[FOUNTAIN]'Bombs and Bread' in Afghanistan

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[FOUNTAIN]'Bombs and Bread' in Afghanistan

The U.S. attack on Afghanistan is distinctive. The United States is bombing Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban government but providing food to starving Afghans. It is like an old saying, "giving disease and medicine at the same time." European newspapers and televisions, which are fond of creating new expressions, already are using the term "bread and bombs" to describe this war's dual nature.

Right after the air strikes began, the United States also began dropping food rations in Afghanistan. The words "humanitarian daily foods" and the U.S. flag are printed on the packages of meals of 2,200 calories each. Two C-17 transport planes that conducted this mission returned safely to Ramstein air base in Germany a few days ago. The planes' nickname was interesting - "The Spirit of Berlin."

Why? When the Soviet Union blocked access to West Berlin between June 1948 and May 1949, the United States conducted a major airborne operation that saved the citizens of West Berlin from starvation. At that time, the U.S. Air Force shipped 1.4 million tons of food and necessities. A new word, Rosinenbomber (raisinbomber) was coined to describe planes that dropped bags of bread and raisins instead of bombs.

Though Germany is now the biggest economy in Europe, Germans did not forget the raisinbombers that helped them when they were suffering from hunger and cold right after their defeat.

The United States is suggesting that the Afghanistan food drops are similar to those in Berlin a half-century ago, and emphasizes that this war is not a "clash of civilizations" with the Muslim world.

But this humanitarian aid is like a feint to promote internal dissent in the Islamic world on one hand, while gaining its support for the war on the other. There is also criticism from Doctors Without Borders that the humanitarian aid is propaganda to justify the air strike. The aid may also be based on a longer-term strategic preparation for the Taliban's surrender of power.

Not only in Islamic countries, but also in Germany and other countries around the world, people are demonstrating every day against the "humanitarian war" the United States says it is waging. The protesters say that immediate discontinuance of the war would be a more humanitarian action to take.

The United States' consideration for Afghan refugees triggered a sudden thought of the Nogeun-ri incident, in which Korean citizens were mistaken for North Korean forces and killed by American soldiers during the Korean War. In war, terrible things happen despite attempts at humanitarianism.



The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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