Frontline  

October  2001 
Cover Story


ĎThink Taliban, think Nazisí

BY TAMIM ANSARY

Iíve been hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn
Owens, on KGO Talk Radio to day, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but "weíre 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 Iíve lived here for 35 years Iíve never lost track of whatís going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how it all looks from where Iím 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 Bin Laden are not Afghanistan. Theyíre 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." Itís 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 donít the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer is, theyíre starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan ó 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 landmines, 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, thatís been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? Theyíre 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 todayís Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. Theyíd slip away and hide. Maybe the bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they donít move too fast, they donít even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldnít really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban ó by raping once again the people theyíve 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" theyíre 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.

Letís pull our heads out of the sand. Whatís actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Ladenís hideout. Itís much bigger than that folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, weíd 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 Iím going. Weíre flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

And guess what: thatís Bin Ladenís program. Thatís exactly what he wants. Thatís why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. Itís 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. Osama Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can constitute this entity and heíd 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, heís got a billion soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in those lands, thatís a billion people with nothing left to lose, thatís even better from Bin Ladenís point of view. Heís 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? n

(Courtesy: znet.org)

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