The most powerful nation on earth has been bombing Afghanistan, one of the most defenseless, for over thirty days. Told that high-precision equipment would spare helpless civilians, the relentless pounding looks more like a merciless drive against them.
Helicopters, bombers and strike aircraft rain missiles and bombs. Vietnam-era high-flying B-52's have re-appeared. Air-fuel bombs akin to small nuclear devices have just been introduced. The ghastly cluster bombs were painted the same color as the food packets dropped simultaneously. Each bomb holds 147 small explosives filled with at least 2,000 shrapnel pieces. Fifteen percent or so fail to explode. Activated by human contact, they become antipersonnel landmines that blow up at the slightest touch. In all, more than 3,000 bombs have already fallen on that tragic country.
Over one million Afghans trying to escape the inferno are on the move. The most vulnerable remained behind, only to see their families decimated. Hospitals, Red Cross warehouses and electrical power grids have been destroyed. Cars packed with women and children, refugees on foot, tents filled with the sick, have been fired upon by helicopters and the people killed. So have UN mine-removing experts and their mine dogs. Entire villages have been pulverized, a high dam is dangerously damaged. Overwhelmed neighboring nations had to close their borders. Conditions in crowded refugee camps, mostly women, children and the aged, are worsening. The harsh winter is near and humanitarian disaster looms. International aid agencies have begged for a pause to allow food delivery to the 7.5 million on the brink of starvation inside the country.
Dulles NOW activists have publicly expressed gratitude for the sober leadership and determined restraint with which President Bush guided and united our country since September 11. We endorse the war against terrorism. Yet, Afghanistan cannot be left in ruins in retaliation for the New York atrocities, surrounded by masses of displaced and hungry people.
We therefore urge the President - whose White House candidacy we supported - to reconsider the horrendous bombing of a long-suffering and dispossessed population, to halt the developing humanitarian disaster and to favor the search for an honorable solution through diplomatic and financial means instead.