On 12 July, The Times of London devoted
two pages to Afghanistan. It was mostly a complaint about the heat. The reporter,
Magnus Linklater, described in detail his discomfort and how he had needed to
be sprayed with iced water. He also described the "high drama" and
"meticulously practiced routine" of evacuating another overheated
journalist. For his US Marine rescuers, wrote Linklater, "saving a life
took precedence over [their] security." Alongside this was a report whose
final paragraph offered the only mention that "47 civilians, most of them
women and children, were killed when a US aircraft bombed a wedding party in
eastern Afghanistan on Sunday."
Slaughters on this scale are common, and mostly unknown to the British public.
I interviewed a woman who had lost eight members of her family, including six
children. A 500lb US Mk82 bomb was dropped on her mud, stone and straw house.
There was no "enemy" nearby. I interviewed a headmaster whose house
disappeared in a fireball caused by another "precision" bomb. Inside
were nine people his wife, his four sons, his brother and his wife, and
his sister and her husband. Neither of these mass murders was news. As Harold
Pinter wrote of such crimes: "Nothing ever happened. Even while it was
happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest."
A total of 64 civilians were bombed to death while The Times man was
discomforted. Most were guests at the wedding party. Wedding parties are a "coalition"
specialty. At least four of them have been obliterated at Mazar and in
Khost, Uruzgan and Nangarhar provinces. Many of the details, including the names
of victims, have been compiled by a New Hampshire professor, Marc Herold, whose
Afghan Victim Memorial Project is a meticulous work of journalism that shames
those who are paid to keep the record straight and report almost everything
about the Afghan War through the public relations facilities of the British
and American military.
The US and its allies are dropping record numbers of bombs on Afghanistan.
This is not news. In the first half of this year, 1,853 bombs were dropped:
more than all the bombs of 2006 and most of 2007. "The most frequently
used bombs," the Air Force Times reports, "are the 500lb and
2,000lb satellite-guided..." Without this one-sided onslaught, the resurgence
of the Taliban, it is clear, might not have happened. Even Hamid Karzai, America's
and Britain's puppet, has said so. The presence and the aggression of foreigners
have all but united a resistance that now includes former warlords once on the
The scandal of this would be headline news, were it not for what George W.
Bush's former spokesman Scott McClellan has called "complicit enablers"
journalists who serve as little more than official amplifiers. Having
declared Afghanistan a "good war," the complicit enablers are now
anointing Barack Obama as he tours the bloodfests in Afghanistan and Iraq. What
they never say is that Obama is a bomber.
In the New York Times on 14 July, in an article spun to appear as if
he is ending the war in Iraq, Obama demanded more war in Afghanistan and, in
effect, an invasion of Pakistan. He wants more combat troops, more helicopters,
more bombs. Bush may be on his way out, but the Republicans have built an ideological
machine that transcends the loss of electoral power because their collaborators
are, as the American writer Mike Whitney put it succinctly, "bait-and-switch"
Democrats, of whom Obama is the prince.
Those who write of Obama that "when it comes to international affairs,
he will be a huge improvement on Bush" demonstrate the same willful naïveté
that backed the bait-and-switch of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Of Blair,
wrote the late Hugo Young in 1997, "ideology has surrendered entirely to
'values'... there are no sacred cows [and] no fossilized limits to the ground
over which the mind might range in search of a better Britain..."
Eleven years and five wars later, at least a million people lie dead. Barack
Obama is the American Blair. That he is a smooth operator and a black man is
irrelevant. He is of an enduring, rampant system whose drum majors and cheer
squads never see, or want to see, the consequences of 500lb bombs dropped unerringly
on mud, stone and straw houses.