---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 24 Nov 2001 14:18:10 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 35)
Antiwar News...(# 35)
--Wounded Afghan children plead: 'Stop hurting us'
--Stop the bombing, please
--Voices of War Dissent Grow Louder as Starvation Stalks Afghanistan
--Anti-war protesters take navy officer hostage
--Taliban foes' record on rights poses a problem
--Dozens killed in village 'with no military targets'
--Terror, Death, Hunger, Misogyny, and Genocide in Afghanistan
--An Indian Novelist Turns Her Wrath on the U.S.
--Bombing of Farming Village Undermines U.S. Credibility
--Merciless US bombing obliterates village: 60 killed
--Terrorize the Poor, Subsidize the Rich
--Terror, Love and The State of the World
Also of interest (links only):
*Asian Regimes Appear to Use War on Terror to Stem Dissent
*The War in Afghanistan is Far From Over
*Anti War video online
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
Wounded Afghan children plead: 'Stop hurting us'
Sath, 11, was playing with friends outside his house when a bomb landed
close by, severing his right leg below the knee
November 04, 2001
QUETTA, Pakistan (AFP)
- Eleven-year-old Sath Mohd had his leg blown off by a US bomb last week and
he can't understand why. Lying on filthy sheets in Quetta's Sandeman
Provincial Hospital, with flies landing on his bloodied stump, Sath pleaded
with the United States to stop its bombardment of Afghanistan.
'We cannot put into words how we feel about the people who did this'
"Please stop hurting us. Why are you doing this?"
In Bed No.5 in the bare and crumbling hospital, Sath was still caked in
dried blood and mud. The bandages over his ruined leg are as dirty as his
Sath was playing with around 12 other children outside his house near the
southwestern Afghan city of Kandahar on Thursday morning when a bomb landed
close by, severing his right leg below the knee and throwing his sister
Parmina high into the air.
"We were playing and then the planes came over and started dropping bombs,"
Sath said. His memory then blanks out.
Sitting next him on a seperate hospital bed sister Parmina, 7, has her hands
swathed in bandages and a dazed look on her face. "We were crying when the
bombs fell. People ran to get my father who brought us to Pakistan. I didn't
see any of the other children, I only saw my brother," she said.
Their sobbing father Taj Mohd, who carried his children from their Rozgan
district home near Kandahar to Quetta on Friday, said his son's life had
been ruined before it had started. "We cannot put into words how we feel
about the people who did this," he said.
"We are with the Taliban and against America. The whole world should be
saying to America: 'Stop this war because our little children are being
killed and injured.'"
Sath and Parmina's mother remains at their home looking after three other
children. Another son was killed 15 years ago during the Soviet occupation
Sath, grimacing against the pain, said he didn't like Quetta and wanted to
go back home, despite the unrelenting US attacks. "I want to go back to my
home, to my friends. Afghanistan is my country," he said. Whether his
friends are where he left them is unclear.
Neither Sath not Parmina could say what happened to the dozen or so other
children who were playing with them when the bomb landed. "Many children
were playing and were injured but I don't know where they went or what
happened," said Taj. "We just don't know."
In a ward for women, eight-year-old Sadima Mohd is singing to herself,
rocking backwards and forwards, clearly in shock.
She was trapped when her house was hit by a bomb in Kandahar last week. "It
was in the daytime and I was with my mother in the house when a bomb fell
and the house collapsed," she said.
Her grandfather Khair Mohd, who brought her to Quetta, said she was trapped
under rubble which crushed her left leg.
With tears rolling down his cheeks, he told how their homes were destroyed.
"When the planes come we don't see them, it's just when the bombs fall. It
is terrible," he said. "On this day many walls of many houses fell. Many
people were trapped and many people died and were injured. Most of them were
children and young men."
He could not be more specific but added that nobody could understand why
innocent people were being killed. "We are very worried because children and
women are being hurt," he said.
"Please stop now. Stop the war. Why is America killing us, our children. We
don't have any guns. We are poor. This is a poor, weak country. Why are you
hurting us America?"
Stop the bombing, please
Sunday November 04, 2001-- Sha^aban 17,1422 A.H
by Dr Farrukh Saleem
The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist
On October 7, General Tommy Franks, the Commander-in-Chief of US Central
Command (CINC), was
given the job of resurrecting American ego so badly bruised a month earlier
by the crumbling of the World
Trade Centre. The general is Bush's top conscript with orders to transform
Afghanistan's dense rubble into
finer debris. Lt Gen Charles F Wald is General Franks' air commander. Wald
commands a sophisticated air operations centre at Prince Sultan Air Base in
Riyadh where he generates the daily list of targets.
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary Defence, Gen Richard Myers, Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, both in
Washington and Gen Franks from his HQ at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa
(Florida) routinely hold a
conference call in the morning and one at day-end.
They assess the "campaign's progress, plotting its next moves and deciding
on targets." President Bush continues to insist that "we are a peace-loving
people". Arundhati Roy, the acclaimed author of 'The God of Small Things',
rebukes "Love is hate, north is south, peace is war."
Then there is Bush's 10-member war cabinet: Richard Cheney, Colin Powell,
Donald Rumsfeld, Paul O'Neil, George Tenet, Lewis Libby, Richard Armitage,
Paul Wolfowitz, Andrew Card Jr and Condoleezza Rice. All of those heads put
together have failed to define America's war objective(s). Is getting Osama the
definition of success? Destroying the al-Qaeda network, installing a new
government or getting Mulla Omar? The war cabinet, however, has
successfully implanted a concentrated wave of war hysteria
throughout the continental United States (anyone who even debates the war
is now an automatic traitor).
To be certain, Lt General Wald has the easiest of jobs. All he does is:
First, mark down images from the multi-billion dollar spysat satellites -
Lacrosse 2, Lacrosse 3, USA 86, USA 116 and USA 129 - of all the $10 tents
in Kandahar, Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz. Second,
fire off Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles procured at the cost of $1.4
million each. My guess is that on the first night the satellites had picked
no more than fifty tents in all the six Afghan cities put together. A total
of fifty Tomahawks, therefore, left the $4.5 billion USS Enterprise Battle
Group. On Day 2, Americans were told that their forces had hit the 'command
and control centre' in Kandahar. The reality is that the Taliban have a
couple of walkie-talkies one of which is 'command' and the other 'control'.
On Day 3, the US launched its first daylight strikes. The claim being that
some 20-dozen Hornets, Tomcats, F-15 supersonic tactical fighters, F-16
multi-role fighters, B-1B long-range heavy bombers and B2 stealth bombers
had finally achieved "air supremacy" over 2-dozen fixed-wing, largely
cannibalised, 1955 vintage MiG-21s (the oldest aircraft on the Vinson is
F/A-18 "Alpha" model, the first generation Hornet some 15 years old). Right
after the first attack, Mohammad Khan, who stepped on a mine last year and
lost a leg, spent his life savings of Afghanis 100,000 (about $3) buying up
an old battery and putting up light bulbs on top of a cliff nearby. On Day
2, American bombers knocked off all power sources in and around
south-eastern Afghanistan. The next morning
Mohammad Khan and his five teenage sons gathered up all the scrap just
around where the bulb was on their donkeys, destined for Chaman (the border
Pakistani town). The scrap was sold for Rs25,000. The Khan family
accumulated a jackpot of Afghanis 12 million ($400). They were rich beyond
their wildest imagination (Afghanistan's per capita annual income stands at
under Afghanis 3 million).
