Habitual hospital bombers

Doctors Without Borders staff members at the hospital in Kunduz destroyed by a U.S. military bombardment.Photo: Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders staff members at the hospital in Kunduz destroyed by a U.S. military bombardment. Photo: Doctors Without Borders

A fluke or a war crime?

U.S. warplanes bombed and destroyed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières/MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Oct. 3. For 65 minutes, an AC-130U gunship circled the hospital, aiming cannon fire and incendiary munitions at its main building, housing the intensive care unit and operating and emergency rooms.

Some 180 patients and staff were inside. At least 12 MSF personnel and 10 patients, all Afghans, were killed; some burned to death. Another 37 were wounded; 33 are still missing as of Oct. 12.

To prevent such an attack, hospital staff had repeatedly reported their GPS coordinates to U.S., NATO and Afghan forces. During the bombing, MSF officials called U.S. officials in Kabul and Washington, including the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, pleading for them to stop the airstrikes. But the strikes continued for another 30 minutes.

Consequently, MSF left Kunduz. Northern Afghanistan is now without a trauma center to treat war injuries. The aid organization charges the U.S. with committing a war crime in violation of basic human rights, and humanitarian and international law. MSF asserts the bombing was an attack on the Geneva Conventions, which protect civilians, including medical workers, and prohibit bombings of hospitals in war zones. The U.S. ratified these principles in 1955.

Hearing a global outcry, the Pentagon changed its story four times. It kept insisting the airstrikes were “accidental.” Now Gen. John Campbell, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, admits the lethal assault was the result of a “U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command.” So far the military refuses to provide details.

In a rare wartime act, President Barack Obama apologized to MFS. The Pentagon has even offered compensation to victims’ families. This falls far short of earning a pardon for such a heinous crime.

MSF strongly repudiates the investigations set up by the U.S., NATO and Afghanistan, and is demanding an independent fact-finding probe of the bombing, under a body set up under Geneva Convention protocols.

After 14 years of occupying Afghanistan, the imperialists are still losing. In their desperation, the U.S. ruling class and its NATO allies are ready to commit any crime, violate any international treaty, flout human rights and disregard human life. It’s their standard behavior in the quest for super-profits.

Bombing hospitals – nothing new for U.S.

U.S. imperialism is a repeat war crime offender, with a long, sordid history of bombing hospitals and killing injured civilians and medical personnel. These were no accidents. They were acts aimed at terrorizing populations and forcing governments to submit. The record speaks for itself.

During the 1950s’ U.S. war on north Korea, U.S. warplanes bombed hundreds of hospitals. Pentagon B-52 bombers obliterated Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, the largest medical facility in North Vietnam, during the “Christmas bombings” in December 1972.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, a U.N. “peacekeeping force” from Turkey and the U.S. bombed a Digfer hospital in 1993.

When the U.S. and NATO waged war to dismantle Yugoslavia, NATO launched cruise missiles against a Belgrade hospital and dropped cluster bombs on a Nis hospital in May 1999 — and bombed four other hospitals.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center, ostensibly to pursue Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. U.S. warplanes then bombed at least six hospitals and clinics in Kabul, Kandahar and elsewhere. In a stunning blow, U.S. planes even dropped a 1,000-pound cluster bomb on a hospital in Herat.

In the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign against Iraq, Pentagon aircraft bombed a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, killing and wounding medics and patients. A year later in Fallujah, U.S. rockets razed the newly built Hai Nazal hospital. U.S. bombs killed 63 staff and patients at the Fallujah Central Health Clinic.

With much international support, Doctors Without Borders continues to demand truth and accountability from the Pentagon and Obama administration.

More must be done. The filthy-rich U.S. ruling class must pay reparations for its war crimes!



U.S. Wars Caused Refugee Crisis

by Sara Flounders

U.S. wars, starvation sanctions and planned destabilization are the overwhelming cause of the surge of hundreds of thousands of war refugees flooding across European borders and across the Mediterranean Sea. The major European-NATO powers collaborated with U.S. imperialism in each war.

The corporate media are publishing painful pictures of drowned children, sinking boats, news stories of suffocating trucks and reports of thousands camped in train stations and along roadways. They rob these reports of context by omitting the cause of the refugee crisis. Some people fear the  enormous media coverage could even be cynical preparation to justify a new military offensive by NATO countries against Syria.

U.S. aircraft bombing Libya.

The real dimensions of the humanitarian disaster are largely hidden. The 340,000 destitute refugees who have reached Europe constitute only 3 percent of the over 10 million displaced people barely surviving in refugee camps in Syria or in countries bordering Syria. These neighboring countries are also destabilized by the surge of refugees and disruptive sanctions against Syria that ripple throughout the region.

The European governments dismissed the war-caused havoc as long as the crisis was kept off their doorstep.

The refugees’ dire conditions worsened because the meager United Nations Food Program has exhausted its funds and is now cutting hundreds of thousands of refugees off its aid in U.N. administered refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The U.N. agency needed a mere $236 million to keep the program funded through November.

According to NationalPriorities.org, the U.S. government has spent that much on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria every 28 hours since 2001.

