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Mir Tamim Ansary on Afghanistan

2001-09-15 21:03:55+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

Dave Winer published Mir Tamim Ansary on Afghanistan which provides a credible explanation for the attacks: The perpetrators want to force polarization and war. All the more reason to make this a UN matter.

[ related topics: Politics Dave Winer History WTC/Pentagon attacks ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:43+00 by: meuon

Unfortunately, I agree with him. The perpetrators and supports of the attacks true agenda is to start a war. One unlike any ever before.

Maybe the only way to win is not to play. Hmm sounds like "War Games", if we can resolve this without starting an all out war, we win.

#Comment made: 2001-09-16 02:33:10+00 by: Pete [edit history]

I've heard this sentiment before, but it is rapidly losing relevance as Pakistan, the creator of the Taliban, have cast their lot with the US and agreed to having foreign military within their borders.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:43+00 by: Larry Burton

One other problem in waging a war with Afghanistan is that there is nothing left to bomb there. The place is a mess and has no official government. The Taliban is not the official government and does not control the entire country. They have no offical army and the place is teaming with landmines left over from the conflict with the USSR. Afghanistan has 0% permenant crops, only 12% of the land is arable and agriculture makes up 53% of the economy. On top of this the life expectancy of an Afghani man is only a little more than 46 years.

They have nothing left to break, little to live for and they are going to die before too long anyway.

We've mentioned taking it to the UN and letting them resolve the matter. Afghanistan currently has no representative in the UN because no one can decide who should fill the seat. For all intents and purposes there is no country of Afghanistan, just a landlocked, arrid and mountainous region of the world bounded by real countries with governments where less than 26 million mostly illiterate people live.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: ebradway

Larry, you are essentially parroting what Mir Tamim Ansary stated. I hope I see more of that information in the press. I don't want people thinking we are going to be invading a country even as well armed as Iraq! Afganistan is in really bad shape and I'm sure, if we don't radiate the entire country, the Afganistani will benefit imensely by an American ground troop invasion and occupation - along with all the American goods and dollars. This would explain Bush calling up 50,000 reservists!

bin Laden was a fool if he thought Islam would unify behind him. Sadam Hussein thought the same thing and ended up facing troops from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Wednesday night I was specifically watching for reaction from Pakistan - knowing that they are probably the best armed Islamic nation that isn't already propped up by the US. I don't know the extent that Pakistan is backing us, but they have thrown their name in the hat. It's pretty much the World against Afganistan and Iraq.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: Larry Burton

Check out the CIA fact book on Afghanistan. That's where I went to check out Mir Tarnim Ansary's claims. Use of infantry in that country is going to face the same difficulties the Soviets had in that the terrain is so rugged.

I also think the fact that none of the identified terrorist were Afghani, they were either Saudi or Egyptian, is being ignored. I personally believe that Afghanistan's contribution to this tragedy is limited to harboring bin Laden and allowing training camps for the terrorist to exist there. The training camps for this particular terrorist act appears to have been located in Florida.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: webwide

I've just listened to most of Sunday's 'round table' participants and almost all of them understand that the terrorist network(s) have little to destroy w/ conventional 'war' tactics. No one in our government has indicated that carpet-bombing Afghanistan is even remotely possible.

Newt Gingrich said that if we allow Syria and Iran to attempt to participate in the 'coalition against terrorism' while allowing multiple terrorist organizations to operate inside their borders we would make a mockery of the whole process.

#Comment made: 2001-09-17 16:20:11+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger [edit history]

Re: Pakistan's support.

Pakistan is where many of the of the Afghani Taliban were taught in their boyhood. Pakistan is also a home to the Taliban (from scripting.com).

Sure, the gov't of Pakistan is saying "We'll help", but the people of Pakistan are not so ready to help. The gov't is taking a political risk valuing limited cooperation with the U.S. more than the support of people within its own borders.

When asked whether the fuel supplies to Kabul had been cut off as demanded by the United States, he said, the government had decided nine months ago to implement the UN sanctions imposed against the Taliban government. He said these sanctions had not debarred normal trade and fuel was not included in the sanctions measures. (From: http://www.dawn.com/2001/09/16/top1.htm)

"The Pakistani people would never accept an American presence on their soil. They would revolt," he warned, predicting massive civil unrest in the fragile, nuclear-armed military dictatorship. (From: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/010917/1/1gzec.html)

Pakistani support seems fragile at best.

Re: the state of Afghanistan.

See this photo essay.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: petronius

I saw Ansary's article in Salon the other day, and it shows the difficulties involved. Yet I think something has to be done. Trying to "conquer" Afganistan is silly, but if, as Ansary says, we can pound down Taliban and clean out some of the riff-raff, we might have a chance. however, we will have to support these people in the transition period. If we did that after the Soviets left we might have a better situation today.

