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Supplement, 30/9-6/10/01 (1)

Supplement, 30/9-6/10/01 (1)

Some two weeks ago, Anne McElvoy of The Independent was ridiculing us
peacenik boobies for the suggestion (made by George Monbiot among others)
that the US ought to bombard Afghanistan with food parcels.

That now seems to be what they are doing. And very welcome it is too. But as
Monbiot points out in one of the articles below, it is not possible to
achieve both the humanitarian aims and the military aims before the winter
sets in.

The military option confronts them with the very real prospect of letting
all hell break loose over Afghanistan, killing large numbers of the people
whose faces are staring out at us from the aid agency advertisements, only
for Osima bin Ladenšs voice to be heard at the end of it all, saying hešs
alive and well.

Whereas, had they been willing from the start to negotiate with the Taliban,
bin Laden could have been out of harmšs way by now. Had Clinton been willing
to negotiate after the Embassy bombings, he could have been out of harmšs
way well before the attack on the World Trade Centre (the Taliban at that
time, if I remember aright, suggested delivering him over to Saudi Arabia,
who, unlike the American judicial system, could have provided the
satisfactory spectacle of a public beheading).

But as with Saddam Hussein, the Americans set out not to resolve the problem
but to humiliate the bad guys (in this case, including the Taliban). After
hundreds of thousands of deaths and an immense reservoir of resentment built
up in the Arab world, Hussein still has not been humiliated, though a
people has been reduced to destitution.

The Afghans are already in a state of destitution and the Americans are
faced, as Monbiot points out, with genocide as the only available military
option. Unless of course they decide to abide by the terms of the UN Charter
and try to resolve the problem by negotiation. But only a hopelessly starry
eyed hippy would ever dream of suggesting such a thing.


*  Let the eagle strike free [Walter Lacqueur argues that one of Œthe
paradoxical and perverse lessons of history is that retaliating against
those who were only marginally involved in a terrorist act may have a
considerably beneficial impact.š Happily for us in the UK this is a lesson
that does not seem to have been learnt - yet - by Mr bin Laden and his
*  No lack of work to do for a Muslim Foreign Legion [An amusing idea from
William Safire which, if followed through, will probably expose the lack of
Muslim enthusiasm for the New World Order and turn the War against
ŒTerrorismš into a war against Islam]
*  The Mullah is laughing [An Indian commentator blurts out what none of us
dare to say, that the US hasnšt a clue what to do next]
*  Genocide or peace [Excellent article from George Monbiot: ŒThe 19-day
suspension of aid that came to an end yesterday may have killed thousands
already. Œ]
*  Phony Pacifists [Extracts. Article from Washington Post arguing, with
some passion, that people like ourselves are hypocrites because we still
want to be defended by the very military forces we oppose. We donšt actually
want to live under a Muslim fundamentalist dictatorship. The point, however,
is that the US and Britain do not use their forces for defensive purposes.
They use them for aggression (which may be justified - as perhaps the
British aggression against Germany in 1939 may have been justified. But it
wasnšt defence.). It is this aggression that has rendered them hateful in
the eyes of the world and therefore liable to terrorist attacks. Both
countries, but especially the US, would be very difficult to invade and
conquer, and their purely defensive needs could be met by an enormously
reduced military force.]
*  Powell: Anti-Terror Has Many Phases
*  Dealing with Taliban [Excellent article from Eric Margolis on foolishness
of idea of rebuilding Afghanistan on the basis of the Northern Alliance]

AND, IN SUPPLEMENT, 30/9-6/10/01 (2)

*  America's war on terrorism [Pakistani view saying that the US have missed
the opportunity to excite real, heartfelt, sympathy in the world]
*  A War on Many Fronts [Extracts. Anyone wanting to understand why the US
is disliked and despised in the world only has to read the articles of
Charles Krauthammer. His basic thesis is that the world is too unpleasant a
place for Americans to tolerate its continued existence. It should be
remarked in reply to the argument on biological weapons that the genie of
this satanic technology has been let out of the bottle, as much in the
laboratories of the US as anywhere else, and simply cannot be put back
*  Cold War II: America needs you, Harry Truman [Argument that GW Bush is,
rightly in the authoršs estimation, opening a new Cold War, in many ways
equivalent to the old one, against radical Islam]
*  Saddam's shadow haunts quiet Americans [extracts from interesting article
arguing that the US cannot afford to form a real alliance - eg through a UN
mandate - for fear of losing its freedom to act against Iraq. Outlines the
few moves that have been made to get UN backing]
*  U.S. Strategists Begin to Favor Threat to Use Nuclear Arms
*  'I believe the terrorists wanted a nuclear attack on Baghdad'
[Conversation between famous conversationalists PJ OšRourke and Clive James.
Some interesting passages, once Clive Jamesš contributions are removed, on
the massacre on the road to Basra and the purge of the Palestinians in
Kuwait. Ends with a complaint that the US is too innocent in world affairs
and therefore not sufficiently interventionist. Funny to think people get
paid for making this sort of conversation. And other people pay to hear