The largest numbers of refugees are fleeing from war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and South Sudan. U.S. corporate power, driven by its  insatiable drive to secure control of valuable resources and push back progressive change, had targeted each of these countries. Not one of these wars was for humanitarian purposes. Each war is a source of enormous super profit in military contracts for U.S. and European Union corporations … and ruin for millions of people.

Washington’s strategy in each of these imperialist wars has been to enflame sectarian, ethnic, national and religious differences. This means organizing contending militias, pitting group against group to break down national pride and unified resistance. Divide and conquer is the strategy that dates back to the U.S. wars against Indigenous peoples on the North American continent.

The Pentagon cynically targets civilian infrastructure, including electric grids, fuel depots, irrigation, water purification, sanitation, local industries and especially schools in an effort to demoralize and disorient the population. Washington arms and empowers the most reactionary forces and corrupt warlords as collaborators.

Refugees of current U.S. wars

Syria today has the highest number of people displaced by war. U.S. sanctions as of 2010 were followed in 2011 by U.S./NATO and Saudi arming and financing of mercenary forces. This war has destroyed a formerly prosperous country where the population had modern infrastructure, quality free health care and free education.

Now almost half of Syria’s 23 million population is displaced. More than 4 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries. Mercenary and fanatic sectarian forces within Syria now number about 125,000 in a thousand competing bands from 80 or more countries.

The U.S. war in Iraq from 1990 to 2003 included massive, systematic destruction of infrastructure and 13 years of economic sanctions. The 2003 U.S.-British invasion and occupation of Iraq brought catastrophic ruin and orchestrated sectarian violence unknown in Iraqi history. Refugees and internally displaced people reached 4.7 million people. Almost half of the Iraqi refugees received shelter in overburdened Syria.

Since the 1978 Saur Revolution, which overthrew the monarchy in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has provided more than $3 billion to counterrevolutionary and warlord forces to destroy the revolution. For three decades, war-torn Afghanistan led in the U.N. lists in the number of war refugees. Through the 1980s, there were 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and 2 million in Iran.

The 2001 U.S./NATO occupation of Afghanistan created new waves of refugees. There are currently 1.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and 1 million Afghan refugees in Iran and millions of displaced people within Afghanistan itself.

In Libya, seven months of U.S./NATO bombing in 2010 destroyed the entire infrastructure of a modern state where nationalized oil helped achieve the highest standard of living in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of workers throughout Africa had found jobs in Libya, which had also provided economic development aid throughout Africa.

In appealing for assistance, Tunisia’s President Moncef Marzouki explained that two million Libyans, or one third of Libya’s pre-NATO-intervention population, have taken refuge in Tunisia. The number is equivalent to one fifth of Tunisia’s population.

Today, South Sudan has the largest number of refugees in Africa. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, there are 2.25 million refugees and spiraling civil war in this oil-rich country. As the Jan. 3, 2014, New York Times explained, South Sudan is in many ways a U.S. “creation, carved out of war-torn Sudan in a referendum largely orchestrated by the United States, its fragile institutions nurtured with billions of dollars in American aid.”

More than 2 million refugees in Ukraine represent the newest refugee crisis, caused by the expansion of the U.S.-commanded NATO military alliance to the borders of Russia. While Washington fails to provide funds to feed refugees from U.S. wars of aggression, the U.S. government spent $5 billion to fund the fascist forces and social networks that overturned the elected government in Ukraine. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland even bragged of this funding. The Kiev coup government is now waging war against anti-fascists in east Ukraine.

According to Russian Federal Migration Service-FMS statistics, a total of 2.6 million Ukrainians are currently in Russian territory. Some 1 million are from Ukraine’s southeastern regions, fleeing armed conflict in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

Past waves of U.S. war refugees

U.S. wars in Southeast Asia ripped Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos apart in the 1960s and 1970s. The effort to dominate the region failed but the massive destruction left 4 million dead, millions maimed and 2 million Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees desperate for resettlement.

Funding militias, warlords and drug lords was U.S. policy in Central America in the 1980s. The U.N. estimated that one-third of the workforce of El Salvador fled the country in the 1980s. More than a half million reached the U.S.

The war to expand NATO and dismember Yugoslavia, in Bosnia in 1995 and in Serbia in 1999, again used destruction of civilian infrastructure and enflaming sectarian differences.According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 3.7 to 4 million people were displaced and became refugees.

It should not be forgotten that it is more than 60 years of U.S. funding and equipping of Israel that enabled the expropriation of hundreds of thousands of people from Palestine, the longest and most protracted refugee problem in the world. BADIL, a research and advocacy center focusing on refugee rights, estimates that there are more than 7 million Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. This figure includes the 4.2 million Palestinians registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and other Palestinians displaced in 1967 and still displaced internally in Israel.

While billions of dollars continues to be allocated for war preparation, the World Food Program cut 1 million Iraqi refugees and millions of Syrian refugees from receiving $14 monthly food coupons. This confirms in the most violent terms that capitalist rulers are incapable of solving the humanitarian disaster that they have created. War preparation is profitable. Distributions of surplus food are not.

Article originally published in Workers World http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/09/08/u-s-wars-caused-refugee-crisis/