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No End to the Savagery in Afghanistan

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Posted on Nov 15, 2008
Afghan boy and soldiers
AP photo / Rafiq Maqbool

An Afghan boy watches as a U.S. Marine patrol passes by in the town of Garmser in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.

By Robert Fisk

Editor’s note: This article was originally printed in The Independent.

Back in Afghanistan, the mind turns to the small matter of savagery. Not the routine cruelty of war, but the deliberate inhumanity with which we behave. The torture and killing of prisoners in this pitiful place—the American variety in Bagram and the Taliban variety in Helmand—is a kind of routine of history. Even execution has to be made more painful. A knife is more terrible than a bullet. The cult of the suicide bomber in the Middle East began its life in Lebanon, moved to “Palestine”, arrived in Iraq, leached over the border here to Afghanistan and passed effortlessly through the Khyber Pass into Pakistan. And New York. And Washington. And London ...

Are human beings at war—any kind of war—by definition bound to commit atrocities? The International Committee of the Red Cross tried to answer this question in a report four years ago. Were combatants unaware of international humanitarian law? Unlikely, I would think. They just don’t care. The Red Cross enquiry interviewed hundreds of fighters in Colombia, Bosnia, Georgia—a bit of real prescience, there, on the part of the ICRC—and the Congo, and suggested that those who commit reprehensible acts see themselves as victims, that this then gives them the right to act savagely against their opponents. Certainly, this might apply to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, very definitely to the Serbs of Bosnia—I’m not so sure about Georgia—and quite definitely to the Taliban (not least when we’ve been bombing more wedding parties).

Such cruelty is abetted with a bodyguard of clichés—“police operations”, “clean up”, “mop up”, “surgical strikes”—where you can kill by remote control, “especially when the media are not present to show the realities of a conflict”. This is most certainly the case today, for what journalist will now dare to wander the village streets of Helmand or the city of Baquba in Iraq or, for that matter, the border towns of Pakistan? War has never, it seems, been so underreported. And both the good guys and the bad guys like it that way; they prefer to indulge in savagery unseen.

There is nothing new in all this. At the Battle of Omdurman—where the British executed all the Arab wounded—the young Winston Churchill wrote of a sight which is familiar today in a land which was then called Mesopotamia and in another which was already called Afghanistan. He described “grisly apparitions”, of “horses spouting blood, struggling on three legs, men staggering on foot, men bleeding from terrible wounds, fish-hook spears stuck right through them, arms and faces cut to pieces, bowels protruding, men gasping, crying, collapsing, expiring ...  ”. To the men can now—this very week—be added the suicide-bombed schoolgirls of Baghdad.


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In his earlier military campaign on the North West Frontier, Churchill saw how some of the Taliban’s ancestors dealt with a wounded British officer: the leader of “half a dozen Pathan swordsmen ... rushed upon the prostrate figure and slashed it three or four times with his sword. I forgot everything else at this moment except a desire to kill this man. I wore my long cavalry sword well sharpened. ... The savage saw me coming ...  ”. Well there’s something for the ICRC to think about.

Yet it pays to remember that Afghan wars have always been dreadful. Sir Mortimer Durand—he who created the Durand line which masquerades as the Afghan-Pakistani border, crossed with such impunity today by Americans and Taliban warriors in order to kill each other—witnessed the cruelty of the Afghan war at first hand. “During the action in the Chardeh valley on the 12th of Dec 1879,” he wrote, “two squadrons of the 9th Lancers were ordered to charge a large force of Afghans in the hope of saving our guns. The charge failed, and some of our dead were afterwards found dreadfully mutilated by Afghan knives-... I saw it al-l… ”

Yet Durand himself objected profoundly to a statement from General Frederick Roberts—he of Kandahar fame—after the murder of the British mission diplomats in Kabul. The killings had been “a treacherous and cowardly crime, which has brought indelible disgrace upon the Afghan people-... all persons convicted of playing a part in (the murders) will be dealt with according to their deserts”. Durand confronted Roberts over this Victorian version of the message that George Bush would give to the Afghans 122 years later.

“It seemed to me so utterly wrong in tone and in matter,” Durand would later write, “that I determined to do my utmost to overthrow it ... the stilted language, and the absurd affectation of preaching historical morality to the Afghans, all our troubles with whom began by our own abominable injustice, made the paper to my mind most dangerous for the General’s reputation.”

Of course, it did Roberts no harm at all. In the age of “shock and awe” —when a Canadian general can call his Taliban opponents “scumbags”—it still doesn’t seem to worry Nato officers. They should know better. Montgomery never cursed Rommel; he kept a photograph of the Afrika Korps commander in his caravan to remind him of the man he was fighting. But then again, didn’t Montgomery fight in the age of the Holocaust, of industrial killing, of the Hamburg and Dresden firestorms? Indeed, the very Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 were supposed to end the mass destruction of human life. And President Bush has torn them up.

