Bombing not justified - a view from Ireland

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thanks to www.commondreams.org

Published on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 in the Irish Times Afghanistan Bombing Still Not Justified by Vincent Browne There is so much else to write about - the failure in Northern Ireland to resolve conclusively by far the most important issue: policing; the deepening poverty here and the widening of the inequality gap; the continuing nonsense of the Garda obsession with cannabis and their "triumph" with the "biggest ever haul"; the disappearance of the Celtic Tiger almost overnight; the impact of the recession on the media.

But how can we divert our horrified gaze from the awfulness of what is going on in Afghanistan? After nearly 24 days of bombardment you wonder what is there left to bomb in Afghanistan? They are dropping hundreds of bombs per day - say 300, each of about 2,000 lbs: that's 600 times per day what was detonated at Omagh and for each of 24 days. We know now they have twice bombed the warehouse of the International Committee of the Red Cross, they have bombed a mosque, a hospital, a village, wiped out a family: that's what is admitted. The Taliban says there were more than 1,000 civilians killed in the first week. We can discount that but are we to believe that only a handful have been killed by these "surgical strikes", when we know the strikes are not "surgical" and we know the explosives used are anything but "surgical"? I am referring particularly to the thousands of "cluster bombs" that are being dropped every day.

These bombs were used extensively in the 78-day bombardment of Yugoslavia two years ago. A House of Commons Defense Committee report, Lessons of Kosovo, commented on these cluster bombs: "Each of these weapons contains 147 bomblets, primarily firing a plasma-jet able to penetrate armor but having a secondary anti-personnel effect with over 2,000 sharpened pieces cutting into the casing." The report states that between eight and 12 per cent of these cluster bombs (i.e., between 42 and 64 bombs), each with 147 bomblets and 2,000 shrapnel pieces, failed to explode and therefore are lying around on the ground in Yugoslavia. It quotes a report which states that only 31 per cent of these cluster bombs hit their targets and a further 29 per cent cannot be accounted for.

So we can believe that about 70 per cent of these bombs, each with 147 bomblets and 2,000 shrapnel pieces, do not hit their target and that thousands of them have been dropped in the last 24 days? How could it be that thousands of civilians have not been maimed by these bombs? How could it be, even if the bombing stopped now, that thousands more civilians will not be maimed or killed by the unexploded "bomblets" that will lie around on the ground for years to come?

One of my correspondents (having got 330 emails after my column of two weeks ago I got over 400 to last week's column, this time most of them supportive of the anti-war stance) has challenged me on what my attitude would be if a loyalist gang had hijacked three Aer Lingus aircraft and flown them into office areas of Dublin, killing 5,000 people, and if this gang was harbored by a loyalist government in Northern Ireland, that the gang had gone on to call for a holy war to kill all Catholics, including all Catholics in the South, what would be my attitude then? Would I favor the kind of response to the Northern state that the Americans are making to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, assuming that the Dublin government had the military prowess to respond?

The answer is: I do not know how the emotional trauma of that event would color my judgment but how should I respond? I believe it would be wrong to bomb Northern Ireland in the way that the Americans and British are bombing Afghanistan. I believe it would be wrong to use cluster bombs or any other kind of indiscriminate weapons. I believe that before anything was done militarily every effort should be made to secure the extradition of the culprits either to the Republic or to an agreed third state. And I think that would be the right response even if my own children were victims of the attack on Dublin (although, of course, in that event my judgment would be entirely overwhelmed by the catastrophe that had occurred).

But what is going on in Afghanistan is worse than just the killing and the maiming caused by the bombing. There is also the vast humanitarian crisis. More than six million people were "causing concern" to the aid agencies prior to the commencement of the bombing - "causing concern" is a nice way of saying on the verge of death from starvation. Surely thousands of these have died by the withdrawal of aid since October 7th, when the bombing started? And, as I have written before, what is the point of it all? John Ashcroft, the US Attorney General, said last week the attack on America of September 11th was planned in Germany. Most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and a few from Egypt. Some of these may have been in Afghanistan at some time, but so what? They could not have learnt any skills in Afghanistan relevant to what they did on September 11th. Their fundamentalism was engendered not in Afghanistan but in Saudi Arabia (the major center for that kind of fanaticism but that can't be mentioned because of the oil) or Egypt or Germany.

2001 ireland.com

-- mark (mrobinowitz@nospam.igc.org), October 31, 2001

Answers

If these people have such good intentions, why do they half to resort to a collection of half truths (some whole lies) and really screwy thinking.

Gerald

-- Gerald (GeraldM@yahoo.com), October 31, 2001.


How can it be that the head is so far up the ass, that it would take a bomb to get it out. These figures are so greatly exaggerated that the time wasted in figuring them out could have been well spent studying the history of terrorism and the seriousness of the problem. You just have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette. WE aren't dealing with kind folks here.

-- jimmie-the-weed (thinkasur@aol.com), October 31, 2001.

I guess what Browne is spewing is that we should be bombing Germany Egypt and and Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan. Does this person have an inside track on how many or what types of bombs are being used? All a bunch of conjecture and outright lies.

I think these articles should stay on commondreams and not on this forum.

By the way the editor of commondreams is Craig Brown

craig@commondreams.org

Maybe people would like to let him know how they feel.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 31, 2001.


Martin -

If anyone reads my posts, they know I monitor the "progressive press", like a hawk.

I have a personal stake in this since I worked in that community -- nationally and internationally -- for over 15 years.

