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  Night Riders: Afghan Atrocity and American Values

COMMENTARY:

Night Riders: Afghan Atrocity and American Values

by Chris Floyd
First published in Empire Burlesque yesterday, 20 March 2010
There were no insurgents. No firefight. There was only a policeman, his brother, and three women shot dead in the middle of the night. But that didn't matter. The important thing was that the first stories on the atrocity fixed the "honor killing" motif in the public perception.

If you are an American -- or indeed, any denizen of "Western Civilization" whose security and values are supposedly being "defended" on the far-flung fields of the Terror War -- then take a good, long look at what is being done in your name, with your money, by the ever-surging Peace Laureate and his War Machine. From The Times:

Covert troops who killed two pregnant women and a teenage girl in eastern Afghanistan went on to inflict “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” on the survivors of a botched night raid, a report by the UN said.

The family of the victims in Paktiya province have accused Nato of trying to cover up the atrocity after an investigation by The Times revealed that two men, who were also killed, were not the intended targets of the raid. One was a police commander and his brother was a district-attorney.

...The report, written in the aftermath of the February 12 attack, states: “As a result of the operation, five people were killed, two men and three women, all belonging to the same family.” There were about 25 guests and three musicians at the house on the night of the raid. They had gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn child. It was only when a musician stepped outside to go to the lavatory at about 3.30am, that someone flashed a light in his eyes and he ran back inside shouting “Taleban”.

Witnesses said that Commander Dawood, the policeman, was shot with his son, Sediqullah, 15, when they ran across a courtyard. His brother, Saranwal Zahir, was shot trying to protest the family’s innocence. The three women were caught in a volley of fire behind him.

They had gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn child. They had gathered in a family home, in their own country. They were not insurgents -- indeed, they at first mistook the Guardians of Western Civilization themselves as "Taliban," and sought to flee from them. But they were caught, shot, killed -- in their own country, in a family home, celebrating the naming of a newborn child.

The Times has more:

The UN report said that guests and injured relatives were then “assaulted by US and Afghan forces, restrained and forced to stand barefeet for several hours outside in the cold”. “Further allegations were also raised that US and Afghan forces refused to provide adequate and timely medical support to two people who sustained bullet injuries, resulting in their deaths hours later,” the report added. ...

Waheedullah, 22, one of the guests at the party who works as an ambulance driver in Gardez, said that he was dragged across the compound by his hair. “The Afghans said put up your hands. I stood up and I don’t know who was behind me. I was kicked from behind and fell over,” he added.

He saw a gunman with blond hair and a fair beard. “They were American special forces,” he said. The Afghan troops were using American rifles and wore patches on their sleeves with the local phrase for Nato’s International Security Assistance Force. The Americans were wearing “wood yellow” clothes, he said, which were different from the regular army’s green uniforms.

An earlier Times story on the incident reveals yet another outpouring of the usual slanderous lies from the occupation forces when one of their units has been caught in an atrocity. The original story told by NATO mouthpieces was that when the brave, unmarked covert soldiers appeared in the dead of night to carry out their courageous sneak attack on the sleeping village, they found the women already "tied up, gagged and killed." Then, while no doubt weeping salt tears at such a disturbing sight, the bold, courageous sneak attackers were set upon by "several insurgents," who were then killed by return fire from the brave, secret, non-uniformed night-stalking Defenders of Western Values.

NATO claimed that the women "were victims of an 'honor' killing" -- that is to say, they had been murdered by the dirty filthy primitive slaughterous wogs who populate the ghastly reeking hellhole that the Guardian Defenders of Civilized Western Values have come to liberate and enlighten. But as the Times drolly notes:

However, they did not explain why [if it was an honor killing,] the bodies would have been kept in the house overnight, against Islamic custom, nor why the family had invited 25 guests to celebrate the naming of a newborn child the same evening.

The NATO story was a brazen lie -- and was known to be a lie when the mouthpieces dribbled it from their lips like cud. There were no insurgents. There was no firefight. There was only a policeman, his brother, and three women shot dead in the middle of the night. But that didn't matter. The most important thing was that the first stories out of the gate on the atrocity fixed the "honor killing" motif in the public perception. (The miniscule portion of the public who gives the slightest, merest damn about civilians being killed in Afghanistan, that is.) Now, many weeks later, the truth comes out, but who cares? It's in some UN report, for God's sake, in a foreign newspaper. Such things have no resonance, no purchase, no meaning in the egotistical echo chamber of the Homeland.

