nearby tunnels believed to be possible ammunition
dumps, causing powerful secondary explosions. People living near the
site may have been involved in storing and guarding the ammunition
store." (6) The village itself, according to the Pentagon, was not
actually bombed at all.
Despite the fact that reporters had seen and photographed bomb
craters, and had seen at least one unexploded warhead, the Pentagon
"denied there were bomb craters in the village." (6) Left completely
unexplained were the bombed-out dwellings, the livestock carcasses
strewn about, the abundance of shrapnel, and the scattered body parts.
Rumsfeld washed his hands of the affair with the following
shameless lie: "There's no question that people who were in close
proximity to these isolated ammunition dumps, who very likely were there
for a good reason because they were a part of that activity, may very
well have been casualties. They were not cooking cookies inside those
No, actually they weren't in any tunnels at all. Some were
sleeping. Some had just been called to morning prayer by the village
mullah. All were, by any reasonable interpretation of the evidence,
After reading these reports on Sunday evening - all from British
and Australian publications - I decided to catch the 11:00 PM edition of
ABC News to see what sort of spin the American media would put on these
well-documented reports of civilian casualties. No mention was made of
They did though manage to squeeze in an important story about
some other tragic victims whose plight had previously been shamefully
ignored by all avenues of the media. The following exchange between the
talking heads 'teased' the story:
Leslie Sykes: "Still ahead - the forgotten victims of September 11th."
Phillip Palmer: "Tonight, a party to raise money for pets who lost their
owners. That is coming up."
I didn't wait up to get the details.
1. Christopher Kremmer "Alarm Grows Over Scale of Civilian Casualties,"
Sydney Morning Herald, October 15, 2001
2. Jason Burke "US Admits Lethal Blunders," Guardian Unlimited, October
3. Richard Lloyd Parry "It Was If the Rocks Themselves Were on Fire,"
Independent, October 14, 2001
4. Ian Williams "He Is Burying His Wife Bit by Bit as He Digs Her Out of
the Rubble," The Times, October 15, 2001
5. Kathy Gannon "Taliban Shows Fresh Graves and a Village Ruined by
War," International Herald Tribune, October 15, 2001
6. Julian Borger "Rumsfeld Blames Taliban for Civilian Deaths," Guardian
Unlimited, October 16, 2001
Taliban: 47 Afghan Civilians Dead.
AP (with additional material by CNN).
17 October 2001.
KABUL -- Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia claimed Wednesday that 47
Afghans had been killed during heavy U.S. air attacks on the southern
city of Kandahar since Tuesday morning, including seven civilians hit by
shrapnel while fleeing.
Abdul Hanan Himat, a Taliban Information Ministry official in Kabul,
issued the figures Wednesday afternoon.
Himat cited the following civilian casualty tolls, attributing them to
daytime and overnight bombing in and near the southern city of Kandahar,
the Taliban stronghold:
At least seven dead while fleeing Kandahar. Himat said their two trucks
were hit by shrapnel in the outskirts of the city.
At least 13 dead in Bagh-e-Pul, a western neighborhood of Kandahar,
where he said several houses were destroyed by the U.S.-led bombing.
Twelve dead in the city's Chanoi area after bombs hit houses near a
Taliban military garrison.
At least 15 others dead in three other western neighborhoods of the
city. He did not elaborate.
Himat said at least 70 others were wounded in Kandahar.
Taliban sources said 18 people died when a bus carrying civilians was
hit in the airstrikes near the city of Arghandab, outside of Kandahar.
Taliban officials allowed a CNN crew to go to the site, but the crew
could not independently confirm the death toll or if the bus was
The U.S. campaign has been especially heavy in recent days. Multiple
bombs were still falling on the capital Wednesday afternoon, when two
more explosions sent black smoke rising north and south of the city.
Developing the anti-war movement. please forward to interested people
by Bob Myers.
These ideas are only partially thought through. I am circulating them
because I think a clearer idea can better emerge from a collective discussion.
Underpinning a lot of the anti-war protest is a conception of US
imperialism that is inadequate or wrong. It sees US imperialism as
nothing different from a previous age when the great powers simply went
about the world taking control of territories through military power. It
is with this picture that the anti-war protestors denounce the US/UK attack
I am not here going to try to say what is wrong with this 'imperialism'.
People who think this is an adequate picture needn't read on.
