Today, four years after the Crawford Crackpot let his doppelganger go free, the Taliban and its al Qaeda allies are stronger than ever, constantly refreshed by the training, supplies and good old-fashioned R-and-R available in their cozy enclaves in Pakistan, where Bush's staunch Terror War ally, dictator Pervez Musharraf, has signed peace treaties with the holy warriors. From these secure redoubts, they have escalated their attacks in Afghanistan, forcing the overwhelmed, undermanned Western forces there to respond in the time-honored fashion â€“ by bombing the hell out of everybody. Well, why not? After all, collective punishment, constant bombardment and indiscriminate fire has worked so well at winning hearts and minds in Iraq, hasn't it?
Air war costs NATO Afghan supporters (Christian Science Monitor)
Excerpts: At a large gathering with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in this southern city last Tuesday, Abdul Ghafar sat among hundreds in the audience, clutching a piece of paper. On it were the names of 20 members of his family killed two months ago in a NATO airstrike.
"This was my uncle's family. Eleven children, six women, and three innocent men were killed. He lost everyone but one small girl," he said. Mr. Ghafar was hoping to receive compensation from the Afghan government. "We got nothing," he said.
Ghafar's extended family in the southern Panjwai district are among the nearly 4,000 people killed since the beginning of 2006 in a Taliban resurgence that is using civilians as human shields against escalating NATO air attacks.
"A Taliban resurgence that is using civilians as human shields." That is to say, Taliban fighters are not standing around in open fields waiting for NATO to kill them but are basing themselves in settled areas among the population. The Mafia does the same thing in, say, New York City, but the feds have not as yet bombed whole city blocks to root them out.
The US-based Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 1,000 of those killed were civilians. A recent spate of suicide bombings here has stoked public anger even furtherâ€¦.And here we come to the eternal crux of the matter: armed goons lusting for power and loot -- whether dressed in robes and turbans or thousand-dollar suits -- destroying innocent lives. And always, everywhere, forever, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who get it in the neck. Surely, Mark Twain nailed our condition to the wall in his blistering essay, The Damned Human Race:
The increased reliance on air power has led to thousands of civilian deaths. The devastating air offenses are undermining support for the Afghan government, say human rights workers and Afghan officials, and are turning public opinion in the four southern provinces of Afghanistan against NATO forces, who took command of the south from the US in August.
The US Air Force dropped 987 bombs between June and November and fired some 146,000 cannon rounds as air support for NATO allies in the south. US aircraft fired more bombs in the first six months of this year than in the first three years of its campaign against the Taliban, according to figures released by the Pentagon.
President Karzai's meeting last Tuesday of NATO and US generals, ambassadors, and Afghan ministers in Kandahar - southern Afghanistan's largest city and a former Taliban stronghold - was an attempt to examine better methods for tackling the insurgency and curbing civilian deaths. But even as top military officials met, NATO troops posted at a checkpoint in Kandahar shot and killed a local tribal elder who was driving a motorbike. The man had failed to heed warning signals as he drove to the meeting with Karzai.
The Tuesday visit came three days after Karzai wept openly on national television about his helplessness to protect the Afghan people from US, NATO, and Taliban violenceâ€¦
"When we see a military convoy coming we stop our car and leave it where it is. We run and we hide," says Neamatullah, who fled his village in the nearby Panjwai suburb after NATO airstrikes in May killed dozens of civilians. "Both sides are fighting each other for power," he says. "But our lives and homes are ruined."
...Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and with calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out, as the Hessians did in our Revolution, and as the boyish Prince Napoleon did in the Zulu war, and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.
Man is the only animal that robs his helpless fellow of his country, takes possession of it and drives him out of it or destroys him. Man has done this in all the ages. There is not an acre of ground on the globe that is in possession of its rightful owner, or that has not been taken away from owner after owner, cycle after cycle, by force and bloodshed.
Man is the only Slave. And he is the only animal who enÂslaves. He has always been a slave in one form or another, and has always held other slaves in bondage under him in one way or another. In our day he is always some manâ€™s slave for wages and does that manâ€™s work; and this slave has other slaves under him for minor wages, and they do his work...
Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy exÂpense to grab slices of other peopleâ€™s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between camÂpaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth.
Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious AniÂmal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion, several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself, and cuts his throat if his theology isnâ€™t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brotherâ€™s path to happiness and heaven. He was at it in the time of the Caesars, he was at it in Mahometâ€™s time, he was at it in the time of the Inquisition, he was at it in France a couple of cenÂturies, he was at it in England in Maryâ€™s day, he has been at it ever since he first saw the light...
And so I find that we have descended and degenerated, from some far ancestor (some microscopic atom wandering at its pleasure between the mighty horizons of a drop of water perchance) insect by insect, animal by animal, reptile by reptile, down the long highway of smirchless innocence, till we have reached the bottom stage of development (namable as the Human Being). Below us, nothing.