[sixties-l] Antiwar News...(# 37) (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Sun Dec 02 2001 - 19:37:13 EST

  • Next message: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu: "[sixties-l] Policing the academy (fwd)"

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 17:59:39 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Antiwar News...(# 37)

    Antiwar News...(# 37)

    --Hypocrisy, hatred and the war on terror
    --Scripting the Big Lie: Pro-war propaganda proliferates
    --Afghan Children of War Rant at Uncle Sam
    --Some details on civilian casualties we're not hearing in the U.S. press
    --Killing Civilians To Show That Killing Civilians Is Wrong
    --The west shares the blame
    --War Support Ebbs Worldwide
    --US drops the weapon that packs an 'atomic' punch
    --The War on Terror Turns Into War on Afghanistan
    --Workers around the world against the war
    --Former UN man warns of Afghan 'catastrophe'
    --Bystander Apathy: The Battle for Our Hearts and Minds
    --Nights of Death in Kandahar

    (Anti-war links/resources at the end.)

    Hypocrisy, hatred and the war on terror

    by Robert Fisk
    08 November 2001

    "AIR CAMPAIGN"? "Coalition forces"? "War on terror"? How much longer must we
    go on enduring these lies? There is no "campaign" merely an air
    bombardment of the poorest and most broken country in the world by the
    world's richest and most sophisticated nation. No MiGs have taken to the
    skies to do battle with the American B-52s or F-18s. The only ammunition
    soaring into the air over Kabul comes from Russian anti-aircraft guns
    manufactured around 1943.

    Coalition? Hands up who's seen the Luftwaffe in the skies over Kandahar, or
    the Italian air force or the French air force over Herat. Or even the
    Pakistani air force. The Americans are bombing Afghanistan with a few
    British missiles thrown in. "Coalition" indeed.

    Then there's the "war on terror". When are we moving on to bomb the Jaffna
    peninsula? Or Chechnya which we have already left in Vladimir Putin's
    bloody hands? I even seem to recall a massive terrorist car bomb that
    exploded in Beirut in 1985 targeting Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the spiritual
    inspiration to the Hezbollah, who now appears to be back on Washington's hit
    list and which missed Nasrallah but slaughtered 85 innocent Lebanese
    civilians. Years later, Carl Bernstein revealed in his book, Veil, that the
    CIA was behind the bomb after the Saudis agreed to fund the operation. So
    will the US President George Bush be hunting down the CIA murderers
    involved? The hell he will.

    So why on earth are all my chums on CNN and Sky and the BBC rabbiting on
    about the "air campaign", "coalition forces" and the "war on terror"? Do
    they think their viewers believe this twaddle?

    Certainly Muslims don't. In fact, you don't have to spend long in Pakistan
    to realise that the Pakistani press gives an infinitely more truthful and
    balanced account of the "war" publishing work by local intellectuals,
    historians and opposition writers along with Taliban comments and
    pro-government statements as well as syndicated Western analyses than The
    New York Times; and all this, remember, in a military dictatorship.

    You only have to spend a few weeks in the Middle East and the subcontinent
    to realise why Tony Blair's interviews on al-Jazeera and Larry King Live
    don't amount to a hill of beans. The Beirut daily As-Safir ran a
    widely-praised editorial asking why an Arab who wanted to express the anger
    and humiliation of millions of other Arabs was forced to do so from a cave
    in a non-Arab country. The implication, of course, was that this rather
    than the crimes against humanity on 11 September was the reason for
    America's determination to liquidate Osama bin Laden. Far more persuasive
    has been a series of articles in the Pakistani press on the outrageous
    treatment of Muslims arrested in the United States in the aftermath of the
    September atrocities.

    One such article should suffice. Headlined "Hate crime victim's diary", in
    The News of Lahore, it outlined the suffering of Hasnain Javed, who was
    arrested in Alabama on 19 September with an expired visa. In prison in
    Mississippi, he was beaten up by a prisoner who also broke his tooth. Then,
    long after he had sounded the warden's alarm bell, more men beat him against
    a wall with the words: "Hey bin Laden, this is the first round. There are
    going to be 10 rounds like this." There are dozens of other such stories in
    the Pakistani press and most of them appear to be true.

    Again, Muslims have been outraged by the hypocrisy of the West's supposed
    "respect" for Islam. We are not, so we have informed the world, going to
    suspend military operations in Afghanistan during the holy fasting month of
    Ramadan. After all, the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq conflict continued during Ramadan.
    So have Arab-Israeli conflicts. True enough. But why, then, did we make such
    a show of suspending bombing on the first Friday of the bombardment last
    month out of our "respect" for Islam? Because we were more respectful then
    than now? Or because the Taliban remaining unbroken we've decided to
    forget about all that "respect"?

    "I can see why you want to separate bin Laden from our religion," a Peshawar
    journalist said to me a few days ago. "Of course you want to tell us that
    this isn't a religious war, but Mr Robert, please, please stop telling us
    how much you respect Islam."

    There is another disturbing argument I hear in Pakistan. If, as Mr Bush
    claims, the attacks on New York and Washington were an assault on
    "civilisation", why shouldn't Muslims regard an attack on Afghanistan as a
    war on Islam?

    The Pakistanis swiftly spotted the hypocrisy of the Australians. While
    itching to get into the fight against Mr bin Laden, the Australians have
    sent armed troops to force destitute Afghan refugees out of their
    territorial waters. The Aussies want to bomb Afghanistan but they don't
    want to save the Afghans. Pakistan, it should be added, hosts 2.5 million
    Afghan refugees. Needless to say, this discrepancy doesn't get much of an
    airing on our satellite channels. Indeed, I have never heard so much fury
    directed at journalists as I have in Pakistan these past few weeks. Nor am I

    What, after all, are we supposed to make of the so-called "liberal" American
    television journalist Geraldo Rivera who is just moving to Fox TV, a Murdoch
    channel? "I'm feeling more patriotic than at any time in my life, itching
    for justice, or maybe just revenge," he announced this week. "And this
    catharsis I've gone through has caused me to reassess what I do for a
    living." This is truly chilling stuff. Here is an American journalist
    actually revealing that he's possibly "itching for revenge".

    Infinitely more shameful and unethical were the disgraceful words of
    Walter Isaacson, the chairman of CNN, to his staff. Showing the misery of
    Afghanistan ran the risk of promoting enemy propaganda, he said. "It seems
    perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan ...
    we must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the
    Taliban have harboured the terrorists responsible for killing close up to
    5,000 innocent people."

    Mr Isaacson was an unimaginative boss of Time magazine but these latest
    words will do more to damage the supposed impartiality of CNN than anything
    on the air in recent years. Perverse? Why perverse? Why are Afghan
    casualties so far down Mr Isaacson's compassion? Or is Mr Isaacson just
    following the lead set down for him a few days earlier by the White House
    spokesman Ari Fleischer, who portentously announced to the Washington press
    corps that in times like these "people have to watch what they say and watch
    what they do".

    Needless to say, CNN has caved in to the US government's demand not to
    broadcast Mr bin Laden's words in toto lest they contain "coded messages".
    But the coded messages go out on television every hour. They are "air
    campaign", "coalition forces" and "war on terror".


    Scripting the Big Lie: Pro-war propaganda proliferates

    Via Workers World News Service
    Reprinted from the Nov. 29, 2001
    issue of Workers World newspaper

    By Heather Cottin

    The titans of the military-industrial-media complex are
    working around the clock trying to annihilate the truth so
    people in the United States won't care what happens to the
    people of Afghanistan. Using every propaganda vehicle, the
    Bush administration is driving hard to control the minds and
    hearts of the public here and, if possible, around the
    world. Those who would oppose them are run over.

    In a briefing, Bush spokesperson Ari Fleischer warned
    reporters that, in times like these, "people have to watch
    what they say and watch what they do." CNN and other major
    commercial news organizations are obeying Fleischer's

    During the bombing of Afghanistan, network news outlets
    endlessly repeated, "Taliban claims are nearly impossible to
    verify." CNN has ordered reporters to frame reports of
    civilian deaths with reminders that "the Pentagon has
    repeatedly stressed that it is trying to minimize" such
    casualties, and that "the Taliban regime continues to harbor
    terrorists who are connected to the Sept. 11 attacks that
    claimed thousands of innocent lives in the U.S."

    In a special report Nov. 5 that took other media to task for
    letting the world know about the slaughter of innocents in
    Afghanistan, Fox News anchor Brit Hume said, "Civilian
    casualties are historically, by definition, a part of war,
    really. Should they be as big news as they've been?"

    Mara Liasson from National Public Radio agreed, "Look, war
    is about killing people. Civilian casualties are

    U.S. News & World Report columnist Michael Barone added, "I
    think the real problem here is that this is poor news
    judgment on the part of some of these news organizations.
    Civilian casualties are not, as Mara says, news. The fact is
    that they accompany wars."

    A memo circulated to editors at the Panama City, Fla., News
    Herald and leaked to Jim Romenesko's Media News warned: "DO
    NOT USE photos on Page 1A showing civilian casualties from
    the U.S. war on Afghanistan. DO NOT USE wire stories which
    lead with civilian casualties from the U.S. war on
    Afghanistan ... play down the civilian casualties, DO IT."


    A New York Times article on Nov. 11 delineating the "Battle
    to Shape Public Opinion" explained in detail how the Bush
    administration was setting up "a round-the-clock war news
    bureau" in Washington, London and Islamabad to help develop
    a "message of the day."

    The Times called the effort a "21st-century version of the
    muscular propaganda war that the United States waged in the

    The State Department brought in former advertising executive
    Charlotte Beers to sell the U.S. line. This message
    "dovetails with the domestic news management" under the
    supervision of Karen P. Hughes, the White House
    communications director. Beers holds meetings with foreign
    correspondents "closed to American journalists."