*  Arab states not to be targeted, assures US
*  Dangerous anti-Americanism next door [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavezšs
little joke last week about ŒOsama bin Chavenš didnšt go down very well with
the Miami Herald]
*  Islamabad plays its wild card [Interesting Pakistani view of possible
options for an alternative government to the Taliban (Syed Ahmed Gialani of
the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan)]
*  Servility does not pay in the war against terrorism [Indian complaint
that the Kashmiri Muslim suicide bomb against the Indian-supported Jammu and
Kashmir assembly isnšt being taken seriously as an act of world terrorism
because the US needs Pakistani support ... for the war against Terrorism]

US POLICY,4057,2968283%255E1683,00.html

by Walter Laqueur
The Australian, 2nd October

CONVENTIONAL wisdom now says that the US ought to form as wide a coalition
as possible as it prepares to do battle against terrorist forces around the
It also praises the Bush administration for having the forbearance to wait
until the culprits for the attacks on Washington and New York are identified
before firing the first retaliatory missile. Above all, continues received
wisdom, let's not hit the innocent and let's do something to correct the
causes of terrorism. And, for God's sake, don't single out Islam.

These are all sensible propositions put forward by people of goodwill. They
also couldn't be more wrong.

To start with the top one, the idea of establishing a broad coalition of
civilised nations is nothing less than an invitation for paralysis. This
includes even a coalition of Western governments. Some of the US's European
allies, Britain first and foremost, will give critical support. Others,
however, will be reluctant. And all, even Britain, will insist on having
their say before decisions are taken.

Already, even before the dead are buried, voices are heard saying that the
main assignment is to prevent the US from acting hastily and
indiscriminately. Keep a cool head, advises German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer. Reaction should be proportionate, say others.

But what is proportionate? About twice as many people were killed in New
York as in Pearl Harbor and all were civilians. Proportionate means civilian
casualties. But members of the coalition will insist on not harming the
innocent. They will also demand foolproof evidence, but even if this
evidence is forthcoming in a timely fashion, they will think of other
reasons for inaction.

All these wishes are wholly justified. They also mean that the terrorists
have nothing to fear and that Saddam Hussein can sleep in peace. That he
supports terrorism against the US can hardly be doubted. Yet evidence of his
direct involvement in last month's attacks may never be obtained. A
coalition is never stronger than its weakest link and this coalition will
consist of many weak links.

This will be especially the case if the US draws Muslim and Arab countries
into the coalition, as it did at the time of the Gulf War. Again, this is a
most sensible proposition -- and again it is quite unrealistic. Some Muslim
governments abhor terrorists, no doubt, but they fear public opinion even
more. They assume that if they were to co-operate with the West against the
terrorists, there would be violent demonstrations and they might be toppled.
They remember the fate of King Abdullah of Jordan, of Anwar Sadat and many
other Arab and Muslim leaders. They know that other governments that
sympathise with the fundamentalists are prepared to help their overthrow.

Could the US have reacted any other way? If it had indiscriminately
retaliated within a day or two after the attacks in Manhattan and Washington
against any of the governments suspected of aiding international terrorism
(and it is well known who they are), there would have been a terrific outcry
about American insanity and cruelty. It would have quickly died down. It
also would have had a considerable effect.

Terrorism is not based on commonsense and elementary logic, and neither is
effective counter-terrorism. The paradoxical and perverse lessons of history
is that retaliating against those who were only marginally involved in a
terrorist act may have a considerably beneficial impact.

The US attacked Muammar Gaddafi's Libya in 1986 after the bombing of a West
Berlin discotheque, even though Gaddafi, a veteran supporter of global
terrorism, may have been innocent in this specific case. The US in 1998 also
bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, under the mistaken assumption that
it was manufacturing poison gas, after the attack on the US embassy in

What was the result of these American mistakes? Both Libya and Sudan went
out of the terrorism business. The other principals too took fright -- at
least for a while. The US was hitting back when attacked. The real
perpetrators of those crimes rightly assumed that the next time they would
become targets.