On Day 4, Behram Shah discovered a dead goat and an unexploded Tomahawk
next to it. In Herat, where Behram lives with his four daughters and two
sons, the Shah family sold the Tomahawk and bought two 50-lb healthy goats
with the proceeds. The daughters then began supplying the additional milk
to patients in the Herat Hospital. The euphoria for the Khans was
short-lived. On the evening of October 21, at about 7:30 pm, a dozen
laser-guided smart bombs missed their targets by several miles and fell on
Thori village. According to the Human Rights Watch, "at least twenty-three
civilians, the majority of them young children, were killed...." Among the
killed were Mohammad Khan's two sons and his wife who were all cremated
alive right in front of him. The Shahs celebrated there new-found wealth
but for a mere 13 days. On October 23, 100 people were killed when US and
British war planes bombed a hospital in the western city of Herat. Among
them were Behram Shah's three daughters and a son. On Oct 24, UN
spokeswoman Stephanie Bunker reported that "US bombs struck a mosque and a
nearby village during raids on the western city of Herat." The Shah family
could not have taken any more losses; they have already had more than their
fair share of grief.
Herat has also been at the receiving end of the extremely controversial
cluster bombs. According to
the UN Mine Action Program Afghanistan (MAPA), clusters have a "notorious
history.... When the bomb
explodes, the steel splits so you get hundreds of high-velocity steel
fragments travelling at the speed
of a rifle bullet. They can kill or injure people from over 100 meters from
the point of detonation.
They are a bright yellow colour and look quite innocuous so they are very
attractive for children.
But they are so sensitive that just picking them up could cause them to
detonate (during the Kosovo
conflict NATO forces dropped 220,000 cluster bombs in one month, leaving
more than 15,000 faulty ones on the ground)." General Franks has now
learned that Afghans cannot be bombed to submission. He
further stands educated - what most Iraqis, Sudanese and Yugoslavs have
known for the past several years - that smart bombs are not smart after
all. For future wars, America needs to develop new inexpensive, perhaps
dumb bombs as most of its enemies happen to be pathetically poor living in
regions where life is cheap. On September 11, Middle Eastern terrorists
took 5,766 innocent lives. Between October 7 and November 4, all that
American terror attacks have achieved is raising the tally of innocent
lives lost by at least a thousand. Would the bombing stop once Afghan
casualties also reach 5,766? Over the past four weeks, the legendary Afghan
hospitality has hosted more than half a million tons
worth of bombs and that converts to 20 kilos for every man, woman and child
in the country. That's more than what any human being deserves.
Afghanistan's dense rubble spread throughout its 647,500 sq km of rugged
terrain has already been turned into finer debris. American ego must have
been resurrected by now. General Franks' job is done. Now stop the bombing,
Voices of War Dissent Grow Louder as Starvation Stalks Afghanistan
by Paul Koring
Published on Saturday, November 3, 2001 in the Toronto Globe & Mail
WASHINGTON -- The specter of mass starvation in Afghanistan is creating
fodder for a propaganda nightmare and threatening to unravel already
frayed support for U.S. air strikes.
Aid agencies are struggling to get desperately needed food to more than
six million Afghans, nearly a quarter of the country's population,
considered to be at severe risk of starvation this winter. Nearly
two-thirds of those people have received nothing since the end of
September, the agencies say.
"If a humanitarian catastrophe is attributed to our military operations,
it could pull apart our international coalition to fight terrorism,
radicalize more people who might be sympathetic to the terrorists'
views, and may even make the American people more vulnerable in the
end," U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone said.
Washington is keenly aware of the stark political consequences of a
humanitarian disaster and is making major efforts to drop food in
Still, the one million meal rations that U.S. planes have dropped in the
past month represent a tiny fraction of the 52,000 tons, about 500
million meals, needed to feed Afghanistan's hungry over that period of
"The biggest obstacle to getting food and medicine to the people of
Afghanistan is the Taliban," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said,
accusing the regime of seizing food destined for the needy and making
aid organizations "pay outrageous taxes to try to get food into the
But blaming the Taliban is not likely to play any better with Muslim
members of Washington's fragile coalition than blaming Saddam Hussein
for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children since the imposition of
"The bombing victimizes the innocents, exacerbates the humanitarian
disaster and creates widespread resentment across the Muslim world," the
Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Islamic Circle of North
America said in a joint statement this week. "The senseless starvation
of women and children will fuel hate and extremism."
The Taliban have shown themselves adept in propaganda techniques,
allowing foreign journalists into Afghanistan to report on alleged
In Muslim countries such as Egypt and Pakistan, there are increasingly
strident demands that the U.S. bombing be halted for humanitarian
reasons, as well as out of respect for the holy month of Ramadan.
The large international aid agencies, such as the United Nations World
Food Program, meanwhile, have painted a stark picture of impending
catastrophe unless ways are found to distribute huge amounts of food.
Anti-war protesters take navy officer hostage
Ananova. 2 November 2001.
SUSSEX -- A group of anti-war protesters have stormed a university and
taken a Royal Navy officer hostage.
Twenty protesters barricaded themselves in a Royal Navy Office at the
University of Sussex, taking a male officer hostage in the process.
Outside, 200 students also threatened to storm the campus building at
Falmer, near Brighton.
Police negotiators spoke with the group inside the university, who
emerged at 2.15pm. No one was injured.
In total, 20 people have been arrested on suspicion of false
imprisonment and criminal damage.
Taliban foes' record on rights poses a problem
Factions' record of atrocities gives US pause
By Michael Kranish
WASHINGTON - The massacre happened one night in May 1997 in northern
Afghanistan. Some 3,000 soldiers were rounded up. Many were executed in the
desert. Others were forced into wells, where death came by grenade.
The victims in this case were the Taliban, and the killers were members of
what is now called the Northern Alliance. The massacre - followed a year
later by a nearly identical atrocity by Taliban forces seeking retribution
- has been condemned as a massive violation of international law.
Such information, long known to human rights groups but only now being
circulated to a broader audience, goes a long way toward explaining the
United States' reluctance to embrace the Northern Alliance as the backbone
of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan.
It also brings to light new and complicating questions, such as: Should the
United States try to bring to justice those in the Northern Alliance
previously accused of violating international laws? And is the United
States in violation of a law designed to prevent involvement with certain
kinds of rebel organizations?
Even some of the most ardent critics of the Taliban express discomfort at
the prospect that the Taliban might be replaced by groups with a history of
''We could be in the dubious position of defending human rights with
proxies who are notorious human rights violators,'' said Michael Ignatieff,
director of Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. ''We
have a real problem.'' But there may not be much choice, he added. ''The
alternative to working with dubious proxies is 250,000 American ground
Caspar Weinberger, a former secretary of defense, compared the situation
with the way the United States allied itself with the Soviet Union to fight
the Nazis during World War II. ''That is basically how I feel about the
Northern Alliance,'' Weinberger said.
The recent history of Afghanistan shows that warring factions often take
vengeance after their victories by killing civilians of opposing groups.
Some US officials fear that if some Northern Alliance factions take over
the major cities after the US bombing campaign, new atrocities against
civilians could occur. That is why emphasis is being placed on how to
establish a broad-based post-Taliban government.
A law written by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont is at the heart of
questions raised within the government about whether the United States can
legally aid the Alliance. The act outlaws arming rebel groups associated
with another government. But the Defense Department concluded that the law
does not apply in this case because the Northern Alliance is an insurgent
group not tied to a government in power.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, asked recently whether US aid to the
Northern Alliance violates the Leahy law, replied, ''I'm not a lawyer but
I'm told [it does] not.''
Said Rumsfeld, ''There are probably very few elements in the country that
have not been through some tough times and been through some very difficult
battles, and where there have not been things that in a perfect world one
would characterize as a human rights violations.''
In the end, Rumsfeld said, Afghans would be ''one heck of a lot better with
the Taliban and al Qaeda gone.''
The question under the Leahy law is whether the Northern Alliance is
associated with any government. The Northern Alliance clearly is not in
power in Afghanistan, yet one of its main groups, dominated by ethnic
Tajiks, is recognized by the United Nations as the country's representative.
