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2002-02-20

As Reports Emerge of a String of Mistakes Across Southern Afghanistan in U.S. Raids, and the War Continues at Home, We’ll Return to the Critical Voice of Activist and Scholar Cornel West

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The intense air war that supposedly smashed the Taliban and still seeks to disable or kill its top leaders has left a string of mistakes across southern Afghanistan. And even the US media is beginning to look into why Afghans have been forced to live and die with US mistakes during the war on Afghanistan.

The Washington Post has made visits to five villages near Kandahar over the last week and yielded testimony about more than 100 civilian victims of U.S. airstrikes, corroborated by local commanders, Afghan officials and firsthand inspection of the bomb damage. The reporters have found that in a succession of villages, precision-guided munitions from U.S. aircraft sometimes hit precisely the wrong targets as pilots and their allies on the ground tried to distinguish between fleeing or hiding targets and vulnerable civilians.

These accounts indicate that while being cautious about hunting Taliban or al Qaeda members on the ground, U.S.forces struck potential targets from the air with less discriminating firepower. U.S bombs hit fleeing Taliban convoys, destroyed hidden weapons depots and chased targets who hid in civilian areas. But airstrikes also killed children in their homes, pulverized trucks regardless of their cargo and pounded a Muslim shrine into rubble.

We are going to return to one of the few public voices expressing concern about the US-led so called "war on terrorism" which justified the aggressive military strategy in Afghanistan. West has come under fire at Harvard,where he is professor of African-American studies and philosophy of religion. At a private meeting in October with new Harvard president Lawrence Summers, West says he was criticized for working on Bill Bradley’s campaign and forsome of his less scholarly work, including his recent hip hop CD, "Sketches of my Culture." The Harvard president suggested that West embark on a new work of serious scholarship befitting his elite designation at Harvard as one of only 14 University Professors. Summers was recently quoted as saying that the University has to be more "patriotic."

Here is the second part of a speech by activist, theologian, and scholar Cornel West, given several months ago in the Bay area during the Mario Savio awards.

Tape:

  • Cornel West, professor of African-American studies and philosophy of religion at Harvard University andauthor of the best-selling book, ??Race Matters.

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