I know it’s easy to ridicule the Red Cross. There’s something very preachy about the post-war conventions. But apart from the precedents of international law, it’s all we’ve got. Maybe a million Pushtu-language editions should be handed out to the Taliban and their followers as well as to the Nato combatants whom Barack Obama absurdly believes will win the Afghan war. But I doubt it would do much good. Victimhood sits easily on all our shoulders. If Osama bin Laden had a conscience, it would be quickly eased by the destruction of the last Caliphate, the colonial occupation of the Muslim world, the deaths of millions of Arabs. And if we have a conscience, what do we say? Remember 9/11. And so on we go.

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By Fibonacci Sequence, November 20, 2008 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

KDelphi… I was not referring to you.  I do think that a comment to an article is by default a comment to author of the article when no other name is given.  I almost always comment my opinion to the writer of the blog or article.  I follow R Fisk among others and notice a pattern of pacifism and a notable philosophical intelligence.  My use of “sir” was intentional, and weighted challenge to his obvious intelligence to take another tack towards solutions.  Therefore,  the direction of my comment to encourage him to provide solutions—for if a mind can give analysis of a proposed problem it must have a counterbalance of proper solutions for there to be empirical evidence of a problem otherwise it is emotionalism, guilt merchant logical fallacy and based little on sound reasoning and sum total facts considering all variables and constants of the said subject.

But I will direct this , You bring up the U.N., they are a not capable, they can’t handle Darfur , Somalia, or Ethiopia to keep the list short and you want to let them take over more sinister arenas—now that must be joke.

The U.N.? Have you read the U.N. charter, do you know their goals, agendas?  Are you an America, a citizen of the U.S.A.?  If so , you should reconsider the U.N. as a solution to anything—they are little more than massive drain on resources from the U.S. for goals and agendas that have little respect for U.S. interest, history, or future as a sovereign nation.

The defense of American libertes in extended, mutli-faceted campaigns in the avenues of asymmetrical executions are in reality beyond the scope of the knowledge of facts of 99.99999 percent of the populous. To pretend that one has all the facts , by making absolute judgements against what is visible on the surface to the common civilian and or propose solutions as if all the facts are known is incredulous,—except for those that do and those individuals, groups, think-tanks would be prohibited from discussing or divulging any such information. Civilians and indeed most of those involved in the actual combat do not know a fraction of the drivers behind present visible manifestation of American policy, if they did , they would not get much sleep at night… I’ll leave it at that.

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By MAR, November 19, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

blog dog:
Q1, Q2, Q3
In the long run does it really matter?

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By KDelphi, November 19, 2008 at 2:43 pm Link to this comment

We really have to get away from the “policemen to the world” mentality./ Other countries have more money—let them do it, if someone feels that one has to.. It matters not at all, whether some interests want us there. We just have no business there.

blog dog—Q 1 No one. If we leave, another world power may build one. Security wil be up to them.

Q 2 I would suppose, because no intl laws apply.Less risk of info getting out and pesky world standards being applied. In any case, they use both. We constantly put our military under the command of big business interests. It seems to be the only thing thta “Merkins are willing to let others die for these days.

Q 3 No. I expect that he wil do just that.

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By blog dog, November 19, 2008 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE: ...get the hell out of there as soon as feasible…

Q 1: Whose going to run security around construction and maintenance of the proposed pipeline?

Q 2: Why would a global oil concern hire that out of its own pocket when it can get the US Gov. and its “Coalition of the Willing” [sic] to do it for them?

Q 3: Does anyone honestly expect the President Elect not to play his scripted role and maintain the status quo?

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By MAR, November 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment

A combination of religious fanaticism (no not the US, but Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) and national obstuseness means that it doesn’t matter what we do in Afghanistan (Canadian troops have been there since it started trying to build schools, bridges, roads and hospitals while fighting the Taliban at their backs.) If one looks at the history of the area, when we all leave it will be as if we were building sand castles on a tidal beach. When the tide sweeps in you would hardly know the castle had been there.  So it will be in Afghanistan. Those who played along with the Western armies will be slaughtered, schools burned, bridges blown up, roads littered with bombs and the desert scattered with rotting bodies. So it was 400 years ago and so it will be when we leave. The answer is not to NOT leave, but to get the hell out of there as soon as feasible.  It is hopeless, just needlessly costing both Western and local lives and draining the treasuries of NATO countries. The UN is useless in “peacekeeping” unless both sides agree to their presence. Witness the Suez war when Egypt ïnvited"the UN to remove themselves so they could whack the Israelis. Suprisingly to them, they were whacked themselves and then wanted the UN back!