That was until they went over to the dark side. Though individuals are sincere, by and large, they are now controlled by extremists who have great interest in destroying any and all things that are American or capitalistic.

I would suggest that people interested take some time to look at Common Dreams and read what they say. It is much the same with any other "progressive" publication.

Go back as far as you want in the last decade.

I defy ANYONE to produce ONE article where they approve or support any American government action or policy -- about anything -- anywhere.

The one possible exception would come in articles -- during elections -- where they are trying to dissuade people from voting for a Republican.

Here they, from time to time, reluctantly might have paid lip service to, or even approve of, something a democrat did -- for one purpose -- to make a republican look bad.

Otherwise, the democrats don't get much better. With this possible exception, the challenge stands.

This "America: all bad, all the time" policy is the reason they are not taken seriously and have so little effect -- or garner so little respect -- except in groups and localities that are leftist already.

The middle 90% of the US will not respond. No one in the "vast middle" is willing to have to hate their country...first.

Add to the above, the "progressives", by in large, are hypocrites of the highest order.

JB

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 31, 2001.


One more point about the "progressive" press and writer.

I would also challenge anyone to show where -- since 9/11 -- the "progressives" have ever criticized those that that have loudly declared that they would gleefully take the lives of millions of civilian Americans (including children).

This includes those that have plotted the use of WMD...biological, chemical, AND nuclear.

JB

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 31, 2001.



They don't just don't criticize the terrorists, they don't even mention the potential for the mass killings of millions of US civilians.

All their concerns exclude Americans.

Gerald

-- Gerald (GeraldM@yahoo.com), October 31, 2001.


"A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on." - Mark Twain

The "progressive press" and groups were the ones critizing the theocratic regime of the Taliban when Unocal was plotting the pipeline deal a few years ago.

The environmentalists have been the ones pointing out that utter dependence on petroleum was not good for our security, our economy, our health and our atmosphere. Greenpeace pointed out nearly a decade ago that every major car company already has very efficient cars in their labs - a couple get about 100 mpg. Imagine if our political system looked ahead a few years to see what is the long term interest of the community - and not merely short term profits of oil companies.

It's not hating America, or even its government (overt or covert) to point out the obvious - our foreign policies have created a lot of enemies over the past half century.

The claims by "Jackson brown" are so ridiculous that they could almost be ignored. I would reference the other Jackson Brown, the singer, whose songs differentiate between the ideals of America and covert wars that are not democratic and kill lots of innocents. If you're for "capitalism," then let's cut off massive subsidies to transnational corporations that have no allegiance to any land, violate our health and safety laws, and treat their employees as expendable. That's not "capitalism" as described by Adam Smith!

And another ranter claims that "progressives"

They don't just don't criticize the terrorists, they don't even mention the potential for the mass killings of millions of US civilians.

All their concerns exclude Americans.

Gerald

This is pathetic. It is hateful, misleading, and WRONG.

Where were the Democrats and the Republicans during the Reagan Administration when environmental and disarmament groups pointed out:

-- arming dangerous theocratic fundamentalists in Afghanistan (who were fighting the USSR) was not a smart thing

-- looking the other way at Pakistan's nuclear program was also not a smart thing

-- ignoring human rights abuses in the Middle East was incompatible with our stated values.

It's really sad to see this otherwise excellent news source (GICC) sprinkled with some really mean spirited comments that would be difficult to be more inflamatory and divisive. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

When it comes to parsing what to believe, what might be believable, and what is probably not believable, the statements of the world's most respected humanitarian relief agencies should carry more weight that unsigned rantings by someone calling themselves "the weed" on an internet bulletin board claiming that hungry people are not really there as a major problem. Such blindness is not worthy of the ideals of this country.

-- mark (mrobinowitz@nospam.igc.org), November 01, 2001.


One other thing:

the "progressives" that some on this board are trashing were the ones pointing out over the past three decades that using nuclear energy posed serious risks of terror attacks that could render large parts of the country uninhabitable for generations.

meanwhile, the democrats and republicans have supported dangerous, expensive, vulnerable, toxic nuclear power almost without exception.

I recommend the book "The Curve of Binding Energy" by John McPhee, about former nuclear weapons scientist (now disarmament advocate) Ted Taylor, in which he discusses his fears of the future of nuclear terrorism (written in the early 1970s). In the book, McPhee and Taylor take a trip to the World Trade Center observation deck.

Pakistan wasn't a nuclear state when that book was written - but Ronald Reagan (and G HW Bush) decided that arming the Afghan guerrilas fighting the USSR was more important than blocking Pakistan's acquisition of The Bomb. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

-- mark (mrobinowitz@nospam.igc.org), November 01, 2001.


Mark --

I am so wrong -- meet my challange.

""I defy ANYONE to produce ONE article where they approve or support any American government action or policy -- about anything -- anywhere.""

OR

"""I would also challenge anyone to show where -- since 9/11 -- the "progressives" have ever criticized those that that have loudly declared that they would gleefully take the lives of millions of civilian Americans (including children)."""

JB

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), November 01, 2001.


"""I would also challenge anyone to show where -- since 9/11 -- the "progressives" have ever criticized those that that have loudly declared that they would gleefully take the lives of millions of civilian Americans (including children)."""

I'll repeat it too.

""They don't just don't criticize the terrorists, they don't even mention the potential for the mass killings of millions of US civilians. All their concerns exclude Americans. ""

Mark if I am so wrong, show me any article, in a progressive publication, expressing concern about the threat to Americans since 9- 11!

Gerald

-- Gerald (GeraldM@yahoo.com), November 01, 2001.



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