The mystery sourrounding the teenage girl found in front of Dr. Fauzia’s house is finally resolved. After mixed reports it is finally confirmed by the family and government
that the girl is really Aafia’s daughter Maryam.
Congrats to the family and hopefully Aafia’s youngest son Suleman will also be handed over. It is also reported that Maryam was held in Bagram jail which also confirms that Aafia wasn’t arrested in Ghazni alone or some say with her son. In fact she was abducted with her 3 children (2 boys and 1 girl).
DNA test proves teenage girl as Aafia’s daughter
The Eastern Tribune
Islamabad: According to initial report of DNA test, the teenage girl, brought by unidentified men to home of Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, has been declared as daughter of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui visited the Interior Ministry with 12 years old Maryam on Saturday and held a meeting with Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Talking to media after holding the meeting, the Interior Minister said that Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani wanted to make the announcement himself but he asked him to announce this.
Rehman Malik said that the DNA Report has proved that 12 years old Maryam is daughter of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, adding the girl only speak English.
Responding to a question, the Interior Minister said that the government is taking all possible measures for the return of Dr. Aafia, saying the Prime Minister during his stay in the United States would strongly raise the issue of release of Dr. Aafia with the leadership of the United States.
The Minister on the occasion congratulated the entire nation and the family of Dr. Aafia.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui while talking to media said that the DNA test has proved that the girl is daughter of Dr. Aafia and praised the efforts of the government regarding repatriation of Dr. Aafia and her children and specially mentioned efforts of the Interior Minister.
On current visit of the Prime Minister to the United States, Dr. Fauzia expressed her hope that he (Gilani) would raise the issue regarding release of Dr. Aafia with US Leadership.
Terming the visit of Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, a key factor in making the efforts of the government and the Interior Minister productive, she said that the rehabilitation of Maryam would be started soon.
Lets see what happens? Hopefully some justice will be done with them. The behavior of the army seems to be as if they are untouchables and no one can ask anything about their wrong actions.
Judicial commission to probe disappearances :DAWN
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: A high-powered judicial commission comprising three retired superior court judges will be set up soon to look into the highly emotive issue of missing persons, the Supreme Court was informed here on Thursday.
“I have received the summary for the establishment of the commission,” Attorney General Anwar Mansoor told a bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Mohammad Sair Ali and Justice Tariq Parvez that is hearing cases of a large number of missing persons whose families have been running from pillar to post since 2005.
The attorney general said the commission would be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court and two retired high court judges would be its members.
He said the commission could call any senior officer of the armed forces or Rangers whose name had surfaced in connection with any missing person.
Its orders would be binding on all departments and institutions, he said.
Praising the setting up of the commission, the bench expressed willingness to take action against people held responsible by it.
“If a department is found committing an illegality, the Supreme Court will not condone its acts,” Justice Javed said.
An unpleasant incident took place during the proceedings when Advocate Hashmat Habib, pleading the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, accused the Defence Ministry’s Legal Director Lt-Col Sarfraz Ahmed of having threatened to teach him a lesson for maligning defence institutions.
Although Lt-Col Sarfraz later tendered an unconditional apology before a visibly disturbed court that had re-assembled after retiring for a few minutes, the officer explained that he had asked the counsel not to drag the army which was defending the borders into the case, rather point out specifically if he had any grievance against any agency.
“The sanctity of this court is like a God’s house and our job is to protect whosoever enters it. How could you threaten him?” Justice Sair asked. He said the officer had brought the court into disrepute.
“The army does not belong to you alone but also to us,” Justice Tariq said.
When the court asked about a report submitted by the Foreign Office that 6,000 Pakistani nationals were languishing in foreign jails, the attorney general sought two weeks time to tally the figure with other reports. The Foreign Office was also asked to make its report more comprehensive.
“A lot of grievances of the families of the missing people would be resolved if they are allowed to visit their relatives,” Justice Tariq said.
Justice Javed said the record of missing people available with different departments should be referred to the judicial commission.
