At the top of the agenda when the White House public relations "war room" convened for its morning meeting onAfghanistan yesterday were media reports that apparently innocent Afghan prisoners had been beaten by their U.S.military captors.
On top of a string of nagging reports of miss-targeted bombs and dead civilians, two of the Pentagon’s recent biggesttriumphs — the killing of 21 Taliban and capture of 27 more in a commando raid north of Kandahar, and last weekend’slaunch of a Hellfire missile at a tall man who might have been Osama bin Laden — appear instead to have beentragedies.
Even in the White House, the Afghan war has moved beyond its black and white days, when President Bush proclaimedthat the world could be neatly divided into us and them. Now it has taken on shades of gray. The U.S. military,accustomed to being the undisputed good guys in this conflict, has grown defensive over reports of possible errors.The response of the administration, reflected in yesterday’s "war room" meeting, has been to defer to ever-ongoinginvestigations, and suggest that seemingly innocuous villagers may actually be terrorists.
But there are those who have spoken out about the "gray areas" of the so-called "war on terrorism," since shortlyafter the attacks of September 11th. We turn now to a speech Professor Noam Chomsky gave on December 8, at aconference sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, at Tufts in Cambridge MA.
- Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a leadingscholar and critic of US foreign policy and the author of many books, including ??9-11, just published by SevenStories Press.