Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|PAYING THE PRICE|
|10/31/01 at 21:44:19|
PAYING THE PRICE
As we stand on the precipice of a massive humanitarian catastrophe in
Afghanistan, it is becoming painfully evident that the pious promise
made by the US regarding the preservation of civilian life is a
In the coming months, according to the United Nations, over 7 million
Afghans will be dependent upon aid for survival. Many of them are
going to die, including at least 100,000 children.
One of the first orders issued by the United States following its
Faustian pact with the Pakistani government, was to shut the border
with Afghanistan. According to the New York Times (16/9/2001), this
served to prevent the flow of truck convoys that provide much of the
food and other supplies needed by Afghanistan's civilian population.
Since then, food supplies have been dwindling, with aid agencies
unable to get truck convoys - the lifeline of the Afghan people - into
At the same time, the US has been relentlessly bombing Afghanistan.
Most concerning is the use of cluster bombs - a device conspicuously
absent in tabloid breakdowns of US weaponry and firepower in favour of
the more glamorous "smart bombs" and "bunker busters". The
Federation of American Scientists describes them as "1,000-pound
deadly munitions that break into 202 bomblets, and each bomblet
fractures into 300 fragments of steel. It covers a football field, it
can turn an apple orchard into apple sauce -- or people into
Their high failure rate means many do not explode on impact, thus
becoming, what Human Rights Watch describe as orange-yellow soda-can
sized landmines highly attractive to small children.
Aside from bombs, US planes are also dropping pamphlets. One such
pamphlet reads, "Our bombs are so accurate we can drop them right
through your windows." So accurate that they have been dropped on at
least one mosque, a hospital, several villages, an old people's home,
UN aid workers, and six Red Cross facilities (two of which having been
attacked twice in 10 days).
Senator John McCain wrote in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal
(26/10/2001) that the killing of civilians was "a regrettable but
necessary fact of war", and called for the US to "get on with the
business of killing our enemies as quickly as we can, and as
ruthlessly as we must".
Despite that, there have been plenty of aid agencies who want the
"business of killing" to stop. On October 17th, Oxfam, Islamic
Relief, Christian Aid, CAFOD, ActionAid, Tear Fund, and others, called
for a cessation of bombing "to allow food to be delivered in safety
and in sufficient quantities to sustain people through winter".
In desperation, Oxfam America President, Raymond Offenheiser said,
"We've reached the point where it is simply unrealistic for us to do
our job in Afghanistan. We've run out of food, the borders are closed,
we can't reach our staff and time is running out."
The United States is killing Afghans with one hand, whilst feeding
them with another. The much-publicized "humanitarian parcel drops"
have been condemned by aid agencies as a politically motivated
hijacking and subversion of genuine humanitarian work.
A statement issued by Medecins Sans Frontieres said, "This is not a
humanitarian operation. It is part of a military campaign designed to
gather international approval of the attacks…Dropping a few cases
drugs and food in the middle of the night during air raids, without
knowing who is going to collect them, is virtually useless - and may
even be dangerous"
Replacing programmes that fed millions a day, with a programme that
scatters 35,000 meal packages across the Afghan countryside is
In a masterful stroke of psyops stratagem, Rear Admiral John
Stufflebeem announced late last week, that "there are reports that the
Taliban might poison the food and try to blame the United States". He
warned Afghans receiving aid that, "if it comes from Taliban control,
they must be careful". In other words, don't eat the food even if
it does become available to you.
Amid all of this, the US is going to extraordinary lengths to hide the
human cost of their campaign. The Guardian (17/10/2001) reported that
the Pentagon has bought exclusive rights to the one non-military
satellite (Ikonos) able to take photos to the level of resolution
needed to discern dead bodies on the ground. The US has also
attempted to exert preassure on the Qatari government to temper the
reporting of Al-Jazeerah.
Since September 11th, the Taliban have made at least three attempts to
negotiate with the United States as to the issue of bin Laden. Most
recently, they offered to have him tried in a third country. The
United States refused and warned, "do what we say, or pay the price".
Now the price is being paid in full, though not by bin Laden and the
Taliban. It is being paid by the Afghan people - men, women and
children equally as innocent as those who died on September 11th.
Amir Butler is executive director of the Australian Muslim Public
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