Historia Inmediata

Ataque a EE.UU

querido carlos -- te envio esto por si lo quereis poner en alguna seccion de had. como dicen en mi tierra, estan las cosas de la chingada por estas costas, como bien te podras imaginar...

un fuerte abrazo,

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Of course ZNet has been updating our coverage with diverse essays including new essays from Mark Weisbrot, Edward Said, Robert Fisk, Barbara Garson, George Monbiot, and many more. We hope you will visit http//www.zmag.org to keep up with our coverage.

The rest of ZNet continues its usual regular updating as well -- with pieces on academic repression at MIT, pacifica, bioterrorism, globalization, and so on...

But mostly, I thought I would send along a couple of excellent essays that may not come your way otherwise, from not so well known sources. The first is about the civilian toll and legalities and rationalizations. The second is a message to troops, from someone who speaks from experience...


The Civilian Toll
by A. J. Chien
Institute for Health and Social Justice / October 11

As the bombs fall on Afghanistan, the toll among civilians mounts 76 dead and over 100 injured after four days, according to Reuters. While to many it is indefensible to kill innocent people, US and NATO leaders offer a defense that civilians are not being targeted. As Tony Blair claimed, "This military plan has been put together mindful of our determination to do all we humanly can to avoid civilian casualties." But there's two problems with this defense it's not relevant, and it's not true.

On the first point, consider something called the "mens rea" analysis of criminal law. According to Michael Tonry, Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota, "In the criminal law, purpose and knowledge are equally culpable states of mind. An action taken with a purpose to kill is no more culpable than an action taken with some other purpose in mind but with knowledge that a death will probably result. Blowing up an airplane to kill a passenger is equivalent to blowing up an airplane to destroy a fake painting and thereby to defraud an insurance company, knowing that the passenger will be killed. Both are murder. Most people would find the latter killing more despicable" (Malign Neglect, p. 32).

Tonry uses such reasoning to indict the architects of the US "war on drugs." Writing in 1995, Tonry notes that from 1980 the rate of incarceration for blacks rose much faster than that for whites, and that the proportions of blacks among those admitted to prison reached record levels. These results were foreseeable. Data available in the late 1980s showed, on the one hand, an overall national decline in drug use through the 1980s and, on the other, a general increase in use of cocaine and heroin as measured by emergency room admissions and urinalysis results of arrestees in urban areas. The latter indicators were reflective of a growing drug use problem in urban poor areas, with minority populations. Inasmuch as drug czar William Bennett's drug warriors knew this data well, they knew the consequences of their policies as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it, "...by choosing prohibition [of drugs] we are choosing to have an intense crime problem concentrated among minorities." Tonry concludes, by the "mens rea" analysis of criminal law, that Bennett and colleagues were just as morally responsible for the destruction of black communities as they would be if this destruction had been their goal all along.

Another application is the current bombing. Let's assume, as we are told, that civilians are not being targeted. It doesn't matter. The first wave of attacks reportedly consisted largely of "dumb" bombs dropped or launched from long distances, and even current "smart" bombs hit their targets only 70 to 80 percent of the time. So our leaders know full well that the bombs will kill innocent people, indeed admit as much. By the principles of our criminal law, they are therefore just as culpable for these deaths as they would be if innocents were targeted. Similarly for the foreseeable starvation of Afghan civilians because of the bombing's disruption of humanitarian aid efforts - only in this case there are potentially millions of victims.

What if the purpose is noble? One could defend the predictable deaths of civilians if it resulted from, say, shooting down an airliner in order to keep it from smashing a skyscraper. In Afghanistan the purpose is, as a New York Times correspondent puts it, "to tilt the balance of power within Afghanistan against the Taliban," put forth as a noble goal in the fight against terrorism. But recall that the Taliban does not stand accused of the terrorism of September 11. The Taliban is guilty of real crimes, but the reason we are bombing them is for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden without seeing the evidence against him. Its punishment is to be overthrow by an equally brutal regime. Notwithstanding the headlines in US dailies, nobility is not immediately apparent, never mind anything so noble that it outweighs a great many deaths.

