re: Aid for Afghanistan

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Mon Dec 31 2001 - 04:21:09 MST

On Mon, 31 Dec 2001, Neil Blanch wrote:

[The attribution of the following is a bit unclear to me... If I'm
incorrectly attributing it to Neil, please correct this...]

> The USA is dropping bombs on these people for god's sake!

The USA is dropping bombs on a country that has provided a regime
that has been tolerant to a large terrorist organization for almost
a decade.

There are 20+ million people in Afghanistan. There were a few
tens of thousands in the Taliban and the military. If you
believe that a population cannot control the destiny of a
country then *PLEASE* explain the situation in Argentina
over the last several weeks. The Taliban arose in Afghanistan
because the population accepted it.

The USA has made significant efforts to only target members
of Al Qa'ida and Taliban and I believe in most cases has
been successful in that effort. I believe that most people
would agree that although there have been some errors the
civilian casualties have been minimal.

Civilian populations are ultimately responsible for the
actions of their governments. In the U.S. that lead
to civilians in the WTC being targets for terrorists.
In Afghanistan that results in civilians being brought
into the "line of fire" in eliminating the Taliban and
Al Qa'ida.

> The USA is at least partly responsible for the rise of the Taliban to power.
> The USA helped create, train & directly funded, elements in Afghanistan
> that are at least partly responsible for the terrible years of war
> & bloodshed that the country has endured.

I do not see an assertion here that the U.S. is responsible for the
decade of war the Afghani's were subjected to by the Soviet Union.
The Taliban rose to power in the vacuum that arose only after the
S.U. was defeated. Yes, the U.S. helped empower many of the
people responsible for dragging Afghanistan into an anarchy
but that was in response to acts of conquest by others.
I see no claims that life as a Soviet colonial state shoulda/
woulda/coulda been better than that under Taliban rule.

(I will not disagree in hindsight that the S.U. may have been
more extropic than the Taliban -- but one has to argue that
that the consequences of various actions could have been known
in advance.)

> How many Afghanis have died as a direct result of American policies?

How many Afghanis died as a direct result of Soviet policies?
How many Afghanis died as the result of economic havoc created
by the Soviets or the Taliban? How many Afghanis died because
citizens were simply too weak to stand up against the Soviets
or the Taliban?

> they helped psychotic religious nuts become our government by giving
> them guns & missiles,

Facts not in evidence. While the Intelligence Service of Pakistan
may have helped promote the Taliban I doubt a case can be made that
the U.S. gave them "guns & missiles".

*What* possible agenda could the U.S. have where it would promote
the success of fundamentalist Islamic memes ?!?

> Do you really expect twenty odd years of utter bastardry to be just
> forgotten, just because NOW you've decided to act with SOME decency?

No. But some people may remember that the U.S. *did* help liberate
Afghanistan from the Soviets. Others may remember that the U.S. *did*
help liberate them from the Taliban (as people celbrating in the streets
seems to demonstrate).

But people have short memories and they will ultimately be determined
by who puts food on their table tomorrow.

> If you truly want the US to be safe then the US must act responsibly.
> It must stop its political & military support of terrorists (sorry,
> they're "freedom fighters" - at least they are until they start bombing YOU)

I believe the estimates of the number of people who may have been
murdered by Stalin ranges from 7-30 million people. Unless you can
make a case that "responsible action" would have been ignoring the
threat of communist dictatorships then I would say your suggestion
that the U.S. did not act responsibly is "salt spray" being cast
by the wind up from an ocean (an interesting odor but little

I'm going to state it quite clearly to Neil, Amara, Samantha
and others who may be placing a high value on "current" human
lives (vs. past or future human lives) -- Hitler and Stalin
*MURDERED* millions of people. Unless you can make *clear*
and *reasoned* cases for when one should or should not oppose
political power structures that give rise to Hitlers & Stalins
I think your positions are on swampy ground. How many times
should one watch Hitlers & Stalins repeat themselves before
one acts?

Here is my challenge to you -- define precisely how many people
should be killed and what evidence of their deaths should be required
before one should set into motion political (& military) opposition
against the likes of Hitler, Stalin or bin Laden?

(For example, I believe Amnesty International has well documented
hundreds or thousands of cases where people are being killed annually
by various governments, yet I hear not a *word* of equivalent
rhetoric against the governments of Russia, China, Burma, Rwanda,
Indonesia, etc.)

> America must become responsible & decent. The empty rhetoric of "liberty &
> justice for all", the lie of "the protector of freedom" & the "champion of
> justice" must become true.

The only way to impose "freedom" & "justice" on most nations that
currently exist in the world would be to conquer them and then redefine
their political system as the U.S. did with Japan.

> America can lead the world, and not just militarily or commercially but
> ethically as well, if only the government & the people of America have
> the strength and courage.

I would suggest that you have not been reading the discussions of the last
several months on the extropians list, nor the popular news such as the
NY Times. The "ethics" of people with "fundamentalist" perspectives are
drastically different from those of the America. Grossly simplified they
are "If you believe what we believe, then we will tolerate you -- otherwise
we want to destroy you" in contrast to something along the lines of "We will
try to understand you and accept you, even if your beliefs are quite different
from our own".

> There can be no justification for the events of 9/11 just as there can be no
> justification for the many atrocities & crimes of convenience that have been
> committed in America's name.

Claims without facts. I believe the body count of "innocent" people
in Afghanistan is still significantly below that of "innocent" people
in the 911 attacks. When that ceases to be true I will begin to
consider whether the U.S. is committing "atrocities & crimes".

> The cycle of hatred has to stop somewhere or we
> will see the events of 9/11 happening again. And again. And again.

It isn't a cycle of "hatred" -- it might be a cycle of "fear".
America may have a fear of individuals with "absolute" power
in any nation because the can command forces that represent
threats to both U.S. government officials as well as significant
numbers of U.S. citizens. If one accepts that the primary purpose
of a U.S. government is to protect its citizens -- not to impose
its own "framework" on the world -- then its actions have been
quite "restricted" over the years.

> America can be more than just America the great, it could truly become
> America the good, America the just, America the free, if only the nation &
> it's people have the courage & the humility to change for the better, to
> give as well as receive, to heal instead of harm, to become a true leader of
> humanity.

Noble. And I agree in principle. But this is the "carrot" argument
and I question whether it works with some individuals (or countries)
without the "stick".

> can America the same selfless courage as a nation?

It has demonstrated such in the past and I do not doubt that
the resolve is present to do so again. A significant question
is whether or not we have leaders capable of doing so.


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