---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 02 Nov 2001 12:51:29 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 24)
Antiwar News...(# 24)
--Now, More Than Ever: A Global Movement for Global Justice
--Bombs Destroy Afghan Cities
--Trail of sick and weary refugees flees the war-zone
--US, beware the consequences in Afghanistan
--'Brutality smeared in peanut butter' - Why America must stop the war now.
--Precision, My Ass
--A Non-Western Voice
--Jailed Pakistani Dies in Cell
--Flyer that should be dropped over the United States
--The New Newspeak
Also of interest (links only):
*WAR AGAINST THE WAR
*HOW TO BE TOUGH ON TERRORISM
*Patriotism, Then and Now
*FAQS ABOUT BOMBING AFGHANISTAN
*cartoon by Tom Tomorrow
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
Now, More Than Ever: A Global Movement for Global Justice
By Jeremy Brecher
In the months before September 11, the Bush Administration undermined
one effort after another to address world problems on an international
basis. It skipped out on the Kyoto Protocol on global warming,
scuttled efforts to control biological weapons, refused to support a
war crimes tribunal, withdrew from efforts to limit nuclear
proliferation, and announced withdrawal from the treaty against
In contrast, a swelling global justice movement demanded adequate
responses to problems ranging from genetically modified organisms to
AIDS drugs for poor countries, from global warming to the destruction
of indigenous lifeways by global corporations. While its most visible
expressions were large global demonstrations in places like Quebec and
Genoa, its real strength lay in its linkage of people at the
grassroots around the world - its "globalization from below." This
movement was mobilizing for massive demonstrations at the IMF/World
Bank meetings in Washington, DC at the end of September.
The terrorist attacks on September 11 posed this movement new and
unanticipated questions. In contrast to the Vietnam War, the Gulf War,
or the bombing of Serbia, there was an attack on and a threat to the
United States in reality, not just in the rhetoric of American
leaders. To treat mass murder and war crimes committed on American
soil as somehow equivalent to past resistance to American imperialism
would have been grotesque and, at least for the movement in the US,
Almost from day one, activists began improvising an appropriate
response. They defined the attacks as criminal acts, not acts of war.
They defined the appropriate response as mobilizing international law,
not unilateral military violence. They opposed attacks that would harm
people who had not committed the crime. They emphasized protection for
those, including but not limited to Muslims and Arabs, who had almost
immediately become the targets of bigotry and violence.
Over the course of two weeks, a peace movement calling for "justice
not vengeance" emerged in the US. Its base included students,
religious communities, peace activists, and many from the global
justice movement. Similar movements have emerged around the world to
oppose an accelerating cycle of violence. [for more information, visit
www.indymedia.org, www.zmag.org, and sites linked to them.] Organizers
cancelled the Washington demonstrations planned for late September,
while going ahead with associated educational activities and
initiating a major discussion about responses to the post-September 11
In the face of calls to equate vengeance with patriotism, it was easy
to fear that the fragile unity of the broad coalitions that have
challenged globalization in the US might rapidly turn into a battle
between peacniks and warniks. Notwithstanding some divergences of
response, that hasn't happened.
On the one hand, even those most critical of US imperialism have
mourned the lost, condemned the terrorist attacks, and supported
international cooperation to bring the perpetrators to justice. On the
other hand, even trade unions with "hard hat" constituencies have
largely rejected "bomb them back to the stone age" responses: The
Steelworkers union's September 12th statement, for example, demands
"justice for the victims, their families and humanity, and strongly
urges that all available resources be used to track down and punish
those individuals and organizations responsible," but warns that "care
must be taken not to repeat this most recent tragedy by harming
innocent men, women and children who, because of geography, find
themselves in harm's way."
The Bush Administration now seems to be backing off from the threat of
a Gulf War-style juggernaut. It's hard to weigh how much this results
from the unlikelihood of success, the probable risks, other countries'
objections, fear of war's impact on the deflating global economy, and
the sheer irrationality of such an enterprise. Even without massive
retaliation, millions of war-battered and desperately poor Afghanis
have already fled their homes and been cut off from food aid as a
result of the threat of US attacks. And the world still faces a "War
on Terror" redolent of the "War on Drugs," with the US asserting its
right to use military force against any country that doesn't accept
whatever demands it chooses to make.
While no one in the Bush Administration has uttered the words "New
World Order," at least in public, it's hard not to hear echoes of the
past. George Bush, Senior's "New World Order," as I described it a
decade ago, "aimed to create a consortium of powerful political
regimes, corporations, and military establishments which would
cooperate to preserve their access to the resources of the Earth, the
products of past human activity, and the fruits of future labor. . . .
The predictable consequences were repression of insurgencies and
increasing concentration of wealth on a global scale."
The Bush Administration is already moving to make the new
international coalition not just a coalition to protect against
terrorists but also a coalition to protect against the critics of
unrestrained economic globalization. In the wake of the September 11
attacks, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick recalled that
"Throughout the Cold War, Congress empowered presidents with trade
negotiating authority to open markets, promote private enterprise and
spur liberty around the world - complementing U.S. alliances and
strengthening our nation." He called for new global trade negotiations
and "trade promotion authority" (the pleasant-sounding new P.R. term
for Fast Track). "America's trade leadership can build a coalition of
countries that cherish liberty in all its aspects." People and
governments around the world need to ask whether they are being signed
up to fight terrorism, to promote US trade policy, or to initiate a
new "New World Order."
Zoellick also absurdly and abusively linked the terrorist attacks on
the US with opposition to US trade policy. "On Sept. 11, America, its
open society and its ideas came under attack by a malevolence that
craves our panic, retreat and abdication of global leadership. . .
This president and this administration will fight for open markets. We
will not be intimidated by those who have taken to the streets to
blame trade - and America - for the world's ills." This is
guilt-by-association without even an association.
The global justice movement blames neither trade nor American for the
world' s ills. Rather, it is grounded in an understanding that no
community or country can solve its economic problems by trying to beat
out others - that the result of such competition is instead a race to
the bottom in which all lose. It argues that the world's people and
environment will suffer unless a global people's movement imposes
rules on countries and corporations to block the destructive effects
of that competition. It calls for worldwide cooperation to protect
human and labor rights, the environment, and people's livelihoods.
This same kind of understanding must now be applied to global
conflict. The September 11 attacks show that the era is over in which
nation states - even the world's single military superpower - can
protect their people. There is no longer such a thing as national
security -- security must be global to be secure. Broad human
interests require limits on the use of violence by anyone in the
world, whether they initiate their attacks from caves in the
wilderness or war rooms in national capitals. The
so-recently-unilateralist President Bush's frenetic coalition-building
is an implied tribute to this view: It reflects a recognition that
even the US can't by itself deal with the real threats it faces.
The future remains uncertain. New attacks by either terrorists or the
US are always possible. But we shouldn't assume that purveyors of
violence will be able to monopolize public attention forever. The
Oklahoma City bombing cornered national attention for a few weeks,
then faded to just one more news story. George Bush, Senior's poll
ratings were nearly as high after "victory" in Kuwait as George W.
Bush's are today; a year later in the midst of a recession he was
voted out of office. The Seattle demonstrations that kicked off the
current phase of globalization from below came hard on the heels of
"victory" in the bombing of Serbia.
Much as the Bin Ladens and the Bushes may have other ideas, the
fundamental conflict in the world today remains globalization from
above vs. globalization from below. If the Bush Administration
sincerely seeks to bring the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks
to justice without committing new crimes along the way it will receive
worldwide support. If it tries to use the "War against Terrorism" as a
cover for a new consortium of political regimes, military
establishments, and private economic interests imposing their will on
the world - a new "New World Order" -- it will find the ground
crumbling beneath its feet.
Jeremy Brecher is the author of Globalization from Below and Strike!
and the producer of the video Global Village or Global Pillage?
Bombs Destroy Afghan Cities
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 1, 2001
issue of Workers World newspaper
BOMBS DESTROY AFGHAN CITIES:
PENTAGON TERROR FORCES MASS EXODUS
By Fred Goldstein
Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the U.S. military is
bringing massive destruction and devastation to the people
of Afghanistan. Pentagon claims that it is not targeting
civilians are of little solace to the hundreds of thousands
of people whose cities, livelihoods and means of survival
are being destroyed in the relentless bombing campaign,
which has gone on now for 17 days.
