We live, they die. We don’t risk our
brave lads on the ground ~
not for civilians. Not for anything.
the destruction of her world and loss of her daughter and three grandchildren.
THE FIRST, "BECOMING WHAT WE SEEK TO DESTROY" IS BY CHRIS HEDGES, A HUMANITARIAN WHO WAS THERE AND WITNESSED THE HORRORS OF THE AFTERMATH OF THIS BLOODBATH.
THE SECOND PIECE, "THE LIST OF 140 KILLED IN AFGHAN INCLUDES 140 CHILDREN" IS THE REACTION OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY IN WASHINGTON TO THIS ASSAULT ON HELPLESS CIVILIANS WHO WERE HIDING FROM BOTH SETS OF ENEMIES.
THE AMERICAN REACTION IS APPALLING, JUST APPALLING. GET ANGRY. GET VERY ANGRY. WEEP FOR THE WORLD, WEEP FOR THE VICTIMS. I REPEAT, GET VERY ANGRY AND FOCUS IT ON THE PERPETRATORS OF THESE ACTIONS.
THIS RIDICULOUS, UNWANTED AND UNNECESSARY ASSAULT ON AFGHANISTAN, AT THIS RATE, WILL MAKE IRAQ LOOK LIKE A SUNDAY SCHOOL PICNIC.
The bodies of dozens, perhaps well over a hundred, women, children and men, their corpses blown into bits of human flesh by iron fragmentation bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes in a village in the western province of Farah, illustrates the futility of the Afghan war. We are not delivering democracy or liberation or development.
at the hospital in Farah province. (Photo: AP)
We are delivering massive, sophisticated forms of industrial slaughter. And because we have employed the blunt and horrible instrument of war in a land we know little about and are incapable of reading, we embody the barbarism we claim to be seeking to defeat.
We are morally no different from the psychopaths within the Taliban, who Afghans remember we empowered, funded and armed during the 10-year war with the Soviet Union. Acid thrown into a girl’s face or beheadings? Death delivered from the air or fields of shiny cluster bombs? This is the language of war. It is what we speak. It is what those we fight speak.
Afghan survivors carted some two dozen corpses from their villages to the provincial capital in trucks this week to publicly denounce the carnage. Some 2,000 angry Afghans in the streets of the capital chanted “Death to America!”
But the grief, fear and finally rage of the bereaved do not touch those who use high-minded virtues to justify slaughter. The death of innocents, they assure us, is the tragic cost of war. It is regrettable, but it happens. It is the price that must be paid.
Angry survivors of the air bombing of two villages
march on Kabul, carrying dozens of bodies of victims.
And so, guided by a president who once again has no experience of war and defers to the bull-necked generals and militarists whose careers, power and profits depend on expanded war, we are transformed into monsters.
There will soon be 21,000 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan in time for the expected surge in summer fighting. There will be more clashes, more air strikes, more deaths and more despair and anger from those forced to bury their parents, sisters, brothers and children.
The grim report of the killings in the air strike, issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which stated that bombs hit civilian houses and noted that an ICRC counterpart in the Red Crescent was among the dead, will become familiar reading in the weeks and months ahead.
Afghan villagers mark new burial site of victims
who were killed during the coalition
airstrikes in Bala Baluk district of Farah province. (Photo: AP)
We are the best recruiting weapon the Taliban possesses. We have enabled it to rise from the ashes seven years ago to openly control over half the country and carry out daylight attacks in the capital Kabul. And the war we wage is being exported like a virus to Pakistan in the form of drones that bomb Pakistani villages and increased clashes between the inept Pakistani military and a restive internal insurgency.
I spoke in New York City a few days ago with Dr. Juliette Fournot, who lived with her parents in Afghanistan as a teenager, speaks Dari and led teams of French doctors and nurses from Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, into Afghanistan during the war with the Soviets. She participated in the opening of clandestine cross-border medical operations missions between 1980 and 1982 and became head of the French humanitarian mission in Afghanistan in 1983.
'Dr. Fournot established logistical bases in Peshawar and Quetta and organized the dozen cross-border and clandestine permanent missions in the resistance-held areas of Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Badakhshan, Paktia, Ghazni and Hazaradjat, through which more than 500 international aid workers rotated.
She is one of the featured characters in a remarkable book called “The Photographer,” produced by photojournalist Didier Lefèvre and graphic novelist Emmanuel Guibert. The book tells the story of a three-month mission in 1986 into Afghanistan led by Dr. Fournot. It is an unflinching look at the cost of war, what bombs, shells and bullets do to human souls and bodies.
An Afghan boy places dirt over the grave of one of his
family members after air strikes in Ganj Abad of
Bala Buluk district, in Farah province, May 5, 2009.
