[Fwd: Afghani-American View]

From: Michael M. Butler (butler@comp-lib.org)
Date: Fri Sep 14 2001 - 20:22:38 MDT

Following is an Afghani-American writer, on Afghanistan and what an
invasion might mean.

Obligatory Extro relevance: sounds like clear thinking, mostly.


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

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