Turds in the Holiday Punch Bowl

At this time of giving thanks for all our good luck, it’s unpleasant to recall what our government has been giving Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Illegal bombing of major cities, unaccountable missile attacks tricked in from 7000 miles away, predawn commando home invasions, “sport killings” and mutilated corpses, targeted assassinations, police state torture lessons and daily violations of the laws of war. These are the gifts that will recruit new enemies the world over and prop up our returning veterans’ suicide rates for decades to come.  

A look at the headlines in the sidebar might convince you that the U.S. military is being put to a lot of atrocious activity in the name of peace and security. Not exactly nation building as much as village smashing and prison construction. This is the rule of thumb in President Fill-in-the-Blank’s wars of choice.

In October, the U.S. said it would expand the size of its Bagram Air Force Base prison in Afghanistan from 3,500 inmates to 5,500. The United Nations’ report of routine torture inside Afghan prisons could be the result of the occupied having learned from the U.S. occupiers’ practice in Abu Ghraib and Bagram, where detainees were subjected to waterboarding, mock executions, sexual abuse, prolonged suspension from handcuffs, crouch cells, severe beatings and murder. Don’t take my word, read Gen. Taguba’s (US Army, Ret.) report on the subject.

The UN Charter says without qualification: “‘The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken … to maintain or restore international peace and security.” Yet the Security Council has not determined that the U.S. can attack Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia. Each and every military action against those states is itself a crime of war. 

Even the Council’s explicitly limited okay of attacks on Libya did not envision the paroxysm of 8,750 jet bomber attacks that NATO enacted between March and Sept., or the screaming scorched earth bombings it used against the major cities of Tripoli, Sirte and Benghazi which killed so many civilians.

From 2006 to last June, over 1,900 “insurgents” in Pakistan’s tribal areas had been killed by U.S. drones according to the web site Longwarjournal.com. Overall deaths from these drone attacks, according to Pakistan Body Count, number 2,682 indicating that the Pentagon’s given the gift of eternal peace to 782 Pakistani bystanders.

Still, the head of NATO’s Afghan command, Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, said in August that his continued “pressure” on the insurgents has “strengthened the leadership and capability of our Afghan partners.” Good job general. Keep polishing!

Happy Thanksgiving:

* “American Soldier Is Convicted of Killing Afghan Civilians for Sport,” New York Times, Nov. 11, 2011

* “Pakistan: U.S. Drone Strike Kills Brother of a Taliban Commander,” New York Times, Oct. 28, 2011

* “‘Systematic’ torture in Afghan-run jails,” Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2011

* “Yemen Strike Reflects U.S. Shift to Drones As Cheaper War Tool,” New York Times, Oct. 2, 2011

* “G.I. Killed Afghan Journalist, NATO Says,” New York Times, Sept. 9, 2011

* “Cable Implicates Americans in Deaths of Iraqi Civilians,” New York Times, Sept. 2, 2011

* “Civilians Die in a Raid by Americans and Iraqis,” New York Times, Aug. 7, 2011

* “NATO Strikes Libyan State TV Transmitters,” New York Times, July 31, 2011

* “NATO admits raid probably killed nine in Tripoli,” St. Paul Pioneer, June 20, 2011

* “U.S. Expands Its Drone War to Take On Somali Militants,” New York Times, July 2, 2011

* “NATO airstrike blamed in 14 civilian deaths,” St. Paul Pioneer, May 30, 2011

* “Libya Effort Is Called Violation of War Act,” New York Times, May 26, 2011

* “Raid on Wrong House Kills Afghan Girl, 12,” New York Times, May 12, 2011

* “Yemen: 2 Killed in Missile Strike,” Associated Press, May 5, 2011

* “NATO Accused of Going Too Far With Libya Strikes,” New York Times, May 2, 2011

* “Disposal of Bin Laden’s remains violated Islamic principles, clerics say,” Associated Press, May 2, 2011

* “Photos of atrocities seen as threat to Afghan relations,” St. Paul Pioneer, March 22, 2011

* “Missiles Kill 26 in Pakistan,” [“most of them civilians”], New York Times, March 18, 2011

* “Mistake kills Karzai cousin,” Mpls Star Tribune, March 11, 2011


— John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin.