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US/British Bombing Kill 3,500 Afghani Civilians
by Steve Argue
Email: steveorchid (nospam) yahoo.com
14 Dec 2001
US OUT OF AFGHANISTAN! US HANDS OFF IRAQ!
With 3,500 Civilians Killed in U.S./British Bombing,
War Crazed Imperialists Scope Out Next Victims!
By STEVE ARGUE
Not yet finished with its war in Afghanistan the US is now talking about its next victims in the so-called war against terrorism. Countries that government officials are mentioning include Iraq, Yemen, North Korea, Somalia, Libya, and Sudan. Iraq seems to be on the top of that list.
At a rose garden question and answer session Bush stated, "Afghanistan is still just the beginning," He went on to say, "It's going to happen, I said this early on, as the campaign began: Americans must be prepared for loss of life."
On November 16th US-Vice President Dick Chaney said that up to 50 countries could be targeted for financial, diplomatic, or military attack. Cheney later narrowed the list to just a few countries that aren't subservient to the commands that come out of Washington D.C., the IMF, or the World Bank. Cheney has warned, "It's a war that may last a lifetime."
Meanwhile the war in Afghanistan is not over. While the Taliban appear to be almost defeated, the US goal of a stable government that can protect a projected pipeline for Central Asian oil is far from achieved.
Thousands of heavily armed US marines are on the ground. While American casualties have been small so far, those of Afghani civilians have not. While the American public is being lied to by the US corporate media, the European and Indian press have reported on the civilian deaths taking place. From these reports we now know that thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed.
Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan.
Nearly 4,000 people died in the September 11th attack. Added to that grisly toll now are 3,500 innocent Afghani civilians killed in the US/British bombing of Afghanistan. These numbers are of Afghani deaths are according to Prof. Marc Harold of the University of New Hampshire. Harold has meticulously tabulated the civilian casualties from the world press starting with the beginning of the U.S. led terror bombing on Oct. 7th.
"I was concerned that there would be significant civilian casualties caused by the bombing, and I was able to find some mention of casualties in the foreign press but almost nothing in the U.S. press," Harold said on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now". His work exposing this information can be seen at: http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/. As Harold states these people, "Had absolutely nothing to do with September 11th".
The denials of civilian casualties by the U.S. government and the silence of America's mainstream press can be counter posed to the following Dec. 4th headline in the Independent of London called "A Village Is Destroyed and America Says Nothing Happened"
In the article Richard Lloyd Parry described the horror: "[T]he village of Kama Ado has ceased to exist. Many of the homes here are just deep conical craters in the earth. The rest are cracked open, split like crushed cardboard boxes."
115 villagers were killed in the bombing but "nothing happened." "We know this," wrote Parry, "because the U.S. Department of Defense told us so. That evening, a Pentagon spokesman, questioned about reports of civilian casualties in eastern Afghanistan, explained that they were not true, because the U.S. is meticulous in selecting only military targets associated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network. Subsequent Pentagon utterances on the subject have wobbled somewhat, but there has been no retraction of that initial decisive statement: 'It just didn't happen.'"
Parry stated that his fear as U.S. planes flew overhead was that nothing might happen to him too.
Refugees from Kunduz reported how B-52s relentlessly bombed civilian neighborhoods for four days. The Hindustan Times quoted U.S. backed military commander, Mulla Fazil, saying that over 1,000 people were killed by intense bombing around Kunduz on Nov. 17th and 18th. The dead, Fazil told the Daily Dawn, were 800 in Kunduz and 250 in Khanabad.
In England the Independent reported on Nov. 18th that U.S. carpet-bombing killed 150 unarmed Afghan civilians in Khanabad. Most of the towns 40,000 people fled, many without food, warm clothing, shoes, or medicine. "I saw 20 dead children on the streets," said Zumeray, one of the refugees.
These are just some of the incidents involving civilian deaths by U.S. bombing.
The relentless bombing of Kandahar continued into December and civilians, including children, continued to die. According to UNICEF 9 out of 10 fatalities during war are civilians and about half of the victims are children. The numbers coming out of Afghanistan show this war to be no different despite official lies about smart bombs and not targeting civilians.
In addition U.S. officials have admitted to the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan.
According to the London Times "35,000 unexploded bomblets in Kosovo still kill one person a week." The Times also noted that cluster bombs are still killing in Laos 30 years after the U.S. has stopped bombing. The Times continued, "Unexploded cluster bombs are a horror, [since] the bright yellow coloring of the canisters makes them horribly appealing to children."
