This post is a reaction to an article posted on the Psyclone Facebook page. The article, Afghanistan: Taliban should stop using children as suicide bombers states that, “The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has collected evidence that the Taliban has been recruiting children ages 11 through 17 to carry out activities including armed combat, planting improvised explosive devices, and smuggling weapons across the Pakistan-Afghan border.’
Now whenever I hear words like “suicide bomber” or “human shield”, a propaganda-alert flag goes up. Enough instances of the charge of using “human shields” have been made and subsequently proven to be spurious, that an immediate questioning of such a charge is the only intelligent response. (To save time collecting links to sources of information that support that statement, if you need supporting evidence just do a search for ‘human shield lies’ and trawl through the list.)
The reasoning behind my reaction to the phrase ‘suicide bomber’ can be read in Suicide Bombers and the Promise of Heaven?, which should be read for its revealing perspective and information on the issue. (The following is an extract)
Whilst researching the subject I noticed a subtle bias to the information being put forward by certain parties. Most people would, I hope, already be aware of the editorial bias in newspapers. Not so well known is that enforced through online research sources. The Wikipedia entries for ‘Suicide Attack’ and ‘Female Suicide Bombers’ show a definite and persistent skewing that favours the western party line rather than presenting impartial and balanced information, and a pattern of propagandistic manipulation in the language usage. One example in the latter entry states that “militant organisations use women to carry out suicide bombings”, a practice criticised by some for “the cruelty of tearing mothers away from their children and sending them to explode themselves”. Which could leave one with an impression of people being recruited and forced, ‘torn away from their children and being sent to explode themselves’, instead of what it statistically seems to be, namely ‘little people’ kicking back against a much bigger enemy who, more often than not, is occupying their home country or territory. The above quote is just one of a list of questionable definitions and opinions masqueraded as encyclopaedic knowledge, that generate wrong emotional and prejudiced impressions of what’s going on.
An important aside to the above is that having come across the described bias, I decided to investigate further and found the article Spies in Wikipedia from Wikipedia Watch, which relates to the possible use of Wikipedia by secret service agencies for ‘spin’/misinformation/propaganda purposes. The interference described includes positive propaganda for politicians, removal of entries, and other editing bias. An investigation into the identity of one administrator (Slim Virgin) showed her to be “an administrator with inhuman capacity for work. Over the past year, she edited nearly 35,000 articles (about 100 every day, without holidays and weekends). The same Slim Virgin also holds a record of continuous editorial work lasting 26 hours, with the longest break in editing not exceeding 40 minutes. These statistics from Wikipedia’s editing records suggests either a supernatural ability, or more likely that Slim Virgin is a convenient smoke screen for an entire team of specialists editing Wikipedia articles on behalf of intelligence services”.
Obviously, all is not what it seems.
The phrase “tearing mothers away from their children and sending them to explode themselves” was the one I was reminded of by language used in the Human Rights Watch article. The writer of the article was Brad Adams. Adams was recently criticised for his Human Rights Watch articles on an issue regarding the situation in Sri Lanka. The crux of the criticism was that the “HRW refers to reports issued by a UN Panel of Experts, a US State Department Report and its own reports. Nothing is said about the reliability of the sources quoted in these reports, though.”
I take the same issue with the Afghanistan: Taliban should stop using children as suicide bombers post. As I say, a flag went up on reading it. So after I read it, I read over 50 other articles with the same or similar headings. None of the articles produced any credible supporting evidence, (so you’re not alone, Brad). Each quotes an individual or individuals who belong to organisations who have questionable political links and/or allegiances, or the organisations themselves.
Gossip and hearsay, propaganda even, masqueraded as authoritative and reliable information.
While we’re on the subject of propaganda, I’ll repeat the question posed by Jared Israel, have you heard about the Afghan Jihad schoolbook scandal? He asks the question in an article on the US Cold War strategy of producing textbooks for schools in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan that encouraged children to fight the Soviet army.
Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.
During that time of Soviet occupation, regional military leaders in Afghanistan helped the U.S. smuggle books into the country. They demanded that the primers contain anti-Soviet passages. Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines, agency officials said. They acknowledged that at the time it also suited U.S. interests to stoke hatred of foreign invaders.
“I think we were perfectly happy to see these books trashing the Soviet Union,” said Chris Brown, head of book revision for AID’s Central Asia Task Force.
Officials said private humanitarian groups paid for continued reprintings during the Taliban years. Today, the books remain widely available in schools and shops, to the chagrin of international aid workers.
An aid worker in the region reviewed an unrevised 100-page book and counted 43 pages containing violent images or passages.
“The pictures [in] the texts are horrendous to school students, but the texts are even much worse,” said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, an Afghan educator who is a program coordinator for Cooperation for Peace and Unity, a Pakistan-based nonprofit.
In one story, fictional friends Maqbool and Basheer see a group of Afghan mujahedeen cleaning their weapons as they prepare to fight the Soviet army.
Maqbool tells Basheer they should help the rebel fighters ready their machine guns. Basheer concurs. Soon they are meeting with a mujahedeen commander.
“We want you to help clean the weapons and fight the Russians in jihad,” he tells Maqbool and Basheer.
The youngsters agree. Now, presumably, they are soldiers themselves.
The story, and many like it, appear in the millions of textbooks written, printed and distributed during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The books taught reading and math and sought to turn children against the Red Army and the Afghan communist government.
The textbooks’ publisher The University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Center for Afghanistan Studies, operated inside Pakistan on a U.S. government grant. Over 13 million were distributed at Afghan refugee camps and Pakistani madrasas (religious seminaries where Muslim priests are educated and trained) where students learned basic math by counting dead Russians and Kalashnikov rifles. After the war ended, these textbooks were still used in Afghan schools. Even the Taliban found them suitable.
To the center’s longtime director, the textbooks are byproducts of a dark era when Russian bombs killed Afghan schoolchildren and rebel forces fought to save their country.
Exiled Afghan education officials, not UNO officials, wrote the books, Thomas Gouttierre says.
The center’s sole interest, according to him, was to deliver education to children who weren’t getting any.
“I won’t apologize in 2005 for something done in 1988,” he says. “At the time, Afghans were being killed. It would’ve been nice if they wrote, ‘We love you, Russian brother; please don’t kill us.’
“That’s not reality.”
The reality was that such Cold War-inspired propaganda encouraged violence against the so-called “Enemies of Islam,” says Mark Vasina, president of Nebraskans for Peace.
Years later, Islamic extremists — some of them educated in American-financed schools and armed with American weapons — decided the real enemy of Islam was in fact the United States, he says.
“We should understand quite well that the job of textbooks is to teach the children to love peace,” says Abdul Nabi Wahidi, an Afghan education official now in charge of textbook content. “It was completely against education to try to get the children to fight, and to give them words which stoked their anger.”
The UNO center published an estimated 15 million textbooks in the years after it won $60 million in grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development, a branch of the State Department, to educate Afghan children.
Leaders from seven exiled political parties wrote the books, according to Gouttierre. The authors used content they’d smuggled out of the country when the Russians invaded.
They then sprinkled in violent imagery — bombs, overturned tanks, AK-47s and swords — and anti-Soviet rhetoric that often urged schoolchildren to take up arms.
Consider the following introduction to the Persian alphabet in a first-grade language arts book:
Alif [is for] Allah.
Allah is one.
Bi [is for] Father (baba).
Father goes to the mosque…
Pi [is for] Five (panj).
Islam has five pillars…
Ti [is for] Rifle (tufang).
Javad obtains rifles for the Mujahidin…
Jim [is for] Jihad.
Jihad is an obligation. My mom went to the jihad. Our brother gave water to the Mujahidin…
Dal [is for] Religion (din).
