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
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
I pray that we find out
civilian casualties are non-existent, and that all hungry people are being
A little voice inside me
suggests I not get my hopes up on either account.