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