    "We can't give out our propaganda to our own people," said
    Price Floyd, deputy director of media outreach at the State
    Department. Heavens, no.

    According to the Times, the State Department and Defense
    Department aren't allowing any real information out about
    military operations. "Clark Hoyt, the Washington editor for
    the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, said 'American forces are
    engaged in combat overseas, and we are basically shut out.'"
    The Frankfurter Rundschau wrote, "Substantial amounts of
    information about current military actions and their
    consequences is subject to censorship by parties to the


    This is total war, even if incredibly one-sided, and the
    administration has drafted Hollywood.

    The heads of the Warner Brothers television studio and of
    the CBS and Fox broadcasting networks are actively
    collaborating in a scheme to spread the U.S. government's
    message through the movies.

    The New York Times reported on Nov. 11 that several dozen
    top Hollywood executives met with Karl Rove, President
    Bush's senior adviser, to find "common ground on how the
    entertainment industry can contribute to the war effort,
    replicating in spirit if not in scope the partnership formed
    between filmmakers and war planners in the 1940s."

    The Sunday Herald of Scotland noted, "Hollywood stars and
    scriptwriters are rushing to bolster the new message of
    patriotism, conferring with the CIA and brainstorming with
    the military about possible real-life terrorist attacks."

    Many of the "stars" are thrilled. Actor Tom Cruise,
    concerned about his upcoming role as a CIA operative in his
    next movie, wants to show the "CIA in as positive a light as
    possible." Sylvester Stallone is working on the script for a
    fourth Rambo film in which he parachutes into Afghanistan to
    battle leaders of the Taliban (New York Post, Nov. 13).

    You can't make this stuff up.

    Michael Macedonia of the army's Simulation, Training and
    Instrumentation Command was enraptured with the prospect of
    using Hollywood as a propaganda tool. "You' re talking about
    screenwriters and producers. These are very brilliant,
    creative people. They can come up with fascinating insights
    very quickly," he told the Sunday Herald.

    Actually, Hollywood has always been a willing tool for war
    propaganda. Many people know nothing about the world except
    what they see in war films. These are carefully planned and
    funded. For example, a little-known think tank, the
    Institute for Creative Studies at the University of Southern
    California, received funding of $45 million from the U.S.
    Army in 1999, writes the Sunday Herald.

    The New York Times noted, "Efforts to create public service
    spots for TV and movie theaters, documentaries on terrorism
    and home security, live shows for American troops featuring
    Hollywood performers and perhaps some involvement in helping
    spread the American message abroad, provides an opportunity
    for the studios to reassert their patriotism" while being
    "good business."

    Hollywood, as big business, is in tune with the
    sensibilities of the oil companies. The owners of the major
    studios are the same capitalists who own the defense and oil
    industries, which are the major beneficiaries of the war for
    the Middle East and Central Asia. There is no contradiction
    between Hollywood's goals here and Pentagon strategy. They
    are all profiting from this war. This is just war by other
    means, war on people's hearts and minds.


    The Bush administration's minions are meanwhile on the
    attack against students and professors who oppose the war in

    The Boston Globe reported on Nov. 13 that a "conservative
    academic group founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice
    President Dick Cheney, fired a new salvo in the culture wars
    by blasting 40 college professors as well as the president
    of Wesleyan University and others for not showing enough
    patriotism in the aftermath of Sept. 11."

    "College and university faculty have been the weak link in
    America's response to the attack,'' says a report by
    Cheney's newly created American Council of Trustees and
    Alumni. The report names names and criticizes professors for
    making statements "short on patriotism."

    Not content with creating what one professor called tactics
    "reminiscent of McCarthyism" against university professors,
    the administration has called in the intelligence agencies
    to beef up the attack on culture and the free expression of

    On Nov. 7, FBI and Secret Service agents visited the "Secret
    Wars" exhibit at the Art Car Museum in Houston, Texas.
    Secret Wars is an exhibition investigating artistic dissent
    to covert operations and government secrets.

    Donna Huanca, a worker at the museum, said, "It was a very
    scary experience. ... They were interested in where we got
    our funding, how many people come in in a day, what the
    traffic was like, how did we advertise. They let us know
    that they are watching us now."

    Tex Kerschen, the museum's curator, said to Independent
    Media, "The FBI are going to move in as quickly as they can
    to investigate any kind of dissent."


    With television, movies, the print media, academia and
    cultural outlets on the run, the U.S. government found it
    still had one formidable opponent in its war on public
    opinion. One news service has been able to present a
    different view of the war in Afghanistan. Called by some
    "the CNN of the Middle East," Al-Jazeera is a 24-hour
    television station based in Qatar that reaches more than 35
    million Arabs around the world, including 150,000 in the
    United States. The station provided the only television
    transmission from Afghanistan until the BBC arrived just
    before the fall of Kabul.

    The Associated Press on Nov. 13 reported that a missile
    destroyed the Al-Jazeera office in Kabul. While the Defense
    Department claimed it was targeting the building because
    there was supposedly an Al-Qaeda meeting going on, critics
    noted that it was unlikely that Al-Qaeda would have hung
    around Kabul after the Taliban had fled. One Al-Jazeera
    spokesperson said, "They know where we are located and they
    know what we have in our office and we also did not get any

    Nearby offices of the AP and the BBC in Kabul were damaged
    in the same attack. Pictures of correspondent William Reeve
    diving under his desk to avoid fall-out from the blast have
    been shown on BBC television. There were no military
    installations nearby, and the bombing in the civilian
    neighborhood came after Taliban forces had pulled out of the

    Following the attack, the BBC reported Nov. 16 that
    Washington had "asked Qatar to rein in the influential and
    editorially independent Arab Al-Jazeera television station,
    which gives airtime to anti-American opinions." In a sharp
    response, Al-Jazeera said its Kabul office had been
    deliberately targeted by U.S. bombers, according to the
    British newspaper on Nov. 17. On the defensive, Air Force
    Director of Public Affairs Col. Brian Hoey replied, "We
    would not, as a policy, target news media organizations--it
    would not even begin to make sense."

    The bombing of a Yugoslav television station in the spring
    of 1999 was a "different issue," Hoey said.

    But it is not a different issue. It is war. The Bush
    administration has declared war on the truth and
    consciousness. It needs to generate public support for
    ongoing military intervention in the Middle East and Central
    Asia. And disinformation just isn't enough. So the military
    is bombing renegade media outlets while the capitalist media
    bombard the people with lies and disinformation.

    But no amount of movies or propaganda will make U.S. youths
    willing recruits for a new land war in Asia. They are not
    going to buy it. Patriotic fervor tends to wane. Washington
    will lose this propaganda campaign. In a shrinking economy,
    working people can't afford a war that in the end helps only
    the oil companies, the military industries and the


    Afghan Children of War Rant at Uncle Sam

    7 November 2001

    CHAMAN -- War in Afghanistan has been around longer than Abdul Samad,
    Umar Jan or Abdul Baqi have been alive.

    Refugees in a United Nations-run camp that stretches along the barbed
    wire of the Pakistan-Afghan border, these children have fled their homes
    with their families to escape the U.S. bombing campaign against the
    ruling Taliban.

    Some of the older children in the Killo Faizo tent city that has sprung
    up by the border crossing of Chaman remember the Soviet occupation of
    their homes more than a decade ago.

    Most lived through the infighting and banditry by victorious mujahideen,
    or holy warriors, when the Russians departed and then the steady sweep
    across the mountainous country by the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban.

    But they say they have never seen anything like the high-tech U.S. air
    offensive launched in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New
    York and Washington and believed to have been masterminded by Taliban
    guest, Osama bin Laden.

    Umar Jan, 15, from the southern Taliban stronghold, Kandahar, said on
    Wednesday he would have been in the turbaned Taliban front lines had the
    United States launched a ground war. But what can he do against bombs
    raining down from the sky?

    "It is like they have tied our feet and our hands and are stabbing our
    helpless body with a knife," said Jan, his chin already sprouting the
    obligatory Afghan beard.

    Abdul Baqi's farming family, also from Kandahar, survived more than 20
    years of seemingly endless conflict.

    Shortly after the U.S. air strikes began on October 7, their home was
    destroyed in the blast from a bombed arms depot and his two brothers
    were killed.

    "We haven't had war like this before," said the bare-foot 12-year-old,
    one of around 2,600 Afghans living in Killi Faizo, a temporary camp set
    up by the United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last
    month in anticipation of a flood of refugees.

    There are hundreds of children of war in the Killi Faizo camp.

    Ragged and covered in dust, they may have walked or ridden on the back
    of pick-ups for days with their families to get to relative safety on
    the Pakistani side of the border.

    After three years of drought in Afghanistan, many arrive suffering from
    extreme hunger.

    Doctor Kabirullah, helping to run a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic in
    the camp, said the hospital had treated 19 children with severe
    malnutrition since October 30. They were all saved.

    Other health problems include dysentery and measles.

    Pakistan, which already has around 2.5 million Afghan refugees, has
    ordered the UNHCR to stop registering new arrivals at Killi Faizo and
    around 50 families were waiting outside the camp on Wednesday, sleeping
    rough in the icy desert night.

    "You see the children crying at night, out under the open sky," said
    Alangeer Khan, team leader for a British charity, Islamic Relief, which
    has provided tents for the refugees. "I tell you, these people really
    need help."

    But the children are dismissive of the aid from international
    organizations and the United Nations.

    Jan said the Taliban brought relative peace to Kandahar, executing
    warlords who pillaged and raped at will, and allowing him and his family
    to farm unmolested.

    Like many of their parents, who have left everything behind in
    Afghanistan, the children demonize the United States.

    "They say they are attacking Taliban targets. But they bomb them once
    and us (civilians) 10 times," said Abdul Samad, 15.

