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Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2001 9:23 PM
  Subject: Afghans are prisoners of the Taliban

  Here are some thoughts from an Afghan woman who has lived in the U.S. for more than 35 years. Food for
  thought....

  Dear Friends,

  Yesterday, I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ron Owens, on KGO
  Talk Radio, 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," and he asked,  "What else can we do?
  What is your suggestion?"

  Minutes later, I heard a TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done." And I
  thought about these issues 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 been going on over there. So I want to share a few thoughts
  with anyone who will listen.

  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 fervently wish to see those monsters punished. 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 captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the
  country in bondage ever since.

  Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master 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 love for someone to eliminate the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs
  holed up in their country. I guarantee it.  Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and
  overthrow the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, damaged, and
  incapacitated.

  A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there  were 500,000 disabled orphans in
  Afghanistan--a country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the approximately 2
  million men killed during the war with the Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing these women for
  being women and have buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves. The soil of Afghanistan is
  littered with land mines and almost all the farms have been destroyed . The Afghan people have tried to
  overthrow the Taliban. They haven't been able to.

  We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age.   Trouble with that scheme
  is, it's already been done. The Soviets took care of it . 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? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too
  late. Someone already did all that. New bombs would only land in 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. (They have already, I hear.) 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 be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the people
  they've been raping all this time

  So what else 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. I think that when people speak of "having the belly to do what
  needs to be done" many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed. They
  are thinking about overcoming moral qualms about killing innocent people. But it's the belly to die not kill
  that's actually on the table. Americans will die in a land war to get Bin Laden. 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. 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. The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war between Islam and the
  West.   And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and why he did this thing. Read his
  speeches and statements. It's 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. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can
  constitute this entity and he'd 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, he's got a billion soldiers. If
  the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, even better
  from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west would probably
  overcome--whatever that would mean in such a war; but the war would last for years and millions would
  die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else? I don't have a
  solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and
  his cohorts want to bait us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish.

  We can't let him do that. That's my humble opinion.

  Tamim Ansary