Amina Masood Janjua, chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights group, who has been campaigning for the release of detained people, including her missing husband Masood Janjua, requested the court to continue hearing the cases instead of transferring them to the commission.
However, the court observed that the decision to set up the commission was a good step because now there would be two forums.
“You are not aware of stringent procedures; the SC is not a forum to record evidence; we have to find a recourse leading to a solution,” Justice Sair said.
Justice Javed said the phenomenon of missing persons should end now.
He said parliament had taken cognisance of the issue and “let’s see what kind of legislation it makes”.
When Mrs Janjua requested the court to issue directives to parliament for the early setting up of the commission, Justice Javed said parliament was supreme and no one could make it accountable unless an attempt was made to change the basic structure of the Constitution. “We are product of the Constitution framed by parliament,” he said.
He said parliament was entitled to bring any kind of legislation and the court could not cross certain barriers.
Justice Sair said the apex court would monitor and supervise the commission.
“The commission will start its proceedings from where we leave,” Justice Javed said, adding that the court would not dissociate itself from the process.
Justice Sair said the move would mean sharing the burden and not shifting it.
When Justice Javed recalled that 237 missing people had been traced, the attorney general said certain people whose names were on the list had gone for jihad and many were hiding abroad to evade arrests.
Referring to the missing people of Balochistan, Justice Javed said the court would not allow anyone to take political mileage out of the issue. He asked the media to verify facts before highlighting the cases because exaggerated figures created panic.
Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission (HRCP), asked the court to make the intelligence agencies accountable for their involvement in the cases.
Rawalpindi SP Kamran Adil said senior officers of the armed forces had recorded their statement before a joint investigation team constituted to locate Mr Janjua.
Advocate Raja Bashir, representing the defence ministry, said Mrs Janjua’s contentions were based on hearsay, what she had heard from others and not seen herself.
He said an FIR had been registered and recording of evidence at an appropriate forum would start soon about her husband’s disappearance.
Mrs Janjua said her objective was not to embarrass any institution, but to get her grievance addressed.
The court summoned the Islamabad chief commissioner and police chief and complete record about the number of casualties during the July 2007 Lal Masjid standoff when girl students of Jamia Hafsa had occupied the adjacent Children’s Library in protest against the razing of seven mosques. Several people were killed in battles between security personnel and students at the mosque.
The court also clarified that Dr Aafia’s case did not fall in the category of missing people and media- and public-driven campaigns were not suitable for judicial findings.
Justice Javed observed that the sincerity of the government should not be doubted because it had engaged good counsel to defend Dr Aafia in the US.
The bench adjourned the hearing for two weeks.
Court temporarily adjourns hearing :The Nation
By: Farehia Rehman
ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily adjourned hearing of the missing persons case for almost ten minutes after an army man threatened a senior lawyer. According to details, Legal Director of the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz threatened to Hashmat Habib during the break for commenting about the Army in the court.
After the break as proceedings started again, Habib Advocate appeared before the court and told about the incident occurred during the break. On which, three-member bench headed by Justice Javed Iqbal took strict notice of it and asked Sarfraz to tell the court why he did this.
On this, he told, “I did not threaten him in this sense, I was just asking him not to pass comments about Pakistan army in the court”. On which, Justice Javed Iqbal remarked that it is their Army too and commenting against the Army is contempt of the institutions.
He continued that the institutions could have good and bad qualities. Services of the Pakistan Army and secret agencies are appreciable, he added.
“We will protect everyone, whoever enters the court”, he said and further added that the people, who are taking part in the proceedings, are talking with facts and figures.
He said that the court was like mosque, where everyone could get protection and justice and everyone should respect the court.
Over the situation Justice Muhammad Sair Ali adjourned the proceedings for ten minutes saying that they could not continue till the matter was resolved.
As proceedings started after ten minutes, Lieutenant Cornel Sarfraz apologised for his behaviour, which was also accepted by the Senior Advocate Hashmat Habib.