    Baqi is tiny for a 12-year-old. "It is because of the U.S. bombardment,"
    he said.


    Independently verified pain


    Some details on civilian casualties we're not hearing in the U.S. press

    Geov Parrish

    There is a myth here in America that terrorists attacked the World Trade
    Center because "we're the freest nation on Earth." If that were true, you
    and I would be free to read the details about the Afghanistan bombing
    campaign in the U.S. press. But we're not being allowed that particular

    In Britain, however, the press has been following events in some detail and
    reporting on the civilian casualties, the worsening humanitarian condition,
    the dropping of cluster bombs on villages, the ineffectiveness of U.S.
    bombing on Taliban targets, the disintegration of Northern Alliance forces,
    and on, and on.

    Because of their freedom to read the truth, the British public is beginning
    to change its mind about the progress of the war. According to a
    Guardian/ICM poll, 54 percent are in favor of halting the bombing campaign,
    at least temporarily, to allow aid agencies to feed hungry refugees, treat
    wounded civilians, dispose of unexploded cluster bombs, and help restore
    electricity and water to Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar.

    Despite the selective reporting here, a huge majority of Americans -- a
    whopping 75 percent -- think that the U.S. isn't going to capture or kill
    bin Laden any time soon, if ever, according to an Oct. 30 CBS-New York Times
    poll. Only 30 percent think that the "international alliance" will hold.
    This shows how really slim American support for the war is. It's a very
    small step from believing that the war is unwinnable to thinking that the
    war should be stopped.

    How many Americans would change their minds if they could possess the
    freedoms that the British public takes for granted? Since Oct. 22, when I
    included in this space an extensive list of independently reported incidents
    involving civilian casualties, plenty more have come to the attention of the
    rest of the world. While the punditocracy tries to justify the Pentagon's
    claims that the Taliban figure of 1,500 dead civilians is "vastly
    overstated," few seem willing to consider that the figure might be about
    right -- or even too low.

    Here, some viewers and readers are starting to get the general impression
    that civilians are dying; but we generally don't know how, or how many.
    Instead, we get a brief report, sans pictures of victims (another luxury
    seemingly available only to the foreign press). Invariably, our report
    concludes that the deaths "cannot be independently verified."

    By all appearances, U.S. media is so busy shining the shoes (or boots) of
    power that it can't do much of anything independently these days.

    Given those givens, and because my Oct. 22 column was so widely used and
    circulated, here's a rundown of some of the additional reports of civilian
    casualties since then. These reports all came from refugees or reporters,
    not from the Taliban. For ongoing information, check the UK's Guardian
    (London Observer on Sundays); the Independent; the Daily Telegraph; the
    Irish Times; or some of the non-British sources I listed October 25. But
    whatever you do, don't rely solely on American media to tell the whole

    On Oct. 18, intense bombing over Kabul killed 10 people in Kalae Zaman Khan,
    three people near the Kabul airport, and two civilians in Kabul's Khair
    Khana district. An 8-year-old girl perished in the Macroyan housing project.
    A U.S. bomb damaged the offices used by CNN contract workers in Kandahar
    (the bomb was meant for a vehicle parked nearby). Reuters reported that all
    water supplies in Kabul have been bombed out and electricity is only being
    supplied to select parts of the city for 15 minutes per day -- not long
    enough for doctors to perform operations in hospitals.

    A 10-year-old Afghan boy in a Pakistani hospital describes cluster bomblets
    that exploded while he and his friends played near their homes in Kandahar.
    Shrapnel cut a hole in his head. He doesn't know what happened to his

    On Oct. 19, a U.S. bomb struck the Sarai Shamali marketplace in Kabul and
    killed more than a dozen civilians.

    On Oct. 21, a U.S. bomb demolished two homes in the Khair Khana district in
    northern Kabul. An AP reporter saw seven dead: three women and four boys,
    ages eight to 13. A doctor at the nearby hospital reported a total of 13
    dead from the incident, all members of the same extended family.

    At 7:20 PM, the tiny village of Doori near Kandahar was completely destroyed
    by two U.S. bombs. At least 25 people were killed and a 12-month-old baby
    was taken to a hospital in Pakistan. His tiny, burned, cut face is broadcast
    on media all over the Middle East and Europe -- but not in the U.S.

    A U.S. bomb fell on a tractor/trailer carrying dozens of civilians fleeing
    bombing in the town of Tirin Kot. At least 20 people were killed, including
    nine children.

    On Oct. 22, Taliban officials said doctors in Herat and Kandahar described
    "a state of poisonousness" in patients injured by shrapnel. They could be
    referring to sickness caused by depleted uranium munitions, which produced
    sickness in injured soldiers and civilians in the Gulf War, Serbia, and

    Also that day, Chowkar-Karez, a farming village about 40 miles north of
    Kandahar, was destroyed just before midnight by U.S. bombs. The Taliban
    claimed 90-100 civilian dead, almost the entire population of the village;
    Human Rights Watch estimates 25-35. Six survivors 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. Other
    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. After Rumsfeld professed ignorance repeatedly,
    unidentified Pentagon officials, claiming that Chowkar-Karez was "a fully
    legitimate target" because it was a nest of Taliban and al-Qaeda
    sympathizers, eventually told CNN that "the people there are dead because we
    wanted them dead."

    On Oct. 23, the U.N. said a U.S. bomb demolished a military hospital in
    Herat. U.N. personnel confirm that civilians were often treated at that
    hospital. The Taliban claimed 100 killed, but no other source verified

    On the same day, a cluster bomb exploded and released its bomblets in the
    village of Shaker Qala, near Herat. The bomblets didn't explode; instead,
    they spread out over an area the size of a football field, trapping
    villagers inside their homes. Eight people died from the initial explosion
    and one man died when he tried to pick up one of the bright, yellow
    bomblets, which looked like a soft-drink can. U.N. personnel laid sandbags
    around the visible bomblets, but after realizing that some of them were
    half-buried in the ground and difficult to see, they were forced to evacuate
    the entire village.

    Qatar's Al-Jazeera television (much maligned here in the U.S. for showing
    footage of bin Laden's speeches, but widely hailed as the freest and most
    comprehensive press outlet in the Middle East) reported that 93 civilians
    were killed by U.S. bombs in the village of Chakor Kariz, 37 miles northeast
    of Kandahar, including 18 members of a single family that had fled to Chakor
    to escape the bombing in Kandahar. Forty people were wounded in the attack.
    Jazeera broadcast video footage of the dead bodies, taken by their
    correspondent in Kandahar. A few days later, BBC reporters visited the
    village and described "a scene of total destruction...A detailed examination
    of the scene revealed no evidence that the village might have been used by
    Taleban fighters or any other reason for it to have been targeted."

    On Oct. 25, a U.S. bomb exploded near a mosque in the Ishaq Suleiman
    district of Herat during evening prayers; at least 20 civilians were killed.

    A doctor at the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, reported
    that between 60 and 70 wounded Afghan civilians were arriving every day for
    treatment and "there are many other hospitals in this community facing the
    same problem." A doctor at Al Hajeri Al Khidmat Hospital reported that most
    of the wounded were women and children.

    Three houses in the village of Wazir Abad, three miles west of the Kabul
    airport, were flattened by a U.S. bomb, killing two girls, ages six and

    U.S. planes again mistakenly bombed the Red Cross compound in Kabul,
    dropping eight bombs in two separate bombing runs, and destroying four
    warehouses. All the buildings had large, red crosses painted on the roofs
    and the Red Cross had given their coordinates to the U.S. military twice --
    once at the beginning of the war and again after two of the buildings were
    bombed on Oct. 16. Food and supplies that could have fed 55,000 people this
    winter were destroyed.

    On Oct. 27, U.S. bombs fell on two civilian hamlets in Northern Alliance
    territory (Ghanikheil and Raqi) and one village in Taliban territory
    (Nikhahil), killing 12 people and injuring at least 10 others. (Ghanikheil
    is far behind the front lines, according to the Times of London.) This was
    the fifth time U.S. planes had bombed Northern Alliance territory by

    On Oct 28, a bomb flattened a house in the Qali Hotair neighborhood of
    Kabul, killing seven children as they were eating breakfast with their
    father. The blast also killed another two children in a neighboring house,
    one of them a two-year-old. Three more people died near the Macroyan housing
    complex. A bomb fell on a bus and killed two civilians attempting to flee
    Kabul with their family.

    On Oct. 30, the U.S. began broadcasting radio messages to the Afghan people
    warning them not to mistake the cluster bomblets for the similar-looking
    food packets being dropped from U.S. planes. (Both are the same color and
    size.) Unfortunately, almost no one in Afghanistan was hearing the
    broadcasts, according to BBC reporters.

    On Oct. 31, a U.S. bomb damaged a Red Crescent hospital in Kandahar, killing
    15 people and severely injuring 25, including hospital staff and patients.
    Two ambulances were destroyed in the attack. Red Crescent flags were flying
    outside the hospital and stretchers were stacked against one outside wall.

    Cluster bombs exploded in Jabraheel, littering unexploded bomblets over this
    suburb of Herat. At least one person died after picking up a bomblet. The
    Los Angeles Times (which has, so far, featured the best war reporting of any
    U.S. newspaper) reported that U.S. planes have begun carpet bombing all over
    the countryside, although the Pentagon had dubbed it "area bombing," to
    avoid negative connotations.

    And so it goes. I'll save November for another day; the point is, civilian
    deaths are happening daily, and the rest of the world is seeing them daily
    in the context of a campaign where nobody can really shoot back -- and
    attacks that prevent the delivery of food to millions of people who need to
    get it in the next week or two or face a slow death by starvation this
    winter. Pres. Bush, on Monday, finally acknowledged the obvious -- that the
    U.S. is badly losing the truly important part of the "War on Terrorism," the
    campaign for the hearts and minds of both Muslims and the rest of the world.

