---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 21:50:44 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 20)
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
It's Simple. It's Not So Simple
By Cynthia Peters
Now is the time to be talking to people. Communicating, sharing
information, listening -- they are the core of social change, of
changing minds, of exchanging rationalizations and cynicism for
vision and empowerment.
It's simple, really. A terrible crime is being committed in our name.
Millions of dollars worth of bombs are raining down on an already
decimated country. Beyond the military terror and destruction, the
terror of starvation almost surely awaits millions of Afghans unless
the bombing stops and a full-scale aid program gets food in place for
the winter. This is a calculated crime against humanity that differs
from September 11th only in scale; that is: it is many times larger.
That the U.S. is taking part in the killing of innocent people is not
new. What's new is that people are paying attention. Before
September 11th, I tried talking to people about the 500,000 Iraqi
children dead thanks to the U.S. economic embargo. And people's
eyes glazed over. But during these last few weeks, as I've staffed an
information table on the main street that runs through my town, I've
noticed something else during my conversations with people about
the war in Afghanistan, the certainty of mass starvation unless our
current trajectory in that country is reversed, the principles of
international law, the idea that escalating violence is exactly that and
not a form of justice, and the importance of the rule of law over the
muscle of vigilantism.
What I've noticed is that the glaze is gone.
People's eyes are opened to the world in a way they weren't before.
People are bringing questioning minds to the problem of terrorism
and the U.S. role in the Middle East and elsewhere. People are filled
with grief, awed by the courage of the rescuers, stunned by what it
means to turn a commercial jetliner full of innocent people into a
living, breathing bomb. People are curious -- and I mean that --
about exactly how the U.S. has abused its power around the globe,
and they are reflecting on the consequences of that abuse.
Many conversations are not that hard. Sometimes, just listening to
the words pouring out of someone's mouth helps him or her listen to
those words, too, for the first time. Sometimes re-phrasing what you
hear, without necessarily making a speech complete with historical
facts and figures, is enough to put a crack in the confident parroting
of the war defense. Sometimes, just being out on the street with
"Justice Not War" flyers is enough to reach the cynic who already
understands the misuse of U.S. power but believes there's no point
in contesting it.
But not every conversation is so easy. I don't feel good about having
some guy towering over me, jabbing the air with his finger, spitting
out his passionate belief that, yes, we should kill as many Afghans
as possible. It's not just that it's personally threatening, or that it's
ethically in line with Osama bin Laden. It's also that it's painful to
come face to face with this particular kind of human being.
Heartless retaliation is not limited to this war-mongering type.
Consider the educated guy in the corporate suit who speaks in soft
tones and has a pained expression on his face as he shrugs off the
possibility of millions of starving Afghans with, "Well, we have to get
Osama bin Laden somehow, don't we?"
Rather than scream my disbelief back at him, I try calmly repeating
his own logic back to him. "So you think it's okay to put millions of
Afghans at risk of starvation in order to possibly catch one man?"
Then I try to let the pause be. I try not to fill up the silence with more
words. I try to let him hear what he's saying. But this is hard to do. I
feel a sort of a panic rising up. He is a thinking person, yet he
articulated his accord with an obscene and murderous set of
policies. I hold down the panic. He backs off a little from his
argument. The interaction ends.
Unlike protesters in many countries, I don't risk getting killed or
imprisoned when I put up my card table on Centre Street. I'm not
worried about getting hurt, and I have a thick enough skin to deal
with the hecklers. But dissent has its challenges, such as having
reasonable conversations with privileged people who have access to
power and knowledge, but who nonetheless are aligning themselves
with points of view that will almost surely result in mass murder.
This is where it becomes not-so-simple. I don't like talking to people
like that man in the suit. They make me sick.
But talking is what we absolutely need to be doing right now. It is the
only way to prevent mass murder. In a one-superpower world, the
citizens of the superpower are the only force that can control the
superpower. It's up to us.
Talking has the added benefit of being the only antidote to the sick
feeling. For all the corporate suits, there are many more thoughtful
people who pause, look me in the eye, nod their agreement that
violence begets violence, say things like, "Thank you for being out
here." "I realize I've never quite thought about it that way." "Do you
have more information?" "Can I come to your meeting?" "Will you
speak at my church?" "Where can I learn more?"
Many people I've met in the last few weeks don't need to hear my
analysis. They already know. And they have a lot to teach if we
listen. The Vietnam vet challenges me on how we should pressure
our government when it is corporations that seem to have so much
control. The firefighter tells me that all he hears at work is that the
killing should stop. The Haitian man wonders how international legal
channels could be made more independent and less influenced by
the United States. The three women carrying bibles talk for a long
time, first with me and then amongst themselves. The teenager
starts off protesting that her parents would disagree with me, but
winds up voicing her own views.
Late one night, someone calls from a nearby town. He has our flyer
inviting people to a neighborhood anti-war meeting, and he's
shocked that I risked putting my name and number out publicly. I get
the feeling he's calling partly to see if I'm real, thus making him a
little bit less alone. He and his small group are planning on marching
the next day in a community-based parade featuring marching
bands and civic organizations. They will carry a banner that says,
"Our Cry of Grief is not a Cry for War." He is nervous but inspired to
hear what we have accomplished so far in our town. The next day,
they participate in the parade. "At least a few people cheered on
each block," they reported to me later. There are plans now for
cross-town pot lucks and meetings.
It strikes me as pathetic, sometimes, how few we are, how far we
have to go, how many steps forward, backward and sideways we will
have to take. Someone suggested that I give a short talk at the next
meeting of her neighborhood crime watch group. But at the last
minute, the group, which has put tremendous collective energy into
debating the relative merits of stop signs vs. stop lights, relations
with police, and all the minutia of orchestrating their security in the
three-block radius of their homes, decides that hearing about the war
is not relevant. I'm allowed to leave my flyers, but whatever I have
to say just "isn't our business," says one participant.
On the one hand, this experience is simply frustrating -- something
to be absorbed, learned from, tried again someday perhaps. On the
other hand, this experience is not-so-simply rather alarming -- a
stark reminder that people will mobilize tremendous resources for
immediate concerns, but withold those resources when it comes to
contesting a major human rights catastrophe in the making.
It's not hard to grasp the potentially genocidal consequences of
current U.S. policy. But it is a bit harder to integrate that
understanding into your daily life, and let it affect your actions. How
will this knowledge change you? What will it make you question
about how you spend your time, what you do with your money,
whether you are doing everything in your power to reduce the horror.
Maybe before, when you sheltered yourself from this knowledge, you
never wondered if it was okay to spend time watching the Yankees'
game. Now you are wondering.
And you are looking around at the peace activists and realizing that
working in coalition with people to stop a major atrocity can mean
aligning yourself with people you don't agree with -- or even who you
find personally threatening. Some of the people fighting this war
might be the same ones that, in another forum, would be your boss,
deny you a living wage, ensure more privileges for the already
privileged. Some of your fellow peace activists would be horrified by
your sexuality, find you perverse, or wish you out of existence. They
may have never learned to listen to women or take people of color
seriously. You survey the growing legions of peace activists and
wonder if they're the same people who are gentrifying your
neighborhood, planting tulips in the park but letting affordable
housing go down the drain, never showing up to protest police
violence or the gutting of welfare. Working with these people can be
alienating, disheartening, downright soul-killing.
Should you do it anyway?
To answer that question, keep in mind that there are ways to ease
this necessary work of talking and listening, putting ourselves face-
to-face with brutal, merciless or just plain petty thinking, and risking
1. Pick the community you can work best in. There is a growing
peace movement, but if that is not your political "home," then work
elsewhere -- in your neighborhood, your union, your place of
worship, your community organization. Don't stop doing the political
work you were doing before, but do look for new connections. Now is
2. We should appropriately acknowledge the frustration and alarm
that will be part and parcel of organizing work, but we should also be
careful not to overstate it. No matter how alarmed we might be by
people's denial, people's rejection of a moral stance, people's
downright selfishness, nothing compares to the alarm of those at the
receiving end of U.S. bombs and U.S. orchestrated starvation. Keep
your frustration in perspective.
3. Join others for solidarity, support, shared inspiration, venting
opportunities, perspective, and retreat from the challenges. Know
that organizing is painstaking work, and you need to create
conditions that will allow you to do it for a long time.
4. Know when to walk away. You don't have to talk to everyone.
Don't waste time and energy engaging with the person who is going
ballistic, but use your energy instead for the many sensible people
that have their hearts in the right place but who lack information or
support for entertaining alternative points of view.
5. Don't judge every interaction. It may feel like you failed to reach
someone, but people's growing consciousness doesn't follow a linear
path. They may ignore you, but later privately read the literature you
hand out, and this may affect how they read the newspaper the next
day. Each step is exactly that, and with others adding their efforts,
each step matters more.
6. Finally, pick the work you can do most effectively. If a two-hour
tabling stint on your main street leaves you feeling drained,
despairing or frightened, then do something else. Write an
emergency grant to help pay for all the leaflets and posters.
