Winter in Afghanistan
Jude Wanniski
October 23, 2001


Memo To: Secretary of State Colin Powell
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Mass Starvation

You do not know how happy you made me Sunday when you said on FoxNewsSunday that you were going to put some elbow grease into relief efforts in Afghanistan. The Pentagon bombers really have no time, or inclination, to think of the “collateral damage” their offensive in Afghanistan is producing. The little box lunches they are pushing out of airplanes on a country the size of Texas is really a cynical public-relations joke. We are propagandizing our own people with fairy stories about how we are dropping bombs on the bad guys and free food on the good guys. I don’t know if it is necessary to bomb hospitals in Kabul to get the bad guys to turn over Osama bin Laden, but it might be more merciful to have the 100 people the Taliban say were killed there go quickly than it is to have a million refugees caught between a rock and a hard place die of starvation, cold and disease in the next several weeks.

This really is “on the margin,” Mr. Secretary. Unless you can rattle enough cages in Washington and Islamabad, the truck convoys, which you know are the only way to save those people, will not go into motion until it is all over next spring. You know for sure, I think, that unless the refugees are fed and kept alive, Al Qaida will blame their loss on the United States, just as they blame the U.S. for the death of 1.5 million Iraqi civilians as a result of the 10-year embargo we’ve placed on Iraq. There is no justification for political terrorism, Mr. Secretary, but there is provocation for it. That’s just one reason I’m happy that you are Secretary of State, in a position to do something about the coming winter in Afghanistan.