[Reader-list] SAS soldier talks about training Afghan soldiers

Boud Roukema boud_roukema at camk.edu.pl
Tue Oct 2 00:26:55 IST 2001

On Wed, 26 Sep 2001, Menso Heus wrote:
> > > > > SAS soldier speaks up on training the Afghans: apparently these guys 
> > > > ...
> > > > > The lucky ones died instantly. The unlucky ones were chopped to 
> > > > > pieces in the aftermath. In the Hindu Kush, don't expect to 
> > > > > appeal to the Geneva convention."


> The way you compare doesn't seem to be correct to me. I doubt if you
> have read the entire article, most of the people who did and whom I've
> discussed this with took the line in the exact same way.

It's true I didn't read the full article - my apologies. My comments
were based on what you quoted.

> you know it I'm suddenly pro-war, anti-humanrights and many more things
> which I am not. 

Well, now I know you're not any of that, so let's see if we can
understand each other. (BTW, thanks for the report on the Amsterdam

OK, the full article to me seems anti-war (showing how ineffective a
war against Afghanistan would be), and the question of the Geneva
conventions is a secondary point, not the main point of your original
post. Am I following you better this time?

Given that we got into a "secondary" point, it seems to me it is
still worth trying to understand our different arguments.

My guess is that there are two main viewpoints here:

(1) A war, at least in this case (USA vs Afghan), is absurd.  So, to
put pressure on the USA to follow the Geneva conventions and other
international human rights law is a diversion from trying to stop the
war totally.

(2) For tactical reasons, e.g. due to historical belief in the need
for war and to the propaganda barrage in the USA, independently of
trying to put pressure on the USA not to start a war, it is an
efficient action to insist that the USA go through the Security
Council, follow the Geneva conventions, etc. Hence, it is not a good
idea to suggest that the Geneva conventions can be ignored.

I think you were trying to argue for (1). Is this right?

My point is (2). I certainly agree that we should do all we can to
stop the war starting at all, but I also feel that (2) is important.

No matter how big the anti-war movement gets, and how quickly it
becomes big, chances are we might still get a real hot war. In which
case we don't want the USA saying that "collateral damage" is OK.

Working in the long term, even conservative organisations like Amnesty
International can use stuff like the Geneva conventions and other
human rights law to publicly state that NATO has carried out war


Some of us do not need to read an Amnesty report in order to be
convinced of NATO war crimes. But as Michael Albert says, we need to
continue building the movement to people around us, in which case,
step-by-step arguments and evidence, from sources which a wide
spectrum of people are willing to accept as reliable, have a role to


> But what to do? 

>     Handing out leaflets, arguing against war with a co-worker, urging
> a relative to think twice about our own role in international
> terrorism, going to a demonstration, sitting in, doing civil
> disobedience, or even building movements to do all these things
> collectively, may all seem momentarily insignificant in light of the
> calamity that could befall Afghanistan and the world in coming
> weeks. But the fact is, these are the acts that can accumulate into a
> firestorm of informed protest that curtails Afghani starvation, that
> derails the war on terrorism, and that even raises the cost of
> profiteering so high that the institutions breeding such behavior
> start to buckle.
> War, whether it is waged with kamikaze planes, fleets of missiles and
> bombers, or starvation food policies, is a horrendous crime against
> humanity. It invariably rends apart life and justice and civility. It
> benefits no one other than the Masters of War. War in all its forms is
> an orchestrated atrocity that mandates our militant, unswerving
> opposition. But we should also remember that even after we curb Bush?s
> rush to violence and forestall his starvation scenarios, the on-going
> day-to day grievances and injustices of our world will still need
> attention. Ultimately, our opposition must transcend current
> events. Alienation, poverty, disease, starvation, death squads, and
> terror-these and other atrocities stem from basic institutions. The
> institutions must become our lasting target.

Humbly hoping to be acquitted of pocockism, ;-)


More information about the reader-list mailing list