Marriages and Funerals in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Gary Sudborough

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by Gary Sudborough
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
2 July 2009

I have a habit of many years of going to all my leftist and antiwar sites on the internet each and every morning. When the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, I noticed that like later in Iraq, there were reports of civilian casualties. Also, like Iraq, I knew because of US government censorship that the exact number of civilian casualties or even a reasonable approximation was going to be very, very difficult. Then, I began hearing and reading of the bombing of weddings and funerals. I wish so much now that I had kept a scientific count of all such events because these are much harder to deny as accidents of war than are civilian deaths in a combat zone. Even taking a low estimate of one every two months and my recollection is that they were more numerous, it amounts to forty-eight over a period of eight years. These bombings can not simply be explained away as accidents or bad intelligence. Surely, US intelligence agents in Afghanistan would know when a funeral or marriage was going to take place, or they should have that knowledge, as they are often very large gatherings of people. Just recently, a drone attack killed 70 people attending a funeral in Pakistan. Of course, there were no pictures of the burned, maimed and deformed children, but the news media had a picture of a pretty, martyred Iranian woman named Neda Soltan, which they showed over and over again. If this doesn’t smack of propaganda, I don’t know what does. One might ask why these people don’t simply give up such risky ceremonies as marriages and funerals? If America or Britain were under occupation by a foreign power would they give away important parts of their culture to that occupying power? Are they expected to hold marriages and funerals in caves, where they are reasonably safe? In funerals are they expected to just throw the body into the grave and run like the wind to escape American bombing? Each and every time the bombing of a marriage or funeral happens, the US military says they are sorry and it won’t happen again. However, when it happens over and over for eight years, one begins to suspect that the real explanation is that there is a gross disregard for the lives of Afghani and Pakistani civilians.

If one’s child is incinerated by a hell fire missile, this is going to create a desire for revenge by the father and all members of that family. They will then join the Taliban or, if they are more secular in their views, another insurgent group. I read a report today about a missing American soldier and the Taliban spokesperson said there were many insurgent groups, other than the Taliban, fighting in the area. The United States is creating more insurgents than it kills. Why would there be so little concern for human life? The simple explanation to me is that the ruling class of the United States is more interested in the black gold beneath the surface of the Middle East and the possible pipelines to the Indian Ocean than they are with the possibly troublesome people above ground. After the torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay is there any doubt that the US ruling class, through its instruments of world domination like the army and CIA, will resort to any level of evil to obtain their objectives? I am not going to resort to the gross generalization that every member of America’s ruling class is evil, but as a group they are evil, as the history of the past shows very distinctly.

Another untold story, which also smacks of propaganda because it went straight down the memory hole, rarely to be mentioned again, was the transport of Taliban prisoners from Kunduz in the northern part of Afghanistan to Sherberghan prison in the west during the early part of the war. The Taliban were loaded into trailer trucks like cattle and there was little room for breathing and no water. After a while, the prisoners began to die from suffocation and also dehydration, which was so horrible, they were licking perspiration from other bodies and blood from their wounds. American soldiers were with the Afghan troops conducting the transportation, and they gave the order to machine gun the truck trailers for air holes. Naturally, this caused even more casualties. Eventually, the American Special Forces troops ordered the remaining prisoners to be herded into the desert and then executed by  machine guns. A documentary of this event was made, the Afghan participants were under continual death threat and I haven’t seen this documentary again for many years, although I have a copy of it. It is called The Convoy of Death by Jamie Doran and I know it has appeared on Dandelion Salad before, but since our opponents constantly use repetition to drive home their propaganda, I see no harm in using repetition to reinforce the truth.

President Obama promised to end the war in Iraq and solve the Afghanistan problem by winning the war there. So far, he has only rearranged the soldiers in Iraq by taking them out of the cities, and is increasing the US forces in Afghanistan and increasing the drone attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. I knew before he was elected that he would do nothing about US foreign policy. It is simply too important to the ruling class of the United States to control the oil of that region. Also, he promised to give us some type of medical care plan which would insure all Americans, but the only kind that is truly effective is the single payer plan, which almost all other industrialized countries have, and reduces medical costs significantly. However, President Obama is too obligated to the big insurance companies and drug companies to pass such a single payer bill. Isn’t there a rock song that goes something like: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?”  I will say there is at least one difference. President Obama is much more intelligent and articulate than George W. Bush, but that is immaterial so long as the same old imperialist policies are continued, even if a few more crumbs fall from the tables of the rich to the poor here in the United States. I will say that both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are aggressive wars, condemned by Robert Jackson at the Nuremberg trials as the chief crime of the Nazis, from which all the subsequent slaughters of Jews, Slavs and communists emanated. Most Americans think the war against Afghanistan was justified, while the war against Iraq was not. It is not legal or moral to invade another country to catch one man, namely Osama bin Laden, who still has not been captured, if he is still alive. The Israelis used the correct way, when they captured Klaus Barbie in Argentina by an intelligence operation, in which they did not bomb Argentina into rubble.

There have been many empires in the Middle East. The Persians, Mongols, Turks, Alexander the Great, the Romans and the British. They all failed and the US empire is doomed to failure as well. The only question is how much more blood of Americans and their European patsies is to be spilled there and how much more of the Americans’ tax money, which we need so desperately here at home, will go into this futile adventure?


Barbecuing Iraqis on the 4th of July By Gary Corseri

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Release Of The “Holy Grail” Of Torture Reports Delayed Again by Andy Worthington

When Torture Kills: Ten Murders In US Prisons In Afghanistan by Andy Worthington

Deadly Reasons to Oust Incumbents in 2010 By Ed Ciaccio

Deadly US air-strike on Afghan village

Imran Khan on US Drone Attacks

Afghanistan on Dandelion Salad

from the archives:

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” (music video)

Afghan Massacre – The Convoy of Death