Afghan death toll

The most recent AP report on U.S. casualties in Afghan war indicates the deaths stand at 333 (as of June 7). The civilian casualties from January this year through June have been reported to be 320-380. In May about 135 civilians were killed by U.S. or NATO action and about 135 killed by Taliban suicide bombs and attacks. U.S. special forces recent operations in Afghanistan have also killed 90 civilians according to another AP report. The combined civilian deaths from ground attacks and aerial bombings have resulted in large street demonstrations and increased skepticism among Afghans about U.S. motivations.

In response, the Afghan upper house of Parliament has called on the U.S. and NATO to stop offensive actions against the Taliban. They also asked the Afghan government to open up dialogue with the Taliban provided the Taliban accepts the country’s new constitution. They also asked for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign troops.

Another situation where the “War on Terror” has become a “War of Terror.”

Some believe the primary reason for the war in Afghanistan was not to free the nation from the Taliban but to clear a thoroughfare for Caspian Sea oil. The route was/is to be from the Caspian

Sea through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, down the Arabian Sea and to U.S. ports. Time will tell if this pans out.

Brian MacAfee
Muskegon Heights MI

Green, blue and red all over

The People Before Profit articles by Wadi’h Halabi (PWW 5/12-18 and following two issues) and the Readers’ Corner piece by Joel Wendland (PWW 6/9-15) are good starting points for discussion on the environment.

What’s paramount at this time is active involvement in environmental struggles. In Connecticut, battles around passive open space, that is, land without paved surfaces, abound. These fights connect well to anti-sprawl, renewable resources, mass transit and other multi-class and working-class issues.

Quite often the enemies of the environment are also the enemies of labor. In the Naugatuck Valley, the Western Connecticut Central Labor Council recently voted to support environmentalists fighting for passive open space. The contractors and developers were recognized as no friends of organized labor. The town administrator pushing the plowing and paving of this beautiful landscape had over 100 grievances filed against him by an AFSCME local.

A key sentence in “People and Nature Before Profits, the environmental program of the Communist Party USA” is, “The inclusion of environmental concerns in the working-class struggle today ensures that they will become foundations in the building of a socialist economy that will operate in ways that protect the environment as a matter of course.”

Nick Bart
Naugatuck CT

Korean model

The fact that President Bush is considering adopting the Korean model in Iraq is highly disturbing. For four decades South Korea was characterized by an entrenched U.S. military supporting a succession of totalitarian regimes.

The first Republic of South Korea was ruled by Syngman Rhee from 1948 until 1960. He pursued a policy of favoritism and had little toleration for individual rights. When he declared martial law in 1952, he reacted to Korean protesters by imprisoning, torturing and killing thousands.

In 1961, Major Gen. Park Chung Hee seized power. He immediately dissolved the National Assembly, declared himself president for life, suspended all political parties, and formed the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (supported by the U.S. CIA), placing thousands of Koreans under surveillance and house arrest, and kidnapping and torturing many more.

When he was assassinated in 1980, Major Gen. Chun Doo Hwan gained control. He banned all protests and strikes and outlawed all political parties. Two thousand Koreans were killed when a massive student movement tried to remove militarism from the government. Thousands of teachers, politicians, managers and journalists were fired.

In 1987 workers, students and farmers staged mass protests in Seoul. Only in 1997 did Korea experience free and fair elections with the release of Kim Dae Jung, a popular political prisoner, who was elected president.

Militarism and occupying troops seldom lead to democratic reform. In South Korea, the courage and sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of people, mixed with popular sovereignty, led to freedom. This is the Korean model that should be pursued in Iraq.

Beverly Darling
Alice TX

How long?

Everyone has an opinion about how long U.S. forces should remain in Iraq.

After all, it’s a superpower’s prerogative to make these determinations.

A large majority of Americans want our troops out sooner rather than later. Others, most notably the president, have floated the sobering idea that we might keep significant forces there for more than 50 years.

Divergent views on the issue exist among congressional Democrats. Hillary Clinton, for instance, has allowed that a 10-year duration in Iraq feels just about right to her. Meanwhile, our own Mark Udall has endorsed the Baker/Hamilton report’s quiet allusion to an enduring U.S. presence of some 70,000 troops, if only to defend Iraq’s presumably then-privatized petroleum assets.

But, while we dither over these matters, events in Iraq may soon compel what many a Cassandra has long predicted. The insurgents are systematically blowing up every bridge in Baghdad, gradually encircling the increasingly isolated and vulnerable Green Zone. Whatever fatuous timelines may be set in Washington, the insurgency seems to be inexorably moving ahead with its plan to overrun the Green Zone before the enormously secretive new U.S. Embassy there is scheduled to open for official business in August.

Cord MacGuire
Boulder CO

Zimbabwe

I was surprised at the content of the article calling for solidarity with Zimbabwe (PWW 6/16-22). I thought that the article would be defending Mugabe. From what I have read Mugabe started his land reform program because the willing buyer, willing seller arrangement was not working and the reason that he ended the structural adjustments, and that the opposition that claims that he is undemocratic wants to restore the structural adjustment programs. What evidence do you have that there have been any restrictions on civil rights under Mugabe?

Sean Mulligan
Via e-mail

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