Wednesday, May 27, 2009

All for the sake of keeping gasoline under $5.00/gallon

By: Peter Chamberlin

The Western world either fails to see, or doesn’t care to see, the fate of the millions of poor desperate people left floundering in our violent wake, whose lives of constant struggle are made even poorer and more desperate by our resource wars. Human rights activists assail Israel for its war crimes upon Palestine, but ignore the same brutality on a far greater scale being committed by our own government.

Our fearless ambitious leaders and the media outlets under their command casually trot-out non-judgmental labels such as “collateral damage” and “refugees” to describe the bi-products of their actions, hiding behind euphemisms the cold brutal facts that mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandparents and cousins, sometimes entire families are being bombed into bloody little fragments of tissue and bone, or being forced from their generational homes in the middle of the night, out into the streets which are already clogged with other fleeing families, all so that American homes and automobiles might have cheap gasoline or raw materials.

For the sake of our own convenience and dislike of price inflation, we send bombers and killers into the homes and hometowns of innocent people, even unto our allies like Pakistan. I cannot stress this simple fact enough, we are killing people by the hundreds and the thousands for the sake of cheap fuel; this whole terror war has nothing to do with avenging attacks. That whole war on terror excuse died when Bush pulled out of Afghanistan and ended the hunt for the alleged perpetrators of the 2001 attacks. Since then, it has clearly been a series of resource wars.

Beyond the obvious effects of our actions, seen in the bombings and the shootings themselves, is the unseen suffering inflicted upon both old and young as they are torn from their homes out of fear of what is to come, or literally driven from destroyed domiciles. Imagine your own family, if they were suddenly forced to give-up all privacy, all human comforts gone (not even food or drink, or basic toilet facilities), the fortunate few have a roof between their heads and the storming skies, most are lucky to find sleep at all in the blackest night, besieged by poisonous insects and reptiles, all manner of deadly things. All for the sake of keeping gasoline under $5.00/gallon.

This is what our nation has come to—we are killing thousands of women and children to control inflation.

Here is a taste of the new life we have plunged our Pakistani friends into, as witnessed by Al Jazeera correspondent Imran Khan:

“The heat is punishing. It must be 45 degrees Celsius with no wind. A haze seems to rise from every surface.

It’s midday in the camp. Seemingly, there no escape from the brutal sun.

Children try and cool off by splashing water over each other, which would be a happy scene anywhere else in the world.

Except here.

These children are at risk from dehydration, skin diseases and other problems.

The Swati refugees come from a pleasant and temperate valley, and are used to average temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius.

The refugee camps are on the plains. There is little shade. The refugees are forced to live under canvas; water and food are limited and the toilet facilities are basic.

It’s taking a toll on the people.

Children are especially at risk of dehydration
as the sun beats down on the plain

Iqbal Ahsan is a rickshaw driver from the main Swat valley town of Mingora.

He heads an extended family of 30. He came to the camp on foot, which took 2 days. When he got here he was tired and ill, but it was the heat that got him down the most.

“It was unbearable for me. But for my children they suffered more. I had to take them to the doctor. I was scared for them, they were so ill,” he says.

Iqbal’s children have recovered, but his story is common in all the camps.

Doctors have been battling to see as many patients as they can. The risk of diseases spreading is high. Any epidemic would only add to the misery.

Akbar Noor is a medic from the charity Ummah Welfare Foundation. He says he sees 300-500 people a day in the 6 hours he holds his surgery.

Besides the health problems, Noor faces another issue.

“The medicines we have aren’t sufficient and then the ones we do have are being spoilt because of the heat. We are trying to build storage facilities but it takes time,” he says.

As I walked down through the camp the sun was at its highest.

I could feel the sun burning down. I have the luxury of leaving the camp for my hotel. Swatis have no choice but to bear the heat.”

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