Socialist Worker

Bush's new war drive shocks even those who backed Afghan bombing

Issue No. 1787

'A new foreign policy' is how the Guardian's Martin Woollacott described George W Bush's chilling speech threatening war across the globe. Woollacott and fellow Guardian commentator Hugo Young are just two of those who backed Bush and Blair's Afghan war but are now shocked by the US's new global war drive. Even former Tory minister Chris Patten has spoken out.

Bush's 'our war is just beginning' speech makes the demonstration in London in two weeks time, called by the Stop the War Coalition, of crucial importance. The protest is a chance to rally those opposed to Bush's new threats as well as those who stood out against the bombing of Afghanistan. Opposition to Bush has also been fuelled by horror at the treatment of the US prisoners at its Guantanamo base in Cuba.

Everyone who opposes Bush's war threats should get leaflets and posters to build the 2 March demonstration. Get transport booked and contact everyone you know who might join the protest.

'I met a six year old living in a neighbourhood where eight people were killed, who stopped talking immediately after the attack. Nobody knows why the neighbourhood was bombed. I met a 20 year old man who took shrapnel in his leg when his house was bombed. It had to be amputated.'br>Kelly Campbell, whose brother in law was killed on 11 September, after a visit to Afghanistan

'WE TALKED to a family of ten people living out in the cold, not because they don't have a home, but because cluster bombs surrounded their home and it was not safe for them to be there. People came to us after they had received no help either from their government or from the US government.'
Rita Lasar, whose brother was killed in the World Trade Centre

Horror behind 'victory' talk

Tony Blair and George Bush are gloating over their 'victory' in Afghanistan. They claim their war has brought liberation, peace and democracy. Bush and Blair's names have even been put forward for the Nobel peace prize. Blair rounded on 16 year old Sumayya Mavsarka last week, after she called him a liar for claiming the West had 'liberated' Afghanistan. 'Don't talk to me about it,' he said. 'Talk to people in Afghanistan.'

The people of Afghanistan could certainly tell of bombs still raining down which have so far slaughtered at least 4,000 people, mostly civilians. They could also tell of the hundreds of thousands of people who have had their homes destroyed, and been left cold, hungry and desperate. There is no peace in Afghanistan. The US is still bombing the country.

It was barely reported in the press, but last week US planes resumed bombing missions over eastern Afghanistan. Every day people are blown to pieces by cluster bombs lying around the country from previous US bombing raids. In the town of Herat over 40 people have been killed and many more injured by cluster bombs.

In nearby Rabat cluster bombs have killed at least ten people since bombing there stopped in November. Those who had their bodies sliced apart by the bombs included three children crossing a field on their way to a wedding. Much of the press echoes Tony Blair's claim that the interim administration in Afghanistan marks the start of a new democracy.

No peace or democracy

HAMID KARZAI, the leader of that government, has been feted on his trips to the US and Britain. His government has been imposed on Afghanistan's people. It has no control over the brutal local warlords whose power has been bolstered by the US war.

US business paper the International Herald Tribune reports, 'Major cities like Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif now serve as bases for rival warlords and their heavily armed militias, and the entire country is splintered by warlords' checkpoints.'

War fuelled instability

IN THE town of Gardez a bloody fight between rival factions broke out two weeks ago. Over 60 people are reported to have been killed and thousands forced to flee. In the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif fighting between armed gangs has led to dozens of deaths.

Fighting has also erupted in other northern towns. 'This is the beginning of civil war, like ten years ago,' said Haji Gul Ahmad, the deputy security commander of Sholgara. 'The government in Kabul cannot do anything about this.' None of Bush and Blair's stated war aims have been met. Osama Bin Laden has not been caught or killed, and US officials admit that 'the trail has gone cold'. The war has created massive destabilisation across the region.

It has fuelled the conflict between India and Pakistan, which have gone to the brink of a new war over Kashmir.

Now George Bush has threatened to unleash devastation on the countries he dubbed the 'axis of evil'-Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Bush has also pushed through a $396 billion military budget-the biggest rise in US military spending since the early 1980s.

Oxfam's verdict

SAM BARRATT, press officer for Oxfam, has recently visited Jawand in Afghanistan's 'hunger belt'. He told Socialist Worker, 'Many people have sold everything they had in order to survive. To get food they have sold their animals, their tents, everything. At first you don't see it-the cold hides the hunger in swathes of clothes. But then suddenly you do-watches slipping down skinny wrists, wedding rings hanging loose on wiry fingers. There are stories of sickness, and families marrying off daughters for sacks of wheat.'

An Oxfam briefing from 28 January says, 'Kabul has experienced escalated crime in the last few weeks. Landmines, cluster bombs and other unexploded ordnance are more of a danger after the recent bombing campaign. There are some 50 to 100 victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance every week.'


Stop Bush and Blair's war

Stop US torture of prisoners

Hands off Somalia and Iraq

Demonstrate Saturday 2 March 1pm, Hyde Park, London

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Sat 16 Feb 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1787
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