By GERRY FOLEY
Although the U.S. war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has now faded into history, Washington’s airborne terrorism against the Afghan people is still continuing.
On July 1, American planes blew away a wedding party in the village of Kakarak. Official estimates of the number killed were about 40. Most were women and children.
Symptomatically, this massacre came at the same time that a plan for a massive U.S. invasion and air assault on Iraq was leaked to the press. Such an attack, if actually carried out, could unleash a veritable holocaust
Whether U.S. rulers have the capacity and the determination to carry out such an operation or not, the leaking of such a plan could only be intended to intimidate. And for the sake of intimidation, a show of ruthlessness can be considered useful.
Furthermore, the slaughter in Kakarak was only the latest of a series of U.S. terrorist atrocities against Afghani civilians, supposedly errors of the U.S. military, which, as a British Guardian report claimed, is getting a reputation for “shooting first and asking questions later.”
The first U.S. air atrocity since the collapse of the Taliban was in mid-December, when American planes blew away a convoy carrying tribespeople to the inauguration of Hamid Karzai, Washington’s protegé. It turned out that the bombing was at the behest of a local warlord who had a grievance against the nomadic group traveling in the convoy. Some 60 tribesmen were reported killed, and 40 injured.
Then in January, U.S. planes bombed another group, killing 21 people, all of whom the U.S. military later had to admit had nothing to do with al Qaeda or the Taliban.
The Kakarak holocaust forced the Karzai government for the first time to criticize U.S. military operations. Foreign Minister Abdullah was quoted in the London Independent as saying:
“This situation has to come to an end. Mistakes can take place, human errors are possible, but our people should be assured that every measure was taken to avoid such incidents.” He went on to warn against the danger that “enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan” could exploit such incidents to rally opposition to the Karzai government.
Ironically, the latest act of U.S. air terrorism came only a few weeks afterThe New York Times published a report noting: “Classified investigations of the Qaeda threat now under way at the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. have concluded that the war in Afghanistan failed to diminish the threat to the United States, the officials said. Instead, the war might have complicated counterterrorism efforts by dispersing potential attacks across a wider geographic area.”
Socialist Action argued at the onset of the Afghan war that a full-scale military campaign could not be expected to be effective against the sort of network of small groups represented by al Qaeda. Now, the U.S. authorities themselves have confirmed that.
But if the war, with its enormous human and material costs, was not an effective response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against the U.S., what was its purpose? It could only have been to intimidate the restive peoples of Third World countries kept in poverty and desperation by imperialist domination.
If your purpose is to instill fear, obviously there is correspondingly less reason to be careful about “collateral damage.” It is for the sake of intimidation, obviously, that Washington is continuing the slaughter in Afghanistan, when it is having to admit that its war there was not effective against its supposed enemy, al Qaeda.
But now its own protegé government in Kabul is warning the United States that intimidation can turn into provocation. This could touch off reactions that even the world’s greatest military power may not find so easy to check.