These anti-war protests do attract a growing number of people and this, of
course, is very good. But it fails to connect with millions of other
people, who are agitated by what is going on. And the inability to connect
with this wider population will ensure that the anti-war movement has no
effect on the course of events, neither able to impact on the present
reality nor able to build a lasting movement for the future.
By attacking an 'imperialism' of an earlier period the anti-war movement
leaves Bush/Blair et al to occupy the moral high ground in most people's
thinking - for democracy against the Taliban etc. No amount of detailing
the Bush/Blair hypocrisy or past atrocities of US policy will overcome
this ( though this propaganda is both right and needed). All this leaves
unanswered the question on everyone's mind 'What to do to get a safe
world?'. Anti-war yes but pro what? Bush/Blair have a plan. We have
nothing but words about 'a better world' which cut little ice. And so with
the cold war division of people at an end a new division between people
opens up. The oppressed masses in huge parts of the world drawn to Islam
and the rest supporting a war against terrorism.
Now it is very difficult to answer this question of how to break this
alliance of people with Bush/ Blair/ Islam exactly because of the past
failure of the revolutionary/radical/anti-capitalist movement. If the
middle east oppressed turn to Islam it is above all because of the terrible
history of the 'communist party'. But the anti-Stalinist left also has
to share some responsibility. My own ex- 'party' - the WRP - in the past had
terrible relations with many middle east dictators and dressed this up as
'anti-imperialism'. This rotten past means that the present war takes
place with a huge gap between the kind of internationalist movement of
practical solidarity that the Afghans (and other ) need and that which exists.
So there is no magic wand that can be waived to make contact with the
anxious millions. But we must make a start and I think that means a
radical shift in the anti-war campaign.
As demonstrations etc against war we must develop a practical initiative
that allows all the concerned and anxious people to do something
themselves to reach for the 'safer' world rather than just being spectators
as things get worse.
Why do we anti-capitalists leave the 'humanitarian' campaign to the awful
charities that cannot defend humanity because they are so tied to the
governments that fund them. Isn't the need of Afghans for food,
education material, medicine etc etc - isn't this our concern - not
separated from a political campaign against capital and war but
inseparably linked up with it.
I am not saying exactly what such an initiative of practical solidarity
should be. Maybe it depends on local campaign conditions - maybe we can
develop an international framework but this is like the great campaign to
fight fascism in Spain in the 30's - this went from sending fighters right
through to collecting food and clothes. Clearly here and now we are not
talking about sending fighters.
For example people will know about the Revolutionary association women of
Afghanistan. I am not naming this group because I have a particular
political brief for it but because its basic work - against Taliban,
Northern Alliance, US bombing etc means that it is a voice of independence
crying out for support. And I mean support, not using it to simply bolster
our existing 'anti-war' propaganda.
Against Bush/Blair's coalition to fight terrorism we should develop our own
international coalition that by its combination of political perspectives
and practical solidarity begins to show people another world - of
co-operation. Its only in such a practical initiative that we will be able
to overcome the scepticism of the millions that they can do
anything. Words and demonstrations alone are not enough.
So maybe- just as an example - we could start an international campaign to
collect money, food, medicines, and educational material to be delivered to
RAWA. How is this different from all the 'humanitarian' efforts under way
already? Because our initiative would have at its heart the self
organisation and mobilisation of people to give direct solidarity to a
political element in Afghan society that sees a way out of the chaos - not
something to simply feed hungry people so they can starve or be killed
tomorrow. We are strengthening the international movement for a different
The greatest impact of this campaign in the first place is not so much in
Afghanistan itself but here in all our countries. To begin to change the
outlook and activity of people here. In the midst of such a practical
campaign we can invite speakers from RAWA etc to come and explain to
people. Its in this way that people will best be able to hear what they
say and to learn. Its in this framework of activity that the Pilger type
propaganda about past crimes of US etc will really make sense and be
New solutions for an old war
By William Rivers Pitt
"If men as individuals surrender to the call of their elementary instincts,
avoiding pain and seeking satisfaction only for their own selves, the
result for them all taken together must be a state of insecurity, of fear,
and of promiscuous misery." ~Albert Einstein
October 17, 2001-Turn on the television and find a news station, and you
will be greeted within seconds by a graphic, and by suitably dramatic
music, that tells us we are engaged in America's New War. You will be
reminded that we were attacked out of nowhere by entities that hate our
freedom. You will be counseled to understand that everything has changed.