Let's now consider whether all the targets are really military, in conjunction with some relevant international law. Under article 48 of the Geneva Conventions, "In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives." But the main aim of the US strikes is not military but political, to remove the Taliban from power. For all its wretchedness, the Taliban is not simply an army but a political entity, and its members largely civilians, not combatants. So the distinctions of article 48 evidently have not been heeded many of the targets hit, such as Taliban headquarters and other buildings in Kabul and Kandahar, would seem to count as "civilian objects" (just as the White House presumably would, notwithstanding its hosting of the commander-in-chief).

Then there is article 51 "Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited...[such as]...an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated." And similarly we have the Nuremberg Charter, which classes as war crimes any "violations of the laws or customs of war which include...wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity." Are there violations here? Among the targets so far are airports, communication facilities, electrical plants, government buildings, houses - all attacked for a political purpose. After a building that housed UN de-mining workers was destroyed, the UN appealed to the US to protect civilians in its military strikes in less polite terms, to obey international law mandating such protection. Apparently they do not agree with Tony Blair that the attackers are doing all they "humanly can." (In Ramsey Clark's The Fire This Time, similar arguments and many more are made with regard to the Iraq war.)

The Pentagon has expressed satisfaction with the early results. Let's conclude by considering a different source Afghan civilians. Here's a sampling of testimonials reported by the Boston Globe and New York Times.

Rais Mazloomyar Jabirkhail "They are not God. They want to pinpoint every target, but they can't make every missile go after Osama and terrorist training camps..." While not a supporter of bin Laden, he asked why, in response to what bin Laden was accused of doing, the United States "is destroying our whole country."

Mohammad Akram "They should find Osama bin Laden and attack only him. Why did they attack all of Afghanistan? We are just poor people in Afghanistan."

Mohammad Zahir "Everyone wants to eliminate terrorism from the face of the earth, but the way adopted by the US is not fair because masses of ordinary people also live in Afghanistan. The attack was not just on terrorist camps...I know those are residential areas."

Abdul Malik In his village there was "great panic among the people - they are running toward hilly areas away from cities...We were telling the women and children that everything will be OK, we will be safe [in the hills], we will pray to God."

Naseebullah Khan "It's not true that the Americans have only been bombing military targets. Many of the bombs are dropping on residential neighborhoods."

Abdul Qahir "Though people are fed up with Taliban rulers, at the same time we are not supporting the US attack on our beloved country. It is against human dignity."

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans reaching the Pakistani border have reportedly joined anti-US demonstrations in Quetta, Peshawar, and elsewhere. Apparently the view of many ordinary Afghans doesn't match that of their self-proclaimed saviors.


A Message to Troops, Would-be Troops and Other Youth
By Jeff Paterson


Note On August 30, 1990, 22-year-old Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson refused to board a military plane in Hawaii heading to Saudi Arabia. He was the first active-duty military resister in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The photo of Jeff sitting on the airstrip, defying orders to go fight in the Gulf War, appeared on TV and in newspapers around the world. Later Jeff edited the Anti-WARrior newsletter of military resistance to the Gulf War. Jeff currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist (http//www.oz.net/~vvawai). He can be reached through VVAW-AI, or directly at [email protected]


In August 1990 I was an active duty U.S. Marine Corps Corporal. I was ordered to the Middle East -- the Gulf War was about to come. Four years prior -- thinking I had nothing better to do with my life -- I had walked into the Salinas, California recruiting station and told them to "put me where I was most needed."

"What am I going to do with my life?" has always been a huge question for youth, and today, in the wake of the horror and tragedy of September 11th, this question has increased importance for millions of young people.

