The principle victims of British policies are Unpeople-those whose lives are deemed worthless, expendable in the pursuit of power and commercial gain. They are the modern equivalent of the 'savages' of colonial days, who could be mown down by British guns in virtual secrecy, or else in circumstances where the perpetrators were hailed as the upholders of civilisation.
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The standard argument is that civilian deaths in Afghanistan were the regrettable consequence of military action that was needed to destroy Al Qaida bases and thus prevent further terrorist attacks. But this is a spurious argument since it is obvious that Al Qaida is a decentralised network. The counterargument - that bombing Afghanistan has made it more likely that terrorists will attack - is equally plausible. Most of the September nth hijackers were from Saudi Arabia,
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A Guardian investigation concluded that between 10, 000 and 20, 000 people died as an 'indirect' result of the US bombing, that is, through hunger, cold and disease as people were forced to flee the massive aerial assault. An estimate by Professor Marc Herold of the University of New Hampshire, suggests that between 3, 125 and 3, 620 Afghan civilians were killed by US bombing up to July 2002.3
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with few apparent connections to Afghanistan as such, but there were no calls to bomb Riyadh (imagine if the hijackers had been Iraqi). Rather, Saudi Arabia is a favoured ally in the 'war against terrorism'. It is obvious that at stake here are US geopolitical interests (discussed further below), more than concerns to prevent future terrorism.
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The usual fiction - that the war would involve precision targeting and the careful avoidance of civilian deaths - was stated by Tony Blair at the beginning of the war. After similar bombing campaigns against Yugoslavia and Iraq, Blair was by now acting as virtual White House spokesperson, providing the pretence of an 'international coalition' in what was clearly a US war. This role was more important than Britain's military contribution, which in the early days of the bombing campaign was token and probably of no military value. The British army did later prove useful, however, when it was...
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