Resounding Silence in US Media
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
Published on Friday, November 30, 2001 in the Toronto Globe
What is the U.S. Response to Quashing of Revolt?
by John Ibbitson with a report from Murray Campbell
WASHINGTON -- Before you can have a debate, two people have
to disagree. But if the United States is complicit in
possible war crimes committed by Northern Alliance forces in
Afghanistan, the U.S. reaction is indifference.
Murmurs abroad that U.S. forces may have been guilty of
failing to intervene to prevent atrocities at a fortress
near Mazar-e-Sharif have been met with resounding silence in
the United States.
A computer database search of U.S. newspapers from recent
days reveals an almost total absence of stories examining
One rare exception was an article in yesterday's Boston
Globe, which asked: "What legal obligations do U.S.
personnel advising the Alliance forces have to halt abuses?"
It quoted concerned officials from the Red Cross and Human
Richard Hartung, director of the New-York based World Policy
Institute, said he is concerned both about possible war
crimes being committed in Afghanistan -- including civilian
casualties from the bombing campaign -- and the silence that
has greeted the issue, which he attributes to a cowed U.S.
"I don't know whether they are intimidated or whether they
have just been drawn into the war, but they are being much
less critical" than usual for wartime, he said in an
As a result, he said, "people don't have any basis to make a
judgment or show their concern."
He also suggested that rage over the losses of Sept. 11 may
have engendered a callousness that makes Americans
indifferent to alleged atrocities against the Taliban.
Sidney Jones, Asia director of Human Rights Watch in New
York, said there has been little debate over the events at
Mazar-e-Sharif, or over the war in general.
"It's as though this war is taking place in an atmosphere
awash with patriotism, to the point where questioning
aspects of the war is seen as somehow unpatriotic," she said
in an interview yesterday.
There has been domestic criticism of the U.S. war effort,
especially on the home front -- for instance, critics from
all sides of the political spectrum have castigated
President George W. Bush for establishing military tribunals
that exempt foreign nationals charged with terrorism against
the United States from the protections of the U.S. justice
But this has not been matched by criticism of the effort
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