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America’s Message of Greed and Violence for Thanksgiving and Ramadan as We Leave the Children Behind

by Tom Turnipseed

With some U.S. military aircraft broadcasting and others bombing, the United States delivered its message of greed and violence to the people of Afghanistan during the first week of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. An airborne special forces radio station aboard an aircraft broadcast the announcement of a $25 million dollar reward for information leading to the location or capture of Osama bin Laden or bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, Aiman al-Zawahiri while American warplanes carried out heavy bombing strikes around the populous city of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the big money offer that is also being made by dropping reward leaflets might entice the Afghans to “begin crawling through those tunnels and caves looking for the bad folks.”

Under a headline of “America Will Take No Prisoners,” the Times of London reported on November 20 that Rumsfeld also said, “The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders, nor are we in a position, with relatively small numbers of forces on the ground, to take prisoners.” A Taliban spokesman said they would “fight on” but had no idea of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. U.S. General Tommy Franks said the U.S. would send in more ground troops, including marines, to “destroy the terrorist network.”

The end game of the high tech destruction of the ruling Taliban’s archaic army in Afghanistan, and much of the impoverished nation’s infrastructure could be nearing. Concurrently, a drumbeat has begun to crescendo for renewed bombing and war against Iraq from the Bush Administration and its political minions. The estimated one-billion-dollar-a-month cost to U.S. taxpayers of the Afghan action that directly benefits the defense industry in its “War on Terrorism” bonanza could be diminished, so more targets are needed in “those nations that aid or harbor evil-doers.” Consequently, the face of Osama bin Laden, the consummate evil villain of Bush II, is beginning to morph back into the face of Saddam Hussein, the ultimate evil-doer of Bush I.

Under Secretary of State John Bolton accused Iraq of building a germ warfare arsenal at a biological weapons conference in Geneva even as stories of home-grown anthrax producers surface and new leads point toward domestic terrorism of the McVeigh variety in the anthrax mailings. USA Today reported on November 19 that the “Defense Department strategists are building a case for massive bombing of Iraq as a new phase of President Bush’s war against terrorism,” under a front page headline of “Pentagon builds case on Iraq.” In South Carolina on November 13, U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham said he supports “war against Iraq” at a fund-raiser in his campaign to succeed Strom Thurmond in the U.S. Senate. Isn’t it time to consider what happens to innocent children when we make war against these “monstrous evil-doers?”

Since the war against Iraq in 1991, deaths among babies and children have more than doubled due to the use of depleted uranium bombs by the U.S. causing birth defects and cancer and the U.S.-pushed economic sanctions causing malnutrition and starvation. Between 1970 and 1990 Iraq had experienced unprecedented economic development.

A United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesman, Alfred Ironside, told me 120,000 Afghan children are in “immediate danger of death due to famine, illness and cold.” On November 16, UNICEF issued a press release referring to a 1997 study of child trauma in Kabul and compared it with anecdotal evidence now emerging from the on-going United States attack on Afghanistan. It said there were strong indications that long after the bombing and fighting ends, the nightmare will continue for Afghan children. The twenty year conflict began when Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union. A U.S. Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored resistance movement that included a 22 year old son of a Saudi Arabian billionaire named Osama bin Laden was formed to expel the Soviets.

The UNICEF study conducted among several hundred children offer a hint of what Afghan children are going through today. Nearly 100% of the children witnessed acts of violence during the fighting, two-thirds saw dead body parts and nearly half of them saw multiple people killed in rocket and artillery attacks. As a result, 90% of the children said they worried about what would happen to them in the future; 75% reported constant fear, even when no immediate danger was present; over one half said they had difficulty experiencing feelings of sadness or happiness of any kind; and 8 in 10 children reported they sometimes or often “feel so sad I can not cope with life.”

In the prosperous U.S. that the “evil-doers” are said to envy so, the Children’s Defense Fund says that every 11 seconds, a child is neglected or abused; every 44 seconds, a baby is born into poverty; every minute a baby is born without health insurance; and every 2 and a half hours, a child is killed by guns. In South Carolina, 218,000 children have no health insurance.

President Bush’s PR folks have appropriated the Children Defense Fund’s slogan of ” Leave No Child Behind,” but Bush refuses to see that the United States is making war on children. CP

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and civil rights activist in Columbia, SC.


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