The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

September 15, 2001

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 13:17:02 -0400
From: Tom Ritchford <>
Subject: [extreme] a view from Afghanistan

From: "ruben garcia" <>

Subject:  A view from Afghanistan

A sobering essay forwarded by a UC Berkeley professor:

Dear Friends,

The following was sent to me by my friend Tamim Ansary.  Tamim is an
Afghani-American writer.  He is also one of the most brilliant
people I know in this life.  When he writes, I read.  When he
talks, I listen.
Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in.
-Gary T.

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:

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

<>.........a new fortune every minute.
<>..................Forteans of New York.



extreme NY calendar: <>
extreme NY radio:    <>

extreme calendar:

Or send an email To:
This email was sent to:

T O P I C A -- Register now to manage your mail!

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact:

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.