Special Report: Dr. A’fia Siddiqui: VICTIM OF BUSH RAPE AND KIDNAP SQUAD
Source : http://www.uruknet.info/index.php?p=62041
By Gordon Duff
|January 10, 2010
WOMAN KIDNAPPED, RAPED AND HELD 5 YEARS IN SECRET BAGRAM PRISON NOW
FACING TRIAL FOR ATTACKING CIA TORTURE SQUAD
By Gordon Duff/STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor
Next week, a mother of 3 children is facing trial for, supposedly, wrestling an M-16 away from a CIA torture squad and trying to kill them. How did the CIA get her? They bought her. She was sold to them by a corrupt official in Pakistan as a “terror suspect,” a common problem and a well known ploy in the George W. Bush phony war on terrorism.
Was she a terrorist? There is no evidence of this, even after years of torture. The only serious crimes we find her guilty of is being a house wife, mother and Islamic and, I forgot, having an education. Her victims? Crippled and 100 pounds, she took on a room full of former Navy Seals, Special Forces and “private interrogators.” The obvious truth, of course: the charges are a fabrication by a pack of cowards and liars.
What do we really know? We really don’t know anything at all. Nobody has any evidence that this woman, a scientist educated in the US did anything at all. There is talk, empty talk about her sending money to charities that might be tied to terrorism. The amount of money is about 2% of a typical payment from one of the Saudi royals that have funded terrorists and suicide bombers for years, but none of them are kidnapped, raped, shot or beaten.
They have oil.
The case against her is made, at length, in the Wikipedia article about her. It is a good read. It makes me proud to be an American. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aafia_Siddiqui
What we see exposed, however, is the slave trade in “terror suspects” created during the Bush Administration fear frenzy when intelligence agencies around the world started dragging innocent people off the streets and selling them to the US for millions of dollars to supply the needed number of “terrorist arrests” to justify wild claims of a successful war on terror continually being made by Dick Cheney, Condi Rice and the rest of the gang.
The crime is an amusing one. A woman who was either just arrested or had been in custody for 5 years, depending on which of her captors you listen to. This should seem like an interesting read:
“On 4 August 2008, shorty after press rumors suggested that Siddiqui had been in Bagram for the last five years, the US government announced that Aafia Siddiqui was arrested on charges related to her attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan
The US claims that Siddiqui was not captured in March 2003, that she was arrested on July 17, 2008 outside the home of the Governor of Ghazni. The US account of the July 18, 2008 shooting is that FBI agents, interpreters, and several GIs entered arrived at the Afghan facility where Siddiqui was being held. The personnel entered a second floor meeting room—unaware that Siddiqui was being held there, unsecured, behind a curtain.
The Warrant Officer took a seat and placed his United States Army M-4 rifle on the floor next to the curtain . According to the US account the GIs set down their weapons, whereupon Siddiqui burst from behind a curtain, grabbed an M-4, and opened fire. One interpreter who was accompanying the officers seized the firearm from her.
US officials claim they have no idea where Siddiqui has been in the five years since she was captured on March 17, 2003.
Siddiqui arrived in New York on August 4, 2008, and was presented before a United States Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Siddiqui refused to accept the charges. Siddiqui’s lawyer stated that no one can believe the FBI story and that Siddiqui had actually been captured in Karachi, Pakistan along with three of her children.
On August 8, 2008 the Daily Times reported that Aafia was captured in Ghazni with her eldest son, Muhammad Ahmed. The report stated that documents existed that confirmed that Affia and her children had been captured in March 2003.”
REAL ISSUES FOR DECENT AMERICANS TO CARE ABOUT
This woman and her three children were kidnapped, and illegally held for 5 years under the most brutal conditions imaginable without any legal reason. She had been accused of no crime. After years of imprisonment, rape and torture, she is finally arrested for attacking those who tortured her.
REALITY CHECK: TIME TO STAND PROUD IN OUR WAR ON TERROR
After 5 years of imprisonment, Dr. Siddiqui was a total physical wreck, barely able to walk, and seriously disabled from hundreds of torture sessions. Yet she is accused of overpowering several Navy Seals and US Army Special Forces unarmed combat specialists, seizing a weapon and nearly killing all of them, this at a weight of 100 pounds.
