---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 23:20:55 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Antiwar News...(# 36)
Antiwar News...(# 36)
--Afghan War's Innocent Victims See An Indifferent West
--When collateral damage starts to hurt
--Afghan War and Wildlife
--The Coming Apocalypse
--All Propaganda, All The Time
--Taliban says 95 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan
--We Bomb In Afghanistan
--Afghan children in The Hague say Stop the War!
--Famished Afghan Children Fade Away
--More and More, War Is Viewed as America's
--Terrorism works [Chomsky]
(Anti-war links/resources at the end.)
Afghan War's Innocent Victims See An Indifferent West
by Amy Pagnozzi <email@example.com>
Peter Bouckaert, a senior investigator for the international organization
Human Rights Watch, saw the widow again on Wednesday at Pakistan's Quetta
Hospital, just over the border from Afghanistan.
She saw him, too. And as before, she shrank away, making her body smaller
and pulling her veils more closely, as if to disappear.
Bouckaert interviews Afghan refugees as they show up at the hospital to be
treated for injuries. He said interviewing Sardar Bibi the first time was
difficult. Finally, however, she relented, and told him how her husband and
all six children had been killed by American bombs that rained down upon
their Afghan village on Oct. 21.
But "What good does it do us to talk?" she asked during that first
interview. . "Nobody in the West cares what happens to us. Why are you even
When he saw Bibi on Wednesday, Bouckaert said he knew that getting her to
talk again would be impossible.
Talking from Quetta by cell-phone on Thursday, Bouckaert - the sole
remaining HRW interviewer documenting the toll America's so-called War
Against Terrorism takes upon innocent people - said he speaks with an
average of 10 people a day.
"Almost all of them say this now: `Americans don't care how many of us get
killed,'" said Bouckaert, 31.
Why would they think otherwise?
The day before Bibi's family was killed, along with least 17 other civilians
whose deaths were documented by HRW in Chowkar-Karez, American air strikes
in another remote village killed 25 to 35 civilians, according to Bouckaert.
But at least that village was less than two-thirds of a mile from the
Taliban ammunition and personnel depot. Chowkar-Karez is 25 miles from the
closest Taliban outpost.
"The U.S. is not indiscriminately bombing Afghanistan, but these are very
significant civilian casualties," said Bouckaert.
"It's important for the American public to understand that the people who
have been affected by this bombing campaign are little kids going to school,
mothers losing their children or their husbands," Bouckaert added.
"They are terrified, and every one of their relatives that is killed is as
tragic for them as (for) those whose relatives lost their lives in the World
All these dead people had names - check them out in the breaking news
reports at www.hrw.org.
Or view their pictures at Chicago human rights activist Ali Abunimah's
website at: www.abunimah.com.
Nobody's taking the Taliban at their word for anything - much less the death
toll of innocent Afghan civilians. The Taliban cluster-bombed enough of
them, as did some Northern Alliance forces.
But there's no doubt the civilian toll in Afghanistan, already too high, is
likely to increase geometrically.
Sunday, Oct. 28, marked the start of a far more aggressive bombing campaign.
Thus far, it's taken an average of two to eight days for injured innocents
to start showing up at border hospitals in Pakistan, according to the HRW -
the humanitarian agency that, up to now, has done the most thorough
documentation of deaths and injuries.
U.S. defense forces' increased use of cluster-bombs - a strategy most of
America's new coalition is calling upon us to change - is the likeliest
killer of civilians on the ground.
Each large bomb - and, according to some estimates, we've been dropping
hundreds a day - strews 200 smaller bomblets over hundreds of square yards.
"It's difficult for me to describe what it's like to work here, to have to
interview little children who have been injured in this conflict," said
"A few days ago, I met a little 10-year-old boy who was playing soccer with
his friends when a bomb exploded and injured his leg.
"When I hear people in the West talk about collateral damages, for me these
people have faces," he added.
Though it's more depressing to interview child victims, it's also one of the
things that keeps him going. He's been giving them pens - ordinary, no logos
or anything - "but you can't believe how delighted they get," he said.
Upon visiting his little soccer boy in the hospital on Wednesday, he was
greeted by "Hey - you're the guy that gave me the pen!"
Bouckaert's response - "Let me know when you're playing again" - provoked
Another child he befriended recently turned out to know the widow Bibi. His
mother agreed to let her stay in their house - the second time Bibi had to
go begging door to door for a place to lay her head.
"There are four families sharing each house - you can knock on doors all day
and get turned away," said Bouckaert.
This particular kid sold candy in the street to earn money to keep his
family alive. He wrote a poem with his pen about God and returned to the
hospital so Bouckaert's interpreter could read it.
A pen is mightier than a sword, supposedly.
Recording the names and recalling the lives of the dead: We know how
important that is in America now.
So, too, in Afghanistan. Bouckaert wrote down the names of Bibi's
11/2-year-old twins, Mohammed Yasin and Mohammed Yusof; 14-year-old Akhter;
15-year-old Najia; 16-year-old Maimana; and 18-year-old Mariam.
And he recorded Bibi's account of what happened, corroborated by other
"I don't know the exact time as we were sleeping. Suddenly the bombardment
started. We went out of the house because we were afraid they would bombard
"Then, we were running with our neighbors. Another bomb fell down. The plane
was circling and also shooting. First, a plane came and dropped a bomb, but
the other plane kept circling."
Bibi finished with "I'm tired. I don't want to talk about it, please."
But when do we begin to raise our voices against a war that wearies hungry
widows and orphans while the Taliban shows no signs of flagging?
When collateral damage starts to hurt
by Benjamin Zachariah
The Hindustan Times
Tuesday, November 6, 2001
As we listen to the news daily, a sense of unreality
protects us from the increasing feeling that something
is seriously wrong. A war is being fought, a war of
vengeance, in the name of the 'free world', a war
against terrorism. The 'enemy' is a shadowy entity. It
is difficult to find reachable persons to embody the
'ism' being fought.
A Private Eye cartoon showed George W. Bush reading a
declaration of war. It began 'To whom it may concern'.
But now that it has been decided that the Taliban is
to embody the 'ism', it is Afghanistan that finds
itself getting bombed and starved out.
And of course the casualties are - many of them -
civilians. The first reports of civilian casualties
were denied by US sources: Taliban propaganda,
apparently. Then journalists were allowed to enter
Afghanistan, and the stories began to get more and
more frequent. Precision-bombing was not quite as
precise as claimed. Jane's Defence Weekly confirmed
that a slight mist could put off the missiles'
targeting system. And cluster bombs? Dropped in large
numbers over large spaces?
Villages in a radius of three kilometres from the
alleged Taliban frontlines have been accidentally hit.
Those who suspected that civilians were deliberately
being targeted rather than accidentally might feel
somewhat reassured in the knowledge that this is
unlikely. At least two of these villages were on the
western side of the Northern Alliance-controlled
All this 'collateral damage' is beginning to tell. Red
Cross supply warehouses have been hit, not once but
thrice, so far. This humanitarian war began, of
course, with claims that the civilian population would
have the food it so desperately needed. To this end,
American planes dropped peanut butter and jelly after
the missiles and bombs.
But aid agencies still wait anxiously on the
Pakistan-Afghan border predicting catastrophic famine
as winter approaches. In London, frustrated Oxfam
volunteers are forced to admit to potential donors
that they have no way of knowing if donations
collected will ever make their way to their intended
The rhetoric of a 'just war' has also faded over the
past few days. British and American official sources
talk of a long war. Afghans - or terrorists - have to
be 'forced back into their caves where they belong'.
This phrase has acquired a certain currency -
originating in the rhetorical subtlety of one of
George Bush's speech-writers, it has been picked up by
a number of US publicists for the war, and has crossed
the Atlantic and found its way into public
pronouncements by Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
When British Prime Minister Tony Blair tries to
convince his public that the war is not against Islam
but against people who denigrate Islam, this line has
few takers. The demonisation and dehumanisation of the
enemy is always a component of war propaganda. But
references to Afghans as troglodytes sit uneasily with
Blair's attempt to foist on British Muslims his
version of Islam as just, tolerant and oh-so-British.
