Submitted to Crain's Chicago BusinessIn his feature "NATO blitz takes a toll on National Restaurant Show" reporter Greg Hinz was speaking to (and of) the city and not the world, but the coupling of the acronym NATO and the word blitz has more than a metaphorical significance for several nations in the world.NATO has killed several thousand people -- men, women and children in the Balkans, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, South Asia and East Asia -- over the past 20 years who will never dine again, in or out.
Since the U.S. and Britain invaded Afghanistan in 2001, with NATO later taking over military operations there, the country and its people have been plagued, in some provinces decimated, by famine, malnutrition and starvation. Few Afghans visit restaurants.The only crop that has thrived since NATO's arrival in the country is opium, the cultivation of which has increased by 4,000 percent and accounts for an estimated 93 percent of world heroin supply.In the last year for which authoritative figures are available, 2010, deaths in Afghanistan in every category -- Afghan civilians, Afghan military and security forces, U.S. and NATO troops, and anti-government insurgents -- rose to their highest levels since the war was launched over ten years ago. This year the United Nations has confirmed that the civilian death toll for 2011 grew by eight percent from 2010.Last June a report published by Washington, D.C.-based Refugees International documented that over a quarter million Afghan civilians fled their villages in the preceding two years largely because of U.S. and NATO air strikes and so-called night raids by special forces troops. The Western actions resulted in the destruction of homes, crops and infrastructure and the displacement of tens of thousands of Afghans according to the non-governmental organization. Its report added that in the first half of last year 91,000 Afghans were driven from their homes, double the amount of the preceding year, with 30,000 of those displaced in the north of the country, a sevenfold increase over the year before.On November 26 of last year NATO helicopter gunships attacked a Pakistani border post in Mohmand Agency, killing at least 24 of the nation's soldiers, the deadliest though not the first NATO attack inside Pakistani territory.Last July the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan requested that NATO and the U.S. Navy compensate the family of the captain of a Taiwanese fishing vessel, Wu Lai-yu, killed off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden last April. The NATO naval operation in the area, Operation Ocean Shield, was inaugurated three years ago and was recently extended to the end of 2014.Also a year ago, Iranian Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources Mohamed Ali condemned another NATO attack in the Arabian Sea which wounded two Iranian fishermen and killed three Somali civilians, demanding an apology from the Western bloc.On March 19 of last year the U.S. and Britain fired over 110 cruise missiles into Libya in what was the opening salvo of a seven and a half month war, followed by what NATO reported to be over 26,000 air missions including nearly 10,000 strike sorties that destroyed almost 6,000 targets.With a compliant, NATO-installed regime now in power in Libya, the number of civilian deaths caused by Alliance attacks will never be known. On March 30 the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, again chided the U.S. and NATO for blocking action in the UN to investigate and disclose the Libyan civilian casualties caused by over half a year of NATO bombardment. The Russian envoy complained: "Regrettably, our Western partners in the UN Security Council have been trying to play down and hush up the affair in every way they can. Last time the issue was brought up in the UN Security Council they put forward an amazing excuse to the effect it would be far better to look into the future."*****Your article ends by informing readers that the National Restaurant Association has signed a contract with former president Bill Clinton, "once Mr. Emanuel's boss," to keynote its meetings.Perfectly apt, as Clinton was the first to order NATO into combat operations: Against Bosnian Serb military (and civilian) targets in 1994 and 1995 and in the 78-day air war against Yugoslavia in 1999 in which NATO killed at least 3,500 people, 2,500 of them civilians.The Bosnian Serb Republic and Serbia are littered with cluster bomb fragments and contaminated with depleted uranium munitions that will continue to kill civilians for decades.But Mr. Clinton, his successors in the White House and their NATO allies have never missed a meal agonizing over the human cost of their military aggression abroad.Rick Rozoff Chicago Stop NATO http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/
Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years.
He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: