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Socialist Workers candidate speaks out against U.S. war drive
U.S. and British troops out of Afghanistan! Stop the bombing!
BY BRIAN WILLIAMS
U.S. and British forces continued to pound Afghanistan, as U.S. troops operated inside the country. Washington is seeking to install a protectorate and further imperialist domination of the region.
Washington is stepping up its daily bombardment of Afghanistan and its use of troops inside the country, as it drives to impose a protectorate there. Punishing air assaults from bombers, fighters, and AC-130 gunships targeting front-line Afghan government forces, supply depots, and military facilities in major cities have also hit residential areas, hospitals, and other civilian areas.
The imperialist assault has already pushed more than 1 million Afghan people from their cities and villages as they seek to escape the bombing. Of the 400,000 people who lived in Kandahar in the southern part of the country, all but 20 percent of the population have fled.
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Workers on strike at the IBP plant in Amarillo, Texas, gather at campsite across from the plant October 22 prior to the start of picketing that day. Go to article
Through its air attacks, special forces operations, and military "advisers" on the ground, Washington hopes to ease the way for the ineffectual Northern Alliance opposition forces, who have some 3-4,000 troops outside Kabul facing off against up to 10,000 Taliban soldiers. As we go to press the Northern Alliance has made little headway against Afghan government forces dug in by the key cities of Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif, despite backing from Moscow and massive air support from Washington and London.
In New York, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year, proposed making the capital city Kabul and surrounding areas a "neutral" zone after their capture. "How to secure the city," the Financial Times reported of Annan's proposal, "was something for those involved in the U.S.-led bombing campaign over Afghanistan to consider."
Much of the massive air assault is now focused on frontline Afghan government forces stationed in or near Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif, though attacks are continuing against what the government insists are military targets throughout the country, including in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, Korduz, and Farah.
According to the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, some 900 civilians had already been killed in these raids as of October 22. A bomb dropped by U.S. and British warplanes on a hospital in Herat killed more than 100 people. Another 93 were killed when bombs exploded in the village of Chukar, 37 miles northeast of Kandahar, reported Qatar's Al Jazeera television channel. Other bombs flattened a shopping bazaar in the center of Kandahar.
Turning reality on its head, U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld "accused the Taliban and the terrorists of hiding in civilian areas, even using the camouflage of religious sites to complicate planning for attacks against them," stated the October 19 New York Times.
Many fleeing the war zone are seeking to cross into Pakistan or Iran--although the governments of both these countries have announced that their borders with Afghanistan are closed--making an already serious refugee crisis even worse. Pakistani border guards have opened fire on hundreds of working people attempting to get across the border. Thousands are crossing into the western Baluchistan province of Pakistan each day, with many more gathering by border-crossing areas.
While deepening its war against Afghanistan, Washington is accelerating its political and military operations within a number of nearby countries and at the same time stepping up its assault on the rights of working people in the United States.
* U.S. president George Bush has authorized the CIA to do "what is necessary" to find and kill Osama bin Laden, reported Bob Woodward in an October 21 Washington Post article. This operation, which is being financed to the tune of more than $1 billion, is the "most sweeping and lethal covert action since the founding of the agency in 1974," stated Woodward. It will include "unprecendented" coordination between the CIA and commando and other military units, noted an unnamed senior government official to the Post. "Lethal operations that were unthinkable pre-September 11 are now under way," he added.
* The FBI and Justice Department are now openly talking about using torture on some of the more than 800 individuals who have been detained since September 11. "We're into this for 35 days and nobody is talking," a senior FBI official told the Washington Post. Plans under consideration also include drugging suspects and issuing threats to family members (see article on page 6).
* The Pentagon is stepping up its military presence in Pakistan and its domination over the military government there. U.S. military forces have now taken control over four strategically located bases inside Pakistan and are using them for offensive operations directed at Afghan government forces, a situation precluded at the beginning of the conflict by the country's rulers.
Despite the misgivings of Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf about the Northern Alliance taking power in Afghanistan, Washington, after holding off for a time in bombing the frontline Taliban forces by Kabul, is now doing all it can to aid the military drive toward that city by the Alliance forces. U.S. officials claim that they have secured a promise from the Northern Alliance that it will approach Kabul but not enter the city, leaving this task to a UN-backed force.
* Washington has also strengthened its military inroads into neighboring Uzbekistan. The 1,000 U.S. troops stationed in that country are at a base in Khanabad, 90 miles from the Afghan border. A recent agreement between the U.S. and Uzbek governments has made clear that these troops--the first to be deployed on the territory of the former Soviet Union--are part of a long-term U.S. military presence.