Anyway, don't you know there's a health care vote coming up? Don't you know the most important thing in the entire world is how this vote by a pack of cranks, crooks and bagmen on a steaming mess of corporate pottage will affect the precious political fortunes of Barack Obama? I mean, my God, what if he only gets to sit in the White House coddling billionaires, cutting social programs and waging war for only three more years instead of seven? Isn't that infinitely more important than the lives of a few innocent people?

This, by the way, was the main argument offered by Dennis Kucinich, when he abandoned his opposition to the Obambazoole health care bill: “We have to be very careful that the potential of President Obama’s presidency not be destroyed by this debate.” And he said this just days after he had introduced a bill to bring the Afghan War to an immediate end -- precisely because it was a pointless, destructive exercise in imperial power that was killing innocent people and breeding hatred and blowback against the United States. But in the end, it seems that "saving" the power of the man who is directing and expanding this murderous exercise is the most important thing -- as long as he is on your side of the political fence.

Here one recalls the searing insight of Maxim Gorky in April 1917:

"Politics is the seedbed of social enmity, evil suspicions, shameless lies, morbid ambitions, and disrespect for the individual. Name anything bad in man, and it is precisely in the soil of political struggle that it grows in abundance."

II.

And who were these people killed by our tough, bold, stubbly sneak attackers in their courageous, Homeric assault on a sleeping village at three o'clock in the morning? Afghans -- including a policeman -- who had bowed to main force and thrown in their lot with ... the Americans. From the Times:

An undated document seen by The Times that was presented by US forces to Commander Dawood, the dead policeman, praised him for his work and “dedication and willingness to serve the people of Afghanistan”. It said he would “ensure the stability of your country for many years”.

Commander Dawood’s brother, Saranwal Zahir, was a district attorney in Ahmadabad district, also in Paktia. The two married women were four and five months pregnant. The teenage girl, Gulalai, was engaged to be married this summer.

And what is the inevitable result of this magnificent feat of arms in service of the values of Western Civilization? The Times headline says it all: "Survivors of family killed in Afghanistan raid threaten suicide attacks."

Local elders delivered $2,000 (#1,300) in compensation for each of the five victims to the head of the family, Haji Sharabuddin, after protests brought Gardez, the capital of Paktia, to a halt. “I don’t want money. I want justice,” he said. “All our family, we now don’t care about our lives. We will all do suicide attacks and [the whole province] will support us.” ...

“Before, when I heard reports of raids like this and elders said [foreign troops] only came to colonise Afghanistan, I told them they are here to help us,” said Sayed Mohammed Mal, the vice-chancellor of Gardez University, whose son Mansoor was Gulalai’s fiancé. “But when I witnessed this in my family’s home, I realised I was wrong. Now I accept the things those people told me. I hate [foreign forces]. I hate the Government.”

... “My father was friends with the Americans and they killed him,” said Commander Dawood’s son, Abdul Ghafar, as he held a dog-eared photograph showing the policeman with three US soldiers. One of the Americans had his arm around Mr. Dawood. “They killed my father. I want to kill them. I want the killers brought to justice.”  ...

“The foreigners are always talking about human rights. But they don’t care about human rights,” said Gulalai’s father, Mohammed Tahir. “They teach us human rights then they kill a load of civilians. They didn’t come here to end terrorism. They are terrorists.”

Of course, we must excuse Mr. Tahir; no doubt he's a bit tired and over-emotional. We all know that Americans -- by definition -- cannot be terrorists. (Unless they are Muslim-Americans, that is.) Americans can only, at the very worst, make the occasional mistake -- and that only out of their admirably bumbling zeal to do altruistic good. And naturally, Mr. Tahir is far too primitive to comprehend the higher-order thought of Western Civilization, which finds its most apt expression in that elegant and subtle metaphor which encapsulates the quintessence of our enlightened values: you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

We are sure that one day, when the omelet of a free, civilized, enlightened Afghanistan -- happily connected to the world by peaceful ties of friendship and profitable networks of pipelines -- is finally cooked, he will be happy that his young daughter will be part of the sumptuous feast.


Chris Floyd at his deskChris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

This column is republished here with the permission of the author.



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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on March 21, 2010.

 

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