    But then Bush went on, as if by an inexorable law of physics, to draw
    exactly the wrong conclusion: that the problem was that America wasn't
    making its case well enough, that we needed to do better spin. The mounting
    anti-American alarm and hostility around the world isn't being caused by bad
    spin; it's being caused by what America is doing, and the unthinkable, and
    preventable, situation it is about to allow to unfold.

    The United States does not need improved spin; it needs to reverse its
    policies, immediately. And U.S. media needs to start allowing the American
    public to see and read what the rest of the world already knows.


    Killing Civilians To Show That Killing Civilians Is Wrong


    A Briefing On The History Of U.S. Military Interventions

    By Zoltan Grossman

    Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, most people in the
    world agree that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice, without
    killing many thousands of civilians in the process. But unfortunately, the
    U.S. military has always accepted massive civilian deaths as part of the
    cost of war. The military is now poised to kill thousands of foreign
    civilians, in order to prove that killing U.S. civilians is wrong.

    The media has told us repeatedly that some Middle Easterners hate the U.S.
    only because of our "freedom" and "prosperity." Missing from this
    explanation is the historical context of the U.S. role in the Middle East,
    and for that matter in the rest of the world. This basic primer is an
    attempt to brief readers who have not closely followed the history of U.S.
    foreign or military affairs, and are perhaps unaware of the background of
    U.S. military interventions abroad, but are concerned about the direction
    of our country toward a new war in the name of "freedom" and "protecting

    The United States military has been intervening in other countries for a
    long time. In 1898, it seized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from
    Spain, and in 1917-18 became embroiled in World War I in Europe. In the
    first half of the 20th century it repeatedly sent Marines to
    "protectorates" such as Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and the
    Dominican Republic. All these interventions directly served corporate
    interests, and many resulted in massive losses of civilians, rebels, and
    soldiers. Many of the uses of U.S. combat forces are documented in "A
    History of U.S. Military Interventions Since 1890" at

    U.S. involvement in World War II (1941-45) was sparked by the surprise
    attack on Pearl Harbor, and fear of an Axis invasion of North America.
    Allied bombers attacked fascist military targets, but also fire-bombed
    German and Japanese cities such as Dresden and Tokyo, party under the
    assumption that destroying civilian neighborhoods would weaken the resolve
    of the survivors and turn them against their regimes. Many historians agree
    that fire- bombing's effect was precisely the opposite--increasing Axis
    civilian support for homeland defense, and discouraging potential coup
    attempts. The atomic bombing of Japan at the end of the war was carried out
    without any kind of advance demonstration or warning that may have
    prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

    The war in Korea (1950-53) was marked by widespread atrocities, both by
    North Korean/Chinese forces, and South Korean/U.S. forces. U.S. troops
    fired on civilian refugees headed into South Korea, apparently fearing they
    were northern infiltrators. Bombers attacked North Korean cities, and the
    U.S. twice threatened to use nuclear weapons. North Korea is under the same
    Communist government today as when the war began.

    During the Middle East crisis of 1958, Marines were deployed to quell a
    rebellion in Lebanon, and Iraq was threatened with nuclear attack if it
    invaded Kuwait. This little-known crisis helped set U.S. foreign policy on
    a collision course with Arab nationalists, often in support of the region's

    In the early 1960s, the U.S. returned to its pre-World War II
    interventionary role in the Caribbean, directing the failed 1961 Bay of
    Pigs exile invasion of Cuba, and the 1965 bombing and Marine invasion of
    the Dominican Republic during an election campaign. The CIA trained and
    harbored Cuban exile groups in Miami, which launched terrorist attacks on
    Cuba, including the 1976 downing of a Cuban civilian jetliner near
    Barbados. During the Cold War, the CIA would also help to support or
    install pro-U.S. dictatorships in Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and
    many other countries around the world.

    The U.S. war in Indochina (1960-75) pit U.S. forces against North Vietnam,
    and Communist rebels fighting to overthrow pro-U.S. dictatorships in South
    Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. U.S. war planners made little or no
    distinction between attacking civilians and guerrillas in rebel-held zones,
    and U.S. "carpet-bombing" of the countryside and cities swelled the ranks
    of the ultimately victorious revolutionaries. Over two million people were
    killed in the war, including 55,000 U.S. troops. Less than a dozen U.S.
    citizens were killed on U.S. soil, in National Guard shootings or antiwar
    bombings. In Cambodia, the bombings drove the Khmer Rouge rebels toward
    fanatical leaders, who launched a murderous rampage when they took power in

    Echoes of Vietnam reverberated in Central America during the 1980s, when
    the Reagan administration strongly backed the pro-U.S. regime in El
    Salvador, and right-wing exile forces fighting the new leftist Sandinista
    government in Nicaragua. Rightist death squads slaughtered Salvadoran
    civilians who questioned the concentration of power and wealth in a few
    hands. CIA-trained Nicaraguan Contra rebels launched terrorist attacks
    against civilian clinics and schools run by the Sandinista government, and
    mined Nicaraguan harbors. U.S. troops also invaded the island nation of
    Grenada in 1983, to oust a new military regime, attacking Cuban civilian
    workers (even though Cuba had backed the leftist government deposed in the
    coup), and accidentally bombing a hospital.

    The U.S. returned in force to the Middle East in 1980, after the Shi'ite
    Muslim revolution in Iran against Shah Pahlevi's pro-U.S. dictatorship. A
    troop and bombing raid to free U.S. Embassy hostages held in downtown
    Tehran had to be aborted in the Iranian desert. After the 1982 Israeli
    occupation of Lebanon, U.S. Marines were deployed in a neutral
    "peacekeeping" operation. They instead took the side of Lebanon's
    pro-Israel Christian government against Muslim rebels, and U.S. Navy ships
    rained enormous shells on Muslim civilian villages. Embittered Shi'ite
    Muslim rebels responded with a suicide bomb attack on Marine barracks, and
    for years seized U.S. hostages in the country. In retaliation, the CIA set
    off car bombs to assassinate Shi'ite Muslim leaders. Syria and the Muslim
    rebels emerged victorious in Lebanon.

    Elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. launched a 1986 bombing raid on
    Libya, which it accused of sponsoring a terrorist bombing later tied to
    Syria. The bombing raid killed civilians, and may have led to the later
    revenge bombing of a U.S. jet over Scotland. Libya's Arab nationalist
    leader Muammar Qaddafi remained in power. The U.S. Navy also intervened
    against Iran during its war against Iraq in 1987-88, sinking Iranian ships
    and "accidentally" shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner.

    U.S. forces invaded Panama in 1989 to oust the nationalist regime of Manuel
    Noriega. The U.S. accused its former ally of allowing drug-running in the
    country, though the drug trade actually increased after his capture. U.S.
    bombing raids on Panama City ignited a conflagration in a civilian
    neighborhood, fed by stove gas tanks. Over 2,000 Panamanians were killed in
    the invasion to capture one leader.

    The following year, the U.S. deployed forces in the Persian Gulf after the
    Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which turned Washington against its former Iraqi
    ally Saddam Hussein. U.S. supported the Kuwaiti monarchy and the Muslim
    fundamentalist monarchy in neighboring Saudi Arabia against the secular
    nationalist Iraqi regime. In January 1991, the U.S..and its allies
    unleashed a massive bombing assault against Iraqi government and military
    targets, in an intensity beyond the raids of World War II and Vietnam. Over
    200,000 Iraqis were killed, including many civilians who died in their
    villages, neighborhoods, and bomb shelters. The U.S. continued economic
    sanctions that denied health and energy to Iraqi civilians, who died by the
    hundreds of thousands, according to United Nations agencies. The U.S. also
    instituted "no-fly zones" and virtually continuous bombing raids, yet
    Saddam was politically bolstered as he was militarily weakened.

    In the 1990s, the U.S. military led a series of what it termed
    "humanitarian interventions" it claimed would safeguard civilians. Foremost
    among them was the 1992 deployment in the African nation of Somalia, torn
    by famine and a civil war between clan warlords. Instead of remaining
    neutral, U.S. forces took the side of one faction against another faction,
    and bombed a Mogadishu neighborhood. Enraged crowds, backed by foreign Arab
    mercenaries, killed 18 U.S. soldiers, forcing a withdrawal from the country.

    Other so-called "humanitarian interventions" were centered in the Balkan
    region of Europe, after the 1992 breakup of the multiethnic federation of
    Yugoslavia. The U.S. watched for three years as Serb forces killed Muslim
    civilians in Bosnia, before its launched decisive bombing raids in 1995.
    Even then, it never intervened to stop atrocities by Croatian forces
    against Muslim and Serb civilians, because those forces were aided by the
    U.S. In 1999, the U.S. bombed Serbia to force President Slobodan Milosevic
    to withdraw forces from the ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo, which was
    torn a brutal ethnic war. The bombing intensified Serbian expulsions and
    killings of Albanian civilians from Kosovo, and caused the deaths of
    thousands of Serbian civilians, even in cities that had voted strongly
    against Milosevic. When a NATO occupation force enabled Albanians to move
    back, U.S. forces did little or nothing to prevent similar atrocities
    against Serb and other non-Albanian civilians. The U.S. was viewed as a
    biased player, even by the Serbian democratic opposition that overthrew
    Milosevic the following year.