The UN has confirmed civilian deaths by cluster bombs in Afghanistan. Cluster bombs by their very nature target civilians and children. The repeated hits of other bombs on civilian neighborhoods, the Red Crescent, and civilian truck drivers calls into question the very premise that the U.S. bombings of civilians are accidents.
One of many outrageous attacks took place on October 15th. Ian Williams reported in the Times "They (the Taliban) said that 300 families had lived here, and that up to 200 people died in the bombing. These figures are impossible to verify, but I did see at least 30 fresh graves, villagers praying beside them. One man said that he was burying his wife bit by bit as he dug her out of the rubble. He put a severed leg into a plastic bag and dropped it into the hole that he had dug." American fighters had dropped around 12 bombs on this tiny village of Koram.
"One villager, Toray, clung to a fragment of metal. On it was written "thin guided bomb". Toray said that his wife and five children had died in the bombing." Williams also states, "from the evidence we have seen Koram is no terrorist training camp or military base."
In another attack the Sultanpur Mosque in Jalalabad was hit with 17 people caught inside. As neighbors rushed in to pull out the injured another bomb fell killing at least 120 people.
Throughout Afghanistan homes of civilians have been hit killing many people including children. In addition to killing civilians these hits on homes and the fear they've caused have created millions of refugees who are hungry and out in the cold.
In addition, the U.S. Air Force had designated "kill boxes" in regions, where pilots were under orders to kill anything that moves. In Vietnam the U.S. called these "free fire zones" contributing to the U.S. government killing 3 million or more Vietnamese.
The Russian paper Pravda reported, "Refugees arriving in the Pakistani city of Qetta claimed that a column of refugees trying to escape the bombing after their houses had been destroyed was strafed, also by American aircraft, and that 20 members of the column, including nine children, had been killed. The incident took place at Tarine Khot, near Kandahar. One refugee who witnessed the event stated that there were no Taliban bases within a radius of three kilometers from where the homes were destroyed."
While the U.S. government keeps denying reports of civilian casualties they have yet to explain why there are so many refugees. U.N. officials report that up to 70% of the populations of Kandahar and Herat had fled from the bombing in October.
On October 30th a senior U.S. military official told NBC news that Red Crescent warehouses were not hit by accident, but in fact were targeted for bombing. Officials had claimed that the hits were accidents despite the buildings being clearly marked. The new official explanation given was that Taliban troops had commandeered the building. These warehouses store food for the starving Afghani people. They have been hit three separate times by U.S. bombers. In the second attack on the Red Crescent 11 people were killed and 6 were injured.
Prisoners Of War Tied Up And Slaughtered.
On November 25th and 26th the Northern Alliance and the United States, violating the protocols of the Geneva convention, massacred 300-400 Taliban prisoners of war being held in a prison just outside of Mazer-i-Sharif. The UN Commissioner on Human Rights and Amnesty International both have called for an investigation into the killings. Reports show that many of the dead prisoners who supposedly died in combat had their arms tied behind their backs.
After the capture of these prisoners the Los Angeles Times reported: "Some observers fear hatred of the foreign Taliban runs so high among the Northern Alliance that Taliban prisoners may face mistreatment or even summary execution, both of which are prohibited under the Geneva Conventions."
In fact summary executions that involve pre-execution tortures such as castration have been very common acts of the "Northern Alliance" Mujahideen in the past few weeks. They used to skin Soviet soldiers alive and execute women for teaching little girls how to read and write while the US gave them billions of dollars in military aid in the 1980s. They have not changed and the US is aiding them again.
More than a week before Mazar-I-Sharif fell US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's stated that he had no use for the foreign Taleban as prisoners, that he wanted them dead.
US forces participated directly in the massacre as well. Time Magazine's Alex Perry who was on the scene during the massacre reported, "American and British forces have now joined in trying to quell the attack . . . the Americans are running the show. . . the Americans and the British are coordinating air strikes from their positions inside the fort on another part of the fort. And they're also directing the commanders inside when to tell their men to attack." Perry then states clearly: "The mission by the Americans and Northern alliance is to kill every single one of them now."
U.S. Maneuvers To Impose A Puppet Government.