Volunteer to manage the data base for your organization. Set up the
web site, collate the articles, moderate the list serve, host the house
parties, bring food to the meetings, design the banners, or take part
in any of the numerous background activities that are essential to
Sound simple? It is and it isn't. Each of us, individually, has a
responsibility to figure out how we can negotiate the organizing
challenges and moral imperatives of the current crisis. Together, our
job is to knit our individual abilities into a mass movement that
pressures our government to back off from its bloodletting. The not-
so-simple problem with this mandate is that it won't be easy. The
simple fact, however, is that we must do it anyway.
What's So Complex About It?
By Michael Albert
In the past few weeks I have minutely explored, often with Stephen
Shalom, multifold concerns about September 11 and the "war on
terrorism." With him I have tried to calmly and soberly respond to all
kinds of concerns people feel. I recommend doing it. We all need to
become adept at rebutting the insanely manipulative media
messages that crowd into so many people's minds, and into our own
as well. But going straight to the uncomplicated heart of the matter
sometimes has merit, too.
The U.S. bombing of Afghanistan is a barbaric assault on
defenseless civilians. It threatens a nearly incomprehensible human
calamity. It is pursuing abominable goals.
The bombing is not a "just war,' as Richard Falk labels it in The
Nation, but a vigilante attack. No, it is not a vigilante attack; it is a
vigilante lynch-mob assault writ large. No, it is not even a vigilante
lynch mob assault writ large--even vigilante lynch mobs go after only
those they think are culprits and not innocent bystanders. The
bombing of Afghanistan is a gargantuan repugnance hurled against
some of the poorest people on the planet. And this gargantuan
repugnance is undertaken not out of sincere if horrendously
misguided desires to curtail terrorism--since the bombing undeniably
manifests terror and feeds the wellsprings of more terrorism to
come--but out of malicious desires to establish a new elite-serving
logic of U.S. policy-making via an endless War on Terrorism to
replace the defunct Cold War. This is rehashed Reaganism made
more cataclysmic than even his dismal mind could conceive.
When people say, but doesn't the U.S. have a right to defend itself?
Don't we have to do something?, I understand their hurt, pain,
anger, and confusion. But I also have to admit that I want to scream
that the U.S. is increasing the likelihood that a million or more souls
will suffer fatal starvation. That is not self defense. Doing something
does not entail that we be barbaric. We can do something desirable
rather than horrific, for example.
Put differently, what kind of thinking sees denying food to humans
as self defense, as the only "3something" at our disposal? The answer
is thinking like Bush's, thinking like bin Laden's, thinking that treats
innocent human lives as chess pieces, as checkers, as tidily winks,
in pursuit of its own deadly agendas. Thinking that is willing to rocket
a plane into a building to take 6,000 innocent lives, or thinking that is
willing to drop bombs into an already devastated country abetting
cataclysmic starvation is terrorist thinking. Or, more often in the
case of average upset folks, it is thinking that has been
systematically denied the most basic information relevant to the
issues at hand, and that is too fearful, depressed, angry, or cynical
to admit disturbing truths and reason through real options and
You think I exaggerate?
Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food to the U.N.
High Commissioner for Human Rights, said October 15, "The
bombing has to stop right now. There is a humanitarian emergency."
Lest anyone miss the point, he continued, "In winter the lorries
cannot go in any more. Millions of Afghans will be unreachable in
winter and winter is coming very, very soon." As Reuters reported
(and AP carried as well, but not any U.S. newspaper or other major
media outlet, as best I can tell), "the United Nations has warned of a
catastrophe unless aid can get through for up to seven million
Afghans." Ziegler continues, "We must give the (humanitarian)
organizations a chance to save the millions of people who are
internally displaced (inside Afghanistan)," adding that he was
echoing an (essentially unreported) appeal made by U.N. Human
Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson a few days earlier, who was in
turn echoing reports that go back to before the bombing. Ziegler
called the bombing "a catastrophe for humanitarian work." Or in the
words of Christian Aid Spokesman Dominic Nutt (quoted in the
Scotsman but again in no U.S. papers): "We are beyond the stage
where we can sit down and talk about this over tea. If they stop the
bombing we can get the food aid in, it's as simple as that. Tony Blair
and George Bush have repeatedly said this is a three-stringed
offensive--diplomatic, military and humanitarian. Well the diplomatic
and military are there but where is the humanitarian? A few planes
throwing lunchboxes around over the mountains is laughable." You
can look at reports from one AID agency after another, it is all the
same story. Impending calamity, stop the bombing.
So what's complicated in all this?
Perhaps someone with a more subtle mind than mine can clarify it
for me. But assuming one has the above information at hand, to me
it seems to boil down to this. If we bomb (or even just threaten to
bomb), they are more likely to starve. If we don't bomb (or threaten
to bomb), they are less likely to starve. If we continue bombing, we
are telling the innocent civilians who may starve--not thousands but
millions of them--you just don't count. Compared to Washington's
agenda, you are nothing.
And what is Washington's agenda? Remarkably the stated aim is to
get bin Laden and to try him or perhaps just execute him ourselves.
We could stop the bombing and have him tried in a third country, the
Taliban has noted, but that's not acceptable. So for this minuscule
gradation of difference, we are told that Washington is willing to risk
7 million people. Behind the rhetoric, to me the real goals appear to
be to delegitimate international law, to establish that Washington will
get its way regardless of impediments and that we can and will act
unilaterally whenever it suits us--the technical term for which is to
ensure that our threats remain "credible"--and to propel a long-term
war on terrorism to entrench the most reactionary policies in the
U.S. and around the globe, and, along with all that, to terminate bin
Laden and others. Risking seven million people's lives for these
aims is worse than doing it only for the minuscule gradation of trying
bin Laden ourselves rather than having a third country do it, because
the additional reasons are all grotesquely negative, supposing such
calculus is even manageable by a sane mind.
When I was a kid and first learned about Nazi Germany, like many
other kids, I asked how the German population could abide such
horrors. I even wondered if maybe Germans were somehow
genetically evil or amoral. I have long since understood that
Germans weren't different than Brits or Americans or anyone else,
though their circumstances were different, but for those who still
don't understand mass subservience to vile crimes induced by
structural processes of great power and breadth, I have to admit that
I mostly just want to shout: Look around, dammit!
We live in a highly advanced country with means of communication
that are virtually instantaneous and vastly superior to what the
German populace had. We don't have a dictator and brownshirts
threatening everyone who dissents. Dissent here can be somewhat
unpleasant and may involve some sacrifice and risk, but the price is
most often way less than incarceration, much less death. That's fact
one. Fact two is that our country is risking murdering a few million
civilians in the next few months--every serious commentator knows
it, no serious commentator denies it--and we are pursuing that
genocidal path on the idiotic or grotesquely racist pretext that by so
doing we are reducing terrorism in the world, even as we add
millions to the tally of civilians currently terrorized for political
purposes and simultaneously breed new hate and desperation that
will yield still more terror in the future. Does anyone remember
"destroying the city to save it"? What's next? Terrorize the planet to
rid it of terrorists? For people of my generation, in the Vietnam War
the U.S. killed roughly 2 million Vietnamese over years and years of
horrible violation of the norms of justice, liberty, and plain humanity.
The utterly incomprehensible truth is that the U.S. could attain that
same level of massacre in the next few months, and, whether it
happens or not, our leaders, our media moguls and commentators,
in fact most of our "intelligentsia" are quite sanguine about doing so.
It is possible, with considerable effort, for the average person to
discover that this "war" is potentially genocidal. One can easily get
much more background, context, and analysis from ZNet, sure--but
of course only one out of roughly every five hundred or one
thousand U.S. citizens has ever encountered ZNet--but one can get
that single insight, the possibility that genocidal calamity is
imminent, even from the NY Times or Washington Post or any
major paper that one might read, if one digs deep into it and reads it
very carefully, that is. Of course, the fact that such information isn't
prime time news in every outlet in the land reveals how supinely our
media elevate obedience above truth. Our media pundits are seeing
the AID and UN reports and calls for a bombing halt I mentioned
above, they are seeing stories about these in newspapers from
Scotland to India, of course, and they are simply excluding the
information from U.S. communications. Yet even with this massive
media obfuscation, which says volumes about our society, how hard
is this war to comprehend, supposing one actually tries to
Shortly after September 11 there was a letter in the NYT that a
grade school child wrote to the editor, and I paraphrase from
memory: "If we attack them aren't we doing to them what they did to
us?" This child wasn't a genius, just a normal elementary school
student. The Times probably ran the letter to show how cute kids
can be, but of course the child was correct, not cute. The real
question is why don't more of us see what the child instantly saw,
even now, weeks later, with the horror before our eyes?
Yes, a never-ending trumpet beat of patriotism proclaiming U.S.
virtues and motives contributes to our blindness. Of course
accumulated confusions, augmented daily, cloud our understanding
and push the sad facts of potential starvation out of our field of
vision. And yes the human capacity for self deception to avoid
travail contributes, no doubt, to the process, as does anger and fear.
But I suspect most people's blindness is largely due to resignation.
The key fact, I suspect, isn't that people don't know about the
criminality of U.S. policies, though there is an element of that at
work, especially in the more educated classes, to be sure. But even
among those carefully groomed to be socially and politically ignorant
-- which is to say those who have higher educations -- I think many
people do know at some broad level Washington's culpability for
crimes, and of those who don't know, many don't in part because
they are deceived, sure, but also in part because they are more or
less actively avoiding knowing. And in my view the key factor
causing this avoidance isn't that people are sublimating
comprehension to rationalizations due to cowardly fearing the
implications of dissent and wanting to run with the big crowd instead
of against it. I think instead that people can find deep resources of
courage if they think it will do some good. Witness those firefighters,
average folks, running up the stairs of the WTC.
No, to me the biggest impediment to dissenting is that people feel
that they can't impact the situation in any useful way. If one has no
positive hope, then of course it appears easiest and least painful and
even most productive to toe the line and get on with life, trying to
ignore the injustices perpetrated by one's country, or to alibi them, or
even to claim them to be meritorious, while also trying to do what
one can for one's kids and families, where we believe we can have
an impact. To admit the horror that our country is producing seems
to auger only alienation and tears. Here is one of many examples --
at the end of an email that I got from a young woman as I was
finishing writing this essay, the author laments: "I've never had a
huge amount of trust in governmental actions. But what I do know is
that I have no control over anything. And all I can do is hope."
It follows that the task of those who understand the efficacy of
dissent is not only to counter lies and rationalizations by calmly and
soberly addressing all kinds of media-induced confusions that
people have, but also to demonstrate to people their capacity to
make a difference. We have to escort people, and sometimes
ourselves too, over the chasms of cynicism and doubt to the
productivity of informed confidence.
We do not face, as some would claim, a transformed world turned
upside down and inside out. There is no new DNA coursing through
us and our major societal institutions are as they were yesterday,
last week, and last year. In fact, the main innovation in this month's
events is that major violence based in the third world hit for the first
time in modern history people in the first world. But the problem of
civilians being attacked is all too familiar. And all too often the
perpetrator is us, or those we arm and empower, including in this
case since bin Laden is a prime example of monstrous blowback.
And now the problem is being replicated, writ ever larger, as if by a
berserk Xerox machine.
What we have to do is precisely what we would want others to do:
oppose barbaric policies with our words and deeds, arouse ever
greater numbers of dissenters, and nurture ever greater commitment
to dissent, until elites cannot sensibly believe that a "War on
Terrorism" will lead to anything but a population thoroughly fed up
with and hostile to elites. People all over the world are embarking on
this path^we should too.
DOD ANNOUNCES NAMES OF SERVICEMEMBERS
KILLED IN HELICOPTER ACCIDENT
NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
October 21, 2001
The Department of Defense announced today the names of two
servicemembers killed in Friday's helicopter crash in Pakistan.
Killed were Spc. Jonn J. Edmunds, 20, of Cheyenne, Wyo. and Pfc.
Kristofor T. Stonesifer, 28, of Missoula, Mont.
The two Army Rangers were passengers in a Blackhawk helicopter
that crashed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Hostile fire has been ruled out as a cause of the crash, which
remains under investigation.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
offered his condolences to the families of those killed.
"They and all who are participating in Operation Enduring
Freedom are heroes. They put their lives on the line on behalf
of freedom and on behalf of America, and they do it each and
every day. I'm so very proud of them and their comrades in
arms," he said.
"As the president has said," added Myers, "they did not die in vain."
8 Die in Kabul Bombing, Residents Say.
AP. 21 October 2001
KABUL -- Cursing the aim of U.S. pilots, distraught residents of Kabul
on Sunday pulled the dust-covered bodies of women and children from the
rubble of two homes shattered by an American bomb.
"This pilot was like he was blind," sobbed neighbor Haziz Ullah. "There
are no military bases here -- only innocent people."
Neighbors said the victims died when a U.S. bomb struck their homes at
midday in the Khair Khana district in northern Kabul. An army garrison
and other Taliban installations are several miles away.
Afghan officials also reported air attacks Sunday around the western
city of Herat, Kandahar in the south and near front line positions
southeast of the city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of seven dead -- three women
and four children -- at the scene and later at the hospital where
victims were taken.
Neighbors reported at least eight dead, while Dr. Izetullah at the
city's Wazir Akbar Khan hospital said 13 bodies had been brought there
-- all apparently members of the same family.
Ranging in age from about 8 to 13, the four boys lay under bloodied
sheets at the hospital, only their bare feet visible.
Izetullah wept as he pulled back the shrouds to display the lifeless
bodies. Survivors wailed outside.
"We don't care about military targets, if they want to hit military
targets, let them," said Bacha Gul, who said his brother was among the
victims. "But these are not terrorists."
"Now the poorest of the poor have been left in Kandahar," shopkeeper Taj
Mohammed told reporters Sunday in the Pakistani border city of Quetta.
He said the only people left were "those who cannot afford to leave."
As bulldozers cleared the rubble from the Khair Khana homes where the
civilians died, another U.S. jet screeched overhead. Panicked rescuers
scrambled for cover and an ambulance at the scene sped away.
U.S. bombs hit Kabul homes, killing at least eight, residents say
The Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) U.S.-led bombardment flattened
two homes in a residential neighborhood of Kabul on
Sunday, killing at least eight civilians, including
four children, neighbors said.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene in the Khair
Khana residential district and at a hospital later saw
the bodies of seven of the dead three women and four
children, all boys.
At the hospital where all the victims were taken, a
doctor wept as he showed the dust-covered bodies of
the children, who appeared between 8 and 13 years old.
He said there were 13 dead all apparently of the same
family who were brought to the Wazir Akbar Khan
Hospital. There were also 10 wounded, eight of them
"This pilot was like he was blind. There are no
military bases here only innocent people," said Haziz
Ullah, one of a crowd of distraught, edgy residents at
"We don't care about military targets, if they want to
hit military targets, let them,' said Bacha Gul, the
brother of one of the dead. "But these are not
The United States previously has expressed regret for
any civilian deaths in its now two-week old military
campaign in Afghanistan, saying terror suspect Osama
bin Laden and his Taliban allies are its true targets.
This particular section of the Khair Khana
neighborhood holds no known Taliban military sites,
although a Taliban army garrison and other
installations are housed several kilometers away in
the same direction.
Other bombs hit hard Sunday in the southern city of
Kandahar, which serves as the headquarters for the
Taliban. On the ground in the north, opposition forces
were reportedly keeping up their own offensive against
the strategic, Taliban-held city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
An opposition spokesman said the Taliban and
opposition forces were battling "face-to-face" at one
front near Mazar-e-Sharif. Taliban Information
Ministry confirmed heavy fighting near Mazar-e-Sharif,
but claimed to have pushed the opposition back.
Afghanistan's opposition a northern-based alliance
mainly of ethnic minority Uzbeks and Tajiks is waging
its first major battle since the U.S.-led military
campaign started trying to move forward on
Mazar-e-Sharif after U.S. airstrikes helped clear the
The U.S. bombardment of the Afghan capital opened at
dawn Sunday, as jets roared in for bombing runs to the
east. Four bombs hit Kabul's eastern edge, home to a
Taliban military academy and several Taliban army
Jets returned for strikes on the city's northern edge,
hitting the homes at Khair Khana.
Last week as a U.S. bomb struck a Red Cross compound
in the same neighborhood. The Pentagon had said that
it thought the Taliban militia was using warehouses
there for storage.
Sunday's raids left bulldozers scraping through the
rubble of the demolished homes, as residents searched
for more victims.
Another U.S. jet screamed high overhead as the search
crews worked, sending people scrambling for cover and
an ambulance at the scene screeching away. The
aircraft left without attacking.
Whirring U.S. helicopters had patrolled over Kabul
throughout the night Sunday, making their first
sustained appearance over the capital. They drew only
slight Taliban anti-aircraft fire.
President Bush launched the air campaign Oct. 7 after
the Taliban repeatedly refused to hand over bin Laden,
the main suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on
the United States.
On Sunday, the Taliban claimed to have killed 20-25
U.S. soldiers in the first ground attacks of the
campaign, Saturday at and around Kandahar.
Taliban spokesman Mullah Amir Khan Muttaqi said
Taliban firing killed the U.S. soldiers during hours
of battling there, but gave no details.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman dismissed the
claim as baseless propaganda.
"It's clearly another attempt at false information,"
Capt. Riccoh Player said.
Meanwhile, at the United Nations, an opposition
diplomat gave a rare suggestion that some Taliban
might have a role in any post-Taliban government.
Opposition forces hope the U.S.-led military campaign
will lead to routing of the Taliban fundamentalist
regime, which seized the capital in 1996 and now holds
about 90 percent of the country.
The international community is trying to help a
multiethnic, coalition government take shape one that
would be acceptable to Afghanistan's Pashtun majority.
