Fighting Terrorism On The Cheap
By Edward W. Miller
Seven months since September 11th, and Washington's much-trumpeted crusade against "terrorism" stumbles along while the unholy trinity of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld appear regularly on CNN to reassure the faithful. In Afghanistan, UNOCAL's former employee and mediator with the Taliban, Hamid Karzai, appointed under US pressure as interim Prime Minister, shuffles between European and Asian capitals resplendent in his green silk gown, desperately seeking some of the $4.5 billion cash from 30 countries promised him in Tokyo. Karzai also wants a foreign military presence sufficient to keep his shaky regime afloat at least until the Loya Jirga votes a permanent government for this country of 24 million war-sick Afghans. On April 18, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld made it clear: no US peacekeeping force. Neither the Brits, now in charge, nor Turkey will expand their control beyond Kabul. As the Las Vegas Sun reported April 12: "Turning a group of militias with divided loyalties into a unified fighting force is one of Karzai's greatest challenges..."
In the vast reaches of this mountainous country and beyond the city limits of Kabul, the descent into anarchy which seized the region after the Soviets left, and which had been pretty much controlled by the Taliban 'til we destroyed them, has now reappeared. In the hills just 25 miles west of the capital, Kabul, mortars flash and Kalashnikovs crackles as fighting between Karzai's general Zafar Uddin and Nangialai, a local leader, fill the air with smoke. South of the City, US forces just captured suspected Al Qaida members, seizing their caches of ammunition. To the southeast, some 900 British Royal Marines actively pursue hidden Al Qaida remnants.
With spring approaching, those desperate and starving Afghan refugees who survived in the Pakistan camps to the east, as well as tens of thousands from across the western border with Iran, are struggling through the high mountain passes back to their war-devastated villages. As the sun's warmth softens the frozen turf, impoverished farmers again sow opium poppies, their only secure cash-crop. Almost wiped out by the Taliban, opium cultivation has been forbidden by Karzai, but his interim government lacks the tools of enforcement. Bombed-out for the second time in a generation, surviving Afghans are finding their partially rebuilt cities again reduced to rubble, their hydro-electric plants in ruins, communications gone, highways destroyed, hospitals and schools and even mosques trashed. Those who survived the 18,000 bombs, missiles and lethal bomblets are also suffering their third year of abject famine, plus the loss of what security their religiously-strict Taliban had offered.
Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden, who presented himself as liberator of the Muslim world from the "Great Satan" US, reappears on Arab TV videos much to the distress of Bush and Rumsfeld. The latter, who Gore Vidal in his recent book ("Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace") refers to rather aptly as a "skilled stand-up comic"... seems to believe Osama "was holed up in a cave on the Pakistan border, instead of settled in a palace in Indonesia or Malaysia." The Taliban's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, is also off somewhere in hiding.
If the hidden intent of Bush and his oil compatriots was to assure a safer climate for their oil and gas transit, the challenges of a harsh climate, forbidding deserts and steep mountainous terrain remain. The Afghans today, a tough people, betrayed first by the Soviets, then by a US-Saudi coalition which sacrificed their mujahedeen warriors only to desert them, whether Pashtuns from the south, Tajiks or Usbeks from the north, whether Shiites or Sunnis, they remember Bin Laden's challenge to the "Infidels." In the rubble of their cities, near the fresh graves of their loved ones, Afghans recall the peace offered them by their Taliban was shattered by the thunder of Western bombs as the white trails of B-52's crossed their sky. Such memories are not likely to assure a safe passage for the Infidel's oil.
After Twin Towers, the Taliban's Mohammed Omar offered Bin Laden to Bush providing this Ex-Saudi was tried in an International Court of Justice. Bush refused, and chose war instead of negotiation. Today, with thousands of Afghans killed, Osama and Mohammed Omar missing, much of Afghanistan has returned to anarchy. Our General Accounting Office in Washington reports the war this year will cost $10.2 billion. As Karzai accompanies the Afghan's 87-year-old exiled King Mohammed Zaher Shah back from Italy to a politically unstable, impoverished and physically-devastated Afghanistan, Americans may be wondering whether the price we are all paying will ever be worth it.
