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Why do they hate us, Part II

Justin Podur 

November 21, 2001



There is a long list of reasons why 'they' (Arabs, Muslims, West, South, and Central Asians) might have hated 'us' (North America, Europe) before September 11, 2001. These include but aren't limited to the sanctions in Iraq, the bombings in Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998, and unconditional support for the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine. But since October 7, 'we' have added quite a lot to the list.


Immediately after September 11 the US demanded that Pakistan close the border with Afghanistan, resulting in the suspension of food aid. Afghanistan was suffering from a drought, a civil war, and a food crisis that had, and still has, 7.5 million people at risk of starvation without food aid.        


The US began bombing cities in Afghanistan on October 7. That there would be civilian casualties was openly accepted from the outset, and obvious in the choice of targets-- populated cities like Kabul and Kandahar-- from the beginning. Aid workers agree that it is virtually impossible to do the kind of massive humanitarian effort that Afghanistan requires while a bombing campaign is ongoing.     The bombs used include cluster bombs (on which more below), 'daisy cutters' which are the most destructive bomb short of nuclear, and carpet bombing from B-52s.  


The US bombed a Red Cross de-mining facility, killing 4 Afghani aid workers.       


The US bombed another Red Cross food depot, on two occasions. On the second occasion officials admitted that the food depot was bombed on purpose, in order to prevent the Taliban from getting the food.           


As soon as the bombing started the US began to pressure al-Jazeera, Qatar-based media outlet that had journalists in Afghanistan and strove to provide balanced coverage, to provide coverage skewed in US interests. The US said they would censor bin Laden's words to prevent him from sending secret coded messages to members of al-Qaeda.        


In addition to bombing, the US dropped 37500 food packets-- about 1 for every 200 Afghanis at risk of starvation per day, for some of the days during the campaign. Officials acknowledged that this was inadequate but said essentially that starving people would appreciate them.      After dropping the food packets US officials warned Afghanis that the Taliban might be poisoning the packets.      The US used cluster bombs, that disperse into bomblets that do not explode on impact but explode when disturbed, making them function in a manner similar to landmines. Afghanistan already has 10 million landmines.  


The cluster bomblets look similar to the food packets.  The US bombed al-Jazeera's station in Kabul.        


The US bombed radio Kabul. Music had been banned by the Taliban, and so Afghanistan's musical archives were buried, unused, in the building of the radio station, awaiting the day the Taliban were overthrown for Afghanistan's music to be heard again. That archive was destroyed by US bombs.          


An official from CNN instructed his staff to downplay stories of Afghani civilian casualties. When reports of civilian casualties come out, they are cited as 'the Taliban claim up to 1000 civilians have been killed so far. There is no way to verify this claim.'          


In contrast to the deliberate downplaying of civilian casualties and the matter-of-fact statement that Red Cross facilities and Afghani civilians were bombed and murdered, the rescue of 8 Western aid workers, prisoners of the Taliban, was reported with great fanfare.           


Before the bombing started, the Taliban offered twice to hand over bin Laden given evidence. Bush responded by saying 'I said no negotiations and I meant no negotiations.'            


There are reports (in 'Dawn') of US bombers bombing a town long after the Taliban had left.       


The US has used its bombing campaign, intelligence, and logistical support to put the Northern Alliance in power in Kabul. The Northern Alliance held Kabul between 1992-1996, and left 50,000 dead by the time they were driven out.  

Tony Blair's wife and others have emphasized the misogyny of the Taliban regime and the women's rights aspects of Afghanistan's liberation from them. They do not express similar feelings for women's rights in Saudi Arabia or throughout Africa, nor do they express similar feelings about the Northern Alliance's spectacular record of rape and violence against women, nor do they express concern about the women being murdered in bombing raids and the women who are dying of starvation exacerbated by the war.


Endorsers of the War Against Terrorism include China, Russia, and India, countries who are fighting counterinsurgency wars against Muslim secessionists (in Uighur, Chechnya, and Kashmir).    


One of bin Laden's aides was killed by a bomb. This was reported matter-of-factly as an accomplished goal, not as an extra-judicial execution. Bush has said he wants bin Laden 'dead or alive'.          


The president signed an executive order creating military trials for suspected terrorists who aren't US citizens. In these trials none of the ordinary civil liberties or protections apply, and the tribunals could execute people in secret. It is clear that the impact of this will fall disproportionately heavily on Muslims.   


Throughout this entire period, the sanctions against Iraq have been going on. US officials have hinted that the next phase of the war will be attacks against Iraq (another Muslim country). The conference of Islamic countries made a decisive statement in October that no other countries must be attacked in this 'war on terrorism'.


It is possible to shrug one's shoulders at this list and say, 'well, we are at war'. But the point is that we chose to be at war. We could have chosen to treat September 11 as a crime, negotiate for the suspects, have a trial, or even attempt to capture the suspects after endorsement from the UN security council was obtained. It is highly likely that this war can be fought, and untold millions of people slaughtered, without the US suffering military casualties. It's possible that this phase, and the next phase, and the next phase, can be fought without the US suffering civilian casualties of anything resembling the scale that Afghanistan and Iraq and other countries will. But surely it is unreasonable to do all that, and still wonder why they hate us?