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By KDelphi, November 19, 2008 at 12:58 pm Link to this comment

Fibonacci—Dont “sir” me…it is fake respect.

The UN , properly funded, and backed with enough peacekeepers , would be the obvious solution to al of this mess.

The “UN doesnt work”? Right…same reason US govt doesnt work. It is not that the UN (govt) is bad—-it is the people running it and putting the people in power.The majority do not WANT it to work.The US just wants to keep “throwing power around”. Never fear—we are broke—it will run itself out.

I say, cut Afghanistan a check, and get out. How we “
would have” fixed it, before it was destroyed , is a little hard to say now. It is “lost” in any case.People just dont want to accept it.

If you were referring to me, I never said I had “superior intellect” (highly overrated anyway)—it is known as, madam, common sense.

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By oldog, November 19, 2008 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

One of the chief architects behind America’s treatment of insurgents, terrorists and bystanders in the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars, is David Addington, Cheney’s lawyer. David is typical of the insiders who decide foreign policy in this country. That is, he is a very smart guy who knows a whole lot about esoteric legal arguments, sophisticated political dynamics, media manipulation, and American cultural power groups and their various agendas.

The very talent and knowledge that carried him to the top of the food chain in Washington politics, make him incapable of understanding the needs and motives of the peoples living in the Middle East (or the Midwest for that matter.)

Is this his failing, or ours?

We post no qualifications for our highest arbiters of government policy. We hire them through a popularity poll. Then we encourage them to reward personal friends, campaign contributors, or members of whatever religious cult they grew up in, to run social agencies larger than most countries.

Gee whiz Batman! Why don’t these crooks learn that crime doesn’t pay?

Because it does. Nobody is going to bomb David’s house or imprison him without legal recourse. He is protected by the very laws and conventions that he is denegrading.

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By Fibonacci Sequence, November 19, 2008 at 6:58 am Link to this comment

And deliver as you sit and write eloquently , specifically your solutions, else there is no problem.  It is the easy road to amplify the horrors of war and castigate the problems of government—another thing entirely to move beyond a sidelines critic and provide a solution better than the asymmetrical campaign that plays out at the moment. Is your solution that all nations are to totally trust each other, ignore all intelligence and aggressive attacks and simply disarm, hug each other and stick daisies in their rifle barrels while the sing Kum Ba Yah? 

Speak no more of problems, and savagery, that is elementary, sir,  show us your great intellect and provide a viable alternate solution , else your framed evil, your posed problem is the villain and not the events you embellish beyond all the variables and constants involved.

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By KDelphi, November 18, 2008 at 8:01 am Link to this comment

beerdr—Excellent points. Agree.

Arius—I agree with some of your points, but not many! But, as you say, that is to be expected…as I said on another thread, I belive, “chasing Osama"will probably prove about as futile as “Chasing Amy”—-if we want to “kill the cult”, we need to defame his views and methods. SOME of his views (that the US and others are propping up the Saudi Group, as well as our support for Israel no matter what war crimes they commit)are appealing, because they are true. (dont call me an anti-Semite—let me check—my brother in law says that I am not),

Some of his views (most?) are simply absurd when exposed to the light of day. THAT is what we shoudl do. Our best “resource” for this woudl be Islamist US citizens, etc.Out WORST resopurce for taht is carpet bombing and killing a bunch of innocent Muslims..

We treated Saddam Hussein criminally—we had no right to take out the sitting head of a foreign country. He was a bad dictator, but, ONE THAT WOULD NOT HAVE EXISTED W/OUT US. He must have been particularly confused by Rummy—under Reagan/Bush he was invited to teh WH , given photo ops, etc. NOw, he isnt even given an Iraqi trial. Hanging him on live tv was particulaary offensive. We just had no right.


I say that if we could capture Osama bin Laden, we lock him up where we did Saddam and take pics of him in his underwear everyday. What would others propose we do? His “head on dry ice”, like Blackwater’s Prince wanted? Barbatrian evil-doers!

On 9/11—so many said, supposedly, “thank god W is in power”. Well, my sister lives in NYC and she called me and said “OMG—W is in power!!” and I said, “OMG—we are SO going to bomb a bunch of innocent people”.I just did not know we would go so far in the wrong direction.

Without going into “remember the Maine” jingoisms, WHY “must we remain as the
most powerful country on earth”? I hope that that is not true, because it is not possible, and, given out actions in the last decade or so, not desirable.Fear does not engender respect. We have lost all moral authority (if we still had any). Out “protection” (lol) is no longer desired by nations that want peace. Being our ally has become a huge liability for many countries.  That is how I see it.

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By Arius, November 18, 2008 at 1:07 am Link to this comment

Well I haven’t found one post I completely agree with but that’s to be expected.

I think war and our involvement around the world is MUCH more complicated than debated here.