* * *
In the Mideast this week, Sharon's terrorist War against the Palestinians continues on schedule with the Bush government's support. In an almost deja vu copy of Sharon's savage 1982 campaign against the Lebanese, Israel's gross "Hitler sans mustache" is destroying one Palestinian city after another with tanks, helicopter gunships, and F-16s. Bulldozing and leveling homes, targeting public buildings, destroying water, telephone and electric facilities and massacring citizens at will. He tells the media he is after "terrorists." Jenin, camp to over 13,500 refugees, was demolished. While their killing continued, the Israeli army isolated Jenin from any humanitarian assistance including Red Cross, red Crescent, UN personnel and the media.
Cairo's weekly AL-AHRAM reported from Jenin on April 20, "A massacre of genocidal proportions... against largely unarmed Palestinian refugees." A Palestinian woman said, "The Israeli soldiers led us away from our homes under gunpoint. They forced the men to strip to their underclothes. We had to wait, sitting on the ground for hours. The soldiers would spit on us. Then they took the men away, we don't know where." Doctor Mohamed Abu Ghalieh of the Jenin Public Hospital reported Israeli soldiers, firing warning shots, refused to allow medics to reach bleeding wounded only ten metres from the hospital. An hour later, added the doctor, after the soldiers made sure the two people had bled to death, they signaled us we could now go to them." (www.ahram.org.eg) Finally allowed in, Richard Cook, chief of operations for the UN Palestinian Agency (UNRWA) reported, "I was absolutely appalled... the devastation was much greater than I had expected." (news.independent.co.uk)
Israel's total disregard for world opinion was again obvious this week as Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, canceled her fact-finding mission to the West Bank and Gaza citing Israeli lack of cooperation. Her 53-member Commission condemned Israel for "mass killings" of Palestinians and demanded Israel leave Palestinian territory. (www.reuters.com)
Just as Clinton and then Bush helped arm Israel for this planned onslaught, so prior to Sharon's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, "Begin and Sharon found more than diplomatic approval for their plans in Washington... data from the Pentagon's Defense Assistance Agency demonstrating that in the first quarter of 1982 Israel took delivery of $217,695,000 worth of military equipment from the United States... with a... fleet of more than 50 warships... in the Mediterranean... Washington was sending a strong signal to the Soviets not to interfere with Israel's military operation."
During Sharon's vicious massacres in Lebanon, cautionary messages and warnings from the White House fell on deaf ears. The killer was not to be restrained. Rubenberg notes, "The two most striking features of this period were Israel's ability to manipulate the United States, and Washington's surrender to policies that contravened vital American interests." Today, our present Secretary of State, Powell, just back from his abject diplomatic failure in the Mideast circuit, adds a sad deja vu to author Rubenberg's observations.
Since Israel's inception in 1948, American taxpayers have paid out over $100 billion to Israel. In return, the world mocks us for being under this parasite's control. In 1967, our USS Liberty was almost sunk with 34 killed and 171 injured by Israeli gunfire. Our military support of Sharon in Lebanon cost 261 US Marines their lives. We later lost 16 soldiers in Saudi Arabia. Two of our African Embassies have been reduced to rubble and over 300 staff and civilian killed, and our USS Cole limped home from Yemen with a huge hole in her side and over a dozen of her crew dead.
Over four years ago, Osama Bin Laden made two demands: Cease our genocidal embargo and daily bombing of Iraq, and stop supporting Israel's terrorism. Had we paid any attention to these reasonable requests, our Twin Towers might still be standing tall against the New York skies and both her 3,000 workers and our embassy staffs be alive. Bin Laden's Al Qaida would then have had no reason to fight and, like crusaders throughout history, have faded away. Our American patriots put aside their muskets and returned to their farms once they were free of British occupation. Simply listening to the concerns of others on this small planet while practicing the Golden Rule would save us billions in the long run; a much cheaper way to fight "terrorism" than Washington's ongoing campaign.
"Israel and the American National Interest," by Rubenberg (pages 260-261).
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