The next fallacy holds that today's terrorists must have a good reason to be
willing to die. Is it not true that the US and the West have ignored their
grievances? If the alliance is wide, questions such as this one will be
heard often.

Grievances and rage do exist. The Islamic countries, once in the forefront
of human civilisation, have sadly fallen behind politically, economically,
culturally -- across the board -- not only in comparison with the West but
also the Far East.

What binds together the societies that throughout history have been willing
to commit suicide terrorism -- the Assassins in the Middle Ages, the Irish
terrorists in the 19th century, the Tamil Tigers today -- is a lack of
self-criticism. The fault always must belong to a foreign power. These are
the roots of the rage and the grievances in some Muslim countries, and there
is little that outsiders can do to change this state of affairs. There are a
great many groups and minorities all over the world who have more legitimate
grievances, yet they do not commit terrorism.

Mention of the other groups reminds us that the willingness to commit
suicide is by no means an Islamic monopoly. A network of aggressive radicals
is the enemy, not Islam, a religion as respectable as any other.

But we should not be blinded to the fact that terrorists today are found
primarily in Muslim countries or in countries in which Muslims coexist with
people of other backgrounds. This is true for almost 90 per cent of all
violent conflicts in the contemporary world. Even in western European
countries such as Britain, France and Germany as well as the US, the gospel
of terrorist violence is preached from mosques and so-called Islamic
cultural centres. This is tolerated in the name of multiculturalism.

The chance for immediate retribution has been missed, so what can be done
now? To bomb Afghan cities would be the height of folly. What can be gained
from hitting cities such as Kabul and Kandahar or villages in a country that
has already been reduced to a Stone Age level? Osama bin Laden and his
henchmen ought to be relentlessly pursued. But the US should know that a
limited action, such as the landing of special units in an area in which bin
Laden is reported to be hiding, will be risky and its success uncertain.

Anyway, the principal target should not be this Saudi fanatic, whose
importance has been grossly exaggerated. The target is the terrorist
underworld in which he has operated. It is perfectly true, as bin Laden
says, that if he is eliminated others will continue his jihad against the
"Great Satan" and the various other small Satans. Bin Laden and the other
radical groups have great support throughout the Muslim world. Many of the
younger generation have been indoctrinated to hate the West and its values
and are willing to fight for its destruction.

The well-meaning people counselling dialogue forget that the Manhattan
attack was not the beginning of a new era but that it was carried out with
old weapons. There is reason to assume that next time weapons of mass
destruction will be used, given that repeat attacks from the air will be
more difficult. American planners ought to think about prevention.

The campaign facing the US could be compared with the draining of a swamp.
It will mean, among other things, preventing the transfer of money and,
above all, technology to terrorists. Without state help, the capacity of the
terrorists will be very much reduced. Hence the need to deal with the states
that protect and assist the terrorists.

They should be under constant observation and threat of punishment. If this
means hitting Baghdad, so be it. There is more than a grain of truth in
Accius's Oderint, dum metuant ("Let them hate, so long as they fear"). At
present the terrorists and their protectors are not really afraid. Not
because they are brave but because they live in a fantasy world and it might
be necessary to spell out the consequences of their actions in detail.

Walter Laqueur is author, among other books, of The New Terrorism:
Fanaticism and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

by William Safire
International Herald Tribune, 2nd October (from New York Times)

WASHINGTON How to get the best intelligence within Afghanistan about the
whereabouts of the bin Laden terrorists? From local villagers, of course,
some of whom know where caves and camps are.

How to encourage frightened Afghans to be U.S. commando units' eyes and
ears? First, by identifying the anti-terrorist cause with that of mainstream
Muslims around the world. The United States is failing to do that now. One
reason is that the seat-warmer at the Voice of America could not restrain
its news directors from broadcasting the incendiary diatribes of Taliban
leaders. This Monday the White House was to appoint Robert Riley, at Senator
Phil Gramm's urging, as VOA chief. But there is still no overall boss of
U.S. official broadcasting, because the Bush administration thinks an
aggressive Radio Free Afghanistan has no priority.

The second reason America is not competing for the hearts and minds of
frightened Afghans is the reluctance of well-known Muslim clergy to preach
more than "Don't blame Muslims, we're loyal Americans and deplore the mass
murder." That is quite true, and it is right to condemn religious profiling,
but it often falls short of the courageous message that would give pause to
terrorist recruits - that radical Islam's terror is a perversion and an
abomination before God, and such blasphemy will forever deny them access to

Then it would be up to U.S. government broadcasters to pump that truthful
message into the transistor radios in villages that contain the human
sources of intelligence about where terrorists are hiding.