According to the Washington Post of Oct. 23, "Pentagon
officials say more than 3,000 bombs have dropped on
Afghanistan since Oct. 7." These bombs have rained down on
all the major population centers of the country.
All the talk about precision bombing of military targets in
order to avoid "collateral damage" is just so much Pentagon
smokescreen for a war that is being deliberately escalated
to terrorize and disrupt the mass of the population.
There are daily raids on the capital city of Kabul. The
Pentagon just expressed its "regrets" that two 500-pound
bombs dropped by a Navy F-14 Tomcat had landed in a
residential area of the city on Oct. 20.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld denied that Navy F-18
planes had bombed a hospital in Herat the next day, even
though a United Nations observer witnessed and confirmed the
These denials and regrets follow the same script as the
statements made after the destruction of the village of
Karam, the bombing of a Red Cross storage facility, the
bombing of a UN mine-searching headquarters, a previous
bombing of Kabul suburbs, and so on.
NO ELECTRICITY, NO WATER, NO SHELTER
But in addition to the bombing of civilians is the
devastation being brought to the cities themselves. The
Boston Globe of Oct. 24 carried a dispatch from Quetta,
Pakistan, a border town just east of Afghanistan. Entitled
"Airstrikes Forge a Ghost Town," the article describes the
destruction: "When darkness falls, it is absolute; there's
no electricity.... This city is not only a Taliban garrison-
it is home to half a million people, or was before the air
"The city's electrical grid was knocked out in airstrikes
last week," continued the Globe. "That has essentially
deprived the city of water, since the electrical pumps do
not work. Some people on the outskirts of the town were
trying to dig wells in their backyards."
Haji Mussajan, a 60-year-old farmer, said he abandoned his
orchard on the outskirts of Kandahar to seek shelter,
bringing his daughter and infant granddaughter with him. "
'We left in fear of our lives,' he said. 'Every day and
every night we hear the roaring and roaring of planes, we
see the smoke, the fire.... Life there is totally ruined.'"
Mohammed Nabi, 55, who left the city, told the Globe that
Kandahar "has a deserted look... And of those who remain,
everyone is talking only about how they can get away... Even
if it is an accident, you are still dead."
The Financial Times of London carried a story from the
Pakistan border on Oct. 24 about the city of Herat. " 'There
is no life left in Herat,' said a woman holding a four-year-
old child in her arms. 'All the men are dying. No one can
live there anymore,' she said.
" 'Since Friday there has been no halt in the attacks,' said
Muhammed Wali, a Herat shopkeeper now stranded with his wife
and two children. 'The bombardment has been huge.'"
The French press agency AFP carried a dispatch Oct. 24 from
Quetta saying that, "At least 20 Afghan civilians, including
nine children, were killed as they tried to flee a town
under attack by U.S. warplanes, according to survivors who
managed to escape to Pakistan. The refugees were on the
outskirts of the southern Afghan town of Tirin Kot on Sunday
when the tractor and trailer they were traveling on was
struck by a bomb. Some of those who survived managed to
cross the border today and have been hospitalized in
This is the planned and inevitable result of sending up to
100 bombing missions a day, augmented by cruise missiles,
over this impoverished country already ravaged by 20 years
Any policy that calls for dropping 3,000 bombs in 17 days on
or near the population center of a country can only be
described as a policy of terror.
HISTORY OF OPPRESSION BEFORE SEPT. 11
The horrific attacks on thousands of innocent civilians that
took place in the United States on Sept. 11 are being
matched many times over by the wholesale destruction of
urban life in Afghanistan. Over a million people are being
driven from shelter, their jobs, their sources of food and
medicine. Hundreds of thousands are in grave peril.
The people of the U.S. must understand that the Sept. 11
attacks, as horrible as they were, arose out of the long
history of the oppression of the people in the Middle East
and Central Asia by the forces of imperialism, in particular
the U.S. government, the Pentagon and the multinational
Washington has for decades supported the absolute rulers of
the hereditary monarchy in Saudi Arabia, guardians of the
profits of U.S. oil companies.
The U.S. ruling class has backed the settler state of Israel
in its 53-year occupation of Palestinian land, which has led
to the killing and jailing of tens of thousands of
Palestinians who are fighting against poverty and colonial
Washington killed 200,000 Iraqis in the Gulf War and has
killed five times that many since then by the deadly
U.S. TOPPLED PROGRESSIVE AFGHAN REGIME
Indeed, the suffering of the Afghani people is the doing of
the U.S. government. The CIA beginning in 1979 led a 10-year
war against a progressive socialist regime in Kabul that
championed the rights of women, the workers and the peasants
against the landlords. Threatened with counter-revolution
supported from outside, this government asked for the
assistance of Soviet troops.
The USSR withdrew and the progressive regime in Kabul was
finally destroyed after an $8-billion effort by
international imperialism, in alliance with reactionary
forces in the Middle East and Central Asia--the Saudi
monarchy, the right-wing Islamic military regime in
Pakistan, and many other counter-revolutionary forces,
including the Taliban.
Afghanistan was then subjected to more years of civil war as
various counter-revolutionary elements fought to control the
country. These are the forces that Washington is trying to
fashion into a puppet regime in Kabul, if it can bring about
the defeat of the Taliban.
The reactionary clerical regime of the Taliban has cruelly
suppressed women and all modern manifestations of society,
but that is no excuse for the U.S. to destroy and take over
the country. Washington is trying to destroy the state not
in order to liberate anyone, but to establish its domination
over the region and pave the way for greater exploitation by
the transnational corporations.
The anti-war movement in the U.S. has a duty to fight to end
the suffering of the Afghani people at the hands of the
terror bombing campaign. It must fight to get the U.S.
military out of Central Asia and the Middle East and keep it
from backing oppressive governments in the area.
The people of the region must be free to settle their
affairs without imperialist intervention. Otherwise, this
struggle that is already decades old will never end.
Trail of sick and weary refugees flees the war-zone
The Irish Times
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Miriam Donohoe, in Chaman, on the misery of a mother
and her suffering infant stuck on the Pakistani border
AFGHANISTAN: We never got the little boy's name. The
ill one-year-old was carried over the border into
Pakistan at Chaman yesterday in the arms of his
haunted mother, Sima, one of thousands fleeing war and
hunger in Afghanistan. Trailing behind were Sima's
four other children, the eldest only 11.
The widow was sweating under her long blue burqa. She
told how she had come with her children from Herat
through Kandahar and on to the border to escape the
Her biggest concern was her youngest child, who was
clearly very ill. The children were exhausted after
their long journey. She spoke of houses in Herat being
destroyed by nightly bombing. "There is nothing left.
People are leaving."
But that is as far as the interview with Sima went.
Border guards, armed and carrying sticks, told us our
time was up and the helpless mother was ushered on.
"You have three minutes to interview refugees and then
we will send them back to Afghanistan," a senior
border guard said with a mean smirk.
This family was one of the lucky ones. They managed to
get across the chaotic and unwelcoming southwestern
border, crossing at Chaman, near Quetta, on the same
day the Pakistan government announced it was not going
to bow to UN demands to open the border to allow in
those Afghans seeking asylum.
The flow of Afghans toward Chaman, in Baluchistan
province, has risen significantly in the past week as
more people poured out of the country to flee the
US-led military onslaught.
But yesterday the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez
Musharraf, said Pakistan already had 2.5 million
Afghan refugees and would be taking no more. The
Pakistan government said hundreds of newly arrived
refugees are being repatriated back to Afghanistan in
recent days to tented villages being set up with UN
help just inside Afghanistan. Mr Shafi Kakar, a
government official in Pakistan's Baluchistan
province, said an agreement was reached with
Afghanistan's Taliban rulers to accept the refugees'
return. The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mr Riaz
Mohammed Khan, confirmed the arrangement. "The Taliban
will keep refugees away from the borders, and they
have agreed to set up two refugee camps inside
Afghanistan," Mr Kakar said.
