I recommend reading this short essay through to its chilling conclusion.
-- With all best wishes, Stewart Wachs
AN AFGHAN-AMERICAN SPEAKS
Sept. 14, 2001
By Tamim Ansary
You can't bomb us back into the Stone Age. We're already there. But you
can start a new world war, and that's exactly what Osama bin Laden wants.
hearing a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age."
Ronn Owens, on San Francisco's KGO Talk Radio, conceded today 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 in the United States 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 bin 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
healthcare? 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?