A prominent member of the Muslim Council of Britain
indicated this when he said that the West's need for
an enemy used to be met by Communism. Now it is met by
Somewhere along the line, the West is losing its
public relations war with its own people. News
reporters now sound openly sarcastic. Leaders are
interrogated more closely over their war aims.
'Collateral damage' is reported in detail and with
careful attention to the human suffering associated
It is estimated by the UN, the WHO and various
respectable western-backed organisations that six to
seven million people will die in Afghanistan in the
coming months - not counting deaths from stray
missiles or cluster-bombs. Divide that figure by the
six thousand-odd who died in the twin towers and the
Pentagon on September 11 and you have a pretty figure
of vengeance indeed.
But vengeance is not apparently the intention.
If not, then these deaths will be unfortunate, but
just collateral damage. In the words of Madeleine
Albright, whose reply it was to the question of
whether Iraqi children should die as a result of
sanctions apparently aimed at Saddam Hussein, "We
think the price is worth it." Even if, it would seem,
the alleged target in both cases survives.
But the principle of collateral damage works in more
than one way. Everyone whose public pronouncements
count, condemned the attack on the World Trade Center
and deplored the deaths of innocent civilians that it
caused. Many who did so nevertheless saw in the attack
an indication of the frustration and hatred people
worldwide had come to feel for American policies that
result in death and destruction in so many parts of
An attacker who makes no distinction between a nasty
regime and its subject people simply unites the two.
It is not enough to pretend that the Afghan people are
not targeted as long as bombs continue to rain on them
and no effort is made by the western allies either to
stop killing them or to keep them alive. This war is
beginning to look very much like the old colonial
When General MacArthur decided the atom bomb ought to
be dropped on China during the Korean War, a member of
the House of Lords pointed out that it was strange
that the bomb was going to be dropped again on
non-White people. Now that it is politically incorrect
to talk about race - or religion for that matter - it
is important for the West to pretend that these
considerations are irrelevant. This pretence cannot be
kept up for too long.
(The writer teaches political science at Sheffield
November 5, 2001
Afghanistan set to share legacy of death that
cluster-bombing left in Indochina
by Matt Warren In Vientiane, Laos
THE use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan last month
rang with the echoes of history repeating itself.
Across the south-east Asian country of Laos, cluster
bombs dropped during the Vietnam war are holding the
country to ransom 30 years after the last lethal
payload fell from the sky.
For many aid workers, the impact of Indochinas
largely secret air war should be a cautionary tale.
Few, however, believe it will be.
Initial objections over the use of cluster bombs in
Afghanistan were raised in late October when Andrew
Purkis, chief executive of the Diana, Princess of
Wales Memorial Fund, and Richard Lloyd, director of
Landmine Action, voiced their concerns over the impact
the bombs would have on Afghanistans civilians.
While the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination
of Humanitarian Affairs has reported the weapons were
dropped near civilian homes in the north-western city
of Herat, many believe the greatest threat to everyday
Afghans might come from the 5 to 10 per cent that fail
to explode on impact.
Coloured bright yellow and deployed with a small
parachute, the bomblets are attractive to children.
In Laos, the issue of unexploded ordnance, or UXO, is
an old one. But it is one that fails to go away.
Between 1964, when the first 36 fighter-bomber
missions were launched over the north of the country,
and 1973, 580,344 sorties delivered two million tonnes
of ordnance, making Laos the most heavily bombed
country per capita on the planet.
Largely aimed at halting the flow of North Vietnamese
troops and equipment into South Vietnam along the Ho
Chi Minh Trail, many of the missions dropped
anti-personnel cluster munitions. Today, millions of
orange-sized BLU-26 bomblets, which came 670 to the
container, litter Laos.
In a strictly agrarian economy, 80 per cent of the
countrys subsistence farmers are threatened by UXO on
a daily basis. More than 12,000 have been killed or
"There will always be a large amount of UXO after a
cluster bomb strike," says Don Macdonald, Laotian
programme manager for the British-based Mines Advisory
Group. "We have seen it before in Laos and Afghanistan
is unlikely to be any different. Where cluster bombs
are used, for example most recently in Kosovo, they
often become a bigger problem than mines."
In rural Laos, where the average family survives on
less than $500 a year and where 47 per cent of the
population is chronically malnourished, the problem of
UXO has been exacerbated by a recent increase in scrap
With metal objects at a premium in rural areas, many
villagers have taken to exploiting the cluster bomb
cases littering the landscape. Melted down in forges
across the country, this war scrap is transformed into
everything from knives and cooking pots to anvils and
primitive hunting muskets.
However, with scrap dealers in the northern city of
Phonsovan buying scrap for 1,000 kip (7p) and
explosives for 8,000 kip (56p) per kilo, many
villagers, who otherwise live outside the monetary
economy, have been tempted to dismantle the UXO
themselves. Only recently, Vilay Sen, 54, and Thong
Chan, 50, were killed in the Xieng Khouang province
when the rocket they were trying to dismantle
Laos is also a case study for how indiscriminate the
weapons can be. According to an internal Ministry of
Defence report, up to 60 per cent of the 531 cluster
bombs dropped by the RAF over Kosovo missed their
target. In Laos, the figure was much higher. As a
result, many schools, hospitals and farms are
contaminated with unexploded bombs.
In Sam Neua, capital of the remote north-eastern
province of Houaphan, attention was drawn to the
provincial high school after a student was killed by a
bomblet while digging in the school grounds. During
the subsequent clear-up by UXO LAO, the organisation
responsible for co-ordinating the nationwide clearance
effort, 386 unexploded bomblets were removed from the
In this undeveloped country, where lack of funds,
infrastructure and international awareness meant that
comprehensive clearance work could not begin until
1994, when the Mines Advisory Group started work in
Xieng Khouang province, uncontaminated land is still
at a premium. However, with a hectare of flat-land
paddy capable of producing rice for eight people, few
are willing to wait until land has been checked for
UXO LAO now has access to some of the US mission
records during the nine-year air offensive. Initially
discovered by chance by a US air force reservist, Roy
Stanley, eight years ago, the databases are being used
to plot the co-ordinates of bombing sorties and
highlight the risk areas.
"Sadly, while you can pretty much map out where the
individual bomblets will fall, in theory, the reality
is often far more complex," Mr Macdonald says. "Steep
contours, vegetation and flowing water can all cause
unexploded bomblets to turn up where you do not expect
them. In Laos, for example, you even get unexploded
bomblets in the tops of trees that have grown up
As in Laos, at least some of Afghanistans unexploded
bomblets will be discovered only years later, when
Afghan War and Wildlife
The Dawn (Pakistan)
November 5, 2001
PESHAWAR, Nov 4: The unrelenting US bombing on Afghanistan is playing
havoc with the biodiversity of the war-devastated country, which has
been a prime sanctuary for variety of migratory birds and wild animals.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated 85 per cent decrease in the
number of migratory birds due to air strikes, coming from Siberia and
Central Asian Republics (CARs) to Pakistan and India via Afghanistan.
To gauge the impact of the US bombardment on the wildlife, particularly
the water-birds, the WWF recently sent its survey team to Bannu, Gambila
and the River Kurram in the southern parts of NWFP, where these
sensitive migratory birds including cranes and ducks stay for a
transitory period in winter.
"Cranes are very sensitive and they do not use the route if they sense
any danger. Likewise, if a crane loses its mate, it takes more than five
years to find a new mate," experts in wildlife observed.
Afghanistan, a landlocked country, was very rich in flora and founa. But
the decades long war caused massive depletion to forest resources and
wildlife species. In 1983 the forest-covered area of the country was 3.4
per cent, which reduced to 2.6 per cent in 1989, according to official
Save the Environment Afghanistan (SEA), an Afghan NGO, in its report
disclosed that the prolonged civil war followed by severe drought
drastically affected forests and wildlife in Afghanistan.