    Even when the U.S. military had apparently defensive motives, it ended up
    attacking the wrong targets. After the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies
    in East Africa, the U.S. "retaliated" not only against Osama Bin Laden's
    training camps in Afghanistan, but a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was
    mistakenly said to be a chemical warfare installation. Bin Laden retaliated
    by attacking a U.S. Navy ship in Yemen in 2000. After the 2001 terror
    attacks on the United States, the U.S. military is poised to again bomb
    Afghanistan, and possibly move against other states it accuses of promoting
    anti-U.S. "terrorism," such as Iraq and Sudan. Such a campaign will
    certainly ratchet up the cycle of violence, in an escalating series of
    retaliations that is the hallmark of Middle East conflicts. Afghanistan,
    like Yugoslavia, is a multiethnic state that could easily break apart in a
    new catastrophic regional war. Almost certainly many more civilians would
    lose their lives in this tit-for-tat war on "terrorism" than the 5,000
    civilians who died on September 11.

    Common Themes

    Some common themes can be seen in many of these U.S. military interventions.

    First, they were explained to the U.S. public as defending the lives and
    rights of civilian populations. Yet the military tactics employed often
    left behind massive civilian "collateral damage." War planners made little
    distinction between rebels and the civilians who lived in rebel zones of
    control, or between military assets and civilian infrastructure, such as
    train lines, water plants, agricultural factories, medicine supplies, etc.
    The U.S. public always believe that in the next war, new military
    technologies will avoid civilian casualties on the other side. Yet when the
    inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are always explained away as
    "accidental" or "unavoidable."

    Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were
    carried out in the name of "freedom" and "democracy," nearly all of them in
    fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U.S. elites. Whether in
    Vietnam, Central America, or the Persian Gulf, the U.S. was not defending
    "freedom" but an ideological agenda (such as defending capitalism) or an
    economic agenda (such as protecting oil company investments). In the few
    cases when U.S. military forces toppled a dictatorship--such as in Grenada
    or Panama--they did so in a way that prevented the country's people from
    overthrowing their own dictator first, and installing a new democratic
    government more to their liking.

    Third, the U.S. always attacked violence by its opponents as "terrorism,"
    "atrocities against civilians," or "ethnic cleansing," but minimized or
    defended the same actions by the U.S. or its allies. If a country has the
    right to "end" a state that trains or harbors terrorists, would Cuba or
    Nicaragua have had the right to launch defensive bombing raids on U.S.
    targets to take out exile terrorists? Washington's double standard
    maintains that an U.S. ally's action by definition "defensive," but that an
    enemy's retaliation is by definition "offensive."

    Fourth, the U.S. often portrays itself as a neutral peacekeeper, with
    nothing but the purest humanitarian motives. After deploying forces in a
    country, however, it quickly divides the country or region into "friends"
    and "foes," and takes one side against another. This strategy tends to
    enflame rather than dampen a war or civil conflict, as shown in the cases
    of Somalia and Bosnia, and deepens resentment of the U.S. role.

    Fifth, U.S. military intervention is often counterproductive even if one
    accepts U.S. goals and rationales. Rather than solving the root political
    or economic roots of the conflict, it tends to polarize factions and
    further destabilize the country. The same countries tend to reappear again
    and again on the list of 20th century interventions.

    Sixth, U.S. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against
    him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power. Take the
    list of current regimes most singled out for U.S. attack, and put it
    alongside of the list of regimes that have had the longest hold on power,
    and you will find they have the same names. Qaddafi, Castro, Saddam, Kim,
    and others may have faced greater internal criticism if they could not
    portray themselves as Davids standing up to the American Goliath, and
    (accurately) blaming many of their countries' internal problems on U.S.
    economic sanctions.

    One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that "people like
    us" could not commit atrocities against civilians.

    German and Japanese citizens believed it, but their militaries slaughtered
    millions of people. *British and French citizens believed it, but their
    militaries fought brutal colonial wars in Africa and Asia.

    Russian citizens believed it, but their armies murdered civilians in
    Afghanistan, Chechnya, and elsewhere.

    Israeli citizens believed it, but their army mowed down Palestinians and

    Arabs believed it, but suicide bombers and hijackers targeted U.S. and
    Israeli civilians.

    U.S. citizens believed it, but their military killed millions in Vietnam,
    Iraq, and elsewhere.

    Every country, every ethnicity, every religion, contains within it the
    capability for extreme violence. Every group contains a faction that is
    intolerant of other groups, and actively seeks to exclude or even kill
    them. War fever tends to encourage the intolerant faction, but the faction
    only succeeds in its goals if the rest of the group acquiesces or remains
    silent. The attacks of September 11 were not only a test for U.S. citizens
    attitudes' toward minority ethnic/racial groups in their own country, but a
    test for our relationship with the rest of the world. We must begin not by
    lashing out at civilians in Muslim countries, but by taking responsibility
    for our own history and our own actions, and how they have fed the cycle of


    The west shares the blame

    By rejecting all that is alien to its culture, the industrialised
    world has helped terrorism, argues Baltasar Garzon

    By Baltasar Garzon
    The Financial Times
    October 3, 2001

    By the time this article is published, the armed assault on Afghanistan,
    the Taliban regime, Osama bin Laden or his followers may have already
    begun. For some, it seems, they are all the same. But not to speak out
    against this is either a serious mistake or guilty acquiescence of the
    bellicose plans proclaimed repeatedly by US leaders.

    The west's quiet acceptance, particularly among European countries,
    pains me. It should fill all of us with despair. Yes, there are big speeches
    and important agreements are signed. But ultimately, the west accepts -
    and even takes part in - the violent response.

    That the US was going to react as it says it will should come as no
    surprise. But the submission of other nations was difficult to foresee. It
    is alarming that countries such as France and Spain have not raised their
    voices to say "no": to reject the violent solution as the only available
    option; to uncover the big lie of a "final solution" against terrorism.

    I live in a country that has been fighting terrorism for 30 years and that
    daily clamours for the rule of law as the best means to confront it. What is
    not possible is that Spain should now put on a military helmet and pledge
    unlimited support for the hypothetical bombardment of nothing; for the
    massacre of poverty; and for a breach of the most fundamental logic,
    which proves that violence begets violence. The spiral of terrorism is fed
    by the number of dead counted among its victims.

    It has been said of terrorism, particularly the Islamic or fundamentalist
    kind, that it is a widespread threat. But it is a phenomenon that has been
    helped by the west's rejection of all that is different from its own culture
    or "civilised religion".

    The west and its political, military, social and economic hierarchies have
    been more preoccupied with the abusive and shameful march of
    production, speculation and profit than with an adequate redistribution of
    wealth. It has favoured a policy of social exclusion over integration and
    progressive immigration. And it has insisted on maintaining - and
    insisted on payment of - external debt instead of using those funds in the
    same countries it is now asking for help and understanding. For all those
    conscious mistakes, the west is suffering the terrible consequences of
    fanatical religious violence.

    Lasting peace and freedom can be achieved only with legality, justice,
    respect for diversity, defence of human rights and measured and fair
    responses. It is impossible to build peace on foundations of misery.
    Above all, it should not be forgotten that there will come a time when
    justice is demanded of those responsible for these mistakes and the
    loss of a historic opportunity to make the world more just.

    I am not thinking here about the justice demanded of those who
    masterminded and carried out the tragic events of September 11. That is
    the remit of national or international justice, as well as the intelligence
    and police services that have to compile the evidence. This is necessary if
    a fair trial is to take place. It is not sufficient to say: "I have the
    evidence but
    I cannot make it public for fear of endangering my sources." That is not a
    serious approach - it is simply illegal.

    Of course, everyone has already established the guilt of Osama bin
    Laden and, as the indisputable leader of Islamic fundamentalist
    terrorism, he probably is guilty. We should not forget that we are dealing
    with a horrible crime - but the response nevertheless requires due
    process. In its haste to eliminate Mr bin Laden, the west seems to have
    forgotten this fact. And that is serious.

    The justice I am talking about is that which should be brought to bear not
    only on the Taliban for its brutal and oppressive regime but also on the
    leaders of western countries, who, irresponsibly and through the media,
    have generated panic among the Afghan people. Faced with the prospect
    of imminent invasion, this panic has forced them to flee towards
    supposed security and freedom. In reality, however, it merely drives them
    towards what is certain to be a human catastrophe. Who will answer for
    these deaths? Who will answer for the forced migrations? In all
    probability, the death of a few thousand Afghans will be of no interest to
    these leaders because, for all the grand speeches, their fate is already

    The response that I seek is not military. It is one based on law, through
    the immediate approval of an international convention on terrorism. Such
    a convention should, among other things, include: rules governing
    co-operation between police and the judiciary; rules that enable
    investigations to take place in tax havens; the urgent ratification of the
    statute of the International Criminal Tribunal; and the definition of
    terrorism as a crime against humanity.

    The time has come to look at the principles of territorial sovereignty,
    human rights, security, co-operation and universal criminal justice
    through the same lens. That, and that alone, should be the aim of the
    coalition of countries against terrorism.
    The writer is Spain's leading anti-terrorist judge. [It was he who sought
    the extradition of Augusto Pinochet from Britain.] A version of this article
    first appeared in El Pais.


    War Support Ebbs Worldwide


    By Kevin Sullivan

    MEXICO CITY -- It was a traditional altar for Mexico's Day of the Dead
    observance, filled with flowers, candles and sweet bread laid out for
    departed loved ones. Except this one also featured bagels and photos of New
    York, and it sat next to the U.S. Embassy here as a show of solidarity with
    the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Mexicans who showed up to inaugurate the display made clear their sympathy
    for the dead in the United States. But they also made clear that sympathy
    did not necessarily translate into support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
    "I think the government of President Bush has gone too far; the war
    frightens me," said Guadalupe Loaeza, a columnist and social commentator
    who helped organize the altar display.

    Such views seem to be increasingly widespread around the world. The initial
    outburst of solidarity after Sept. 11 has frayed considerably as U.S.
    warplanes bomb Afghanistan relentlessly for the fifth week running. This is
    true not only in Arab and other Muslim countries, where the U.S. military
    campaign has provoked popular outrage, but in other countries where people
    feel less of a direct connection to the events.