At the very least, the US aid to the Northern Alliance is a violation of
the spirit of the Leahy law, said Joost Hilterman of the independent group
Human Rights Watch.
''The whole purpose of the law is protect the US from being associated with
individuals who commit atrocities,'' Hilterman said. But he added that the
current situation, in which the United States is aiding an insurgency not
linked to a government in power, is a unique circumstance.
''We have never really been in this situation where we are providing overt
assistance to an insurgency,'' said Hilterman, executive director of the
organization's military division. ''It is a new issue.''
Leahy agreed, saying that he didn't anticipate such a situation when he
drew up the law.
''The law was written with states, not insurgent groups, in mind,'' Leahy
said in a written response to questions. ''There are reports of abuses by
some members within the Northern Alliance, and we need to keep our eyes
wide open as we choose who to support and how we support them as the
campaign in Afghanistan goes forward.''
Hilterman suggested that the United States can continue to work with the
Northern Alliance as long as it sends a ''strong message'' to its
commanders who violated human rights ''that they will be held accountable.''
But that is problematic because some of those commanders are the same ones
with whom the United States is now working closely. Perhaps the most
notorious is Abdul Rashid Dostum, whose forces were involved in the
massacre of Taliban troops outside Mazar-e-Sharif. Dostum now reportedly is
working closely with US officials in an effort to retake Mazar-e-Sharif.
The United States cited the array of human rights violations in refusing to
recognize the Taliban or other groups as the official government of
Afghanistan. In July, an independent group called Human Rights Watch issued
a scathing report on the civil war, saying that both the Taliban and the
Northern Alliance were engaging in massive violations of human rights. The
report said the Taliban were summarily executing people and denying an
array of rights to women. And it said the Northern Alliance was killing
civilians and conducting executions.
Similarly, a US State Department report this year, while directing most of
its criticism against the Taliban, said the Northern Alliance committed
''numerous, serious abuses.'' In 1995, the State Department said the
Northern Alliance's troops ''went on a rampage, systematically looting
whole streets and raping women.''
Haron Amin, a Washington-based spokesman for the Northern Alliance, said at
a press conference this week that while human rights violations may have
occurred during warfare, the alliance pledges to promote human rights in
''Certainly certain things did happen,'' Amin said. ''But indeed, let me
say that the Islamic state of Afghanistan has never made it a policy to
ever advocate any crimes of war, crimes against humanity whatsoever ... it
is our pledge to promote human rights, particularly women's human rights,
who constitute more than 50 percent of the Afghan nation.''
Thomas Gouttierre, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the
University of Omaha-Nebraska, said the civil war has been marked by cycles
of revenge. Without excusing the atrocities, he said: ''We in the West have
our own way of doing things based on Western standards. It is good for us
to try to uphold that because that is what we are defending. At the same
time, we are talking about people who have little experience of which we
are familiar. For them it is a matter of survival.''
Few, if any, US politicians are publicly advocating that the Northern
Alliance be shunned because of past human rights violations. But many US
officials are concerned that Northern Alliance troops attempting to capture
cities will be feared by some Afghan residents who remember past
atrocities. There are also concerns that factions within the alliance will
resume their old battles. And US officials are wary that Iran, which is
allied with some Northern Alliance factions, could take advantage of the US
war effort and have de facto control over the new government.
Indeed, the Taliban came to power in 1996 partly because various factions
in an ongoing civil war were killing indiscriminately. At that time, the
Taliban presented themselves as a sort of police force that would bring
order to the country. But the Taliban's methods proved even worse,
according to human rights groups, with puritanical applications of Muslim
law, which included the repression of women and the use of widespread
''The people of Kabul don't want the Northern Alliance or the Taliban at
all,'' Hilterman said. ''We have to break the cycle of human rights abuses.''
Dozens killed in village 'with no military targets'
By Andrew Gumbel
03 November 2001
Western journalists and human rights organisations published the clearest
evidence yet of mass civilian casualties caused by the American bombing
At least 25 people, and possibly as many as 35, were killed on the night of
22 October in Chowkar-Karez, a small village 25 miles north of the Taliban
stronghold of Kandahar, according to reports based on the accounts of
eyewitnesses in the village and survivors ferried to hospital in the
Pakistani city of Quetta.
The Pentagon has confirmed that an AC-130 Spectre gunship attacked the
village. According to the villagers, however, there were several aircraft,
not just one.
Explosions from the attack, they reported, pulverised the mud walls of
houses and gouged craters 15 feet deep in the ground. The planes then
returned and opened fire on terrified villagers running through the streets,
causing the worst of the casualties.
According to Human Rights Watch, the first organisation to publish the
eyewitness accounts, the villagers were unanimous in saying no relevant
target was in the area. "If there were military targets in the area, we'd
like to know what they were," said Sidney Jones, Asia director of Human
Rights Watch. "The Pentagon has got to do more to avoid these deaths."
A spokesman for the US military insisted the village was a legitimate
target. "There was a positively identified Taliban encampment, which
included al-Qa'ida collaborators, in the vicinity of Chowkar that was struck
in October," the Pentagon official told The Washington Post. "The encampment
was fully developed and was a legitimate military target under the law of
Evidence unearthed by Western journalists who visited the village on
Thursday, however, suggested the attack might just as easily have been the
result of a terrible mistake.
A Kandahar man identifying himself only as Mehmood told The New York Times
that he had brought a large number of relatives to Chowkar-Karez in the
belief that they would be safer there than in Kandahar.
The line of cars coming into the village carrying them might have been
mistaken for a Taliban military convoy, he suggested. "I brought my family
here for safety, and now there are 19 dead, including my wife, my two
children, my brother, sister, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and my uncle,"
Human Rights Watch noted that in previous cases it had investigated,
ordinary Afghans were quick to identify potential targets in the area. "It
is impossible for [us] to verify independently whether Taliban or al-Qa'ida
military targets existed in the area of Chowkar-Karez village, but the
consistent statements of all witnesses and survivors that there were none is
notable," the organisation said.
Visiting journalists counted 18 fresh graves but were told the villagers had
not been able to sort out the many severed limbs and body parts to give each
person their own final resting place. "As we buried the dead, the planes
came again," said an old farmer called Mangal, who claimed to have lost 30
relatives including 12 women and 14 children. "We had to work quickly. Not
everyone got their own grave."
The United States has faced growing criticism for the civilian casualties of
the bombing campaign, with many political analysts fearing that reports such
as those from Chowkar-Karez will bolster support for the Taliban in the
Islamic world and destabilise the friendly government in Pakistan.
In the name of freedom:
Terror, Death, Hunger, Misogyny, and Genocide in Afghanistan
By Lynette Dumble
Contrary to the dreams of US President George W. Bush and his allies,
Operation Enduring Freedom is unlikely to be remembered by the world's women
as a successful strategy to either eliminate terrorism or liberate the
long-suffering people of Afghanistan.
In the first three weeks of extracting "infinite justice" from the Taliban
for sheltering Osama bin Laden, chief suspect for the terrorist atrocities
of September 11, Anglo-American forces have rained more than a billion
dollars worth of sophisticated missiles on meager al-Qaeda training camps,
airfields, anti-aircraft batteries, and military command centres across
Afghanistan. The Bush-led alliance's chief weapons are cluster bombs which
scatter some 150 small 'bomblets' over several kilometres, and cruise
missiles which detonate a 1000-pound warhead on landing.
Statistics and experience reveal that these sorts of explosives spare
neither civilian lives nor public property; one in every ten, supposedly
target specific, cruise missiles fails to hit its mark, a shortcoming shared
by six out of every ten cluster bombs dropped by NATO forces in Kosova in
Unexploded cluster bomblets effectively turn into landmines, detonated on
contact to bring death and injury, more often to children attracted by their
bright yellow colour and resemblance to soft drink cans. Some 200 Kosovas
were killed or injured by unexploded NATO cluster bombs in the first 12
months after that war. Witness, terror in the name of freedom!