According to the report, the Ajar valley wildlife reserve in central
Afghanistan, Band-i-Amir National Park, Abe-Estada, the only breeding
place of the greater Flamingo in Afghanistan and Lake Hashmat Khan to
south east of Kabul, which is the habitat of waterfowl were in critical
Feeling threat to the survival of snow leopards, the International Snow
Leopard Trust, based in Washington State appealed to halt bombing. The
wild animal, conservators believed, was the indicator of high
altitudinal habitats. If snow leopard exists in an area, it means other
biodiversity also exists, wildlife conservators said, adding that the
specie was found only in 12 countries including Afghanistan.
WWF chief technical advisor in Peshawar Ashiq Ahmad Khan told Dawn that
like human beings, wildlife was also affected by the severe bombardment
on Afghanistan. He said that US warplanes were pounding positions in the
south, north and west of Afghanistan, which are sanctuaries for variety
of wild species including Kabul Markhor, snow leopards, Houbara Bustard,
falcons and water-birds.
Roughly, he said, 90 per cent of the water-birds entered Pakistan from
Afghanistan. Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad were the main routes for
migratory birds, which were being targeted by the US planes.
The Coming Apocalypse
Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange.com
November 5, 2001
Does anybody in this country get it?
Does anybody understand what the United States is on the verge of doing?
Experienced, respected food aid organizations warn that even before the
bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7, some 7,500,000 Afghans were --
through a gut-wrenching combination of poverty, drought, war, dislocation,
and repression -- at risk of starving to death this winter. When the bombing
began, almost all delivery of food from the outside world stopped. Now,
roads and bridges are destroyed, millions more people are dislocated, and
the snow is steadily approaching from higher elevations and from the north.
For weeks, aid organizations, along with voices from throughout the region,
have been begging the United States to call off its bombing campaign, at
least for long enough so that aid agencies can conduct the massive transfer
of food into and throughout Afghanistan that is necessary to prevent death
on a scale the world has not seen in a long, long time. On our newscasts,
it's politely referred to as a "humanitarian crisis." That's a euphemism
that makes "collateral damage" seem humane.
Seven and a half million people at risk of dying in a matter of months.
That's three times the number of people Pol Pot took years to kill.
Thirty-five times the number that died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined.
If 5,000 died on September 11 (a number that reports are now suggesting is
vastly inflated), we're talking the equivalent number of deaths to ten World
Trade Centers, every day, for 150 days. Slow, painful deaths. Entirely
avoidable deaths. Deaths whose sole cause is not the United States, but most
of which can still be prevented -- except that the United States is refusing
to allow them to be prevented.
It repulses me to say this, but I suspect a lot of Americans don't care.
They'd rather see the United States "get" Osama bin Laden (though there's no
actual evidence that we're any closer to that today than we were two months
ago, and probably the task is harder as he becomes more popular and
protected). A lot of people in this country do not care that a staggering
number of innocent people are on the verge of being condemned to death, or
that most of the world will blame the United States. Correctly.
We should care. If the object of this war was to thwart terrorism -- to
bring existing terrorists to justice, and to isolate them politically and
culturally so that others won't throw in their lot -- in less than a month,
the United States has perpetrated one of the most abject failures in
military history. It still does not know where any of Al-Qaeda's leadership
even is. It is on the verge of succeeding in its goal of creating a unified
Afghanistan government -- unfortunately, Afghans are uniting behind the
Taliban, as warlord after warlord sets aside long-standing differences to
stand shoulder to shoulder to fight the American invaders. Tens of thousands
more young Muslim men are lining up to cross the borders into Afghanistan to
join them. The ones that survive the experience will carry a lifetime of
hate: living, breathing proof that within a month, America bombed a country
but lost its war in spectacular fashion.
That's today. What will happen if millions of Afghans die this winter? How
much future terrorism will the dunderheads of the Bush Administration have
inspired then? If several million Islamic sisters and brothers starve to
death, innocent civilians trapped between winter and the rage of America,
how many of Islam's 1.2 billion adherents -- or the five billion other
people on earth -- are going to take George Bush's proclamations about
eradicating "terrorists" and "evildoers" to heart, and label him, and us, as
the prime examples?
In less than two months, the United States government has gone from the
moral high ground of being victimized by one of the most heinous crimes in
world history, to being within a week or two of quite visibly committing a
crime so much larger as to obliterate the world's memory of September 11.
Remarkably, almost nobody in the United States seems to have either noticed,
understood, or cared. While even progressives wring their hands over the
ambiguity of a war fought under the auspices of America's legitimate right
to defend itself, a situation is unfolding in which there is absolutely no
moral ambiguity at all, and for which many people will want to hold each of
us as accountable as the world held post-war Germans. Where were you? What
did you say? How could you allow this to happen? Or, a more likely reaction
in the Islamic world: Why should millions of you not die as well? America
will have set out to isolate one man, and instead killed millions and
isolated itself. And much of the world will not rest until we are brought to
Seven and a half million people. The snowline is creeping down the
mountainsides. The food is almost gone. The infrastructure is in shambles.
There will be no "independent verification" of the body count. There wasn't
in the Holocaust or Rwanda or Cambodia, either. The judgment of the world
did not need one. The clock is ticking. Where were you?
A.N.S.W.E.R. FACT SHEET The Media and the Government
The State Of The "Free Press" After October 7 ^
ALL PROPAGANDA, ALL THE TIME!
In the past weeks, images have been seen around the world of
bombings of villages, hospitals, mosques, Red Cross
facilities and more. What has been the response of those
dropping the bombs? The U.S. and England are opening what
they call "Coalition Information Centers" ^ a plan for
24-hour-a-day domination of the news to manipulate and
refute these images.
In the last weeks, the Bush administration, the Pentagon and
the CIA have been battening down all of the hatches to
deprive the people of the United States of any independent
source of information. Why is the government so afraid that
people in the United States will have the opportunity to
receive uncensored news and information? It is because the
Bush administration, having learned a crucial lesson in
Vietnam, knows that if the people actually learn the truth
about the war, they may become its most vocal and effective
In some countries, governments have waged violent and
repressive wars against journalists. Reporters have been
arrested and even killed, fear has been installed in those
who seek to go against the government. But that is not the
case in the U.S. Reporters here don't have to be arrested
or shot or even threatened. These big capitalist media
realize that their real function is to be the public
relations arm of the Pentagon. They are engaging in
U.S. textbooks teach of a U.S. media that is distinguished
from the media in vast parts of the globe because it is a
"free press" ^ not a state-run media, but an independent
media, free from government supervision and dictates.
But since September 11, 2001, and especially since the
bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7, it would be very
hard to assert that there is a free or independent press in
the United States. (Those who have studied the
corporate-dominated media know that there wasn't much of a
"free" press in the U.S. prior to September 11 either,
though there is a growing progressive media independent from
Did you know that ...
On October 7 ^ the day the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan ^
the National Imagery and Mapping Agency signed a contract
for exclusive rights to all commercial satellite imagery of
Afghanistan and other countries in the region. The U.S.
government's National Imagery and Mapping Agency is a
"top-secret Defense Department intelligence agency," and it
is currently in negotiations to renew its contract, which
expires November 5. It paid $1.91 million for the first 30
days of the contract. (Reuters, 10/30/01, "US in talks to
keep rights to satellite images)
On October 10, White House national security adviser
Condoleezza Rice met with major U.S. television networks and
asked them not to show videotaped messages issued by Osama
bin Laden live and unedited. They agreed to this request.
MSNBC and Fox News did not air at all the next statement
issued by bin Laden, and CNN showed only brief excerpts.
On October 11, the Bush administration asked newspapers not
to print statements issued by Osama bin Laden. They agreed.