The suicide bombers were motivated to mass murder by the false promise of
eternal joy after death, and it is up to Muslim clergy who know their Koran
and have special credibility to publicly and repeatedly refute that cultish

Another way to learn about terrorist redoubts in Afghanistan and other
countries, and to undermine the worldwide anti-Christian appeal of the
radicals, is to work with America's Islamic allies to form a Muslim legion.
The Kurds under U.S. protection in northern Iraq are an example.

Last week, from his hiding place in Biyara, Qaida's Abu Abdul Rahman,
financed by Osama bin Laden and armed by Saddam Hussein, ordered an ambush
of Kurds in Halabja, scene of Saddam's poison gas attack in the '80s.
Thirty-six Kurds were killed and many ritually beheaded, their bodies

This atrocity angered the Kurds, who counterattacked and took the town and
19 terrorist prisoners. Under what must have been vigorous interrogation,
the captured terrorists gave up the names of 34 bin Laden leaders who
trained them in Afghanistan. Reached in Ankara, where he was on the way to
Washington, free Kurdistan's prime minister, Barham Salih, said this data
might help provide intelligence links. Asked if some of his fierce
compatriots, versed in arduous mountain fighting, would join a force of
Muslims from Kosovo, Bosnia, Kuwait and other lands where Western
intervention has saved Muslims from sure death, Mr. Salih replied, "Why

U.S. and British special forces would worry about communication in a variety
of languages, but groups of fighters, working under our unified allied
command and with an anti-Taliban underground, could be airlifted to discrete
regions for search missions.

The non-Arab Muslims who worry bin Laden and Saddam most are the Turks. When
Syria refused to eject the anti-Turkish terrorist headquarters from
Damascus, Turkey massed a powerful army on the border, and Syria promptly

"The Turks are smart," says a Kurdish friend. "Once they are certain that
the U.S. is seriously engaged, they will help you in Afghanistan. More
important, Turkey's regional policy is changing. It will be strongly at your
side in the removal of the source of world terror in Baghdad."

A Muslim foreign legion including Westerners would be a powerful symbol of
Islam's enlistment in the campaign against terror. Then, if U.S. government
broadcasters ever get organized and realize there's a war on, they will have
a story to tell the world that will counter the appeal of Islam's murderous

by M.J. Akbar
Daily Star, Bangla Desh, 2nd October


IF I were Mullah Omar I would be laughing all the way to the mosque right
now. What began as an Armageddon, or at least a crusade, launched with a
Bush-fire zealous enough to singe millions of television sets across the
globe, has become a silent skirmish within three weeks. It could of course
be the most expensive skirmish in the history of warfare, but that is the
way of Washington.


It is possible that the next fortnight could prove me wrong, but it already
seems that, ten years later, these men have no stomach for an American war.
They want victory without collateral. They want a proxy war that can only
end with the illusion of success. Having, in the anger of the first phase,
committed themselves to an objective that demands sacrifice, they are now
ready to settle for a political victory instead of any real solution. They
want one man now, not the system that makes that man effective. The war has
become a hunt, by special forces using sophisticated intelligence to scour
the terrain inside Afghanistan for Osama bin Laden.

We should have expected this dilution of American will. Because Afghanistan
is really part of America's domestic agenda, rather than an international
crisis. This holds equally true for Pakistan and India. The politics and
policies of all three countries are being determined by how much this
problem can serve their domestic interests and how the three governments can
further their specific interests through this crisis.

The world has never quite known what to do about the Taliban. Pakistan
helped create it, so established a lonely vested interest. The United Arab
Emirates placed an ambassador out of self-protective instincts; and Saudi
Arabia to show solidarity with a government that was avowedly Islamic in its
claims. The rest of the world ignored something it could do nothing about. I
was as aghast as anyone else at the images that strained the imagination on
11 September. But far more horrifying than what the Taliban has done to
America is what the Taliban has done to its own people, to Afghanistan. For
more than half a decade now the women of Afghanistan have lived through
degradation and terror that must shame all nations in principle and Muslim
nations in particular, for the word that the Holy Quran uses for women is
reverence. Surely believing Muslims do not need to be told about the fourth
Surah of the Quran, Al Nisa, whose principles govern their personal law. The
opening verse establishes the first principle: "O mankind! Reverence your
Guardian-Lord who created you from a single person, created, of like nature,
his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and
women. Fear Allah, through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and
(reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you"
(from the translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