Our religion is Islam. The Russians are the enemies of the religion of Islam…
At the primary level the material mathematics books featured problems such as:
If out of 10 atheists, 5 were killed by 1 Muslim, 5 would be left.
5 guns + 5 guns = 10 guns
15 bullets -10 bullets = 5 bullets, etc.
Now I don’t claim to know the facts about whether or not the Taliban are ‘recruiting’ children, and hearsay, images of alleged captured pre-teen bombers or videos said to be child-bomber recruitment videos are not satisfactory evidence.
I can say with some certainty though, that the very presence of the belligerent, occupying military force of yet another imperialist power serves as the most effective recruiting drive for the resistance.
“Fair is fair. Let’s bring 94,000 Afghan troops over here to the USA. They can kill people at checkpoints, bust into their houses with force and violence, bomb and butcher their families, overthrow the government, put a new one in office they like better and “detain” anybody who doesn’t like it in a military prison endlessly without any charges being filed against them, or any trial.
Those Afghans are sure a bunch of backward primitives. They actually resent this help, have the absurd notion that it’s bad their country is occupied by a foreign military dictatorship killing them wholesale, and consider it their patriotic duty to fight and kill the soldiers sent to grab their country.
What a bunch of silly people. How fortunate they are to live under a military dictatorship run by Barrack Obama. Why, how could anybody not love that? You’d want that in your home town, right?”
The above quotes is from the excellent publication Military Resistance (formerly known as GI Special). Produced by forces members and featuring reports, essays, and commentary from GIs ‘on the ground’ it reveals a very different ‘up close and personal’ picture of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq to the sanitised version served up by a complicit media.
The magazine regularly features photographic images that demonstrate “U.S. OCCUPATION RECRUITING DRIVE IN HIGH GEAR; RECRUITING FOR THE ARMED RESISTANCE THAT IS.”
A scene in Chapter 6 of Psyclone is based on the following event, reported in GI Special, which demonstrates the kind of thing that motivates many Afghan and Iraqi to turn to the desperate act of suicide attack:
June 2, 2006 by Mark G. Brennan, LewRockwell.com [Excerpts]
Wednesday afternoon the Associated Press reported that U.S. forces had killed two Iraqi women when the car in which they were riding failed to stop at an American “observation point” near the city of Samarra. One of the women, 35 year-old Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, was about to give birth and her brother, Khalid, was rushing her to the hospital for the delivery.
The article quoted the distraught brother as saying, “I was driving my car at full speed because I did not see any sign or warning from the Americans. It was not until they shot the two bullets that killed my sister and cousin that I stopped.”
Granted, in the heat of the moment, those with guns fire them without perfect information. We occasionally see it happen here when a police officer shoots an unarmed citizen. It is terribly unfortunate but it happens.
What we don’t usually hear from the victim’s surviving relatives is how Mr. Jassim finished his anguished testimony: “God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here. They have no regard for our lives.” And by the way, the baby died too.
Mr. Jassim’s blood must be boiling. I imagine his thoughts are running along the lines of dedicating the rest of his life to killing as many Americans as he can before he gets caught or killed himself.
The military’s explanation and pseudo apology will only serve to further enrage him.
A military spokesman said of the incident (and added insult to injury by using imperfect perfect grammar), “The loss of life is regrettable and coalition forces go to great lengths to prevent them (sic).”
Remember, his sister, his cousin and his unborn niece or nephew were all just murdered and he himself barely escaped dying in a hail of gunfire.
This terrorist was made not born and the American taxpayer holds the copyright.
Here is a quick thought experiment.
The Chinese military occupies your city and sets up roadblocks that make DWI checkpoints seem fun by comparison.
Each and every time you approach a checkpoint the soldiers signal to you in a strange (that is to say, foreign) manner which not only confuses you but inevitably leads to them further reprimanding you. Before proceeding you must come to a complete stop while they search your car.
