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[Nettime-nl] Bomb Afghanistan to Stone Age?
Leon on Wed, 19 Sep 2001 22:18:29 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-nl] Bomb Afghanistan to Stone Age?


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Published on Wednesday, September 19, 2001 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Bomb Afghanistan to Stone Age? It's Been Done
by Tamim Ansary

SAN FRANCISCO -- Last week I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan
back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio, allowed that this
would mean killing innocent people, but "we're at war, we have to accept
collateral damage." Later I heard a TV pundit discussing whether we "have
the belly to do what must be done."
I thought about these issues 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 share a few thoughts with anyone who will listen.

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 fervently wish to see those monsters punished.

But the Taliban and Bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the
government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who
captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in bondage
ever since. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master 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 love
for someone to eliminate the Taliban and clear out the rats' nest of
international thugs holed up in their country. I guarantee it.

Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow
the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, damaged
and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there
are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan -- a country with no economy, no
food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the approximately 2 million men
killed during the war with the Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing
these women for being women and has buried some of its opponents alive in
mass graves. The soil of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost
all the farms have been destroyed. The Afghan people have tried to overthrow
the Taliban. They haven't been able to.

Now for the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. The
trouble is, it's already been done. The Soviets took care of it. 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? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from
medicine and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at
least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only members of
the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away
and hide. (They have already, I hear.) 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
be making common cause with the Taliban -- by raping once again the people
it has been raping all this time.

So what else can be done? Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The
only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. I think that
when people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done," many of
them are thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed.
They are thinking about overcoming moral qualms about killing innocent
people. But it's the belly to die, not kill, that's actually on the table.
Americans will die in a land war to get Bin Laden. 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. 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. An invasion would flirt with
global war between Islam and the West.

And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and why he did
this thing. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. At the
moment, of course, "Islam" as such does not exist. There are Muslims and
there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity as Islam. Bin Laden
believes that if he can get a war started, he can constitute this entity and
he'd be running it. 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
Muslim lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, even better
from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong about winning. In the
end the West would probably overcome -- whatever that would mean in such a
war; but the war would last for years and millions would die. Who has the
belly for that? Bin Laden, yes, but anyone else?

I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are the
soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait us
into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish. We can't
let him do that.

Tamim Ansary, an Afghan author of children's books, distributed this article
over the Internet.
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