Is this what the Taliban has done since it came to power? Shown reverence to
women? Instead it has brutalised women with a particular venom that has been
recorded on film and in print, as and when possible in a closed and
terrorised country. The Taliban social philosophy has destroyed education,
eliminated (physically) civil society and devastated the country. The worst
terror of this regime has been reserved for its own people. Who cared? No
one. Washington itself, prodded by Islamabad, had begun the process of
legitimising the Taliban in a quiet, incremental manner, a fact that the
State Department will not easily accept just now. Washington understood the
Taliban only when the Taliban reached New York and Washington.


The Pakistan administration's agenda is much clearer and more difficult. It
has already won a signal victory by persuading Washington to soften its line
against the Taliban. Pakistan would not want to lose an asset it created
over the years in a country critical to its interests. It is axiomatic that
any government other than the Taliban would be more hostile to Islamabad.
The second, or maybe the first, imperative in Islamabad is survival of the
old fashioned kind. Stay alive, and stay in power. President Pervez
Musharraf was poorly advised when he decided to televise his tension, but
the comparative calm since then could prove deceptive. The real problems for
the Pakistan government will come if the Americans are unable to storm the
Laden hideout and pick him, or if Mullah Omar rejects the compromise being
suggested by soft-liners in the Taliban who do not want their movement to
become hostage to a single individual. This would mean real problems for the
Bush team as well, forcing them into a battle they do not want. Reluctant
armies rarely win. So far the pro-Taliban sentiment in Pakistan has been
less farspread than the pictures of American flags burning would suggest,
but real shooting could trigger real passions.

The government in Delhi had one obvious motive; that whatever scenario
emerged after the dust settled, the world should do enough to eliminate the
use of terror from the region. But this would have to be a reasonable and
regional package, rather than a unilateral one, and therefore a policy that
the world could support.

But the Vajpayee government stopped thinking and retreated, hugging itself,
into a political marsh called Uttar Pradesh. When you begin life as a
single-agenda party, you always return to that agenda at the first glimpse
of defeat. The BJP's visionaries are trying to reach Lucknow via Kabul.
Anyone with a compass could have told them that this is an improbable route,
but try arguing with the convinced. The Taliban has been converted into a UP
election issue. The ban on SIMI, an organisation of Muslim students, may
have some justification on its side, but the timing makes it nothing but a
blatant effort to demonise Muslims before the UP elections. This government
has been in power for three years; its evidence against SIMI could not have
been collected only in the last three weeks. If the charge is fomenting
violence then organisations like the Bajrang Dal deserve similar action.
Militant groups of this kind have been publicly and proudly offering
small-arms training to their cadres. Why are they doing this? To fight
militants in the Kashmir Valley? The irony is that in February next year, or
whenever the BJP government chooses to hold elections, the Prime Minister
and his home minister will discover that the electorate is immune to such


Unless I am proved wrong in the coming week, it is a world in which Mullah
Omar can afford to laugh.

M J Akbar is Chief Editor of the Asian Age,3604,561649,00.html

by George Monbiot
The Guardian, 2nd October

Peace has been declared before the war has begun. Those who advocated the
obliteration of Kabul and Baghdad have retreated in the face of insuperable
complexity. Many of those who argued against aggression have relaxed as the
threat of carpet bombing or nuclear strikes has lifted. Most people now
appear to agree that attacking a few military targets and deploying special
forces will do no great harm.

Our government, like many others, has promised humanitarian aid. The
government of Pakistan has begun to withdraw support from the Taliban and to
push forward other leaders in the hope of engineering a noiseless coup.
Instead of the terrifying carnage promised by a wounded nation, the response
to the attack on New York is beginning to look magnanimous. The needs of
both the western nations seeking to control terrorism and the Afghan people
seeking to escape starvation can, almost everyone believes, be met calmly
and sequentially.

But the new consensus has missed something. It's a consideration that is
well understood in peacetime, but often, and disastrously, ignored in war.
It's the factor that helped defeat Napoleon and even Hitler. It's the item
that brings all humanitarian operations to a halt. It is, of course, the
winter. And the Afghan winter, like the Russian one, is absolute. Aid
workers with long experience of Afghanistan report that after the first week
of November, there is nothing you can do. This is the detail that changes
everything, the "s" that makes the difference between laughter and

One person requires 18kg of food per month to survive. If the UN's
projections are correct, and some 1.5m manage to leave the country, around
6.1m starving people will be left behind. In five weeks, in other words,
Afghanistan requires 580,000 tonnes of food to see its people through the
winter, as well as tarpaulins, warm clothes, medicines and water supply and
sanitation equipment. The food alone would fill 21,000 trucks or 19,000
Hercules transport planes. The convoy that reached Kabul to such acclaim
yesterday has met barely a three-thousandth of the country's needs.