The scene at Chaman has become chaotic in the last
week as thousands of Afghans press up against the
border demanding sanctuary. Border guards opened fire
on refugees in a bid to control the masses on Sunday
Yesterday, while it was calmer, it was still menacing
at the border which was clearly more tightly
controlled after two days of clashes. The reported
rush of refugees in previous days was reduced to a
But women and children and elderly were coming
through, many carrying luggage and children in
In no man's land scores of border guards could be seen
roaming around with sticks and rifles. There were
barbed wire fences everywhere. The guards chased and
in some cases beat young children who dared to tease
A group of journalists given a pass to go to the
Chaman crossing were stopped at a sentry point one
mile from the actual border. The area between this
point and the border is a desolate no man's land,
where up to 1,000 people are trapped waiting to cross
Thousands more are said by the UNHCR to be waiting
behind the official border to pass into Pakistan.
Despite being officially closed to refugees, the old
and sick, especially women and children, were being
let through. But they were discouraged from talking to
journalists. Many were afraid to talk about the
Taliban, and scampered off as soon as the Afghan
ruling regime were mentioned. Beyond the border the
white Taliban flag was flying.
US, beware the consequences in Afghanistan
Christian Science Monitor
October 22, 2001
By Edward Girardet
GENEVA - American and British airstrikes on alleged Taliban targets will
hardly eliminate Islamic extremism or terrorism on Afghan soil. If
anything, they may be proving counterproductive. Not only are the attacks
inflicting rising civilian casualties, but they are also inciting a
potential new onslaught of anti-Western militants - many angered by what
they see as an attack against Islam - in other parts of the Muslim world.
As a journalist who has covered Afghanistan since before the 1979 Soviet
invasion, I still wonder what the United States hopes to achieve with its
attacks, and how it sees the possible consequences. While American and
European diplomatic sources maintain that military and political leaders
are brainstorming behind the scenes over what needs to be done, these
leaders are also uncertain of what the ultimate result will be.
Clearly, Washington wants to be seen taking action. It claims military
intervention is required to pressure the Taliban to end its support for
Islamic extremists, such as Osama bin Laden. But a week ago, the allies
also began bombing Taliban front lines, a move that could help put the
opposition Northern Alliance in power without its having to engage in
healthy compromise or coalition-building. A British military source
notes: "Perhaps we should be doing a bit of reading of the history
As a nation already devastated by 23 years of war, Afghanistan offers
little of tactical relevance. The only real threat to the allies is
possible US-made Stingers or surface-to-air missiles left from the Soviet
war. More adept at guerrilla warfare, both the Taliban and the Northern
Alliance rely on conventional, highly mobile weapons, such as
Kalashnikovs, mortars, and rocket launchers, to combat each other. Supply
lines may present the most valid targets.
It is doubtful, however, whether the bombing or the just-launched
special-forces operations on the ground will significantly affect the
ability of the Taliban or Al Qaeda to stay in business. The destruction
of power plants will only make life more difficult for ordinary Afghans.
The Taliban will use fuel-driven generators, and even these are not
really necessary to people who have endured war and deprivation for
What is certain is that the US-led attacks are causing growing civilian
casualties. Further, the US is dropping cluster bombs; though they're not
intended for civilians, it is likely that ordinary people, including
children, will be hurt and killed by them - which does little for
Washington's moral standing.
As the Soviet Army learned, real power doesn't lie in bombing. It lies in
the ability to provide sufficient privileges, such as cash payoffs or
access to smuggling profits, to those who matter - notably war lords,
commanders, and clan leaders. Much, too, depends on effective
divide-and-rule approaches among the tribal and ethnic groups on the
This is what the British did so well with Afghanistan's ruling tribes
during the 19th and early 20th centuries, and what the Pakistanis, Arabs,
and the likes of Osama bin Laden have done with the Taliban. You have to
make sure the right people are paid off to foster coexistence.
This is not to suggest that the US and the international community should
seek to buy off Afghan political leaders or commanders. The point is for
outsiders to have a better understanding of how Afghanistan works. And
for intervention to be successful, the real beneficiaries must be the
What Afghanistan needs most is a regional peace settlement, facilitated
by the United Nations or a respected neutral country, coupled with a
massive reconstructive Marshall Plan that will end once and for all the
country's enduring conflict. There also needs to be pressure on the
regional players - such as Pakistan, Iran, India, and the former Soviet
Central Asian states - to support the creation of an interim coalition
government without meddling in Afghanistan's internal affairs. The
European Union or the United States could fulfill this regional role.
Unlike the bombing, this is the only sort of international action that
will make a difference.
Washington decisionmakers from the 1980s should remember that the US
bears heavy responsibility for Afghanistan's continuing war and the rise
of Islamic militants. During the Soviet occupation, Washington provided
about $3 billion worth of aid to the Afghan resistance, primarily through
Pakistan. Much of this was creamed off by the Pakistani military, with
the bulk of the remaining aid channeled to extremist groups dominated by
Pashtuns, Afghanistan's ethnic majority.
By abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, Washington
allowed Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to call the
shots. The ISI helped pave the way for the Taliban takeover of Kabul in
1996. If the US has learned anything, it is the need to ensure that
Pakistan does not again dominate Afghanistan. Similarly, the US should
rely far less on Pakistan - which has its own agenda - for intelligence
and logistical support.
While many war-exhausted Afghans are willing to tolerate US involvement
in the region, they need to know that peace and reconstruction will be
part of the long-term plan. Dropping bombs and humanitarian relief
packages at the same time - little more than a naive propaganda ploy, say
some aid agencies - is hardly the way to disperse intelligent aid.
Some 6 million Afghans, roughly a third of the population, are desperate
for massive humanitarian assistance to survive this winter. Afghanistan
urgently needs to be opened up to large-scale humanitarian relief, both
in Taliban- and non-Taliban-controlled areas.
There are already strong indications that rising anti-Taliban sentiment
in the cities may oblige the Taliban to open up, but aid officials do not
believe it will happen during the bombing. As it is, they warn, tens of
thousands of Afghans may already be condemned to death in the more
isolated parts of central and western Afghanistan.
Bringing peace to the region is not a matter of dealing with black and
white, good and bad. Nor does it mean imposing the Northern Alliance as a
replacement regime. Even though the alliance has become more diverse,
drawing rising numbers of Pashtun commanders, many of them recent
defections from the Taliban, it still does not represent an
across-the-board coalition of ethnic and tribal groups.
Another problem is that, while there are some good commanders in the
alliance, others have well-known histories of human-rights abuse. One of
these is Abdul Rashid Dostum, a ruthless former pro-Soviet militia
commander whose ethnic Uzbek soldiers were involved in large-scale
murder, rape, and looting during the 1990s.
The alliance further includes heavily conservative influences such as
Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, who was supported by Arab money and volunteers during
the Soviet occupation. The alliance also boasts former members of
Gulbudin Hekmatyar's extremist Hezb-e-Islami, whose leader is now said to
be making a comeback from exile in neighboring Iran.
As anti-Taliban leader Ahmed Shah Masood noted before his assassination
last month, there can be no military solution to the Afghan conflict. Any
political settlement will have to include representatives from both the
Northern Alliance and the Taliban.
As in the past, there is increased discussion of bringing back Zahir
Shah, the octogenarian ex-king. One of the country's few remaining
national symbols, his role would be to convene a traditional loya jirga,
or grand council. Consisting of respected individuals, local leaders,
religious scholars, and commanders, the council would seek to appoint a
representative interim government.
While the fundamentalist groups, as well as the Pakistanis, have long
opposed the king's return, many Afghans remember, rightly or wrongly, the
Zahir Shah years of the 1960s and early 1970s as a period of peace. It is
doubtful, however, that a loya jirga could be held before the onset of
winter in a few weeks.
If and when an interim government is appointed, the international
community faces the challenge of what to do. Clearly, the United Nations
and the international aid community would have to help run the
administration. Over the years, thousands of Afghan doctors, teachers,
engineers, and agronomists have fled the country. Few are likely to
return. And there are almost no journalists left capable of operating
Radio Television Kabul or setting up a new free press.
