War Perspectives

November 15, 2001 - Burlington Anti-War Coalition - Issue Number 1

Table of Contents


Why Are You Opposed to this War?

Joseph Gainza, American Friends Service Committee Vermont Coordinator:

This war is the absolute wrong response to a crime against humanity. It is being used as a cover for a larger US strategy which is military dominance of Central Asia, indeed the military and economic domination of the whole world. The US government supports anti-democratic and oppressive governments in the Mid East and Central Asia region. The war is also being used as a cover for the domestic agenda of the Right to put permanently in place a political and economic system which benefits the very few at the expense of everyone else, and to decrease the ability of citizens to speak out and peacefully organize against the imposition of this system.

A crime against humanity must be treated as a crime, not an act of war. Instead of acting unilaterally with military terrorism, the US government should have turned over the "evidence" it had accumulated against Bin Laden to the United Nations. The US should be leading a call for an international tribunal, such as created for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to gather evidence and to seek out and try the perpetrators of the attacks. The UN should then create the necessary international mechanisms to bring to justice the terrorists and disband their networks. Of course, this the US will not do nor allow to be done as it refuses to join the International Criminal Court and as its larger agenda would then be thwarted.

Helen Scott, UVM Professor of English:

In this war the most sophisticated and deadly weaponry in the world is being used to terrorize innocent Afghan citizens and tear apart a country already devastated by two decades of war. For the last six years while human rights groups repeatedly called for international action to assist the Afghans against the repressive Taliban regime, the US government turned a blind eye; they were the ones, after all, who armed and trained the very same Mujaheddin fighters who make up the Taliban. Now the US is gunning for Northern Alliance, who are all but indistinguishable from the Taliban. Sidney Jones, executive director of Human Rights Watch says that abuses by the opposition in late 1999 and early 2000 include "summary executions, burning of houses, and looting, principally targeting ethnic Pashtuns and others suspected of supporting the Taliban." He concludes, "The US and its allies should not cooperate with commanders whose record of brutality raises questions about their legitimacy inside Afghanistan." The Taliban were trained by the US to defeat an invading superpower and look likely to hold out against this second invasion. What's more, support for the Taliban and for Osama bin Laden has increased in the region. Bin Laden's manipulative anti-American rhetoric is lent credence when US bombs rain down on people who were in no way responsible for the September 11 attacks. This war is increasing the suffering of ordinary Afghans, exacerbating the refugee crisis, destabilizing an already volatile region, and is guaranteed to produce more terrorism.

There is a strongly expressed view in the country that it is the duty of Americans to support the war. Why do you think it is important to dissent?

Joseph Gainza: The first victim of war is truth, and the US government is controlling the major media to obscure the truth. It is imperative that we dissent and work to resist this war because not to do so is to give implicit approval of it. It is important at this time when our civil liberties are being stripped away to stand up and resist the attempt by the political and economic elite of this nation to silence us and make us complicit in the terror they are visiting upon the Afghani people.

Helen Scott: A recent article in the London Guardian pointed out that if the founding fathers were to congregate in the United States today expressing the sentiments of the Constitution, they would likely be considered terrorists and arrested. At times of social crisis and war, civil liberties are routinely curtailed, yet at such times we need more than ever full and open discussion. Currently all the mainstream politicians are uncritically lining up behind Bush, and the news media are little more than mouthpieces for the govern-ment. If all Americans were aware of the real situation in Afghanistan, and of the disastrous history of US intervention--the current action representing continuity, rather than a break, with this history--they would not support this war. It is vital that as many people as possible try to provide alternative analyses and solutions and build an anti-war movement.

Anything else to add?

Joseph Gainza: History will ask of us, "where were you when the US ruling class decided to remove all pretense of democracy at home, and the notion of a 'community of nations' on the earth. Did you stand and resist, or did you just follow orders?" Now is the time for nation-wide non-violent struggle to resist this Rightist coup.

Joseph Gainza can be reached at AFSC, 73 Main St., Box 19, Montpelier, VT 05602-2944; (802) 229-2340; afscvt@together.net

The Afghanistan Front

by Bill Weinberg, World War III Report

7.5 Million Lives in the Balance

Aid organizations continued to issue urgent calls for a halt in the US bombing of Afghanistan so food and supplies can be delivered before winter, warning that millions of lives are at risk. They again protested that the US ration drops are only complicating matters.