Even without the threat of war, an operation of this size presses at the
margins of possibility. But as Afghanistan prepares for invasion, it is
simply impossible. The 19-day suspension of aid that came to an end
yesterday may have killed thousands already. Now the convoys' resumption is,
the United Nations says, "experimental": if battle begins, the trucks will
stop. Civilian aircraft, in the fog of war, are likely to be shot down. The
aid agencies' hesitation, while understandable, is lethal to the Afghans.
The waiting is killing them.

Distribution has now become just as difficult as supply. The UN predicts
that some 2.2m will be displaced from their homes within Afghanistan, as
they flee the cities for fear of the Taliban's press gangs and America's
bombs, and flee the villages for fear of the escalating civil war. This
scattering is doubly calamitous: not only are the people unreachable, but
they are also unable to sow the winter wheat that would keep them alive next

For military reasons, the US appears to have told all Afghanistan's
neighbours to shut their borders. Many of those who were not at imminent
risk of starvation sold all their possessions to reach the frontier, only to
be turned back by its illegal closure. Now they, too, are dying of hunger.
If the US bombs Afghanistan's roads and airports to contain the Taliban,
almost all distribution will grind to a halt.

It may be possible to mount a successful military campaign between now and
November 7. It may be possible to mount a successful humanitarian campaign
between now and November 7. It is simply impossible to do both. Unless the
west withdraws its armies and announces an immediate cessation, we could be
responsible for something approaching genocide in Afghanistan.

Last week on these pages, I suggested that the US could meet its strategic
objectives in Afghanistan through peace, rather than war. The Taliban thrive
on the fear of outsiders: they invoke a hostile world in the hope that
people will cling to them for fear of something worse. A vast humanitarian
operation could threaten their gainful isolationism and turn the population
against its tormentors. The delightful messages I'd been receiving over the
previous two weeks, comparing me to Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin, Chamberlain
and Beelzebub, were immediately supplemented by a new acclamation: prince of
darkness I might be, but I was also hopelessly naive and idealistic. Perhaps
I should have taken a little more care to explain myself.

No strategy in Afghanistan is assured of success, but there is no notion as
naive as that which supposes that you can destroy a tactic (such as
terrorism) or an idea (such as fundamentalism) by means of bombs or missile
strikes or special forces. Indeed, even the Pentagon now lists its military
choices under the heading AOS: All Options Stink. If military intervention
succeeded in delivering up Bin Laden and destroying the Taliban, it's hard
to see how this could fail to encourage retaliatory strikes all over the

Nor is it entirely clear that attacking Afghanistan would bring down the
berserkers who govern it. Britain and the US have been bombing Iraq for the
past 10 years, only to strengthen Saddam's grip. There are many in
Washington who privately acknowledge that Fidel Castro's tenure has been
sustained by US hostilities and embargos. Had the US withdrawn its forces
from Guantanamo Bay, opened its markets and invested in Cuba, it would have
achieved with generosity what it has never achieved with antagonism. There
is plenty of evidence to suggest that if Afghanistan is attacked, the
Afghans will side with the lesser Satan at home against the Great Satan

Conversely, the Conservative government responded to the riots of the 1980s
by regenerating the estates they mauled, until other cities complained that
only way to win money was to run amok. But the government understood that
while rioters may be encouraged by the residents of depressed and decaying
estates, they are fiercely resisted by people whose prospects are

Some might argue that showering Afghanistan with food rather than bombs
would create an incentive for further acts of terror. But Osama bin Laden,
if he was indeed linked to the attack on New York, has no interest in the
welfare of the Afghan people. Like the Taliban, the social weapons he
deploys are misery and insecurity. He seeks not peace, but war. While
western aggression will drive Afghans into the arms of the Taliban and their
guests, western aid will divide the people from the predators.

Pakistan can continue to withdraw support from the Afghan regime and seek to
engineer a bloodless coup. The US can raise the bounty on Bin Laden's
capture and surrender for trial at an international tribunal. But if we seek
to bludgeon Afghanistan into submission, we will lose the war on terrorism,
while inadvertently slaughtering some millions of its inhabitants. We can
choose, in other words, between futile genocide and productive peace. It
shouldn't be too hard a choice to make.