On October 17, a closed-door meeting was held between
network heads and studio chiefs in Hollywood and members of
the Bush administration. Deputy Assistant to the President
Chris Henick and Associate Director of the Office of Public
Liaison Adam Goldman represented the Bush administration in
the meeting, where Hollywood heads "committed themselves to
new initiatives in support of the war on terrorism. These
initiatives would stress efforts to enhance the perception
of America around the world, to 'get out the message' on the
fight against terrorism and to mobilize existing resources,
such as satellites and cable, to foster better global
understanding." (Variety, 10/18/01, White House enlists
Hollywood for war effort, By Peter Bart)
On October 30, the chairman of CNN and its head of standards
and practices sent memos to the CNN staff relating to their
coverage of the war. In the first memo, Walter Isaacson,
the chairman of CNN, said it "seems perverse to focus too
much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan." The
memo sent by Rick Davis, the head of standards and
practices, continued, it "may be hard for the correspondent
in these dangerous areas to make the points clearly." Davis
actually suggested language for anchors to use while footage
of civilian casualties was being shown: (1) "We must keep in
mind, after seeing reports like this from Taliban-controlled
areas, that these U.S. military actions are in response to a
terrorist attack that killed close to 5,000 innocent people
in the U.S." or (2) "We must keep in mind, after seeing
reports like this, that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan
continues to harbor terrorists who have praised the
September 11 attacks that killed close to 5,000 innocent
people in the U.S." or (3) "The Pentagon has repeatedly
stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties
in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban regime continues to
harbor terrorists who are connected to the September 11
attacks that claimed thousands of innocent lives in the
U.S." He concludes, "Even though it may start sounding
rote, it is important that we make this point each time."
("CNN Chief Orders 'Balance' in War News" by Howard Kurtz,
Washington Post 10/31/01)
On October 30, British Defense Minister Geoff Hoon met with
U.S. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, to stress England's
concern about the fact that public opinion in Britain and
the rest of Western Europe has been turning against the war,
largely because of the increasing reports of civilian
casualties from the bombing. A "Western diplomat" quoted in
the New York Times said, "the collateral damage doesn't make
nice pictures in the newspapers." The Times also reported
that "The European public appears more concerned about
civilian casualties than ending the war swiftly." Senior
Blair adviser Alstair Campbell met with U.S. Presidential
Counselor Karen Hughes about concerns about public opinion
in Europe and the Middle East. ("U.S. Campaign on 2nd Front:
Public Opinion" by Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, New
York Times, 10/31/01)
On October 31, Taliban representatives held a press
conference in Pakistan to announce that over 1,500 people
had been killed in the first 24 days of bombing, mainly
On October 31, at a joint press conference with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, Syrian President Bashar Assad
said "We cannot accept what we see on the [television]
screen every day ^ hundreds of civilians dying."
On November 1, the U.S. and Britain jointly opened
"Coalition Information Centers" in Washington DC, London and
Islamabad, Pakistan. These centers will allow for
24-hour-a-day efforts to dominate news coverage of the U.S.
and British bombing of Afghanistan. Their focus will be on
rebutting reports of civilian casualties. It will include
press conferences, speeches and Internet reports staggered
to target morning and evening coverage in the U.S., Europe
and the Middle East and South/Central Asia. The State
Department is planning its own effort to circulate
information on the Internet and providing downloadable
information sheets to be used by U.S. embassies worldwide.
("U.S., Britain Step Up War for Public Opinion," by Karen
DeYoung, 11/1/01 Washington Post)
On November 2, New York Times Op-Ed writer Thomas Friedman
wrote, "A month into the war in Afghanistan, the
hand-wringing has already begun over how long this might
last. Let's all take a deep breath and repeat after me: Give
war a chance. This is Afghanistan we're talking about. Check
the map. It's far away." ("One War, Two Fronts," by Thomas
L. Friedman, NY Times, 11/2/01)
Send replies to firstname.lastname@example.org
Taliban says 95 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan
Tue, 6 Nov 2001
Afghanistan's Taliban regime said 95 American soldiers had been
killed since the launch of the US-led military campaign one month ago.
"The death toll of US soldiers in this war has now approximately
reached 95," the Taliban embassy in Pakistan said in a written statement.
The United States has not confirmed the combat death of a single
American soldier in Afghanistan.
The Taliban statement regretted that the bodies of American troops
could not be returned to their relatives, but blamed the United States for
denying the incidents in which the alleged deaths had occurred.
It specifically cited an incident in which the Taliban claimed to
have shot down two US military helicopters on Friday, killing a number of
The Pentagon said only one helicopter had crashed in severe weather,
and that all the crew members had been rescued before an air strike was
ordered to destroy the wreckage.
"The real tragedy with the US soldiers and their families occurred
when...the US heavily bombed the wreckage of their own helicopters," the
"The resulting effect was not that they destroyed the helicopters
but that they destroyed any hope of any survivors among its wreckage," the
"The US did this so that the bodies of the US soldiers could not be
shown as evidence of casualties of this war to the American public."
The Pentagon has said it routinely destroys aircraft downed in
hostile territory to prevent the equipment on board from falling into enemy
We Bomb In Afghanistan
by Marty Jezer
Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, 11/2/01
The bombing of Afghanistan is entering its fourth week. What began as an
attempt to destroy the country's air defense and military infrastructure in
anticipation of direct attacks on bin Laden's mountain lair has turned into
an attempt to destroy the Taliban regime. What was supposed to be a new kind
of war, to attack and destroy a terrorist network that knows no national
bounds, has turned into the same old strategic bombing we know from previous
wars. Carpet bombing, cluster bombs, one-thousand pound bombs that hit
houses, health clinics, food warehouses and other civilian targets. The
Afghan people, who have not been implicated in any terrorist crime, are the
ones who are hurting.
Even before the September 11 attack, over five million people were on
the edge of starvation in Afghanistan, surviving only because of
international aid. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and other
international humanitarian organizations were in Afghanistan working
desperately to truck in food before winter closed the roads.
Because of the bombings, food aid to Afghanistan has been disrupted. "It
is now evident that we cannot, in reasonable safety, get food to hungry
Afghan people...," Oxfam President Raymond C. Offenheiser, has said. "We've
run out of food, the borders are closed, we can't reach our staff and time
is running out." Another two million people, according to the WFP, have been
put at risk because of the bombing. If WFP can't meet its target of 52,000
tons of food each month, seven million Afghanis are at risk of starvation.
The United States claims the bombing is necessary to stop terrorism. But
the Afghan people have never been accused of terrorism. None of the plane
hijackers responsible for the 9-11 carnage have been identified as Afghani.
Of the estimated one-thousand people being held for questioning in American
jails, none are reported to be from Afghanistan. Bin Laden's Al Qaeda
network has been identified in Germany, Italy, and other European countries,
but no one from Afghanistan has been identified as a member.
It's true that the Taliban protects bin Laden in Afghanistan and most
people, certainly most of the women in Afghanistan, would be pleased to have
the Taliban driven from power. But at what cost? The Taliban may or may not
survive this onslaught (they know how to protect themselves from bombs, as
they proved in the war against the Russians). But it's the innocent people
of Afghanistan who are being put at risk by what we claim is a war on
Two guidelines govern the bombing of Afghanistan: 1) we don't want to
lose men; and 2) we don't want to have our expensive and technologically
sophisticated aircraft shot down. Hence we drop bombs from on high, so
anti-aircraft guns and missiles can't hit us. The trouble is it's
ineffective; too many bombs miss their targets. I'm sure that we don't want
to bomb civilians; morality aside, it's bad politics. But as long as we
refuse to risk our planes and our pilots, we can't help but hit homes,
health clinics, schools and warehouses.
Some military realists, Senator John McCain and I'm sure many generals,
understand that this kind of high-tech war is not working. They understand
that war cannot be fought as a public relations project. Planes have to fly
close to their targets and troops have to do close-up fighting. Some might
say that our unwillingness to take casualties is a sign of national
weakness. I would suggest it's a sign of civilized behavior. But if the
public doesn't have the stomach for war, we shouldn't fight ineffective wars
from our own safe havens. Instead, we should start looking for alternative
ways of projecting our influence. High-flying strategic bombing is
militarily ineffective and morally disastrous.
More to the point it has very little to do with stopping terror. Bin
Laden, safe in a mountainous cave, can't hurt us. It's the men he recruits
who are willing to die to destroy others, that are our problem. And they
only become lethal when they're in our country. There is a rush to secure
our borders and protect the public. But, logistically, there is less of a
rush to get at bin Laden; and doing so could cause the death - if the
bombing doesn't stop so the food can get in - of millions of people and
create the hatred for America that makes people want to destroy us.
