Gulf News, September 11, 2007
Spectre of 9/11 haunts US foreign policy
Last year, 51 countries pledged billions to rebuild Afghanistan but it remains one of the world's poorest nations.
By Linda S. Heard
Today is the 6th anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks on the US as if you didn't already know. When we turn on our televisions we will once again watch planes hurtling into the twin towers, terrified ash-covered individuals escaping the scene and rescue workers scouring the rubble for signs of life.
Victims' families will recount the pain they experienced on that terrible day; hyped by the media as the worst tragedy the planet has ever known, greater even than Hiroshima and Nagasaki or the tsunami that devastated 28 million lives.
"In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets," Donald Rumsfeld says in the October issue of GQ magazine.
AP, Sep.10, 2007:
RAWA: He is probably right, Afghan women are free to commit self-immolation and beg in the streets, warlords are free to commit any crime, kidnap and rape women, loot people and do drug business. We have a parliament full of drug-lords and human rights violators, we have a president who is called by media as "mayor of Kabul". (According to UNIFEM, 65% of the 50,000 widows in Kabul see suicide as the only option to get rid of their miseries and desolation - Isn't it a real FREEDOM?!)
Today is a day we should all mourn for not only were 3,000 innocent people incinerated on that day, as a result of the Bush administration's response to the tragedy hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have lost their lives, limbs and loved ones.
Shamefully, the losses of those innocents are not even acknowledged or counted let alone mourned.
More than 3,000 coalition service people have died together with an unspecified number of Western "contractors". And to what end?
Bush ordered troops into Afghanistan to smoke Osama Bin Laden out of his cave but judging by a recently released video he's still around looking trimmer, fitter, younger and sounding more clued-up on current affairs than ever before.
Bush ordered troops into Iraq, which he said had links with Al Qaida, an active nuclear weapons programme and a stockpile of biological and chemical weapons. Those assertions turned out to be a pack of lies.
Then, after unleashing pure hell on those countries, Bush promised they would be rebuilt and emerge as model democracies; the envy of the entire region. Those promises were hollow.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban have regrouped and rearmed, the country is rife with corruption and despite the presence of foreign forces Afghanistan is responsible for 90 per cent of the world's heroin supply. Last year, 51 countries pledged billions to rebuild Afghanistan but it remains one of the world's poorest nations.
The International Committee of the Red Cross recently reported a deteriorating humanitarian situation with civilians often the victims of "indiscriminate methods of warfare".
Remember Bush's promise to liberate Afghan women? Last year, Zoya a member of RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan) had this to say on the group's website:
"The oppression of Afghan women was used as a justification to overthrow the Taliban regime. Innocent lives, many more than those who lost their lives on 9/11 were taken."
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission reports that 60 - 80 per cent of marriages are forced with some involving girls as young as six. The Council on Foreign Relations concludes that one out of every three Afghan women experiences physical, psychological or sexual violence.
Things in Afghanistan are so bad that President Hamid Karzai is now desperate to hold talks with Taliban leaders.
Iraq is in a similar shambles with 600,000 dead and four million displaced from their homes.
The British have cut their losses and slunk out of Basra, where Shi'ite militias vie for control and Iran stakes a claim. Baghdad, with its razor wire, checkpoints, bombs and guns, remains the most dangerous city on earth.
Simon Jenkins writing in the conservative Times succinctly sums up the state Iraq is in today.
"A once-rich nation is poor, chaotic and devoid of hope as the worst in sub-Saharan Africa. More than half the professional class has disappeared. Those who have been turned back at the borders face famine and in camps disowned by the Americans and the British. Cholera has appeared and child mortality is worse than during sanctions in the 1990s."
If Bush were handed a report card on Afghanistan and Iraq it should surely read zero out of ten and he hasn't even got Bin Laden to show for his efforts.
In fact, the mess he has made of those countries serves as a recruiting tool for Al Qaida, which from a little-known entity now boasts worldwide franchises and look-alikes.
It was Bush's response to 9-11 that initiated the abominations of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and secret renditions, sullying America's reputation for decades to come.
People say that 9-11 changed the world. It didn't. The credit must go to George W. Bush. He had a choice. He could have judged the actions of the 19 as criminal and used diplomacy, intelligence and covert means to flush out their associates. The grieving world would have supported those efforts.
Instead, he flexed his military muscle and exacted revenge on people who had nothing to do with the attacks on American soil. And, in the process, he furthered his long-held neoconservative hegemonic agenda and filled the coffers of oil giants, reconstructions companies and weapons manufacturers to overflowing.
If 9-11 was a disease then the "cure" has been far more destructive than the illness. Let's respectfully remember those who died that day but let's not forget the hundreds of thousands Bush and the Western media would prefer that we forgot.
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