Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Exterminate All The Brutes


When I saw the Globe and Mail front page in the neighbourhood newspaper box this morning blaming huge riots in Afghanistan on a tragic traffic accident, try as I might, I couldn't help but think of the words of one of the greatest writers in the English language as well as a bloated Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

The document that Willard skims through near the film's conclusion, on which "DROP THE BOMB. EXTERMINATE THEM ALL" is scrawled, is entitled "The Role of Democratic Force in the Underdeveloped World, by Walter E. Kurtz, Colonel USSF" and is "Commissioned by The Center For Democratic Studies, Santa Barbara, California". This is taken directly from Conrad's novella, where a report written for "the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs" by Kurtz is also graffitied with a similar message: "Exterminate all the brutes!"


Well, if like me you've been paying attention, you may be worried that, unfortunately, like Col/Mr. Kurtz, Canadian hands are no longer clean in Afghanistan.

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — With puffy face and red eyes, 12-year-old Mahmood was still fighting back tears as he told his story yesterday.

He had gotten the news in a phone call at dawn. His entire family -- mother, father, three sisters, three brothers -- had been killed by a coalition bombing attack on his village near Kandahar.

"I lost my family," he whispered between his sobs. "Now I am all alone."

Nearby, in an intensive-care hospital bed, his unconscious three-year-old cousin was twitching and panting for air. He, too, was a victim of the bombing. Two of his uncles were being treated in the same ward, both badly wounded, one in a coma.

At least 17 civilians -- and perhaps 25 or more -- were killed in the coalition attack on Taliban forces yesterday and at least 15 civilians were injured. Twenty Taliban insurgents were confirmed killed, the coalition said in a press release, but the rebel toll could be as high as 50.

Many houses, and even a religious school, were hit by the bombs between 11 p.m., Sunday and 5 a.m., yesterday, survivors said.


Brigadier-General David Fraser, the Canadian who commands the coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, was "consulted and informed" about the attack, but the decision was made by "higher headquarters," Major Lundy said. He refused to identify the higher authorities who approved the bombing.

"Higher" headquarters?

Does that say something about who is really running the show that we are now mired in?

Apparently, it does.

There were strong hints that the assault was a special-forces operation, which would normally be kept secret. The forces hit unexpectedly stiff resistance from about 200 Taliban in the village. When they got into trouble around midnight on Sunday, they called in U.S. aircraft to attack the village.

(American) Apache helicopters and an A-10 Warthog were among the aircraft called.

Geoffrey York, The Globe and Mail, May 23, 2006

Of course war is a terrible, terrible business, even when the mission is, apparently, peace. But calling in an airstrike on a civilian area because a special operations mission has gone bad can never be justified.

Unfortunately, it looks like this was not a one off.

Maj. Quentin Innis, a coalition spokesman based in Kandahar, confirmed that coalition aircraft had dropped two 500-pound bombs on a Taliban compound, causing "a lot" of casualties. He said up to 50 militants could have been killed.
Noor Khan, Associated Press, May 29, 2006

So, when you hear and read N. American mainstream media organs try to spin Afghan riots as being caused by 'traffic accidents' don't believe for a moment that that is all there is to it.


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