“Nearly killing” is a bit of an overstatement. In fact, nobody was injured at all. The more we investigate this, the more this sounds like an outlandish war story cooked up to file for PTSD.
She faces 20 years for this crime and only this crime. Since when was it a crime to attempt to escape from illegal imprisonment? Any American who is illegally detained and imprisoned without due process can’t be charged with a crime for resisting torture or imprisonment.
Americans consider such actions their patriotic duty.
PHOTO STUDY OF OUR SECURITY FORCES IN KABUL PROVING THEIR CHARACTER AND DISCIPLINE:
ONE OF THE GREAT SUCCESSES OF THE WAR ON TERROR
Attorney General John Ashcroft considered the kidnapping of this woman, along with her 3 children, one of the great victories of the War on Terror. However, after 5 years of interrogation and 7 years of confinement, no charges could ever be filed against her other than trying to single handledly crawl out of her death bed and dispatch a room full of “drug store” Rambo types.
Ashcroft has many success in his career. He is the only person in American history to have lost a seat in the US Senate to a dead man.
In an unpublicized but much more interesting case, Ashcroft and his band of merry US Attorneys, in their attempt to rack up arrests for terrorism without doing adequate homework actually managed to drag in an entire CIA intelligence organization which had, until broken up by John Ashcroft and gang, penetrated the highest levels of Al Qaeda.
Not much more can be said, but several top CIA operatives now have the embarassing history of having been arrested for terrorist related charges. Ashcroft and later Gonzales have, through incompetence, done more to cripple US intelligence efforts than any group other than the Mossad.
Even the “outing” of CIA nuclear proliferation specialist Valerie Plame, believed to be responsible for North Korea getting nuclear weapons, involved much less utter bungling and inanity.
OBAMA, HOLDER AND A BUSH ERA “WITCH HUNT”
Nearly every legal expert in the world, including almost universal outrage among the legal community is Israel, has called this one of the most insane acts of abuse of any country that claims to have a functioning legal system and representative form of government.
Even the alleged “suspicious acts,” which are, by the way, buying totally legal and harmless gun accessories, is in itself totally insane. Am I going to have to register that dangerous combat assault flashlight I keep by my desk for when I drop my reading glasses?
Any idiot who goes to gun shows knows that the weapons that small children carry around in Afghanistan are ten times better than the things Americans can get from sporting good stores or thru mail order. Every time an American collector sees a photograph of a Taliban member who owns 2 goats carrying an AK rifle with forged receiver and top quality ART sniper scope, something worth $3000 or more in the US, the insanity of purchasing 3rd rate clone parts in the US to ship to a country that has enough assault rifles to supply the world for centuries begins to sink in.
Where is the NRA and ACLU?
AMERICAN ANTI-GUN CRAZIES
Even if we weren’t dealing with a kidnapped and raped mother facing trial for, not terrorism but for showing super human powers and violating, not terrorist laws but, moreover, the laws of physics themselves, I can’t help but come back to an old theme.
If I buy a semi-automatic shotgun and the Black Helicopter Secret Police raid my home, is a US Attorney going to call it a “ultra-high powered special operations assault mid caliber artillery piece?”
Is my Ruger 10/22, purchased for plinking tin cans going to be an assault machine gun?
However, when Dr. Hasan went on his terror campaign at Ft. Hood using an FN Herstal 5.7mm 20 round assault pistol with classified ammunition available ONLY to our special operations troops, ammo specially designed for penetrating body armor, newspapers, TV, everyone was silent. We can be so very “uncurious” when we need to. I am still waiting to find out why we are concealing this.
WHO IS THE VICTIM HERE?
These things are obvious. We paid criminals to kidnap an innocent person for cheap public relations gain, elections were coming up and our War on Terror was looking as phony as, well as phony as it actually is.