Do to U.S. bombing and military assistance to the "Northern Alliance" the reactionary Taliban regime appears to be almost gone. In its place the various reactionary Islamist warlords of the "Northern Alliance" hold power. The Taliban, like the "Northern Alliance", were put in power by the United States. Both are bloody butchers of the people and horrible violators of women's rights, with their atrocities well documented by human rights groups.
Both groups came out of the Mujahideen. The Mujahideen were formed in 1979 with the financing of the CIA. They brought together rabid opponents to the 1978-1992 PDPA government's initiatives for literacy and women's rights. The Mujahideen waged their misogynist holy war against women and literacy with billions of dollars in U.S. aid and with the profits made off of the heroin trade. Their tactics included murdering women for teaching little girls how to read and write, throwing acid into the faces of women who had become liberated from the veil, and skinning Soviet soldiers alive who were defending the PDPA government from the CIA's Mujahideen.
On November 13 the Northern Alliance Mujahideen forces of Burhanuddin Rabbani retook Kabul. Rabbani was first put in power by the U.S. in 1992 with the defeat of the progressive left nationalist PDPA government. During Rabbani's last stint as warlord of Kabul between 1992 and 1996 his forces killed an estimated 60,000 people.
Other Northern Alliance/ Mujahideen warlords have retaken other cities, redrawing the map of Afghanistan to closely resemble what it looked like under its pre-Taliban chaos before 1996. Rashid Dostum's forces have retaken Mazar-E-Sharif, which was the center of his rule of northern Afghanistan from 1992-1997. Ismail Khan has retaken Herat, which he ruled from 1992-1995. Adbul Kahir has retaken Jalabad, which, he ruled from 1992-1996. All of these forces have a history of war against each other, human rights abuses, and looting.
With the advances made by the US backed "Northern Alliance" the U.S. has forced these various Mujahideen forces, minus the Taliban, to the negotiating table. Yet the various forces involved have differing international backers who all want a hand in Central Asia's rich oil and gas reserves.
The now capitalist Russian government backs the Tajik Islamic fanatics under the leadership of Ismail Khan, while Iran backs various Hazara groupings. Meanwhile the U.S. is trying to re-impose on top of these forces King Zahir Shah, who during his reign in power carried out ethnic cleansing against the Tajik and Hazara nationalities.
U.S. plans include the use of occupying UN or US troops to re-install former King Mohammed Zahir Shah. Zahir Shah was deposed in 1973 and is living in Rome. He ruled Afghanistan from 1947-1973. During Zahir Shah's rule besides carrying out ethnic cleansing against Tajiks and Hazaras he suppressed all political parties, free speech, and free press.
Excluded from the talks were the former PDPA, now renamed the PVAP. Also excluded was the "Alliance for democracy in Afghanistan" in which the Social Democratic Party of Afghanistan plays the pivotal role and who were leaders in the uprising in Herat. In addition the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was excluded as well.
By supporting the most reactionary elements in Afghanistan and excluding all of those who to some degree advocate women's rights and democracy, the U.S. is continuing to impose misery on the Afghan people.
Today the U.S. sees Zahir Shah as a good potential puppet in imposing U.S. interests on Afghanistan. The "Northern Alliance", however, are not Pashtun and comprise nationalities that have a lot to loose if King Zahir Shah comes to power. The U.S. media has been clear in how the U.S. government plans win the allegiance of the "Northern Alliance" to America's puppet king. They will bribe them. This no doubt is being coupled with threats.
Yet the U.S. will not be able to impose its will without troops on the ground. The Bonn talks were only maneuvers towards achieving US goals. Zahir Shah knows that he will need a foreign occupying force to impose his rule and he has demanded a permanent occupation of UN troops.
U.S. interests go beyond getting rid of the Taliban and alleged terrorists. The real desire is a stable government that can defend oil and gas interests. These points were made clear by John J. Maresca, vice president of Unocal, when he explained Unocal's desire to get at billions of barrels of Central Asian oil with a pipeline through Afghanistan. He explained this in testimony before a House committee on Feb. 12, 1998 saying, "From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of our proposed pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders and our company."
Justice will never be dealt by the U.S. or British military, who are only being sent to fight for corporate interests and installing a puppet government. Equality and justice can only come from the people of Afghanistan themselves fighting against the designs of imperialism. Such a revolution, in order to sustain itself economically and militarily against the designs of the United States, will most likely have to be allied with a victorious socialist revolution in a more advanced neighbor such as Iran, Russia, or Pakistan or a political revolution in China. The instability of these four countries add some hope in this direction.
