(Editor's Note 10/31/03: This Truth has been modified from its original form. It has not been changed to fit your screen. How would I know how large your screen is? Anyway, the notes will be clear because they'll be blue. Like these words, here.)
My wife directed me to this post on the Project Greenlight message boards, and I had to respond to it.
Passed on to me by a friend, this article is said to come from Tamim Ansary, a writer and columnist in San Francisco, who comes from Afghanistan.
Just thought I'd put it out there for whomever.
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.
This evening, I went to a News Store to buy my cigars. Since I quit cigarettes, I'm smoking pipe-tobacco cigars--which can be difficultish to find. Since pipe-smoker seem fairly laid-back, and since they can really only smoke their pipes once a day (assuming they have day jobs) and there's so much tobacco-packing involved with the process, I have it in my head that pipe-tobacco is somehow less addicting, and therefore, a-okay.
A group of four teenagers hung around outside the News Store. I didn't think twice about them as I headed inside.
The News Store was run by Mid-Eastern people. I don't know what their actual heritage was. They could have been Arabs or Iraqis or anything else. They were also extraordinarily polite. No, not just polite. Gracioius. Caring. Their ATM machine was running a bit slow, and one of them came over to see if it was working properly.
In my heart, I want to think that my physical size didn't factor in. I'm a great big guy. At 6'5, I'm not the tallest person you've ever met. You've met taller. But all alone in a room, my size can change people's reactions. I've seen it over and over again. I'm not proud of that. In fact, I wear glasses instead of contacts because it makes me a little less intimidating. And my demeanor is the least threatening you've ever seen. I actually work to come across as an intimidated nerd in real life.
I know. There's something wrong with my brain.
But I could see in the store owner's eyes that he was a little nervous about me, with everything that's going on. And I don't blame him. I'd be nervous, too.
The entire scene made me sick. At times like this--and most times, actually--I just want to be the size of everyone else. I don't want to frighten people. But at the same time, I'm glad that my size can--at times--keep situations from turning ugly. So, I guess I have to take the good with the bad.
I smiled a lot. I was extremely friendly. As a rule, I'm not an overly friendly guy. I'm quiet and introverted (that whole nerd-thing I've perfected). But I made every effort to let that store owner know that I wasn't a bad guy, and that I didn't hold him responsible just because he had skin darker than mine and hair darker than mine.
I wanted to grab the guy from behind the counter, hug him, and tell him that I didn't hold him responsible. I wanted to give him my cell phone number, and tell him to call me if he had any trouble with the white folks. I wanted to tell him something, ANYTHING that would let him know that I was an American who was proud to share my country with Americans from the Middle East. Because that's what this country is supposed to be, isn't it? We're supposed to welcome the tired, the poor, and the hungry. Aren't we? Weren't all my ancestors brought here on that premise?
Weren't all of yours?
(With the exception of African Americans, who were brought here on the premise of 'wouldn't life be easier if I could own a bunch of people, and spend the money I would have spent on employees instead on a big house with fancy things.')
(Editor's Note 10/31/03: These words coming up are the ones I'm about to eat. Oops. I didn't mean to use 'I.' I meant to use 'he.' Mr. Steele, that is. Oh shit ... okay, I guess you know by know that I'm both the editor and the writer. Anyway, these are the words that I'll choke on two years from now.)
(And on that note, anyone who flies a Rebel Flag can go fuck themselves all over again. If you have a problem with that, I'll give you my home address so you can show up at my apartment and suck my dick. Fucking losers. I'll bend you over on the hood of the car you drove to my home in and fuck you up the ass. Right in front of the wife who was stupid enough to marry you, and the children you bore who are most-likely too inbred and stupid to be of any use to anyone, ever.)
(Editor's Note 10/31/03: Wow! Am I angry, or what? That anger was intended towards bigots. All of the above still applies to bigots. I will still fuck you in the aas on the hood of your car while your wife and children watch, if you're a bigot. It does not apply to everyone who displays the Rebel--or Confederate--Flag. I learned this lesson from a very nice man named Buddy Miles whote wrote me a letter much later. There's a link, below.)
But I said nothing. I bought my cigars and I left. The kids were gone as I made my way back to my car. If they'd been still standing there, I might have gone back inside and asked if they were making the store owner nervous--because this was about the time I realized that I had been making them nervous. I said nothing, and I drove off with my hard-to-find cigars to my prejudice-free life.
But their faces still haunt me. A man, and a woman. They might have been married. They spoke to each other in a language I didn't understand, but they seemed to have a certain familiar air about each other.
And because their faces still haunt me, I have two things to say.
(1) Don't evidence hatred for Middle Eastern-Americans in my presence. It would be bad. With my size, I could probably snap your fucking neck after three bullets, and it'd my pleasure to bring you to Hell with me.
(2) I'm sorry for the Afghans, for the horror that is about to befall them. But when we're finished, the Taliban will be no more. And I feel confident in saying that their kind will not plague you again. And hopefully, the technology gap between us will prevent us from causing too much suffering to your people. And when it's finished and your oppressors are vanquished, we will most likely pour money into restoring your farms and your economy.
America is funny that way.
Look what we did for the Japanese. You think those sandal-wearing goldfish-tenders could have plunged into the world economy the way they did without our help?
Civilians will needlessly die. It breaks my heart to say it, but it's true. The technology gap isn't sufficient to assure otherwise. And for these civilian deaths, I am truly sorry--as are most of the American people.
But invade your country, we will.
End terrorism, we will.
We have no other choice now. But be assured that when it's all over, things will be better for the Afghan people than they ever imagined.
Take comfort in that. I know I'm trying to.
(Editor's Note 10/31/03: The whole Confederate Flag theme is picked up in the very next Truth, coincidentally called The Truth about the Confederate Flag. Read that, and the two that follow, before you write me about what a bastard I am.)