In his recent prime time press conference, George W. Bush took the long
walk, a la Reagan, down the red-carpeted hallway to the East Room of the
White House and answered about 12 questions. In one response, he professed
amazement at the hatred our new enemies hold for us. We're so good, he
claimed. How could they miss that?
The answer to that question embarrasses all the networks that tell us we
are involved in a 'new' war, and should not embarrass a president whose
oft-repeated disdain for reading has left him with little historical
understanding for our current circumstances.
For you see, this is not a new war at all, nor is it a new world, nor has
This is a very old war that has been raging for decades. There are nations,
some of whom are apparently complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks, who believe
that they have been at war with the United States for 20 years. The
destruction of the Trade Towers and a section of the Pentagon was not a
lightning strike from a blameless sky. It was a bold tactical stroke by an
enemy that has, for the first time, managed to strike back.
This is not a new world, and nothing has changed. America has been rudely
and horrifyingly awakened to the circumstances of the world around them.
The cushion provided by two oceans, 2,000 nuclear missiles, and a media
establishment that quails from reporting what is actually happening
elsewhere because of our policies, has been ripped from under us.
Welcome to the world, America. This is what life is like for many, many
Now that we are here, at last aware of the war that we have been waging for
a generation, we must analyze our reaction and decide if the course we have
set is just, proper, worthy of the lives of our service men and women, and
above all, winnable.
As it stands today, I am against this war.
I am against this war because it is being fought in exactly the wrong way.
Pursued as it is, we will soon find ourselves facing a united Muslim world
that has a long laundry list of grievances against us to begin with. A
united Pan-Islamic Front is precisely what bin Laden wants, and by strafing
the rubble in Afghanistan, we are skipping gaily into his arms.
The more civilians we kill, the stronger and more sympathetic we make bin
Laden to a poor and enraged Muslim world. Continue to support this bombing
campaign and you are feeding the fires that will burn us all out of house
I am against this war because the millions of Afghan civilians who escape
the bombs can look forward to unknown amounts of time eating grass and
drinking poisoned water in deathtrap refugee camps. We dropped 37,000 meals
on Afghanistan when the bombing started, which leaves, by my math,
6,963,000 people who need food.
There is dying, and there is dying. Among those who flee will undoubtedly
be thousands who listen to clerical rhetoric against America and decide, in
their despair, that strapping Semtex to their chests and boarding a plane
is preferable to a squalid death far from home at the hands of an unseen
Better to die on you feet than live on your knees, right? I would bet the
farm that many of those now fleeing our bombs will come to decide the same
thing. Again, we put the barrel of the gun to our own heads.
The head of the largest Islamic group in Pakistan has called for the
overthrow of that government. If Pakistan falls, as it may well do, the
fundamentalists will have nuclear weapons. On that road lies total
annihilation. India, China and Russia will immediately go 'red-alert' if
Pakistan falls. If just one bomb goes off over there, all of our Cold War
night sweats will become a reality.
Besides, who says those Pakistan-based fundamentalists can't cart one of
those bombs over here, should they get their hands on them?
I am against this war because Afghanistan is a convenient target whose
ultimate destruction will do little to win "The War On Terrorism." Bin
Laden will survive and flee, and the thousands of Al Qaeda terrorists in
places like Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Germany, Ireland, Boston, Chicago,
Cleveland and Los Angeles will be totally unharmed.
Afghanistan is a straw man. Yes, they are repressive. Yes, they treat women
unspeakably. They did so on September 10 and I heard no one advocate the
limitless bombing of that country on that day or any day before it.
I have heard in several forums the comparison of bin Laden and the Taliban
to Hitler and the Nazis. That is a joke. Bin laden has no mechanized army
to roll on Poland or France, nor does he have a Navy to close sea lanes,
nor does he have an air force, nor even a nation. The Taliban are not a
government. They are a gang.
This is a war between two rich power brokers -- Bush and bin Laden -- who
are gambling with all of our lives. Bin Laden is no Hitler. He is a lunatic
who kills us with weapons and training we provided him.
In that, he is like Saddam Hussein, another lunatic who kills people with
weapons and training we provided him. Also like bin Laden, Hussein was
compared to Hitler by Bush Sr. The comparison did not, and does not, hold
water. It did, however, manage to get us all whipped up as we are now.