Then, after years of rape and torture, this frail Islamic woman tries to fight back, or so we are told, told by people who imprison innocent people, rape and torture. Are these witnesses we would have in an American court?
She already considers herself dead. What human can survive such brutality, injustice, humiliation and abuse. Who are the real victims here?
Americans who know nothing of the trial, American who sat silently while this went on, Americans who thought their cowardice was buying them “safety.”
We are the victims because we are despised around the world for brutality and injustice we know nothing of because we gave up our free press and our love of honor for, well, I don’t actually know. A picture of Sarah Palin comes to mind, her or “Joe the Plumber.”
and so it goes
American Jury Decides Against Aafia Over Baseless Charges–>Hypocrisy of so called civilized country exposed
The decision by American court against Dr. Aafia Siddiqi on baseless charges may not harm Aafia much as she has gone through worse already. But the case has really exposed the biased approach and hypocrisy of a so called free country and its system of justice.
The court didn’t take into account Aafia’s abduction in 2003 and didn’t bother to look at the main accusation of her affiliation with Al-Qaida because FBI and USA army didn’t have any proofs against her in those charges.
The proofs fabricated to frame her on the charges of American soldiers had many flaws.
- No bullet holes of M-4 rifle were found on the wall of interrogation cell.
- No finger prints of Aafia were found on the rifle.
- Witness accounts against her were contradicting and were clearly fabricated.
Apart from USA government and court, Pakistan security institutions and government deliberately destroyed the case by appointing a team of lawyers against the will of Aafia . The purpose of appointing those lawyers was to harm the case and the lawyers were clearly following the lines of Pakistani and American agencies.
American citizens need to think if this has happened to Aafia in their courts, it can happen to them as well. They can be framed and punished as well.
In simple words I can say:
SO CALLED NATIONAL SECURITY WON AGAINST JUSTICE!!!
Howard Zinn wrote it in 2001 after 9/11 and USA invasion of Afghanistan.
The article is important for those who find it liberal to support the current war and consider anti-war voices as Taliban. I hope Zinn will not be named as “Taliban Zinn”.
Just A Cause, Not A War
It Seems to Me by Howard Zinn
December 2001 Issue
A Just Cause, Not a Just War
I believe two moral judgments can be made about the present “war”: The September 11 attack constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified, and the bombing of Afghanistan is also a crime, which cannot be justified.
And yet, voices across the political spectrum, including many on the left, have described this as a “just war.” One longtime advocate of peace, Richard Falk, wrote in The Nation that this is “the first truly just war since World War II.” Robert Kuttner, another consistent supporter of social justice, declared in The American Prospect that only people on the extreme left could believe this is not a just war.
I have puzzled over this. How can a war be truly just when it involves the daily killing of civilians, when it causes hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children to leave their homes to escape the bombs, when it may not find those who planned the September 11 attacks, and when it will multiply the ranks of people who are angry enough at this country to become terrorists themselves?
This war amounts to a gross violation of human rights, and it will produce the exact opposite of what is wanted: It will not end terrorism; it will proliferate terrorism.
I believe that the progressive supporters of the war have confused a “just cause” with a “just war.” There are unjust causes, such as the attempt of the United States to establish its power in Vietnam, or to dominate Panama or Grenada, or to subvert the government of Nicaragua. And a cause may be just–getting North Korea to withdraw from South Korea, getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait, or ending terrorism–but it does not follow that going to war on behalf of that cause, with the inevitable mayhem that follows, is just.
The stories of the effects of our bombing are beginning to come through, in bits and pieces. Just eighteen days into the bombing, The New York Times reported: “American forces have mistakenly hit a residential area in Kabul.” Twice, U.S. planes bombed Red Cross warehouses, and a Red Cross spokesman said: “Now we’ve got 55,000 people without that food or blankets, with nothing at all.”
An Afghan elementary school-teacher told a Washington Post reporter at the Pakistan border: “When the bombs fell near my house and my babies started crying, I had no choice but to run away.”