On Saturday, U.N. ambassador Ravan Farhadi of the
Afghan opposition government in exile said a
post-Taliban government could include so-called
moderates of the Taliban. They would only be those
found innocent of crimes against Afghan civilians,
however, Farhadi said.
Opposition foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah has
vehemently dismissed that same suggestion when it
comes from outside, saying there is no such thing as a
As fighting continues, a refugee crisis built on
Afghanistan's borders. At least 5,000 crossed into
Pakistan Saturday in what was the single largest
one-day exodus in the U.S.-led military campaign.
Another 10,000 were barred from entering and are
believed stranded at a border no man's land.
The U.N. refugee agency says thousands of Afghan
civilians are in flight from Kandahar and other
cities, with most seeking refugee in the mountains and
Terrorism Meets Reactionism
by Michael Parenti
When almost-elected president George W. Bush announced his war on
terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he also was
launching a campaign to advance the agenda of the reactionary Right at
home and abroad. This includes rolling back an already mangled federal
human services sector, reverting to deficit spending for the benefit of
a wealthy creditor class, increasing the repression of dissent, and
expanding to a still greater magnitude the budgets and global reach of
the US military and other components of the national security state.
Indeed, soon after the terrorist attacks, the Wall Street Journal ran an
editorial (September 19), calling on Bush to quickly take advantage of
the "unique political climate" to "assert his leadership not just on
security and foreign policy but across the board." The editorial
summoned the president to push quickly for more tax-rate cuts, expanded
oil drilling in Alaska, fast-track authority for trade negotiations, and
raids on the Social Security surplus.
More for War
Bush himself noted that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon offer an opportunity to strengthen America. As numerous
conservatives spoke eagerly of putting the country on a permanent war
footing, the president proudly declared the first war of the
twenty-first century against an unspecified enemy to extend over an
indefinite time frame. Swept along in the jingoist tide, that gaggle of
political wimps known as the US Congress granted Bush the power to
initiate military action against any nation, organization, or individual
of his choosing, without ever having to proffer evidence to justify the
attack. Such an unlimited grant of arbitrary power, in violation of
international law, the UN charter, and the US Constitution--transforms
the almost-elected president into an absolute monarch who can exercise
life-and-death power over any quarter of the world. Needless to say,
numerous other nations have greeted the presidents elevation to King of
the Planet with something less than enthusiasm.
And King of the Planet is how he is acting, bombing the already badly
battered and impoverished country of Afghanistan supposedly to get
Osama bin Laden. Unmentioned in all this is that US leaders have
actively fostered and financed the rise of the Taliban, and have long
refused to go after bin Laden. Meanwhile, the White House announces that
other countries may be bombed at will and the war will continue for many
years. And Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz urges that U.S.
armed forces be allowed to engage in domestic law enforcement, a
responsibility that has been denied the military since 1878.
Under pressure to present a united front against terrorism, Democratic
legislators are rolling over on the issue of military spending.
Opposition to the so-called missile defense shield seems to have
evaporated, as has willingness to preserve the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty. The lawmakers seem ready to come up with most of the $8.3
billion that the White House says it needs to develop the missile
defense shield and move forward with militarizing outer space. Congress
is marching in lockstep behind Bush's proposal to jack up the military
budget to $328.9 billion for 2002, a spending increase of $38.2 billion
over the enacted FY 2001 budget. Additional funds have been promised to
the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other skulduggery units of the
national security state.
Having been shown that the already gargantuan defense budget was not
enough to stop a group of suicidal hijackers armed with box cutters,
Bush and Congress thought it best to pour still more money into the
pockets of the military-industrial cartel. (Incidentally, the next
largest arms budget is Russia's at $51 billion. If we add up the defense
allocations of all the leading industrial nations, it comes to less than
what the United States is already spending.)
Many of the measures being taken to fight terrorism have little to do
with actual security and are public relations ploys designed to (a)
heighten the nation's siege psychology and (b) demonstrate that the
government has things under control. So aircraft carriers are deployed
off the coast of New York to guard the city; national guardsmen
dressed in combat fatigues and armed with automatic weapons patrol the
airports; sidewalk baggage check-ins and electronic tickets are
prohibited supposedly to create greater security. Since increased
security leads to greater inconvenience, it has been decided that
greater inconvenience will somehow increase security or at least give
the appearance of greater security.
Then there is that biggest public relations ploy of all, the bombing of
hillsides and villages in Afghanistan, leaving us with the reassuring
image of Uncle Sam striking back at the terrorists. To stop the bombing,
the Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden to a third country to stand
trial, but this was rejected by the White House. It seems that
displaying US retaliatory power and establishing a military presence in
that battered country are the primary US goals, not apprehending bin
Lost in all this is the fact that US leaders have been the greatest
purveyors of terrorism throughout the world. In past decades they or
their surrogate mercenary forces have unleashed terror bombing campaigns
against unarmed civilian populations, destroying houses, schools,
hospitals, churches, hotels, factories, farms, bridges, and other
nonmilitary targets in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, East Timor, the Congo,
Panama, Grenada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Angola, Mozambique, Somalia,
Iraq, Yugoslavia, and numerous other countries, causing death and
destruction to millions of innocents. Using death squad terrorism US
leaders have also been successful in destroying reformist and democratic
movements in scores of countries. Of course hardly a word of this is
uttered in the corporate media, leaving Bush and company free to parade
themselves as the champions of peace and freedom.
In time, the American people may catch wise that the reactionaries in
the White House have not the slightest clue about how they are going to
save us from future assaults. They seem more interested in and are
certainly more capable of---taking advantage of terrorist attacks than
in preventing them. They have neither the interest nor the will to make
the kind of major changes in policy that would dilute the hatred so many
people around the world feel toward US power. They are too busy handing
the world over to the transnational corporate giants at the expense of
people everywhere. And as of now, they have no intention of making a 180
degree shift away from unilateral global domination and toward
collective betterment and mutual development.
Reactionary Offensive on the Home Front
Several bills pending in Congress are designed to expand the definition
of terrorism to include all but the most innocuous forms of protest. S
1510, for example, treats terrorism as any action that might potentially
put another person at risk. The bill gives the Feds power to seize the
assets of any organization or individual deemed to be aiding or abetting
terrorist activity. And it can be applied retroactively without a
statue of limitations. A telephone interview I did with Radio Tehran in
mid-October, trying to explain why US foreign policy is so justifiably
hated around the world, might qualify me for detention as someone who is
abetting terrorism. Other bills will expand the authority of law
enforcement officials to use wiretaps, detain immigrants, subpoena email
and Internet records, and infiltrate protest organizations. In keeping
with the reactionary Rights agenda, the war against terrorism has
become a cover for the war against democratic dissent and public sector
services. The message is clear, America must emulate not Athens but
One of the White Houses earliest steps to protect the country from
terrorist violence was to cut from the proposed federal budget the $1
billion slated to assist little children who are victims of domestic
abuse or abandonment. Certainly a nation at war has no resources to
squander on battered kids or other such frills. Instead Congress passed
a $40 billion supplemental, including $20 billion for recovery
efforts, much of it to help clean up and repair New York's financial
Bush then came up with an emergency package for the airlines, $5
billion in direct cash and $10 billion in loan guarantees, with the
promise of billions more. The airlines were beset by fiscal problems
well before the September attacks. This bailout has little to do with
fighting terrorism. The costs for greater airport security will mostly
likely be picked up by the federal government. And taken together, the
loss of four planes by United and American Airlines, the impending
lawsuits by victims families, and higher insurance rates do not of
themselves create industry-wide insolvency, and do not justify a
multibillion dollar bailout. The real story is that once the industry
was deregulated, the airlines began overcapitalizing without sufficient
regard for earnings, the assumption being that profits would follow
after a company squeezed its competitors to the wall by grabbing a
larger chunk of the market. So the profligate diseconomies of free
market corporate competition are once more picked up by the US
taxpayer, this time in the name of fighting terrorism.
Meanwhile some 80,000 airline employees were laid off in the several
weeks after the terrorist attack, including ticket agents, flight
attendants, pilots, mechanics, and ramp workers. They will not see a
penny of the windfall reaped by the airline plutocrats and shareholders,
whose patriotism does not extend to giving their employees a helping
hand. At one point in the House debate, a frustrated Rep. Jay Inslee
(D-Wash.) shouted out, "Why in this chamber do the big dogs always eat
first?" Inslee was expressing his concerns about the 20,000 to 30,000
Boeing workers who were being let go without any emergency allocation
for their families. Sen. Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) expressed a
similar sentiment when casting the lone dissenting vote in the Senate
against the airline bailout: "Congress should be wary of
indiscriminately dishing out taxpayer dollars to prop up a failing
industry without demanding something in return for taxpayers." It
remained for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) to explain on behalf
of the Bush warmongers why the handout was necessary: "We need to look
at transportation again as part of our national defense."