U.S. military 'advisers' to Philippines
* U.S. military "advisers" are being sent to the Philippines, with an additional military contingent arriving in the country October 24. The five-man team from the Pacific Command will join more than 20 U.S. military officials who arrived in the southern city of Zamboanga last week as part of a deepening U.S. military role in the country's domestic affairs. According to a CNN report, Philippines Armed Forces spokesman Edilberto Adan made clear "that there was no limit on the number of U.S. personnel who could come to the Philippines to provide training."
* Over the past week various imperialist powers stepped up their diplomatic efforts to work with the government of Iran on the character of a post-Taliban government in Afghanistan. Leading government officials from France, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom have held talks with Iranian officials in Tehran. After meeting with Italy's foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero, Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, pledged Tehran's collaboration with the UN in forming a new Afghan government. Tehran and Moscow are two of the main longtime supporters of the opposition Northern Alliance forces. Tehran has already indicated its willingness to rescue U.S. military personnel who are shot down or forced to land in Iranian territory, or who enter the country over its Afghan border.
* Tensions between the governments of Pakistan and India continue to heat up over the disputed province of Kashmir, two-thirds of which is occupied by India and one-third by Pakistan. On October 22, Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accused the Pakistani government of sponsoring terrorist acts against India and rejected an invitation from Pakistan's president Musharraf to hold new talks on Kashmir.
This exchange came as Kashmiri Muslims fighting for independence attacked an air force base 20 miles south of Srinagar, in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. Musharraf responded to Vajpayee's accusations by saying that Pakistan is "not a small country" and would retaliate if India struck at the camps of Muslim fighters on the Pakistani side of the line separating the two portions of Kashmir.
Anthrax used as war pretext
* The hysteria being whipped up around anthrax is being used by bourgeois commentators and government officials to further fuel their war drive against Afghanistan and to beat the drum for a major military attack on Iraq. "Dr. Germ--Saddam's scientist behind anthrax outbreak," read the headline of the October 22 New York Post. In a column titled "Heads up, Hussein: You're next," Post writer Steven Dunleavy asserted, "It is clear Osama bin Laden is just the preliminary to the main event."
In an October 22 column titled "Advance the Story," columnist William Safire, without offering a shred of evidence, argued, "It is absurd to claim--in the face of what we already know--that Iraq is not an active collaborator with, harborer of, and source of sophisticated training and unconventional weaponry for bin Laden's world terror network."
U.S. Rep. Steven Buyer, a Republican from Indiana, stated that Washington should use tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan if a link can be established between bin Laden and anthrax incidents in the United States. "We'd be very naive to believe that biotoxins and chemical agents were not in [bin Laden's] caves," Buyer stated. "Put a tactical nuclear device in, and close these caves for a thousand years."
In the same breath that he admitted that there is no evidence linking the anthrax-laced letters to bin Laden, President Bush asserted that the letters are all part of the international terrorist network he's declared war on. "There's no question that anybody who would mail anthrax with the attempt to harm American citizens is a terrorist," stated Bush. "And there's no question that al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization."
After two postal workers in Washington, D.C., died from an anthrax infection, the capitalist media ran some articles pointing to the two very different standards of treatment provided to politicians, the media, and their staff compared with postal workers who were concerned about having handled the letters containing anthrax. Workers at the Brentwood office in Washington, who handled one of the letters delivered to Senator Thomas Daschle, had asked their bosses to be tested for anthrax and protective clothing. The U.S. postmaster-general rejected these demands in a press conference, insisting there was little chance of such contamination.
Workers at the Rockefeller Center facility in New York, the Financial Times writes, "were 'livid' they were not allowed to evacuate the building last week along with other building residents and were not given immediate tests for anthrax."
* In a sign of the increased political polarization in the country, U.S. senator Hillary Clinton was booed off the stage by thousands of cops and firemen in attendance at "The Concert for New York City," held October 20 at Madison Square Garden. "Get off the stage! We don't want you here!" yelled one New York City police officer just feet from the senator, who cut her comments off after just 20 seconds. The concert, initiated by Sir Paul McCartney, was billed as a fund-raiser for victims of the September 11 attack.
U.S. Army Rangers in Afghanistan
More than 100 Army Rangers swooped down by helicopter on two locations in southern Afghanistan about 60 miles apart during nighttime hours October 19. They attacked a remote military airfield and searched a residence and several buildings in Kandahar that had been used by Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's leader, for files and other information. Though the operation was shrouded in secrecy, the New York Times reported that the Special Operation forces were taken to Omar's compound by helicopters off the carrier Kitty Hawk.
Despite limited reporting by the capitalist media on this operation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assailed press reports describing this action. He charged that the release of such information was "a violation of federal criminal law."
Other imperialist powers are planning to make available their troops for military operations in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reports that the United Kingdom is preparing to send 1,000 troops, including members of the elite Special Air Service. The Australian government announced October 17 that 1,550 military personnel, four fighter aircraft, three frigates, and two refueling aircraft would join the U.S. forces. Italian officials have offered to send an armor regiment, helicopters, and fighter jets as well.