"U.S. Meeting Envisions Rebuilding Afghanistan" read the headline in the
Washington Post of November 21. After a one-day meeting in Washington of
leaders from two dozen nations and international organizations, US and
Japanese officials said they had developed an "action program" for the
long-term rebuilding of the war-ravaged country.
This should throw another log on the feel-good-about-America fire that's
been warming the frazzled citizenry since September 11. But like much of
that fuel, there's likely a lot more propaganda here than substance.
It's a remarkable pattern. The United States has a long record of
bombing nations, reducing entire neighborhoods, and much of cities, to
rubble, wrecking the infrastructure, ruining the lives of those the bombs
didn't kill. And afterward doing nothing to repair the damage.
On January 27, 1973, in Paris, the United States signed the "Agreement
on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam". Among the principles to
which the United States agreed was the one stated in Article 21: "In
pursuance of its traditional policy [sic], the United States will contribute
to healing the wounds of war and to postwar reconstruction of the Democratic
Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam] and throughout Indochina."
Five days later, President Nixon sent a message to the Prime Minister of
North Vietnam in which he stipulated the following:
"(1) The Government of the United States of America will contribute to postwar
reconstruction in North Vietnam without any political conditions.
Nothing of the promised reconstruction aid was ever paid. Or ever will
(2) Preliminary United States studies indicate that the appropriate programs
for the United States contribution to postwar reconstruction will fall in the
range of $3.25 billion of grant aid over 5 years."
During the same period, Laos and Cambodia were devastated by US bombing
as unrelentlessly as was Vietnam. After the Indochina wars were over, these
nations, too, qualified to become beneficiaries of the America's "traditional
policy" of zero reconstruction.
Then came the American bombings of Grenada and Panama in the 1980s.
There goes our neighborhood. Hundreds of Panamanians petitioned the
Washington-controlled Organization of American States as well as American
courts, all the way up to the US Supreme Court, for "just compensation" for
the damage caused by Operation Just Cause (this being the not-tongue-in-cheek
name given to the American invasion and bombing). They got just nothing, as
did the people of Grenada.
It was Iraq's turn next, in 1991: 40 days and nights of relentless
bombing; destruction of power, water and sanitation systems and everything
else that goes into the making of a modern society. We all know how much the
United States has done to help rebuild Iraq.
In 1998, Washington in its grand wisdom fired more than a dozen cruise
missiles into a building in Sudan which it claimed was producing chemical and
biological weapons. The completely destroyed building was actually a
pharmaceutical plant which was producing about 90 percent of the drugs used
to treat the most deadly illnesses in this desperately poor country. The
United States effectively admitted its mistake by unfreezing the assets of
the plant's owner it had frozen. Surely now it was compensation time. But
as of October 2001, nothing had been paid to the owner, the government, or
those injured in the bombing.
The following year we had the case of Yugoslavia; 78 days of
round-the-clock bombing, transforming an advanced state into virtually a
pre-industrial one; the reconstruction needs were breathtaking. Two years
later, June 2001, after the Serbs had obediently followed Washington's wishes
to oust Slobodan Milosevic and turn him over to the kangaroo court in the
Hague that the US had pushed through the Security Council, a "donor's
conference" was convened by the European Commission and the World Bank,
supposedly concerned with Yugoslavia's reconstruction. It turned out to be a
conference concerned with Yugoslavia's debts more than anything else.
Serbian premier Zoran Djindjic, regarded as highly pro-Western, said, in
a July interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, that he felt
betrayed by the West.
"It would have been better if the donors-conference had not
taken place and instead we had been given 50 million DM in cash. ... In
August we should be getting the first installment, 300
million Euro. Suddenly we are being told, that 225 million Euro will be
withheld for the repayment of old debts which in part were accumulated during
Tito's time. Two thirds of that sum are fines and interests, accrued because
Milosevic refused for ten years to pay back these credits. We shall get the
remaining 75 million Euro in November at the earliest. Such are the
principles in the West, we are being told. This means: A seriously ill
person is to be given medicine after he is dead. Our critical months will be
July, August and September."
It's been 2 ½ years since Yugoslavian bridges fell into the Danube, the
country's factories and homes destroyed, its roads made unusable. As of yet,
the country has not received any funds for reconstruction from the architect
and leading perpetrator of the bombing campaign, the United States.
Whoever winds up ruling Afghanistan will be conspicuously unable to
block the establishment of US military bases, electronic listening posts, oil
and gas piplelines, or whatever else Washington would like to build there.
As to the United States doing some building for the Afghan people, they may
have a long wait.