We should never have been in Iraq imo, but chasing Osama.

Aside from that we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact the Taliban and Al Qaeda are growing in size, recruiting extremist Moslems from around the world(and Muslims are the biggest organized religion in the world with over a billion followers). 

These 2 extremist groups thrive off their hate for the U.S..  We cannot sit back and ignore this issue until it’s too late (as previewed on 9/11).

On the other hand don’t assume I’m pro war.  I personally think Bush and Cheney should be on trial for treason to this nation and on trial before the world for war crimes.

I think the problem is over aggression or ignorant complacency.. neither is good.  I am disturbed that too many ppl on 9/11, after 9/11, didn’t sit back and say “why?” to themselves.  If we all did that it would be a start.

Aside from that, we need to look at the complexity of this issue.  We are a country that thrives on a growing economy which is bred from consumerism.  Consumerism is fulfilled through world wide business dealings.  Until we face those facts, nothing will change.  The horrors that go on in gold mining in Africa aren’t going to change and no one’s going to care as long as we have a lust for gold.

I think overall we must protect this country without the blood thirst of aggressive politicians, or the out for profit politicians.  (Personally) I blame religion, all of them for the wars of the world.

I’d just suggest people remember the atrocities of WWII.  All of them. Not just the 11 million people Hitler killed (6 mil Jews and 5 mil others), but the travesty of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor…

... and then the travesty of what we did to the Japanese people in a 2 day period in retaliation.

Yes war is ugly from any perspective and we must remain seen as the most powerful nation on earth. I do believe that, not only for our safety but for the safety of many nations we protect.  But, we must approach it with intelligence and not greed (and)not a presidency based on some illusions of a god and the thirst for blood of other nations, for profit.

I think many of us could argue who the “evil doer” is that we’ve been captive to the last 8 years.

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By thebeerdoctor, November 17, 2008 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

As usual, all the blabber about righteous wars, is simply that. War is terrorism. Big B’s comments and Jim Yell mentioning Eric Rudolph supporters is very timely. As far as President-elect Obama is concerned, it is my job to tell him that military action in Afghanistan is completely wrong. If he is serious about bringing the crazy billionaire ex-Saudi to justice, it certainly doesn’t involve using an army. Think of it: a fanatical cult leader with a handful of followers, propped up by his money, and made to seem so vastly important by a manipulative U.S. government, that it is now causing this country to waste billions of dollars. If you actually believe the 9/11 scenario, it only took 19 clean shaved men with legitimate passports to inflict this attack. The war on terror appears to be an elephant trying to sit on a flea.
I will continue to tell Barry Obama that the war on terror is utter nonsense, and that it is time for his charismatic persona to wake up to the truth.

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By Truthseeker, November 17, 2008 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the majority of posters. Thought I’d share choice sayings I keep in my office, please reflect:

Terrorism, as the great humanist Sir Peter Ustinov observed, “is war of the poor, war is the terrorism of the rich.”

Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor. - a pirate, from St. Augustine’s “City of God.”

“All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”  Voltaire

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By Folktruther, November 17, 2008 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

I agree with Louise, good comments.  But we have to distinguish between power and the people ruled by power.  The US power system, as Big B outlined, is a terrorist entity, using murder squads, torture, terror bombing, and massacres to intimidate populations.

The American people are brainwashed by the learned and mass media of the US power system, but we are primarily victims of power, even when we are forced to become agents of it.  Such as soildiers forced to enlist by economic pressures.

Obama is not going to change this.  He can’t, even if he wanted to.  The Bushites locked in military aggression and government debt to prevent the US power system from serving as a progressive force.  It serves the interests of the rich against the American people.  As Paul quoted, war is the terrorism of the rich against the poor, Terrorism is the war of the poor against the rich. 

The population must mobelize not to defend themseleves against Muslim terrorists, as Zionists are misdirecting us, but against the American power system largely hijacked by Zionists.  Who also hijacked Obama.  The Afgan war was initated theoretically by the Dems by Brzizeski who is now advising Obama.  It is impossible to stop the Afghan war without opposing Obama and his war advisers.

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By CJ, November 16, 2008 at 9:35 pm Link to this comment

If we have a conscience, we say what we can: “I’m sorry.” Not enough after the fact, but I did that today to a Syrian businessman from whom I buy goods every two or three weeks. I just blurted it out, “On behalf of my government, I’m sorry for recent attack on your country-men and women.”

This was not hard to say. I’d been meaning to say it to him since I last saw him. (He’s not always there.) The man has always struck me as one of considerable dignity, though I don’t really know him. I know he’s Syrian and that he’s not long returned from visiting Damascus to see his family.

I went on about how I regarded America’s actions in the region as utterly despicable. He was a little taken aback by my statements. I felt better than I have in a long time, though my apology makes up for nothing. There is, however, acknowledgement.

