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Bomb critics called "emotional"

by Rory McCarthy Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001 at 9:23 AM

Gosh, the bombing of the WTC made me teary eyed as well, but no one ever called me "over emotional'. I guess emotions only get in the way when you are grieving over the wrong deaths.

Rory McCarthy in Islamabad, Patrick Wintour and Richard Norton-Taylor

Friday October 19, 2001 - The Guardian

Clare Short, the international development secretary, last night

provoked a furious reaction from aid agencies when she

dismissed their calls for a halt to the bombing of Taliban areas of

Afghanistan as unreal and emotional.

Insisting that the only solution to the unfolding humanitarian

crisis was to drive the Taliban from power, Ms Short said that

any pause in the bombing would play straight into the hands of

the hardline Islamist regime and its guest, Osama bin Laden.

"It is not a real alternative, it is emotional. It's emotion among

people in London, in Birmingham, in Islamabad," she told the


Aid agencies operating in Afghanistan, where more than 7m

people face starvation with winter fast approaching, immediately

condemned her comments.

"The fact is that our staff in Afghanistan have not received any

food in the most critical areas. Halting the bombing is the only

way we are going to feed people," said Sam Barrett, a

spokesman for Oxfam in Islamabad.

Ms Short's dismissal of the stop-the-bombing lobby was echoed

by Tony Blair, who made clear that far from being suspended,

the war was about to enter its most intense stage. The prime

minister gave his firmest indication yet that ground operations

were imminent.

"This is a testing time. In fact, I believe that the next few weeks

will be the most testing time but we are on track to achieve the

goals we set out.

"I don't think we have ever contemplated this being done by air

power alone. We have always said there would be different

phases to this operation".

As pressure builds on Washington and London for a halt in the

war, now entering its 13th day, both military planners and

political leaders are aware that they need to shift perceptions

soon or risk losing the backing of the fragile international

coalition backing the campaign.

British government sources warned last night that the US had

just a few weeks - before the onset of winter and the start of

Ramadan on November 17 - to complete the first phase of the

war and set up a robust aid distribution programme.

"We all agree that the shorter the agony lasts, the better it will

be," a minister said.

It is now clear that military and humanitarian objectives are likely

to be umbilically linked in any ground operation. Political and

military strategists, accepting that the Taliban regime is unlikely

to collapse in one fell swoop, is likely to be defeated piecemeal.

Ms Short said the Taliban would not be unseated easily.

Instead, the focus of the next stage of the war would be to build

humanitarian corridors inside Afghanistan which would be

expanded gradually as the regime was pushed back.

"I imagine a set of virtuous dominoes," she said. "Area after area

where it becomes safe to move, international staff return, the

humanitarian operation becomes more successful and then

ideally with a new Afghan government whose authority is

extended bit by bit."

In a compelling warning of the scale of the tragedy that possibly

lies ahead - and of the race against time now facing the US-led

coalition - Christian Aid last night said that at least 600 people

had already died of starvation and malnutrition in one district in

the remote mountains of northern Afghanistan two months ago.

Only a fraction of the food needed inside the country was

arriving, the British aid agency said.

Aid workers have warned that millions of deaths from hunger

this winter are now a virtual certainty.

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Hey -- if the Taliban wanted the bombings to cu=rt Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001 at 10:30 AM
hmmmm, and where was the int'l outrage/ RevereRests Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001 at 10:50 AM
response to cu=rt anti-imperialist Saturday, Oct. 20, 2001 at 11:55 AM

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