Further articles by George Monbiot at

by Michael Kelly
Washington Post, 3rd October


Osama bin Laden has told us by word and action that he sees himself and his
cohort as engaged in a total war against the United States and that this war
is one not just of nations but of cultures: Holy Islam versus a corrupt,
imperialist America. He has promised further attacks like Sept. 11 unless
the United States sues for peace under impossible terms, the abandonment of
Israel being only one. In short, Osama bin Laden wishes to defeat the United
States. So do others; for instance, Saddam Hussein.

Do the pacifists wish to live in a United States that has been defeated by
Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein? Do they wish to live in a United States
that has been defeated by any foreign force? Do they wish to live under an
occupying power? Do they wish to live under, say, the laws of the Taliban or
the Ba'ath Party of Iraq?

These questions, you may say, rest on an absurd premise: Osama bin Laden and
Saddam Hussein cannot ever hope to defeat and occupy the United States. Yes,
but that is true only because the United States maintains and employs an
armed force sufficient to defeat those who would defeat it. If the United
States did as the pacifists wish -- if it eschewed war even when attacked --
it would, at some point, be conquered by a foreign regime. What stops this
from happening is that the government and generally the people of the United
States do not heed the wishes of the pacifists.


by Barry Schweid
Yahoo, 3rd October

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday a
prospective military strike in Afghanistan against the al-Qaida terrorism
network would be only the first step in the U.S. campaign against terrorism.

``This is the first phase of this operation,'' Powell said after receiving
unqualified support from Qatar, a Persian Gulf emirate. ``I obviously cannot
comment on what might happen in the future.''

As Powell left open the possibility of taking the U.S. fight beyond
Afghanistan, he offered assurances that ``we are not looking for conflict
with other nations.''


Powell, addressing Arab worries and even demands that the Bush
administration promise not to strike Arab countries, said this is not the
beginning of a conflict with them. Almost all Afghans are Muslims, but they
are not Arabs.

With the Qatari emir at his side, Powell added at a news conference that
while focusing at the outset on Osama bin Laden's network in Afghanistan,
the U.S. campaign ``also takes note of those nations that provide haven,
provide succor, provide support to terrorist organizations.''

In the three weeks since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington,
Powell has condemned Iraq frequently as a supporter of terrorism. Some
senior officials in the Bush administration are known to support a strike
against Baghdad as well as Afghanistan.

There also are Arab governments disturbed by the possibility that the United
States might go that far in pursuing the al-Qaida network.

Powell's remarks did not appear to rule out an attack on Iraq.

While bin Laden has his headquarters in Afghanistan, Powell said, ``He has
elements of his network around the world.''

``We are using all the tools available to us - financial tools, law
enforcement, intelligence and the prospect of military operations as well -
to go after this network.''

Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Qatari emir, pledged his country's
unqualified backing to the U.S. effort.

``There is no doubt that the unique relationship between Qatar and the
United States dictates that we have to stand by the United States,
especially in the efforts to combat terror,'' the emir said in Arabic.

Powell sought again to dismiss reports that Saudi Arabia is balking at
cooperating with the United States if an attack should be mounted.

``The requests that we have put to the Saudis have been responded to,'' he
said. ``We are very satisfied with the support that the Arabian government
has provided to us.''


by Eric S. Margolis

The first phase of the US 'war on terrorism' will likely be the attempted
overthrow of the Taliban regime, which currently rules 90 per cent of
Afghanistan. Washington is massing powerful strike forces around Afghanistan
and has unleashed a fierce propaganda offensive in the US media against

The Bush administration now says it will embark on 'nation- building' in
Afghanistan. Translation: imposing a pro-US regime in Kabul that will battle
Islamic militants and open the way for American oil and gas pipelines
running south from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. Washington clearly hopes
to make the Northern Alliance, a motley collection of anti Taliban
insurgents, the new ruler of Afghanistan, perhaps under its 86-year old
exiled king, Zahir Shah.

Before we examine this truly foolish plan, a quick review of Washington's
record of 'nation building' in the Muslim world - overthrowing unfriendly
governments and replacing them by compliant ones:

Syria 1948 - the US overthrows the regime; Syria turns anti- US. Iran 1954 -
the US overthrows nationalist Mossadegh, puts the Shah in power. Result:
Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution. Egypt 1955 - the US tried to kill
nationalist Gammal Abdel Nasser. He turns to the Soviets. Iraq 1958 - the US
puts Col. Kassem in power. He turns into an anti-American lunatic.

