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October 29, 2001 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-29

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4A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 29, 2001

OP/ED

4

a1be lWirbi!uu 0U4Ut

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
daily.letters@umich.edu

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890

GEOFFREY GAGNON
Editor in Chief
MICHAEL GRASS
NICHOLAS WOOMER
Editorial Page Editors

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
The military was
bogged down in questions
of nation-building,
Ramadan, winter,
humanitarian concerns,
serial bombings of the
Red Cross and whether
America could win a Miss
Congeniality contest
with Muslims."
- Maureen Dowd in yesterday's New York
Times, on the state of the US. Military six
weeks after the terrorist attacks.

I
4

NUEIfUCK &VOW tNOR Rath NOR AEAT KOK BIoLOG & CALL Z..-

Is the Red Cross our enemy?
AMER G. ZAHR THE PROGRESSIVE PEN

4

e have now hit
the International
Red Cross facili-
ty in Kabul twice. Both
bombings, according to the
Pentagon, were "inadver-
tent." But many of the sto-
ries that have emerged seem
to tell a different story. A
quick examination reveals
some disturbing truths. An Oct. 17 CNN head-
line read "U.S. admits mistakenly targeting Red
Cross warehouse." "Mistakenly targeting"
seems to mean it was on the list of facilities to
be hit, i.e., it was indeed targeted. In this bomb-
ing, the main building, which contained blan-
kets, tarpaulins and plastic sheeting, was
destroyed. A second building containing food
supplies caught fire and was partially damaged.
But the Pentagon also commented that the
"warehouses were among a series of warehous-
es targeted by U.S. forces because the Taliban
used them for storage of military equipment ...
U.S. forces did not know that ICRC (Interna-
tional Committee of the Red Cross) was using
one or more of the warehouses."
A statement issued from the ICRC noted
that there were no military activities going on at
the Kabul compound, stating that they were in a
good enough position to know whether the Tal-
iban was using the buildings. The ICRC also
noted that the compound marked all of its
buildings with a huge painted red cross clearly
visible from aircraft. British Defense Ministry
sources stated that while the strike of the Red
Cross warehouse in the Kabul was "regret-
table," the compound that was hit housed Tal-

iban guards and military equipment. Amidst the
bombing of the warehouses, Afghan workers
were running in and out of the burning building
in order to salvage as much of the supplies as
possible, supplies, as one can imagine, that are
desperately needed by the populations of Kabul
and surrounding areas.
After the first attack, U.S. forces again hit
the compound just a few days ago on October
26. The BBC reported that U.S. jets "mistaken-
ly bombed six warehouses, destroying vital
stocks of food. Two of the warehouses hit this
time were struck last time around." A furious
Mario Musa, the spokesman for the ICRC, told
reporters, "It has happened again ... Huge
explosions took place and three of our ware-
houses are on fire now." The compounds hit on
Friday contained food, blankets and other mate-
rial that was to be distributed to thousands of
Kabul residents. Musa also stated that all
involved parties knew the locations of the
ICRC facilities. As one local Red Cross worker
told an Associated Press reporter, "I am sad.
We had special programs over the next several
days to distribute these items to the disabled
people."
Meanwhile, worldwide aid agencies are
pleading for a temporary halt on air strikes so
that food supplies can be distributed before
winter sets in. According to their estimates, two
million Afghans need donated food to help
them get through the winter, and half a million
of them will be cut off by snow if aid doesn't
reach them by mid-November. A statement
issued by a conglomerate of private aid agen-
cies noted that the "current rate of food deliver-
ies and distribution is inadequate to supply