Faced with the choice of being defended from the US-led alliance's missiles
by the Taliban's comparatively antiquated pop guns, 1.5 million Afghan
civilians fled to Pakistan and Iran before Operation Enduring Freedom began.
Those left behind, the poorest of the poor, the infirm, and the elderly,
have faced daily bombings which by accident or design have destroyed their
humble homes and their sparse infrastructure of medical services,
communications, and transport. Countless thousands lie traumatized and/or
More than one thousand are now confirmed dead by the UN and various aid
agencies, and after initial denials from the US State Department, finally
get to be numbered as collateral damage. Most were women, children and the
elderly, their last living memory Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad, or their small
villages like Karam, lit up against the night or dawn sky like a Christmas
tree. Witness death [and involuntary displacement] in the name of freedom!
In playing up the humanitarian aspect of Operation Enduring Freedom, there
are promises to drop two million food and medical supply parcels for the
almost eight million Afghans presently facing starvation as a result of the
country's worst drought for more than a century. In the first days following
the smart bombs, came 37,500 parcels of food and medical supplies. For the
dead, hunger and sickness no longer register.
For the bomb-traumatized living, all two million "gifts from the United
States of America" mean but a single day's nourishment for one in every four
Afghans. Those odds fade as the yellow parcels land in inaccessible or
landmined locations, or are gathered up by Afghanistan's opposing factions,
to be sold for profit to the "better off" by the Northern Alliance, taxed by
the Taliban, or vandalized in last ditch expressions of grief and anger by
Afghanistan's despairing. Witness, hunger in the name of freedom!
Like all wars, Operation Enduring Freedom was destined to claim more
civilian than military lives. But Afghanistan's past 23 years of armed
conflict which sees the country's women significantly outnumber men,
foreshadowed that the military retaliation for the terrorism of September 11
would manifest as Afghan women's eyes for US eyes. Kabul alone is home to
some 70,000 of Afghanistan's estimated one million war widows. With rare
exception, all live in abject poverty due to the Taliban's version of Islam
which bars them from working.
Nor is there a single war on record where women and girls have escaped rape
and sexual abuse. With the US-led efforts preempting the takeover of Kabul
by the Northern Alliance, an outfit infamous for its human rights
violations, Operation Enduring Freedom promises to be no different.
RAWA, a courageous group of women who at risk of death have defied the
Taliban's obscene repressions, reminds the world of their equally dark days
under the Burhanuddin Rabbani-headed Northern Alliance faction in the early
1990s; "seventy-year-old grandmothers were raped; in their thousands, young
girls were raped, forced into marriages and their families killed and
tortured". Witness, misogyny in the name of freedom!
Afghan women also have a high fertility rate. According to UNFPA estimates,
1,140,000 are presently pregnant, 20,000 of whom even before the bombings
would require medical treatment in the next 12 months for miscarriage and
other serious obstetric and gynecological problems.
As with recent Anglo-US military operations in Iraq and Yugoslavia, the
smart bombs hitting Afghan soil are likely laced with depleted uranium and
plutonium, an environmental disaster of devastating proportions and a peril
which is linked with adult and childhood cancer and with miscarriages and
On this background, and without food, water for drinking or sanitation, and
shelter, and less mobile because of their pregnancy and responsibilities for
their children, Afghan mothers are the face of their country's genocide.
Witness genocide in the name of freedom!
As Afghans deal with terror, death, hunger, misogyny, and genocide in the
name of freedom, external governments, yet again, plan their future. Oh yes,
there are promises aplenty to rebuild the rubble into the Afghanistan they
once knew, as too there are pledges galore of a future democracy. Yet amidst
all of the new misery for Afghans, the voices of women cry out but remain
RAWA prophetically warned that a witch hunt for Osama bin Laden in their
country would bring further trauma and misery for innocent Afghans and would
not in any way decrease the grief of the Americans, and that by rendering
Afghanistan's deprived and poor and as its victims, a military Holocaust
risked spreading terrorism of an even larger scale. Witness anthrax!
The UN envoy for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi has come to the fore with a
degree of sanity, stressing that a future government in Kabul has no chance
if it is not 'made-in-Afghanistan'. But there exists another patently
obvious option within the UN's own resolutions.
Barely a year ago, on October 31, 2000, the UN Security Council unanimously
adopted Resolution 1325, which calls on "all actors involved in negotiating
and implementing peace agreements to adopt a gender perspective, including,
inter alia: 8 (a) The special needs of women and girls during repatriation
and resettlement and for rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict
reconstruction; and 8 (b) Measures that support local women's peace
initiatives and indigenous processes for conflict resolution, and that
involve women in all of the implementation mechanisms of the peace
Women's opinions, unlike those of the plethora of men with vested interests
in Afghanistan, are globally united; The bombings must stop. Not today, not
tomorrow, nor in 10 year's time, but right now before the world is plunged
one step further towards a conflict which brings terror, not freedom, to
all; and women, most especially Afghan women such as RAWA, have a rightful
place at the table where the future of Afghanistan is set to be planned.
Dr Lynette Dumble, medical scientist and international co-ordinator of the
Global Sisterhood Network, is a former senior research fellow in the history
and philosophy of science at the University of Melbourne, and visiting
professor of surgery at the University of Texas in Houston.
An Indian Novelist Turns Her Wrath on the U.S.
Nov. 3, 2001
New York Times / International
By CELIA W. DUGGER
NEW DELHI, Nov. 2 ^ Arundhati Roy, the lyrical novelist, has morphed into a
rebel with many causes. Lately, as India's most passionate polemicist, she
has raged against the bombing of Afghanistan, which she calls "another act
of terror against the people of the world" by the American government.
She says she has no desire to be an antiwar diva or "the cool babe" of those
who are fighting, like her, against big dams, nuclear weapons, multinational
power companies and, now, the Afghan war.
But here in the capital, her home, she has stepped into the limelight with a
gusto for intellectual combat that has made her perhaps even more famous
than her only novel so far, "The God of Small Things," which has sold more
than 6 million copies in 40 languages since it was published in 1997.
Her dark, luminous eyes, deep set in a delicately boned face, stare out from
the covers of magazines that carry her long, metaphorically rich political
essays. Photographers swarm about Ms. Roy, who is 41, snapping furiously,
whenever she marches in a protest, as she did Tuesday.
She cut off her unruly mane last year because she did not want to be known
"as some pretty woman who wrote a book." Now her shorn head and big ears
make her seem even more subversive in a country where long, glossy tresses
are a measure of femininity.
Her reputation for ferocious independence, which some see as evidence of her
fearlessness and others of her intemperance, grew Monday when she refused to
apologize to India's Supreme Court, which has charged her with criminal
contempt in a case that has its roots in her ardent opposition to a big dam
project that the judges have allowed to go forward.
Earlier this year, the court ordered an investigation into allegations that
Ms. Roy and other prominent dam opponents had threatened to kill some men
during a protest outside the court. Ms. Roy replied in an affidavit that the
charges were so ludicrous that not even the police had pursued them. The
judges' decision to do so, she added, indicated "a disquieting inclination
on the part of the court to silence criticism and muzzle dissent, to harass
and intimidate those who disagree with it."
The outraged judges said it appeared that she had impugned their motives. In
a new affidavit, Ms. Roy told them that she had had no such intention, but
also said that if her criticisms were valid, "the court cannot hope to
restore its dignity by punishing or silencing the critic."
In the hearing on Monday, the court brusquely declared itself unsatisfied
with her reply and set a hearing for January. She could be sentenced to six
months in prison.