The post-September 11 anti-terrorism hype is serving as an excuse to
silence any opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge. Our nation needs oil to maintain its strength and security, we
hear. Against this manipulative message, the environment does not stand
much of a chance. Likewise, US Trade representative Zoellick enlisted
the terrorism hype in the White Houses campaign to surrender our
democratic sovereignty to corporate dominated international trade
councils. In a Washington Post op-ed (September 20) Zoellick charged
that opposition to fast track and globalization was akin to supporting
the terrorists. House Republican leaders joined in, claiming that trade
legislation was needed to solidify the global coalition fighting
terrorism. Here was yet another overreaching opportunistic attempt to
wrap the flag around a reactionary special interest.
Actually it is the free trade agreements that threaten our democratic
sovereignty. All public programs and services that regulate or infringe
in any way upon big-money corporate capitalism can be rolled back by
industry-dominated oligarchic trade councils. Corporations can now tell
governments---including our federal, state, and local governments---what
public programs and regulations are acceptable or unacceptable. The
reactionaries do not explain how giving private, nonelective,
corporate-dominated trade councils a supranational supreme power to
override our laws and our Constitution will help in the war against
Looting the Surplus
The bailout to the airline industry is only part of the spending spree
that the White House has in store for us. Bush now endorses a stimulus
of $60 billion to $75 billion to lift the country out of recession by
recharging business investment. He also has called for an additional
$60 billion tax cut which, like previous tax reductions, would give
meager sums to ordinary folks and lavish amounts to fat cats and
plutocrats. Where is all this money for defense, war, internal security,
airlines, rebuilding lower Manhattan, tax cuts, and recharging the
economy coming from? Much of it is from the Social Security surplus
fund which is why Bush is so eager to spend.
It is a myth that conservatives are practitioners of fiscal
responsibility. Rightwing politicians who sing hymns to a balanced
budget have been among the wildest deficit spenders. In twelve years
(1981-1992) the Reagan-Bush administrations increased the national debt
from $850 billion to $4.5 trillion. By early 2000, the debt had climbed
to over $5.7 trillion. The deficit is pumped up by two things: first,
successive tax cuts to rich individuals and corporations---so that the
government increasingly borrows from the wealthy creditors it should be
taxing, and second, titanic military budgets. In twelve years, the
Reagan-Bush expenditures on the military came to $3.7 trillion. In eight
years, Bill Clinton spent over $2 trillion on the military.
The payments on the national debt amount to about $350 billion a year,
representing a colossal upward redistribution of income from working
taxpayers to rich creditors. The last two Clinton budgets were the first
to trim away the yearly deficit and produce a surplus. The first Bush
budget also promised to produce a surplus, almost all of it from Social
Security taxes. As a loyal representative of financial interests, George
W., like his daddy, prefers the upward redistribution of income that
comes with a large deficit. The creditor class, composed mostly of
superrich individuals and financial institutions, wants this nation to
be in debt to it--the same way it wants every other nation to be in debt
Furthermore, the reactionary enemies of Social Security have long argued
that the fund will eventually become insolvent and must therefore be
privatized (We must destroy the fund in order to save it.) But with
Social Security continuing to produce record surpluses, this argument
becomes increasingly implausible. By defunding Social Security, either
through privatization or deficit spending or both, Bush achieves a key
goal of the reactionary agenda.
How Far the Flag?
As of October 2001, almost-elected president Bush sported a 90 percent
approval rating, as millions rallied around the flag. A majority support
his military assault upon the people of Afghanistan, in the mistaken
notion that this will stop terrorism and protect US security. But before
losing heart, keep a few things in mind. There are millions of people
who, though deeply disturbed by the terrible deeds of September 11, and
apprehensive about future attacks, are not completely swept up in the
reactionary agenda. Taking an approach that would utilize international
law and diplomacy has gone unmentioned in the corporate media, yet 30
percent of Americans support that option, compared to 54 percent who
support military actions (with 16 percent undecided) according to a
recent Gallup poll. Quite likely a majority of Americans would support
an international law approach if they had ever heard it discussed and
In any case, there are millions of people in the US who want neither
protracted wars nor a surrender of individual rights and liberties, nor
drastic cuts in public services and retirement funds. Tens of thousands
have taken to the streets not to hail the chief but to oppose his war
and his reactionary agenda. Even among the flag-waivers, support for
Bush seems to be a mile wide and an inch deep. The media-pumped
jingoistic craze that grips the United States today is mostly just that,
a craze. In time, it grows stale and reality returns. One cannot pay the
grocery bills with flags or pay the rent with vengeful slogans.
My thoughts go back to another President Bush, George the first, who
early in 1991 had an approval rating of 93 percent, and a fawning
resolution from Congress hailing his unerring leadership. Yet within
the year, he was soundly defeated for reelection by a garrulous governor
from Arkansas. Those who believe in democracy must be undeterred in
their determination to educate, organize, and agitate. In any case,
swimming against the tide is always preferable to being swept over the
A war ... by men
THE HINDU, Sunday October 21, 2001
by KALPANA SHARMA
BY the time this appears in print, that pile of rubble that is Afghanistan
might have been pulverised into a finer mound of rubble by the relentless
shower of American and British bombs. In a war in which there can be no
winners, and many losers, pause for a minute and ask yourself ^ what will be
the future of those faceless women you occasionally see on your television
screen? If and when this war ends, who will speak for the women of
In all the hours of footage on Afghanistan, there is little about women.
Playing the leading roles in the current theatre of war within Afghanistan
are men ^ regardless of whether they are Taliban or Northern Alliance. And
on the other side, the Bush and Blair Brigade also consists mostly of men.
Both sides speak the language of war. But what of the men, women and
children who are the recipients of an endless spiral of violence? People who
had no role in the events of September 11. And for whom there is little in
the foreseeable future that presages peace.
On the BBC, ``Panorama'' had some chilling reminders of life under the
Taliban ^ shots of women being beaten with a cane by a Taliban moral
policeman because their ankles and wrists were showing from under the
voluminous burqas, and of a woman being publicly executed. Even worse were
the hauntingly beautiful faces of the children maimed by previous wars, by
the estimated 10 million landmines that cover 725 sq. km. of the country.
What a ghastly irony that the first civilian casualties were the four United
Nations workers who were clearing these mines.
For several years before the current crisis enveloped all of us, an appeal
on the fate of women in Afghanistan has been circulated by e-mail. It would
turn up with great regularity; its contents told us what we had already
heard about the terrible depredations that women in Afghanistan had to bear
under the Taliban.
One of the groups spearheading the struggle for women's rights in that
country is the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA).
At this present juncture, when we see darkened screens and flickering lights
to indicate that a country is being pounded virtually out of existence, it
is instructive to visit the RAWA website (www.rawa.org).
The women behind this organisation launched their fight for women's rights
long before the Taliban appeared on the horizon. Founded in 1977, RAWA
campaigned for these rights even as their country was convulsed with violent
struggles between different groups ending in the Soviet occupation in
December 1979. This did not stop these brave women. Even when a number of
them were arrested and their leader, Meena, was murdered, allegedly by KGB
agents in Pakistan in 1987, they persisted. RAWA worked with women in
Afghanistan as well as the millions in the refugee camps across the border
in Pakistan. They ran schools, created jobs for women, ran a hospital and
counselled their traumatised and displaced sisters.
The advent of the Taliban brought in a whole new dimension to their
struggle. They could not operate freely in Afghanistan any more as women
were forced to wear the burqa and banned from most jobs. But despite this
they found ways to continue to work amongst Afghan women. Their website has
a slide show that is not meant for the faint-hearted. It gives you an
unedited view of life as it was in Afghanistan.
But the important point that RAWA makes is that those opposing Taliban are
not much better in their attitude towards women. Nor do they respect human
rights. While RAWA has emphasised its commitment to democracy and
secularism, they point out that none of the groups fighting to displace the
Taliban have any commitment to these values. In other words, the chances
that women might be better off if the Taliban is replaced with another group
is not at all a given in Afghanistan.
The 20 years of conflict that have preceded the current war have already
taken a huge toll on the health ^ both physical and mental ^ of Afghan women
living in the country and in refugee camps outside. According to a 1998
study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol.
280, August 5, 1998), women and children form three quarters of the refugee
population which numbered 2.7 million in 1996. In addition, an estimated 1.2
million were internally displaced (that is they were refugees in
Afghanistan) at the end of 1996. In other words, close to four million
Afghans were refugees inside or outside their country in 1996.
The study surveyed 160 women, of whom half lived in Kabul and the other half
in Pakistani refugee camps. It opens up a small window into the lives of
these women. The majority of the women said that their mental and physical
health had deteriorated during the two years they had lived in Kabul after
the Taliban took over. A high 42 per cent were diagnosed with post-traumatic
stress disorder, 97 per cent suffered from depression and 86 per cent
exhibited anxiety symptoms.
More than half these women were employed before the Taliban took over on
September 26, 1996. After that, only one-third held on to their jobs. In the
pre-Taliban days, 70 per cent of the teachers in Kabul, 50 per cent of the
civil servants and 40 per cent of the physicians were women. All this
changed almost overnight with the Taliban's ban on women working outside
their homes. The loss of income had a direct impact on health and nutrition
levels in many families.