The United States and its allies must commit now to a workable peace
settlement that includes rebuilding the country in the interests of
Afghans. Even if this takes the form of "buying" the peace - through
massive humanitarian and development aid - it will certainly prove
cheaper than an ineffective war. If not, Americans will have to pay
later, just as they are now paying for a disastrous policy of neglecting
Afghanistan after 1989.
Edward Girardet is a former special correspondent of the Monitor. He is
editor of the Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan and a director of
Media Action International, a Geneva-based humanitarian organization.
'Brutality smeared in peanut butter'
Why America must stop the war now.
By Arundhati Roy
Tuesday October 23, 2001
As darkness deepened over Afghanistan on Sunday
October 7 2001, the US government, backed by the
International Coalition Against Terror (the new,
amenable surrogate for the United Nations), launched
air strikes against Afghanistan. TV channels lingered
on computer-animated images of cruise missiles,
stealth bombers, tomahawks, "bunker-busting" missiles
and Mark 82 high drag bombs. All over the world,
little boys watched goggle-eyed and stopped clamouring
for new video games.
The UN, reduced now to an ineffective acronym, wasn't
even asked to mandate the air strikes. (As Madeleine
Albright once said, "We will behave multilaterally
when we can, and unilaterally when we must.") The
"evidence" against the terrorists was shared amongst
friends in the "coalition".
After conferring, they announced that it didn't matter
whether or not the "evidence" would stand up in a
court of law. Thus, in an instant, were centuries of
jurisprudence carelessly trashed.
Nothing can excuse or justify an act of terrorism,
whether it is committed by religious fundamentalists,
private militia, people's resistance movements - or
whether it's dressed up as a war of retribution by a
recognised government. The bombing of Afghanistan is
not revenge for New York and Washington. It is yet
another act of terror against the people of the world.
Each innocent person that is killed must be added to,
not set off against, the grisly toll of civilians who
died in New York and Washington.
People rarely win wars, governments rarely lose them.
People get killed.
Governments moult and regroup, hydra-headed. They use
flags first to shrink-wrap people's minds and smother
thought, and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury their
willing dead. On both sides, in Afghanistan as well as
America, civilians are now hostage to the actions of
their own governments.
Unknowingly, ordinary people in both countries share a
common bond - they have to live with the phenomenon of
blind, unpredictable terror. Each batch of bombs that
is dropped on Afghanistan is matched by a
corresponding escalation of mass hysteria in America
about anthrax, more hijackings and other terrorist
There is no easy way out of the spiralling morass of
terror and brutality that confronts the world today.
It is time now for the human race to hold still, to
delve into its wells of collective wisdom, both
ancient and modern. What happened on September 11
changed the world forever.
Freedom, progress, wealth, technology, war - these
words have taken on new meaning.
Governments have to acknowledge this transformation,
and approach their new tasks with a modicum of honesty
and humility. Unfortunately, up to now, there has been
no sign of any introspection from the leaders of the
International Coalition. Or the Taliban.
When he announced the air strikes, President George
Bush said: "We're a peaceful nation." America's
favourite ambassador, Tony Blair, (who also holds the
portfolio of prime minister of the UK), echoed him:
"We're a peaceful people."
So now we know. Pigs are horses. Girls are boys. War
Speaking at the FBI headquarters a few days later,
President Bush said: "This is our calling. This is the
calling of the United States of America. The most free
nation in the world. A nation built on fundamental
values that reject hate, reject violence, rejects
murderers and rejects evil. We will not tire."
Here is a list of the countries that America has been
at war with - and bombed - since the second world war:
China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala
(1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), the
Belgian Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1964-73),
Vietnam (1961-73), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983),
Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980s), Nicaragua (1980s),
Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99), Bosnia (1995), Sudan
(1998), Yugoslavia (1999). And now Afghanistan.
Certainly it does not tire - this, the most free
nation in the world.
What freedoms does it uphold? Within its borders, the
freedoms of speech, religion, thought; of artistic
expression, food habits, sexual preferences (well, to
some extent) and many other exemplary, wonderful
Outside its borders, the freedom to dominate,
humiliate and subjugate ^ usually in the service of
America's real religion, the "free market". So when
the US government christens a war "Operation Infinite
Justice", or "Operation Enduring Freedom", we in the
third world feel more than a tremor of fear.
Because we know that Infinite Justice for some means
Infinite Injustice for others. And Enduring Freedom
for some means Enduring Subjugation for others.
The International Coalition Against Terror is
largely a cabal of the richest countries in the world.
Between them, they manufacture and sell almost all of
the world's weapons, they possess the largest
stockpile of weapons of mass destruction - chemical,
biological and nuclear. They have fought the most
wars, account for most of the genocide, subjection,
ethnic cleansing and human rights violations in modern
history, and have sponsored, armed and financed untold
numbers of dictators and despots. Between them, they
have worshipped, almost deified, the cult of violence
and war. For all its appalling sins, the Taliban just
isn't in the same league.
The Taliban was compounded in the crumbling crucible
of rubble, heroin and landmines in the backwash of the
cold war. Its oldest leaders are in their early 40s.
Many of them are disfigured and handicapped, missing
an eye, an arm or a leg. They grew up in a society
scarred and devastated by war.
Between the Soviet Union and America, over 20 years,
about $45bn (30bn) worth of arms and ammunition was
poured into Afghanistan. The latest weaponry was the
only shard of modernity to intrude upon a thoroughly
Young boys ^ many of them orphans - who grew up in
those times, had guns for toys, never knew the
security and comfort of family life, never experienced
the company of women. Now, as adults and rulers, the
Taliban beat, stone, rape and brutalise women, they
don't seem to know what else to do with them.
Years of war has stripped them of gentleness, inured
them to kindness and human compassion. Now they've
turned their monstrosity on their own people.
They dance to the percussive rhythms of bombs raining
down around them.
With all due respect to President Bush, the people of
the world do not have to choose between the Taliban
and the US government. All the beauty of human
civilisation - our art, our music, our literature -
lies beyond these two fundamentalist, ideological
poles. There is as little chance that the people of
the world can all become middle-class consumers as
there is that they will all embrace any one particular
religion. The issue is not about good v evil or Islam
v Christianity as much as it is about space. About how
to accommodate diversity, how to contain the impulse
towards hegemony ^ every kind of hegemony, economic,
military, linguistic, religious and cultural.
Any ecologist will tell you how dangerous and fragile
a monoculture is. A hegemonic world is like having a
government without a healthy opposition. It becomes a
kind of dictatorship. It's like putting a plastic bag
over the world, and preventing it from breathing.
Eventually, it will be torn open.
One and a half million Afghan people lost their lives
in the 20 years of conflict that preceded this new
war. Afghanistan was reduced to rubble, and now, the
rubble is being pounded into finer dust. By the second
day of the air strikes, US pilots were returning to
their bases without dropping their assigned payload of
bombs. As one pilot put it, Afghanistan is "not a
target-rich environment". At a press briefing at the
Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary,
was asked if America had run out of targets.
"First we're going to re-hit targets," he said, "and
second, we're not running out of targets, Afghanistan
is ..." This was greeted with gales of laughter in the
By the third day of the strikes, the US defence
department boasted that it had "achieved air supremacy
over Afghanistan" (Did they mean that they had
destroyed both, or maybe all 16, of Afghanistan's
On the ground in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance -
the Taliban's old enemy, and therefore the
international coalition's newest friend - is making
headway in its push to capture Kabul. (For the
archives, let it be said that the Northern Alliance's
track record is not very different from the Taliban's.
But for now, because it's inconvenient, that little
detail is being glossed over.) The visible, moderate,
"acceptable" leader of the alliance, Ahmed Shah Masud,
was killed in a suicide-bomb attack early in
September. The rest of the Northern Alliance is a
brittle confederation of brutal warlords, ex-
communists and unbending clerics. It is a disparate
group divided along ethnic lines, some of whom have
tasted power in Afghanistan in the past.
Until the US air strikes, the Northern Alliance
controlled about 5% of the geographical area of
Afghanistan. Now, with the coalition's help and "air
cover", it is poised to topple the Taliban. Meanwhile,
Taliban soldiers, sensing imminent defeat, have begun
to defect to the alliance. So the fighting forces are
busy switching sides and changing uniforms. But in an
enterprise as cynical as this one, it seems to matter
hardly at all.
