WHAT WE THINK
November 30, 2001 | Page 3
AS U.S. Marines poured into the southern Afghan province of Kandahar and American warplanes bombed Taliban prisoners, politicians and pundits in the U.S. were already speculating about the target of the next war.
Somalia, Sudan and Iraq emerged at the top of Vice President Dick Cheney's list of "40 to 50" countries that supposedly sponsor terrorism. Never mind that there's no evidence linking these countries to the September 11 attack.
But then, that was never the point. This is a war to extend Washington's economic and political dominance of the world by military means. From the tabloid Chicago Sun-Times to the highbrow Financial Times, pro-war commentators were blunt: the assault on Afghanistan should be used to rehabilitate imperialism.
Now Washington wants to use its success against the Taliban as a license for gunboat diplomacy and military intervention whenever it suits U.S. interests. "Afghanistan is just the beginning of the war against terror," George W. Bush told the Army's 101st Airborne unit in Fort Campbell, Ky., last week. "Across the world, and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win."
New York Times columnist William Safire, a mouthpiece for administration military hard-liners, declared that the U.S. should immediately overthrow Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Leading Democrats chimed in. Al Gore's former running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), declared that Saddam "will do us terrible damage unless we do him out of power."
A New York Times writer speculated that now might be a good time to take on North Korea--even though the author admitted that the regime has no ties to Osama bin Laden or terrorism.
Some have speculated that Somalia could be next on the hit list--not because it represents a threat to the U.S., but because it might be the easiest country to attack. Like Afghanistan, Somalia is defenseless against U.S. air power--and, as in Afghanistan, Washington can easily arm one group of warlords to get rid of another.
It would also allow the U.S. to get revenge for the killing of 18 U.S. soldiers in 1993--now blamed on bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Never mind that between 7,000 and 10,000 Somalis were killed by U.S. troops.
But while Washington was abuzz about "Phase II," the sheer barbarism of "Phase I" was only becoming more apparent. UNICEF reported that 100,000 children will die of hunger and disease within weeks unless humanitarian aid is dramatically increased.
Meanwhile, journalists on the scene in Afghanistan described the bodies of surrendered Taliban soldiers who had been systematically executed by Northern Alliance soldiers.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld effectively endorsed this butchery when he stated that all foreign Taliban troops should be killed or captured--but added that neither the U.S. nor the UN would take prisoners.
There's no telling how long the fighting will go on in Afghanistan. But there's no doubt that Washington's war makers will rain death and destruction on whoever gets in their way--unless we build a movement that can stop their war machine.