writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses.
AGAINST TERROR OR WAR FOR RESOURCES
New York, Washington DC, Pennsylvania - the events of September 11th. when thousands were sent to their graves in a disturbing scenario of planes, flames, terror and death. The world paused everywhere that the tragedy was communicated to: disbelief and disgust was top of the agenda. The scenario was replayed over and over for the whole world to see. It was a moment that anyone who observed it from both near and afar will never be able to erase from their memories.
The horrifying part also was that no one seemed to know exactly what had happened or what was now going to happen. Calls for retaliation echoed the length and breadth of USA. Thousands were estimated to have been crushed by the might of the perpetrators and the tallest buildings in New York’s skyline crumbled into a burning mass of rumble and steel. Though the physical sight of New York was crumbling the will and feeling of the people surpassed all expectations. People felt a renewed sense of patriotism, of being proud to be New Yorkers. Within a few seconds of the attack CNN and other media outlets had their headlines. “Attack on America” and “America at war”.
Retaliation would come but did anyone anticipate how badly? From October 7th a country already suffering from years of civil war and life under an oppressive regime would be bombed thousands of times killing up to an estimated 60-67 civilians a day? As of November 23rd an estimated 3,000-3,700 civilians have died. (The figures appeared in a recent study by Marc W. Herold. Professor in the University of New Hampshire, Durham.) At times of war to have ‘collateral damage’ is to be expected. So that’s the reason why the people perpetrating this war against terrorism, as it has been conveniently defined, have only fired upon military targets.
A lot of the military facilities in Afghanistan used by the Russian backed government were strategically based in and around villages and towns to decrease the chance of rebel Mudjahadeen fighters attacking. (Some of the facilities had not been used in several years). In many cases these targets have lain unused for a few years. We have seen horrific reports coming from the country such as Richard Lloyd Parry’s article in the Independent Oct. 25 2001 titled “Families blown apart, Infants dying. The terrible truth of this just war”. A local villager disclosed to journalists “We pulled out the baby, others were buried, bodies with no arms or legs. We could do nothing we just fled” (this was in the town of Tarin Kot one of many that suffered tragedy).
Among the variety of weapons used were those with depleted uranium. The horrors of these weapons are illustrated in areas of Southern Iraq where local midwifes and medical teams state they are afraid to attend the birth of a child as they are ‘afraid what might come out’. The abnormalities associated with this material are beyond imagination. The research carried out in this area of Iraq, concluded that the environment would take generations to clear. This evidence of what the weapons do and the unexploded bombs dropped are merely illustrating the type of legacy that the resettling population of Afghanistan is faced with.
Among other predictions UNICEF state that 100,000 Afghan children will die from war related causes. No one would disagree with the idea that Afghans were an already starving nation under the regime of the Taliban, which was denounced as evil and wicked. So therefore intelligence tells the attackers, who are in my mind the real terrorists, to bomb a country that was already on its knees and in the same actions drop food aid that is of similar appearance as their cluster bombs. Allow the Taliban to leave with the 43 million apparent aid from the US given in food not cash we are told. Does anyone else feel that the quick disappearance of the leaders, some whom have reappeared within the current Afghan Government is strange? And also that current negotiations under way with Mohammed Mullah Omar to give himself up have subsequently appeared on CNN as a possibility of his anticipated arrest?
With almost every government in agreement on the current ‘strike back’, policies are being rushed through without the appropriate consultation - like the anti-terrorism bills passed both in the US and UK, whereby governments are given almost limitless power in conjunction with the suspension of any current civil liberties that exist. This includes any opposition - the thoughts and feelings of a lot of people who disagree with the current New World Order.