Love is hate, north is south, peace is war.
Among the global powers, there is talk of "putting in
a representative government". Or, on the other hand,
of "restoring" the kingdom to Afghanistan's 89-year
old former king Zahir Shah, who has lived in exile in
Rome since 1973. That's the way the game goes -
support Saddam Hussein, then "take him out"; finance
the mojahedin, then bomb them to smithereens; put in
Zahir Shah and see if he's going to be a good boy. (Is
it possible to "put in" a representative government?
Can you place an order for democracy - with extra
cheese and jalapeno peppers?)
Reports have begun to trickle in about civilian
casualties, about cities emptying out as Afghan
civilians flock to the borders which have been closed.
Main arterial roads have been blown up or sealed off.
Those who have experience of working in Afghanistan
say that by early November, food convoys will not be
able to reach the millions of Afghans (7.5m, according
to the UN) who run the very real risk of starving to
death during the course of this winter. They say that
in the days that are left before winter sets in, there
can either be a war, or an attempt to reach food to
the hungry. Not both.
As a gesture of humanitarian support, the US
government air-dropped 37,000 packets of emergency
rations into Afghanistan. It says it plans to drop a
total of 500,000 packets. That will still only add up
to a single meal for half a million people out of the
several million in dire need of food.
Aid workers have condemned it as a cynical, dangerous,
public-relations exercise. They say that air-dropping
food packets is worse than futile.
First, because the food will never get to those who
really need it. More dangerously, those who run out to
retrieve the packets risk being blown up by landmines.
A tragic alms race.
Nevertheless, the food packets had a photo-op all to
themselves. Their contents were listed in major
newspapers. They were vegetarian, we're told, as per
Muslim dietary law (!) Each yellow packet, decorated
with the American flag, contained: rice, peanut
butter, bean salad, strawberry jam, crackers, raisins,
flat bread, an apple fruit bar, seasoning, matches, a
set of plastic cutlery, a serviette and illustrated
After three years of unremitting drought, an air-
dropped airline meal in Jalalabad! The level of
cultural ineptitude, the failure to understand what
months of relentless hunger and grinding poverty
really mean, the US government's attempt to use even
this abject misery to boost its self-image, beggars
Reverse the scenario for a moment. Imagine if the
Taliban government was to bomb New York City, saying
all the while that its real target was the US
government and its policies. And suppose, during
breaks between the bombing, the Taliban dropped a few
thousand packets containing nan and kebabs impaled on
an Afghan flag. Would the good people of New York ever
find it in themselves to forgive the Afghan
government? Even if they were hungry, even if they
needed the food, even if they ate it, how would they
ever forget the insult, the condescension? Rudi
Guiliani, Mayor of New York City, returned a gift of
$10m from a Saudi prince because it came with a few
words of friendly advice about American policy in the
Middle East. Is pride a luxury that only the rich are
Far from stamping it out, igniting this kind of rage
is what creates terrorism. Hate and retribution don't
go back into the box once you've let them out. For
every "terrorist" or his "supporter" that is killed,
hundreds of innocent people are being killed too. And
for every hundred innocent people killed, there is a
good chance that several future terrorists will be
Where will it all lead?
Setting aside the rhetoric for a moment, consider the
fact that the world has not yet found an acceptable
definition of what "terrorism" is. One country's
terrorist is too often another's freedom fighter. At
the heart of the matter lies the world's deep-seated
ambivalence towards violence.
Once violence is accepted as a legitimate political
instrument, then the morality and political
acceptability of terrorists (insurgents or freedom
fighters) becomes contentious, bumpy terrain. The US
government itself has funded, armed and sheltered
plenty of rebels and insurgents around the world.
The CIA and Pakistan's ISI trained and armed the
mojahedin who, in the 80s, were seen as terrorists by
the government in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. Today,
Pakistan - America's ally in this new war - sponsors
insurgents who cross the border into Kashmir in India.
Pakistan lauds them as "freedom-fighters", India calls
them "terrorists". India, for its part, denounces
countries who sponsor and abet terrorism, but the
Indian army has, in the past, trained separatist Tamil
rebels asking for a homeland in Sri Lanka - the LTTE,
responsible for countless acts of bloody terrorism.
(Just as the CIA abandoned the mujahideen after they
had served its purpose, India abruptly turned its back
on the LTTE for a host of political reasons. It was an
enraged LTTE suicide bomber who assassinated former
Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1989.)
It is important for governments and politicians to
understand that manipulating these huge, raging human
feelings for their own narrow purposes may yield
instant results, but eventually and inexorably, they
have disastrous consequences. Igniting and exploiting
religious sentiments for reasons of political
expediency is the most dangerous legacy that
governments or politicians can bequeath to any people
- including their own.
People who live in societies ravaged by religious or
communal bigotry know that every religious text - from
the Bible to the Bhagwad Gita - can be mined and
misinterpreted to justify anything, from nuclear war
to genocide to corporate globalisation.
This is not to suggest that the terrorists who
perpetrated the outrage on September 11 should not be
hunted down and brought to book. They must be.
But is war the best way to track them down? Will
burning the haystack find you the needle? Or will it
escalate the anger and make the world a living hell
for all of us?
At the end of the day, how many people can you spy on,
how many bank accounts can you freeze, how many
conversations can you eavesdrop on, how many emails
can you intercept, how many letters can you open, how
many phones can you tap? Even before September 11, the
CIA had accumulated more information than is humanly
possible to process. (Sometimes, too much data can
actually hinder intelligence - small wonder the US spy
satellites completely missed the preparation that
preceded India's nuclear tests in 1998.)
The sheer scale of the surveillance will become a
logistical, ethical and civil rights nightmare. It
will drive everybody clean crazy. And freedom - that
precious, precious thing - will be the first casualty.
It's already hurt and haemorrhaging dangerously.
Governments across the world are cynically using the
prevailing paranoia to promote their own interests.
All kinds of unpredictable political forces are being
unleashed. In India, for instance, members of the All
India People's Resistance Forum, who were distributing
anti-war and anti-US pamphlets in Delhi, have been
jailed. Even the printer of the leaflets was arrested.
The rightwing government (while it shelters Hindu
extremists groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad
and the Bajrang Dal) has banned the Islamic Students
Movement of India and is trying to revive an anti-
terrorist Act which had been withdrawn after the Human
Rights Commission reported that it had been more
abused than used. Millions of Indian citizens are
Muslim. Can anything be gained by alienating them?
Every day that the war goes on, raging emotions are
being let loose into the world. The international
press has little or no independent access to the war
zone. In any case, mainstream media, particularly in
the US, have more or less rolled over, allowing
themselves to be tickled on the stomach with press
handouts from military men and government officials.
Afghan radio stations have been destroyed by the
bombing. The Taliban has always been deeply suspicious
of the press. In the propaganda war, there is no
accurate estimate of how many people have been killed,
or how much destruction has taken place. In the
absence of reliable information, wild rumours spread.
Put your ear to the ground in this part of the world,
and you can hear the thrumming, the deadly drumbeat of
burgeoning anger. Please. Please, stop the war now.
Enough people have died. The smart missiles are just
not smart enough. They're blowing up whole warehouses
of suppressed fury.
President George Bush recently boasted, "When I take
action, I'm not going to fire a $2m missile at a $10
empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It's going to
be decisive." President Bush should know that there
are no targets in Afghanistan that will give his
missiles their money's worth.
Perhaps, if only to balance his books, he should
develop some cheaper missiles to use on cheaper
targets and cheaper lives in the poor countries of the
world. But then, that may not make good business sense
to the coalition's weapons manufacturers. It wouldn't
make any sense at all, for example, to the Carlyle
Group - described by the Industry Standard as "the
world's largest private equity firm", with $13bn under
Carlyle invests in the defence sector and makes its
money from military conflicts and weapons spending.
Carlyle is run by men with impeccable credentials.
