Winter in Afghanistan

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http://www.commondreams.org/views01/1030-01.htm Published on Tuesday, October 30, 2001 in the Cape Cod Times Winter in Afghanistan by Sean Gonsalves With such a huge number of victims, many people have personal ties to the Sept. 11 attacks. What's that thing about six degrees of separation?

The father of a friend of mine was on the American Airlines flight that crashed into the World Trade Center. I fly out of Logan International Airport in Boston regularly and have been a passenger on both American and United Airlines flights.

My older brother works in Manhattan, very close to what is now called Ground Zero. My beloved aunts - my mother's two sisters - live in Virginia, only a few minutes drive away from the Pentagon. Aunt Janine said she felt the tremors in her house, emanating from the explosion at the Department of Defense headquarters.

Uncle Auggie, a former master sergeant in the Army, worked in the Pentagon for years. He's retired now. But what if he hadn't retired and was working there on Sept. 11? And I still have family and loved ones serving in the military.

So yes, an international police action in which bin Laden and his bunch are dealt with according to international law strikes me as the right thing to do. But there's a difference between the protective use of force and the punitive use of force.

U.S. officials are saying the bombing of Afghanistan could continue through the winter and maybe into spring. According to the oft-repeated poll, 90 percent of Americans support military action in response to the attacks on America.

I don't know how many Americans will continue to support military action if thousands of civilians are killed.

"Collateral damage" is a major concern for most Americans, considering the overwhelming support for the food drops in Afghanistan.

Two weeks ago, Mary Robinson, the U.N. human rights commissioner and former president of Ireland, called for the suspension of air strikes on targets in Afghanistan in order to provide aid to civilians before the onslaught of winter.

"We must have a pause in order to enable huge humanitarian access and to allow a number of Afghans to come across the borders," she said. "It is absolutely wrong that 6,000 people were killed in the terrible events of Sept. 11, but equally we must have regard for the population in Afghanistan."

Dominic Nutt, spokesman for Christian Aid in Islamabad, says: "Air-dropping ration packs is about as useful as dropping leaflets telling Afghan people not to worry. Indeed, we fervently hope that the drops don't actually kill people. Our experience tells us that much will end up in the hands of warring parties and that fighting over the food will occur."

"It's likely that the weakest - women, children and the old - will go without. The policy of air drops, then, is either extremely naive or a cynical attempt to mask the real needs of the situation... . Those dependent on food aid now number 7.5 million, an increase of about 50 percent - entirely attributable to the ensuing crisis... . The bombing must stop as soon as possible," he warns.

Barbara Stocking, director of Oxfam, says: "We've reached the point where it is simply unrealistic for us to do what we need to do in Afghanistan. We've run out of food, the borders are closed, we can't reach our staff and time's almost run out."

According to a joint statement released by a coalition of relief agencies working in Afghanistan, 500,000 of the 2 million Afghans who don't have enough food to last through the winter will be cut off by snow by mid-November.

U.N. foodstocks within Afghanistan is down to two weeks supply - 9,000 tons, according to Stocking.

"We just don't know how many people may die if the bombing is not suspended and the aid effort assured... . But if nothing changes, there will be huge loss of life and unspeakable suffering this winter," she added.

I can't help but think about my friends and family, especially my two precious daughters.

My fear is that our ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan will not only destroy terrorists but also create new ones who may bring harm to my loved ones.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and syndicated columinist. He can be reached via email: sgonsalves@capecodonline.com

Copyright 2001 Cape Cod Times

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-- mark (mrobinowitz@igc.nospam.org), October 30, 2001

Answers

I get sick of these gol-danged pacifists. When are they going to understand that war is hell, but war is war. When you are attacked it is kill or be killed. You don't go around worrying about the bruise you might leave by stepping on the enemy's toe.

-- Buck (bigbuck@trailways.net), October 30, 2001.

Look at this question another way. Suppose instead of attacking the United States, Bin Ladden had attacked China (PRC) in the same, spectactular, well-broadcast manner. 10's of thosands of Chinese had died and the evidence pointed very clearly back to Bin Ladden.

We in the US would be watching the Chinese bomb the Taliban and Bin Ladden.

But, the Chinese don't have the nice "precision weapons" that we do. Instead, they have old, unguided bombs, and a big army. There would be ten's of thousands of civilian casualties. Even if the PRC cared, they really couldn't do much to reduce the casualties.

So, in a sense, by attacking the United States, bin Ladden has chosen an enemy that attempts to spare the lives of the people around him. And make no mistake - the United States believes in the CHRISTIAN concept of war, and will attempt to minimize those casualties.

So, who is responsible for all those deaths?

Bin Ladden.

He chose the enemy to attack and is bringing the consequences of his decision on those around him.

Incidently, remember, the basic concept of "innocent civilians" is a Western concept, based on the wars of the Middle Ages and the Christian teaching of "The Just War." The Christian church taught it was wrong to make war on those not actively fighting you. Thus, civilians could expect protection from combat, except when accidents happened. In later centuries, this was institutionalized in a number of western dominated treaties, such as the various Geneva Conventions.

