Bruce G. Richardson
War is Deception…The Callous Inhumanity of Operation Enduring Freedom
The statesman who yields to war fever is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events…Sir Winston Churchill
War demands , precipitates and proliferates deception: Witness, for example, the euphemistic catch phrases in vogue emanating from the Pentagon’s pantheon of propaganda, created to define and assuage America’s global machinations as bestowing or restoring freedom and or democracy, and to sell the noble, justified (jus ad bellum) war to the unsuspecting.
In the Afghanistan of today, America’s stated mission is to eradicate residual remnants of al-Qaeda:
This mission, as with others from American history, has been defined by government spokespersons in lofty, noble terms, i.e., ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was the fanciful name given to a devastating military assault on Iraq carried out in early 2003 by a US-led ‘coalition of the willing.’ The attack was ‘illegal’ and constituted ‘war of aggression’ according to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (The Guardian, 9/16/04), while casualty estimates claim more than one-million lives were lost. In 1983, the US invasion of the tiny island nation of Grenada and subsequent invasion of Panama was defined by Washington as ‘Operation Just Cause’ which resulted in the deaths of thousands, a majority being non-combatants or civilians.
The first major step in the endless war against global terrorism began in October of 2001. Afghanistan ravaged by decades of fighting, its economy in ruins, and its people weakened by crushing poverty, was to be America’s first target in the global war on terror. On October 7, 2001, American and British warplanes unleashed a Blitzkrieg, a devastating aerial assault on Afghanistan. Initially, bombers and Tomahawk cruise missiles were used, followed by cluster bombs and massive explosives euphemistically termed ‘Daisy Cutters.’ By early November, the Americans were carpet bombing large swaths of Afghanistan. On 11 November, the ground assault began. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 5,000-11,000 during the initial phase of the bombing. Within 3-weeks after the bombing had begun, US planes flying at 30,000 feet altitude, dropped one-million packets of food marked with an American flag. Thomas Gonnet, representing ‘Action against Hunger in Afghanistan’ called the air drops an ‘act of marketing.’ The packets, he said, were ‘bright yellow…identical to the color of the lethal and dangerous unexploded-devices (mines) scattered across the landscape’, deadly, residual detritus and camouflaged death waiting for the unfortunate victim to make contact, this hidden death is from the initial US cluster-bomb attack. The result of which was, with what took the identical form of unexploded and unchartered mines, massive injury and death as innocent and hungry Afghan children eagerly collected the deadly yellow packets in their daily struggle for survival. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that ‘the Afghans know that it wasn’t humanitarian concern that prompted Operation Enduring Freedom.’ Journalist Norman Solomon wrote in Media Beat, 10/29/2002, ‘the replacement euphemism termed Operation Enduring Freedom was well received in the US mass-media and which served to assuage guilt-laden appendages, an irony-free zone as enduring as the Pentagon’s willingness and freedom to bomb anywhere and at any time’. Wars demand deception. However, I am not here referring to the technical complexities of military strategy in which deception has always played a fundamental role.
The US, under Presidents’ Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, has waged war on Iraq and Afghanistan in a merciless mix of bombings, invasions and deadly sanctions. Why? In order to gain a dominant and exclusive access to Iraq’s oil, favorable positioning in consideration of the Trans-Afghan-Pipeline (TAP) and, to establish a dominant, permanent and strategic military presence in the Middle East and South Asia and thereby gain access to the threshold of Central Asian and Caspian energy riches and other assorted mineral treasures. Such blatant, destructive, and lethal imperialism could only have been carried out with an orchestrated, elaborate, and relentless campaign of deception on the part of the US government. Beginning with Operation Desert Storm, the fanciful pseudonym for the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, with a resultant tidal wave of deceptive rhetoric poured from the White House, aimed at silencing protest and diluting reason.