Former US defence secretary Frank Carlucci is
Carlyle's chairman and managing director (he was a
college roommate of Donald Rumsfeld's). Carlyle's
other partners include former US secretary of state
James A Baker III, George Soros and Fred Malek (George
Bush Sr's campaign manager). An American paper ^ the
Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel - says that former
president George Bush Sr is reported to be seeking
investments for the Carlyle Group from Asian markets.
He is reportedly paid not inconsiderable sums of money
to make "presentations" to potential government-
Ho hum. As the tired saying goes, it's all in the
Then there's that other branch of traditional family
business - oil. Remember, President George Bush (Jr)
and Vice-President Dick Cheney both made their
fortunes working in the US oil industry.
Turkmenistan, which borders the north-west of
Afghanistan, holds the world's third largest gas
reserves and an estimated six billion barrels of oil
reserves. Enough, experts say, to meet American energy
needs for the next 30 years (or a developing country's
energy requirements for a couple of centuries.)
America has always viewed oil as a security
consideration, and protected it by any means it deems
necessary. Few of us doubt that its military presence
in the Gulf has little to do with its concern for
human rights and almost entirely to do with its
strategic interest in oil.
Oil and gas from the Caspian region currently moves
northward to European markets. Geographically and
politically, Iran and Russia are major impediments to
American interests. In 1998, Dick Cheney - then CEO of
Halliburton, a major player in the oil industry -
said, "I can't think of a time when we've had a region
emerge as suddenly to become as strategically
significant as the Caspian. It's almost as if the
opportunities have arisen overnight." True enough.
For some years now, an American oil giant called
Unocal has been negotiating with the Taliban for
permission to construct an oil pipeline through
Afghanistan to Pakistan and out to the Arabian sea.
From here, Unocal hopes to access the lucrative
"emerging markets" in south and south-east Asia. In
December 1997, a delegation of Taliban mullahs
travelled to America and even met US state department
officials and Unocal executives in Houston. At that
time the Taliban's taste for public executions and its
treatment of Afghan women were not made out to be the
crimes against humanity that they are now.
Over the next six months, pressure from hundreds of
outraged American feminist groups was brought to bear
on the Clinton administration.
Fortunately, they managed to scuttle the deal. And now
comes the US oil industry's big chance.
In America, the arms industry, the oil industry, the
major media networks, and, indeed, US foreign policy,
are all controlled by the same business combines.
Therefore, it would be foolish to expect this talk of
guns and oil and defence deals to get any real play in
the media. In any case, to a distraught, confused
people whose pride has just been wounded, whose loved
ones have been tragically killed, whose anger is fresh
and sharp, the inanities about the "clash of
civilisations" and the "good v evil" discourse home in
unerringly. They are cynically doled out by government
spokesmen like a daily dose of vitamins or anti-
depressants. Regular medication ensures that mainland
America continues to remain the enigma it has always
been - a curiously insular people, administered by a
pathologically meddlesome, promiscuous government.
And what of the rest of us, the numb recipients of
this onslaught of what we know to be preposterous
propaganda? The daily consumers of the lies and
brutality smeared in peanut butter and strawberry jam
being air-dropped into our minds just like those
yellow food packets. Shall we look away and eat
because we're hungry, or shall we stare unblinking at
the grim theatre unfolding in Afghanistan until we
retch collectively and say, in one voice, that we have
As the first year of the new millennium rushes to a
close, one wonders - have we forfeited our right to
dream? Will we ever be able to re-imagine beauty?
Will it be possible ever again to watch the slow,
amazed blink of a newborn gecko in the sun, or whisper
back to the marmot who has just whispered in your ear
- without thinking of the World Trade Centre and
From Seattle publication "Eat the State."
> Precision, My Ass
> by Maria Tomchick
> It was early evening and the villagers were just sitting down to dinner.
> It was a cold, clear night, but not as quiet as usual, because the village
> was swollen with refugees who had escaped from the bombing of Jalabad, 30
> miles away. As the prayers finished and the food was served, the meal was
> suddenly interrupted by the sound of two jets flying overhead, followed
> quickly by the roar of bombs exploding.
> Men ran from their houses to check on the damage, but the women and
> children stayed indoors. Only a few people were injured. The bombs must
> have fallen by mistake; there was no military target nearby. This place
> was safe. But the jets turned and made a second pass over the village, and
> then a third, each time dropping more ordnance onto the homes of Karam, a
> rural, mountain village in Afghanistan.
> Surviving residents and several reporters say that the village was
> completely destroyed by US bombs. Over 100 people, perhaps as many as 200,
> were killed--mostly women, children, and old people. Many of the bodies
> still remain interred in the ruins.
> The US government says that Karam was once a training camp for Al Qaeda.
> In fact, the site was used to train mujahideen during the 1980s and was
> run by Sadiq Bacha to train members of the Hezb-i-Islami faction with CIA
> Some of those men later joined the Taliban, but the base was never used by
> Al Qaeda. It was closed and abandoned in 1992, before bin Laden moved to
> Afghanistan. In the 1990s, families moved in and built mud and rock houses
> on the site. During the winter, nomads also made Karam their temporary
> home. Obviously, the US military relied on old, outdated, and incorrect
> This has happened before: take, for example, the October 9th bombing of
> the Afghan Technical Consultants offices, a UN agency responsible for
> removing landmines in Afghanistan. The US government claims that ATC was
> near a military radio tower, but UN officials say the tower was a defunct
> and abandoned medium and short wave radio station that hadn't been in
> operation for over a decade. And the ATC had even given its address to
> higher-ups at the UN to pass on to the US military, so the ATC offices
> would not be hit.
> Four men were killed in the explosion, including two security guards:
> Najeebullah, a father of five young children, and Safiullah, a father of
> four. The other two victims were Nasir Ahmad, a newly married medical
> nurse, and Abdul Saboor. Only two days before, Saboor had volunteered to
> make the perilous trip from Pakistan into Afghanistan on foot to deliver
> much-needed cash salaries to UN employees. Just two hours after he arrived
> at the ATC offices, his body was blown apart in the explosion, along with
> the money that was sent with him.
> How often has the US military made this kind of mistake? It's impossible
> to know, since the Taliban have expelled all western reporters and
> Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan, making it hard for
> reporters to get into the country. Pakistani border guards are beating
> Afghan refugees with sticks and firing guns at them to keep them from
> crossing into Pakistan, where their stories of the bombing may further
> enrage the Pakistani populace.
> But the refugees who can afford to pay bribes or are well enough to make
> the hike over mountainous terrain are finally making it into Pakistan and
> telling their stories. Here is a small collection of the civilian deaths
> told to reporters so far. None of these accounts come from Taliban
> sources; all are from refugees and western or Pakistani reporters.
> In Jalalabad, the Sultanpur Mosque was hit by a bomb during prayers, with
> 17 people caught inside. Neighbors rushed into the rubble to help pull out
> the injured, but as the rescue effort got under way, another bomb fell,
> killing at least 120 people.
> In the village of Darunta near Jalalabad, a US bomb fell on another
> mosque. Two people were killed and dozens--perhaps as many as 150
> people--were injured. Many of those injured are languishing without
> medical care in the Sehat-e-Ama hospital in Jalalabad, which lacks
> to treat the wounded.
> More civilian deaths are being reported in the villages of Torghar and
> Farmada, north and west of Jalalabad. At least 28 civilians had died in
> Farmada, which has an abandoned Al Qaeda training camp nearby. In
> Argandab, north of Kandahar, 10 civilians have died from the bombing and
> several houses have been destroyed. The same has happened in Karaga, north
> of Kabul.
> A five-year-old child was killed while sleeping in his family's home
> outside Kandahar when two bombs fell on a munitions storage area half a
> mile away. The explosion threw shells and rockets in all directions and
> one of those shells smashed through the mud-brick wall of his bedroom,
> slicing open young Taj Muhammed's abdomen and burning his six-year-old
> sister, Kambibi. Taj suffered for 12 hours at a nearby hospital before he
> On Oct. 7, the first night of the bombing, US planes targeted the Hotel
> Continental in Kabul. Taliban commanders have stayed at the hotel, but
> civilians also stay there on a regular basis. In the first wave of
> bombing, at least one private residence in Kabul suffered a direct hit and
> others were damaged. On the same night, bombs were dropped on the houses
> of Taliban leaders in Kandahar. Two civilian relatives of Mullah Muhammad
> Omar were killed: his aged stepfather and his 10-year-old son.
