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[Nettime-nl] USA: Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban
Case Roole on Sat, 15 Sep 2001 23:35:41 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] USA: Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban

Ik vond het volgende artikel op www.corpwatch.org; oorspronkelijk werd het in 
mei jongstleden gepubliceerd door de Los Angeles Times.

USA: Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban

by Robert Scheer
Los Angeles Times
May 22, 2001 Note: This column written in May is highly relevant to today's 

Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy every 
vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will 
embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, 
the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban 
rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human 
rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of 
State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the U.S. the main 
sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that 
opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's 
estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches 
this administration's attention.

Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American 
terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other 
crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 

Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time 
when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan 
because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.

The war on drugs has become our own fanatics' obsession and easily trumps all 
other concerns. How else could we come to reward the Taliban, who has 
subjected the female half of the Afghan population to a continual reign of 
terror in a country once considered enlightened in its treatment of women?

At no point in modern history have women and girls been more systematically 
abused than in Afghanistan where, in the name of madness masquerading as 
Islam, the government in Kabul obliterates their fundamental human rights. 
Women may not appear in public without being covered from head to toe with 
the oppressive shroud called the burkha, and they may not leave the house 
without being accompanied by a male family member. They've not been permitted 
to attend school or be treated by male doctors, yet women have been banned 
from practicing medicine or any profession for that matter.

The lot of males is better if they blindly accept the laws of an extreme 
religious theocracy that prescribes strict rules governing all behavior, from 
a ban on shaving to what crops may be grown. It is this last power that has 
captured the enthusiasm of the Bush White House.

The Taliban fanatics, economically and diplomatically isolated, are at the 
breaking point, and so, in return for a pittance of legitimacy and cash from 
the Bush administration, they have been willing to appear to reverse 
themselves on the growing of opium. That a totalitarian country can 
effectively crack down on its farmers is not surprising. But it is grotesque 
for a U.S. official, James P. Callahan, director of the State Department's 
Asian anti-drug program, to describe the Taliban's special methods in the 
language of representative democracy: "The Taliban used a system of 
consensus-building," Callahan said after a visit with the Taliban, adding 
that the Taliban justified the ban on drugs "in very religious terms."

Of course, Callahan also reported, those who didn't obey the theocratic edict 
would be sent to prison.

In a country where those who break minor rules are simply beaten on the spot 
by religious police and others are stoned to death, it's understandable that 
the government's "religious" argument might be compelling. Even if it means, 
as Callahan concedes, that most of the farmers who grew the poppies will now 
confront starvation. That's because the Afghan economy has been ruined by the 
religious extremism of the Taliban, making the attraction of opium as a 
previously tolerated quick cash crop overwhelming.

For that reason, the opium ban will not last unless the U.S. is willing to 
pour far larger amounts of money into underwriting the Afghan economy.

As the Drug Enforcement Administration's Steven Casteel admitted, "The bad 
side of the ban is that it's bringing their country--or certain regions of 
their country--to economic ruin." Nor did he hold out much hope for Afghan 
farmers growing other crops such as wheat, which require a vast 
infrastructure to supply water and fertilizer that no longer exists in that 
devastated country. There's little doubt that the Taliban will turn once 
again to the easily taxed cash crop of opium in order to stay in power.

The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug war zealots, 
but in the end this alliance will prove a costly failure. Our long sad 
history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates the futility 
of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession.

Robert Scheer is a Syndicated Columnist.

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