TV pictures of bombs killing Afghan civilians enrages people who, for
religious, ethnic or simply human reasons, identify with the victims. Every
civilian we kill, increases the number of potential terrorists. People who
are dying because our bombing prevents them from getting food increases the
likelihood of revenge killing. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul
Wolfowitz, in an interview with the London Sunday Telegraph, recently
justified the use of cluster bombs or any other weapon in Afghanistan by
saying, "We lost somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people in a single day.
We are now being threatened with weapons that could kill tens of thousands
of people, and we are trying to avoid killing innocent people, but we have
to win this war and we will use the weapons we need to win this war."
But it's not a war against terrorism that Wolfowitz thinks he's
fighting. It's a war against the people of Afghanistan who are not
responsible for any crimes against America. A number of relief organizations
have called for a halt in the bombing so food can be trucked into
Afghanistan before the winter. That's a start. A bombing halt will not
hinder the international police efforts to uncover bin Laden's terrorist
networks; nor, practically speaking, will it increase the threat of
terrorism here in America. More bombing, however, will increase the
potential of future terrorist action. And to be implicated in the death of
millions -- because our bombing stymied efforts to prevent people from
starving -- is something no human being, except perhaps a terrorist, would
ever want to be guilty of.
Marty Jezer writes from Brattleboro, Vermont and welcomes comments at
Afghan children in The Hague say Stop the War!
Afghan children say: "Stop the war!" in The Hague at spirited peace
demonstration, Sunday 4 November
While earlier peace demonstrations for the Afghan people in The Netherlands
were either organized by big coalitions after national preparation, or
purely locally, Sunday 4 November saw another type of anti war action.
This one, in The Hague, was a spontaneous initiative by local Afghan
refugees. Disgusted by the bloody results of the so called "war against
terrorism" of the United States and British governments, they decided at
very short notice to march though the city center of The Hague. They got
the support of the executive of the Dutch National Platform Against the New
War, in which over 200 organizations cooperate, and which organized, eg, a
demonstration of 10-20.000 people in Amsterdam. However, this time it was
too late for any big publicity or mobilization. It was a breakthrough for
The Hague though: there, the mayor [a government appointee like elsewhere
in The Netherlands] had a policy of not allowing peace demonstrations. This
demonstration broke that ban, though like earlier demonstrations against
NATO in the Balkans, police did not allow it to pass the United States
embassy or Parliament.
Hundreds of committed activists gathered at the Malieveld. Dutch TV gave a
ridiculously low figure of 200, though on the other hand it paid more
attention to this demonstration than usually. Most demonstrators were
Afghan men and women. Some of the preteen children wore national dress,
giving some idea of the beauty of a culture being destroyed for twenty
years by neo-colonial militarism. There were also Dutch peace activists,
and other nationalities, including from the US. A middle aged Black man
handed out flyers of the Revolutionary Communist Party USA. There were
Ravage [squatters' paper], Woorden van Rebellen (anarchist), Rode Morgen
and Manifest (communist), Grenzeloos (Socialist Labor Party), Anti Fascist.
Before the start, short speeches against the war and "Tony Blair, the
English lapdog of George W. Bush" were made, including by an Afghan refugee
and Wil van der Klift of the local The Hague peace platform. Then, the
people marched behind a big red and yellow banner saying: "Stop the war;
Stop the cycle of violence." A cyclist played a sound recording of air raid
alarm, like at demonstrations against the bombing of Belgrade, this time
for the innocent citizens of Kabul and Kandahar. The slogans resounded
against the nineteenth century inner city walls: "Bin Laden-terrorist!
NATO-terrorist! Musharaf [military dictator of Pakistan]-terrorist!
Blair-terrorist! Bush-terrorist!" "We want peace!" "Stop the new war NOW!",
with lots of whistles'noise emphasizing the NOW.
A banner opposed any Dutch participation in the war. A sign showed a
photograph of US opposition Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, holding up both
a cluster bomb and food "aid" package: both from US war planes, both
looking exactly the same bright yellow, attracting Afghan children. See
www.indymedia.nl/2001/11/525.shtml for this picture. Other signs
said: Stop the violence; Are you satisfied, Mr. Bush?; US go home. Afghans
carried pictures of children and other civilian victims, with captions:
"Are THESE terrorists?"
The march ended in front of the Vredespaleis, Peace Palace, seat of the
World Court. Differently from the "Tribunal on Yugoslavia" that Court has
been in The Hague for nearly a century. The organizers had chosen this
site, as they want people like Bin Laden, Bush, and Blair tried for crimes
against humanity there. From a platform on a big red truck, an Afghan
spoke. He said the root causes of terrorism, like the gap between poverty
and riches, should be addressed. He noted that US and British bombs hit
mosques killing worshipers, but there was no confirmation of even one
member of the Al Qaida network being wounded. One cannot wash blood away
Another refugee told how it distressed him to hear people on TV defending
the war, while himself fearing for the lives of his family and friends,
still in Afghanistan. Not one Afghan had anything to do with the terrible
attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Now they were violently 'punished'
for something they had nothing to do with, after many years of being used
as a bloody punching bag for the US government against the Soviet Union.
Now, one suddenly hears denunciations of the Taliban; the Taliban, "made in
Then came a very moving contribution by Afghan refugee children, whom
distant relatives had managed to bring to safety in The Netherlands.
However, their parents were still in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan.
All the time, these children had to worry whether the bombs of "Operation
Infinite Justice/Perpetual Freedom" had already made them orphans, or not
yet. It would not be easy to know: bombs had destroyed the phone connection
to their families. A girl of about ten years old took the microphone:
"Today, you hear a lot about terrorism. However, who are the two biggest
terrorists? Bush and Blair!" A boy of about the same age read a beautiful
Dutch language poem on wanting to see his mother and sister alive again.
Then, Jan Schaake, a member of Christian pacifist Kerk en Vrede and the
National Platform against the New War, spoke on the manifesto of this
Platform. After him, the chair announced many US citizens are starting to
oppose the war. As an example, he introduced Ms Sasha Radin, a US citizen
student in The Netherlands. She started saying all US primary school pupils
every day have to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag. The last
words of the Pledge are "justice for all." Mr Bush, Ms Radin said, is
bombing the innocent Afghans "justice for all?" The lives of over 7 million
civilians are in danger, as winter comes. War planes drop cluster bombs.
Already in Kosovo, it was found out only 33% of cluster bombs were "on
target". Electricity plants were destroyed. The Afghan countryside people
already suffer from drought. Now, US planes had damaged a dam for
irrigation, which for hundreds of thousands of country people meant the
difference between life and death. Is that Justice for all, Mr Bush? Mr
Bush, you talk in black and white about a war between good and evil. War
against terrorism? It looks more like a war for terrorism.
The next speaker, Wil van der Klift, said the war was really about control
of strategic territory, including of neighboring countries like Kazakhstan
and Turkmenistan, oil wells, and oil pipelines. They want new colonies,
like Kosovo, Bosnia, and Macedonia. He invited everyone to join the local
peace platform. Then came Ms Krista van Velzen. As a peace activist, she
participated in Scotland in direct action against nuclear Trident
submarines. Now, she is a candidate for Parliament for the Socialist Party.
She also emphasized world wide poverty breeds terrorism.
Then came Ahmed Pouri, of the executive of refugees'organization PRIME. He
remembered how he, with millions of other Iranians, had rejoiced when the
bloody dictatorship of Shah Reza Pahlevi fell. Then, Iranians wanted to
discuss the future. Ayatollah Khomeini's supporters then said: "we will
have lots of discussion as soon as the Shah is dead. However, we cannot
afford it yet now. Be patient, it is only temporary." Well, the Shah is
dead by now for over twenty years. And Iranians still cannot discuss
freely. It reminds me of when people like Bush say: "We will make war for a
short time, to have perpetual peace afterwards." If things depend on people
like Bush, the "temporary" war will only become worse. Also, Bush's
speeches as a whole remind me very strongly of my experience with the
speeches of Ayatollah Khomeini, because of whom I had to flee Iran. Pouri
reminded people on how the Vietnam war ended. It ended also because
millions of people in the US and its European allies demonstrated against
the war. That is why demonstrations like today, and continuing them, is so
important. Let us continue, for a peaceful world.