enough food by mid-November" and that "all
the obstacles to those food deliveries must be
lifted." Further, many of these agencies have
indicated that U.S. drops of food rations
achieve very little if no clearance is given to
food agencies to thoroughly distribute the food.
What is most striking from these reports
concerning aid agencies, and the double bomb-
ing of the ICRC facilities in particular, is that
U.S. forces in fact intended to hit the Red Cross
complex. In other words, military gains out-
weighed humanitarian concerns.
What, though, would be the motives behind
striking humanitarian facilities and therefore
greatening the suffering of the quite innocent
and disenfranchised Afghan population? Per-
haps it is the same misguided formulation that
has gone into ten years of economic sanctions
on the civilian population of Iraq, killing about
one and a half million people, including over
600,000 children. The U.S. is probably hoping
that increasing the suffering of the everyday
Afghan man, woman, and child will lessen the
dictatorial hold of the Taliban. Dropping pack-
ets of food where they cannot be distributed
amply seems to be a cynical ploy to divert
attention from that objective.
But, just as in Iraq, such policies will fail.
Starving the Afghan population will only
strengthen the hold of the Taliban, allowing
them to transform, much like Saddam Hussein
does, the deep physical suffering of their people
into a vehemently anti-American propaganda
campaign.

II

Amer G Zahr can be reached at
zahrag@umich.edu.

V LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Is mainstream America seeing the
the War on Terror's bigger picture?

0

YIN PASSING

THANKS ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT,
YOU'RE THE BEST!

Actually, not really. You're quite the oppo-
site.
I've stopped going to hockey games. It's not
that I've lost faith in the team. It's not that I have
to study on Fridays and Saturdays. I'm just not
excited jo go to them anymore.
As Sports Editor Jon Schwartz indicated last
week in a column ("Yost's 'improvements'
aren't worth it for fans," 10/23/01), the addition
of luxury boxes this past summer has blocked
the view of people stuck in the upper rows of the
student section.
That includes me.
The athletic department will argue that you
can still see the ice from my seats. I will agree, I
can see the action on the ice. But not much else.
To me, going to Yost was much more than
watching the game. It was the overall environ-
ment that made the ice arena among the best
places to watch hockey. I've always admired
Yost as an architectural gem. The Romanesque
brickwork and arches always drew me to the
exterior - the barn vaults to the interior. Couple
that with the energetic hockey band, the on-edge
fans, the student section cheers and Yost sym-
bolizes intercollegiate athletics in its most poetic
form. I've always been a sports fan in the macro
sense - taking in all the elements that makes a
sporting event exciting.
Now in order to get a sense of what's hap-
pening in the arena, I have to watch it on a tele-
vision monitor which I cannot even see because
it's pointed away from me.
With the addition of the luxury boxes, that
has been ruined. Observing my fellow fans stuck
underneath the boxes, they seem frustrated. The'
ones who still yell and scream seem confused -
half the time they're watching the television
monitor and the other half trving to direct their

emotions down and underneath the boxes. I feel
that I will get an equal viewing of the game at
home, on my couch, watching the game live on
WOLV.
I'm all for the athletic department for pulling
itself out of the red and into the black. But the
luxury boxes aren't even filled. Degenerate
groundlings, like myself and others, deserve bet-
ter.
I will not be returning to Yost this season
(unless I get an invitation from the athletic
department for a one-time viewing of a game
from the luxury boxes.)
Bill Martin, please consider my remaining
tickets a donation to the department.
-Michael Grass
GOD'S P.R. PEOPLE ARE AT IT AGAIN
, Coming off a pervasive public relations cam-
paign of unknown success waged on freeway
billboards across America, God, this country's
unofficially official deity, is at it again, this time
with a strategy that capitalizes on this nation's
renewed patriotism.
Though God did not specifically claim credit
for the current advertising blitz, his characteristic
style of white block letters on a jet-black back-
ground shines through. God's simple message of
"In God we Trust. United we Stand" ranks right
up there with his Golden Rule billboard procla-
mation of, "You know that 'love thy neighbors'
thing? I meant it," and his threatening dictate of,
"Don't make me come down there."
Just one more example of advertising's abil-
ity to brand a product for the masses.
-Josh Wickerham
In Passing views represents the individual
opinions ofDaily editorial
board members, but do not necessarily
represent the views of The Michigan Daily.