Waving the bloody shirt of Hitler is exactly what Bush wants you to do,
because it obscures clear and critical thinking. Being afraid right now is
understandable, but lashing out with that fear and destabilizing the planet
is stupid and suicidal.
If we continue to lash out, if we continue to bomb the nothing that is
Afghanistan, bin Laden can fulfill his Pan-Islamic dreams. He will unite
the Muslim world against us, and will then have the capability to become
Hitler. He's not there yet, but is helped on his way with such inflammatory
and inaccurate comparisons.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has described this conflict as a 'new Cold War.'
That war lasted from Truman to Bush Sr., and the circumstances we are
currently enduring are a direct result. I refuse to even consider
supporting something that will create a new 45-year war.
The old Cold War gave us nuclear weapons in all corners of the globe, plus
Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iraq, the Gulf War, the Red
Scare, the Black Lists, McCarthy, Hoover, anthrax weapons, smallpox
weapons, Star Wars, massive ecological destruction, and yes, Osama bin
Laden and the Taliban.
The ultimate fallacy behind the idea that this is a new war lies in the
fact that we are fighting it in a very old-fashioned way. Bombing a
defenseless nation will not stop terrorism. It will not allay the fears of
our populace, who are bombarded daily with reports of anthrax infections.
All the bombing of Afghanistan will do is create new jihad warriors who are
ready to die so as to see you die. In their rage and despair, they will
sign up willingly. Our so-called endless war will become a reality, as we
manufacture droves of the very people we seek to destroy. It will never end.
Let us speak of new solutions for this old war:
1. Immediately recognize a Palestinian state, and pull out all the stops to
broker a peace deal. Beat Arafat and Sharon about the head and shoulders
until they come to an agreement that will stop the unspeakable suffering of
the Palestinian people while ensuring the safety and security of Israel.
Make Jerusalem a UN Protectorate guarded by Swiss troops, or some equally
uninvolved nation. This is no longer an eternally nagging problem. It is
the lynchpin upon which peace or total destruction will turn.
2. Take the billions of dollars we are currently spending to destroy rubble
and mud in Afghanistan and turn it into food, medicine, radios, clothing,
seeds. If we can read Mullah Abdul bin Tallal bin Alla bin Mustafa's watch
as he rides his camel through the Kybher Pass with our satellites, we can
feed and clothe these people, because we are clever. Who says a Marshall
Plan has to come after a war? With a concentrated effort, all the Taliban
warriors in Afghanistan won't be able to stop it. They will fall.
3. Continue what had been shaping up to be an excellent diplomatic course.
Cut off terrorist funding. Organize the coalition to marshal every iota of
intelligence ability to tracking, arresting and convicting terrorists in
every corner of the globe. Before we started bombing, we had massive
cooperation. That may evaporate in a cloud of outrage soon, and the
aforementioned safe terrorists will not have the combined might of the
international community looking for them anymore.
4. Stop bombing Afghanistan. Hundreds of civilians have been killed already
by errant munitions. We have already created more terrorists. Stop the
bombing and stop this genesis. We've got Special Forces in Afghanistan
right now lazing "targets," i.e. mud piles and rubble. Reconstitute their
mission to search-and-destroy mode. Shoot these Al Qaeda fighters between
the eyes from 1,000 yards out . . . you know we can do it.
These actions will strip bin Laden and the Taliban of their most potent
weapon -- the ability to generate outrage in the Muslim world. If we are
not bombing cities, if we are actively seeking peace between Palestine and
Israel, if we are lobbing tons of food and supplies at Afghan civilians,
nothing bin Laden can say or do will be able to deflect the obvious fact
that America is not being belligerent to yet another Muslim country. His
ranting will make him and his friends more and more isolated, and a
well-fed Afghan populace with the Northern Alliance hot on their heels will
make some good changes.
There are problems which require cures on the home front, as well:
1. Restore congressional oversight to its full constitutional stature. Bush
has sworn to limit the flow of data to Congress. This must not stand. Harry
Truman investigated America's conduct of World War II and a senator and
Congress investigated several facets of the Vietnam War. Both actions
helped America in its actions. We cannot lose this essential aspect of our
government in the rush to battle.
