MIA: History: ETOL: Newspapers & Periodicals: International Socialist Review: Issue 20

International Socialist Review, November–December 2001


A war on the Afghan people


From International Socialist Review, Issue 20, November–December 2001.
Downloaded with thanks from the ISR Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.


PRESIDENT BUSH says the U.S. is not at war with the people of Afghanistan. But actions speak louder than words. Already, hundreds – if not thousands – of Afghans have died from bombing runs that missed their targets. Of course, the Pentagon won’t confirm most of this “collateral damage,” charging that the Afghan government is making up the reports.

But it couldn’t avoid responsibility for an “accident” from the second day of Operation Enduring Freedom – the bombing of a United Nations office charged with clearing away the millions of land mines that daily kill Afghan civilians. Four UN workers died in that raid.

A few days later, U.S. forces literally wiped out the village of Karam, killing as many as 200 people, according to independent witnesses. Hospitals, senior citizens’ homes, mosques, and other civilian targets have faced the U.S. war machine’s wrath, too. When the U.S. got tired of apologizing for these blunders, it started to counter that Taliban fighters deliberately sought refuge in these civilian buildings.

The U.S. killing of civilians is no mere mistake. It is part of U.S. policy. As it did in Iraq and Kosovo, the U.S. is dropping cluster bombs. The only purpose of a cluster bomb is to cut people apart. What’s more, after “regretting the error” of bombing a Red Cross compound early in the war, U.S. warplanes bombed the same compound again!

International relief agencies, from Doctors without Borders to various UN bodies, have called for the U.S. to halt the bombing.

They have said quite clearly that the bombing impedes their ability to carry out humanitarian assistance. More than 7 million people will depend on relief aid to stave off starvation when the Afghan winter begins. The U.S. has consciously and deliberately put these lives at risk.

The U.S. has turned a humanitarian nightmare into a catastrophe. Refugee relief agencies predict that 300,000 to 1 million people will flee their homes to the squalor of refugee camps in Pakistan. Afghanistan’s major cities are already 70 percent depopulated as a result of people fleeing U.S. bombs.

Compared to the destruction it is leaving in its wake, the administration’s cheap PR gimmick of dropping food packets is an insult. The U.S. military has displaced humanitarian relief agencies who managed to feed millions, with food drops averaging about 35,000 a day.

Each packet holds enough for one meal – if Afghans don’t get killed trying to retrieve them.

Not only do hungry civilians have to make their way through minefields, but they may pick up a cluster bomb mistaking it for a food packet. After all, both the cluster bombs and the food packets are colored yellow.

To avoid those public relations embarrassments, the Pentagon is broadcasting helpful radio messages, like:

“Attention people of Afghanistan! As you may have heard, the partnership of nations is dropping yellow humanitarian daily rations. The rations are square-shaped and are packaged in plastic.

“They are full of good nutritious, Halal food. In areas far from where we are dropping food, we are dropping cluster bombs ...

“Please, exercise caution when approaching unidentified yellow objects in areas that have been recently bombed.”

Bush’s other pathetic PR proposals – such as asking U.S. children to contribute a dollar to Afghan children, or hiring a Madison Avenue professional to market the war – border on the obscene.

Their “bomb them with butter” campaign is nothing but a smokescreen to hide mass murder.

Last updated on 8 August 2022