Worse still, in September 1997 the government stopped women's access to
health services in Kabul. Only one ``poorly equipped clinic'' was available
to women. Following the intervention of the Red Cross, around 20 per cent of
the beds in hospitals were kept for women. The study found that a large
number of women refugees streaming into Pakistan mentioned the absence of
medical care as one of the important reasons for leaving their country.
It is important that we know such facts. It is essential that we understand
the conditions in which the majority of women lived. But it is also crucial
that we realise that the future for the most vulnerable and abused in Afghan
society, the women, is not at all guaranteed by a rain of bombs, by
political machinations that bring about a change of government, or by
painting Islam as being anti-women.
Afghan women were part of a Muslim society where they had rights. They were
deprived of their democratic rights when the Soviets took over. They were
deprived of their rights as women when the Taliban took over. Will they get
their rights as human beings some day in the future?
from country joe mcdonald special to radtimes:
All of America has been and "ungrateful nation" to its Vietnam War
Combat and Era Veterans and there are 10 million of us. The American
Peace Movement has almost no Military Veterans leading it. Even worse
than that the American Peace Movement has no knowledge of basic military
matters. It is civilians that start these wars. Blaming military
personnel for war is like blaming fire fighters for fire. I myself have
been consistently and constantly disrespected for my work with Vietnam
Veterans. I myself have been excluded and disrespected by the civilians
who control the American Peace Movement. The civilian dominated
American Peace Movement and Left Wing has totally lost any tiny bit of
credibility it ever had with military personnel and military veterans.
If there is anything that the Peace Movement in America needs today it
is to listen to its Military Combat Veterans from the Vietnam War but
they do not even know who they are!
After all, Military Veterans represent a total cross section of American
Society in both the enlisted and commissioned ranks. All genders and
ethic and religious groups. All ages. I happen to not be a Combat
Veteran myself but have spent the last 30 years of my life working with
them and advocating for them. I also spent 3 years of my life 24/7/365
in the United States Navy. Military Veterans have been used and abused
for so long that many of them are dead now of war related wounds and
many will not even try to communicate their experiences and wisdom.
What American civilians need today is something like the Teach Ins that
were held in the Vietnam War era but this time they should be BOOT
CAMP. I know that most civilians think that means push ups and learning
to march and shoot a weapon but that is only because they are ignorant
of how the military works and what it entails. As my mother, Florence
Plotnick McDonald, always said: "Ignorance in Bliss", and civilians are
totally ignorant of military matters.
Interesting that tax dollars pay for the military experience.
Interesting that civilians enjoy the benefits of the United States
Constitution while Military Personnel are governed by something called
the UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE and denied their Bill Of Rights.
As the Vietnam Veterans always say IT DON'T MEAN SHIT and IF YOU AIN'T
BEEN THERE YOU GOT NOTHING TO SAY.
I for one am sick of civilians having all the great ideas for what
military personnel should or should not do. Like I said before it is
BOOT CAMP time for civilians or find out the hard way. Until you have
learned at least the basics of how the military works and what the
military experience is and what its repercussions are upon military
families you are just "blowing smoke". And let me add that this is not
something you can learn in one day!
cheers, country joe mcdonald
-- "Ira Furor Brevis Est " - Anger is a brief madness
country joe Home Pg <http://www.countryjoe.com>
country joe's tribute to Florence Nightingale
Berkeley Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Rag Baby Online Magazine <http://www.ragbaby.com/magazine>
Council Calls for U.S. to End Military Action in Afghanistan
Resolution Also Denounces Sept. 11 Attacks
By NATE TABAK
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 17, 2001
The Berkeley City Council called for an immediate end to U.S. bombing in
Afghanistan and condemned the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a series of divisive votes at a meeting Tuesday.
The resolution opposing U.S. military action, approved Tuesday with lone
support from the council's five progressives, was first introduced a week
ago and put Berkeley again under the national spotlight.
"It was a glib, thoughtless, knee-jerk response that has just ripped our
city apart and caused tremendous pain when it wasn't necessary," said
Councilmember Polly Armstrong, a centrist moderate.
The idea of a resolution opposing military action had been brewing among
progressives for more than three weeks.
The resolution, drafted by left-leaning progressive Councilmember Dona
Spring and supported by her four progressive counterparts, urged President
Bush and congressional representatives to "help break the cycle of violence
as quickly as possible" by stopping the bombing and the endangerment of the
innocent people in Afghanistan.
Instead, the terrorists should be brought to justice in a world court,
Spring said. But as Mayor Shirley Dean was quick to point out, it could be
difficult to deliver a subpoena to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.
Dean said it would be nearly impossible to bring the terrorists to court
and insisted that "you have to take a strong action against the terrorists."
Dean said that since the resolution was first made public last week, her
office has received thousands of e-mails from across the country lambasting
the council. Some of the letters, which include death threats, left her
staff in tears, she said.
Comments made by Spring last week, in which she called the United States a
terrorist, remarks she now disputes having made, thrust Berkeley into the
center of attention again. It was the third time in as many months that
city blunders have embarrassed Berkeley before a national and international
audience, Dean said.
In August a meeting at City Hall with visiting Japanese boy and girl scouts
had to be relocated because of the Boy Scouts of America's policy toward
gays, a move that brought national ridicule. Likewise, a decision last
month to remove flags from the city's fire trucks put the city on the
Tensions were high at the meeting, attended by more than 100 city
residents, some waving flags in support of military action and others
displaying signs calling for an end to the war.
Spring, who revised her original proposal after being "disavowed" by Dean
and her three moderate allies in a biting statement released last week,
criticized the lack of moderate support for the revised resolution, which
she said was "seeking to be conciliatory" to the moderates.
"The item has been revised to be more sensitive to some of the input that
was gotten from the public," Spring said.
Moderates on the council said they did not want to take a stand on the
airstrikes in Afghanistan because the city's residents had many opinions on
the attacks and had no clear consensus.
Amid heckling and applause from the crowd, Armstrong ridiculed the
resolution as another embarrassment to Berkeley.
"When our country has been wounded, we seem to just flail away in the
public eye, trying to draw attention to ourselves, and we come off as
fatuous and embarrassing," she said. "We come off sounding like a bunch of
But Councilmember Kriss Worthington urged the council to be "equally as
brave" as Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who was the lone voice of opposition
to the "War Powers Resolution" passed shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Worthington said it is "critical" that Berkeley question the government
while many Americans are afraid to ask questions.
He said Berkeley could again make history by condemning the Sept. 11
attacks, a move he said had not been made by any other council. A competing
resolution from Armstrong to commend President Bush for his response to the
Sept. 11 attacks, including his patience in forging an alliance with 60
countries, was voted down by the council.
Those who attended the meeting were similarly split in their opinions of
the military action.
In response to those who said the bombing was justified to overthrow the
repressive Taliban, known for its poor treatment of women, Snehal Shingavi,
a UC Berkeley student and member of the audience, questioned "when has a
bomb ever helped a woman?"
Kelso Barnett, who sat on the opposite side of the room, said, however,
that military action is justified because war was declared against the
United States on Sept. 11. He said no distinction should be made between
the terrorists and countries that harbor them.
Six civilians reported killed in bombing.
BBC (with additional material by AP).
18 October 2001.
ISLAMABAD -- At least six civilians have been killed as American bombs
battered a number of Afghan cities on Thursday, independent journalists
in the capital Kabul say.
US President George W Bush hinted that ground attacks might begin soon,
and American propaganda broadcasts warned the Taleban to surrender or
The Taleban authorities claimed 400 civilians had been killed in 12 days
of American-led attacks.
Independent journalists in Kabul said six people - including five
members of one family - were killed when bombs fell in a residential
Meanwhile, a CNN office in the Afghanistan city of Kandahar had its
windows blown out when U.S. forces apparently attacked a vehicle on a
nearby road, the network said Thursday.
Two employees working at the time had taken cover outside of the office
and were unhurt, CNN said.
Dozens of civilians killed in new US attack on Afghanistan
October 18, 2001
Summary of Al-Jazira coverage by Ali Abunimah
Dozens of civilians have been killed in the twelfth night of US bombing of
the Afghan capital Kabul, Al-Jazira television reported today. New attacks
were under way by early evening. The Al-Jazira correspondent in Kabul
Taysir Al-Allouni said that several buildings were destroyed in a civilian
area of the city with their occupants inside.
At least four US bombs hit the neighborhood of Makrurian in the southwest
of Kabul, in one incident wiping out an entire family. Makrurian is an
area of large apartment buildings built for workers during the Soviet
Eight large explosions were heard near the airport.
The television showed multi-story apartment blocks in Makrurian with huge
craters and large piles of rubble near them. The television showed what
appeared to be a dead child covered in dust and a blanket lying on a bed
frame. Some of the standing buildings had broken windows and other damage.
Men, women and children were shown distraught and crying. One man covered
in dust was pointing at a pile of rubble saying that his mother and
several other relatives had been inside the building and that they had now
disappeared. Many other people were reported missing.