A New York Times report: “The Pentagon acknowledged that a Navy F/A-18 dropped a 1,000-pound bomb on Sunday near what officials called a center for the elderly. . . . The United Nations said the building was a military hospital. . . . Several hours later, a Navy F-14 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a residential area northwest of Kabul.” A U.N. official told a New York Times reporter that an American bombing raid on the city of Herat had used cluster bombs, which spread deadly “bomblets” over an area of twenty football fields. This, the Times reporter wrote,”was the latest of a growing number of accounts of American bombs going astray and causing civilian casualties.”
An A.P. reporter was brought to Karam, a small mountain village hit by American bombs, and saw houses reduced to rubble. “In the hospital in Jalalabad, twenty-five miles to the east, doctors treated what they said were twenty-three victims of bombing at Karam, one a child barely two months old, swathed in bloody bandages,” according to the account. “Another child, neighbors said, was in the hospital because the bombing raid had killed her entire family. At least eighteen fresh graves were scattered around the village.”
The city of Kandahar, attacked for seventeen straight days, was reported to be a ghost town, with more than half of its 500,000 people fleeing the bombs. The city’s electrical grid had been knocked out. The city was deprived of water, since the electrical pumps could not operate. A sixty-year-old farmer told the A.P. reporter, “We left in fear of our lives. Every day and every night, we hear the roaring and roaring of planes, we see the smoke, the fire. . . . I curse them both–the Taliban and America.”
A New York Times report from Pakistan two weeks into the bombing campaign told of wounded civilians coming across the border. “Every half-hour or so throughout the day, someone was brought across on a stretcher. . . . Most were bomb victims, missing limbs or punctured by shrapnel. . . . A young boy, his head and one leg wrapped in bloodied bandages, clung to his father’s back as the old man trudged back to Afghanistan.”
That was only a few weeks into the bombing, and the result had already been to frighten hundreds of thousands of Afghans into abandoning their homes and taking to the dangerous, mine-strewn roads. The “war against terrorism” has become a war against innocent men, women, and children, who are in no way responsible for the terrorist attack on New York.
And yet there are those who say this is a “just war.”
Terrorism and war have something in common. They both involve the killing of innocent people to achieve what the killers believe is a good end. I can see an immediate objection to this equation: They (the terrorists) deliberately kill innocent people; we (the war makers) aim at “military targets,” and civilians are killed by accident, as “collateral damage.”
Is it really an accident when civilians die under our bombs? Even if you grant that the intention is not to kill civilians, if they nevertheless become victims, again and again and again, can that be called an accident? If the deaths of civilians are inevitable in bombing, it may not be deliberate, but it is not an accident, and the bombers cannot be considered innocent. They are committing murder as surely as are the terrorists.
The absurdity of claiming innocence in such cases becomes apparent when the death tolls from “collateral damage” reach figures far greater than the lists of the dead from even the most awful act of terrorism. Thus, the “collateral damage” in the Gulf War caused more people to die–hundreds of thousands, if you include the victims of our sanctions policy–than the very deliberate terrorist attack of September 11. The total of those who have died in Israel from Palestinian terrorist bombs is somewhere under 1,000. The number of dead from “collateral damage” in the bombing of Beirut during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was roughly 6,000.
We must not match the death lists–it is an ugly exercise–as if one atrocity is worse than another. No killing of innocents, whether deliberate or “accidental,” can be justified. My argument is that when children die at the hands of terrorists, or–whether intended or not–as a result of bombs dropped from airplanes, terrorism and war become equally unpardonable.
Let’s talk about “military targets.” The phrase is so loose that President Truman, after the nuclear bomb obliterated the population of Hiroshima, could say: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”
What we are hearing now from our political leaders is, “We are targeting military objectives. We are trying to avoid killing civilians. But that will happen, and we regret it.” Shall the American people take moral comfort from the thought that we are bombing only “military targets”?
The reality is that the term “military” covers all sorts of targets that include civilian populations. When our bombers deliberately destroy, as they did in the war against Iraq, the electrical infrastructure, thus making water purification and sewage treatment plants inoperable and leading to epidemic waterborne diseases, the deaths of children and other civilians cannot be called accidental.
