Sunday October 7th 2001
US President George W Bush has addressed the nation to announce the start of attacks on Afghanistan…
“On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al-Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan.”
Monday October 8th 2001
The first sign that Enduring Freedom, the US-led retaliation for last month’s terrorist attacks, had begun would have been visible from the cornfields of the American Midwest, where black, bat-winged stealth bombers took to the air with a full load of bombs. The B2 bombers, first used extensively in the Kosovo conflict, took off from the Whiteman air force base in Missouri and flew 17 hours to Afghanistan, arriving at about 9pm local time, just as cruise missiles launched from the Arabian sea were hitting their targets.
For all the talk of this being a new form of warfare, the first few hours followed a classic pattern of US military doctrine: destroy as much as possible of the enemy’s ability to fight back in a coordinated and overwhelming burst of violence.
The Taliban did not have much of an air force and its anti-aircraft defences were rudimentary, but the US air force does not take chances. One of the first reported tar gets to be destroyed was a radar command centre at the military air base outside Kabul.
The Pentagon had not issued “battle damage assessment” reports by late last night, but it is likely that the initial strikes also destroyed the few dozen Mig and Sukhoi Soviet-era fighters the Taliban has managed to maintain with Pakistani help over the years.
A total of 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles, costing $1m (£670,000) apiece, were used in the assault. According to the Pentagon, they were launched from four US surface ships and a submarine which make up the battle groups surrounding the USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise carriers in the Arabian sea. Some were also fired from HMS Triumph and HMS Trafalgar, two submarines in the naval taskforce accompanying HMS Illustrious.
Once launched, the cruise missiles flew low over the water at just below the speed of sound. They crossed Pakistani air space, as agreed previously with the government in Islamabad, and then over the border into Afghanistan, hugging the terrain on the way to their targets to avoid radar detection.
By that time, there would have been many other warplanes in the air. Swing-wing B1 bombers and huge lumbering B52 Stratofortresses, the same giants which carried out the blanket bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam 30 years ago, took off from the British-run island of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean. In the month since September 11, the island has witnessed a steady build-up of aerial firepower, and it represents an important el ement of the British contribution to Enduring Freedom.
At about the same time as the bombers were launched, bulky C17 military transport planes took off from the Ramstein US air force base in Germany, laden with 37,000 bags of subsistence rations to be dropped for Afghan refugees and impoverished civilians. In view of the size of the humanitarian problems facing the country, it was a token effort, but the symbolism of dropping food alongside bombs was thought to be central to the Bush administration’s war strategy.
To press home the point, leaflets were also dropped, explaining that the military strikes were directed only at the Arabs of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida organisation and the Taliban leaders who had led Afghanistan into the firing line by agreeing to offer shelter to foreign terrorists.
Number of casualties- unknown, and after the Iraq war began nobody bothered trying to count for all of 2004, see Marc Herold or the wiki page, or this at Unknown News. Starts at 7,589 civilians and goes to 28,028 or more.
The US has spent at least $223 Billion, the UK at least £12 Billion. Afghansitan GDP for 2008 $22.27 billion. Overall costs of the injured, dead, mentally damaged, homeless, the spousal abuse, the child abuse, drug abuse, medical services, prison service, police… is incalculable at this point, war does not end in a field somewhere over there. Children as yet unborn will be affected by it, that is a truth our militaries and governments will never admit, a bitter harvest for the homeland. When you look at how our governments treat their own citizens, be it welfare cuts or denial of basic healthcare ask yourself why they are spending our money in a country they could buy and sell several times over, where they care so little about the people they do not even count how many they have killed.
On behalf of the long-suffering people of my country, I offer my heartfelt condolences to all in the UK who have lost their loved ones on the soil of Afghanistan. We share the grief of the mothers, fathers, wives, sons and daughters of the fallen. It is my view that these British casualties, like the many thousands of Afghan civilian dead, are victims of the unjust policies that the Nato countries have pursued under the leadership of the US government.
Almost eight years after the Taliban regime was toppled, our hopes for a truly democratic and independent Afghanistan have been betrayed by the continued domination of fundamentalists and by a brutal occupation that ultimately serves only American strategic interests in the region.
You must understand that the government headed by Hamid Karzai is full of warlords and extremists who are brothers in creed of the Taliban. Many of these men committed terrible crimes against the Afghan people during the civil war of the 1990s.
So far, Obama has pursued the same policy as Bush in Afghanistan. Sending more troops and expanding the war into Pakistan will only add fuel to the fire. Like many other Afghans, I risked my life during the dark years of Taliban rule to teach at underground schools for girls. Today the situation of women is as bad as ever. Victims of abuse and rape find no justice because the judiciary is dominated by fundamentalists. A growing number of women, seeing no way out of the suffering in their lives, have taken to suicide by self-immolation.
… US vice-president Joe Biden asserted that “more loss of life [is] inevitable” in Afghanistan, and that the ongoing occupation is in the “national interests” of both the US and the UK.
I have a different message to the people of Britain. I don’t believe it is in your interests to see more young people sent off to war, and to have more of your taxpayers’ money going to fund an occupation that keeps a gang of corrupt warlords and drug lords in power in Kabul.
What’s more, I don’t believe it is inevitable that this bloodshed continues forever. Some say that if foreign troops leave Afghanistan will descend into civil war. But what about the civil war and catastrophe of today? The longer this occupation continues, the worse the civil war will be.
The Afghan people want peace, and history teaches that we always reject occupation and foreign domination. We want a helping hand through international solidarity, but we know that values like human rights must be fought for and won by Afghans themselves.
I know there are millions of British people who want to see an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Together we can raise our voice for peace and justice.