In one building, an 18-year old man and his bride of a few days were
killed along with their entire family. The television showed people all
climbing all over the rubble and digging for survivors.
Al-Allouni said that people in Makrurian were angered by claims by the
United States that it was not targeting civilians, given the horrifying
experience they were suffering. Al-Allouni said that the strike on
Makrurian was causing more people to flee. The television showed people
loading up old cars in preparation to leave.
Al-Jazira quoted claims by Taliban officials that a refugee convoy had
been bombed yesterday near the city of Jalalabad and that twelve people
had been killed.
The Al-Jazira correspondent in Kandahar Yousef Al-Shouli carried out a
filmed interview with the Taliban foreign minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil
refuting rumors that he had left the country. Mutawakkil said that foreign
humanitarian aid was welcome in Afghanistan but that all aid would have to
be channeled through the Taliban government.
Al-Jazira quoted Red Cross workers in clinics on the Afghan-Pakistan
border saying that they feared they would not be able to deal with the
estimated 2000 refugees per day leaving Afghanistan and heading for the
border. The television showed images of children playing near tents marked
Give Peace a Website
[See URL for embedded links.]
by Jeffrey Benner
Within a week of the Sept. 11 attacks, Amira Quraishi and a group of her
friends in New York City had incorporated a nonprofit called Muslims
With a messagethe Islam religion does not condone killing innocent
peoplebut no budget, they turned to the Web to spread the word.
They started with a spare website that tracked hate crimes and cited key
passages from the Koran that call for peace, justice and tolerance. Within
three weeks, the site had slick Flash graphics, a press kit, links to other
good resources, links to the group's listserv and contact info for
members. "It's been a whirlwind," said Quraishi, 29, a graduate student of
Comparative Religion at the University of Pennsylvania. "Nobody set out to
start an organization, but we realized we had to get the word out that
Islam condemns terrorism. The fastest way to do that was to put it up on
the Web. It served the purpose."
Members of the new group have appeared on MTV News, the CBS Evening News
and the Ananda Lewis Show. They have been quoted regularly in print media
Other organizations bearing a peaceful message have been using the Web to
build coalitions and get their word out as well.
Polls show support for the military action in Afghanistan topping 90
percent. But that still means millions of Americans oppose it. The Web
allows them to find one another easily and organize with an efficiency like
During the Vietnam War, organizing a nationwide peace movement took years.
During the Gulf War, months. This time, it's taken days.
"We couldn't organize without the Web, said Rabia Harris, coordinator of
the Muslim Peace Fellowship in Chicago.
"The Muslim community is highly decentralized," Harris said. "We need the
Web to get all the mosques and groups in contact. The Internet makes it
possible to connect very quickly. It's invaluable."
Harris herself made a good connection recently. She happened across the
Muslims Against Terrorism site while surfing on the Web. Now she is working
with them to organize a symposium for fellow Muslims on acceptable forms of
political dissent under Islamic law.
Despite new groups and connections that have sprung up in the aftermath of
the attacks, the peace movement and political dissidents had been
effectively using the Web and e-mail to organize long before Sept. 11.
Ryan Smith, 25, helps keep things running at San Francisco's Independent
Media Center, one of many such centers around the country that have become
rallying places for news and views of the anti-globalization movement. He
made clear he spoke for himself, not the IMC.
"There is no new peace movement," Smith said. "The anti-globalization
movement is just shifting gears. There is an existing infrastructure, tons
of mailing lists and websites."
But the terrorist attacks and the U.S. response have sparked new interest
in the IMC. Web traffic has quadrupled at the San Francisco site over the
past month, and some new faces have shown up at the door. "We've had some
old hippie types coming out of the woodwork," Smith said.
Richard Deats, who has been part of the peace movement for many years, said
the Web makes mobilizing against this war different. He is co-director of
the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a coalition of peace organizations from
different religious faiths with 100,000 members in 40 countries.
"The Web has immensely changed the way we organize," Deats said. "In the
Gulf War, we didn't have a website. Now it drives everything we do."
Deats has posted an "action packet" on the site that provides information
and resources on non-violent responses to terrorism.
"We're trying to get across to the public that this horrible crime was not
an act of war, and we should go after it like we do other crimes," Deats said.
His group is part of a national coalition of peace organizations that are
planning rallies in cities across the country on the seventh day of every
Another large peace organization, the American Friends Service Committee
(AFSC), has used the Web to collect signatures for ads they are placing in
major U.S. newspapers.
The full-page ad, already placed in the New York Times and Washington Post,
urged a diplomatic, peaceful response to the attack. It bore 1,500
signatures, many of them collected via the Web, along with a $25 required
"The Web has revolutionized the way we do business," said committee
spokeswoman Janis Shieldes. "It has let us get in contact with like-minded
organizations more quickly. It's instrumental in getting people familiar
with who we are and what we do."
The AFSC is also using the Web to push its relief drive for Afghan
refugees. Its first shipment of blankets is due to be air-dropped to
Shieldes added, "We've really tried hard to incorporate the Web into our
outreach strategy, to make people aware there is a voice for peace out there."
Why The Left Opposes Foreign Intervention
October 19, 2001
by James Ostrowski
Libertarians oppose foreign intervention, unrelated to national defense, for
such reasons as:
Non-intervention tends to keep foreign disputes narrow and localized. World
Wars, with their inevitable globally disastrous consequences, are avoided.
An interventionist state is a large, powerful, and snooping state. It has a
large standing army, inconsistent with the traditional republican reliance
on a citizen militia. It requires heavy taxation to support the defense
bureaucracy and tends towards repression of civil liberties since the
warfare state cannot brook dissent.
The warfare state leads inexorably to the welfare state as the apparent
success of military central planning leads to demands for domestic central
planning. Thus, from those who think society should be run like an army
barracks, we get the "war on poverty", and the "war on drugs".
Libertarians deny that such as Stalin, Clinton, Churchill, Wilson,
Roosevelt, Truman, and Johnson, already busy violating the rights of their
own subjects, have any training, experience or competence, in coming to the
rescue of those whose rights are being violated by their own hack
politicians and dictators. These gentlemen's humanitarian rescue missions
resulted in Hitler taking power in Germany, Eastern Europe being enslaved by
communism, genocidal chaos in Southeast Asia, bombing Serbia back to the
Stone Age, millions upon millions of civilian and military casualties, and,
by the way, the current mess in the Middle East!
Foreign intervention leads to "blowback". Because, in the words of Frederic
Bastiat, people are not clay, they always react and respond to the state's
use of power against them in ways that result in unintended and negative
consequences from the state's point of view. The widespread use of state
power erodes private morality, as people learn from the state's actions and
rationalizations that it is acceptable to use force against others to
achieve their goals. These two factors are the foundation of modern
Why, however, do leftists oppose foreign intervention? I got a glimpse into
a possible answer when I picked up the local alternative paper. It carried
an article by "Michael Moore," not otherwise identified. Later, I was able
to confirm on the web that he was the Michael Moore, the moderately
successful left-wing film maker.
In a long article about September 11th, he criticized Jimmy Carter's
intervention into Afghanistan in 1979. I agree with him and am glad that
Carter, who managed to pack eight years of incompetence and statist evil
into one four-year term, gets some of the blame for recent events. Moore's
reasoning differs from mine, though. He quotes approvingly from a book by
William Blum, Rogue State:
"Besides the fact that there is demonstrable connection between the
Afghanistan war and the breakup of the Soviet empire, we are faced with the
consequences of that war: the defeat of a government committed to bringing
the extraordinarily backward nation into the 20th century. . . "
Bringing Afghanistan into the 20th century is exactly what the Soviet-backed
government did. The Black Book of Communism, in a chapter written by
Sylvain Boulouque, described how this was accomplished:
"[R]epression of the old regime's supporters led to the death of about
10,000 people and the imprisonment of between 14,000 and 20,000 for
political reasons. . . . the government began an antireligious crusade.
