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Monday, May 22, 2006


The Taliban

With the latest U.S. airstrike which killed some unknown number (20-80 seems to be the range) of suspected (note that word) Taliban, along with another unknown number (but seemingly around 20) of "innocent civilians," it's worth reprinting something I wrote in December 2003 on the occasion of another U.S. airstrike which killed nine Afghan children and one young man. Before I do, let me state the obvious - the Taliban and I have nothing in common. They are fundamentalist religious reactionaries. I...am none of those things. However:
Despite the impression one could get from reading the American press, the words "al Qaeda" and "Taliban" are not interchangeable. The Taliban were a fundamentalist religious group which ruled Afghanistan. To what extent they were "aiding" al Qaeda or "shielding" al Qaeda is not really known. What is known is that the United States, instead of indicting Osama bin Laden and demanding his extradition according to international law, simply issued an ultimatum to the Taliban to "turn over" bin Laden, with the assumption that they could even if they would (notice that it hasn't proved possible for the U.S. despite vastly superior firepower, manpower, and mobility to the Taliban government). When the Taliban refused the arrogant, illegal request of the United States, the U.S. invaded and overthrew their government.
Resisting an illegal invasion, and resisting the occupation of your country, is a recognized right under international law. Being a fundamentalist religious reactionary doesn't negate that right.

To shed light on the nature of the U.S. action (which is more or less identical in concept to the Israeli missile assassination described two posts below this one), let me repeat an analogy I've used before, though possibly not in a post on this blog (I can't find it if I did). Suppose a convicted mass murderer, someone who had killed dozens of people and actually been convicted of the crime and sentenced to death, escaped from prison. He runs into a house. Do the police have the right to bomb the house, and then, like the U.S. military did in this case (and countless other similar cases), claim that the death of the innocent victims in that house was the fault of the criminal who ran into their house? What if he ran into a shopping center? Do they have the right to bomb the shopping center? I'm sure we're all glad we don't live in a country where such things would be acceptable. I'm equally sure the Afghan people feel the same way. The deliberate murder of innocent people, even in the course of targeting people who are known to be guilty, is murder.

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