Next came another Afghan refugee. He said Afghan blood is as precious as
American blood. The US government could have dealt with terrorism through
the United Nations, instead of usurping the role of the UN. Stop the cycle
Rob Boogert of the The Hague peace platform said only the armaments
industry profits from this war. Dutch government politicians behaved like
slavish cowards to Bush. Bush is mass producing new "Bin Ladens". On 11
September, there was the atrocity in New York. But there was also 35.000
people dying of hunger, like any other day. We have to further encourage
the millions of people in The Netherlands, who already oppose this war.
Finally, an Afghan said: who made Bin Laden? The CIA, not the Afghans. The
US government wants oil.
A petition to parliament and the US embassy was signed.
Photos of this demonstration are at
Famished Afghan Children Fade Away
Hunger: Drought and a refugee crisis have put millions at risk, and some
areas have gotten no aid. U.N. warns of disaster.
By ROBYN DIXON , Times Staff Writer
EJAN, Afghanistan - His name, Shirin, means "sweetie." He is about 3 years
old and weighs less than 6 pounds. He lies, with flies crawling around his
eyes, in a room with mud floors and walls in mountainous Afghanistan, and
the local doctor says he will die soon of hunger.
But there is no money here. In fact, his family is in debt for what to its
members seems a large sum: 50 cents.
He lolls on a rough wool blanket like a small baby, his tiny fists
clenched, his legs curled up, and he starts to cry. But even that effort
seems to exhaust him, and he simply stares at strange visitors with his big
Twenty-two years of war and four years of drought have devastated
Afghanistan, leaving millions facing hunger and the threat of starvation.
With the U.S. targeting Afghanistan in its campaign against international
terrorism, and tens of thousands fleeing cities for fear of bomb strikes,
international aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe here.
Last week, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, called
Afghanistan the site of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Shirin's mother has already lost three children, all of whom died in
infancy from the combined effects of hunger and illness. One of Shirin's
grandmothers lost five of her nine children from the same causes.
The child's father is away on the front line fighting the Taliban,
Afghanistan's radical Islamic regime.
"Many children in this village have died," Shirin's 15-year-old uncle,
Asef, said Sunday. "We don't count them."
But ask other families in Ejan, 70 miles northwest of the capital, Kabul,
and they count their own dead. At the other end of the village, Mohammed
Agram, 65, buried his granddaughter, Soleha, age 1, six weeks ago. She died
from starvation and dysentery. He had 12 sons and daughters, but six of
them died in infancy.
Majestic peaks loom imperiously above the Salang Gorge, where Ejan sits. A
river races over white boulders, and golden trees glitter in the sun. This
gorge was the scene of some of the fiercest battles between Soviet soldiers
and Muslim resistance fighters, or moujahedeen, in the 1979-89 Afghanistan
Now, when children such as Soleha and Shirin get sick, their parents go to
a local clinic run by Emergency, an aid agency based in Milan, Italy, that
assists civilian victims of war. But the doctor there, Mohammed Najib, said
Sunday that he cannot do anything to save starving children.
"That is not our duty. Our role is to help only those wounded by mines or
bullet wounds or shrapnel," he said blandly. The clinic takes in about one
case involving wounds every month, while about 150 to 200 children have
died of hunger and related illness in the region this year, he said.
Najib said 6,000 people live in the region, 2,000 of whom do not have
enough food. Many families have nothing to live on but dried mulberries.
"We don't have the means to help them. So far, no one helps the hungry
children," he said.
The life expectancy in Afghanistan, according to the U.N., is 46 years. The
nation also has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world.
The United Nations has just launched an appeal for $584 million to feed 7.5
million Afghans suffering from hunger and displacement due to war and drought.
Life in this valley has always been harsh, but according to Agram, this
year has been the worst. Ahead lies the toughest time of year, winter. In
some parts of the country, the U.N. reports, people are eating grass and
locusts to survive.
Hardship and hunger have gnawed down Ejan's population. It has shrunk from
about 500 families to 50 or 60.
"Life is difficult. There are no doctors, no medicines, no food," Agram
said. When his family approached Najib for help, the doctor visited their
home, but it was too late to save Soleha.
At the top of a steep, slippery, rocky track lies the crude mud hut where
Shirin's family lives. On Sunday, a child's plastic shoe lay abandoned at
His relatives feed the dying boy the only food they have, one daily meal of
flat bread. He fell ill with dysentery and began vomiting six months ago.
The family sold its stocks of winter food, dried mulberries, and borrowed
50 cents to scrape together $4.60 for treatment.
"We spent our money trying to save him, but it did no good," said his
mother, Zergul, 32, covering her mouth with a delicate shawl as she spoke.
The mud floor of the home's second room was bare. In one corner was a pile
of shabby bedding.
Shirin's tiny frame is so frail that he cannot wipe the flies from his
eyes, let alone sit up. He is so small that it is difficult to believe that
he is 3, but both Najib, the doctor, and members of the family said he is.
Najib said Shirin has always been a tiny, wasted figure because of poor
"It's a problem with food. The child has no energy. He needs good food and
good treatment. He's going to die within six months," Najib said, holding
Shirin out awkwardly, so that the boy looked uncomfortable and vulnerable,
his arms waving feebly.
Zergul, Shirin's mother, has 30 pounds of flour left, which will last up to
10 days. The family has a handful of chickens, but it needs them to sell
eggs for money.
When the flour runs out, said Zergul, "we'll find a way out somehow." The
family has 10 goats, which give milk only in summer. Selling a goat would
feed the family for two weeks. If they trade their animals to survive, they
will have sold their last assets by sometime this winter.
"Then we'll just hope for spring and put our faith in Allah," said Zergul.
"It's our worst year yet."
Much of the focus of the humanitarian aid for Afghanistan has been on
refugees and internally displaced people. But Ejan is an example of the
severe hardship of villages in areas without irrigation.
In the past, residents could cultivate small plots of vacant land on high
slopes, but the drought has eliminated that possibility.
What's more, the war between the ruling Taliban and opposition forces,
known as the Northern Alliance, has blocked the supply route from Kabul to
villages such as Ejan. The road out of town is now a dead end. It leads
only to the front line.
There has been no help for Ejan from the Northern Alliance. And in the
southern parts of Afghanistan, held by the Taliban, the U.N. complains that
it has had frequent conflicts with the regime over the terms under which it
can distribute aid.
On Saturday, the first international aid for Afghanistan since the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon left from Pakistan. Two
hundred tons of aid were sent and will travel into northern Afghanistan on
If it gets as far as Ejan, it will be the first international aid the
villagers have seen.
In the Aureng Zamankur displaced persons camp in the nearby Panjshir
Valley, the refugees received 220 pounds of flour per family early this
year, but that ran out long ago.
Sheba, 30, a mother of five there, opens the lid of her flour tin, which is
empty. She said Sunday that her flour ran out that day. All that remained
were several loaves of bread.
Her husband begs on the road to bring in enough money to buy bread.
In the Kodoman camp in Anaba, Dr. Mohammed Tarek, 30, said the people in
the camp, many of whom have been there for years, are the poorest in the
country. Tarek has opened a school there.
"But their fathers come to me and say: 'How can they learn anything when
their stomachs are empty? They can't think of anything but food.'
"But illiteracy and poverty are the main causes of terrorism," he said.
In Ejan, the question of how to save Shirin is too big for his mother to
deal with. It is God's domain.
She has no means to find the money that will save him.
"We don't even know what we could do," she said.
More and More, War Is Viewed as America's
By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.
PARIS, Nov. 3 - Whatever doubts the world's intellectuals and politicians
may raise about America's war on terror, the world's people do not seem to
be voting with raised fists - yet.
