THE OTHER CATASTROPHIC WAR
- Comment from Liberty Underground Editor:
As a combat veteran, if I could pass on one bit of advice about war
it would be "never wage it." There can never be a good reason to
drop bombs on cities. There is always a way to negotiate a solution
that doesn't involve mangled children. I don't believe in a "just
war," they are all unjust.
When President Bush asked the Taliban to give up Osama Bin Laden they
said they would if Bush would provide evidence that Bin Laden was
responsible for 9/11. Bush never provided evidence, which would seem
to be the right thing to do-- he just began bombing innocent people.
At the time, international NGO's estimated that about seven million
Afghanis were on the verge of starvation. When the bombing started,
the NGO's pulled out, leaving seven million people without food.
Corporate media have never attempted to find out how many people
starved to death or otherwise died during the months-long bombing
campaign, but one must consider that there is a high probability
hundreds of thousands died a horrible death because Bush refused to
In my mind there was no more reason to attack the people of
Afghanistan than there was the people of Iraq. When you see the dead
children, as I have, you know that war is a horrible problem, not a
solution which should be considered by civilized people. Sharon
Smith brings us up to date about what we are doing to the people of
THE OTHER CATASTROPHIC WAR
by Sharon Smith
In early September, the Pentagon closed its investigation into
allegations that U.S. bombs killed 92 Afghan civilians, including as
many as 60 children, as they slept peacefully in the village of
Nawabad on the night of August 21st.
Despite protests from the UN, human rights organizations and the
villagers themselves, Pentagon officials insisted for weeks that only
seven civilians had been killed, along with 35 Taliban fighters,
during a legitimate military operation aimed at capturing Taliban
commander Mullah Sadiq. Indeed, they claimed that the attack, which
included bombardment with a C130 Specter gunship, was a necessary
response to heavy fire emanating from a meeting of Taliban leaders in
In its defense, the Pentagon cited evidence from an embedded Fox News
correspondent who had substantiated its claims. Unfortunately, that
correspondent turned out to be Veteran Marine Corps Lieutenant
Colonel Oliver North, who has been known to bend the truth in the
past. North's military career was cut short after his role was
revealed in the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s. At the time, North
admitted to having illegally channeled guns to Iran while funneling
the profits to the CIA-backed contra mercenary force fighting to
overthrow Nicaragua's democratically elected Sandinista government--
and then lying to congress about it.
In recent years, North has nevertheless cultivated a lucrative
broadcasting career at Fox. Although North assured Fox
viewers, "Coalition forces have not been able to find any evidence
that non-combatants were killed in this engagement," video footage
taken on the scene by a local doctor showed scores of dead bodies and
destroyed homes, documenting a civilian death toll at Nawabad that is
the largest since the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan nearly seven
years ago. Thus, the U.S. military was forced to reopen its own
investigation on September 8th, only days after it had exonerated
A red-faced official told reporters that "emerging evidence" had
convinced the Pentagon to investigate the matter further. On that
same day, Human Rights Watch issued a report that U.S. and NATO
forces dropped 362 tons of bombs over Afghanistan during the first
seven months of this year; bombings during June and July alone
equaled the total during all of 2006.
The rising civilian death toll in Afghanistan rattled even the
normally placid New York Times, which argued, "America is fast losing
the battle for hearts and minds, and unless the Pentagon comes up
with a better strategy, the United States and its allies may well
lose the war."
As news of the Nawabad massacre unfolded, another atrocity was also
gaining media attention, further exposing the gangster state
installed and maintained by U.S. forces to run Afghanistan since
2001. President Hamid Karzai, the U.S.' hand picked puppet,
reportedly pardoned two men convicted of brutally raping a woman in
the northern province of Samangan in September 2005.
At the time, Mawlawi Islam, the commander of a local militia, was
running for a seat in Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections.
"The commander and three of his fighters came and took my wife out of
our home and took her to their house about 200 meters away and, in
front of these witnesses, raped her," the woman's husband told the
The couple has a doctor's report that the rapists cut her private
parts with a bayonet during the rape, and then forced her to stagger
home without clothes from the waist down.
Mawlawi won a seat in parliament in September 2005, as the U.S. media
celebrated the elections as proof that democracy was flourishing in
Afghanistan thanks to U.S. occupation. But Mawlawi was assassinated,
mafia-style in January of this year. His past had caught up with him.