Not that his country’s government hasn’t behaved as badly, though not toward America.

And not that I think it so important to apologize as rep of this country to rep of another country. I loathe nationalism as but one more extremist form of identification. Our brand just as much as any other on the part of any other from any other country. Nationalism is finally a larger more deadly form of tribalism. Tribalism makes somewhat more sense insofar as not purely abstract. Nation-states are pure abstractions, indisputably a result of capitalist political-economy: fencing in as means by which to maintain power and realize profits. We should all apologize for allowing that victimization to go on.

There’s the psychological element, of course. Family in the context of country: Mom and apple pie in the case of Americans.

And yeah, identification with nation allows too for feeling victimized. Collectively. Mob sociology seems always to result. Brits and Soviets in their times carried on as we do now. Places with which, if necessary, we could do business in a whole other way. Fairly, for instance, or fairly as possible under circumstances of already grossly exploitative global capitalism. Nationalism invariably incorporates hubris. (I don’t know anyone will ever get to the bottom of exactly why, which doesn’t mean it’s not possible to just say,

Durand sounds to have been one who—according to Fisk—got to a point. But “of course [Durand’s statement] did Roberts no harm at all.” Bush is off to Dallas to live off dole, not likely ever to confess to crimes on behalf of us, pending being born again for a second more-useful time. Cheney, I assume, to live off dole at Wyoming spread. Both feeling (not really thinking) they did the right thing insofar as reps of us “victims.”

What’s forever avoided, including by Obama thus far, is responsibility. Obviously, by Osama too, in his capacity as rep of “victims.” Well, we’ve been doing the war-making there, not them here. By business and by missile. “We” being evil WESTERN empire constituted of NATO nations in collusion with various powers situated at (from our point of view) the edge of Pacific west.

Part of Chomsky’s (“Uncle Noam’s,” Mr. Robert) argument that there is no such thing as “just war” figures in here. War has only led to one thing: more war.

The Red Cross does good works, and no doubt statement is descriptive, if not useful explanation, of social psychology. Feeling victims leads to creation of other victims, who in turn victimize yet others, ad infinitum. Vague reasons (excuses) are always given. Those who insist that “intervention” is sometimes necessary stand on icy slope.

We persist too in thanking personnel for their service even when we disapprove of mission. As though service and mission were two different things. This kind of thing goes beyond feeling victimized to the point of romanticizing war (pretty much savagery from the outset)—as thing in itself.

Say, “Sorry,” afterward; preferably, “No,” before having to say, “Sorry.”

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By irspariah, November 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Until we can look in a mirror and accurately and dispassionately describe what we are looking at, we are going nowhere.

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By yellowbird2525, November 16, 2008 at 7:54 pm Link to this comment

The Pentagon, Corps, & USA Gov politicians announced “Al Queda” is now in Africa: what is in Africa is the USA & special intrest groups that were there behind it all & now rule the area with everything going to the Corps & “top” just like here in the USA; and the people have nothing; Ask who owns the best “land” now in Afghanistan & has the water rights there: Oh, Corps of the USA! Colombia: “drug war” they call it as the poison the peasants crops, land & water leaving them to die: claiming “it would be used for drugs”; instead, now the Corps own it & the water rights & cocoa is now up in price: just like the corn grown on the land in Mexico that was taken away from the folks there; calling it “drug war” again in reality these folks are fighting against the tyranny of the Corps of the USA: who can do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want & never be brought to justice cuz the lawbreakers known as Congress who have “let the laws” fall by the wayside: the “laws” are on the books for LOOKS: NOT to be used against THEM! This is what they are taking globally: and speaking of torture: the USA has constantly trained torturers: and uses tortures never seen since Nazi days:; search British detainee; 8/25/08: and they are agressively poisoning the people of the USA & then getting paid again for “curing” it. THIS is the reason they do not pay “health benefits”; in fact if you have coverage it STOPS the moment you get ill; courtesy of Congress “lawmakers”; The USA POLITICAL PROPAGANDA says “we are the good guys” over media owned by their own Corps; TRUTH says otherwise. Iran: overthrown by USA backed troops, arms, weapons, to set up the usual DICTATOR of the Shah: you have to be MEAN to the people: or YOU will be overthrown. THIS is the USA way. BTW, our own Gov sold arms, weapons, etc to all the bullies & tyrants of the world. Bribing them to “do it their way” this is democracy we have gotten away with it for years. Telling them to HOLD FOOD BACK until they got more $ for it because above all the slaves are only here to PAY for the masters who sit in the White Houses: scum beneath their feet. THIS is the USA. Google infants deaths & childrens deaths in the USA; been #1 recently #2 & the problem is NOT bad things coming in from China; courtesy of YOUR GOV.

