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Afghan Slay Ride

By David Morgan

At Christmas time
the victory now proclaimed
in Washington
over foes
in far Afghanistan
lacks full accounting for
uncomfortable truths.

And there is much to tell
such as the prison riot
soon quelled with gunships
at Mazar Sharif
or of the Red Cross food bank
bombed not just once,
but when Geneva
had complained,
bombed yet again.

So much has happened
in these eleven short weeks
but let us witness
that first day
in which America Strikes Back
the day the world once more
saw television glimpses of
America at War.

It was the seventh day
of last October when
The war began began
for Asaduleh,
a young Afghani
full sixteen years of age,
an ice-cream seller
in Jalalabad.
But not beyond
sea-launch cruise missiles really
dispatched by busy crews
from U.S. ships
in the Arabian Sea.

"There was a roaring sound,"
this ice cream seller said,
"and then I opened up my eyes
and I was in a hospital.
I lost two fingers and a leg,"
as he explained this to
a man from Reuters News
and his interpreter.

Just four days later
in the farming village of Keram
west of Jalalabad
U.S. pilots
dropped their bombs
with great precision on
mud houses of the enemy
destroying forty-five
out of the sixty
that were targeted
resulting in
a total of one-sixty
enemy civilians killed
in that attack.

Just one week later
at Sharai Samali
not far from Kandahar
the village market place
was targeted.
Now whether this was done
in planning by intelligence
or whether the market
at Sharai Samah became
a "target-of-opportunity"
is not yet clear,
but what is very clear
is that for forty-seven
humans in the marketplace that day
their death came from the sky.

Then, quite soon after
on the twenty-first
some cluster bombs
were dropped upon Herat

But let us now digress
and quickly see
the workings of the cluster bomb.
The CBU Eight-Seven
-- the cluster bomb --
is a container which
is called "the mother bomb"
(to use familiar words).
This mother bomb contains
two hundred bomblets
each about a large beer can in size
and when this mother bomb
gives birth high in the sky
those bomblets are dispersed
to rain death down upon
an area that is equal to
four football fields
(to use a sporting term).
But for most people down below
it means "game-over-now".

But let's return
to this attack
and how a cluster bomb
fell from the sky upon
a military building in Herat
which was a hospital.
It left one hundred dead
the wounded tally is not known
and in any case
it's sure that many wounded
shortly joined the dead because,
of course,
there was no hospital for them.

You can be sure
that this was not
the only time
that cluster bombs were dropped
in this eleven-week war.
At least six hundred
have been used.
Six hundred times two hundred?
You do the math.
But these are not a one-shot deal
these wide-spread cluster babes,
because there's twelve percent
or fourteen thousand that did not
go off
and like a mini-mine
they lie in wait for unsuspecting
Afghan feet to cripple and to kill
man, woman, child,
for many years to come.

But let us now move on
to midnight on
October twenty-two
when for an hour
for sixty minutes that, no doubt,
seemed like eternity
the bombs rained down upon
two villages.
And when the daylight dawned
low-flying Spectre gunships came
to strafe with cannon fire
survivors in the farming villages
Bori Chokar,
Chowkar Karez.

The crows of Kandahar
need only fly an hour north to reach
these smoking village ruins where
they'll find unburied pieces of
some of the ninety-three
men, women, children who
were targeted that night and day.

November 10, a bad day to be found
in Shah Aga, a village three days trek
northwest of Kandahar
each of three hundred people there
became a casualty when bombs rained down.
You might assume that figure meant
One hundred killed, two hundred wounded, but
you can be sure
there is no hospital near Sha Aga
and even remnants of
third world first aid
could not have saved
the shocked and bloody
living there for long
and so two hundred is
more like the figure for
the deaths in Shah Aga.

The sky is rumbling, and high up
B-fifty-twos are flying overhead
they have just bombed some villages
not far from Khanabad
leaving one hundred
and fifty dead behind
and no accounting for the wounded who
lack paramedic, ambulance, and blood
transfusion, aseptic surgery, drugs,
food, clean water and
a warm, dry bed.
all items that we took for granted on:
eighteen November, two thousand and one
when hi-tech war came to Khanabad.

And finally, it's time to tell our last account
it's from the "End Game" that was played
November twenty-nine
near Tora Bora where
an Afghan village felt again
the thirty-ton B-fifty-two bombload.
Kan Ado was the village name
This is the village where,
a spokesman for the Pentagon declared,
that "nothing happened" but
a journalist who made
the steep and rocky three-hour drive
to Kano Ado found
that what had been
large village and small graveyard
had now become
small village and large graveyard.
Among the craters
and the crushed mud huts:
a twisted kettle, scraps of children's clothes,
pieces of an ancient sewing machine,
all that now remained to show
a place three hundred villagers
had once called "home".

And this concludes
the smallest glimpse of these revenge attacks
with high explosives gunfire, gasoline
and now the civilian body count
from far Afghanistan
exceeds the total losses from
that black September day
this second massacre
is called a Victory.

David Morgan writes from his home
in North Vancouver, B.C.