Without a complete revolutionary change in the US government and economy, U.S. intervention will only continue to hurt the Afghani People. It will continue to only reflect the capitalist interests of America's ruling elite. U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now! End U.S. support to the military dictatorship of Pakistan! No to the trap national unity for war!
U.S. Hands Off Iraq!
Drunk with arrogance over the initial successes of the US war in Afghanistan Bush made clear that the next victim of the U.S. war might be Iraq. His statements, made on Nov. 26th at a Rose Garden press conference, set up the provocation for another war against Iraq. He cynically demanded that Saddam Hussein allow inspectors back into Iraq in order to look for weapons of mass destruction. When asked what the U.S. would do if Iraq does not allow inspectors back Bush responded by saying they will find out.
Iraq has not allowed inspectors in for the past four years because inspectors have been used as spies, giving the U.S. military information on bombing targets inside of Iraq for the Unites State's "Desert Fox" bombing operation in 1998.
Adding to the government's drumbeat for a new all out imperialist war against Iraq, the House International Relations Committee is considering a resolution that will declare Iraq's refusal to allow weapons inspectors in as an act of "aggression" against the United States. The intent of this wording is towards initiating another full-scale war against Iraq, this time using the pretext of Sept. 11, despite there being no connection, and this time having a goal of ousting Sadam Hussein to replace him with a government that will be subservient to U.S. oil interests.
There is not agreement within the Bush administration or congress about carrying out this war. Yet we should be clear that most if not all ruling-class opposition to this war will disappear if and when the bombs start falling. Revolutionary socialists do not create illusions in these types of fair weather "doves", but instead help clarify the fact that both the Democrat and Republican Parties are Parties of war that need to be uncompromisingly exposed and opposed for the war mongers they are. The sooner the oppressed and exploited in America stop looking for lesser evils to rule over us the sooner we will gain our freedom and end America's imperialist wars.
The sad reality is that the 1991 U.S. war against Iraq has never really ended. From daddy Bush to Junior Bush and Clinton in between all three of the last presidents have been bombing Iraq. Yet the talk now is about a major escalation in the war.
The Iraqi people were the first victims of America's lie about smart bombs. Like Afghanistan today where thousands of civilians have died in the bombing, the Iraqis have suffered heavy civilian casualties from bombing, estimated around 100,000 civilian deaths. In both wars the American corporate media have lied about the civilian deaths.
A million and a half children have died as a result of US/UN starvation sanctions that prevent Iraqi children from getting food, medicine, and clean drinking water. Water is affected by the US blockading necessary chemicals needed for water treatment. U.S. bombing has also destroyed drinking water and sewage treatment facilities. The U.S. kills Iraqi children via typhoid fever, and starvation as a result.
In 1996 the U.S./UN imposed starvation blockade of Iraq had at that time killed a half a million Iraqi children. In 1996 Leslie Stahl in a CBS 60 Minutes interview asked then-Secretary of State under Clinton, Madeline Albright, about the Iraq sanctions, "We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean that is more than died at Hiroshima…Is the price worth it?" Albright, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it."
The U.S. government has a lot of nerve bringing up the issue of weapons of mass destruction against Iraq. The U.S. government has actually used powerful weapons of mass destruction against Iraq already. Those weapons are made from the deadly and highly radioactive material called Depleted Uranium (DU). The U.S. government has used DU on Iraq, Yugoslavia, and probably Afghanistan.
A commission of the UN has called the military use of DU a weapon of mass destruction and called for banning its use.
300 tons of DU were shot into Iraq and Kuwait, 3 tons into Bosnia, and 10 tons into Kosovo.
DU ammunition has a pyrophoric ability to burn through steel. Thus the military finds it useful in blowing up tanks. Since DU is a waste product of nuclear power, the power companies are also able to rid themselves of materials they would otherwise have to be store as nuclear waste.
Last year Italy pulled its troops out of Kosovo due to 8 cases of leukemia in their military, which they attributed to the U.S. use of DU ammunition during the war.
The London Guardian has sent reporters to southern Iraq who found radiation levels 30 times normal background radiation in the battlefields of the Gulf War. On tanks destroyed by tank busting A-10 DU ammunition the radiation level was 50 times higher than normal.
There are reports of injuries in Afghanistan that are consistent with those caused by depleted uranium. Pravda has reported, "Deputy public health minister, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, said the government did not have testing facilities," and urged outside observers to view the injuries from the bombing attacks.