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By mendez, November 16, 2008 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment

Dropping a bomb from 50,000 feet on people is not “collateral damage” but an act of terror; assassinating foreign leaders are acts of terror; moving citizens to concentration camps, as we did to many of our own citizens, are acts of terror.  The lists are endless though many seem to think this is fine.  What we have done to the people of the Middle East can never be explained or excused.  If there were 1,000 911’s it would not make up for the deaths and acts of terror we have committed.  Yet we live as if we can do what we want without reprisal.  Insane.

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By Big B, November 16, 2008 at 5:27 pm Link to this comment

Many of the comments suggesting that the US is actually the cause of much of the modern terrorism is supported by recent history.

At the end of WWII, the US realized the benefit that the German Intelligence services played in subverting and terrorizing the people of conquered nations. They showed that if you beat down the indiginous populations with any manner of attrocities they may never rise in protest. So the US grabbed up as many ex-Waffen SS officers as they could and began to create a plan for US hegemony in the second half of the 20th century. Our newly formed intelligence community (the CIA, NSA, and the like) wrote a playbook on terrorism(they called it counter-insurgency or guerrilla warfare back then) The original experiments were done in Central and South America. We overthrough democratically elected, left leaning governments, then trained the new military juntas in the art of terrorizing your populace. We then moved on to Africa, southeast Asia, and the middle east.

All the while we were training locals in the art of terror, we failed to realize that this Knowledge was being spread worldwide thru new mercinary networks. Despots and dictators alike learned that they too could use these methods of population control as a political means to an end.

They also realized that they could use terrorism against us.

So next time you hear a neocon cry about terrorism, remind him that we are responsible for bringing this scourge to our own door. It seems you cannot train a dog to bite people, and then be shocked and dismayed the day that the dog bites you.

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By blog dog, November 16, 2008 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would submit that at least half of all terrorism is false-flag provocation, by CIA, MI6, Mossad operatives.

Do not accept any commentary on the issue of terrorism by anyone who fails to discuss false-flag provocation as anything other than a limited hangout.

Reasoning this is not difficult.

1. event: “suicide bombing”
2. perp: even though blown to bits, is almost always immediately identified, handling org. cited - media runs with it
3. parents wail, “not the child we raised!”
4. conclusion: poor kid was in the wrong place at the wrong time

How do they get away with this and why doesn’t the media investigate?

1. “Deception is a state of mind and the mind of the state.” - James Jesus Angelton - Director of CIA Counter Intelligence (1954-74)

2. “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.” - William Colby - Director of the CIA (1973-76)

Below - on Democracy Now (2005 - 2/3 down the track) he questions virtually every bit of news on the Middle East that the US Gov. puts out - but he won’t take the leap - listen to him on Zarkowi, who was clearly an asset, either real or fictional - he mentions the death squads and pseudo-gang provocations, et al, in questioning tones - He questions the provoked “civil war” in Iraq as a confusing affair - he calls the NY Times chicken to challenge “power,” but he pulls his punches too. He won’t take the leap - he teeters at the brink - some would call him an asset - I tend toward caution: he wants to stay on the lecture circuit and continue getting published…same for Goodman, Chomsky, et al.

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By mendez, November 16, 2008 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

Cliches aside, I guess I still believe there is a population not in denial or any other conditions that keep us from accepting our fate.  I expect, even the so-called progressives have a hard time admitting we are the state, the nation and the proximal cause of all terrorism since it was labeled as such.

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By Paul_GA, November 16, 2008 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Because, as I see it, Mendez, the American State is the terrorist, not a non-State player like al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Being a State gives the terror a State inflicts on other peoples an air of “legitimacy”.

As the late Sir Peter Ustinov said in a similar vein, “Terror is the war of the poor, and war is the terror of the rich.”

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By mendez, November 16, 2008 at 12:13 pm Link to this comment

How can it be that U.S. citizens are unable, or unwilling, to include ourselves on the list of the world’s first, and worst, terrorists?

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By Louise, November 16, 2008 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Great comments. Seems almost unnecessary to add any, but when did that ever stop me?

I second the comment from PSmith,
“Counter-terror or Terror?”

But suggest we expand a little and ask,

“Counter-terror,Terror or Terror?”

Because the truth is, no matter US or THEM, the actions we see in Afghanistan are terror!

So here’s my simple view. If Obama truly wants to stop the terror in Afghanistan, I suggest he take Russian President Dmitry Medvedevs invitation to heart. And while he sits and discusses the weighty issues threatening the safety and future of the entire world, ask Medvedev to explain once again;

What happened when Russia decided they would invade Afghanistan and could occupy that fractured land?

One can understand why bombing from the air becomes the action of choice. After all, we DO NOT HAVE sufficient forces to overcome the angry citizens of Afghanistan! That alone should cause Obama to pause and ask himself, “Why are we fighting them anyway?”