As a result your daily commute is 20 minutes longer each way. After they wave you through while barking at you in Chinese or broken English you remain uncertain if they deem you a threat or merely the harmless starched-shirt business drone that in fact you are.
This annoyance persists for 3 years [Eds note: 10 years if you’re talking about Iraq) and while you detest the process and the occupying force, there is not a whole lot you can do to stop it. Life goes on and this is just a major inconvenience.
Then one day while watching TV at home, your wife, who is in the ninth month of her pregnancy screams, “My water just broke!”
You jump in the car to make a mad dash to the hospital for the eagerly awaited birth of your first child whose name you have already selected and whose room you lovingly decorated. You remember that there is a Chinese checkpoint on the main road to the hospital but in your glee you errantly think that the Chinese soldiers will remember you from your daily transit and quickly wave you through.
Forgetting the rigor of their procedure, you drive at a greater than usual speed considering the urgent circumstances.
One of the Chinese soldiers, nervous about protecting himself while in enemy territory, opens fire on your car for not slowing down soon enough and your wife takes it in the chest.
You storm past the barricades to get her to the hospital all the while watching the bloodstain on her chest grow. You finally get her to the hospital and carry her into the emergency room while screaming for help.
After the nurses escort you from the table on which your wife lays mortally wounded, you collapse in the waiting area praying that the staff can save her. Twenty minutes later a doctor comes out of the emergency room, his scrubs covered in blood and his brow heavy with sweat. Without introducing himself, he shakes your hand, looks down and says “I’m sorry.”
You shriek, “But what about the baby?” The doctor apologizes again and adds, “We could not save her either.”
What kind of anger or hatred would that generate in the average expectant American father?
I can safely say that in my case I would dedicate the rest of my life to maiming, attacking and killing the occupying forces. Mr. Jassim might think the same way.
Today’s bad news, coming on the heels of the alleged massacre in Haditha and the anti-American riots in Afghanistan, points to the fact that while war is indeed ugly, subsequent occupations can be even uglier.
In a war civilians inevitably die. We can euphemistically call their deaths “collateral damage.” Even in a just war civilians are slaughtered.
However, when the Commander-in-Chief lands on the deck of an aircraft carrier to announce the successful completion of wartime hostilities we reasonably expect the slaughter of innocents to subside.
Today we still have American troops killing Iraqis several years after our leader told us the war was effectively over.
Even the most diehard proponents of preemptive war, unjust war, or even murder, should pause for a second to reflect on how this “accident” will make them any safer.
In fact it will make all of us less safe as Mr. Jassim, his friends, and fellow countrymen deepen their hatred of the occupying forces for killing the next Iraqi generation represented by the child who died before being born.
In their growing resentment of the occupying US forces, Iraqi anger will first be directed at soldiers from places like Girard, Kansas and Irving, Texas, both cities which lost servicemen fighting there over the past week.
US soldiers must now toe the microscopic line that separates their need to defend themselves against deadly attack from the mandate not to shoot innocent civilians.
We can thank the Cheneys and Rumsfelds of the world for putting these GIs in this lose-lose situation.
If they don’t shoot at a suspicious car approaching their checkpoint they might pay the ultimate price when the driver detonates himself. Shoot too soon and they risk court martial and murder charges for killing an innocent civilian just trying to live his life in his occupied homeland.
If the perpetually adolescent Bush twins, the Oxford-educated management consultant Chelsea Clinton, or the “sexually proud” Mary Cheney does not have to make this life or death choice on a daily basis, then no American GI should have to do the same thing.
In theory we send our military in to win wars, not to perpetually occupy foreign lands.
In reality this is exactly what our government does.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE RESISTANCE
END THE OCCUPATION
Sources and related links
USA prints textbooks to support Jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Bush and the Media Coverup The Jihad Book Scandal
Soviet-era textbooks still controversial
Complete 911 Timeline
The Soviet-Afghan War