Justice, Starvation and Afghans

MSNBC’s Preston Mendenhall reported from Pakistan the Afghan view of the U.S. air strikes:

“If a U.S. bomb is off target or falls by mistake on a civilian area, it’s very difficult for Afghans to comprehend why, at least as they see it in very black-and-white terms when a bomb does fall, why the United States is hitting them. So their reaction is, ‘Look, we’ve been living in war for 23 years, and if the United States wants to help us, why are they bombing us?’ So it shows that the Taliban don’t represent the entire population. And the civilian casualties you see are the Afghan people grieving just like American people are grieving at their losses.”

Effects of the events that took place on September 11 and the presence of anthrax in four states are the central topics covered by media, and topics of discussion among citizens worldwide. Many Americans are contemplating what evil act could occur next, how they and their loved ones would be affected, how and when final justice will be brought to Osama Bin Laden and his associates, etc.

Yes, America is suffering, and so are members of 80 other nations who lost family and/or friends in the World Trade Center attacks. Some have come to the realization that a person or persons that they cared for were among many whose lives were stripped away by a cowardly, yet destructive, individual who is still at large. Many Americans are furious and want the U.S. military to wipe out any person or location that is connected to the mastermind behind this sin, and those who are capable and willing to perform equally disturbing acts.

Such people realize that America is at war with terrorists, but their overwhelming desire for retribution may be causing them to overlook a disturbing fact: innocent Afghan civilians are losing their lives, and those still alive are being forced to leave their homes, mud huts and shacks, to seek refuge in neighboring Pakistan.

U.S. government officials and journalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan reported that civilian casualties are impossible to verify, despite Taliban reports that hundreds have died.

In recent press conferences, Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that some civilians have been killed, and Red Cross warehouses were accidentally bombed three different times. Rumsfeld also emphasized that “responsibility for every single casualty in this war—be they innocent Afghans or innocent Americans—rests at the feet of Taliban and al-Qaida.”

Rumsfeld stressed that “no nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties” than the United States.

On Sunday Pope John Paul urged both sides to “let innocent lives be spared.”

Many Afghans whose lives have been spared have sought refuge in neighboring Pakistan despite strict border crossings.

MSNBC reported that thousands of Afghan refugees have made their way into new camps in Pakistan, and officials expect hundreds of thousands more.

NBC’s Ron Allen reported from Afghanistan and provided a doctor’s account of the condition of a refugee and the lack of supplies to care for him.

“He was injured during a strike on the airport 10 days ago,” the doctors said. “We need to amputate both his legs, but we don’t have the blood for the operation. To control his fits of pain, the nurses have strapped the boy to the bed with a frayed rope.”

Allen also reported on the Afghan view of American air strikes on their country.

“I’m a very poor person,” said one man. “My whole nation is very poor. What did America get by bombing us? What is left to take from Afghanistan?”

U.S. officials hear Afghan cries for help and are providing humanitarian aid delivered by U.S. planes, which consists of small yellow plastic packages that read “Humanitarian Daily Ration.” An average package, the size of a donut box, contains plastic utensils and roughly 2,200 calories worth of peanut butter, beans with rice, jam and a fruit bar.

President Bush told State Department employees, “This is our way of saying that while we firmly and strongly oppose the Taliban regime, we are friends of the Afghan people,” when he announced a $320 million humanitarian aid package for Afghanistan.

Newsweek.com reported on refugees’ need for food and the gratitude they expressed for the U.S. food drops.

“I was full for the first time in three years,” said refugee Rajaballi, who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name.

Rajaballi added that he especially enjoyed the small packets of salt and pepper.

But sustenance is not the only necessity refugees are desperate for.

Store owner Mahabulla, 18, stated, “What we’d really like to have are dollars, shoes and overcoats.”

Some Americans feel that because our country suffered mass casualties and lives were forever changed on September 11, the innocent civilians of the nation that harbor the world’s most wanted terrorists should suffer comparably, as they are. This perception may be justifiable if it did not involve Americans.

Part of the American agenda includes promoting freedom and seeking peace. When a villain is preventing these virtues, and all harmless attempts at halting his or her evil acts have been exhausted, war is necessary. The affects of war on people worldwide, in this case, helpless Afghans, should not be overlooked. Such neglect is not in tune with what America represents.