Because of 911?

At the risk of setting off a fire-storm, I have to point out, we don’t actually KNOW, with absolute certainty that Afghanistan and the Taliban were responsible for 911!

Bin-laden? Perhaps, al-Qaeda, possibly.

But we do know with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY long before 911, UNOCAL and ENRON among others, badly wanted the US to control Afghanistan for the purpose of building a pipeline. And we do know high officials in the CIA, [at the time, basically an arm of the Bush family] were up to their eyeballs in manipulating and co-opting bin-Laden and the Taliban.

To his credit, sorta, Bush did meet with members of the Taliban prior to 911. But that led nowhere. Perhaps because it wasn’t supposed to! We had already committed to the Bush administration’s GOP [Grand Oil Plan] and been thoroughly conditioned to the notion that they [Afghanis, by virtue of the Taliban] are bad, therefore we are obliged to destroy them.

But it cant be just that simple. More likely it was a combination of that, and an administration run by Despots who deliberately start wars to propel the lesser of the two into the all-powerful title of War President. And a war machine hungry to expand and increase profits! And really bad people, like Eric Prince, who wanted to become the Baron over his own private for profit army!

“There is simply too much evidence that the War in Afghanistan was primarily about building UNOCAL’s pipeline, not about fighting terrorism. The Democrats, who control the Senate and its investigation agenda, should investigate the secretive deals between Big Oil, Bush, the CIA and the Taliban.”

We are punishing the wrong people! The real criminals currently sit in government. They and their enablers, like Nancy Pelosi, should all be made to account for crimes that have cost us the lives of thousands of our children in the military. And even more thousands of innocent Iraqi and Afghani children!

And, as has been noted, if Obama would abandon the BUSH doctrine of COWARDICE ... the one that hides the coffins coming home. He would find it much more to the liking of the American people to bring a quick end to these pointless and immoral killings!

And here’s another important lesson for Obama. All the good works in the world can be errased by the decision that leads to one single bad action. The current 110th Congress points out the wisdom of that. Under the leadership of Pelosi and Reid, the 110th fell to a lower approval rating than the Bush administration!

They had two years to investigate, prove and call for an accounting. The decision to do nothing but wait cost many thousands more, needless killings! And that will be the real legacy of Pelosi and Reid!

Hopefully the administration of Barrack Obama, and the 111th Congress will rise above the previous example of insanity!

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By mendez, November 16, 2008 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

With “Christianity” as our ritual, I wonder, which of those leaders who claim it, list the practice of forgiveness, and, if any of them have ever been asked to list their practice of it?

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By Fadel Abdallah, November 16, 2008 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

We are not going to undo the horrors of the past which Robert Fisk eloquently laments and reports, so per chance we might wise up and learn a lesson, and that’s where the value of his writings end.

However, we might be able to do something about allowing the atrocities of the past to be perpetuated indefinitely. Considering that president-elect Obama has made it clear that he wants to end to wrong and evil war in Iraq and concentrate on escalating the war in Afghanistan, a movement of sober human beings should be started to make it clear to Obama that the war in Afghanistan is as evil and wrong as that of Iraq. If he does not understand that, then all what America did is to replace a stupid white man with another stupid man of color!

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By felicity, November 16, 2008 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

You got it, Octopus.  Arms sales make up at least 20 percent of our economy.  (Drug sales, arms sales and human trafficking are the three most profitable businesses world-wide.)

How many times have I read that fighting terrorism is a police job, not a military one, while a moment later I read that we’ve just bombed a house, sometimes a whole village all in the name of fighting terrorism. I can only believe that bombing is economically more profitable than individual police work.

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By octopus, November 16, 2008 at 8:30 am Link to this comment

War is an Industry.
A company produces a product(Weapons of any Description)which must be consumed in a marketplace.
The reasons for the marketplace and the consumption are always obfuscated with a flag and a faith but are at bottom very simple….GREED. Plain and simple war is big business but the justifications for it are bankrupt.
War would be impossible if young men and women did not chose to buy into the marketing campaign which highlights atavistic notions such as glory, honor, heroism and promises(more often lies) of a college education. The opportunity to go to war should be ignored, other more constructive occupations should be pursued as War is Wrong and not inevitable. There are more civilized means to resolve conflict.

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By Jim Yell, November 16, 2008 at 7:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think that it is good to have an ideal set of rules if for no other reason it gives thoughtful people a way to measure how far they have strayed from constructive action. It can inspite of duplicity warn us off of some of the more terrible impulses of humanity, but being humanity there will always be a measure of ignorance and manipulation.

This is why I have repeatedly tried to alert us to the huge crime of allowing Bush/Cheney to waltz off the stage without having paid a substantial penalty for their crimes.

