article - SchNEWS, 29 Feb 2003
In the week that George W. presents his 'vision' for a post-war Iraq, a vision that he has already refused to contribute to financially, SchNEWS reckons it's appropriate to look at Afghanistan one year on. Just how has bombing and killing civilians improved the situation for the Afghan people?
The Wanted posters that litter the country, dropped by US planes, give us a clue. America's most wanted are Osama bin Laden, former Taliban leader Mullah Omar, and former Prime Minister and hardline Pashtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Little change there then. Hekmatyar continues to rally support among the Pashtun communities, probably due to the oversight that neglected to allow them proper representation in the Transitional Government headed up by US puppet Hamid Karzai. Karzai's credibility plummets as he turns to the US for his own security, and his power has yet to extend beyond Kabul. Someone obviously forgot to read the bit in Security Council Resolution 1378 stating that both the transitional and the pursuant democratic governments should be 'broad-based, multi-ethnic, and fully representative of all Afghan people.'
With their usual 'go for the symptom if you can't get the cause' way of looking at things, the US have been bombing the Pashtun communities in the South and East of the country. If the man's too slippery, go for the people who may, just possibly, one day in the future, support him. In January, US, Norwegian and Danish fighter planes conducted a massive bombing raid close to Spin Boldak, a refugee village near the Pakistan border that houses 65,000 men, women and children, reportedly killing hundreds of civilians. Accurate numbers were not available as the area was sealed off by troops and access denied even to the Red Cross. This is in direct contravention of UN Resolution 1379 - which underlines the importance of 'full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and goods, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children affected by armed conflict.' Earlier this month, 17 civilians, mostly women and children were killed in bombing raids designed to wipe out a handful of rebel fighters in the Baghran district to the South.
Ore of Babylon
US forces continue to use outlawed weapons in these attacks, such as uranium bombs and the innocuously named Daisy Cutter, a bomb the size of a VW beetle which incinerates everything within a 600 metre radius and whose shock waves can be felt miles away. Findings by the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC) point out that uranium poisoning is already causing severe health problems throughout Afghanistan "The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite investigated, people are ill." Yet again the US shows its middle finger to resolution number 1379 that calls upon all parties to respect conditions of 'Prohibition or Restriction' on the use of weapons which have 'Indiscriminate Effects.'
And to add insult to mass destruction, George W. 'forgot' to include any humanitarian and reconstruction funds in his 2003 budget. Yet another unfortunate oversight hurriedly rescued by Congress who managed to rustle up $300 million for the cause. How many times did Bush pledge not to walk away from the Afghan people? $300million might seem like a lot, but it constitutes a small proportion of the $4billion total pledged at the Tokyo donor's conference to help rebuild Afghanistan. Compared to the $3 billion that Israel receives in US foreign aid every year, $300m figure suddenly loses its impact. Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, much of it used for the purchase and manufacture of weapons, plus additional funds, not counted as foreign aid, for special projects such as $180 million for the development and manufacture of the Arrow missile project. Weapons now make up 50% of Israel's manufactured exports. Contrary to the norm, Israel is not required to use this injection of funds to buy American goods, in fact American defence contractors are often forced to buy Israeli goods, and it has the power to block the sale of US military equipment to Middle Eastern countries. In common with other states that have earned the "rogue nation" label, Israel has the capacity to manufacture nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and maintains a stockpile of nuclear weapons, yet has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to allow any independent inspection of its facilities.
Israel are now demanding an additional $3-4 billion for the next 3 to 5 years to help them cope with the continuing Palestinian uprising and the consequences of a US war in Iraq. Perhaps George W. should see someone about his blurred 'vision' before he makes more of a spectacle of himself.
More info -
uranium contamination - http://www.UMRC.net
daisy cutters - http://www.robearly.com/911/DaisyCutter.html
- SchNEWS (28th February 2003)