U.S. foreign interests
concentrate on
American capitalism
TO THE DAILY:
After reading Yulia Dernovskaya's letter
on how the United States could support
oppressive regimes in the Middle East ("U.S.
should take second look into Arab coalition,"
10/26/01), I must comment that contrary to
what she said, the United States does not
want to defend "freedom and democracy
everywhere."
What the United States is really defending
is capitalism. The United States' goal is to
not allow regimes, which would be harmful
to the American economy, to appear. For a
long time, the U.S. has supported the Shah in
Iran because, although being very oppressive,
he was a pro ;vestern leader.
The last thing this country needed was a
regime which would hinder American invest-
ments. Because of the Islamic revolution,
many American companies had to flee Iran.
Similarly, this nation has sent either its
armed forces, military, or financial aid to
remote areas of the world to prevent commu-
nist expansion.CThese areas include
Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile and Vietnam. Did the
United States really defend democracy and
freedom? Hell no, they supported dictator-
ships that were much more oppressive than
their communist counterparts.
The only reason why they did that was
because Communist regimes would not have
allowed American companies to invest in
those nations, thus bringing the American
economy down.
Desert Storm was no different. We
defended Kuwait for one reason: Oil. If Sad-
dam Hussein would have gotten his hands on
the Kuwaiti oil, gas prices back home would
have skyrocketed. Kuwait to this day has a
dictatorial regime, but is it in the best interest
of the United States to overthrow it and estab-
lish a democracy? No, this country doesn't
give a hoot as long as gas prices are low.

AP PHOTO
Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan sport the
latest in flag fashion.
War punishes many
for actions of a few
TO THE DAILY:
Today, mainstream America in the 21st Cen-
tury is supportive of the war against Afghanistan.
Well, mainstream Germany in the early 20th
Century was also supportive of the Nazis move-
ment to exterminate Jews in Europe, and main-
stream America in the 18th Century was
supportive of slavery as an institution.
What is happening today will always haunt
us in the future (and I mean by us all those who
have a conscience). The United States is unjustly
going to war.
The so-called evidence against Osama bin
Laden is not enough to permit us to go on a
bombing spree killing thousands of innocent
people and risking the lives of millions who may
starve because of food shortages or freeze to
death because their homes were bombed.
The events of Sept. 11 were pure evil, and
those responsible should be held accountable.
But let us not forget that the actual executers of
the plan died along with all the victims. Now
assuming that people other than the executers
planned the event, we need to know who they
are (through a legitimate court trial, where real
evidence is actually presented) in order to punish
them.

College students.
hold reason's future
TO THE DAILY:
When traveling through Damascus last
winter I met a bright young Syrian man who
secretly confessed that he would do any-
thing to be able to move to the United States
and enjoy the daily freedoms of which his
people can only dream, though he detested
how the American government has treated
the Arab world: Using it as a mere pawn
against the current enemy and then raping
its land and its culture in the name of oil.
Yet, Tariq confessed, he envied the
right to protest greed and fight for reason
in the streets of the free world. Average
Americans may be too suffocated by their
wealth and naivete to correct their leaders'
corrupt foreign policy, he said. But at
least their opinions are methodical and
enlightened, as a result of their access to
education.
, Americans have no reason to make
desperate decisions like those in dirt-poor
countries like Afghanistan, where the lack
of running water and the lack of hope
leads too many young men to see the
world in a black- and white perspective,
and funnel their dispair into anger ...
against the West, against Israel, against
Americans.
But Tariq would cringe if he read about
how quickly Americans have dropped their
individual freedoms and their capabilities
for thinking rationally since Sept. 11:
Declaring "war" against an idea rather than
an enemy, banning comforting songs of
peace on the radio, and declining to chal-
lenge their government for a long-standing
solution to a crisis encouraged, but not
deserved, by the United States' nearly-pure-
ly capitalist interests throughout the world.
Many Americans believe that their civi-
lization holds the key to prosperity in the
world. To some extent that's true. But if
Americans, educated Americans studying at
prestigious universities for instance, toss
away reason to reveal their animal instincts in

I

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