NATO’s Bombs Fall Like Confetti

‘The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” This is how an anonymous Nato spokesperson described Saturday’s disaster in Afghanistan. Let’s translate it into English. “We bombed a hospital, killing 22 people.” But “people”, “hospital” and “bomb”, let alone “we”: all such words are banned from Nato’s lexicon. Its press officers are trained to speak no recognisable human language.

The effort is to create distance: distance from responsibility, distance from consequences, distance above all from the humanity of those who were killed. They do not merit even a concrete noun. Whatever you do, do not create pictures in the mind.

“Collateral damage” and “nearby” also suggest that the destruction of the hospital in Kunduz was a side-effect of an attack on another target. But the hospital, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, was the sole target of this bombing raid, by a US plane that returned repeatedly to the scene, dropping more ordnance on a building from which staff and patients were trying to escape. Curiously, on this occasion, Nato did not use that other great euphemism of modern warfare, the “surgical strike” – though it would, for once, have been appropriate.
Shoot first, suppress the questions later. The lies and euphemisms add insult to the crime. Nato’s apparent indifference to life and truth could not fail to infuriate – perhaps to radicalise – people who are currently uninvolved in conflict in Afghanistan.

Barack Obama’s promise of an internal investigation (rather than the independent inquiry MSF has requested) is as good as the US response is likely to get. By comparison with both his predecessors, and his possible successors (including Hillary Clinton), Obama is a model of restraint and candour. Yet his armed forces still scatter bombs like confetti.

There are hardly any circumstances when bombs – whether delivered from planes or drones, by the US, UK, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia or any others – improve a situation rather than exacerbate it. This is not to say that there is never an argument for aerial war, but that if such a step is to be contemplated the consequences must be examined more carefully than anything else a government does. Yet every month we see reports of airstrikes that appear reckless and impulsive.

Of course the Taliban, Isis and al-Qaida not only kill civilians carelessly, but also murder them deliberately. But this surely strengthens, rather than weakens, the need for a demonstration of moral difference.
An analysis published last year by the human rights group Reprieve revealed that attempts by US forces to blow up 41 men with drone strikes killed 1,147 people. Many were children. Some of the targets remain unharmed, while repeated attempts to kill them have left a trail of shattered bodies and shattered lives.
Because the US still does not do body counts – or not in public, at any rate – the great majority of such deaths are likely to be unknown to us. As the analyst Paul Rogers points out, the US Air Force dropped 1,800 bombs while helping Kurdish fighters to wrest the town of Kobane in northern Syria from Isis. It used 200kg bombs to take out single motorbikes. Of the civilian population killed in this firestorm, we know almost nothing, but they do not appear to have been the cause of much grief, or even reflection. An air force major involved in the bombing enthused that “to be part of something, to go out and stomp those guys out, it was completely overwhelming and exciting”. Sometimes this professed battle for civilisation looks more like a clash of barbarisms.

Every misdirected bomb, every brutal night raid, every noncombatant killed, every lie and denial and minimisation, is a recruitment poster for those at war with the US. For this reason, and many others, its wars appear to be failing on most fronts. The Taliban is resurgent. Isis, far from being beaten or contained, is growing and spreading: into north Africa, across the Middle East, and in the Caucasus (a development that Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Syria will only encourage). The more money and munitions the west pours into Syria and Iraq, the stronger the insurgents appear to become. And if, somehow, the US and its allies did succeed, victory over Isis would strengthen the Assad regime, which has killed and displaced even greater numbers. What exactly are the aims here?

By invading Iraq in 2003, destroying its government and infrastructure, dismantling the army and detaining thousands of former soldiers, the US, with Britain’s help, created Isis. Through bombing, it arguably helps to sustain the movement. Everything it touches now turns to dust, either pulverised directly by its drones and bombers, or destroyed through blowback in the political vacuums it creates.

There are no simple solutions to the chaos and complexities western firepower has helped to unleash, though a good start would be to stop making them worse. But a vast intelligence and military establishment that no president since Jimmy Carter has sought to control, the tremendous profits to be made by weapons companies and military contractors, portrayals of these conflicts in the media that serve only to confuse and bamboozle: they all help to ensure that armed escalation, however pointless and counter-productive, appears unstoppable. Russia’s involvement in Syria is likely to provoke still greater follies.

There are no clear objectives in these wars, or if there are, they shift from month to month. There is no obvious picture of what victory looks like or how it might be achieved. Twelve years into the conflict in Iraq, 14 years into the fighting in Afghanistan, after repeated announcements of victory or withdrawal, military action appears only to have replaced the old forms of brutality and chaos with new ones. And yet it continues. War appears to have become an end in itself.

