Canada Flag . . . . . Blue Ribbon . . . . . Any Browser :-)

"WW III? No thanks...!" On-Line Library

What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

No faith in U.S. foreign policy

Does the U.S. know what it's getting into in Afghanistan?

September 30, 2001
Toronto Sun

The first phase of the U.S. "war on terrorism" may be the attempted
overthrow of the Taliban regime, which rules 90% of Afghanistan.
Washington is massing powerful strike forces around Afghanistan and
has unleashed a fierce propaganda offensive against the Taliban.

The Bush administration says it will embark on "nation-building" in
Afghanistan. Translation: imposing a pro-U.S. regime in Kabul that will
battle Islamic militants and open the way for American oil and gas
pipelines running south from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. Washington
clearly hopes to make the Northern Alliance, a motley collection of
anti-Taliban insurgents, the new rulers of Afghanistan, perhaps under
its 87-year old exiled king, Zahir Shah.

Before we examine this truly foolish plan, a quick review of
Washington's record of "nation-building" in the Muslim world - i.e.,
overthrowing unfriendly governments and replacing them with compliant

Syria, 1948 - The U.S. overthrows the regime; Syria turns anti-U.S.

Iran, 1954 - The U.S. overthrows nationalist Mossadegh, puts the Shah
in power. Result: Ayatollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Egypt, 1955 - The U.S. tried to kill nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser.
He turns to the Soviets.

Iraq, 1958 - The U.S. puts Col. Kassem in power. He turns into an
anti-American lunatic.

Indonesia, 1967 - The U.S. overthrows Sukarno. The army and mobs then
kill 500,000 Sukarno supporters.

Libya, 1969 - The U.S. helps a young officer, Moammar Khadafy, seize
power in Libya, then tries to kill him in 1986.=20

Iraq, 1975 - The U.S. helps young Saddam Hussein seize power. In 1979,
the U.S. encourages Saddam to invade Iran in an effort to crush Iran's
Islamic revolution. Some 700,000 die in the war.

Lebanon, 1983 - U.S. forces intervene in the civil war to prop up the
Christian government, 240 U.S. Marines die.

Kuwait/Iraq, 1991 - The U.S. goes to war against former ally Saddam,
but keeps him in power.

Somalia, 1992 - The U.S. intervenes in a civil war, loses men and flees.

Iraq, 1996 - A U.S. attempt to create a Kurd mini-state collapses under
Iraqi attack. CIA agents run for their lives.

Not a record to boast about. But undaunted by failure, the U.S. has
found its latest client, the Northern Alliance, and is moving quickly
to implant its leaders in Kabul.

I write about the Tajik-dominated Alliance with unease. Its leader,
Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, is an old, respected friend from the earliest
days of the great Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. A classical
Persian scholar and poet, Rabbani is held in great esteem by his fellow
Tajiks, Afghanistan's best educated, most sophisticated ethnic group.


Rabbani's military commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud, was killed by Arab
suicide bombers two days before the terrorist attacks against America.
Massoud was adored by the western media, and was being groomed by his
foreign backers as the next leader of Afghanistan. Few outsiders knew
that the dashing Massoud was regarded as a traitor by many Afghans for
allying himself with the Soviets during the war and turning against his
fellow mujahedeen.

In recent years, the Northern Alliance has been armed and financed by a
very odd assortment of bedfellows: Russia, Iran, the U.S., India and
France. The Alliance controls a toehold in northeast Afghanistan next to
Tajikistan, a Russian satellite state where Moscow has 25,000 troops.

The mainly Tajik Alliance has recently been joined by the Uzbek warriors
of Gen. Rashid Dostam, a brutal Communist warlord who collaborated for
a decade with the Soviets and was responsible for mass killings and
atrocities. America should have no dealings with such criminals. Without
Russian helicopters, armour, and "advisers," the Alliance would have
long ago collapsed.


In all my years as a foreign affairs writer, I have never seen a case
where so many Washington "experts" have all the answers to a country
that only a handful of Americans know anything about. President George
Bush, who before his election could not name the president of Pakistan,
now intends to redraw the political map of strategic Afghanistan, an
act that will cause shock waves across South and Central Asia.

Anyone who knows anything about Afghans knows: 1) they will never
accept any regime imposed by outsiders; 2) an ethnic minority government
can never rule Afghanistan's ethnic majority, the Pashtun (or Pathan),
roughly half the population. Taliban members are mostly Pashtun. Tajiks
account for 18%-20% and Uzbeks for 6% of Afghans.

Washington's plan for "nation-building" in Afghanistan is a recipe for
disaster that will produce an enlarged civil war that draws in outside

Let Afghans decide their own traditional way, through a national tribal
council, called a loya jirga, to create a new, post-Taliban government
whose strings are not pulled from abroad. As for King Zahir Shah, he is
discredited as a "foreigner" in Afghanistan and too old to even be a
figurehead. Prof. Rabbani would make a good president, provided he was
seen first as an Afghan, and only secondly a Tajik.

Pakistan, which until lately backed the Taliban, has only one interest:
a stable, unchaotic Afghanistan. Islamabad will likely agree to a regime
in neighbouring Afghanistan that keeps order and is not the creature of
its Russian, Iranian, or Indian enemies. Washington's "experts,"
would-be crusaders, and reborn Cold Warriors should look twice before
they leap.