I want to make one thing clear to Manuel Scherer (Daily Nexus, “Fight Evil With More Evil,” Feb. 20): This war is not about liberation for Iraqis. George W. Bush has always insisted on the importance of disarmament and he only mentions Hussein’s injustices to win the sympathetic vote even though protecting human rights is not the goal. If it were, the Gulf “War” wouldn’t have abandoned the Iraqis to the harmful radiation of our depleted uranium munitions and leftover land mines. No, we were not thinking about their welfare when we insisted the U.N. pass sanctions that deprived them of medicine and, as it turned out, actually strengthened Hussein’s rule.
But suppose Scherer still believes the U.S. is helping Iraqis. Let’s look at the track record, shall we? How about in Afghanistan? Scherer dismisses all of the U.S.’s shortcomings with a simple line: “our experience [there] … should serve as an empirical guidepost of how it should not be done.” This dismisses far too easily the U.S.’s involvement. When the U.S. confirmed its commitment to the future of Afghanistan, it spoke about the primacy of democratization and human rights. Yet its actions have shown otherwise. After the overthrow of Taliban, it aided local warlords in order to relieve its security responsibilities. Human Rights Watch stated that “Warlords now represent the primary threat to peace and stability in the country,” guilty of injustices that include arbitrary arrests, beating of detainees and torture. The U.S. has admitted to arming these local warlords as late as October 2002. Oh, and there is also the little fact that U.S. cluster bombs left an estimated 12,400 explosive duds that continue to take civilian lives to this day.
We have to face the fact that the U.S. is hypocritical. Bush has a war on terrorists because they violate basic human rights principles in that they target civilians. But the U.S. undermines those principles when it overlooks human rights abuses by anti-terror allies, such as Pakistan. Human Rights Watch has been keeping a close eye on this ally. Last April, President Musharraf announced a five-year extension on his presidency. Despite this and other severe election-related abuses, the U.S. hailed the October elections as an important step in Pakistan’s transition to democracy. The country also has extreme women’s rights abuses, where stoning has been a punishment as adultery for a female victim of rape. Pakistan is also called on by HRW for the condition of the refugee camps for Afghanis. Food shortages were chronic, while Pakistani police running the food and assistance distributions randomly beat desperate refugees. Do you think we financially support them?
Yes! HRW stated that the foreign aid bill for the 2003 fiscal year, which at the time of this writing was pending in Congress, would give a $200 million in support to the government, plus $50 million each for development assistance and military aid.
The U.S. didn’t do the right thing in Pakistan, nor in Afghanistan. Do you really think we’d do it now?
Ryn Winslow is a senior psychology major.