Also, can we find a way to support or encourage "moderate" regimes in this area? I don't mean Westernized Muslims; that's a lost cause. Frankly, the most moderate government right now is the Khatami faction in Iran. Maybe its time to make up with them, just to cool down the mullahs.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: other_todd

You may feel free to strike any or all of these down on the basis of naivete, but

  1. I don't approve of "pounding down" the Taliban under any circumstances. No, I don't care for them and they don't care for me, and in many ways they are abominable. But aside from the idea of "give them this little desolate country that no one else wants and let them make their dream fundamentalism in peace and they'll calm down" - an idea I admit may be empty optimism in action - the bigger objection is that I think there's a strong possibility that seeking specifically to damage the Taliban WOULD unite the various sects of Islam against us.
  2. By the by, the Taliban might as well be the government of Afghanistan now that Massoud has died. His personality, his planning and the mountainous terrain made it too difficult for the Taliban to take the northeast corner of the country. Now all the defenders have is the terrain. They'll hold out for a while - especially since the Taliban are, by their lights, trying to look like good schoolchildren while the world is focusing on them and won't start any new attacks. But I believe that without Massoud the northeast will eventually fall.
  3. I was extremely heartened by the Pakistani response. That, and the fact that we have not actually carpet-bombed Afghanistan yet, have been the only two real flashes of sunlight I've had politically in the past four days.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: canis

As we've established, these people are starving and have very little to bomb. This may seem facetious, but it's not far off being reasonable: Why not carpet-bomb the place with Big Mac Happy Meals and dual-language leaflets in Pashtu and Persian reading "there's more where that came from, give us bin Laden and overthrow the Taliban"?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:44+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think the only problem with the Happy Meal Carpet McBombing issue is that the populace is probably completely worn down. We're talking an agriculture based economy in harsh terrain after a hell of a lot of devastation and combat. Without also giving them military backup (and after our treatment of the Kurds any promises of that would seem pretty hollow), it'll be another two decades before anyone will dare assert independence.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:45+00 by: OnceShy

Very, very briefly.

  1. The UN has no real authority or ability to enforce whatever decision it may make, so therefore has no true disciplinary power over anyone. It's sanctions are a joke and it's "combined military forces" can only react to direct assault. The UN is a total waste of time.
  2. Offensive operations are much more likely to be against specific targets the destruction of which results in the immediate negation of terroristic capability. SOP.
  3. Call up of reservists, despite rhetoric to the contrary, is a defensive move, not part of an offensive strategy. The underlying fear is that no one can stop another attack of equal or greater destruction.

Just me thinking.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:45+00 by: Dan Lyke

Other issue with Happy Meal Carpet McBombing: I thought about the idea of troops storming a village and depositing bags of rice on doorsteps. Then I thought about the macroeconomic consequences of this. How does that affect those who make their livings from agriculture? Clearly economic aid needs to be really thought through.

OnceShy: Yes, the UN has no real authority. But even if the US military ends up carrying out the strikes, having the mandate of China, Russia, and a good set of middle-eastern countries would do a lot to dispel the idea that fundamentalist Muslims would arise en-masse to support further attacks on the U.S.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:45+00 by: Larry Burton

Just some questions that are running through my head. The literacy rate for Afghanistan is 31.5%. How are they going to read the leaflets from the Happy Meal Carpet Mc Bombing? Where are they going to find out that the UN sanctioned any US military operation against them? And when you get right down to it, how many of the terrorist were Afghani? Is it possible that Afghanistan is the wrong country to be looking at attacking if we attack anyone?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:45+00 by: Dan Lyke

The hopes of the perpetrators of the attack aren't hoping to sway the hearts and minds of Afghans. They're hoping to convince Iranians, Palestinians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Syrians, Libyans and the like that a war against the US is desirable. The Afghans are just being used as pawns. A UN sanctioned force could[Wiki] have the support of the leaders of all of those countries, and would give us the time to make sure that the governments of the less stable countries in the region have time to propagandize their population in our favor.

The only reason to attack Afghanistan is to get Osama bin all-sorts-o'-names bin Laden. But cutting off that particular head won't solve the problem in the deeper sense, which is that US "enemy of my enemy is my friend" policies in that region have made us so hated.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:46+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

The happy meal bomb won't work 'cause they hate Western Culture. At least according to Kevin Kelly (http://www.interesting-people.org/200109/0247.html -- from www.rc3.org).

Consider that these radical Islamic revolutionaries may really wants to free the world of the Western monoculture and introduce what they see as diversity.

How can you fight that?

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:47+00 by: sethg

An interesting article on the weaknesses of the Taliban: http://www.thenewrepublic.com/100101/rubin100101.html

Basically, their military force was never so impressive to begin with, their popular support is sinking, hard-line religious fanatics are a minority even within the Taliban, they benefit a great deal from Pakistani support, and military opposition within Afghanistan is getting stronger.

#Comment made: 2002-02-21 05:32:47+00 by: canis

Unpleasant but sadly true fact: The literary rate is ~50% amongst men; and since the women (lit. rate ~15%) aren't generally allowed out of the house they wouldn't get to see any of the leaflets anyway.

(technically, they can go out with the appropriate covering, but that's unaffordable for many -- communities have to share them...)

And they may hate western culture, but I don't think they hate food.