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Can Anything Stop The US Killing Spree?

by Justin Podur  (December 2001)

It seems that defeat, destruction, surrender of the enemy isn't enough to stop the killing. Is there anything that can? The slogan of the antiwar movement was 'Justice, not Revenge'. But things have gone well beyond revenge. Should we change the slogan to 'Revenge, not indiscriminate and endless slaughter'?

When the Taliban said: 'give us evidence, and we'll turn bin Laden over', the US said: 'no negotiations.' When the Taliban said: 'you're killing civilians', the US said: 'stop using human shields' (translated: we don't care about civilians). Today the Taliban said: 'we surrender', and the US said: 'No amnesty for Mullah Omar.'

Just for our own clarity, let's remember what Mullah Omar is accused of. It's not misogyny and intolerant fanaticism (although, if it was, would it be fair to accuse Omar of it and not the house of Saud? The house of Bush?) It is harbouring a terrorist. "There are those among the Taliban leaders who definitely have blood on their hands and it is expected that they would be brought to justice", were the words of the US spokesman at Bonn.

So we bring justice to those who have blood on their hands, now? That's the business we're in? What is the quantum of blood required to bring 'justice' down on someone? Or, maybe the question is, whose blood is required, since Afghan blood apparently doesn't elicit any such concern for justice?

And what are the principles of this 'justice' that the US is going to bring?

Some that come to mind include: if the crime is bad enough, summary execution of all suspects and anyone associated with them and anyone in the vicinity is ok, including family members (Taliban, bin Laden's wife and children); massacres are ok (at Mazar-e-Sharif and elsewhere); one day of bombing in the US by international terrorists from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other countries can be repaid by two months of bombing in Afghanistan, thousands of murders by individuals can be repaid by thousands, may be hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of murders of innocents.

What is this game they're playing over Mullah Omar? Why did they suddenly decide they want him killed as well? Is it really because he's friends with bin Laden or does it, like the bombing of Afghanis, really have nothing to do with him?

The US is demanding Mullah Omar's head not because they want his head, but because they want to show the new Afghan government who is in charge. To put it as 'Dawn', the Pakistani English-language daily put it: 'The very first decision taken by the head of the newly-appointed Afghan interim government, Hamid Karzai, to grant general amnesty has been vetoed by the US-led coalition.' Karzai had to be told that he doesn't have the power to make decisions.

Not that he needed the US to tell him that. The warlords are already walking away from the Bonn 'agreement', with General Dostum (General Dostum who captured Mazar-e-Sharif, where the massacres occurred shortly afterwards, General Dostum who was a key figure in the devastation of Kabul and the deaths of 50,000 there between 1992-1996) boycotting the process.

The warlords have made the aid effort that is required to prevent the deaths of millions of people in Afghanistan impossible. Aid agencies have asked for an international force to secure the supply routes. Without secure supply routes from Afghanistan's neighbours, millions of Afghanis will not get the aid they need to survive. At the risk of sounding repetitive, this means that millions of people could die.

The most critical need then is for secure supply routes and humanitarian aid. After that, a reconciliation process, maybe an election with reliable international observers, repair of the damage that was done.

And the US continues to bomb.

The latest is that they 'feel confident that they will catch Omar soon. They doubt he'll be taken alive.' It seems there's a new legal category for enemies in this war. If they were enemies in any other war, they would be subject to the Geneva convention on treatment of POWs which, for example, the Nazis were subject to in WWII. If they were criminals, summary execution in the field would not be allowed either. But somehow if they're enemies in the war on terror, no atrocity is too wrong to be committed against them or anyone in the vicinity.

Why does the US keep on raising the bar so that they can keep on killing? Perhaps killing is now an end in itself? There are actually two reasons. First, elites do it because they can. Second, they do it to prove that they can. They want to prove that there is no deterrent to their ability to slaughter anyone they want if it's in their interests. No moral deterrent, no military deterrent, no political deterrent. The only question is, who in the world doesn't understand this?

The people of the poor countries understand this, and always have. They've been the ones to get slaughtered over the decades, after all. The elites of the poor countries understand this too. That's why they're so obedient. Terrorists, by definition, understand this--their moral calculus allows for deaths of innocent people in pursuit of their goals. Do we understand it?

Madeleine Albright in 1996 said that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children was a high price, but worth it. Most people think of that as a rare moment of honesty. In fact, it wasn't. Honesty would have been to say: 'Actually, dead children are no price at all to us, unless they have the effect of making our population less obedient.' Neither are the deaths in the twin towers a price for Bush. They are deaths that are being used to serve the cause of further deaths. And elites are not going to stop at millions in Afghanistan, over a million in Iraq, tens of thousands in Sudan--they are going to keep on killing until we can prove them wrong, until we can raise the political deterrent of a disobedient population.

- December 8, 2001

- posted in All Sorts newsletter, 20 December 2001 - by Justin Podur of ZNet

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revised 18 November 2005