Mawlawi had first fought as a mujahedeen commander in the 1980s but
switched sides to become a Taliban governor in the 1990s. He switched
sides yet again when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and re-
joined the former mujahedeen, which had morphed into the "Northern
Alliance"--the group of warlords installed by the U.S. to run
Afghanistan as a collection of private gangster fiefdoms. Karzai
issued a press statement expressing his "deep regret" in response to
Mawlawi's death in January.
Bypassing the rape charge, he expressed nothing but praise: "Mawlawi
Islam Muhammadi was a prominent Jihadi figure who has made great
sacrifices during the years of Jihad against the Soviet invasion."
Mawlawi's three subordinates were finally convicted for the rape this
year, and one died in prison. But although they were sentenced to 11
years, Karzai reportedly issued a pardon for the other two in May,
claiming the men "had been forced to confess their crimes."
The drug-running warlords who have controlled Afghanistan with the
U.S.' blessing since 2001 have no interest in either democracy or
women's rights. Indeed, it is not uncommon for poor poppy farmers who
cannot repay loans to local warlords to offer up their daughters for
marriage instead. Gang rapes and violence against women are on the
rise, according to human rights organizations.
As a member of parliament, Mir Ahmad Joyenda, told the
Independent, "The commanders, the war criminals, still have armed
groups. They're in the government. Karzai, the Americans, the British
sit down with them. They have impunity. They've become very
courageous and can do whatever crimes they like."
In this situation, Afghan warlords again produce 90 percent of the
world's opium, without legal repercussion. Women's prisons, in
contrast, are teeming once again. As Sonali Kolhatkar, the author of
Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of
Silence, argued on Democracy Now!
"Women are being imprisoned in greater numbers than ever before, for
the crime of escaping from home or having, quote-unquote, `sexual
relations'--`illegal sexual relations.' Most of these women are
simply victims of rape."
Despite the appalling conditions that seven years of U.S. occupation
have produced for ordinary Afghans, the two U.S. ruling parties came
together in August to plan the escalation of that sordid war with the
goal of adding 10,000 more U.S. troops in the coming year.
Barack Obama chided his Republican rival during his acceptance speech
at the Democratic Party convention on August 28, using a page from
Bush's playbook: "John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin
Laden to the Gates of Hell--but he won't even go to the cave where he
Obama did not utter a word of criticism about rising civilian
casualties, rampant corruption, the flourishing drug trade or women's
oppression in U.S. occupied Afghanistan during that historic speech.
On the contrary, he continued, "I will end this war in Iraq
responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in
Ending the war in Iraq "responsibly" will allow a long-term U.S.
military presence there--and the redeployment of 10,000 U.S. troops
to Afghanistan to "finish" the job started by George W. Bush. In one
fell swoop, the candidate who slogan is "change" laid out a strategy
bearing striking similarity to that of the neocons who invaded
Afghanistan in 2001. This hawkish turn was not a surprise. Obama
first expressed his willingness to bomb Iran and Pakistan in 2004,
when he told the Chicago Tribune, "surgical missile strikes" on Iran
may become necessary.
"On the other hand," he continued, "having a radical Muslim theocracy
in possession of nuclear weapons is worse."
Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not
be ruled out if "violent Islamic extremists" were to "take over."
Obama represents the dissenting ruling class view since 2003, which
regarded the Iraq war as a "distraction" from the real war the U.S
should pursue. That war has little to do with al-Qaeda, but much more
to do with Afghanistan's strategic location in Central Asia, and its
borders with Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China. The Russia-Georgia
conflict this summer surely reminded U.S. rulers that they cannot
afford to ignore their long-standing aim to establish U.S. military
bases in this key region, a goal which long pre-dated 9-11.
As the BBC News reported on Sept. 18, 2001, "Niaz Naik, a former
Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in
mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by
The antiwar movement in the U.S. can no longer afford to ignore the
war in Afghanistan without fading into irrelevance. The original aims
of the war on terror have been resuscitated, and as Obama has
repeatedly emphasized in recent months, its "central front" is
shifting back to Afghanistan. The Afghan people have endured seven
long years of misery thanks to U.S. occupation, and it is high time
to take a principled stand against U.S. imperial aims in Central
The war on Afghanistan is no more justified than the war on Iraq.
Sharon Smith is the author of Subterranean Fire. She can be reached
at: sharon @ internationalsocialist.org
email libertyuv @ hotmail.com
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