To: "Mark Pisani" Subject: Fw: Letter from a worried Afghani Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 13:35:01 +0100

Mark, below is something from a friend of mine in Edinburgh, passed on from a friend in Chicago. To add to your intellectual spade-work, which Claire has been letting me read. (she's okay-ish now after a couple of quiet days mostly spent in bed, throat is better at least. This Monday-Tuesday she has to do a bit of a marathon because so many people are off to America - you'd think the US has enough cameras and mics for the job? - and she has to cover for them. Noises have been made about sending her to Islamabad, but it seems unlikely and anyway, probably not the best place to send a nice Jewish girl like her.)
----- Original Message -----
From: Stuart Adams
To: Andrew Wilson
Sent: Friday, September 14, 2001 9:41 PM
Subject: Letter from a worried Afghani

Gary Krysler forwards the following re-forwarded to him by one of his
members. It echoes what aid workers are saying coming out of Afghanistan.
They are into the third year of a drought in a country whose infrastructure
was utterly destroyed by the Russians. They are living under a dictatorship
they hate (somewhat created by the Americans, who trained and armed to the
teeth the rebels fighting against the Russians, who then formed a weak
government taken over by the Taliban) and 5 million are on the verge of
starvation. Do we really need to punish them even more?

This comes from the Indian-American friend of the person who sent it to the
person who sent it to Gary, living in London with her Jewish Iranian friend.

Dear Friends,

The following was sent to me by my friend Tamim Ansary. Tamim is an
Afghani-American writer. He is also one of the most brilliant people I know
in this life. When he writes, I read. When he talks, I listen. Here is his
take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in.

Gary T. [another Gary, not Gary Kryler]

Dear Gary and whoever else is on this email thread:

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 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 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 horrifi
c 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