Indonesia 1967 - the US overthrows Sukarno, army and mobs kill 500,000
Sukarno supporters. Libya 1969 - the US helps a young officer, Muammar
Qadaffi, seize power in Libya, then tries to kill him in 1986. Iraq 1975 -
the US helps young Saddam Hussein seize power. In 1979 the US gets Saddam to
invade Iran in an effort to crush Iran's Islamic revolution - 700,000 die in
the war.

Lebanon 1983 - US forces intervene in the civil war to prop up the Christian
government, 240 US Marines die. Kuwait/Iraq - 1991 US goes to war against
former ally Saddam, but keeps him in power. Somalia 1992 - US intervenes in
civil war, loses men, flees. Iraq 1996 - the US attempt to create a Kurd
mini-state collapses under Iraqi attack. CIA agents run for their lives.

Not a record to boast about. But undaunted by failure, the US has found its
latest client, the Northern Alliance, and is moving with new-found ally,
Russia, to quickly implant them in Kabul. This is a historical irony of epic
proportions: in the 1980s the US spent billions to oust the Russians from
Afghanistan; now it is inviting them back in. Equally shameful, the US has
now conferred its blessing on Russian attempt to crush the Chechen uprising
by echoing Moscow's claim the insurgents are 'Islamic terrorists.' The next
group certain to be demonized by Washington will be the Kashmiri Mujihadeen.

I write about the Tajik-dominated Alliance with unease. Its leader, Prof.
Burhanuddin Rabbani, is an old, respected friend of mine from the earliest
days of the great Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. A classical Persian
scholar and poet, Rabbani is held in great esteem by his fellow Tajiks,
Afghanistan's best educated, most sophisticated ethnic group.

Rabbani's military commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was killed by Arab suicide
bombers two days before the mass attacks against the US. Massoud was adored
by the western media, and was being groomed by his foreign backers as the
next leader of Afghanistan. Few outsiders knew that the dashing Massoud was
regarded as a traitor by many Afghans for allying himself with the Soviets
during the war and turning against his fellow Mujihadeen.

In recent years, Northern Alliance has been armed and financed by a very odd
assortment of bedfellows: Russia, Iran, the US, India, and France. The
Alliance controls a toehold in north east Afghanistan next to Tajikistan, a
Russian satellite state where Moscow has 25,000 troops.

The mainly Tajik Alliance has lately been joined by the Uzbek warriors of
Gen. Rashid Dostam, the brutal communist warlord who collaborated for a
decade with the Soviets and was responsible for mass killings and
atrocities. America should have no dealings with such criminals. Without
Russian helicopters, armour, and 'advisors,' the Alliance would have long
ago collapsed.

In all my years as a foreign affairs writer, I have never seen a case where
so many Washington 'experts' have all the answers to a country that only a
handful of Americans know anything about. President George Bush, who before
election could not name the president of Pakistan, now intends to redraw the
political map of strategic Afghanistan, an act that will cause shock waves
across South and Central Asia. Anyone who knows anything about Afghans
knows: 1. they will never accept any regime imposed by outsiders; 2. an
ethnic minority government can never rule Afghanistan's ethnic Pashtun
majority. Yet the US, heedless of Afghan realities, is racing ahead to
overthrow the current Taliban leadership and replace it by a Tajik regime.

Washington's plan for 'nation-building' in Afghanistan is a recipe for
disaster that will produce an enlarged civil war that draws in outside

Let Afghans decide in their own traditional way, through a national tribal
council, called a Loya Jirga, to create a new, post-Taliban government whose
striąëÄü ĨB`ed from abroƒtũAs for King Zahir Shah, he is
discredited as a 'foreigner' in Afghanistan and too old to even be a
figurehead. Prof Rabbani would make a good president, provided he was seen
first an Afghan, and only secondly a Tajik.

Pakistan appears to be washing its hands of the Taliban, who have done
everything in their power to blacken their own name and that of the Muslims
around the world. But now Islamabad must struggle to find a new government
that will stabilize Afghanistan, yet which is not the creature of its
Russian, Iranian, or Indian enemies. In short, back to 1989 in Afghanistan.
Chaos, civil war and mass starvation loom in Afghanistan.

Washington's 'experts,' would-be crusaders, and re-born Cold Warriors should
look twice before they leap.

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