> On Oct. 8, the second night of the bombing, three missiles were aimed at
> the airport in Jalalabad, but only one hit the target. The other two went
> astray and exploded nearby, killing one civilian, and injuring a second so
> severely that he needed to be driven to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan,
> to have shrapnel removed from a deep wound in his neck and his spinal
> injuries treated. He's not expected to survive. A third 16-year-old boy
> injured in the same attack was also taken to a hospital in Peshawar; he
> lost his leg and two fingers, and he says that many more people were
> injured and may have died in the same incident.
> On Oct. 11, a bomb aimed at the Kabul airport went astray and hit
> Qala-e-Chaman, a village one mile away, destroying several houses and
> killing a 12-year-old child. Three other houses collapsed from the
> explosion, and at least four civilians were injured. On the same night,
> another missile hit a house near the Kabul customs building, killing 10
> As of Oct. 12, the UN had independently reported at least 20 civilian
> deaths in Mazar-i-Sharif and 10 civilian deaths in Kandahar.
> On Oct. 13, Khushkam Bhat, a residential district between Jalalabad
> airport and a nearby military area, was accidentally bombed by US planes
> trying to down a Taliban helicopter. More than 100 houses were flattened.
> At least 160 people were pulled from the rubble and taken to hospitals.
> On Oct. 16, two bombs fell on two Red Cross warehouses in the center of
> Kabul. The warehouses, bombed in full daylight, were clearly marked with
> red crosses on their roofs. US spokesmen claim that the warehouses were
> hit because there were military vehicles parked nearby. But those were Red
> Cross transport trucks.
> On Oct. 17, a bomb scored a "direct hit" on a boy's school in Kabul, but
> fortunately didn't explode. A US plane, however, dropped a bomb at Mudad
> Chowk, a residential area of Kandahar, which did explode, destroying two
> houses and several shops, and killing at least seven people. In Kabul,
> four bombs fell near the city center; casualties are as yet unknown.
> On Oct. 18, a bomb killed four members of a family in the eastern suburb
> of Qalaye Zaman Khan when it demolished two homes. A half a mile away,
> another bomb exploded in a housing complex, killing a 16-year-old girl.
> The UN reports that Kandahar has fallen into a state of "pre-Taliban
> lawlessness," with gangs taking over homes and looting shops.
> On Oct. 19, the UN announces that at least 80% of the residents of
> Kandahar have left the city to escape the bombing and are swamping the
> surrounding villages, where there are no resources to care for them. Some
> have moved on to the border and crossed into Pakistan. One refugee said
> that there are bodies littering the streets of Kandahar and people are
> dying in the hospitals for lack of drugs. "We know we will lead a
> miserable life in Pakistan, in tents," he said. "We have come here just to
> save our children."
> The civilian death toll is in the hundreds, probably thousands, and sure
> to rise with two new developments. US Air Force pilots have been given the
> go ahead to fire "at will"--at anything they desire, without pre
> authorization from strategists peering at satellite and surveillance
> photos. In fact, there are now regions of the country that have been
> designated "kill boxes," patrolled night and day by low-flying aircraft
> with the mission to shoot anything that moves within the area. There has
> been no mention of how Afghan civilians will know where such "kill boxes"
> are and how to avoid them.
> In addition, US planes are now dropping cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are
> like landmines on steroids; they fall, release hundreds of small
> "bomblets," which disperse and explode, slicing through people, cars,
> trucks, and even certain types of buildings. Notably, about 8-12% of the
> brightly-colored bomblets don't explode on impact, leaving behind
> attractive but deadly toys for children to play with later. Thousands of
> Afghan children were killed or maimed by similar bombs and attractive
> booby traps dropped by the Soviets in the 1980's.
> As if that weren't horrible enough, the UN says that many of the US's
> air-dropped food packets have landed on minefields; this will lure
> starving refugees to gruesome deaths. After two decades of war,
> Afghanistan still has 10 million landmines buried in the ground.
A Non-Western Voice
By Irina Malenko
"Non-Westerners of the world, unite!" Since the 11th of September events in
America the media are full of condemnation and condolences. What I had hoped
them to be full of, was the simple question: "Why?" Because without asking
this question the world is going nowhere.
What I feel after the 11th of September here in Ireland, is exclusion and
discrimination. No, I am not a Muslim and I do not look much different from
the Irish people. And yet, there is an invisible division line, sadly,
created by the majority of the Irish people, perhaps, even not realizing it.
It is their division between "us" and "them", "non-Westerners", on behalf of
the "civilized" West.
They demand - yes, demand!- us to grief for the Western innocent victims
while themselves, they didn't have a single second of silence for
non-Western innocent victims of the Western governments who were and still
are being murdered "in the name of democracy and freedom". If you don't bow
to this demand of compulsory extra-grief - and I refuse to grief more for
one sort of the victims than for another!- you are labeled as "uncivilized"
or even "terrorist".
Can you imagine Iraqis or Yugoslavs demanding from Westerners to grief for
their loved ones? Even though they have undoubtedly more moral rights to do
I can't. That must be a prerogative of "civilized" nations! Where were you
with your "civilization" when your own governments in cold blood murdered
Iraqi and Yugoslav children? Where were others of you when your governments
were applauding to these killings? I feel sick to my stomach watching oh so
many times how Bill Clinton who can never wash off his hands all the
innocent blood that he has shed around the world in his 8 years in the
office, was cheered and greeted in Ireland as "The Peacemaker".
Let's face it: our, non-Western victims, do not count for the majority of
you. You don't even like us to say how we feel about it. We are supposed to
mourn only your deaths. If they do count - and I mean not just for the small
groups of courageous Westerners who are raising their voice against the
current barbarity of the "civilized" world, but for all those Irish people
who had their 3 minutes of silence on Friday, 14.09- , if they do, where are
you now, when even more innocent human beings are being slaughtered? Simply
because they were "unlucky" to be born outside of your "civilization".
With all its beautiful talks against racism (even though Durban has pretty
much shown to the world who is who on this issue!), the West divides nations
into categories even after death. It invented 2 sorts of victims. Did
anybody notice that, apparently, there is the 1st class victims: those from
the rich countries who deserve minutes of silence, mourning days, candle
light vigils, tears and millions in solidarity donations - and then there is
2nd class, "the rest of us", - "the collateral damage", as they nicely and
civilized put it here.
What I am about to say, is not going to make me very popular here. But my
pain and my dismay at the double standards of the Western general public,
are too strong and it hurts too much to continue to keep quiet. Ashes of the
"collateral damage" of your civilization are knocking into my heart.
It is apparently "OK" to kill the innocent "in the name of democracy and
freedom". It is "OK" to kill the children of one nation "in the name of
human rights" for another. Is that what your "civilization" is about? People
of Afghanistan now are yet another "collateral damage" to the most of you.
Just like in 1999 during NATO aggression against Yugoslavia *(if you still
remember it!), now we are being told the same fairy tales - that this is
"not the war against the Afghani (Yugoslav) people, but against terrorism
Whom do they hope to fool? It is the people, not the leaders, who are dying
daily. Just as the terrorist acts in America weren't "the war on the
American people", but on their leaders' policy - yet, those leaders are
still alive and kicking, while nearly 6000 civilians have vanished. Where is
the difference? The difference is in the Western public opinion on different
values of different nations' human lives.
I can only imagine how furious not just the media, but the ordinary citizens
here would be if anybody would have called the American 11th of September
victims "collateral damage" in the global fight against Western domination
and Western state terrorism.
American terrorist Timothy McVeigh has used the term "collateral damage" for
his own American victims and was immediately condemned by the outraged
Americans: how dared he, a private terrorist, to compare his American
victims with some "uncivilized" non-Western victims of his state
To suggest that not all human lives are of the same value,
Is naked racism.
Yet, the Western governments and media are not just suggesting it: this is
their preconception of the world. It is clear as daylight from the actions -
no matter what they say. This is an axiom for them, something that doesn't
even need a proof. That is why their own leaders whose true place is the
cells of Scheveningen jail in Holland, in the defendants' box of the Hague
tribunal, are still being cheered and greeted as "peacemakers".