    In opinion polls and interviews in several countries in Africa, Asia, Latin
    America and Europe, many people who said they were horrified by the Sept.
    11 attacks added that the horror then does not justify the bombing of
    Afghanistan now -- even if their governments continue to back the U.S.
    campaign. In a war that Bush has described as a battle between good and
    evil, many said it is not so simple.

    A poll taken this week for France 3 television and France Info radio, for
    instance, showed support among the French for the U.S. military campaign
    has dropped to 51 percent, down from 66 percent shortly after the bombing
    began Oct. 7. Support also has declined in Germany, where polls show more
    than 65 percent of respondents now want the U.S. attacks to end, and in
    Spain, where a poll for Cadena SER radio showed 69 percent of those
    surveyed want the bombing to stop.

    Even in Britain, where Prime Minister Tony Blair has become a cheerleader
    for the U.S. campaign, popular support for the bombing has begun to slip,
    sinking from 74 percent soon after the attacks in Afghanistan began to 62
    percent in a poll conducted last week.

    The views of Xu Maomao, 31, a human resources manager in Beijing who
    attended a candlelight vigil in late September to mourn the U.S. victims,
    typify the evolution of public opinion in many countries: "I supported the
    military strikes at first, but now I don't know what to say," she said. "I
    keep hearing about the lack of electricity in Afghanistan, or civilians and
    children being killed. But only once in a while is there anything about a
    terrorist base being hit. With all that high technology, can't the United
    States do better?"

    The Chinese government still supports Washington, but popular support seems
    to have weakened as more bombs have fallen. The government has offered
    strong endorsement of the fight against terrorism and cautious support for
    the U.S. military campaign, but it has done little to rally the public
    behind the cause.

    "I think the United States has been too harsh and unreasonable," said Tong
    Zhifan, 22. "It's big and powerful, and it doesn't care how others feel.
    You can't behave like that. Isn't that why America was attacked?"

    In Russia, President Vladimir Putin's strong backing of the bombing
    campaign muted most criticism at first. But in recent weeks, many Russians
    seem to have developed doubts about the U.S. venture into a country known
    as the Soviet Union's Vietnam. One poll this week found 46 percent of
    respondents convinced that the United States will fail.

    In the aftermath of Sept. 11, there were outpourings of public sympathy in
    Moscow, including huge mounds of flowers, teddy bears and traditional
    Russian icons piled up outside the U.S. Embassy. But that has not
    necessarily translated into public support for the bombing.

    With the new war in Afghanistan unfolding uncomfortably close to Russia's
    southern border, concerns range from practical complaints about U.S.
    military tactics to longer-term fears about the new American presence in
    Russia's Central Asian sphere of influence. Some fear that the United
    States will drop bombs, then walk away from Afghanistan, leaving Russia to
    deal with a mess in its back yard.

    "With every day, the Americans and the world public are increasingly
    doubtful about the efficiency of U.S. actions," said Vladimir Lukin, deputy
    speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament. While Russia remains
    a willing participant in the anti-terrorist alliance, he warned, "the
    possibility of difficulties cropping up within the coalition itself is
    growing because the U.S. does not offer what is usually called the light at
    the end of the tunnel."

    Misgivings are growing among close allies as well.

    "The basic pro-American sentiment is still there, but there is growing
    unease because of the reports of the women and the children being killed,"
    said Tim Pat Coogan, a prominent Irish author and historian who lives in

    Coogan said that many Irish think the United States did not give enough
    thought to the long-term political future of Afghanistan before starting
    the military campaign. "They seem to have bombed first and worried about
    the political alliances afterward," he said.

    "People here know that many of the scenes of horror and civilian casualties
    are Taliban propaganda," Coogan said. "But we've heard so much about elite
    troops and smart bombs and modern electronic devices -- where are they? The
    Americans seem to be making a mess of their campaign. Sometimes it makes
    you shake your head in despair and think of Vietnam."

    Here in Mexico, an increasingly close U.S. ally and a country that has
    traditionally stayed out of international disputes, President Vicente Fox
    is walking a political tightrope by supporting the U.S. military effort. He
    and his top advisers have been blasted by critics who say that Mexico
    should support only peaceful, diplomatic solutions to international conflicts.

    Pedro Reyes Linares, a leader of Mexican labor and community groups, said
    the United States should have turned to international courts, not bombs. He
    said the U.S. effort resulted from typical American impatience.

    "It's clearly not a war between good and evil," he said. "The impression is
    that there are other motives behind the war. It's not just hunting down the
    terrorists, but achieving greater control in a strategic area with rich
    resources, and the possibility of exploiting oil and minerals."

    Criticism of the United States has even shown up on the radio in Mexican
    folk songs known as "corridos". One song, "The Mistake of the CIA," goes,
    in part: "They are looking for you, bin Laden, the terrorist that the CIA
    trained, that was the biggest mistake of the American government."

    Farther south, the media in Argentina and Brazil have focused increasingly
    on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, fueling already strong anti-American
    sentiment. Bin Laden has emerged as a symbol of anti-Americanism among
    Brazil's leftist and anarchist youth. His photo now shows up at rallies
    alongside local favorites such as Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

    Members of two of the main soccer clubs in Rio de Janeiro have worn bin
    Laden T-shirts to games and unfurled bin Laden flags when their team scored
    a goal. Bin Laden has also become an underground hero among the street
    gangs that rule Rio's hillside ghettos. Already resentful of the U.S. war
    on drugs, they see bin Laden as a symbol of power and resistance to the
    United States. The paper bags of cocaine selling for $1 each in Rio's
    ghettos have bin Laden's image stamped on them and sport new names such as
    "Taliban Cocaine."

    In South Africa, sympathy for the United States has turned to scorn with
    reports of Afghan civilian casualties.

    "I do not understand the arrogance of the Americans," said Siphiwe Moerane,
    a graphics designer sitting in a Johannesburg coffee shop. "How do you wage
    war against an entire country to get one man? We were all sorry to see the
    loss of so many American lives on September 11. But why do Americans seem
    to think that their lives are more valuable than lives outside their
    borders? This is what makes people so angry at the U.S."

    Many Africans, who empathize with Afghanistan's impoverished population,
    also hear echoes of colonialism and racism in the U.S. and British attacks.
    Many Africans still hold a grudge against the British for their colonial
    role in Africa. And they recall bitterly Washington's support for such
    despots as the late Mobutu Sese Seku of Zaire, warlords such as Angola's
    Jonas Savimbi and South Africa's apartheid-era white-minority government.

    "No one in his right mind can defend the gruesome murder of innocent
    children and the elderly in pursuit of one man whose guilt cannot be proved
    beyond doubt," Garth le Pere, director of the Institute for Global
    Dialogue, told reporters in Johannesburg.

    "It simply means that America has no regard for innocent lives lost in
    other parts of the world," said Sipho Seepe, a South African political
    analyst. "For them the concept of innocent lives lost applies to situations
    where white and people of Western origin are involved. When it is black
    people's lives or those of people of Indian origin, the concept does not

    Public support in Kenya for the U.S. campaign appears to be holding firm,
    despite a demonstration in the heavily Muslim port city of Mombasa that
    turned into a riot. That incident was at least matched in the public
    consciousness by the unprecedented spectacle of President Daniel arap Moi
    leading a march supporting the United States in the aftermath of the
    attacks. And Kenyans still remember vividly the 1998 terrorist bombing of
    the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi that killed 207 Kenyans and 12 Americans.

    "I'm supporting it definitely, since the Americans are trying to attack the
    terrorists, not Islam," said John Ngagna, 19, a student. "They're not
    fighting the religion, they're fighting those responsible. Kenyans
    understand that."

    Elsewhere as well, public support is still strong. In Canada, a poll last
    week found that 74 percent of people surveyed support the war in
    Afghanistan. Rudyard Griffiths, executive director of the Dominion
    Institute, a Toronto charity that promotes the study of history in schools,
    said Prime Minister Jean Chretien deserves much of the credit because he
    did not raise false expectations of a short war.

    "The result is, Canadians are more reconciled with complexities we entered
    into," Griffiths said.

    "I am proud to have such a close association with the United States," said
    Joe Warmington, 36, a Canadian who writes a column for the Toronto Sun
    called Night Scrawler. "I think we should be where Great Britain is; we
    should be the first off the block."

    In Japan, which has clung to pacifism since the U.S. atomic bombings of
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, polls show that most
    people either support the bombing of Afghanistan or see it as unavoidable.
    Support for military action has actually increased, from a range of 42 to
    52 percent just before the airstrikes began to a range of 57 to 83 percent
    in the past two weeks.

    The popular prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, pushed for and won passage
    of a bill on Oct. 29 allowing Japan to send its military outside the
    nation's territorial waters to give logistical support to U.S. troops.
    Analysts describe the government as eager to avoid a repeat of the Persian
    Gulf War experience, when Japan was criticized for offering financial
    assistance but little military support.

    Asked about the bombing of Afghanistan, Yoshihito Nakagawa, a 46-year-old
    architect, said Japan had to be involved and support the United States.
    "For now, it's the only way," he said.

    But Japan's deep pacifist streak is still evident. Yoshiaki Nagashima, 59,
    dug out photographs of Afghanistan he took in 1978 and exhibited them this
    week at a small gallery in Tokyo -- photos of children laughing and
    smiling. When the airstrikes began, he said, "I felt the egotism of the


    US drops the weapon that packs an 'atomic' punch


    By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent

    AMERICA has stepped up the pressure on the Taliban using bombs with the
    same destructive force as a small thermo-nuclear device.

