[HCCN] fw: Kathy Kelly, incalculable cost

Judith Robbins JUDY at ROBBINSandROBBINS.com
Fri Mar 4 22:09:00 EST 2011



Published on Friday, March 4, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The Cost of US Terrorism in Afghanistan: Incalculable
by Kathy Kelly

Recent polls suggest that while a majority of U.S. people disapprove  
of the war in Afghanistan, many on grounds of its horrible economic  
cost, only 3% took the war into account when voting in the 2010  
midterm elections.  The issue of the economy weighed heavily on  
voters, but the war and its cost, though clear to them and clearly  
related to the economy in their thinking, was a far less pressing  
concern.

U.S. people, if they do read or hear of it, may be shocked at the  
apparent unconcern of the crews of two U.S. helicopter gunships,  
which attacked and killed nine children on a mountainside in  
Afghanistan’s Kumar province, shooting them “one after another” this  
past Tuesday March 1st.  (“The helicopters hovered over us, scanned  
us and we saw a green flash from the helicopters. Then they flew back  
high up, and in a second round they hovered over us and started  
shooting.” (NYT 3/2/11)).

Young laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm  
to the United States.  They’re not surging at us, or anywhere:  
they’re not insurgents.  They’re not doing anything to threaten us.   
They are children, and children anywhere are like children  
everywhere: they’re children like our own.

Four of the boys were seven years old; three were eight, one was nine  
and the oldest was twelve.  “The children were gathering wood under a  
tree in the mountains near a village in the district,” said Noorullah  
Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district.  
"I myself was involved in the burial," Noori said. "Yesterday we  
buried them." (AP, March 2, 2011)  General Petraeus has acknowledged,  
and apologized for, the tragedy.

He has had many tragedies to apologize for just counting Kunar  
province alone.  Last August 26th, in the Manogai district, Afghan  
authorities accused international forces of killing six children  
during an air assault on Taliban positions. Provincial police chief  
Khalilullah Ziayee said a group of children were collecting scrap  
metal on the mountain when NATO aircraft dropped bombs to disperse  
Taliban fighters attacking a nearby base. “In the bombardment six  
children, aged six to 12, were killed,” the police commander said.  
“Another child was injured.”

In the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Zekirullah, a young Afghan  
friend of mine, age 15, rises at 2:00 a.m. several mornings each week  
and rides his donkey for six hours through the pre-dawn to reach a  
mountainside where he can collect scrub brush and twigs which he  
loads on the donkey in baskets.  Then he heads home and stacks the  
wood - on top of his family’s home – to be taken down later and  
burned for heat.  They don’t have electrical appliances to heat the  
home, and even if they did the villagers only get electricity for two  
hours a day, generally between 1:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.  Families rely  
on their children to collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters  
and for cooking year round.  Young laborers, wanting to help their  
families survive, mean no harm to the United States.  They’re not  
surging at us, or anywhere: they’re not insurgents.  They’re not  
doing anything to threaten us.  They are children, and children  
anywhere are like children everywhere: they’re children like our own.

Sadly, more and more of us in America are getting used to the idea of  
child poverty – and even child labor - as our own economy sinks  
further under the burden of our latest nine years of war, of two  
billion dollars per week we spend creating poverty abroad that we can  
then emulate at home.   Things are getting bad here, but in  
Afghanistan, children are bombed.  Their bodies are casually  
dismembered and strewn by machines already lost in the horizon as the  
limbs settle.  They lie in pools of blood until family members  
realize, one by one, that their children are not late in returning  
home but in fact never will.

In October and again in December of 2010, our small delegation of  
Voices for Creative Nonviolence activists met with a large family  
living in a wretched refugee camp.  They had fled their homes in the  
San Gin district of the Helmand Province after a drone attack killed  
a mother there and her five children. The woman’s husband showed us  
photos of his children’s bloodied corpses. His niece, Juma Gul, age  
9, had survived the attack.  She and I huddled next to each other  
inside a hut made of mud on a chilly December morning.  Juma Gul’s  
father stooped in front of us and gently unzipped her jacket, showing  
me that his daughter’s arm had been amputated by shrapnel when the  
U.S. missile hit their home in San Gin.

Next to Juma Gul was her brother, whose leg had been mangled in the  
attack.  He apparently has no access to adequate medical care and  
experiences constant pain.  The pilot of the attacking drone, perhaps  
controlling it from as far away as Creech Air Force Base here in the  
United States, knows nothing of this family or of the pain that he or  
she helped inflict. Nor do the commanders, the people who set up the  
base, the people who pay for it with their taxes, and the people who  
persist in electing candidates intent on indefinitely prolonging the  
war.

But sometimes the war is like it was this past Tuesday March 1st.   
Sometimes the issue is right in front of us – as it was to those  
helicopter crews - it’s up close so there can be no mistake as to  
what we are doing.  According to the election polls we see the cost  
of war, dimly, but, as with the helicopter crews, it doesn’t affect -  
or prevent - our decisions.  Afterwards we deplore the tragedy; we  
make a pretense of acknowledging the cost of war, but it is  
incalculable.  We can’t hope to count it. We actually, finally, have  
to stop making people like the nine children who died on March 1st,  
pay it.


Kathy Kelly, a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  
Kathy Kelly's email is kathy at vcnv.org

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Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org
Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/03/04

"How is the War Economy working for You?" -- Veterans for Peace




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