Facing harsh criticism, the Pentagon plans to change the yellow packaging on the food drops which have caused confusion with yel-low-cased cluster bombs, Newsday reported Nov. 2. "It is unfortunate that the cluster bombs, the unexploded ones, are the same color as the food packets," said Gen. Richard Myers, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, the change could take a while, because 2 million rations were already produced in the yellow packages. Half of these have already been dropped. Oxfam protests again that the Pentagon should leave aid to the aid agencies. "It just points up the confusion created when we mix military and humanitarian ap-proaches," said Oxfam America president Ray Offenheiser.

The White House is responding to charges that food drops cannot substitute for ground distribution. The New York Times reported Nov. 3 that the Bush administration announced $8.2 million in emergency aid for Afghanistan, boasting 30,000 tons of US-donated wheat ready to be trucked in from Uzbekistan (presumably by the UN World Food Program). The article didn't say that the non-governmental aid groups responsible for distributing the food in Afghanistan question how much of it will actually reach the hungry if the war continues to interfere with delivery. At a Nov. 4 press briefing, Gen. Myers insisted the bombing would not stop for the up-coming Muslim holy month of Ramadan (Chicago Tribune, Nov. 5).

Reads the Oxfam America website (www.oxfamamerica.org): "With each passing day that international relief agencies are unable to send truckloads of food into Afghanistan, the food crisis for millions of Afghan men, women, and children gets closer to becoming an unimaginable humanitarian disaster. Even prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, Afghanistan faced disastrous humanitarian con-ditions. It is the poorest country in Asia, and one quarter of the population is at risk of starvation. The 2001 harvest has been about 50% that of a normal year (much lower in some regions), in the third year of the most severe drought in living memory. The country has endured 22 years of civil war and United Nations sanctions and is isolated within the international community... According to the United Nations, up to 5 million Afghan people are facing severe food shortages and possible starvation."

That estimate has now risen by 2.5 million. Oxfam America spokesperson Adrienne Smith told WW3 REPORT, "7.5 million people are at risk of hunger and malnutrition this winter. 50,000 tons of food are needed per month through the winter, but the bombing, com-bined with interference from Taliban, is hindering distribution. We had a system in place that was working for three years prior to Sept. 11. Then the Taliban insisted all international staff leave the country, and the World Food Program stopped their shipments. They have since resumed, but have never reached previous levels. 600,000 people in Afghanistan are already living on the edge of survival, eating inappropriate foods such as grass and seeds. We need to get more food in, and fast. We need to have unilateral guarantees from all warring parties, which includes guarantees from the Taliban and a pause in the bombing."

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Celebration of Life: Rally and Speakout for Global Justice & Against the War

City Hall Park, Burlington. Saturday December 1, 2001. From 11:00am - to 1:00pm


Burlington Anti-War Coalition Meetings, Tuesdays 7:00 to 9:00pm, 21 Church Street. Please join us to oppose the war.

Nightly Peace Vigil 5:00 to 5:30pm except Saturday at the Unitarian Church sidewalk, top of Church Street in Burlington.

Every Saturday at 12 noon Anti-War Peace Rally beginning at the top of Church Street.

Central Vermont American Friends Service Committee Forums

Monday Nov. 26 7pm "Roots of Terrorism." Speakers Denise Youngblood, UVM, and Mannie Lionni, European analyst.

Monday, Dec 10 7 pm "Civil Liberties at Risk" and "War and International Law." Speaker Ben Scotch, Civil Liberties Union.

Both forums at the Unitarian Church, Main St. Montpelier. AFSC phone number 229-2340

Websites and Alternative Media

Counterpunch www.counterpunch.orgExtensive and high quality war coverage and analysis.

ZNET www.zmag.org/ZNET.htm Excellent site for background and commentary on the war.

The Nation www.thenation.com The web version of the liberal weekly

Jay's Leftist and 'Progressive' Internet Resources www.neravt.com/left/attack.html International news reports and analysis

War and Peace Report with Amy Goodman CCTV Channel 17 weekdays 11:45 pm and Sat/Sun 5:15 pm (2 hrs) or on Democracy Now Web Radio, www.democracynow.org

War Perspectives

Staff: Vada Adam, Paul Carella, Paul Fleckenstein, Ron Jacobs and Shane McAndrew.

Contact us: Burlington Anti-War Coalition
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email: kead@pjcvt.org

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