By Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Co-Founder/Executive Director, International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
When history looks back to this era, this will be a day to recall — that is if our lines to our future continue as now, without a sudden nuclear holocaust in between. We heard the news in the late afternoon: The United States, the world’s only super power, dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in the history of mankind on one of the world’s poorest countries — Afghanistan. The bomb weighs 21,600 pounds and affects a wider area because it explodes in the air. It is estimated to kill people within 1.7 miles of the blast’s epicenter, and causes deafness among people up to 2 miles away.
I won’t say that the strongest country in the world bombed one of the weakest because when you have such immense military might but choose to use it against a militia of 700 to 800 men in one of the most war-torn, impoverished countries in the world, it is not a sign of strength, but of swagger. This is proving true the day after. CNN tells us that 36 Daesh fighters are reported dead. To put this into perspective: The United States dropped that horrific bomb — which cost $300 million to develop and over $16 million for a single unit — in an area that in 2006 had a civilian population of 95,000, to kill 36 men.
Locals said the skies were aflame, the ground was shaking and children were screaming with fear. It is hard to wake up in peaceful Washington, D.C., with our children scrubbed and ready for school and not think of the terror we may have wreaked on similar children in Nangarhar.
Afghanistan will survive, of that I have no doubt. Afghans have always had an inner iron core of dignity and resilience. So many I have met are inherently peaceful, deeply exhausted by violence and war, and in search of peace. Yet throughout history, by accident of geography, their villages and mountains, their valleys and homes have been at the epicenter of imperials wars. When attacked, they have fought back. But what is the aftermath of this bomb?
In the U.S. media, the grotesque attack of April 13, 2017, was a minor blip in the nightly cable news. That in itself is appalling. U.S. citizens have long been lulled into banality by a media that needs no state censorship. Sixteen years of perpetual war have either been ignored or when shown, depicted through night-vision goggles akin to a video game by journalists embedded with the army — hardly a means of ensuring objectivity. The corporate and advertising interests of the cable channels are clearly censors of a higher degree.
Doubtless, though many will spin this tale to justify it as the war against Daesh, taking it to the heart of their operations in Nangarhar province, that borders Pakistan. They will remind us that Daesh is active and evil in this region, killing people with deliberate cruelty, closing down schools and putting 300,000 kids at risk of growing up illiterate. In September 2015, Khaama news agency reported on the levels of barbarism in the region and Daesh’s recruitment of child soldiers. Horrific events. We know too well how horrific Daesh is. To justify the bomb, military reports suggest that the local population was already removed.
But does a 21,600 pound bomb solve the Daesh problem? If the local population had a say, what would be their solution? Would they want this bomb on their land?
Note added by David Posnett MD:
Dropping MOAB was approved by Rep. Lee Zeldin