However, if the people follow where intellectuals and editorialists are
leading, that will change soon. Portraits of the United States as a lonely,
self-absorbed bully taking out its rage on defenseless Afghanistan are on
More and more, the war is being seen abroad as "America against Osama," not,
as the Bush administration would prefer, "All of us against terrorism." The
intense Sept. 12 rush of "We are all Americans" seems to have faded in the
breasts of all but Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain, who continues
to jet around the globe more actively than American leaders themselves to
recruit support for the cause.
T-shirts lionizing Osama bin Laden are hits with those who feel themselves
the world's dispossessed and see the terrorists striking a blow against an
overweening superpower: in Algerian-populated suburbs of Paris and the Cape
Flats of South Africa, in the streets of Cairo and Jakarta.
Newspapers in the Arab world have been full of references to America's
"Zionist- controlled press" and to the common rumors that no Jews died on
Sept. 11 and that America thinks Afghanistan has oil.
But there are also calmer, more considered Muslim voices, pondering the
wisdom and consequences of America's actions now.
In the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria, Samir Ragab, who is said to be close
to President Hosni Mubarak, asked: "Where are the Americans now? We all
thought they were superhuman, equipped with invincible power, wealth and the
ability to manipulate." Because Americans bomb while being unable to catch
Mr. bin Laden, he said, "innocent civilians in Afghanistan who complain that
they have not tasted beef for three years are suffering most of the
A Turkish editor and a Saudi royal counselor agreed that the bombing was
hurting America more than the Taliban.
"As long as the U.S. keeps killing civilians, it will not differ from the
organizations it is fighting against - the only difference is that the U.S.
apologizes," said Ismet Berkan, editor of Radikal, Turkey's most serious
Ihsahn Ali Bu-Hulaiga, a Saudi adviser, said 99 percent of the Afghans were
innocents, and added: "We watch what happens in Afghanistan and we feel bad,
and the following item in any newscast is that the Israelis killed X number
of Palestinians or destroyed so many houses. It sends the message to us
Because no other country has had a huge terrorist attack, because the
hundreds of overseas envelopes that spilled powder have turned out - so
far - to be hoaxes, not anthrax, the fear so widely felt in the United
States has not spread elsewhere in the world. Instead, scrutiny of American
actions, past and present, is on the rise.
While Americans compare Sept. 11 to Pearl Harbor - forgetting perhaps that
the world was already primed to hate the Axis powers by the invasions of
Poland, France, Korea, Manchuria and Ethiopia - a stronger sense of "What
does this mean for me?" has emerged.
Kenyans, who lost 207 people in the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy in
Nairobi, which is attributed to Mr. bin Laden, wonder what took the United
States so long. But other Africans are dismayed that the world seems to have
lost all interest in AIDS, which will kill 25 million, not 5,000.
Russians see parallels to Chechnya and are ready to see America strike as
brutally as they do there. The Japanese agonize over whether to send troops.
The Chinese, who have a border with Afghanistan, seem strangely silent.
While no one speaks so stridently for America as Mr. Blair, presidents of
countries usually skeptical of American militarism have played along.
Vicente Fox of Mexico has offered America more oil, lamented the Mexicans
who died, and said "we consider this problem our problem," although 62
percent of his people, in one poll, endorsed neutrality. Jacques Chirac of
France offered troops, though cynics here say he used the nationalist card
to make his opponent in next year's presidential elections look like a
cranky Old Left naysayer.
However, in newspapers around the world, the backlash is under way.
The American notion that anger at America is simply resentment of its
culture, that foreigners are unhappy because McBurgers outsell escargots or
Stallone outsells Truffaut, is seen overseas as just more American smugness,
an ingrained part of a people who like to see themselves as simply the best.
When foreign writers complain about America now, their complaints are quite
specific, and foreign-policy oriented: America should not silently let the
Israelis commit assassinations, bulldoze houses and colonize Palestinian
land, America should pay attention to Muslim fury that American troops
occupy the land of the Prophet Muhammad, America should not bomb dirt-poor
Afghan cities with no antiaircraft defenses.
When old sores are scratched, they are usually about brutal American foreign
policies: Alfredo Pita, a Peruvian writer, recalled that the 1973 coup
encouraged by Richard Nixon that killed Chile's elected president, Salvador
Allende, also began on Sept. 11.
Eduardo Galeano, a Mexican journalist, asked why 5,000 New York deaths were
televised, but not the deaths of 200,000 Guatemalans "sacrificed not by
Muslim fanatics but by terrorist militias supported by the successive
A commentary in Britain's left- leaning Guardian newspaper said the United
States had been "training terrorists" in its Fort Benning, Ga., school for
Latin American soldiers and police officers for 55 years and suggested that
the British bomb Georgia and also drop packages of nan bread and curry
stamped with the Afghan flag.
America's newest "traditional friends" may be Eastern Europeans.
Poles, firmly pro-American, understand that civilians die in every war and
are dismayed only that Mr. bin Laden is proving hard to catch, said
Bronislaw Geremek, a former foreign minister.
A Romanian newspaper, Evenimentul Zilei, ran a stirring editorial, "Ode to
America," that circled the globe by e-mail and was read aloud to American
soldiers. It celebrated American multiracial unity, its rush to help victims
and its flag-flying, and described a charity concert choir of Hollywood
stars as "the heavy artillery of the American soul."
Africa has its hands full with poverty and AIDS. Among intellectuals, hard
feelings linger over America's refusal to attend the United Nations racism
summit meeting, over high AIDS drug prices and, historically, over slavery.
Ethnic rioting in the continent's most populous country, Nigeria, took a
strange twist after Sept. 11. Thousands have died in Muslim-Christian
clashes in the last two years; now, Christians have taken to wearing
American flags as war decor.
In South Africa, the issue "has polarized this country on racial lines, with
whites supporting America, and anti-American feeling very strong among
blacks," said Bongani Sibeko, 40, a black advertising executive who has
lived in New York. He suggested that frustration with American policy in the
Middle East reverberated far beyond the Arab world.
"I worked in the World Trade Center and the anger and fury I felt will never
wane - but this is against the background of the U.S. role in the Middle
East," Mr. Sibeko said. "It's very difficult to balance images of Israeli
tanks and images of those planes crashing."
The angriest are the country's Muslims - mixed-race descendants of
17th-century Malay slaves. One radio poll found that 85 percent
"sympathized" with American victims but 70 percent thought American policies
were to blame and 60 percent thought Mr. bin Laden's guilt had not been
"Of course we feel sorry for the innocent victims, but don't you think CNN
is dragging this out to the hilt?" asked Aeysha Adams, manager of a
nonprofit journalism training program, and a Muslim. "I guess they think
they're the only country that gets bombed or where people die."
Exactly the same comment could be heard in Switzerland, one of the world's
richest countries, with a very small Muslim population.
"The U.S. is not used to attacks on its soil," said Claude Monnier, the
former editor of The Geneva Journal. "But 5,000 people - if you compare this
to the world wars, or to Rwanda, there is a kind of imbalance. People are
beginning to be angry here. They were moved by Sept. 11, but feel that the
U.S. is being overbearing. Normally, the Swiss are pro-American, but in
Afghanistan, we see a small and powerless country being trashed out by the
U.S. As a small country, we have some sympathy."
by Noam Chomsky
1-7 November 2001
To say that terrorism is the weapon of the weak is a farce. It is the
weapon of the strong, says Noam Chomsky, and for the world's superpower, it
Starting with the common assumption that what happened on 11 September is a
historic event, one which will change history, the question we should be
asking is exactly why is this so? Another question has to do with the "War
Against Terrorism". Exactly what is it? And there is a related question,
namely, what is terrorism?
By far the most important question that we must ask ourselves after 11
September is what is happening right now? Implicit in this question is the
question of what we can do about it. According to The New York Times there
are seven to eight million people in Afghanistan on the verge of
starvation. That was true actually before 11 September. They were
surviving on international aid. On 16 September, the Times reported that
"the US demanded from Pakistan the elimination of truck convoys that
provide much of the food and other supplies to Afghanistan's civilian
population." As far as I could determine, there was no reaction in the US
to the demand to impose massive starvation on millions of people. The
threat of military strikes right after 11 September forced the removal of
international aid workers that crippled the assistance programmes. "The
country was on a lifeline and we just cut the line," the New York Times
Magazine quoted an aid worker as saying.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which is the main aid programme by far,
was able to resume food shipments in early October, at a much lower level.