The Koran was burned in public, and imams and other religious leaders were
arrested and killed. . . All religious practices were banned, even for
the tiny 5,000-strong Jewish community. . . Faced with widespread
resistance, the Afghan Communists and their Soviet advisers began to
practice terror on a large scale. Michael Barry describes one such
incident: [the machine-gunning of 1,700 males in one village with live
burial of the wounded]. . . In Kabul...torture was common; the worst form
entailed live burial in latrines...'One hundred and fifty [Afghans] were
buried alive by the bulldozers and the rest were doused with gasoline and
burned alive. . . Executions in the countryside, where the Communists
sought to wipe out the resistance through a genuine reign of terror,
including a bombing campaign, led to the death of approximately 100,000
After the Soviets intervened with troops in December, 1979, things changed
little, mass murder-wise:
"105 villagers [in Logar Province] who were hiding in an underground
irrigation canal were burned alive by Soviet troops^the searching of
villages was accompanied by acts of blind barbarism, with women and old
people killed if they showed any signs of fear.... Women were thrown naked
from helicopters and entire villages were destroyed to avenge the death of
one Soviet soldier.... Villages were also systematically bombed to prevent
the resistance forces from launching any sort of counterattack. . . All
evidence suggests that poison gases were used regularly against the civilian
population. . . This description of the atrocities committed by the
Soviets in Afghanistan continues on, page after page, in the relentlessly
clinical style of the Black Book of Communism. I'll spare you all the
nauseating details. Every trick in the Commie playbook was utilized,
including poisoned water supplies, 20 million land mines injuring 700,000
people, systemic rape, grotesque forms of torture, and mock executions. Ah,
the 20th century, when the flight from reason crash-landed into the
If Michael Moore, or any leftist, was asked what he thought about these
atrocities, he would probably point out the hideous tactics of the
Mujahideen. Likewise, if Zbigniew Brzezinski, or any neoconservative, was
asked what he thought about the hideous tactics of the Mujahideen, he would
probably point out the aforementioned crimes of the Communists. Can't
anyone around here give a straight answer to a simple question? I say, "A
plague on both your houses."
Libertarians do join the left in opposing America's global military empire,
but we do so free of illusions about the motives of our allies. The left
has a different vision of the world a 20th century vision, unfortunately.
James Ostrowski is an attorney practicing at 984 Ellicott Square, Buffalo,
New York 14203; (716) 854-1440; FAX 853-1303. See his website at
Professor criticizes U.S. actions
by Tom Polansek
The Daily Illini
Friday, October 19, 2001
America's military retaliation in Afghanistan was not prompted by the
terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, University law
professor Francis Boyle said Thursday night.
Boyle, who specializes in international law, believes the United States
began military strikes against Afghanistan to obtain extended access to oil
and natural gas deposits in Central Asia.
"The people who run this country are cold, calculating people," Boyle said.
"They know exactly what they're doing and why they're doing it. The movers
and shakers, they've paid tremendous attention to Central Asia and the oil
The Pentagon is hammering out a deal with the government of Uzbekistan,
which neighbors Afghanistan, to build a U.S. military base there, Boyle said.
"Clearly, what is going on in Afghanistan is not self-defense," he said.
"Retaliation is never self-defense."
The actions of the United States in Afghanistan constitute armed aggression
and are illegal, Boyle said. International law requires that there be a
court hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual accused
of terrorist acts, as Osama bin Laden is, he said.
Boyle criticized Congress for not creating a panel with subpoena powers to
fully investigate the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We are not going to get that investigation," he said. "Yet we are waging a
war on Afghanistan based on evidence that Secretary of State Colin Powell
said was not even circumstantial."
Muslim and non-muslim countries around the world are condemning U.S.
military actions because they are not justified under international law,
He said that attacks by the United States against Afghanistan will result
in a "human catastrophe" and predicted that at least 100,000 people will
die in the war unless American citizens demand that it end.
The Progressive Resource/Action Cooperative organized Boyle's presentation
at the Illinois Disciples Foundation, 610 E. Springfield Ave. in Champaign.
The foundation's board of directors passed a resolution against the U.S.
military action in Afghanistan on Sept. 18. The resolution, posted on the
foundation's Web site, stated that the foundation will use its resources to
"urge restraint on the part of the U.S. government in this dangerous period
of national anger and shock." The resolution further said it will "call
upon those bodies responsible for upholding international law to hold the
U.S. accountable to these laws in its response to the recent attacks."
"Thoughtless military retaliation against presumed enemies or their
supporters and the use of assassination as a legitimized tool of diplomacy
will not further or protect civilization, but rather, signal its formal and
complete demise," the resolution stated.
Steve Kline, freshman in LAS, attended the presentation and said Boyle's
idea of why the United States was bombing Afghanistan was "a complete
"The way he phrased it it sounded like a very valid explanation," Kline
said. "I want to check out some of the facts he presented, though."
U.S. bears sole blame for Sept. 11, Trask says
Haunani-Kay Trask says America should focus on the needs of its own people
By Pat Omandam
Honolulu Star Bulletin - October 18, 2001
The United States has only itself to blame for the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, said outspoken
Hawaiian studies professor Haunani-Kay Trask. Moreover, Trask said,
the United States should stop using its military might to police the
world so it can open up foreign trade markets. It should stay out of
the Middle East and elsewhere and instead focus on the needs of its
own native and poor people, she said.
"The United States is angry because somebody came back and blew up
their World Trade Center," said the University of Hawaii professor
and sovereignty activist. "I would be angry, too. But what made them
do that? It is the history of the terrorism that the United States
unleashes against native people all over the world.
Trask's comments, which come at a time of increased patriotism across
the country, were given yesterday at a University of Hawaii at Manoa
forum sponsored by Professors Opposed to War and the University Peace
Initiative, comprised of students, faculty and staff of the UH system.
Organizers say these public forums are meant to educate and stimulate
critical thinking on why this war on terrorism is occurring and what
it means in the long term for the United States. Members seek
nonviolent, globally responsible and lasting solutions to end
Trask was attending a U.N. conference on world racism in Durban,
South Africa, Sept. 11, and said she was shocked and horrified
watching the attacks unfold on television. The first words out of her
mouth, she said, were what 1960s activist Malcolm X said when asked
about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22,
1963: "Chickens have come home to roost."
"What it means is that those who have suffered under the imperialism
and militarism of the United States have come back to haunt in the
21st century that same government," Trask said. "The Third World has
responded to the First World, and it is bitter and it is hateful.
It's crazy, that war out there."
Trask said the United States began the 20th century with the 1893
overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom and, a century later, it begins the
next one trying to install a new government in Afghanistan. She said
the United States' foreign policy of supporting state-sponsored
terrorism to impose U.S.-friendly governments in countries like
Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Guatemala and Vietnam
led directly to the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Everywhere, the United States has overthrown leftist governments.
Everywhere, the United States has overthrown native governments," she
said. "Why should we support the United States, whose hands in
history are soaked in blood?
"About 100 students gathered on the Manoa Campus Center steps to hear
the discussion and to be challenged by Trask and others to get
involved. It remains to be seen whether such anti-war activism will
rise to the level of protests found on the Manoa campus during the
Vietnam War."Most of us swallow very easily what we're fed by our
government and by the media," said Susan Hippensteele, a women's
studies professor who also spoke at the forum. Hippensteele said
there has never been good public dialogue on why these attacks
But a review of U.S. foreign policy shows why people have resorted to
these desperate acts of violence against America. She said President
Bush's war on terrorism is more a war on public opinion to generate
irrational fear and panic among American citizens so they do not
question the policies of the Bush administration.
Hippensteele and others urged students to seek alternative sources of
information on the Internet so they can ask tough questions of
elected officials and be the watchdog that the American public should
be."Democracy can not be on cruise control," added Ruth Y. Hsu, an
associate English professor and moderator of yesterday's event.
U.S. Raids Flatten Kandahar Bazaars, Civilians Hurt
Reuters. 20 October 2001
CHAMAN -- Afghan refugees fleeing U.S. air raids said on Saturday the
strikes destroyed shopping bazaars in the heart of the Taliban
stronghold of Kandahar, causing several civilian casualties.
The bombs hit the southern city on Thursday and Friday, spearing
shoppers with shards of shrapnel in attacks apparently targeting
government buildings such as the religious police, or the Ministry for
Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
"On Thursday night around 10 p.m. and yesterday at 2 p.m. and again last
night, there was heavy bombing," said Mohammed Ghaus who, together with
his wife and five children, crossed into Pakistan on Saturday.
"The bazaar around the Keptan intersection in the city center was
flattened. My neighbor's house was destroyed. That's why we left."
There were civilian casualties, he said, but he did not know how many.
Other new arrivals, streaming across the Chaman checkpoint in their
hundreds on Saturday, told similar stories.
Abdul Wadood, 30, said the shopping area in Kandahar's central Madad
district was badly damaged when it was struck by bombs on Friday, the
Muslim day of prayer.
"My two sons, aged 13 and 15, were outside in the bazaar. They were both
hit in the legs, thighs and arms by metal splinters -- the doctors
called it 'foreign bodies'," he said. "But he said they will recover."
Wadood and Ghaus said the attacking aircraft appeared to be targeting
government offices in the city center, but civilian homes and shops had
The Afghan Islamic Press said on Friday seven people were killed and 15
wounded when a bomb fell near Madad square.
Mohammed Zaman, 45, said he saw people wounded in the legs and arms
after Friday's attacks in the afternoon and at night on the center of
town. He said several projectiles hit the bazaar.
"The bombing was very heavy," he said.
At Chaman hospital, the district health officer, Dr. Achtar Mohammad,
said 10 wounded Afghans, all civilians, had been admitted over the past
They included two women from Kandahar wounded by splinters and admitted
Two teenage boys, one with a headshot wound and the other with his legs
fractured, were also being treated.
Some of the wounded had already received treatment in Kandahar,
including one man who had had his leg amputated.
"We are expecting more -- we're ready for it," Achtar said.
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