Death toll rises at home and abroad

October 31, 2001

WASHINGTON – With the war on Afghanistan entering its third week, the death toll is rising for both Americans and Afghanis and so are the warnings that military force will bring neither justice nor peace.

Jody Dodd, a coordinator of the North American section of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), told the World, ‘Very little concern has been shown for the death and suffering of innocent civilians since the bombing began.’

Bush, she pointed out, vowed never to engage in ‘nation building.’ But now, ‘that has been brushed aside. Bush claims the right to choose governments for other countries.’

WILPF, which has always taken the position that war is not the way to resolve conflicts, is active in the struggle for peace here in the U.S. and in scores of nations around the world.

Together with a group called the Wages for Housework Campaign, WILPF has initiated a ‘Caring, not Killing’ project to oppose war as an answer to terrorism.

‘We point out that on Sept. 11, 6,000 innocent people in the U.S. died from a terrorist attack and on that same day, 300,000 children died from starvation and preventable diseases,’ Dodd said.

Since the war began, a U.S. bomb destroyed a Red Cross warehouse in Kabul where tons of emergency food rations were stored. Another bomb reportedly struck a hospital in Kandahar. Casualties from that strike are unknown. Afghanistan is so isolated and so few reporters are in the war zone that the extent of civilian casualities is hard to measure. But the names of most of the U.S. casualties are known.

Two U.S. Army Rangers, John J. Edmunds and Kristofer T. Stonesifer died in the crash of a helicopter in Pakistan. Scott Lynch, press spokesman for Peace Action, said, ‘There is no indication from the Bush administration that they are going to let up on the bombing.’

Afghanistan was teetering on the brink of a humanitarian disaster before the bombing, ‘and now we have tens of thousands of refugees,’ Lynch said. ‘The flow of aid has halted and in the next few weeks, the snow will fly. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people starving to death or freezing to death over the course of the winter. Is war going to bring us security and justice? Is it going to stop future terrorist attacks?’

Lynch said he thinks it will do neither. ‘Those who perpetrate terror will have food. They will be safe, while the people die. War just becomes a breeding ground for more terrorism.’

On his trip to Shanghai to attend the summit meeting of the Asian and Pacific rim, President Bush failed to gain the endorsement of other Pacific rim nations for the U.S. war on Afghanistan despite heavy arm-twisting. Their final declaration strongly denounced terrorism and pledged assistance in eradicating it. However, the statement was silent on Bush’s military attack on Afghanistan.


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