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Historical Briefs / By: Bruce G. Richardson
Sunday, 02.03.2013, 11:35am (GMT+1)

February, 2013

Though to save lives is laudable, it in no way justifies the employment of means which run counter to every precept of humanity and the customs of war. Should it do so, then, on the pretext of shortening the war and of saving lives, every imaginable atrocity can be justified…General J.F.C. Fuller.
Former Attorney General of the Unites States, Ramsey Clark wrote that “the greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.” Former Reagan Administration official and acclaimed author Paul Craig Roberts wrote that “if we (the U.S.) are honest about who is actually murdering and abusing people, it is the U.S., Israel, and the U.K., there’s your Axis of Evil” he wrote. Yet it is astounding how American neo-conservatives who have no regard for international law when they wish to interfere and or invade some troublesome country have developed a sudden reverence for national sovereignty. Apparently, context is everything. So, when the United States attacking Afghanistan, Iraq, Grenada, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya is justified and heralded according to their interpretation of international law under the rubric and self-righteous, inauspicious “Operation Enduring Freedom” label, even if their stated justification is contrary to or just does not hold up under scrutiny before the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Hague, or other of a multitude of international organizations dedicated to the rule of law in wartime.
Operation Enduring Freedom:  For whom? Recently, amidst international consternation over America’s “robotic war”, President Barack Obama said to mitigate criticism that “drones are used against al-Qaeda operatives engaged in active plots against the United States.”  Yet we know, from numerous accounts form reporting Pakistani ‘journalists that the vast majority of suspected militants targeted are not members of al-Qaeda, nor were they involved in plots against the U.S. homeland.  The Obama claim therefore is “if they die from our drones, they were al-Qaeda.”   This farcical, catch-all phrase or claim is not based in fact and is analogous to Richard Nixon’s parochial, extra-legal and preposterous claim: that “if the  president does it that means it is not illegal.” 
Collateral Damage: The use of unmanned drones by the United States has contributed to a significant spike in civilian deaths since 2001. While the U.S. claims to be bestowing democracy on the Afghan people, each and every incident of civilian death serves as a recruitment tool for the Taliban. The war launched by the U.S. in 2001 began with massive aerial assault that immediately prompted concern for the Afghan civilian population’s safety. With civilian deaths from air assault rising over the years, the mounting number of Afghan civilians being killed by military operations has led to mounting tensions between monitoring foreign countries and the Government of Afghanistan. The ‘Project on Defense Alternatives’ estimated that on a 3-mointh period between October of 2001 and January of 2002, at least 1500 civilians were directly killed by the U.S.-led aerial bombing campaign and that by January 2002, at least 3,200 additional had died of starvation, exposure, and injury sustained while in flight from war zones as a consequence of U.S. war and airstrikes.
The British newspaper ‘Guardian’ estimated that ‘as many as 20,000 Afghans have died in 2001 as a direct result of the U.S. air campaign and ground invasion.
Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire has estimated based on exhaustive research conducted: that between 2001-2003, 23,600 Afghan civilians have been killed as a result of the indiscriminate use of drones, and U.S. reliance on biased, deliberate misinformation and fabricated intelligence as provided to the U.S./ISAF/NATO forces by the Northern Alliance who wish to see their traditional political (Pashtun) adversaries destroyed by the combined military might of NATO. 
Though the U.S., with their ever-present sanitizing-phraseology such as ‘collateral damage,’ and in order to stem the rising tide of international criticism over unnecessary civilian deaths, cannot continue to sustain any semblance of moral and or legal justification for its protracted and bloody war in Afghanistan. In an article titled “Bomber –in- Chief”, (antiwar.com, 1/22/13), Nicholas S. Davies reports that there were 20,000 airstrikes against Afghanistan during Obama’s first term.
 NATO forces reduced airstrikes which accounted for 61% of civilians killed by NATO and Afghan forces in 2010. Night raids, conducted by American special force units are cited as another high incidence of risk for civilian deaths. Civilian deaths undermine the U.S. and NATO’s effort to win ‘hearts and minds’ of the populace and thereby Afghan loyalty, according to Seth Thomas, a counterinsurgency specialist at the Rand think tank. As Benjamin Franklin, (1705-1790) author, scientist, statesman, political theorist and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States once wrote in testament to America’s aggressive posture in proselytizing democracy, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for lunch.”
Curtain Call for NATO: In the view of many, NATO should be disbanded. NATO was conceived to counter the U.S.S.R.’s Warsaw Pact amalgamation. Both the U.S.S.R. and the Warsaw Pact are gone. NATO, currently seen by the world at large as a component or tool of U.S. imperialism disguised as an anti-terror campaign, has now expanded onto Russia’s doorstep in search of energy domination and strategic encirclement.
It is time for the United States, NATO and other members of the ISAF contingent to abandon what Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Paul Craig Roberts had characterized as the “Axis of Evil, committing the greatest crime since World War II, and that crime has been U.S. foreign policy.” And, as cited by Civil War General Fuller, “that wars of aggression and resource wars however thinly veiled or disguised as bestowing democracy or some other altruistic endeavor are accepted uncritically, then every atrocity imaginable can be justified under the pretext of fighting the war on terror and or shortening the war or saving lives”.
Bruce G. Richardson

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