Recall that in the midst of the Gulf War, the U.S. military bombed an air raid shelter, killing 400 to 500 men, women, and children who were huddled to escape bombs. The claim was that it was a military target, housing a communications center, but reporters going through the ruins immediately afterward said there was no sign of anything like that.
I suggest that the history of bombing–and no one has bombed more than this nation–is a history of endless atrocities, all calmly explained by deceptive and deadly language like “accident,” “military targets,” and “collateral damage.”
Indeed, in both World War II and in Vietnam, the historical record shows that there was a deliberate decision to target civilians in order to destroy the morale of the enemy–hence the firebombing of Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo, the B-52s over Hanoi, the jet bombers over peaceful villages in the Vietnam countryside. When some argue that we can engage in “limited military action” without “an excessive use of force,” they are ignoring the history of bombing. The momentum of war rides roughshod over limits.
The moral equation in Afghanistan is clear. Civilian casualties are certain. The outcome is uncertain. No one knows what this bombing will accomplish–whether it will lead to the capture of Osama Bin Laden (perhaps), or the end of the Taliban (possibly), or a democratic Afghanistan (very unlikely), or an end to terrorism (almost certainly not).
And meanwhile, we are terrorizing the population (not the terrorists, they are not easily terrorized). Hundreds of thousands are packing their belongings and their children onto carts and leaving their homes to make dangerous journeys to places they think might be more safe.
Not one human life should be expended in this reckless violence called a “war against terrorism.”
We might examine the idea of pacifism in the light of what is going on right now. I have never used the word “pacifist” to describe myself, because it suggests something absolute, and I am suspicious of absolutes. I want to leave openings for unpredictable possibilities. There might be situations (and even such strong pacifists as Gandhi and Martin Luther King believed this) when a small, focused act of violence against a monstrous, immediate evil would be justified.
In war, however, the proportion of means to ends is very, very different. War, by its nature, is unfocused, indiscriminate, and especially in our time when the technology is so murderous, inevitably involves the deaths of large numbers of people and the suffering of even more. Even in the “small wars” (Iran vs. Iraq, the Nigerian war, the Afghan war), a million people die. Even in a “tiny” war like the one we waged in Panama, a thousand or more die.
Scott Simon of NPR wrote a commentary in The Wall Street Journal on October 11 entitled, “Even Pacifists Must Support This War.” He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is “self-defense.” But the term “self-defense” does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn’t apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.
Pacifism, which I define as a rejection of war, rests on a very powerful logic. In war, the means–indiscriminate killing–are immediate and certain; the ends, however desirable, are distant and uncertain.
Pacifism does not mean “appeasement.” That word is often hurled at those who condemn the present war on Afghanistan, and it is accompanied by references to Churchill, Chamberlain, Munich. World War II analogies are conveniently summoned forth when there is a need to justify a war, however irrelevant to a particular situation. At the suggestion that we withdraw from Vietnam, or not make war on Iraq, the word “appeasement” was bandied about. The glow of the “good war” has repeatedly been used to obscure the nature of all the bad wars we have fought since 1945.
Let’s examine that analogy. Czechoslovakia was handed to the voracious Hitler to “appease” him. Germany was an aggressive nation expanding its power, and to help it in its expansion was not wise. But today we do not face an expansionist power that demands to be appeased. We ourselves are the expansionist power–troops in Saudi Arabia, bombings of Iraq, military bases all over the world, naval vessels on every sea–and that, along with Israel’s expansion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has aroused anger.
It was wrong to give up Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler. It is not wrong to withdraw our military from the Middle East, or for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, because there is no right to be there. That is not appeasement. That is justice.
Opposing the bombing of Afghanistan does not constitute “giving in to terrorism” or “appeasement.” It asks that other means be found than war to solve the problems that confront us. King and Gandhi both believed in action–nonviolent direct action, which is more powerful and certainly more morally defensible than war.
