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
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 likely slip away
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. Anyone else?
Elizabeth Britten Nilson Depression Research Clinic Department of Psychiatry
Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford CA 94305-5723