"The way Rushdie is known for a fatwah, I don't want to be known for this,"
Ms. Roy said, as she strode from her lawyer's office to the domed Supreme
Court, a cameraman trailing in her wake. "I want to be known for my
In her latest writings, Ms. Roy has taken on the United States in two
4,000-word essays about the war in Afghanistan, published here in October
issues of Outlook magazine.
She argues that Osama bin Laden is "America's family secret," the monstrous
offspring of its support for the mujahedeen after the Soviet invasion of
"He has been sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid waste by America's
foreign policy," she writes. The bombs raining down now, she says, are
"blowing up whole warehouses of suppressed fury" and will inevitably spawn
Her words have struck a rich seam of anti-Americanism that lies just below
the surface not only in Muslim countries, but in much of the third world.
Outlook's middle-class readers, who largely rejected Ms. Roy's morally
unyielding, 8,000-word case against India's 1998 decision to conduct nuclear
tests and become a nuclear power, have mainly embraced her dark views on the
Afghan war. They have inundated the magazine with hundreds of letters, more
than it has ever received in response to an article.
To date, all major American newspapers and magazines have rejected Ms. Roy's
new essays on the Afghan war, her agent, David Godwin, said. But her
writings on the Afghan war have gained a wide readership in Europe, where
The Guardian, Le Monde and El Mundo, among other newspapers, have published
them. The war essays, like her other political work, reflect what she called
her obsession with power and powerlessness. She described her own
relationship with authority as genetically adversarial.
Her mother was a rebel in her own time. Mary Roy married out of her family's
Syrian Christian community in the southern state of Kerala, then divorced
the Bengali Brahmin she had chosen.
She took her baby daughter and son back to Kerala in 1961, but the family
paid a price for the mother's defiance of social conventions. From the time
Arundhati was 5 or 6, her mother explained to the girl that nobody from
their community would ever marry her and that Arundhati would need a
profession of her own to make her way in the world.
"I am a woman who is a granddaughter of a lady who used to be beaten on the
head by her husband, of a mother who went through hell because she was
divorced and had to bring up these kids," said Ms. Roy, now a millionaire
because of her novel's success. "And I can take 10 men out to lunch and pay
the bill and nobody even thinks twice about it. So don't mess with me."
One who has taken her on is the historian and cricket columnist Ramachandra
Guha, who says he is of the moderate left. In articles last year in The
Hindu, a national newspaper, he decried her essays as vain, shrill,
unoriginal, oversimplified, hyperbolic and lacking any voices but her own.
In one article, he wrote that "her demonology is more capacious than that of
the Ramayana," the Sanskrit epic, and concluded another by tartly remarking,
"We would all be better off were she to revert to fiction."
Ms. Roy fought back in an interview with Frontline magazine that went on for
eight pages, taking Mr. Guha's arguments point by point and belittling him
as yet another of the "academics-cum-cricket statisticians" who have
criticized her work. She mocked him for his biography of the social
anthropologist Verrier Elwin, saying, "I think we've had enough, come on,
enough stories about white men."
David Davidar, who heads Penguin Books India, has published both Ms. Roy,
whose novel has sold more in India than any other English-language novel,
and Mr. Guha, whom he described as perhaps the best of India's nonfiction
"The funny thing for me is that both are my friends," Mr. Davidar said.
"Each is very brave and contemptuous of those who don't measure up."
Next month, Penguin India will publish a complete collection of Ms. Roy's
political writings, all penned since her novel came out four years ago. She
said she hoped this would clear the mental space for a return to fiction,
but she is tentative.
"Fiction is such an elusive thing ^ a collaboration between me and
something," Ms. Roy said. "But I really hope so. Let's see."
Bombing of Farming Village Undermines U.S. Credibility
Published on Saturday, November 3, 2001 in the Toronto Globe & Mail
by Murray Campbell
Both sides agree that the Afghan village of Chowkar-Karez was bombed. But
that's where the agreement ends.
The Taliban says between 90 and 100 civilians, almost the entire population
of the village, were killed in an attack by U.S. warplanes on Oct. 22. The
Pentagon says the community was supporting terrorists from the al-Qaeda
network and deserved its fate.
That's where things might have remained were it not for an investigation by
a Western human-rights group and a timely tour through Afghanistan by group
of Western journalists.
Human Rights Watch concluded that at least 25, and possibly as many as 35
people died in the nighttime raid.
Western journalists taken to the village by the Taliban this week reported
finding huge craters, pulverized houses, and bomb fragments strewn
everywhere. They also found 18 fresh graves.
The bombing of Chowkar-Karez, a farming village about 60 kilometres north of
the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, has become the best documented bombing
of the four-week-old war. It also has become something of a touchstone in
the battle for credibility, and the Pentagon's handling of the information
that has emerged has led some observers to wonder whether Washington really
knows what is going on in the field.
The Taliban says 1,500 civilians have been killed in the raids, a figure the
Pentagon insists is inflated. Confirmation is next to impossible since the
Taliban simply hand their estimates to news agencies; the U.S. military can
only guess at civilian deaths because it has no observers on the ground.
"It begins to make you question not only the credibility of the information
that's coming back to us as members of the public but also the kind of
information and intelligence that's going into the selection of targets,"
said Sidney Jones, the director of the Asian division of Human Rights Watch.
The New York-based organization has been interviewing civilians who end up
in Pakistani hospitals, and has found that in almost all cases, survivors
were forthcoming about the presence of Taliban or al-Qaeda military
positions near where the bombs fell. Six survivors of Chowkar-Karez
interviewed by Human Rights Watch were all adamant that there was nothing in
their remote village that ought to have attracted the interest of the U.S.
military. They described how the bombing began shortly before midnight on
Oct. 22 and lasted for an hour.
Witnesses talked to by the Western reporters claimed there were no Taliban
troops in the village and that U.S. planes opened fire on people as they
attempted to flee the bombs.
The Pentagon has confirmed that Chowkar-Karez was attacked by AC-130 Spectre
gunships, which fly low and are armed with cannons. But it has made no
further statements, even though the attack was raised in three different
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- asked again this week about the
incident after the journalists visited the site -- professed ignorance. "I
cannot deal with that particular village," he replied.
Later, unidentified Pentagon officials told CNN that Chowkar-Karez was "a
fully legitimate target" because it was a nest of Taliban and al-Qaeda
sympathizers. "The people there are dead because we wanted them dead," an
Merciless US bombing obliterates village: 60 killed
CHOKAR KARAIZ Nov 1 (AFP): Rubble and fresh graves marked
with the flags of martyrs are all that remains of this
tiny Afghan village after US bombing killed at least
60 people, survivors said Thursday.
Locals said about 20 villagers survived attacks on
October 19 and 20, when wave after wave of US jets
pounded the community with heavy bombs and cannon
fire, destroying everything in sight.
Foreign reporters brought here by the Taliban militia
saw the devastation first-hand: every house had been
flattened and huge craters could be seen in the
"Around midnight the bombing started. It lasted for
two hours and then the next night it began again and
lasted all night and the rest of the following day,"
said 36-year-old farmer Mehmood.
"When it started everyone just fled their homes and
ran in every direction. We didn't know where to go."
He said he knew 19 people who had died in the attacks,
including members of his extended family.
The village, 60 kilometres north of Kandahar, was a
scene of utter ruin. Long cracks had opened up in the
ground where the bombs struck. Trees were broken and
splintered, cars burned and torn. Even cooking pots
were riddled with bullets holes.
Huge chunks of shrapnel lay everywhere. One bore the
words "Guided Bomb" while another was marked with "For
use of MK82". "Many bodies were blown apart and all we
could do was collect their limbs and put them together
in the same grave," said 65-year-old Mungal as he
showed a freshly-dug graveyard.
"I brought some of the remains here in a tractor," he
said, pointing to a line of 18 new graves, some of
which had been marked with small coloured flags on
long, thin poles, signifying martyrdom.
