Flashback: In October 2001, Liberal Media Bashed Bush for Air-dropping Food, Medicine in Afghanistan

As President Obama authorizes both limited airstrikes on ISIS targets and the air-dropping of relief supplies to beleaguered religious minorities in northern Iraq, we thought it good to rewind to the early days of the war in Afghanistan when the liberal media criticized President Bush for both bombing al Qaeda and Taliban targets while simultaneously air-dropping food and medicine for civilians.

From the October 10, 2001 Media Research Center CyberAlert digest by Brent Baker (emphasis mine)


"Are the U.S. food drops on Afghanistan making matters worse? Some relief agencies say yes." So declared Peter Jennings at the top of Tuesday's World News Tonight in showing that the U.S. can't win with some who are always looking for the dark side of any U.S. decision. "Today some humanitarian aid workers were saying this effort is little more than propaganda," ABC's Dan Harris soon charged. "And some say the U.S. is actually doing more harm than good," since bombing has stopped ground transport of food.

Instead of stressing how unusual it is in a war for a nation's military personnel to risk their lives to try to feed indigenous people, ABC on Tuesday night and NBC on Tuesday morning stressed the futility of the effort, how the U.S. bombing, by inhibiting ground transportation, has blocked food distribution -- and ABC just dismissed it all as U.S. "propaganda."

On the October 9 Today, for instance, news reader Ann Curry complained: "The U.S. has also dropped 37,000 food rations for Afghan refugees. But relief agencies say the rations will do little as 7 million people are now near famine conditions."

On the same show, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, reporter Dana Lewis reported: "The U.S. has dropped more than bombs, 37,000 food packs for refugees airlifted on American C-7 transports. Flown 6000 miles from Ramstein air base in Germany. But relief agencies say the air drops will do little to feed 7 million people in near famine conditions....Aid agencies say before this crisis they were moving 10,000 tons of food per month into Afghanistan. And now to give you some perspective they say only about 2000 tons every week is getting, every month is getting in here. And they're saying that these American air drops simply will not feed the hungry refugees on the move."

Tuesday night on ABC's World News Tonight, following the above-quoted tease from anchor Peter Jennings, Dan Harris in Islamabad outlined how the U.S. is supposedly making things worse. Harris began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:

"They call it a 'bombs and bread' mission. While attacking the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, U.S. officials have reminded the public as often as possible that they're also attacking hunger: 37,000 individual food rations dropped every night. Today some humanitarian aid workers were saying this effort is little more than propaganda."

Nicolas Detorrente, Doctors Without Borders: "The main concern that we would have with air drops is that the amounts of food delivered so far are insufficient compared to the needs."

Harris: "And some say the U.S. is actually doing more harm than good. The bombing raids have some truck drivers too scared to carry food into the country. Many of the humanitarian workers who stayed behind in Afghanistan are now fleeing for the same reason. The attacks have significantly hampered a large humanitarian effort, and the U.S. food drops simply can't compensate for that. Also, Alex Renton of Oxfam International says while his group appreciates the U.S. food, there's a real danger of dropping packets in a nation riddled with land mines."

Alex Renton, Oxfam International: "Air drop is seen as a last resort. It's highly expensive, it doesn't target the needy, and it can create more problems than it solves."

Harris: "The Secretary of Defense today partially conceded the point."

Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense: "Anyone looking at it understands that delivering from the air is not your first choice."

Harris concluded: "Rumsfeld says the goal is to create a safer situation on the ground. That way the U.S. can use the $320 million it recently pledged toward Afghanistan to deliver food via trucks. If the fighting continues, however, all that aid could be sitting on the sidelines as winter sets in."

I bet those Afghans who received a package dropped from the air have more appreciation for it than these aid workers in Pakistan who are complaining to sympathetic reporters.

NB Staff
NB Staff