In both the Gulf War and in Yugoslavia the U.S. government did not inform U.S. soldiers of the deadly materials that they were being exposed to, nor did they supply them with the protective suits they needed. 250,000 of these soldiers came home reporting to veteran's hospitals with the symptoms of radiation poisoning. Those sets of conditions became known as the Persian Gulf War Syndrome.
The U.S. military brass knew what the soldiers had been exposed to but denied they knew anything. Their own studies pointed to dangerous levels of radiation from DU. Yet they pretended to know nothing about the radiation poisoning.
Just as the U.S. government knowingly exposed U.S. soldiers and the Vietnamese people to the extremely toxic effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam they now knowingly expose U.S. soldiers, U.S. arms industry workers, Iraqis, Yugoslavians, and most likely Afghanis to deadly radiation from DU.
The DU that has poisoned Iraq has contaminated their water and food. Hospital cancer wards are filled with children dying from childhood leukemia. According to the British Guardian the number of extreme birth defects in one town in southern Iraq are so high that nobody dares to try to have children. A similar situation is unfolding in Yugoslavia where Kosovo women have been warned not to have children for the next ten years, but for all practical purposes the radiation will never go away.
It is now known, through new federal studies reported on AP Feb. 3, 2001, that the DU used in combat for shields and for ammunition contain much more deadly isotopes than just uranium-238, which would be bad enough. These other isotopes include highly radioactive materials such as plutonium 239 which is 200,000 times more radioactive than uranium-238.
According to former government scientist and health physicist Dr. Donald Geesaman, plutonium, "…is carcinogenic to animals in microgram quantities (a millionth of an ounce). The…lung cancer risk…is unknown to orders of magnitude. Present plutonium standards are certainly irrelevant."
The country that has the most weapons of mass destruction and is most likely to use them is the United States.
Some may ask what about Saddam Hussein, isn't he a bad guy? Sure he is, but that doesn't set him apart from the dictators the U.S. currently supports in the world. In fact Saddam Hussein killed many union leaders and communists when he was working with the USA, after the CIA brought him to power. The U.S. also supported him when he used poison gas against Kurds and Iranians.
Still a new US war will not set things straight. With war it is always civilians who suffer and die. In addition the purposes of a new escalation in the war against Iraq will only serve the interests of oil and arms merchants. Not the Iraqi people nor the working class or poor of America. It will be our class that dies and it will be our class that is exposed to the radiation of America's weapons of mass destruction.
During the 1991 US Persian Gulf War, while there was massive opposition from the public, there were many ignorant Americans who said we were fighting for democracy. In realty the US was fighting against Iraq to re-impose a king on Kuwait that served American oil interests. That kingdom is one where a parliament has been set up, but only 8% of the people (the wealthy elite) can vote. Women are not allowed to vote. The poor have no rights and the wealthy get away with murdering their servants.
Still the US corporate media whipped up support for war against Iraq through lies. One lie they told was that Saddam Hussein's military had taken premature Kuwaiti babies out of their incubators to die. After the US invasion of Kuwait was over the corporate media then admitted that this incident never happened.
Yet the majority of Americans opposed going to war until a public opinion poll was done of the American public asking under what conditions the people would support a war. The answer that came back was that there was one condition where the majority would support a war, if Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear weapons. The very next day, Bush Sr., without a shred of evidence, announced that Iraq was indeed developing nuclear weapons.
The US supports repressive monarchies such as those in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where local monarchs conspire with American oil monopolies to loot the countries of their massive oil wealth while keeping the people in poverty. Meanwhile countries on America's hit list include Iraq and Libya who have used some of their massive oil wealth towards the needs of the people. Iraq has free medical care, which was pretty good before the imposition of US/UN sanctions. In addition Iraqi women have more rights than just about anywhere in the Middle East.
The people of Iraq have many scores to settle with Saddam Hussein, he heads a brutal capitalist government. But those are scores for the people of Iraq to settle. Nothing US imperialism does can benefit the people of Iraq. What the US would impose on Iraq would be worse than the current regime in that it would deepen imperialist exploitation and strengthen the hand of US imperialist control and subjugation. US designs would also include another devastating war on the people of Iraq in order to be implemented. A US victory in Iraq would strengthen the hand of U.S. Imperialism against the people of the world as well and pave the way for the next imperialist war.
US Out Of Iraq! U.S. Out Of Afghanistan! Defeat US Imperialism! No to national unity for war!