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Tuesday 18th September 2001  

[315] - Collateral Damage

This commentary comes from Tamim Ansary, a writer and columnist in San Francisco, who comes from Afghanistan (sept. 14th 2001).

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

Friday 14th September 2001  

[215] - Remembering The Innocent

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 was a day that slowly, but with grim and steady steps, marched into history with horror and sadness. I don't think I need to explain what happened, but I would like to take the opportunity to show how I feel about this horrendous act of terror. This may seem like just another useless speech filled with rhetoric and big words, but I feel that it is essential that everyone - who in their right mind feels disdain and loathing towards the individuals and group that killed all those innocent people - should raise their voice in condemnation and protest against these wretched, misguided, pitiful excuses for human beings.

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 was the day we asked 'why?'. Why did this happen? Why did these monsters do it? Why can these vile creatures not understand that killing and terror will not yield understanding and sympathy to their cause? Why can they not say and believe in the same thing that a wise man once said:

"There are many causes worth dying for, but there is no cause worth killing for."
- M. Ghandi

It is a horrible fact that not everyone feels like this - Now we see what it leads to.

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 was a day when I was ashamed to be a member of the human race. I cannot even begin to comprehend the twisted and evil minds that conjured up such an evil and malicious scheme of death and destruction that has killed so many innocent people. The foul act of malignancy that has occurred has left me wondering whether or not there is any hope left for us humans as a race. There have been horrible atrocities in the past, but in these new times of hope, you had the sense of progress and evolution towards something better in the air. Amidst all the evil and meaninglessness in the world, there was ray of hope shining on us.

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 was a day when that hope was crushed in the rubble of the World Trade Centre towers. Never have I seen a more heart-wrenching sight as when those two towers fell one after the other. And the realization that this was a deliberate act slowly sunk over me like a dark cloud of hopelessness. It was as if my faith in humanity crumbled along with the towers, and now it lies crushed and broken in the rubble.

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 has now come and gone. It was a very long and dark day, and the pictures on TV were terrible and devastating to watch. But now we need to sit down and have a moment of silence and serenity. This was an evil attack by evil people, yes, but if we rush out to some far away country and start bombing and killing, then how much better than these terrorists are we ourselves? If this ends in world war 3, then the terrorists will have won. And if the cooperation of the free democracies of the world is torn apart by this, then the terrorists will have won. If hatred rises in everyone and intolerance, racism and bigotry flood the world, then the terrorists will have won. If these horrific events lead to the state of the world worsening, then the terrorists will have won. We must not let evil win. It is our duty now to show these wretched maniacs that we are the better people. We have to show them that we are the civilized and reasonable people that shall inherit the future - a future of peace and prosperity, and one where these madmen and others of their ilk will have no place anymore. They will only be a bad memory from the past, and a reminder that the fanatic misguided way of life, that these evildoers stood for, brought only death and misery.

I cannot stress the importance of the civilized moderation that is needed in this situation. I know that after the initial shock has passed, and when the first mourning is over, the remaining emotions are those of anger, wrath and vengeance. This is exactly what we must prevent and avoid with all our strength and might. It is pivotal that we do not stoop to the bottom-dwelling, low, low level of these deranged people. I wish that we will be the better ones in this situation and see to it that the criminals behind this travesty are brought to justice, and that those who wasted their lives in the cowardly suicidal attack are denounced from humanity, eventually to be forgotten wholly from existence. There are things worse than death - Oblivion is one of them. We should thrust these rabid fanatics into a dark void from which they can never have any effect on our lives again.

All the nations of the world should stand together and combat this epitome of ignorance and misconception that is these fanatic bringers of death and terror. We should stand up to this terror and show the terrorist that their cause is truly in vain. We will come out as stronger, better and wiser people from the rubble of this disaster, not in spite, but in the wisdom that it is right. We will show them that hate and terror are instruments of backward, fanatical madmen, and not the instruments of peace loving, civilized human beings. Wisdom, compassion and tolerance shall prevail. My hope is that we try to stand together for the greater good and conquer the evil that befouls this otherwise beautiful world.

Tuesday the 11th September 2001 was the day we asked 'why?'. Let us in the future give the answer in unison: Never again!

- Gnug215

Some Gnug...


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