Mungal, who said he lost most of his friends and
family in the attack, claimed that the remains of 30
people were buried in the graves.
Although he could not understand why the United States
had attacked an innocent farming village, he refused
to curse the Americans. "I'm not aware of our crime
and why we were bombed. There were no Taliban here,"
"If the aircraft did not know who we were they should
have checked before they bombed and killed innocent
civilians. "I don't know about politics. But I'm
angry, and I leave it up to God."
The village was littered with the debris of village
life, including children's clothes, women's sandals,
and the rotting carcasses of dead sheep.
Villagers said another three or four people were
killed when bombs struck a small community of nomads
who had pitched their tents nearby.
The US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday
that based on interviews with survivors in hospital in
Quetta in neighbouring Pakistan, up to 35 civilians
were killed in the attack here, which it said took
place on October 22.
"None of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights
Watch knew of Taliban or al-Qaeda positions in the
area of the attack," the group said in a statement,
which urged the Pentagon to "do more to avoid these
"If there were military targets in the area, we'd like
to know what they were," Sidney Jones, HRW's director
for Asia, said.
A makeshift Taliban base, surrounded by anti-aircraft
guns, was seen on the road to the village some 15
kilometres outside Kandahar. Two vehicles, their radio
antennae removed, were parked in a ditch.
There has been no formal comment from the Pentagon on
the attack here, but US officials have dismissed
Taliban's claims that more than 1,500 Afghan civilians
have died in the bombing.
The Taliban earlier took foreign journalists to see
another village which they claimed had been destroyed
in a US attack on October 8, a day after the
airstrikes began in retaliation for the Islamic
militia's alliance with alleged terrorist Osama bin
Witnesses said that Kadam village, 40 kilometres west
of the eastern town of Jalalabad, appeared to have
been destroyed but could not confirm residents' claims
that up to 160 people had been killed.
Terrorize the Poor, Subsidize the Rich
October 31, 2001
By Tom Turnipseed
Haziza, a 12 year old girl from Kabul, Afghanistan, helped find her mother
and baby brother dead in the rubble of their home on the first night of the
U.S. bombing in early October.
In the N.Y. Times on October 30, from Peshawar, Pakistan, Barry Bearak
reports that Haziza said she recalls two still bodies, "their faces crushed
and covered with blood." Beneath a numbingly depressing sub-head of "Bombs,
death, flight, and now a new life in squalor," Bearak relates how Haziza now
lives with her father and older brother in "the wretchedness of ...one of
Peshawar's many squatter camps that teem with Afghan refugees" who have fled
the bombing of their homeland. "Haziza sleeps on the dank concrete of their
single room,...Around them is poverty's familiar cavalcade--naked children
wallowing in the mud, grown men despairing in idleness, chickens foraging in
garbage heaps, sewage odors spoiling each breeze."
Hugh Pope of the Wall Street Journal reports on October 30 from the Makaki
refugee camp in Afghanistan about the refugees who have little sympathy for
the Taliban. However, a refugee named Abdulaziz, who arrived yesterday with
six families of relatives after 20 days on the move, said, "We don't believe
in America, the people are the target. For every two Taliban they kill, they
kill 20 of us. The Taliban have plenty to eat,...but the people go hungry."
Back in America, poor people are also going hungry. USA Today's cover story
for its October 30 edition carries headings proclaiming "Tough times for
laid-off, low-income workers," "After attacks, the jobless rate climbs, and
assistance is harder to come by for the working poor" and "Unemployment
claims at 10-year high." The story reports that unemployment was up from 5.5
million in September 2000 to 7 million in September 2001.
With more than 350,000 jobs lost since September 11, economists are
predicting that as many as 1.5 million more jobs might be lost in the next
three quarters. This will sorely test the efficacy of the 1996 "welfare
reform" as some welfare recipients are becoming ineligible as businesses are
laying off folks.
Some states have even reduced the 5-year lifetime cap on how long folks can
receive welfare. Social service support agencies like food banks have been
strained due to donations to special emergency relief funds for September
Professionals have been losing their jobs and unskilled workers are at a
disadvantage in vying for jobs with them. Unfortunately, unemployment
benefits are woefully inadequate with most of them being below the poverty
level. Fewer than 40% of jobless Americans received unemployment benefits
The Wall Street Journal reports that according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, big corporations laid off 117,000 workers last month after
September 11. While poor and working class people are being laid off by big
corporations and neglected by government, the U.S. House of Representatives
gave huge tax breaks to big business at the expense of fired workers in the
economic "stimulus" bill they passed last week.
The $100 billion bill is mainly a big corporate tax boondoggle that would
speed up depreciation schedules for businesses and repeal the corporate
alternative minimum tax that has required corporations with heavy deductions
and tax breaks to pay at least some federal income tax.
The corporate alternative minimum tax repeal would give the corporations
$24.4 billion next year with Ford Motor Co. getting $2.4 billion, IBM-$1.4
billion, General Motors-$832 million, General Electric-$671 million,
Chevron-$314 million, Enron-$254 million, K-Mart--$102 million, U.S.
Steel-$39 million, and Kroger-$9 million.
Commenting on the 216-214, mostly party-line vote, House Minority Leader
Dick Gephardt said, "This bill is a giant tax giveaway to the largest
corporations" and that "The workers who have lost their jobs get crumbs from
this bill." Others said the Republicans were rewarding their largest donors.
This piece of trickle-down federal government largesse for the rich now goes
to the U.S. Senate where, hopefully, the bill will be amended to cut back on
the big breaks for the corporations and concentrate more on increasing
unemployment benefits and subsidizing health care coverage for unemployed
workers. South Carolina Congressman Lindsey Graham voted for the corporate
giveaway and he will be endorsed on Thursday by retiring Strom Thurmond to
take Thurmond's seat in the Senate.
South Carolina is a bottom tier state in per capita income and is facing
rising unemployment, declining tax revenues, and budget cuts that will
affect such vital services as health care for the poor and public education.
Graham has already raised more than $2,000,000.00 for his campaign for the
U.S. Senate with much of it coming from the big corporate interests who will
benefit the most from the stimulus package.
I wonder what would happen if some poor, laid-off workers from South
Carolina or raggedly refugees from Afghanistan showed up to dine at the
$1,000.00-per-head luncheon of the Republican Senatorial Committee where
Graham will receive the blessing of Strom Thurmond to take his fabled seat
in that august body? CP
Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer, and civil rights activist in
Columbia, South Carolina. http://www.turnipseed.net
Terror, Love and The State of the World
Thursday, November 1, 2001
by John Robbins
When there is as much terror afoot as there has been since September 11th,
it is hard to see how love might prevail.
This is how it is with us human beings when we are afraid: We contract. Our
breathing becomes shallow and constricted. Concerns for our immediate
survival push everything else out of the picture. In the throes of terror,
our thinking is narrowed and short-term. The world is divided into two kinds
of people, those who are threats and those who can help us defend against
the threat. Everyone else is seen as irrelevant, and might as well not
exist. All our attention is focused on protecting ourselves from the
immediate danger. Our thoughts become dominated by "fight or flight,"
triggering the reptilian part of our brain to take over. If we can't
successfully flee, then we must fight. It's kill or be killed. Nothing
That's the mindset of terror. That's what fear does to us. It's a state of
consciousness that's been widespread in our nation since the horrifying and
tragic attacks of September 11th.