So here comes the UK government, first operating covertly, against the expressed will of parliament, now presenting the authorisation of its bombing in Syria as a test of manhood. Always clear in his parliamentary strategy, never clear in his military strategy, David Cameron seeks to join another failed intervention that is likely only to enhance the spread of terrorism.

Astonishing advances in technology, in military organisation and deployment: all these have made bombing much easier than it used to be, and the consequences harder to resolve.

By: George Monbiot

Tony Blair apologizes for Attack on Iraq

Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized for “mistakes” made in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Blair also said there are “elements of truth” in claims that the invasion was the main cause of the rise of the Islamic State group, in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that was broadcast Sunday.
Britain and the United States under the George W. Bush administration attacked Iraq following a belief, based on intelligence, that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction. No major weapons of mass destruction were found.
Speaking to CNN, Blair said: “I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he (Saddam) had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought.”
By the time the war officially ended on Dec. 15, 2011, more than 4,000 U.S. troops and 179 British servicemembers had died and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, according to the website Iraq Body Count.

Courtesy: USA Today

IOK: Where Days are Black and Nights Red

History has witnessed many freedom movements the world over. The struggles sooner or later succeeded with varying price tags ranging from a few hundred to some thousand lives. Unfortunately, there is a freedom movement which is on for the past seventy years and is still awaiting success. This movement has legal backing of no less than the UN Security Council’s repeated resolutions. The price paid so far is over 100,000 lives and hundred of thousands of gang rapes in addition to other human rights violations. The movement is termed as the Kashmir freedom movement.

Going a little back in history will help understand the Kashmir quagmire. During the partition of the Sub-Continent, the people of Muslim majority State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) decided to join Pakistan according to the British-led formula. But, Dogra Raja, Sir Hari Singh, then Hindu ruler of J&K, in connivance with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten joined India. The real design to forcibly wrest Kashmir began to unfold on August 16, 1947, with the announcement of the Red Cliff Boundary Award. It gave the Gurdaspur District, a majority Muslim area, to India to provide a land route to the Indian armed forces to move into Kashmir. This led to a rebellion by the state forces, which stood against the Maharaja and were joined by the Pathan tribesmen.

When Pakistan responded militarily against the Indian aggression, on December 31, 1947, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on January 01, 1949, following the UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine whether they wished to join Pakistan or India. On February 5, 1964, India backed out of its promise of holding a plebiscite. Instead, in March 1965, the Indian Parliament passed a bill, declaring Kashmir a province of India, an integral part of the Indian union.

The bloody tragedy of poor Kashmiris had started after 1947 when they were denied their legitimate and UN approved right of self-determination. According to Che Guevara, “When forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law, peace is considered already broken”. As a natural outcome of Indian injustice, people of IOK organised themselves and launched a war of liberation which India tried to crush through coercion and brutalities. Later, in 1988, India positioned a very large number of armed forces to suppress the Kashmir struggle on gunpoint.

Since then, the Indian Occupied Kashmir has become a region where days are black and nights are red. With the advent of Indian occupation forces, the ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kashmiri people has intensified manifold. The word ‘genocide’ is no more able to depict Indian loathing and vendetta against the Muslims of IOK. Houses are being burnt, people arrested, tortured, raped and killed. So far, more than 100,000 killings have been done by the Indian occupation forces. The number is growing as Indians are using increasingly brutal methods to suppress the people of IOK and their legal struggle for freedom.

The phenomenon of religious persecution against the Muslims of IOK is also not new like the rest of India. The huge Indian occupation forces under the cover of Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) and other black laws frequently engage in religious cleansing of Muslims. Off late, the international human rights watchdog, the Amnesty International, has called for revoking of the AFSPA and urged investigations into the human rights violations in J&K by an “independent and impartial” authority.

The said report disclosed that since 1989, there have been deaths of 98,274 innocent Kashmiris, 94,180 custodial killings, 117,345 arrests and 106,030 destruction of houses. Indian security forces have orphaned over 107,520 children, widowed 22,796 women and gang raped 10,135 women.

Instead of accepting the existing reality, India has sought to blame Pakistan for allegedly promoting the Kashmiri uprising. These Indian allegations against Pakistan are a ploy to hoodwink the international community on the Kashmir issue and a blanket to hide state sponsored atrocities on innocent people of IOK. A peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions ranks top on Pakistan’s foreign policy agenda.

In order to find an early and just solution to the decades-old Kashmir dispute, Pakistan has always urged the international community to play an active role. Pakistan will continue extending its full political, diplomatic and moral support to legitimate Kashmir struggle. Every year on 27th October, the Kashmiris, living on both sides of the LoC and in other parts of the globe remind the UN and international community of their responsibility to solve the chronic Kashmir issue as per the resolutions of UN. The day is marked as “Black Day”.

By: Qammer Abbas Anka