The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Don’t line up behind the butchers who pretend to speak in our name

Nov 5, 2001

The apparent aimlessness of the war against Afghanistan can be explained by one simple fact: the U.S. needs to put a new force in power in Afghanistan, in order to prevent the situation there from spilling over into neighboring countries. But, as of today, that “new” force doesn’t exist.

U.S. operatives have been attempting to paste together a new regime composed of the warlords who make up the Northern Alliance and a part of the Taliban. What would this new regime mean for the Afghan population, if it were to be put together? It would be as reactionary toward women as the Taliban is today – or as the Northern Alliance is today. It would be as repressive toward the whole civilian population as the Taliban has shown itself to be. It would be as corrupt and violent as the warlords of the Northern Alliance have proved themselves to be.

In any case, so far the efforts to cobble together this new regime have borne no fruit.

And so the bombing goes on, with civilian casualties mounting. That bombing – like all terrorist actions – attacks the civilian population in order to bring pressure on part of the Taliban to shift sides.

U.S. officials may make the same lying claims they made during the bombing of Iraq – that no civilians are being targeted. Civilian casualties are only – to use the phrase that Timothy McVeigh picked up when he was a soldier in the U.S. war against Iraq – collateral damage.

But the “collateral damage” in Iraq proved to be very high: almost 100,000 civilians killed in just six weeks of bombing, and almost a million more civilians killed in the after effects of the bombing and the 11-year embargo on Iraq. The majority of those killed in Iraq were children.

In Afghanistan, too, the “collateral damage,” the civilian casualties, will turn out to be much higher than today admitted.

As can be discovered by searching through the Internet, television broadcasts in other countries already show the catastrophic nature of this bombing for Afghani civilians. In this country, TV presents us a much more censored version of the war. Nonetheless, even here, we get hints. Bush may claim that every report made by the Taliban of civilian casualties is a lie. But it’s harder for him to claim that the Red Cross is lying when it shows its food storehouse has, after successive bombing raids, been completely destroyed. Nor can government press agents easily deny U.N. reports that its relief agency buildings were bombed. Nor can they brush under the rug the films taken in Northern Alliance territory of two villages destroyed by U.S. bombs. Then, there is the steady stream of refugees trying to get into Pakistan; occasionally they are allowed to speak on American TV about the U.S. bombing, so long as they also denounce the Taliban.

We can discern, in these hints, what the real situation is – if we care to look.

This Afghani population, which has already suffered so much both under the Taliban and under the previous government led by forces in the Northern Alliance, is now made to suffer not only this bombing, but the starvation and attendant disease which will be brought in its wake.

The working people of the United States, in whose name this war is being carried out, have nothing to gain from it, and everything to lose.

Not only do we pay a price because our tax money goes to war, rather than social and public needs in this country; not only do we pay a price because sooner or later our bodies are ground up as cannon fodder in wars that mushroom out of control, just as Viet Nam did. The worst price of all is the one we pay if we line up behind the people who lead this war, who are the same people who lead attacks on working people in this country. If we allow the U.S. government to speak in our name as it rains down destruction and terror on other peoples around the world, we seem no different than the butchers who are terrorizing them. We help sow a ditch of blood between them and us.

This is NOT our war.