But, the concept of "Innocent Civilians" is not accepted in areas of the world that do not have a history of Christian domination. It is a Western concept, which the East has historically exploited against the West in combat. Instead, they believe that everyone is a soldier, in their own way, and hence, is a legitimate target.

-- Rich Marsh (marshr@airmail.net), October 31, 2001.


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

-- L. Hunter Cassells (mellyrn@castlemark-honey.com), October 31, 2001.

People who think like Sean Gonsalves is why we are at a disadvantage in this war... Not necessarily for what is said, but for what is not said.

Sean Gonsalves fails to address the whole of the issue by omitting the following:

First, consider this... Knowing that we are playing in the world's political arena, the Taliban soldiers and the terrorist hide well within their civilian population. We are cautiously limiting our military operation for fear of killing Afghan civilians.

Yet, as you all know our own Government has stated that it will shoot down any civilian airliner if it learns that terrorist have taken over the aircraft. Are Afghan civilians more precious than US Civilians aboard an airliner?

If we are to win this war, we must be vigorous in our defense and be willing to face the critique of the world.

Now, lets move on to the point that our dear Mr. Gonsalves leaves out. For fear of "political correctness" back lash, I'm sure he has left out what I'm about to say.. He must refrain from speaking the truth...

I am not fooled one bit by all this soft stepping that is being done for the sake of the Muslim world. Our Government is stepping carefully not to offend the Muslims and thus has played into the hands of these sick individuals. They have lulled the American people to sleep by saying that Islam and the Muslim faith is a peaceful one. We are fooled by our own leaders as they affirm that the Koran teaches peace... It does not!

It teaches that man should live in "servitude" to God. It teaches that those who do not follow the way of Islam will be destroyed and concurred. It regards man as a being full of sin and one that must live in fear of God's wrath.

Now consider how these teachings place us in conflict by those who practice this faith. They are not content with living as they choose and letting others be. They are hell bent (or in their eyes "heavenly bent") on stripping man of his right to live as he chooses.

The American way of life is based on the freedom to choose. Our Capitalist system is based on that human ability of reason. We elevate men to wealth through market forces, choosing their ideas over others of less value to us. Our system is not based on one that rewards mediocrity, it is based on one that rewards merit. Our system is one that breeds advancement for human condition by letting each man choose in his best interest. No worthless idea will survive in a market that is based on human choice, none will survive one that is based on human value judgments. Only man has the capacity to make value judgments. We are capable of rendering value judgments because we are able to discriminate as a form of deductive reasoning. It is our nature to be selective in our daily lives. Being able to make choices is the basis for our survival.

This political correctness is hindering, if not blinding us of our observed knowledge, reality. We are being told that Muslims are peaceful and that Islam teaches peace. Do not be fooled, see it for what it is. It is a system that contradicts the American way of life.

This does not mean that we should go out on a witch hunt for Muslims, but only that we see the issue for what it is and what they (Muslims) stand for. We can respect their right to worship, but we do not have to side step our observed reality and our own rights in defending this Nation. we do not owe the world an apology for our lifestyles. We do not need to step carefully to spare their "sensitive" feelings. It is not our duty "not" to offend, but only to respect!

As you have seen in the news, many reporters are now showing us and the world... those "poor" children and "innocent" civilians of Afghanistan, "how they who suffer at the hands of US military actions..." Ask yourself, "why do they live in such deplorable conditions begin with?" The Muslims would have you believe it is our fault, America's fault! Wrong! The answer is obvious, "their faith, their belief..."

They have chosen the life they live and we are being dragged into their nightmare. We are fooled into seeing them as victims of our own modern way life, as if we must atone for our sins of progress and wealth.

They are under Taliban rule because each individual in that society is guilty of being submissive to a belief system of their choosing. They have abandoned their human nature and their capacity to make value judgments based on reason. They have abandon their right to choose, abandoned their right to Liberty. No man can be a victim of his own Government, he is a victim of his own failure to act as a man and help shape his Government. He is a victim of himself...

Man has a mind capable of reason and a tool for his survival. We fail as humans when we do not exercise our only survival tool. In this spiral of failure we attempt to seek knowledge without the use of our minds. We seek mystic answers to concrete questions. These are the men that submit to a religion or a belief system that demands that they live in submission to God, Government, or other men. These men not only fail, they subvert morality by choosing to ignore facts around them, they submit themselves and others to ideas imposed by coercion. These men have no one to blame but themselves. These "unfortunate" victims create their own nightmare. Why should we allow ourselves to feel sorry for them? Why should we help those that will not help themselves? Why should we help a society of people bent on the destruction of humanity?

In final, let me state clearly that we should not doubt our own eyes. The mystics of the mind will subvert what you see, they will subvert your observations, your conclusions, and they will do it through our own perceived "political correctness."

Exercise your rights. Use your mind and the powers of observation. See what is really in front of your eyes. Look at the evidence.

Our first step in defense of this great Nation is to know the enemy... "Call the Spade a Spade!"

For America! Life, Liberty, and Property Rights!

Justo Perez Houston Texas

PS. Read - Atlas Shrugged.

-- Justo Perez (jujumon@earthlink.net), October 31, 2001.


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