They do not have international aid workers inside Afghanistan, so the
distribution system is hampered. Even this, however, was suspended as soon
as the bombing began. The WFP then resumed, but at a slower pace, while aid
agencies levelled scathing condemnations of US airdrops of food packets as
"propaganda tools which are probably doing more harm than good," the London
Financial Times reported.
After the first week of bombing, The New York Times reported on a back
page, inside a column on something else, that by the arithmetic of the
United Nations, there will soon be 7.5 million Afghans in acute need of
even a loaf of bread and there are only a few weeks left before the harsh
winter will make deliveries to many areas totally impossible. But with
bombs falling, the article said, the current delivery rate is down to half
of what is needed. A casual comment, which tells us that Western
civilisation is anticipating the slaughter of, well, do the arithmetic,
between three or four million people.
Meanwhile, the leader of Western civilisation dismissed with contempt, once
again, offers of negotiation for delivery of the alleged target, prime
suspect Osama Bin Laden, and a request for some evidence to substantiate
the US's demand for total capitulation. On the same day as this offer was
categorically rejected, the special rapporteur of the UN in charge of food
distribution pleaded with the US to stop the bombing to try to save
millions of victims. As far as I am aware, that plea went unreported by the
media. A few days later the major aid agencies like OXFAM and Christian Aid
joined in the plea. This too went unreported.
It looks like what is happening is some sort of silent genocide. It also
gives a good deal of insight into the elite culture, the culture that we
are part of. It indicates that whatever will happen, we do not know, but
plans are being made and programmes implemented on the assumption that they
may lead to the death of several million people in the next couple of
weeks. Very casually, with no comment, no particular thought about it. That
is just kind of normal, here and in a good part of Europe. Not in the rest
of the world, though. In fact, not even in much of Europe.
Let us turn to a slightly more abstract question, forgetting for the moment
that we are in the midst of apparently trying to murder between three or
four million people. Not the Taliban, of course, but their victims.
Let us turn to the question of the historic event that took place on 11
September. I think it was a historic event not, unfortunately, because of
its scale. Though unpleasant to think about, in terms of the scale, it's
not that unusual. It is, however, probably the worst instant human toll of
Unfortunately, there are terrorist crimes with effects a bit more drawn out
that are more extreme. Nevertheless, 11 September was a historic event
because there was a change. The change was the direction in which the guns
That is new. Radically new.
The last time the national territory of the US was under attack, or for
that matter, even threatened was when the British burned down Washington in
1814. In press reports following the attacks, it was common to bring up
Pearl Harbour, but that is not a good analogy. Whatever you think about it,
the Japanese bombed military bases in two US colonies, not the national
territory, which was never threatened. These colonies had been taken from
their inhabitants in not a very pretty way. The US preferred to call Hawaii
and the Philippines a "territory", but they were in effect colonies.
This time it is the national territory that's been attacked on a large
scale, so you can find a few fringe examples, but this is unique.
During these close to 200 years, we, the United States, have expelled or
mostly exterminated the country's indigenous population, that's many
millions of people. We have conquered half of Mexico, carried out
depredations all over the region, Caribbean and Central America, and
sometimes beyond. We conquered Hawaii and the Philippines, killing hundreds
of thousands of Filipinos in the process. Since the Second World War, the
US has extended its reach around the world in ways I don't have to
describe. But it was always killing someone else, the fighting was
somewhere else, it was others who were getting slaughtered.
In the case of Europe, the change is even more dramatic because its history
is even more horrendous than that of the US. The US is an offshoot of
Europe, basically. For hundreds of years, Europe has been casually
slaughtering people all over the world. That's how they conquered the
world, not by handing out candy to babies. During this period, Europe did
suffer murderous wars, but that was European killers murdering one another.
The main sport of Europe for hundreds of years was slaughtering one
another. The only reason that it came to an end in 1945 had nothing to do
with democracy or not making war with each other and other fashionable
notions. It had to do with the fact that everyone understood that the next
time they play the game it was going to be the end for the world. Because
the Europeans, and the US as well, had developed such massive weapons of
destruction that game just had to be over.
But during this whole bloody, murderous period, it was Europeans
slaughtering each other, and Europeans slaughtering people elsewhere. There
are again small exceptions, but pretty small in scale, certainly invisible
in the scale of what Europe and the US were doing to the rest of the
world. This is the first change. The first time that the guns have been
pointed the other way.
The world looks very different depending on whether you are holding the
lash, or whether you are being whipped by it for hundreds of years, very
different. So I think the shock and surprise is very understandable. That
is the reason why most of the rest of the world looks at it quite
differently. Not lacking sympathy for the victims of the atrocity or being
horrified by them, that is almost uniform, but viewing it from a different
perspective. It is something we might want to understand.
Well, let us go to the question of terrorism. What is the "war against
terrorism"? The war against terrorism has been described in high places as
a struggle against a plague, a cancer which is spread by barbarians, by
"depraved opponents of civilisation itself." That is a feeling that I
share. The words I am quoting, however, happen to date back 20 years. I am
quoting President Reagan and his secretary of state. The Reagan
administration came into office 20 years ago declaring that the war against
international terrorism would be the core of US foreign policy and
describing it in terms of the kind I just mentioned.
And it was the core of US foreign policy. The Reagan administration
responded to this "plague spread by depraved opponents of civilisation
itself" by creating an extraordinary international terrorist network,
totally unprecedented in scale, which carried out massive atrocities all
over the world. I will not run through the whole gamut of it, but just
mention one case which is totally uncontroversial: the Reagan-US War
Against Nicaragua. It is uncontroversial because of the judgments of the
highest international authorities: the International Court of Justice, the
World Court and the UN Security Council. So this one is uncontroversial, at
least among people who have some minimal concern for international law,
human rights, justice and other things like that.
The case of Nicaragua is a particularly relevant one, not only because it
is uncontroversial, but because it does offer a precedent as to how a law-
abiding state would respond did in fact respond, to a case of international
terrorism, which is uncontroversial. A case of terrorism that was even more
extreme than the events of 11 September. The Reagan-US war against
Nicaragua left tens of thousands of people dead, the country ruined,
perhaps beyond recovery.
Nicaragua did respond. They did not respond by setting off bombs in
Washington. They responded by taking the US to the World Court, presenting
a case for which they had no problem putting together evidence. The World
Court ruled in Nicaragua's favour, and condemned what they called the
"unlawful use of force", which is another term for international terrorism.
They ordered the US to terminate the crime and to pay massive reparations.
The US, of course, dismissed the court judgment with total contempt and
announced that it would not accept the jurisdiction of the court
henceforth. Nicaragua then went to the UN Security Council, which
considered a resolution calling on all states to observe international law.
No one was mentioned but everyone understood. The US vetoed the resolution.
It now stands as the only state on record which has been condemned both by
the World Court for international terrorism and has vetoed a Security
Council resolution calling on states to observe international law.
Nicaragua then went to the UN General Assembly, where there is technically
no veto, but a negative US vote amounts to a veto. The General Assembly
passed a similar resolution with only the US, Israel, and El Salvador
opposed. The following year Nicaragua took its case again to the General
Assembly. This time the US could only rally Israel to the cause, so two
votes opposed observing international law. At that point, Nicaragua had
exhausted all available legal measures, concluding that they do not work in
a world that is ruled by force.
Terrorism, on the other hand does work, and is the weapon of the strong. It
is a very serious analytic error to say, as is commonly done, that
terrorism is the weapon of the weak. Like other means of violence, it is
primarily a weapon of the strong, overwhelmingly, in fact. It is held to be
a weapon of the weak because the strong also control the doctrinal systems
and their terror does not count as terror.
Excerpts taken from a lecture given by professor Chomsky on 18 October
sponsored by the Technology and Culture Forum at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.
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