Perspectives from an Afghan-American columnist : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread

>Subject: Afghanistan

I just received this perspective from someone from Afghanistan which I think is worth sharing.

> [This commentary comes from Tamim Ansary, a writer and columnist in San Francisco, who comes from Afghanistan. ]

> > > I've been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back > to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that > this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do > with this atrocity, but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral > damage. What else can we do?" Minutes later I heard some TV pundit > discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done." > > And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard > because I am from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 > years I've never lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell > anyone who will listen how it all looks from where I'm standing. I > speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no > doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in > New York. > > I agree that something must be done about those monsters. But > the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the > government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant > psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political > criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you > think Bin Laden,think Hitler. And when you think "the people of > Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." > > It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this > atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would > exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear > out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country. > > Some say, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the > Taliban? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, > suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are > 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no > food. There are millions of widows. And the Taliban has been burying > these widows alive in mass graves. The soil is littered with land > mines, the farms were all destroyed by the Soviets. These are a few of > the reasons why the Afghan people have not overthrown the Taliban. > > We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the > Stone Age.Trouble is, that's been done. The Soviets took care of it > already. Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level > their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. > Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their infrastructure? Cut > them off from medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did > all that. > > New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would > they at least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only > the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip > away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled > orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have wheelchairs. But > flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be a strike against > the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be > making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people > they've been raping all this time > > So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak > with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in > there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do > what needs to be done" they're thinking in terms of having the belly to > kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms > about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand. > What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because > some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin > Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that folks. Because to get any > troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let > us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will > other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're > flirting with a world war between Islam and the West. > And guess what: that's Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what > he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. > It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. > It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world > into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks > a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left > to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's > probably wrong, in the end the West would win, whatever that would > mean, but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just > theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? > > Bin Laden does. Anyone else? > > Tamim Ansary >

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001


I read that the Russians are telling us how stupid it will be to go in with gound troups. Seems to me ,we will just be asking for death. Why don't we just buckle down our hatches, so to speak, protect ourselves , seems to me that just like me getting my cam corder stolen at he fair, we left ourselves open for what happened. Now that we are more aware why wouldn't just defending ourselves and staying on our own ground be enough.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001

I've seen this in several places. I actually thought one of them was here, but I am so "out of it", maybe not.

Here is a link to an article about a different way to go:

It might work; what do you think?

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001

Yes Joy. I heard an interview with a man who used to be big in the military (it was on NPR) His name is Ben Forens (sp?) He wrote a book called "New Legal Foundations for Global Survival". He made so much sense. He says they should be tryed in a world court for mass murder and the crime was against humanity. The whole term "war" should be dropped and it should be a criminal investigation. I sure hope that when the posturing is all over and the reality sets in that the final outcome with be more for justice than revenge.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001

Thanks JOJ, I'll e-mail it to a few of my more militant friends.

Yes, Joy, the attacks were definitely crimes against humanity. No doubt most of the Islamic world feels the same way. An attack on the Afghans would turn the Islamic opinion suarely against the U.S.

Other things I feel are being ignored are (1) should the US take some share of the blame and consider how foreign policy might be changed to reduce resentment of US "imperialism", (2) how much of what the politicians are saying merely reflects their perception of how their re-electability might be affected? (3) is the real issue simply the continuation of the expanding US economy on a 4 year time scale, i.e. is there really any hope decisions will be made for the right reasons?

It's not a simple issue of right and wrong, and I am having a hard time sleeping lately!

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2001

Nice to see you back, David!

[1] Not a popular position, as far as I can see by poking around the web. But I think our government's policies and actions are part of the equation.

[2] What cynicism! But a good question. Probably true in some cases, or at least partially true. I don't think much of politicians, but they are (mostly) human too. I'm sure there are many, if not all, that are genuinely affected. I'm sure Gary Condit is glad to no longer be the focus of media attention . . .

[3] Hmmm. What a disturbing thought . . . .

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2001

You guys gotta check this place out, this Jeff Reese guys gives independent news.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2001

It is interesting to me that hardly anyone is reporting that fully a quarter of the people who died in the WTC attack were Muslim -- an estimated 1,500. Apparentely Bin Laden and his ilk do not care at all about killing their own people, nor any of the people of the 50 other nations and assorted religions who were inside.

While I do not have any good feelings about assaulting Afghanistan, apparently the damage is already done over there from the reports coming over the BBC -- the millions that are attempting to get over the borders into Pakistan and Iran have been turned back. Fellow Islam will not help them out, and they are projecting that millions are facing starvation, lack of water, disease, etc., as they pile up on the borders, trying to escape the consequences of the Taliban's refusal to hand over Bin Laden. Interesting that the United Emerates and now Saudi Arabia have both severed diplomatic ties with them and that leaves only Pakistan recognizing the Taliban.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2001

Good point about so many Muslims being killed in the WTC, Julie.

Here's another little bit from UTNE READER:

Terrorism: Violence An Interview with Satish Kumar

By Sara Buckwitz, Special to Utne Online

As a young man, Satish Kumar walked 8,000 miles for peace. Tuesday Satish, now in his mid sixties, found himself in New York, witness to the demolition of the World Trade Center by hijacked airliners. This man of peace shares with Utne Reader Online his unique perspective on the September 11 attack. He challenges Americans to retaliate with compassion and to end the spiral of violence.

"I think the whole world is filled with compassion and sympathy and sorrow," he says. Beyond the tragedy is an opportunity for America to rise above the West’s tradition of violence.

"America should respond with wisdom and grace and statesmanship… America being the most powerful in terms of wealth and power and weapons, has the potential to be the flagship and lead [the world] in a different direction," he says quickly, emphatically. Because of America’s status, he feels that it’s the only country capable of responding differently. If it doesn’t, he warns, there will be another World Trade Center and another Pentagon attacked, if not here, then elsewhere. He condemns the hijackers’ use of innocent women, children and seniors as weapons of mass destruction.

However, instead of focusing on this one event, Satish emphasizes the need to look at the larger issue. He sees Tuesday’s attack as evidence of a deeper trend of violence and injustice that can be connected to the protests in Seattle and Genoa, Satish says. This is part of that same problem.

As much as he recognizes the necessity of supporting the CIA, FBI and Secret Service, Satish says he hopes that America can somehow balance them with an equally powerful push to end the world of the root causes of violence: hunger and poverty. "I would propose that America lead the way and use the forum of the United Nations to bring together all nations… [to show that] not only will we suppress terrorism, but we’ll not tolerate violence in any form." He challenges America to eradicate all violence. For 50 years he listened to countries speak of removing poverty. "Words, words, words," he says. "In the meantime, countries like us, become richer, richer, richer." This is one of the most overt acts of violence he sees today. He sees no reason why, with all the food, technology and science, we do not erase hunger and poverty from the earth. Ending violence, he argues, will bring about peace, "the ultimate security," he says.

As a follower of Gandhi and editor of the spiritual magazine Resurgence, he believes that violence will only beget more violence. He says: "If there is a fire you do not put more fire or wood or oil, you use water," he says. "You will overcome violence with compassion, with peace; that is a the missing element."

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2001

Did I read it on this forum? Anyway, the idea was essentially: what would happen if we took all the money that we would spend on weaponry, etc., for getting Bin Laden out, and instead took the same amount of $ and bought food, clothing, medicines, building materials, etc., and gave it to the Afghanis...I'm sure we could buy quite a *lot!*

Who would win *that* culture war, do you suppose?

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2001

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