It exposes, in a way the rhetoric of our politicians and generals do not, the blind destructive fury of war. The French humanitarian group withdrew from Afghanistan in July 2004 after five of its aid workers were assassinated in a clearly marked vehicle.
“The American ground troops are midterm in a history that started roughly in 1984 and 1985 when the State Department decided to assist the Mujaheddin, the resistance fighters, through various programs and military aid. USAID, the humanitarian arm serving political and military purposes, was the seed for having a different kind of interaction with the Afghans,” she told me. “The Afghans were very grateful to receive arms and military equipment from the Americans.”
"Afghanistan was probably a good ground to hit and drain the blood from the Soviet Union. I did not see a plan to rebuild or bring peace to Afghanistan. It seemed that Afghanistan was a tool to weaken the Soviet Union. It was mostly left to the Pakistani intelligence services to decide what would be best and how to do it and how by doing so they could strengthen themselves.”
The Pakistanis, Dr. Fournot said, developed a close relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis, like the Americans, flooded the country with money and also exported conservative and often radical Wahhabi clerics.
The Americans, aware of the relationship with the Saudis as well as Pakistan’s secret program to build nuclear weapons, looked the other way. Washington sowed, unwittingly, the seeds of destruction in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It trained, armed and empowered the militants who now kill them.
A wounded child in Farah yesterday. Up to 120 people,
including civilians, were reported to have been killed
in a series of US airstrikes on two villages. (Photo: The Times)
“The population wondered why they did not have more credibility with the Americans,” she said. “They could not understand why the aid was stopped in Pakistan and distributed to political parties that had limited reach in Afghanistan. These parties stockpiled arms and started fighting each other. What the people got in the provinces was minuscule and irrelevant. And how did the people see all this? They had great hopes in the beginning and gradually became disappointed, bitter and then felt betrayed. This laid the groundwork for the current suspicion, distrust and disappointment with the U.S. and NATO.”
Dr. Fournot sees the American project in Afghanistan as mirroring that of the doomed Soviet occupation that began in December 1979. A beleaguered Afghan population, brutalized by chaos and violence, desperately hoped for stability and peace.
A wounded Afghan villager stands stunned amid the rubble
of destroyed houses after the coalition airstrikes in
Bala Baluk district of Farah province. (Photo: AP)
The Soviets, like the Americans, spoke of equality, economic prosperity, development, education, women’s rights and political freedom. But within two years, the ugly face of Soviet domination had unmasked the flowery rhetoric. The Afghans launched their insurgency to drive the Soviets out of the country.
Dr. Fournot fears that years of war have shattered the concept of nationhood. “There is so much personal and mental destruction,” she said. “Over 70 percent of the population has never known anything else but war. Kids do not go to school. War is normality. It gives that adrenaline rush that provides a momentary sense of high, and that is what they live on. And how can you build a nation on that?”
The Pashtuns, she noted, have built an alliance with the Taliban to restore Pashtun power that was lost in the 2001 invasion. The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is, to the Pashtuns, a meaningless demarcation that was drawn by imperial powers through the middle of their tribal lands.
There are 13 million Pashtuns in Afghanistan and another 28 million in Pakistan. The Pashtuns are fighting forces in Islamabad and Kabul they see as seeking to wrest from them their honor and autonomy. They see little difference between the Pakistani military, American troops and the Afghan army.
Islamabad, while it may battle Taliban forces in Swat or the provinces, does not regard the Taliban as a mortal enemy. The enemy is and has always been India. The balance of power with India requires the Pakistani authorities to ensure that any Afghan government is allied with it.
This means it cannot push the Pashtuns in the Northwest Frontier Province or in Afghanistan too far. It must keep its channels open. The cat-and-mouse game between the Pakistani authorities and the Pashtuns, which drives Washington to fury, will never end. Islamabad needs the Pashtuns in Pakistan and Afghanistan more than the Pashtuns need them.
The U.S. fuels the bonfires of war. The more troops we send to Afghanistan, the more drones we send on bombing runs over Pakistan, the more airstrikes we carry out, the worse the unraveling will become. We have killed twice as many civilians as the Taliban this year and that number is sure to rise in the coming months.
Orphan destined for life on the street, among the rubble.
“I find this term ‘collateral damage’ dehumanizing,” Dr. Fournot said, “as if it is a necessity. People are sacrificed on the altar of an idea. Air power is blind. I know this from having been caught in numerous bombings.”
We are faced with two stark choices. We can withdraw and open negotiations with the Taliban or continue to expand the war until we are driven out. The corrupt and unpopular regimes of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari are impotent allies. The longer they remain tethered to the United States, the weaker they become. And the weaker they become, the louder become the calls for intervention in Pakistan.