To reject war is not to “turn the other cheek,” as pacifism has been caricatured. It is, in the present instance, to act in ways that do not imitate the terrorists.
The United States could have treated the September 11 attack as a horrific criminal act that calls for apprehending the culprits, using every device of intelligence and investigation possible. It could have gone to the United Nations to enlist the aid of other countries in the pursuit and apprehension of the terrorists.
There was also the avenue of negotiations. (And let’s not hear: “What? Negotiate with those monsters?” The United States negotiated with–indeed, brought into power and kept in power–some of the most monstrous governments in the world.) Before Bush ordered in the bombers, the Taliban offered to put bin Laden on trial. This was ignored. After ten days of air attacks, when the Taliban called for a halt to the bombing and said they would be willing to talk about handing bin Laden to a third country for trial, the headline the next day in The New York Times read: “President Rejects Offer by Taliban for Negotiations,” and Bush was quoted as saying: “When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations.”
That is the behavior of someone hellbent on war. There were similar rejections of negotiating possibilities at the start of the Korean War, the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the bombing of Yugoslavia. The result was an immense loss of life and incalculable human suffering.
International police work and negotiations were–still are–alternatives to war. But let’s not deceive ourselves; even if we succeeded in apprehending bin Laden or, as is unlikely, destroying the entire Al Qaeda network, that would not end the threat of terrorism, which has potential recruits far beyond Al Qaeda.
To get at the roots of terrorism is complicated. Dropping bombs is simple. It is an old response to what everyone acknowledges is a very new situation. At the core of unspeakable and unjustifiable acts of terrorism are justified grievances felt by millions of people who would not themselves engage in terrorism but from whose ranks terrorists spring.
Those grievances are of two kinds: the existence of profound misery– hunger, illness–in much of the world, contrasted to the wealth and luxury of the West, especially the United States; and the presence of American military power everywhere in the world, propping up oppressive regimes and repeatedly intervening with force to maintain U.S. hegemony.
This suggests actions that not only deal with the long-term problem of terrorism but are in themselves just.
Instead of using two planes a day to drop food on Afghanistan and 100 planes to drop bombs (which have been making it difficult for the trucks of the international agencies to bring in food), use 102 planes to bring food.
Take the money allocated for our huge military machine and use it to combat starvation and disease around the world. One-third of our military budget would annually provide clean water and sanitation facilities for the billion people in the world who have none.
Withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia, because their presence near the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina angers not just bin Laden (we need not care about angering him) but huge numbers of Arabs who are not terrorists.
Stop the cruel sanctions on Iraq, which are killing more than a thousand children every week without doing anything to weaken Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical hold over the country.
Insist that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, something that many Israelis also think is right, and which will make Israel more secure than it is now.
In short, let us pull back from being a military superpower, and become a humanitarian superpower.
Let us be a more modest nation. We will then be more secure. The modest nations of the world don’t face the threat of terrorism.
Such a fundamental change in foreign policy is hardly to be expected. It would threaten too many interests: the power of political leaders, the ambitions of the military, the corporations that profit from the nation’s enormous military commitments.
Change will come, as at other times in our history, only when American citizens– becoming better informed, having second thoughts after the first instinctive support for official policy–demand it. That change in citizen opinion, especially if it coincides with a pragmatic decision by the government that its violence isn’t working, could bring about a retreat from the military solution.
It might also be a first step in the rethinking of our nation’s role in the world. Such a rethinking contains the promise, for Americans, of genuine security, and for people elsewhere, the beginning of hope.
A Must Watch Episode Of Islamabad Tonight On Negotiations With Taliban.
Islamabad Tonight – 28th January 2010
Featuring PTI Chairman Imran Khan,Taliban leader Mullah Zaeef, General (R) Aslam Baig,Mushahid Hussain of PML-Q, Lt. General (R) Ali Jan Orakzai with Nadeem Malik as host.
We need to think our way out of this war against humanity and peace for the sake of innocent lives we are losing everyday.