    The 15,000lb BLU-82, or Daisy-Cutter high-blast bomb, the world's largest
    conventional device, was developed during the Vietnam War. The Americans
    are thought to have used only one of the devices so far against the Taliban.

    It is so large that it is normally dropped from a C130 transport aircraft.
    A 4ft-long detonation rod, which emerges from the 17ft-long bomb after it
    is dropped, releases a cloud of inflammable ammonium nitrate, aluminium
    dust and polystyrene slurry.

    This is then ignited by a second detonator, scorching the surrounding area,
    consuming oxygen and creating a shock wave and vacuum pressure that
    destroys the internal organs of anyone within range. The bomb has the
    ability to clear a three-mile path through a minefield.

    Like the B52 bombers dropping "long sticks" of bombs, commonly described as
    carpet bombing, the Daisy Cutter was used to great effect against Iraq's
    Republican Guard during the Gulf war.

    During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the Russians developed a
    hand-held launcher to fire similar bombs into the caves of the Mujahideen,
    who called it the "Satan Stick".

    Its use against the Taliban frontlines coincides with an escalation of
    attacks on the caves and tunnels where Osama bin Laden and his terrorist
    colleagues are thought to hide.

    The increased number of special forces on the ground has provided better
    intelligence allowing the US aircraft to attack the caves, Donald Rumsfeld,
    US defence secretary, said on his way back from a visit to the region.

    Russia has also provided intelligence on the caves that were used by the
    Afghan forces and the mujahideen during the Soviet occupation, defence
    officials said.

    The bombing also includes the use of the 5,000lb GBU-28 "Deep Throat"
    bunker-buster which burrows down through as much as 20ft of rock before
    exploding inside the cave. Its "smart" fuse can tell the difference between
    rock, concrete, earth and air.

    The Northern Alliance said yesterday that its forces had captured three
    northern towns during pre-dawn bombing raids.

    "We attacked while the Americans were bombing," said Ashraf Nadeem, a
    spokesman. "It was not only us who killed. It was mostly the Americans."

    He said 200 Taliban fighters died. Despite the claims, the Alliance has yet
    to make a significant advance on the strategic city of Mazar-i-Sharif.


    The War on Terror Turns Into War on Afghanistan

    by William Pfaff
    Published on Saturday, November 3, 2001 in the International Herald Tribune
    Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

    PARIS -- What set out to be an American war on terrorism has become a war
    against Afghanistan. The substitution of Afghanistan for terrorism, or the
    identification of the one with the other, is not only unjust but diverts
    U.S. policy from where it was intended to go, to where it is the most
    simple to go. Afghanistan has been substituted for terrorism because
    Afghanistan is accessible to military power, and terrorism is not. The
    employment of high-tech munitions against irrelevant targets is a
    distraction from measures that actually deal with the threat. "War" is
    feasible against Qaida, the clandestine association of like-minded Muslim
    fundamentalists led by Osama bin Laden, because it is a matter of police
    and intelligence work. Remarkable progress has been made during the last
    four weeks, thanks to unprecedented international cooperation. However,
    Qaida is not identical with terrorism. Nor is bin Laden himself, even
    though Washington has cast him as the personification of evil. Terrorism is
    simply a form of violent political action, with political motives and
    objectives, and it is a recurrent phenomenon in history. Washington's
    inability to track down and seize or kill bin Laden is why the Taliban
    government has been substituted as America's enemy. The Kabul government's
    defiance is in turn responsible for the situation of frustration in which
    the United States finds itself, and which threatens to prove a damaging
    setback in more than one respect. Fear of American air attacks have
    provoked a huge exodus of refugees from Afghanistan. The country is already
    suffering the consequences of a drought that has crippled its agriculture.
    The attacks themselves have made it all but impossible for relief agencies
    to go into the country. Misdirected bombings that have twice hit
    International Red Cross relief depots add to the misery the United States
    is inflicting upon these people, and for which international opinion holds
    it responsible. The utility of the bombings is hard to defend. It was
    believed able to bring down the Taliban government, but that is not
    happening. There is no reason whatever to expect more bombs to make the
    Taliban authorities hand over bin Laden. The administration itself lacks
    confidence that an eventual ground expedition will seize him; Afghanistan
    is not Panama. The original plan depended less on bombing than on
    organization of the existing military and political opposition; cutting off
    the support Pakistan was giving to the regime; and enlistment of the
    country's other neighbors, including Iran, all with ethnic or religious
    clients inside Afghanistan. The authority of the former king and the United
    Nations was to underwrite a new coalition government. This plan has
    suffered a series of setbacks, and official Washington is rapidly losing
    interest in political solutions. There is an increasing disposition toward
    brute force, and the use of whatever allies are at hand, even if that
    threatens to leave Afghanistan in chaos, and the war on terrorism stranded.
    One might think it sensible to change a policy that is failing, but that is
    not the case in a government whose primordial motivation is to appease
    Congress and the media. Although bin Laden has not been found, operations
    against Qaida seem to be going well. An extensive apparatus for tracking
    terrorist communications, organizations and funding is being put into
    place. The United States and its allies could take advantage of these
    successes, and of the arrival of Ramadan and Afghanistan's harsh winter to
    suspend the bombings. The situation in Afghanistan and among Washington's
    Muslim allies could be allowed to evolve over the winter months. The result
    might prove constructive. Washington might take the time to reflect on its
    responsibility, which is to deal intelligently with the terrorist threat to
    the United States. Bin Laden and his group are merely instances of that
    threat. If he is killed, he will be replaced. The causes of terrorism will
    remain, and they are political. Afghanistan and its people are no threat to
    the United States, but they are the ones taking the full weight of America's
    indignation. The administration's priorities are upside-down.


    Workers around the world against the war

    Via Workers World News Service
    Reprinted from the Nov. 8, 2001
    issue of Workers World newspaper

    By Andy McInerney

    With millions around the world in the streets against the
    U.S. war against Afghanistan, State Department spokespeople
    have been working overtime to minimize the extent of the
    protests. The war propagandists and their paid pundits are
    intent on presenting the image that the world is behind the
    new U.S. slaughter, and that protests are confined to
    "militant Islamic" groups and sympathizers.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. From North America
    to Europe to Asia, the anti-war movement has a firm footing
    in the working-class movement.

    The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is joining a growing
    coalition that is calling for an end to Canada's
    participation in the war against Afghanistan. The September
    11 Peace Coalition is organizing demonstrations across
    Canada on Nov. 17 calling for an end to Canadian troops'
    participation in the war and against corporate

    "The alternative to war is to begin rebuilding the world's
    infrastructures and to provide the things that working
    people need, like food, shelter, medical care, education,
    jobs and justice," CUPW leader Deborah Bourque, co-chair of
    the September 11 Coalition, said on Oct. 22.

    The Nov. 17 demonstrations will coincide with the G-20
    Finance Ministerial meetings in Ottawa. "The government must
    use the upcoming meetings of the G20, IMF and World Bank in
    Ottawa to assess current agreements and policies of
    institutions such as the WTO, IMF and World Bank against
    Canadian values of promoting peace, social justice and
    security for all people," said Steven Staples of the Council
    for Canadians.

    Canada is not the only country where anti-globalization
    forces have turned their attention to the U.S. war. In
    Germany and France, the ATTAC coalition announced on Oct. 21
    that it would turn its attention and mobilizations toward
    fighting the U.S. war in Afghanistan. "We oppose this war
    with all our determination," ATTAC leaders Freya Pausewang
    and Sven Giegold announced.

    "Anyone who wants to oppose war and terrorism cannot stay
    silent about poverty and humiliation," they said. "Our
    movement against neoliberal globalization is now also an
    anti-war movement."

    ATTAC was a leading organization in the anti-globalization
    protests in Genoa in July.

    Greece has been the site of some of the most massive
    protests in Europe against the U.S. war drive. On Oct. 25,
    the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the
    largest labor federation in Greece, announced that it would
    mobilize against the war. An Oct. 25 French Press Agency
    report announced that the GSEE "called for workers to
    protest the U.S. strikes against Afghanistan."

    The GSEE is a social democratic trade union, traditionally
    allied with the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Party (PASOK).
    The Greek Prime Minister is also the president of PASOK, and
    has supported the U.S. war. So the GSEE's call for
    opposition to the war marks a clear break with its
    traditional political allies.

    In India, U.S. corporation Coca Cola came under attack
    because of the war in Afghanistan. On Oct. 21, a unit of the
    People's War Group, a Marxist insurgency in the southern
    state of Andra Pradesh, caused extensive damage to a Coca
    Cola plant.

    "We have found a note in the Telugu language which said the
    attacks were against American imperialism and the U.S.
    attacks in Afghanistan," cops told AFP.

    "It was very unfair for the rebels to target us," complained
    Coke representatives on Oct. 25. "Contrary to some skewed
    perceptions, we are not a big, bad multinational."

    Wide sectors of Indian society beg to differ. In western
    Mumbai, small restaurant owners announced a boycott of Coca
    Cola products to protest the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan.
    The boycott provoked a sharp reaction from Coke that the
    boycott was an "unfair trade practice."


    Former UN man warns of Afghan 'catastrophe'


    "When you bomb cities, the Red Cross,a few hospitals,
    and you use cluster bombs, then you cannot be taken
    seriously. Cluster bombs are designed to kill people."

    The Irish Times
    Wednesday, November 7, 2001
    By Deaglan de Breadun, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

    A former top official with the United Nations has
    warned of a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan
    "in the next couple of weeks".

    Mr Denis Halliday, a native of Dublin and a former
    assistant secretary-general of the UN, dismissed
    claims by the US-led alliance that maximum precautions
    were being taken to avoid civilian casualties in the

    "When you bomb cities, the Red Cross, a few hospitals,
    and you use cluster bombs, then you cannot be taken
    seriously. Cluster bombs are designed to kill people,"
    said Mr Halliday, who was in Dublin to give a public

    He joined the UN in the early 1960s and in 1997 was
    appointed head of humanitarian operations in Iraq, but
    resigned in a protest over sanctions a year later. "I
    did not want to be complicit in what I considered
    genocide on the part of the Security Council."

