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Afghanistan War -- A Saga of Lopsided Death and Destruction

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Message Abdul-Majid Jaffry

The frightening death and destruction that the American civil War brought made General William Sherman, a Union general, say, "War is hell". A U.S. Airforce Commander after the terror bombing of Dresden in the Second World War admonished, "War must be destructive and to a certain extent inhuman and ruthless." When a high-tech mighty war machine is unleashed on a nation in a decrepit state and with a weaker or non-existent military power, the hell becomes more intense and destruction unbelievably more destructive for the men and women of the frail nation.

One of the first major armed conflicts between the two nations after the Industrial Revolution was the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 in Sudan. The British soldiers armed with state of the art of the time gun boats, rifles and machine guns mowed down over 20,000 Sudanese tribesman armed mostly with swords and lances. Sudanese suffered an astonishing 90% casualty rate. British lost only 48 men, amounting to 2% casualty rate. British ultra superior war machinery, compared to the Sudanese swords and lance, was chiefly responsible for the mechanized slaughter of f Sudanese and one of the most lopsided victories in the military history.

Today, history of another lopsided death and destruction in a war is being written. This time it's the poor and helpless Afghans, the fourth or fifth poorest people in the world, are being pounded by the ferocious U.S. and NATO war machine.

Afghanistan is a landlocked and resource poor country. It ranks among the bottom three countries, second only to Niger in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the U.N. Human Development Index in 2009. It had no army or even functioning police before the U.S. invasion in 2001. It had no offensive capability nor defensive mechanism to withstand foreign invasion, not even from a border patrol armed with light infantry weapons. Afghanistan had no significant or insignificant military installations that could have offered high value target for bombing ("I'm not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt", Bush once said).

The U.S. started the "good war" as Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001 ostensibly to remove the Taliban from power in retaliation for the attack on the World Trade Center. Taliban were routed soon after the war initiated. In December 2001, International Security Assistance Force was formed, and in 2003 NATO assumed the control of ISAF. Both, the U.S. and the NATO led forces came to Afghanistan equipped with the most sophisticated military technology.

Afghanistan provided Western forces a theatre for an impressive and flashy demonstration of its military might with no hindrance and virtually no fear of retaliation. Indeed, the U.S. and NATO put a spectacular show with its fighters, bombers, missiles, cluster bombs, and Depleted Uranium weapons. All these impressive weapons, and all the fury was unleashed upon a country with no anti-aircraft fire, no bomb shelters, no war industry, no ammunition factory, no railroad tracks, only villages of stone and mud dwellings. U.S. and NATO waged a deliberately disproportionate attack on a country that had zero capability to defend itself.

In any essential sense, it's not a real war; the barrage was solely designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a population and send signal to other nations. The dropping of thousands of bombs precision-guided by satellite and laser technology in heavily populated areas that has caused excessive civilian casualties and widespread destruction betrays the U.S. claim that the war was launched with the aim to uproot Taliban regime, and capture Osama bin Laden; it appeared more in line with Bush's famous John Wayne style rhetoric, "smoke them out" and "Bring 'em on".

Shortly after the U.S. invasion, in a biting remark, John Pilger observed in The Mirror, a British Tabloid, "The war against terrorism is a fraud. After three weeks' bombing,not a single terrorist implicated in the attacks on America has been caught or killed in Afghanistan.Instead, one of the poorest, most stricken nations has beenterrorized by the most powerful - to the point where American pilotshave run out of dubious "military' targets and are now destroyingmud houses, a hospital, Red Cross warehouses, lorries carryingrefugees."

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Retired engineer from aircraft industry and a freelance columnist.
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