2. The Republican Party must immediately cease its attempts to pass
partisan legislation under the guise of military necessity. The war will
not be helped by tax cuts, nor will it be helped by drilling for oil in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, nor will it be helped by a ceaseless
barrage of denunciations aimed at President Clinton. If this does not
cease, our much ballyhooed unity will fall to dust, and rightly so.
3. Immediately begin congressional investigations into the spectacular
failures by the FBI, CIA, NSA and the security sections of the national
airlines that allowed this travesty to take place with nary a word of warning.
4. A complete analysis of our international policies over the last 50 years
must be immediately undertaken. We must determine where our own actions
have helped bring this old war to our shores. From our toppling of the
Iranian government, to Palestine, to Lebanon, to the sanctions on Iraq, our
policies have left many large and damaging footprints. Before we can get to
how we will win, we must first undertake to fully understand why it all
happened. Simply being amazed at the hatred of our enemies is not enough
and does scant justice to the American lives that have been lost.
There is one last truth we all have to face when considering this war:
Absolutely, positively nothing we can say or do will completely end the
threat of terrorism in this country.
It's here, friends. For 225 years we were protected by those two oceans and
then we added 2,000 nuclear missiles. Those days are gone. We were
protected and isolated from our policies, our wars, our mistakes and our
evils. Not anymore.
We did not deserve the attack we have absorbed, but neither did those whom
we have attacked, or helped others to attack. Nobody deserves it, but it
has done by us and in our name for generations. The Bible says that he who
troubles his own house shall inherit the wind. We have troubled this house
for a long time, and that wind has begun to blow hard and strong.
Sept. 11 was merely an upping of an ante that has been bid upon for years.
Super-terrorism did not come from nowhere. It is a step on the ladder to
hell, a ladder we did much to place.
Finally, the time has come to ask the really hard question:
If we cannot stop terror without becoming a barricaded, isolated,
totalitarian state -- a dark choice that is the only sure cure -- then what
More bombs far away? More civilian death? More feeding of the cycle that
will surely bring more of the same to our shores and theirs?
Or a long, slow, tortured path towards some kind of redemption?
There is no way to win this old war if we fight it the way we have been for
the past several days. The only way to guarantee victory is to transform
the conflict into a genuine New War, one that looks inward as well as outward.
If we can come up with solutions that do not involve the bombing of
civilians and the creation of new terrorists, we will win. If we can bring
the criminals who attacked us to justice without such tactics, we will win.
If we can foster genuine peace in that tortured region, we will win. If we
can come to understand the desperation and rage that is aimed at us and
change that reality, we will win. If we can maintain democracy in our own
country, we will win.
I'd like to think we can win this new war. To do so, we must discard the
old one, and the old ways in which we fight it.
War against terrorism will fail, says former MI5 head
By Tahira Yaqoob
16 October 2001
President Bush's war against global terrorism is destined for failure, the
former head of MI5, Stella Rimington, warned yesterday.
Dame Stella, who was speaking about the military action in Afghanistan,
said that terrorism could never be wiped out altogether. And she warned
that there could be a repeat of the attack on New York because the
intelligence network was not advanced enough.
The former director general, a diplomat's wife who rose to the highest
position within the intelligence service before retiring five years ago,
was speaking at the Cheltenham Literary Festival in Gloucestershire to
promote her autobiography, Open Secret.
She said: "I do not feel incredibly confident about this war against
terrorism. I think it is encouraging to see that there is better, closer
collaboration between the world's intelligence agencies. That is quite
positive, but rooting out terrorism strikes me as an extremely difficult
thing to do.
"Terrorism is with us. New groups will come who regard terrorism as useful
in drawing attention to their causes. I don't think rooting it out for all
time is a very practical objective."
Dame Stella, who worked for MI5 for 27 years, said the spy network was not
advanced enough to predict exactly when and where terrorists would strike.
"There is no such thing as 100 per cent intelligence," she said. "There
will always be a risk that terrorist incidents may take place because there
is not sufficiently advanced intelligence."
Since 11 September, some of Dame Stella's critics within MI5 have blamed
her for the failure of British intelligence to keep track of Islamic
terrorists. They say she diverted resources towards in Northern Ireland and
organised crime, particularly drugs.
In 1994 Dame Stella disbanded the special unit known as G7, a "joint
section" set up with MI6 to monitor Islamic terrorism. As a result, when
the threat from Osama bin Laden began to become apparent in 1998, vital
experience and continuity had been lost, her critics said.
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