Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Targeting Protected Groups Is NATO Committing Genocide in Afghanistan?

Is NATO Committing Genocide in Afghanistan?

by LIAQUAT ALI KHAN

Sloganeers, propagandists and politicians often use the word "genocide" in ways that the law does not permit. But rarely is the crime of genocide invoked when Western militaries murder Muslim groups. This essay argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban, a puritanical Islamic group. NATO combat troops bombard and kill people in Taliban enclaves and meeting places. They also murder defenseless Afghan civilians. The dehumanized label of "Taliban" is used to cloak the nameless victims of NATO operations. Some political opposition to this practice is building in NATO countries, such as Canada, where calls are heard to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or divert them to non-combat tasks.


Dehumanization

In almost all NATO nations, the Taliban have been completely dehumanized – a historically-tested signal that perpetrators of the crime of genocide carry unmitigated intentions to eradicate the dehumanized group. Politicians, the armed forces, the media, and even the general public associate in the West the Taliban with irrational fanatics, intolerant fundamentalists, brutal assassins, beheaders of women, bearded extremists, and terrorists. This luminescent negativity paves the way for aggression, military operations, and genocide. Promoting the predatory doctrine of collective self-defense, killing the Taliban is celebrated as a legal virtue. To leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, says NATO, is to leave a haven for terrorism.

A similar dehumanization took place in the 16th and 17th centuries when NATO precursors occupied the Americas to purloin land and resources. The killings of native inhabitants were extensive and heartless. Thomas Jefferson, the noble author of the Declaration of Independence, labeled Indians as "merciless savages." President Andrew Jackson pontificated: "What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms." Promoting the predatory doctrine of discovery, the United States Supreme Court later ratified the pilgrims’ crimes, holding that "discovery gave an exclusive right to extinguish the Indian title (to land). ([T]he Indians were fierce savages…To leave them in possession of their country was to leave the country a wilderness."

The predators have not changed their stripes a bit. They come, they demonize, they obliterate. They do all this in the name of superior civilization.

The Facts

The NATO website lists its killings in Afghanistan. These killings are also reported in the world media, often with a shameless tone of gratitude as if NATO forces are engaged in wiping out cannibals. In 2007 alone, NATO helicopters and precision guided munitions bombed and killed over six thousand "Taliban." Read the following recent attacks, which the NATO itself reports, and smell the scent of genocide:

On January 19, 2008, NATO launched a preemptive strike relying on "credible intelligence" that the Taliban were planning to mass on a NATO base. The attack killed two dozen "insurgents" in the Watapoor District of Kunar Province, though the exact number of casualties could not be confirmed because of the rough mountainous region. The world media reported that numerous civilians were killed and 25 bodies were buried in just one mass grave.

On January 12, 2008, NATO forces conducted what it calls a "precise strike" on a compound in Kapsia Province targeting Taliban leaders. NATO claimed that the civilians were cleared from the compound before the attack. The claim is absurd because any removal of civilians from the compound would have alerted the battle-hardened Taliban that an enemy attack was imminent.

On September 20, 2007, NATO forces launched "Operation Palk Wahel" to kill and remove the Taliban from an area in the Upper Gereshk Valley. Numerous civilians were killed. The evidence of the genocide was so obvious that NATO admitted that it "was unaware of civilians in the vicinity of the target and unfortunately it appears that a number of non-combatants were caught in the attack and killed."

The Law

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (entered into force, 1951) is binding on all states including the 26 member states of NATO. The Genocide Convention is jus cogens, the law from which no derogation is allowed. It provides no exceptions for any nation or any organization of nations, such as the United Nations or NATO, to commit genocide. Nor does the Convention allow any exceptions to genocide "whether committed in time of peace or in time of war." Even traditional self-defense – let alone preemptive self-defense, a deceptive name for aggression ­ cannot be invoked to justify or excuse the crime of genocide.

In murdering the Taliban, NATO armed forces systematically practice on a continual basis the crime of genocide that consists of three constituent elements – act, intent to destroy, and religious group. The crime, as defined in the Convention, is analyzed below:

1. Act. The Convention lists five acts, each of which qualifies as genocide. NATO forces in Afghanistan are committing three of the five acts. They are killing members of the Taliban. They are causing serious bodily harm to members of the Taliban. They are deliberately inflicting on the Taliban conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part. Any of these three acts committed one time constitutes the crime of genocide. NATO combat troops have been committing, and continue to commit, these acts through multiple means and weapons.

2. Intent to Destroy. The crime of genocide is a crime of intent. It must be shown that NATO combat troops and the high command ordering these troops carry the requisite intent to destroy the Taliban. Mere negligent killings do not qualify as genocide. The statements of NATO’s Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and those of NATO spokesmen leave no doubt that the NATO conducts military operations to "hunt and destroy" the Taliban. Preemptive strikes to kill the Taliban are sufficient proof that NATO troops and commanding generals have specific intent to destroy as many Taliban members as they can find. The weekly murderous planning and intelligence gathering to locate and eliminate the Taliban leaders and members further demonstrate that the killings in Afghanistan are not negligent, accidental, or by mistake. For all legal purposes, NATO’s incessant and deliberate killings of the Taliban are powered with the specific intent to destroy a religious group.

3. Religious Group. The Genocide Convention is far from universal in that it does not protect all groups from genocide. Its protection covers only four groups: national, ethnic, racial and religious. (Political groups are not protected). The Convention does not require the complete eradication of a protected group as a necessary condition for the crime of genocide. Even part destruction of a protected group constitutes the crime. It is no secret that the Taliban are a religious group. (They may also qualify as a national (Afghan) or ethnic (Pushtun) group). The Taliban advocate and practice a puritanical version of Islam. The Convention does not demand that the protected group advocate and practice a form of religion acceptable to the West or the world. The questionable beliefs and practices of a religious group are no reasons to destroy the group. That the Taliban are armed or support terrorism or oppress women are unlawful excuses to commit genocide. (All reasons that Hitler had to murder Jews would be simply irrelevant under the Convention).

The Holding

It may, therefore, be safely concluded that NATO combat troops and NATO commanders are engaged in murdering the Taliban, a protected group under the Genocide Convention, with the specific intent to physically and mentally destroythe group in whole or in part. This is the crime of genocide.

Ali Khan is professor of law at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. He can be reached at: ali.khan@washburn.edu

This essay is previously published in JURIST.