After the 11th of September , when we are forced "to make a choice" : either
to be with Mr. Bush and his understanding of freedom (that is, freedom to
bomb any other nation, without any need for any international law, and to
threaten anybody who disagrees) or else., I feel increasingly that I am not
with the West on this one.
How can I be? I was just shown once again that myself and people like me,
are not equal. That for far too many Irish people it is only "an enormous
tragedy" if there are people of Irish origin among the victims (what about
enormousness of the tragedy in Rwanda?!) I am a non-Westerner here. It was
not my choice to feel this way. Just like any human person, I felt a shock
when I saw other human beings jumping off the skyscraper on the 11th of
September. I felt pain for their families because I know what it's like to
lose somebody you love. Now, finally, Americans as a nation feel that too.
But what is their reaction?
The reason that I feel a stranger here now, was the choice of those who have
no respect or compassion for the dead ones of other nations. For the victims
of their own governments in other countries.
It was the choice of those who can throw McDonald's food that is left over,
into the bin, cheerfully shouting: " This is for Ethiopia!" We,
non-Westerners, have less and less choice in this world, since the
continuing destruction of any decent alternative that we had, to "The
Western Way of life" that is being forcefully imposed on us in our home
What are our choices? Either to flee our homes and to come here, where we
live so often in hostility while creating wealth for the West, or to die
slowly from poverty, crime, sicknesses, diseases and oppression at home,
under our own comprador governments, because of the debts they made to the
same West, in order to pay for their own luxury lives. Aha, there is also a
new alternative now: to be bombed to pulp by a deadly mixture of
ultra-expensive missiles and "humanitarian help" "in the name of
civilization". "Civilized" nations need to restore their economy from
depression, you see, - and a war is the best way to do it..
Let me tell you something. This is not "retaliation".
If it was right and just to "retaliate" this way for crimes against
humanity, the whole West should have been leveled to the ground by now. What
we are witnessing, is last century's imperialism on its way back - under
that brand-new smiling mask of "Civilization". Sadly, it seems that
countries that weren't imperialist in the past and that are even now still
partially colonized, are also joining this "crusade".
Retaliation? What retaliation? Remember, looking back at the part of your
own history, which you refuse to recognize: we didn't start the fire!
Jailed Pakistani Dies in Cell.
AP. 24 October 2001.
NEWARK, N.J. -- A Pakistani man arrested by the FBI in its investigation
of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was found dead in his jail cell,
The 55-year-old man, whose identity was not immediately released, was
found dead Tuesday morning at the Hudson County Jail in Kearny. An
autopsy was planned to determine the cause of death.
A doctor who examined the man's body said a nasal swab showed no signs
of anthrax, but further tests were planned, county spokesman Jacob
The man was arrested Sept. 19 as part of the investigation into the
terrorist attacks, a government source who insisted on anonymity told
The Associated Press on Wednesday.
He was being held on immigration charges, authorities said. Federal
immigration officials didn't immediately return calls for comment.
The man had complained recently of pain in his gums, saw a dentist and
was given tetracycline, an antibiotic that can be used to treat anthrax,
No prisoners were quarantined, he said.
Special Agent Sandra Carroll, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Newark office,
would not say how the man figured into the investigation.
"We never filed criminal charges against the individual," she said. "I
can't say whether we considered him an integral part of the Sept. 11
investigation or not."
This brief commentary comes courtesy of Bill Blum, author of Killing
Hope and Rogue State.
United States military flyer dropped over Afghanistan:
-------------------------- cut here --------------------------------
Do you enjoy being ruled by the Taliban?
Are you proud to live a life of fear?
Are you happy to see the place your family has owned for generations a
terrorist training site?
Do you want a regime that is turning Afghanistan into the Stone Age and
giving Islam a bad name?
Are you proud to live under a government that harbors terrorists?
Are you proud to live in a nation ruled by extreme fundamentalists?
The Taliban have robbed your country of your culture and heritage.
They have destroyed your national monuments, and cultural artifacts.
They rule by force, violence, and fear based on the advice of
foreigners. They insist that their form of Islam is the one and only
form, the true form, the divine form. They see themselves as religious
experts, even though they are ignorant. They kill, commit injustice,
keep you in poverty and claim it is in the name of God.
-------------------------- cut here --------------------------------
Flyer that should be dropped over the United States:
-------------------------- cut here --------------------------------
Do you enjoy being ruled by the Republican-Democratic Party?
Are you proud to live a life of fear, insecurity and panic?
Are you happy to see the place your family has owned for generations
taken away by a bank?
Do you want a regime that is turning the United States into a police
state and giving Christianity a bad name?
Are you proud to live under a government that harbors hundreds of
terrorists in Miami?
Are you proud to live in a nation ruled by extreme capitalists and
The capitalists have robbed your country of your equality and justice.
They have destroyed your national parks and rivers and corrupted your
media, your elections and your personal relations. They rule by threat
of unemployment, hunger, and homelessness based on the advice of a god
called the market. They insist that their form of organizing a society
and remaking the world is the one and only form, the true form, the
divine form. They see themselves as morality experts, even though they
are ignorant. They bomb, invade, assassinate, torture, overthrow,
commit injustice, keep you and the world in poverty and claim it is in
the name of God.
-------------------------- cut here --------------------------------
The New Newspeak
By Hamit Dardagah
Humanitarian assistance=We bomb you. (Have a nice day.)
Restraint=We bomb you when we are good and ready.
The War Against Terrorism (TWAT)=Terrorism Against The Afghans (TATA)
Our hatred=Justifiable anger
Our violence=We are not responsible for it, they are.
Their violence=We are not responsible for it, they are.
Expressing the view that America should be capable of conduct less vicious
than the terrorists'=Anti-Americanism
Expressing the view that America should be capable of conduct more vicious
than the terrorists'=Pro-Americanism
Anthrax=No joking matter
AC-130 Gunships=Puff The Magic Dragon
Enduring Freedom=What Afghans do
Bombing with "High Jack This Fags" as bomb-casing graffiti=So offensive to
our fellow human beings that we must take all protest about it seriously
Bombing with bombs free of graffiti=So beneficial to our fellow human beings
that we can ignore, dismiss or belittle all protest about it (the protestors
are in a minority, after all)
When we murder children=1001 Excuses
When they murder children=There is no excuse on Earth for harming, let alone
brutally ending, innocent lives
Famine relief agencies=Organizations with questionable agendas and strange
Bombing the starving=Ending hunger
Bombing the poor=Ending poverty
Bombing the oppressed=Freeing them
Bombing men armed with rifles=Demonstrating our Air Supremacy
Bombing women=Demonstrating our commitment to feminism
Bombing children=Demonstrating our commitment to the future
Bombing the freezing=Warming them up
Bombing=Our answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything
Not bombing=Doing nothing
Also of interest (links only):
WAR AGAINST THE WAR
Andrew Rowell, AlterNet
Last week a group of British parliamentarians formed to fight
the bombing of Afghanistan. Among them is Alan Simpson MP,
who argues, "We recruited more terrorists than we have killed."
HOW TO BE TOUGH ON TERRORISM
Robert B. Reich, The American Prospect
The political debate about terrorism is stuck. The patriots' blind
insistence on American right no matter what, clashes with the left's
insistence on blaming the U.S.'s bad historical judgement.
Robert Reich says both positions are inadequate
and offers another way.
Patriotism, Then and Now
by Donald W. Miller, Jr.
John Tirman, AlterNet
If the 50-year history of U.S. policy in southwestern Asia
teaches us anything, it is that aggressive military actions lead to
destabilization of countries and the amplification of militant Islamic
sentiment around the world. A must-read analysis.
DURST: FAQS ABOUT BOMBING AFGHANISTAN
Will Durst, AlterNet
"We're shooting off laser-guided smart bombs and ready to eat
ethnically sensitive pre-packaged meals at the same time. Is
this sending mixed messages?" and other great questions.
The Modern World, cartoon by Tom Tomorrow
New this issue:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/studentsnowar/files (members only)
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