Sunday, March 06, 2011

He Must Have To Apologize an Awful Lot: Petraeus


Friday 04 March 2011

Recent polls suggest that while a majority of US people disapprove of the war in Afghanistan, many on grounds of its horrible economic cost, only 3 percent took the war into account when voting in the 2010 midterm elections. The issue of the economy weighed heavily on voters, but the war and its cost, though clear to them and clearly related to the economy in their thinking, was a far less pressing concern.

US people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the apparent unconcern of the crews of two US helicopter gunships, which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in Afghanistan's Kumar province, shooting them "one after another" this past Tuesday, March 1. ("The helicopters hovered over us, scanned us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started shooting." (The New York Times March 2, 2011)).

Four of the boys were seven years old, three were eight, one was nine and the oldest was twelve. "The children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district," said Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district. "I myself was involved in the burial," Noori said. "Yesterday we buried them." (The Associated Press, March 2, 2011) General Petraeus has acknowledged, and apologized for, the tragedy.

He has had many tragedies to apologize for just counting Kunar province alone. Last August 26, in the Manogai district, Afghan authorities accused international forces of killing six children during an air assault on Taliban positions. Provincial police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. "In the bombardment six children, aged six to 12, were killed," the police commander said. "Another child was injured."

In the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Zekirullah, a young Afghan friend of mine, age 15, rises at 2:00 AM several mornings each week and rides his donkey for six hours through the pre-dawn to reach a mountainside where he can collect scrub brush and twigs, which he loads on the donkey in baskets. Then, he heads home and stacks the wood - on top of his family's home - to be taken down later and burned for heat. They don't have electrical appliances to heat the home, and even if they did, the villagers only get electricity for two hours a day, generally between 1:00 AM - 3:00 AM. Families rely on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round. Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States. They're not surging at us, or anywhere: they're not insurgents. They're not doing anything to threaten us. They are children, and children anywhere are like children everywhere: they're children like our own.

Sadly, more and more of us in America are getting used to the idea of child poverty - and even child labor - as our own economy sinks further under the burden of our latest nine years of war, of two billion dollars per week we spend creating poverty abroad that we can then emulate at home. Things are getting bad here, but in Afghanistan, children are bombed. Their bodies are casually dismembered and strewn by machines already lost in the horizon as the limbs settle. They lie in pools of blood until family members realize, one by one, that their children are not late in returning home, but, in fact, never will.

In October and again in December of 2010, our small delegation of Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists met with a large family living in a wretched refugee camp. They had fled their homes in the San Gin district of the Helmand Province after a drone attack killed a mother there and her five children. The woman's husband showed us photos of his children's bloodied corpses. His niece, Juma Gul, age nine, had survived the attack. She and I huddled next to each other inside a hut made of mud on a chilly December morning. Juma Gul's father stooped in front of us and gently unzipped her jacket, showing me that his daughter's arm had been amputated by shrapnel when the US missile hit their home in San Gin.

Next to Juma Gul was her brother, whose leg had been mangled in the attack. He apparently has no access to adequate medical care and experiences constant pain. The pilot of the attacking drone, perhaps controlling it from as far away as Creech Air Force Base here in the United States, knows nothing of this family or of the pain that he or she helped inflict. Nor do the commanders, the people who set up the base, the people who pay for it with their taxes and the people who persist in electing candidates intent on indefinitely prolonging the war.

But, sometimes, the war is like it was this past Tuesday, March 1. Sometimes, the issue is right in front of us - as it was to those helicopter crews - it's up close so there can be no mistake as to what we are doing. According to the election polls, we see the cost of war, dimly, but, as with the helicopter crews, it doesn't affect - or prevent - our decisions. Afterward, we deplore the tragedy; we make a pretense of acknowledging the cost of war, but it is incalculable. We can't hope to count it. We actually, finally, have to stop making people like the nine children who died on March 1 pay it.truthout

A bit of humour for you Cletis.


Cletis L. Stump said...

We should always have a compulsory, military draft in place. This would have stopped Bush and Uncle Dick from even thinking about invading Iraq and Afghanistan. As long as people can compartmentalize and remain at a safe distance, they will go blithely about their day as you point out. You do a great service.

Himself said...

You're too kind Cletis, if for no other reason, I have unfortunately, the easiest job in world when it comes to sourcing material. The Whitehouse and the Pentagon make sure of that. The trick I think, is to post just a little occasionally, otherwise it (death and destruction) becomes blasé.

I do take your point about a stint at the front, see my Napoleon limerick. These are just a few of the dozens that I used to knock out for fun.

The war Crimes Act.
A little nonsense.

Whitehouse crimes are almost blasé,
Standards and morals in total decay.
Your presidency's flawed,
Don't go abroad.
You could end up like Pinochet.

What a state the country's in,
Whitehouse bullshit wearing thin.
So we must,
In pardons trust.
One for you and one for him.

Tricky Dicky to Gerald said,
Be VP it's serious bread.
Just one favour,
Might need a saviour.
No problem lets go ahead.

Dubya and his wars.

For war how he hungered and lust,
Now it’s all turning to dust.
Gas so high,
Don’t look to the sky.
Not even in God can you trust.

Hey George you d man,
Can't do it? yes he can.
On this runaway train,
What can we gain.
Such fun, let's nuke Iran.

Come back Napoleon Bonaparte,
In all the wars you did start.
You led from the front,
It weren’t no stunt.
That’s the message to impart.

Dubya, religion/other

To those that swallow his credo,
Albeit his IQ is zero.
I have to say,
In my limerick today.
Don't make a half-wit your hero.

Do not fear so much to die,
When it comes one big sigh.
All I can say,
Won't be today.
The rapture's comming bye and bye.

I am a man of no great stature,
Diebold did the country capture.
Times were great,
In lone star state.
A nuke or two then the rapture.

A captain is no ordinary seaman,
He’s learned and adept for a reason.
To safely navigate,
The great ship of state.
But Dub, in hurricane season.?

For five long years he's been having his say,
From course once set he'll never stray.
Don't panic,
On Titanic.
"Hey there iceberg get outa my way."

A halfwit did so aspire,
To positions lofty and higher.
The press sounding glum,
“We backed someone dumb”
Who would have thought such a liar.

And I can’t finish without a mention of,
Slime Personified. Leiberman.

In backing the war and its slaughters,
Joe ain’t doing what he ought to.
Like some two bit whore,
Of that you’re sure.
Just look at his sackful of quarters.