ZNet Commentary: 09.30.01 Chomsky Interview – Part 2

The UN has indicated that the threat of starvation in Afghanistan is enormous. International criticism on this score has grown and now the U.S. and Britain are talking about providing food aid to ward off hunger. Are they caving in to dissent in fact, or only in appearance? What is their motivation? What will be the scale and impact of their efforts?

Michael Albert: The UN has indicated that the threat of starvation in Afghanistan is
enormous. International criticism on this score has grown and now the U.S. and Britain are talking about providing food aid to ward off hunger. Are they caving in to dissent in fact, or only in appearance? What is their motivation? What will be the scale and impact of their efforts?

Noam Chomsky: The UN estimates that some 7-8 million are at risk of imminent
starvation.

The NY Times reports in a small item (Sept. 25) that nearly six million Afghans depend on food aid from the UN, as well as 3.5 million in refugee camps outside, many of whom fled just before the
borders were sealed. The item reported that some food is being sent, to the camps across the border.

If people in Washington and the editorial
offices have even a single gray cell functioning, they realize that they must present themselves as humanitarians seeking to avert the awesome
tragedy that followed at once from the threat of bombing and military attack and the sealing of the borders they demanded.

"Experts also urge the United States to improve its image by increasing aid to Afghan
refugees, as well as by helping to rebuild the economy" (Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 28).

Even without PR specialists to instruct them, administration officials must comprehend that they should send some food to the refugees who made it across the border, and at least talk about air drop of food to starving people within: in order "to save lives" but also to "help the effort to find terror groups inside Afghanistan" (Boston Globe, Sept. 27, quoting a Pentagon official, who describes this as "winning the hearts and minds of the people").

The New York Times editors picked up the same theme the following day, 12 days after the journal reported that the murderous operation is being put
into effect.

On the scale of aid, one can only hope that it is enormous, or the human tragedy may be immense in a few weeks.

But we should also bear in mind that there has been nothing to stop massive food drops from the
beginning, and we cannot even guess how many have already died, or soon will. If the government is sensible, there will be at least a show of the "massive air drops" that officials mention.

[ also see related links:

Osama bin Laden 101: Understanding bin Laden –
http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1500

First hand Reportage from Afghanistan: 5.5 Million Starving –
http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1483

Noam Chomsky On the Bombings –
http://theexperiment.org/articles.php?news_id=1474
]

Author: Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert

News Service: Znet

URL: http://www.zmag.org/albintchom.htm