    He said the bombing of Afghanistan was a case of
    "punishing the people in the misbelief that it will
    lead to the overthrow of the government".

    The Afghan war was illegal and could not be justified
    on the basis of self-defence. "Mr Powell US Secretary
    of State has said that the evidence against bin Laden
    and al-Qaeda would not stand up in court. If it won't
    stand up in court, how the hell can it justify

    He was critical of Ireland's role in the presidency of
    the UN Security Council. "Like the 2,000 people who
    marched in Dublin on Saturday and many others, I am
    disappointed that the Irish Government didn't guide
    the Security Council more wisely."

    After the attacks on September 11th, Ireland should
    have demanded that the US and the UN "respond in
    keeping with the UN Charter" - legally and

    He was sceptical about the Government's claim to have
    given special consideration to the humanitarian
    situation in Afghanistan. "When you have the
    presidency you control the agenda. When Tr?caire asked
    our government to try to get the Americans to suspend
    the bombing, they were turned down. So I don't
    understand what humanitarian consideration they
    actually had."

    The UN Secretary-General, Mr Annan, had "blindly
    supported" the US, as had the Taoiseach in granting
    American access to Shannon Airport, he said.


    Bystander Apathy: The Battle for Our Hearts and Minds


    Published on Tuesday, November 6, 2001
    by Heather Wokusch

    In 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in New York City; for over half an hour
    she put up a desperate fight against her assailant, and 38 neighbors later
    reported hearing her ongoing screams for help. But no one helped - not one
    witness even so much as called the police. Neighbors later said that they
    had felt powerless and confused during the attack, and certain someone else
    would do something to stop it. So they had gone about their business
    instead, closing the windows to keep out the screams.

    Kind of the way many of us are coping with the war these days. The media
    bombard us with anthrax paranoia, patriotic military shots, and spokespeople
    who BS well but provide no coherent information. Cameras flash and pundits
    cheer as Bush attends a baseball game, bounces off Air Force One with his
    dog or delivers a canned speech, but intelligent discussions of the deeper
    implications of bombing Afghanistan are a mainstream news rarity.
    Unconscionable new domestic "collateral damage" developments float by each
    day - tax breaks for the rich, decimation of civil liberties, potential
    Arctic Refuge drilling, fast track trade agreements, what have you - but the
    sheer speed and enormity of the societal restructuring breed confusion and
    apathy. So we shut our windows and thoughts, absorbing the Emmys rather than
    the ugly reality of war.

    And then comes the US government's stepped-up assault to capture the hearts
    and minds of citizens at home and governments abroad. Much has already been
    made of the $3,500 per day contract given to the Rendon Group, a
    public-relations firm now charged with advising the US military on improving
    "public diplomacy" (i.e. propaganda) and countering opposition messages. The
    Pentagon's purchase of all rights to Ikonos satellite pictures of
    Afghanistan, pictures detailing massive civilian casualties, is another
    convenient way of keeping unpleasant realities away from the suggestible
    masses; the recent appointment of "The Queen of Madison Avenue" Charlotte
    Beers to Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs is
    similarly unsettling. From a prominent Texan oil family, Beers went on to
    chair two major advertising companies and her current assignment is no less
    than rebranding the United States. According to Colin Powell, not only is
    Beers "fluent with this sort of thing, but she is from the advertising
    business. I wanted one of the world's greatest advertising experts, because
    what are we doing? We're selling. We're selling a product. That product we
    are selling is democracy. It's the free enterprise system, the American
    value system." If it's good enough for Coke and deodorants, it's good enough
    for the US government.

    So the terrorist training camp known as School of the Americas continues to
    operate Stateside, but has changed its name to The Western Hemisphere
    Institute for Security Cooperation to fool those pesky protesters and retain
    US public funding. Why stop indoctrinating terrorism when you can just
    rebrand? In spite of its lofty name, the International Coalition Against
    Terror is mainly composed of the countries manufacturing and stockpiling
    most of the world's weapons of mass destruction. Bush continues to sell his
    rollback of civil liberties as "preventing more atrocities in the hands of
    the evil ones." Not to be outdone, a Department of Health and Human Services
    spokesperson defended his agency's much maligned handling of the anthrax
    crisis with, "Something that's factual at this moment proves not to be
    factual in retrospect. That doesn't mean it wasn't factual at the time." Any
    further questions?

    One of Beers' first branding projects was working with the Ad Council
    (formerly known as the War Advertising Council) on a series of commercials
    to "distill the values and virtues of American democracy." One spot, called
    "I am an American," features speakers of various ethnic backgrounds and
    invokes E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one) to show that "our diversity makes
    America great."

    Let's propose another Ad Council spot: "I am aware." It will show ordinary
    citizens across the United States, indeed across the world, rising up to
    combat the societal rollback taking place in the name of supposedly fighting
    terrorism. It will invoke common sense in realizing that dropping bombs on a
    ravaged people and promoting mass starvation does not induce peace. It will
    show that diversity makes the whole world great, and that the actions of a
    single person from afar can sometimes mean the difference between life and
    death for another.

    Brand that.


    Nights of Death in Kandahar

    By Suleman Ahmer

    It was deafening. The walls shook and I heard glass shatter. Jolted out of
    bed, I held my breadth. The first thought was whether our building was
    hit. There was a hiss as if of a low flying plane and then the second explosion
    shook the walls.

    People were crowding the window, looking eastward. I joined them. The
    carpet-bombing of Kul-e-Urdu, the military cantonment of Kandahar, had
    started. Sometimes the explosions were continuous as if a machine gun was
    going off. These were the clusters bombs. And then there were the huge
    explosions of the 1000 pounds bunker busters that shook the entire city.
    The first were the cruise missiles sent in to mark the site for the bombers
    flying overhead.

    It was the night of October 15 and the heaviest bombing so far. Starting
    around 10:30 PM, it was extremely intense for the first 45 minutes and
    then went on till the morning as other targets around the city were also

    As I went back and lied down, I thought of the little children in Kandahar:
    how terrified they would be through these nights, not understanding why it
    was all happening.

    In the morning, clouds of dust covered the center of the city. The cantonment
    was decimated. There were no injured or shaheed. The Taliban had vacated the
    area days before, taking with them all weapons and armaments. All that was
    being bombed were deserted clay huts and some buildings.

    I had arrived a day earlier with a couple brothers from Pakistan. We had two
    trucks of food and medicine, 26 tons in all. For the past 5 months we have
    been running the Gynecology Ward of the hospital in Kandahar in
    conjunction with Asian Islamic Trust, a local relief agency.

    Initially military targets were being hit: The airport, the Taliban
    cantonment areas in and out of the city, Mullah Omar's compound. The panic
    of the first day had slowly ebbed. Shops were being opened and the people
    started getting a little used to the noise in the night. Each day, high
    above in the clear blue skies, American planes circle continually.

    Taliban have practically stopped using the anti-aircraft batteries as the
    planes fly high, wandering unchallenged marking their targets and
    assessing the damage that they had done earlier.

    Things started to change: on the 16th a truck carrying cooking oil broke
    down on a road leading to villages Northwest of Kandahar. The driver came to
    the town to get help. In the night three men slept in the truck little knowing
    what were to happen.

    The planes circling in the day had marked the truck. Around 4:00 AM it was
    hit by a cruise missile. The bodies were brought to the hospital. They
    were in pieces. It was a civilian target.

    Madad chowk is the busiest intersection in Kandahar. On one side lies the
    building of the Ministry of Amr bil Maroof (Enjoining of good). There are
    shops selling furniture, a Public Call Office and the post office. On the
    other side is a masjid, car repair shops and shops selling spare parts.

    On October 17th it was bombed. Apparently, the Ministry of Amr bil Maroof
    was targeted. But the timing was murderous: 4:30 PM is one of the busiest time
    of the day. Planes fired rockets after rockets which hit the Ministry
    building and the shops next to it. Pedestrians were killed. One rocket fell
    on a
    house adjacent to the masjid killing 2 women and children. The rooftops of
    homes collapsed. Up to 17 people were killed.

    The message had been clearly conveyed: civilians will now be targeted.
    Panic spread and the mass movement of civilians started from Kandahar,
    distressed families packing up whatever they can and heading off in all
    mostly towards the rural areas to their relatives.

    As I left Kandahar a week later, the bombings were continuing day and
    night and the list of civilian targets was growing and most of them were not
    accidental hits: a tractor trolley carrying a family on the Kandahar-Herat
    road, an oil tanker in Kandahar near our hospital, two villages near

    The civilian targets were intensified particularly after the American
    Commandos were beaten back by a handful of Taliban men on the night of
    October 19th.

    As opposed to the civilian casualties, the military casualties are very low.
    The Taliban have disappeared into the mountains along with their weapons.
    Almost all of the military targets hit were empty.

    As I left Kandahar, around 70 % of the population of the city was on the
    move leaving behind a town in which they had seen six years of peace.
    Electricity had been restored, businesses were thriving, roads were being
    built and
    essential services were being improved like hospitals and Schools. In the
    past six months that I had been going in and out of Kandahar, I was amazed
    at the rate of progress. The road between Kandahar and Chaman in Pakistan,
    devastated by two decades of war, was being built. Coasters and vans
    taking children to school were becoming common sight. Last summer, the trucks
    that took dry fruit to Pakistan would come back loaded with Mangoes. The people
    had almost forgotten the ravages of war.



    Anti-war resources:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/studentsnowar/files (members only)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sun Dec 02 2001 - 20:15:52 EST