No one who has seen the images will ever forget. In a scene as unreal as a Hollywood picture, a conflict reached into American reality in an unthinkable way. Copy clerks to admin assistants, restaurant workers to firefighters -- thousands of lives ripped away from friends and family. Now the television shouts, "revenge," "infinite justice," and "something must be done!" Wave a red, white and blue flag to ease the sorrow, to declare, "We're not going to take it."

And, I might be like the youth who are going down to the recruiters now, if I hadn't spent those four years in the Marine Corps. Most of the time my unit trained to fight a war against peasants who dared to struggle against "American interests" in their homelands -- specifically Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. I saw dire poverty in the Philippines; U.S. government-sanctioned prostitution rings to service the U.S. armed forces in South Korea; and unbridled racism towards the peoples of Okinawa and Japan -- where the standard response to a child waving a "peace sign" at us with his fingers was "yeaa, ha ha, two bombs little gook."

I began to understand why billions of people around the world really do hate the United States -- specifically its war machine, covert "contra" wars, and the whole system of economic globalization that replaces hope with 12-hour days locked in sweatshops producing "Designed in the USA" exports.

Faced with this reality, I began the process of becoming un- American -- meaning that the interests of the people of the world began to weigh heavier than my self-interest.

When the U.S. launched the Gulf War, I realized that the world did not need or want another U.S. troop. Although they did not look much like me, I found I had more in common with the common peoples of the Middle East than I did with those who were ordering me to kill them. My Battalion Commander's reassurance that "if anything goes wrong we'll nuke the rag heads until they all glow" was not reassuring.

Up against that, I publicly stated I would not be a pawn in America's power plays for profits, oil, and domination of the Middle East. I pledged to resist, and I pledged that if I were dragged out into the Saudi desert, I would refuse to fight. A few weeks later, I sat down on the airstrip as hundreds of Marines -- many of whom I had lived with for years -- filed past me and boarded the plane. I fought the Gulf War from a military brig, and after worldwide anti-war protesters helped spring me, we fought the war in the streets.

But back then we failed to stop the war. Since 1990 over 1.5 million Iraqi people have died -- not mainly from the massive U.S. bombing which continues from the sky, but from a decade of economic sanctions. All the while the U.S. government has coldly declared that these Iraqi deaths are "worth it" in order to achieve strategic regional objectives. So today, as the U.S. government demands the world mourn with us for our loss, we in turn are expected to ignore the suffering that this nation produces.

Every time the U.S. war machine is kicked into high gear, acknowledgements are made about past "mistakes" Gulf War sickness, Agent Orange and napalm in Viet Nam, massacres of refugees in Korea, U.S. troops used as nuclear exposure guinea pigs after World War II, concentration camps for Japanese- Americans during World War II. And always "Trust us, this time it will be different." But it never is.

One need not be a pacifist, a communist, a Quaker, or a humanist to oppose this war. However, it certainly helps to be an internationalist -- realizing that our collective future is bound up with the majority of humanity, and not with those who are taking this horrific opportunity to threaten war. For those woman and men now in uniform, you have a choice to make. Silence is what your "superiors" expect of you, but the interests of humanity require more. Think. Speak out. And if you make the choice to resist, there are hundreds of thousands who will support you -- many of whom have already taken to the streets to oppose this war.

Like his father before him, Bush Jr. has drawn a line in the sand "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." Simply put, the rulers of the U.S. see much unfinished business for their "New World Order." While we grieve, they announce that "the normal rules no longer apply" (translation now is the time to settle our scores), and we have "a blank check to act, the nation is united" (translation dissent will be ignored, or suppressed as required). Now more than ever, the people of the world are not safe from the U.S., and the people in the U.S. are not safe from the U.S.

I will not wave the red, white and blue flag -- instead I'll wear a green ribbon in solidarity with immigrants and Arab Americans facing increasing racist attacks. Stop the War. Support the troops who refuse to fight.

Let's dedicate our lives to changing this situation.