In Time magazine's special issue about the terrorist attacks, the concluding
essay was titled, "The Case for Rage and Retribution." The author of this
piece, frequent Time contributor Lance Morrow, called for "hatred," and "a
policy of focused brutality." He was far from alone in speaking of the
virtues of rage and retaliation. On Fox News Channel, Bill O'Reilly said
"the U.S. should bomb the Afghan infrastructure to rubble - the airport, the
power plants, their water facilities and the roads." As far as the civilian
population of Afghanistan, O'Reilly said, "If they don't rise up against
this criminal government, they starve, period." Calling for the U.S. to
massively attack not only Afghanistan, but also Iraq and Libya, he added,
"Let them eat sand." Meanwhile, the former executive editor of the New York
Times, A. M. Rosenthal, said we should issue ultimatums to six nations,
including Iran, Syria and the Sudan, and then, if they don't comply to our
satisfaction within 72 hours, follow up with massive bombing. New York Post
columnist Steve Dunleavy was also something besides coolheaded, saying "As
for cities or countries that host these worms, bomb them into basketball
courts." The editor of National Review, writing in the Washington Post,
concurred, adding, "If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it
takes, that is part of the solution."
With the sounds of such war drums reverberating through the American psyche,
polls show that 80% support not only the use of ground troops in
Afghanistan, but also military action against other countries in the
I am no stranger to the desire for revenge. Like President George W. Bush,
and most likely like you, I have felt it surge through me in recent weeks.
Contemplating what took place on September 11th, are there any among us who
have not, at least momentarily, felt their blood boil with outrage, and with
the demand that these mass murderers and all those behind them pay with an
eye for an eye?
But at such times, when our hearts are filled with outrage and our eyes look
everywhere for revenge, it is extraordinarily important that we remember the
awesome truth behind Gandhi's prophetic statement: "An eye for an eye will
only make the whole world blind."
This is the very truth that the Osama bin Ladens of the world would want us
to forget. They would like us to be so lost in hysteria that we can't think
straight. They would like us to be so terrified, so anxious, so belligerent,
that we lose perspective and make rash and destructive decisions. If we stay
within the bubble of our fear, then the bin Ladens of the world will have won.
Sometimes we need to take a very long, very slow, and very deep breath, to
restore our mental balance and ability to function with clarity. There is a
difference between enraged action and wise, effective response.
Of course we should find the people and organizations responsible for the
attacks of September 11th, and the subsequent anthrax mailings, and any
other attempts that might yet be made to terrorize our nation. We should
find them, destroy their networks, and bring them to justice. By no means
should we tolerate or excuse their actions, much less allow them to
continue. These are people not the slightest bit interested in giving peace
a chance. The possibility that they might acquire and use nuclear weapons is
unfortunately all too real. If we fail to track them down and uproot them,
we may find ourselves in even worse shoes than the European who wrote, after
World War II, "We who live beneath a sky still streaked with the smoke of
crematoria have paid a high price to find out that evil is really evil."
But as we work to uproot the terrorists and their networks, we must be
careful to do so without escalating the cycle of violence, and without
causing the deaths of even more innocent people, for this would only deepen
the anger and rage already extant in our world. Burning down the haystack is
not the best way to find the needle, especially when, in the effort, you
might set the barn, and the whole world, on fire. We must bring those
responsible to justice without jeopardizing our ability to create a world
where terrorism won't take root, a world where criminal psychopaths find no
followers, a world where hatred has no lure.
This is no small task, but it is the task before us. Our leaders are wise in
working to form a multinational coalition to fight terrorism. But this
should not be merely a coalition of countries who allow the U.S. military
the use of their airspace, or the use of their airports, or provide other
military support. No coalition to defeat terrorism can be ultimately
successful unless it is also a coalition of countries joining together to
build a peaceful, just and prosperous world. Our coalition to defeat
terrorism will do only half of its job if it merely seeks to defeat those
who are responsible for the attacks of September 11th. It must also work to
build a world of international cooperation, a world where no part of the
greater human family is left out or marginalized.
Approximately 6,000 people perished in the September 11th attacks. Our
nation reels from that despicable brutality. But those who died from the
attacks on that tragic day were not alone. On September 11th, 35,000
children worldwide died of hunger. A similar number of children died on
September 12th, and again on the 13th, and on every single day since then.
Meanwhile, we in the U.S. feed 80% of our grain harvest to livestock so that
a people whose cholesterol levels are too high can have cheap meat.
To advance human security and control terrorism, we must not only find the
brutality of the September 11th attacks to be totally intolerable. We must
also find intolerable that one billion people worldwide struggle to survive
on $1 a day, that more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking
water, and that 3 billion people have inadequate access to sanitation.
The presence of such dire poverty is an insult to human dignity and would be
deplorable enough. But today, with worldwide telecommunications making the
rising inequality between a rich, powerful and imposing West and the rest of
the world visible to all, its continued existence can only spur those who
have no prospect of a better life to previously unheard of levels of despair
and rage. In a time when a handful of desperate and suicidal people can
devastate the most militarily powerful nation in the history of humankind,
any coalition dedicated to defeating terrorism must also be a coalition
dedicated to the goal of bringing justice and prosperity to the poor and
dispossessed. If we are serious about stopping terrorism, then our goal must
be to reduce the level of pollution, fear, and poverty in the world.
If this is truly our goal, and if we devote our actions and resources to its
accomplishment, the support for the bin Ladens of the world will inexorably
evaporate. People who would have otherwise sided with the terrorists will be
clamoring to tell us who and where they are, and to help us find and
This goal is too costly, many say. But this is not true. The cost of our
initial military response will easily top $100 billion (on top of our
already enormous annual defense budget of $342 billion). What could we
accomplish if we spent even a small fraction of that much on programs to
alleviate human suffering?
In 1998, the United Nations Development Program estimated that it would cost
an additional $9 billion (above current expenditures) to provide clean water
and sanitation for everyone on earth. It would cost an additional $12
billion, they said, to cover reproductive health services for all women
worldwide. Another $13 billion would be enough not only to give every person
on Earth enough food to eat but also basic health care. An additional $6
billion could provide basic education for all.
These are large numbers, but combined they add up to $40 billion - only one
fifth as much as the $200 billion the U.S. government agreed in October 2001
to pay Lockheed to build new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) jets.
Our government leaders have not hesitated to build an international
coalition and to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to defeat those who
launched the attacks of September 11th. What if we were equally as dedicated
to building an international coalition to eradicate hunger, to provide clean
water, to defeat infectious disease, to provide adequate jobs, to combat
illiteracy, and to end homelessness? What if we understood that, today,
there is no such thing as national security as long as the basic human needs
of large portions of humanity are not met? In today's world made transparent
by television and other telecommunications, any country that attains
prosperity unshared by its fellow nations can only breed resentment and
Most immediately, we must address what is rapidly becoming an overwhelming
humanitarian problem in Afghanistan. This nation has endured decades of
conflict. As a result, there are millions of people there who, even before
our bombing campaign began, were dependent on food aid. Now, they face the
prospect of imminent starvation. According to United Nations experts, this
is the most severe humanitarian emergency ever.
The U.S. Government has made much of C-17 cargo planes dropping 20,000 food
packets a day to Afghan civilians. But according to world hunger relief
organizations active in Afghanistan such as Oxfam, the program has been a
dismal failure. The president of one of the world's most prestigious aid
organizations, Doctors Without Borders, speaking from Islamabad, deplored
the program as so much "PR." The airdrops, he said, are a huge waste of
money. The packages, containing enough to feed an adult for a day, land all
over the place, with no guarantee that they will be retrieved. Many land in
the midst of landmines. And the amount being dropped is insignificant is a
country where seven or eight million people are in danger of starvation. The
money ($25 million according to U.S. Government sources) would be far better
spent provisioning the regular aid convoys already in action.