During the war in Vietnam, we invaded Cambodia to bring stability to the region and cut off rebel sanctuaries and supply routes. This tactic only empowered the Khmer Rouge. We seem poised, in much the same way, to do the same for radical Islamists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“If the Americans step up the war in Afghanistan, they will be sucked into Pakistan,” Dr. Fournot warned. “Pakistan is a time bomb waiting to explode. You have a huge population, 170 million people. There is nuclear power. Pakistan is much more dangerous than Afghanistan. War always has its own logic. Once you set foot in war, you do not control it. It sucks you in.”
"We want the Taliban back", say ordinary Afghans.The British Government calls the Taliban "terrorists" and "extremists", but people in Afghanistan associate it with security. Before the 2001 invasion, they say, they could walk the streets safely as long as they complied with the movement's strict interpretation of Islamic law. Now even a simple outing to the local market is seen as a risk, and the Taliban, established as a response to lawlessness in the 1990s, is gaining fresh strength. I think life under the Taliban was very good," said Maria Farah, a mother of five. "If we did not have a full stomach, we could at least get some food and go to sleep, and if we went out somewhere there were no problems. How about now? If we go out, we don't know if we will arrive home or not. If there is an explosion and the Americans are passing, they will just open fire on everyone. The security problems are too much here."
Ninety-three children and 25 adult women are among a list of 140 names of Afghans who villagers say were killed in a battle and U.S. air strikes last week, causing a crisis between Washington and its Afghan allies.(Face it, one is only an ally to the US when it is on its knees with its bottom exposed to the light of day for America's pleasure.)
The list, obtained by Reuters, bears the endorsement of seven senior provincial and central government officials, including an Afghan two-star general who headed a task force dispatched by the government to investigate the incident.
Titled "list of the martyrs of the bombardment of Bala Boluk district of Farah Province", it includes the name, age and father's name of each alleged victim.
The youngest was listed as 8-day-old baby Sayed Musa, son of Sayed Adam. Fifty-three victims were girls under the age of 18, and 40 were boys. Only 22 were men 18 or older.
The U.S. military continues to dispute the toll and a military spokesman said some of the names could be fake. (The US military now sounds like a penny haggler over eggs in a farmers' market!)
The dispute over the number of dead has worsened tension between Washington and Kabul, despite apologies President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made during a visit to Washington by President Hamid Karzai last week.(Crocodile tears are just so very soothing to a nation under siege. Just how sincere can Hillary get unless she is losing a Presidential election?)
The Afghan government has endorsed the list, and Karzai went on U.S. television to call for an end to all U.S. air strikes, only to be rebuffed by Washington. Afghan officials say the issue helps insurgents by turning the public against foreign forces.
Since last year, U.S. officials adopted new procedures for investigations of civilian casualties designed to ensure their statements agree with those of the Afghan government.
Nevertheless, Washington has continued to dispute the death toll. U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian said villagers had an incentive to invent names of dead relatives in the hope of collecting compensation.
U.S. SAYS NO PROOF
"Well I could give you 140 names too. The problem is there is no evidence of that number of graves ... Are those real people? Did they ever actually exist? I can give you a list of 53 girls names with their ages," he said "There are no birth certificates and there are no death certificates." (Not every culture lives by paperwork, Mr. Julian. Some are actually free until YOU come to free them!)
"Conditions exist that encourage exaggeration," Julian added.
This couple can speak about conditions to Mr. Julian, they are
now homeless, their belongings buried in rubble.
"If you say that the Taliban killed your family you'd get nothing. If you say the Americans killed your family, you might get assistance, whether they existed or not." (Since when did the Talibs have capability for such air attacks?)
Julian said investigators had been shown 26 individual graves at the site and one mass grave, which he said was not large enough to contain so many bodies. He estimated the overall toll could not exceed 80.
Because of cultural sensitivity, there were no plans to dig up the graves to determine how many were buried inside, he said.
One now widowed, this is all that remains of her home.
The U.S. military blames the Taliban for causing the deaths deliberately by herding civilians into houses it knew would be targeted by U.S. troops sent to rescue Afghan police and soldiers from an ambush. It also says the Taliban may have killed some of the villagers with grenades.(The old human shields Israeli BS arises once again!)
"Don't forget about who is responsible for this whole thing. This was a deliberate plan to create human sacrifices and then blame us," Julian said.(Didn't Israel claim the same thing as it murdered the innocents of Gaza?)
Karzai told CNN last week that Washington needs to rely on other tactics besides air strikes when it is facing Taliban fighters in villages where civilians might be present.
The Americans studied the same manual as the Israelis regarding Gaza.
"The air strikes are not acceptable," Karzai said. "Terrorism is not in Afghan villages, not in Afghan homes. And you cannot defeat terrorists by air strikes."
But White House National Security Advisor James Jones said on Sunday that U.S. forces need air power to protect themselves: "We can't fight with one hand tied behind our back."
threatened by these warriors so badly he must have them bombed from air?