NATO’s Gift to Afghanistan - Buried Toxic Waste

Matthew J. Nasuti

NATO’s war may end but its pollution of the Afghan countryside will take centuries to repair.

The primary decision that NATO officials reached in Chicago this week was to leave behind an Afghanistan contaminated by a decade of hazardous military waste. The plan is for NATO to wash its collective hands of their toxic handiwork. There are estimated to be more than a thousand NATO dumpsites located in Afghanistan, holding thousands of tons of buried hazardous waste.

If these NATO officials had done this in Germany or the United States they would have been serving long prison terms for their environmental crimes, but Western officials are conveniently ignoring both national and international law in Afghanistan. Buried liquids and other wastes are a slow-moving and expanding time bomb, and therefore NATO officials are seeking to scurry home before the full extent of the problem can be assessed and the costs of cleanup calculated. United Nations officials, to their discredit, have opted to remain silent, revealing once again the Western bias of the UN against developing countries.

This author previously served in the U.S. Air Force and was involved in the Pentagon’s base environmental cleanup program, now called DERP (the Defense Environmental Restoration Program). He also later worked for Bechtel Environmental as a contracts manager.

It is a certainty that thousands of hazardous chemicals and materials were shipped to Afghanistan in NATO vehicles, electronics, weapons, explosives, machines and other equipment, along with millions of gallons of fuel, oil, hydraulic fluids, solvents, degreasers, de-icing fluids, pesticides, poisons and herbicides, etc.

Carcinogenic used oil would have been dumped into the soil, as would most other waste. Solid wastes would have been placed into a landfill or set afire in burn pits. The reports are that anything that broke and could not be repaired was buried or burned, creating a stunning soup of highly toxic contaminants at each military location. That is NATO’s toxic legacy.

Afghan war crimes report suppressed

Peter Symonds

Human skeletons and items of clothing are seen in a mass grave un-
covered in northern Balkh Province in January. Construction workers
digging a car park found at least 10 human skulls. (Photo: Reuters)

The attempted suppression of an Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) report on atrocities and war crimes committed by Afghan governments and warlords from 1978 to 2001 is devastating exposure of the US puppet regime in Kabul.

The AIHRC, an organisation set up by the Kabul regime itself, has documented the criminal record of the warlords who run the regime and the powers that backed them, above all the United States.

The 800-page report, entitled “Conflict Mapping in Afghanistan Since 1978,” was prepared over a six-year period from 2005 by a team of 40 researchers working with international legal and forensic experts. It found evidence of 180 mass graves, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, rape, and the destruction of towns and villages. Commissioner Ahmad Nader Nadery reported that the report tallied a million killed—not all through war crimes—and another 1.3 million disabled.

The report catalogues the crimes committed by all sides in the wars that raged in Afghanistan, including the 1978–1992 Soviet-backed regime and the CIA-backed traditionalist mujahedin militias that fought it, overthrew it, and then divided Afghanistan between themselves.

It details the brutal civil war that followed the fall of the Soviet-backed regime, as Islamist warlords whom Washington had hailed as “freedom fighters” battled for power and control of resources, including the lucrative Afghan opium trade. Atrocities and human rights abuses continued under the Taliban—who were formed with Pakistani backing and tacit US support—as well as their rival northern warlords.

Unsurprisingly, current Afghan officials named as responsible for atrocities objected to the release of the report, only portions of which were leaked to the media.

Is Israel fixing the intelligence to justify an attack on Iran?

Ray McGovern

Prime Minister B. Netanyahu and Defense Minister E. Barak

The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the presidential election in November is increasing.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's strong pro-Israel statements over the weekend, including his endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel's capital (a reversal of long-standing U.S. policy), increases the pressure on President Barack Obama to prove that he is an equally strong backer of Israel.

The key question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will interpret the presidential campaign rhetoric as an open invitation to provoke hostilities with Iran, in the expectation that President Obama will feel forced to jump in with both feet in support of our "ally" Israel. (Since there is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel, "ally" actually is a misnomer — at least in a juridical sense.)

As we saw 10 years ago with respect to Iraq, if one intends to whip up support for war, one needs to find a casus belli — however thin a pretext it might be. How about juxtaposing "weapons of mass destruction" with terrorism. That worked to prepare for war on Iraq, and similar rhetorical groundwork for an attack on Iran is now being laid in Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu broke all records for speed in blaming Iran and Hezbollah for the recent terrorist attack that killed five Israelis in Burgas, Bulgaria, and in vowing that "Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror."

But what is the evidence on Iranian or Hezbollah involvement? Bulgarian officials keep saying they have no such evidence. More surprising still, government officials in Washington and elsewhere keep warning against jumping to conclusions. So far the "evidence" against Iran consists primarily of trust-me assertions by Mr. Netanyahu.

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