There is a terrible irony here. The United States has long been a major
supplier of food aid to Afghanistan. But now it is U.S. bombing that is
destroying roads and making it impossible for substantial food aid to be
delivered. If we were to make a dramatic effort, now, to get meaningful
amounts of emergency relief to these people, it would make a great
difference to their survival. If we don't, it will only cement in the minds
of the world's masses the image of the U.S. as indifferent to the needs of
While the vast majority of Americans care deeply about the welfare of their
fellow human beings, the foreign policies of the U.S. Government have for
some time now been seen by much of the rest of the world as arrogant and
selfish. And it is a sad fact that we have far too often given them cause
for such a view. It is hard to be proud of our country for standing nearly
alone among nations in refusing to sign the treaty banning land mines; for
being one of only four nations (the others are Libya, Syria and Iraq) who
refuse to comply with a global treaty to eliminate chemical weapons; and for
almost single-handedly blocking U.N. efforts to reduce the use of children
as soldiers, even when two million children have been killed in armed
conflicts in the past decade.
Our nation has also done many wonderful and generous things. We have at
times behaved with honor among nations, and been a beacon of freedom. But
the world has seen our other side, too. It's not easy to feel grateful to
the United States for being one of only two nations (the other is Somalia)
to refuse to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and one of
only three nations (the others are Libya and Iraq) to oppose the UN being
able to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war
crimes such as rape and sexual slavery.
There is an enormous disconnect taking place between the will of the
American people and the foreign policy of our government. The American
people are for the most part honest, decent, and compassionate. But few U.S.
citizens are aware of how much U.S. foreign policies have betrayed our
caring and our humanity. How many Americans know that we are far and away
the world's leading arms merchant? Or that, in the last fifteen years, the
U.S. share of the worlds arms trade has increased from 16% to more than 70%?
How many Americans know that even before September 11th we were spending 18
times more money on the military than the combined spending of all of the
nations identified by the U.S. Government as potential enemies (Cuba, Iran,
Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria)?
President Bush began his term by withdrawing from almost every multilateral
agreement and international treaty that came up, except those that in the
short term served to enhance American profits and power. From the outset,
his administration angered and alienated the world community by disengaging
from treaties attempting to deal with global warming, nuclear disarmament,
population control, trafficking in small arms, and chemical and biological
weapons, to name just a few.
This is not a matter of partisanship. Both Republican and Democrat
administrations have come all too often to define American self-interest
almost without regard for the concerns of other nations. It's sad but true
that to assure American access to oil and other natural resources around the
world, and to provide a constant pool of cheap labor, the U.S. Government
has frequently supported undemocratic and repressive regimes that have been
hated by their own populations. We have massively supported governments that
have engaged in widespread terrorism against their own people. Instead of
supporting human rights and self determination, we've sold hundreds of
billions of dollars of weapons to a string of tyrannical governments as long
as doing so provided us with cheap oil and access to their markets.
But now, suddenly, we are realizing that we desperately need the help of the
world. There are signs of hope. As a London newspaper recently commented,
"Colin Powell, in a stunning and rare display of humility for an American
official, now acknowledges that in order to fight terrorism effectively the
U.S. is going to have to be more sensitive to the concerns of other cultures."
Might the United States remember in all of this that our national purpose is
greater than the construction of a McWorld, and that we have a deep and
paramount interdependence with the well-being of all of the world's peoples?
As the president of the State of the World Forum, Jim Garrison, puts it: "If
out of the present crisis the United States emerges more connected with the
rest of the world, more willing to live cooperatively within coalitions than
outside them, then light will have truly come from out of the darkness and
redemption out of the recesses of hatred and war. In one of the deepest
paradoxes of contemporary history, the present crisis might compel America
to^ (realize) no country is an island unique unto itself^and the only
solution to hate is to stop the underlying causes that produce it, working
within the community of nations to achieve goals that benefit the poor as
well as the rich, the south as well as the north, the developing nations as
well as those more advanced. Achieving this, America will fulfill the
deepest yearning of one of its founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who
wrote that he believed the real destiny of America would not be about power;
it would be about light."
Will the day come when the United States fulfills our true national purpose
and achieves lasting national security?
We'll know we've begun when we break our addiction to oil, and develop an
economy based instead on hydrogen, wind power, solar power, and other
non-polluting, safe and renewable sources of energy.
We'll know we've begun to create true national security when we define the
greatness of our civilization not by our military capabilities, not by our
ability to inflict massive damage and punishment, but by our ability to
bring out the best in ourselves and others, and by the quality of life we
leave our children.
We'll know we've begun when we stop thinking there is such a thing as
"smart" bombs or "sophisticated" weapons. "Sophisticated" means having the
ability to use our intelligence, empathy and imagination to solve serious
and complex problems. "Smart" means realizing that when these bombs kill
civilians they leave them just as dead, their families just as heartbroken
and enraged, the spiritual fabric of the world just as shredded, and the
human heart just as violated.
We'll know we've begun to defeat terrorism when we see the connection
between the $5 trillion the U.S. has spent on nuclear weapons since World
War II and the homeless children shivering in the cold, the battered women
who have no shelters, and the families broken by grinding poverty; when we
see the connection between the $1 billion a day we've spent every day for
decades on the military and the hungry people who have no hope, the children
dying from preventable diseases, and the families who sell their daughters
into sexual slavery because they see no other way to survive. We'll know
we've begun to create a world where terrorism can't find a foothold when we
commit ourselves and our resources to the building of a peaceful world with
as much dedication as we've committed ourselves to war.
We'll know we're on the right track when we begin producing and eating food
that is healthy for our bodies and healthy for the Earth, and when we no
longer find acceptable the existence of human hunger anywhere on the planet.
We'll know we're upholding the human spirit when the power we seek is the
ability to nurture and befriend, rather than to conquer and subjugate; and
when the success we pursue is one in which all beings share because it is
founded on reverence for life.
We'll know we've begun to create a safer and kinder world when we design our
public policies and personal lifestyles not just for individual advantage,
but for the greater good of the whole Earth community. Then we will ask God
to please hear the prayers of the people in prison, of the homeless, of the
refugees walking on roads because a war has forced them from their homes. We
will ask God to hear the prayers of those who hunger and are not fed, and
those who are despised by their fellow humans because they are somehow
different. We will ask God to feel the exhaustion of those living too close
to the edge of their physical and spiritual resources. Then our religious
and spiritual lives will make us more human, more humble, and more able to
live with respect for all beings.
In times of fear, most people step back and wait to see what others are
going to do and what's going to happen. Some people, though, see the
situation as an opportunity to step forward and take a stand. The more of us
who in our hearts and lives take a stand for the creation of a thriving,
just and sustainable way of life for all, the less likely it is that the bin
Ladens of the world will accomplish their purposes, and the greater the
chance that it will be love and not fear that will prevail. Then those who
perished in the September 11th attacks will not have died in vain, but will
live on in the flourishing of human hope and well-being.
The bitter historical events that came to fruition on September 11th did not
come from nowhere, but developed over decades and even centuries. Likewise
the peace and understanding that we seek, and which alone will make us truly
safe, need to be nurtured and cultivated over generations of time.
It is to the planting, nurturing and harvesting of fruits worthy of all that
is good and beautiful in us that we must now, as never before, dedicate our
lives. Because now, as never before, the world needs our wisdom, our
cooperation, and our understanding that all humanity is connected.
John Robbins is the author of many best-sellers, including Diet For A New
America, and his recently released The Food Revolution. He is the founder of
EarthSave International, and can be contacted through the website
Also of interest:
Asian Regimes Appear to Use War on Terror to Stem Dissent
SINGAPORE - An increasing number of Asian governments are using
the U.S.-led campaign against global terrorism to justify
repression of separatism and other political dissent even when it
is nonviolent, human rights activists charge.
The War in Afghanistan is Far From Over
By Stephen Zunes
Afghans may be liberated from the Taliban, but the Northern Alliance may pose
Anti War video online
Watch the latest video report from last weekend's anti war
demonstration in London. This was one the biggest peace
marches took place in decades.
New this issue:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/studentsnowar/files (members only)
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