Well before the US-led attack on Afghanistan in 2001, major news outlets vied for attention in breathless anticipation of what was to be a self-fulfilling prophecy referred to as Operation Enduring Freedom. During the war, the TV news in particular was and is a daily drama extolling the technical and moral superiority of the US-led ISAF for-war coalition. The reports came complete with stirring music and ‘talking heads,’ mostly retired military officers using maps, pointers, and advanced graphics, they blithely moved assets, columns, and ordnance about the country pausing now and then to mention how ‘we were cleaning up pockets of resistance’ while completely ignoring the suffering imposed on the civilian population struggling daily just to exist.
Deception Inc., selling war by brand name called for guidelines: The Department of Defense, warning that improperly selected names can be counterproductive, stipulates that names must not express a degree of bellicosity inconsistent with traditional American ideals or current foreign policy. Thus, such tranquil, noble and lofty slogans were coined to mask what can only be termed unmitigated and illegal war of aggression and as codified under international law and treaty. Who among the Afghan people, for example, could describe the abomination cast as Operation Enduring Freedom as anything but Operation Enduring Misery?
Today, in Afghanistan, hunger and hypothermia among children have risen to pandemic levels. The dislocated are scattered about in refugee camps devoid of food and medical attention though visible and proximate to well-provisioned US military bases. The economy has collapsed, foreign relief is but an empty dream, many of the rural villages have been reduced to rubble by incessant bombing, soldiers break into rural homes in the nighttime and terrorize the inhabitants, the use of proscribed weapons (DU) endanger the new-born while poisoning the environment, the former Soviet collaborators (Northern Alliance)are the favored or chosen ones considered by the US-led contingent to succeed the Government of Hamid Karzai and the principal recipient of American largesse. Detainees, accused by Northern Alliance as (Pashtun) terrorists have disappeared and or have been shipped to foreign destinations where they endure torture and often-times death, foreign technocrats are devising plans to partition the country as did British India during the 19th Century and the Soviet Union under Operations’ Kaskad and Chameleon. Civilian deaths have risen exponentially with the indiscriminate use of 447 unpiloted drone-strikes and endless bombing. The use of CIA and military drones by the Obama Administration has, for example, resulted in the deaths of 2500 or more people, a majority of whom were non-combatants or civilians** In addition, the US has said it intends to use Afghan soil for bases from which their MQ-9 Reaper Drones will attack Pakistan. That this is in serial or grave violation of international law requires no further elaboration.
The sacred text of the Holy Quran has been desecrated, troops have been seen urinating on the corpses of those martyred, the countryside is swarming with foreign troops who have little or no knowledge, respect or interest in Afghan history, culture, tradition, and or hopes for the future of their country and as well have demonstrated that they could care less.
Meanwhile, as Washington refers to this atrocity, this abomination, this state-sponsored terror known as Operation Enduring Freedom, thereby hoping to anesthetize and mislead the world at large against what can only be termed as serial war crimes by continually casting themselves in the role of noble warriors in pursuit of terrorists that do not exist in Afghanistan, for the Afghans however, the only thing that endures is desolation, hunger, cold, endless loss of life, habitat destruction and a foreign presence and interference ignorant of and arrogant towards their cherished way of life.
Bruce G. Richardson
The heavy hand of Operation Enduring Freedom was noted on the 6th of December by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan where the US-led NATO forces attacked a health clinic in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, storming the building, damaging the equipment, demolishing the exterior walls of the building and detaining those inside and turning it into a temporary prison and US military base in grave violation of the laws of war. The Swedish Committee said it complained to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and they admitted to the brutal attack, forced entry and takeover of the facility, in clear and grave violation of international laws, yet maintained the attack was a tactical mistake. Erica Gaston, a human-rights lawyer told the Guardian “The protection of medical personal and facilities was one of the founding principles of international humanitarian law.” Andrea Stefansson, the Swedish Committee’s Director told the Guardian that “Most NGO’s who deliver healthcare in Afghanistan experience these attacks against their facilities almost on a monthly basis.” (See: ‘NATO attacked Afghan Health Clinic in Serious War Crime’, anti-war.com, 12/6/2012 **Also See: ‘The Protocols for Death’, by former CIA officer Phil Giraldi, anti-war.com, 12/6/2012**, and ‘2012 was the Year of the Drone in Afghanistan’, by Spencer Ackerman, “Wired”, 12/6/2012.