The anti-war movements that subsequently came out onto the streets should be applauded but more is needed! We need action now! Before this becomes another Iraq. After years of bombing and sanctions against Iraq an estimated 5,000 children are still dying each month. I feel that this scenario actually is similar to Iraq where the concerns are not of retaliation or getting revenge but to destabilize the regime so the resources in the region can be fully utilized by the US and/or G8 governments. Also not forgetting the corporations that are headed by numerous republicans in power including the Bush family. The Carlyle Group is fourteen years old and among other things it invests money for a number of high profile clients. It is estimated about 12.5 billion of investments. George Bush SR. and the members of the now world-renowned Bin Laden family own the company. As well as other associations with people like former defense secretary Frank C. Carlucci, who is incidentally reported to be a close friend of Donald Rumsfled. This group of people reportly met at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington DC on 11th September. The Carlyle Group apparently earned 237 million selling shares in the United Defense Industries allegedly the fifth largest contractor for the US government.
Also under scrutiny are the corporations’ links with Saudi Arabia, an estimated 50 million annual income for training the Saudi Arabian National Guard sworn to protect the monarchy. This is not the only company associated with the Bush Family. Arbusto Energy formed by George Jr in 1977 which subsequently was changed to Bush Explorations has numerous ties with the Middle Eastern and Caspian regions. Enron is another corporation associated with the President and in recent days we have seen the mainstream media attention given to their bankruptcy and the contributions the presidential campaign received from the company. There are numerous ties of leading republicans to corporations. Among these is Condaleeza Rice and her former bosses, of ten years or more, Chevron who named a 136,000-ton oil tanker after the former employee.
Coincidently Joseph Liebermann (defeated/denied vice president in recent elections) is said to be a member of a senate committee investigating possible links between corporations with interests in this area and their complicity with leading republicans in power. However on the issue of Afghanistan and the basis for corporate interest is that the Caspian region, which subsequently as a result of current events holds US bases to aid this ‘war’, has long been under the attention of capitalist global corporations and governments. In 1998 The Unocal Oil Corporation Vice president stated “Caspian region contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves, Natural gas reserves of 236 trillion feet and oil reserves of around 200 billion barrels”. The potential of the region, was apparently, investigated by the CIA. When this came to the attention of others Madeline Albright stated in Time Magazine in May 1998 “Working to mold the areas future is one of the most exciting things we can do”. We can all personally conclude how exciting it must be to wage war on a less powerful country than your own. ‘Oppression’ isn’t that what it’s called?
While thousands of displaced peoples and refugees are suffering inhumane conditions (like the people all over the country), during and after the Christmas period pictures of Afghans playing cricket and hosting theatre shows are placed above the agenda of the killing recently in January of 52 people - 25 of which were children in the towns of Niaza Kala and Paktia. The report appeared in the Independent on the 4th January and focused on the UN concern of the Pentagon’s claim that the victims were linked to the Al Qa’ida and the Taliban. Rumsfeld denied allegations of the murder of 52 civilians - levelled by UN spokesperson Stephanie Bunter - stating that the village was a target. Evidence existed that ammunition and fuel were said to have exploded nearby. No acceptance of wrong doings.
War crimes like the latter should be recorded and kept for people to see for themselves and how the USA demonstrates their core principles of justice, liberty and freedom. This does not go far enough to illustrate the amount of disinformation that we have been led to believe by mainstream media and governmental bodies.
We are, even apparently in West Belfast and Ireland as a whole, led to believe that an anti-war movement cannot sustain itself because of party politics invading on what should be a shared vision and aim of highlighting and protesting the abominable atrocities that are still occurring. On the streets of London 100,000 or more made their feelings known. We need to do more.
I am reminded of words from Martin Luther King: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. What would have occurred if the world had ignored our pleas to internationalise our problems and attempt to tell the truth about what was happening to our people as they starved themselves to death inside a prison? This example is perfectly illustrated by the current eighty-three deaths suffered by those on Death Fasts in Turkey as they embark in action that involves sacrificing their lives to highlight the abuse of their rights. Media and governments worldwide have failed to focus or intervene in this issue.
On the issue of opposing the war we have to combine thinking, action - anything that we feel may contribute to focusing on the wrongness of the current terrorism of the Afghan people. Or instead should we wait for the next nation to be inflicted with pain and suffering all in the name of economic gain or Bush’s War on Evil?
I would like to see George Jr’s dictionary and what definition he sees to the word. Mine says very unpleasant, morally bad and harmful - sound like anyone?
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The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
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