IN EARLY September, the Pentagon closed its investigation into allegations that
Despite protests from the UN, human rights organizations and the villagers themselves, Pentagon officials insisted for weeks that only seven civilians had been killed, along with 35 Taliban fighters, during a legitimate military operation aimed at capturing Taliban commander Mullah Sadiq.
Indeed, they claimed that the attack, which included bombardment with a C130 Specter gunship, was a necessary response to heavy fire emanating from a meeting of Taliban leaders in the village.
In its defense, the Pentagon cited evidence from an embedded Fox News correspondent who had substantiated its claims. Unfortunately, that correspondent turned out to be former Marine Lt. Oliver North, who has been known to bend the truth in the past.
North’s military career was cut short after his role was revealed in the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s. At the time, North admitted to having illegally channeled guns to
Although North assured Fox viewers, "Coalition forces…have not been able to find any evidence that non-combatants were killed in this engagement," video footage taken on the scene by a local doctor showed scores of dead bodies and destroyed homes, documenting a civilian death toll at Nawabad that is the largest since the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan nearly seven years ago.
On that same day, Human Rights Watch issued a report that
The rising civilian death toll in
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AS NEWS of the Nawabad massacre unfolded, another atrocity was also gaining media attention, further exposing the gangster state installed and maintained by
President Hamid Karzai, the
At the time, Mawlawi Islam, the commander of a local militia, was running for a seat in
The couple has a doctor’s report that the rapists cut her private parts with a bayonet during the rape, and then forced her to stagger home without clothes from the waist down.
Mawlawi won a seat in parliament in September 2005, as the
His past had caught up with him. Mawlawi had first fought as a mujahideen commander in the 1980s, but switched sides to become a Taliban governor in the 1990s. He switched sides yet again when the
Karzai issued a press statement expressing his "deep regret" in response to Mawlawi’s death in January. Bypassing the rape charge, he expressed nothing but praise: "Mawlawi Islam Muhammadi was a prominent jihadi figure who has made great sacrifices during the years of jihad against the Soviet invasion."
Mawlawi’s three subordinates were finally convicted for the rape this year, and one died in prison. But although they were sentenced to 11 years, Karzai reportedly issued a pardon for the other two in May, claiming the men "had been forced to confess their crimes."
The drug-running warlords who have controlled
Gang rapes and violence against women are on the rise, according to human rights organizations. As a member of parliament, Mir Ahmad Joyenda, told the Independent, "The commanders, the war criminals, still have armed groups. They’re in the government. Karzai, the Americans, the British sit down with them. They have impunity. They’ve become very courageous and can do whatever crimes they like." In this situation, Afghan warlords again produce 90 percent of the world’s opium, without legal repercussion.
Women’s prisons, in contrast, are teeming once again. As Sonali Kolhatkar, the author of Bleeding
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DESPITE THE appalling conditions that seven years of
Barack Obama chided his Republican rival during his acceptance speech at the Democratic Party convention on August 28, using a page from Bush’s playbook: "John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell–but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives."
Obama did not utter a word of criticism about rising civilian casualties, rampant corruption, the flourishing drug trade or women’s oppression in U.S.-occupied
Ending the war in
In one fell swoop, the candidate whose slogan is "change" laid out a strategy bearing striking similarity to that of the neocons who invaded
"On the other hand," he continued, "having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse." Obama went on to argue that military strikes on
Obama represents the dissenting ruling class view since 2003, which regarded the
The Russia-Georgia conflict this summer surely reminded U.S. rulers that they cannot afford to ignore their longstanding aim to establish U.S. military bases in this key region, a goal which long pre-dated 9-11. As the BBC News reported on September 18, 2001, "Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against
The antiwar movement in the
The Afghan people have endured seven long years of misery thanks to
Sharon Smith is the author of Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States, a historical account of the American working-class movement, and Women and Socialism, a collection of essays on women’s oppression and the struggle against it. She is also on the board of Haymarket Books.