Surreal Scene as Russians Re-enter
Kabul To Set Up a Field Hospital: Where Is U.S. Emergency Medical
November 29, 2001
After the Soviet Union
invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979, many leaders of the Northern
Alliance sided with the Soviet Union, and fought alongside the Soviets
against the mujahideen "freedom-fighters" and the main benefactor
of the freedom-fighters, the United States. Now, of course, the Northern Alliance is our great
According to a report
in The New York Times, the Northern Alliance -- without notifying the
U.N. or anyone else -- recently invited the Russians into Kabul to build a
field hospital, as well as to prepare a new embassy. The Russians
arrived earlier this week.
While the Northern Alliance
insisted that there would be no lingering hostility towards the Russians
based on the Soviet Union's brutal occupation of Afghanistan, many Afghans
have expressed continuing intense hatred for the Russians, and have vowed to
kill them if they can get away with it.
Inviting such a reviled force
into the capital indicates that the Northern Alliance is quite tone-deaf
concerning the sentiments of the vast majority of Afghans, who strongly
opposed the Soviet occupation of their nation. Time will tell if this
is an isolated faux pas by the Northern Alliance, or the beginning of
a consistent pattern of conduct, which would create a huge obstacle in the
way of establishing a broad-based government to rule post-Taliban
The presence of the Russians
to set up a field hospital raises another important question: where is the
Where Is U.S. Medical Aid?
As I wrote earlier, we have
a moral obligation to provide medical care and other assistance to innocent
bombing victims as soon as practicable.
Yet such does not seem to be
happening at all.
For example, after the
liberation of Kunduz, the hospital there was essentially non-functional,
able to provide no health care at all. A report
describes a 12 year-old girl dying from shrapnel wounds in her stomach:
The child rested on her
back on a dirty bed, looking trance-like at the ceiling and biting a green
Her abdomen had been
pierced by shrapnel in the morning when an unexploded bomb in her
neighborhood suddenly detonated, and now, as evening approached, her belly
was swollen from the bleeding inside. Dr. Abdulhadi Jawid pressed his
finger lightly near the trickling wound, causing tears to run from the
child's eyes. He pulled back his hand.
"We have no medicine
for this patient, and no way to operate to take out the pieces of
bomb," the doctor said.
Why hasn't the U.S. set up a
field hospital in Kunduz, or at least airlifted this poor girl to a hospital
ship for treatment?
I'm not talking here about
caring for every sick person in the world (although there would be nothing
wrong with that idea!).
I'm addressing our moral obligation to help those innocent civilians in this
one country whom we have directly and severely harmed.
Given how easy it would be to
accomplish that goal, our failure to do so is appalling.