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Civilian Casualties, and Feeding the Starving in Afghanistan: What is the Truth?

October 8, 2001

The Bush administration is going all out to emphasize how only "military" targets are being bombed, and that we are helping feed the Afghan people, with whom, we are reminded ad nauseam, we have no quarrel.

It is very disturbing that more than 36 hours after the bombing started, I still haven't been able to find any clear information in the mass media about exactly what locations were bombed.  More specifically, are we calling electrical plants "military" and destroying these, like we did in Iraq?  What about targets inside major cities?  Are we hitting those, with the almost certainty that nearby civilians will be killed?

Why are such things not being disclosed??  Surely the Taliban know what targets were hit.  Why does our government think we deserve to know less than the Taliban?  Didn't we find out the results of bombing missions much more quickly during the 1991 Persian Gulf War?

Regarding our supposedly "humanitarian" food drops, I also have a disquieting feeling, based on three main concerns, which I found admirably detailed in this article:

  • with millions at risk, the 37,500 rations dropped so far are virtually meaningless
  • the military air strikes will make the refugee flow vastly increase, thus increasing the need for food, while at the same time the military actions will disrupt feeding programs already in place
  • aid workers could be put at risk since the food aid, being dropped while the bombing is occurring, could be considered by Taliban officials part of a military propaganda effort to "win the hearts and minds" of the Afghan people and turn them against the Taliban

In sum:

Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's director, said all aid should be channeled through the UN "to be seen as impartial and separate from military action. Trucking of food is cheaper and is tried and tested. Air drops are risky, random, expensive, and likely to meet only a fraction of the need. Aid workers would be put in a difficult position if food aid came to be viewed as part of a military effort".

I pray that we find out civilian casualties are non-existent, and that all hungry people are being fed. 

A little voice inside me suggests I not get my hopes up on either account.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on Civilian Casualties

More on Starvation in Afghanistan

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