The impulses that drive these bewildering binges of violence, the actions that gave us the old saying “cutting off your nose to spite your face” these are just below the surface of a large part of our own population. People who would throw away the good of 200 years of evolving democracy, moderated by a Bill of Rights. People who have excused Eric Rudolph, people who protected Eric Rudolph and were not made to pay for it. People who are just as tribal as the appalling tribes of Pakistan and Afganistan and on.

We can’t make it better except in our own country and I think it is time we returned to our own country and worked to perfect ourselves and to undo the crimes and mean spiritedness of the right wing of our own politics.

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By Paul_GA, November 16, 2008 at 6:40 am Link to this comment

I would disagree about the Vikings being a “superpower”, Boredwell; after all, they never were a centralized State like we have nowadays. That they terrorized much of the known world with their raids is quite true, but the last thing resembling a superpower in the West—Rome—was dead and gone, though attempts were made to revive it for a long time (the much-vaunted “Holy Roman Empire”, for instance).

And Bush is said to have described the Constitution as “a g_dd_mned piece of paper”, so it’s plain the man only thinks paper useful if it’s toilet paper.

And, KDelphi, what you wrote proves once more that this country needs a whole new foreign policy—or else outside citrcumstances (i.e., the tanking economy) will force this country out of the interventionist business, whether it wants to or not.

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By boredwell, November 16, 2008 at 1:33 am Link to this comment

Well, most of the Pashtun, indeed a majority of Afghanis, are illiterate so stop the presses: printing and distributing 1million copies of the Geneva Convention would wind up as TP. Bush never read the Geneva Convention either though supposedly he can read if not comprehend. He recused himself of the task. Then, after turning it over to State Dept lawyer John Yoo, the abominable Cheney and wolf Rumsfeld they, too, used it like TP.

While war is sheer, raw, unadulterated horror for both sides of the equation the vanquished always suffer the most. What ICRC failed to note in its report on troop knowledge of humantarian law is quite simply profound: their commanders don’t want them to know. Their job is to stay busy killing, hating the enemy that callously blew away their buddies. They don’t want them to stop to think of the moral inmplications of their ordered participation in what has been the insidious but now conveniently labelled apologia known as “collateral damage.”

When we talk of the killing machine that by definition every war is, we don’t care much about counting the dead or casualties unless it’s to our benefit. This is why the DOD will not allow photographs of incoming wounded or dead onto American soil. That happened a long time ago and helped to turn Americans against our involvement in Viet Nam. Civilian casualties have always been underreported. It’s neither a priority nor practical when you’re in the middle of fighting or resting after a battle.

What fuels war is the self-important aggrandizing momentum of jingoism. It’s not pure. It’s not simple. It’s convoluted. Most of soldiers are young and initially idealistic. They don’t question. They do what they’re told. Most, when interviewed, don’t have coherent answers to WHY they are there except to mouth the redundant “to bring democracy…” Most see the natives as enemies, untrustworthy back stabbers to be held in contempt and treated with derision. Afterall, they killed your friends and they’re likely gunning for you, too. Not a very humantarian POV.

That combatants on both sides see themselves as victims is palusible, understandable. Each is murdering and maiming. Humans are naturally hostile to anyone who is consumed with taking away their life or limbs. War is about one thing: it’s either them or me. Period. War is not a humantarian venture. It condones and rewards what in peacetime is considered criminal, namely, to kill, rape, pillage and plunder. “Lord save us from the ghoulies,” was part of a prayer in which one asked their god to preserve him/her from the incorribly monstrous atrocities perpetrated by the cruelest superpower of their day, the Vikings.
No one will ever rest in peace during or after a war.

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By KDelphi, November 15, 2008 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

The main reason that altercations in Afghanistan are “always dreadful” is that other countries are alwasy invading them!These countries usually have more sophisticated weaponry, but Afghanistain is the Afghans homeland.Thes weapons and well-trained military doesnt seem to have done us much good.

The 9/11 attacks should have been handled as an international criminal matter. “Rummy” admitted that one reason we went into Iraq is because, “Afghansitan is so primitive, it doesnt have enough good targets”—well, what does that tell you about winning the “hearts and minds” of regular Afghanis? More bombs?

IN any case, any actions of combatants does not justify the actions that have been committed by some soldiers nor mercenaries.

No country contributed more to the development of teh Taliban than the uS. We “decided ” to “fight the Cold War” there—better than USA or USSR, I guess they thought.

Reagan , and others, thought the Taliban (and Osama bin Laden in particular) were “freedom fighters”, not terrorists, as long as they helped us fight the “evil empire”. Now, it is the “axis of evil”.

Let’s deport Dubya, Rummy et al to the Hague.At least they will not get the death penalty, like so many do in the US, for crimes much smaller.

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