The following short essay is from my good friend and mentor Mr. Chuck Spinney. One of the greatest people this country has produced. He has the absolute strength of character and moral courage every leader should strive for. Chuck talks about strategy and politics, or how we keep getting our strategy wrong, despite a capital beltway filled with incredible resumes and very smart people.
But, our society has not learned yet, that resumes may look good, as well as the person hiding behind them; but it is strength of character that makes a leader. Strength of character is the ability to, even the fondness for seeking responsibility, and then having the moral courage to make and stand by decisions in the face of your peers, subordinates, superiors and foes. Today, we see everyone declaring they are agents of change to get the support they need. The irony is, when one peers behind the curtains, they are being advised by the same people that got us into all the debacles we are dealing with today. It is funny how these leaders (a weak term at best, and one I use sparingly) advocate change, but refuse to get advice from all the people that the establishment labels as radicals or heretics. There are some fools out there, but I know many good citizens and leaders that have the moral courage to advocate change based on well documented and thoroughly thought out research.
One area that Chuck and I disagree is the need to radically move to alternative energy sources. Yes, I agree with him that it is going to be hard, but it has to be done. But, I think we disagree to agree. What may make it impossible, is the fact that “We the People” are not willing to elect (the obligation the Constitution says we have in our part in government) the right type of hard-ass and smart leaders to move us in the right direction. Yes, both of the major parties gave us their best, which is not much at all; but, we could look at other candidates (look at Ron Paul, how much money he raised, and he also won the first debate last May hands down).
Anyway, I have a little hope, but not much. I think we have the will and ability to make the massive change to alternative energies, but we have to overcome and replace entire layers of self-serving politicians and bureaucrats that proclaim change, but in reality do little. And of course, “We the People,” are guilty because we keep putting the same people back in power, based on their continual proclamations to keep the way we live going, with little cost in terms of sacrifice (why we have one of the greatest financal crisis going now). Finally, we then all go out and complain about these people (look at the lowest ratings of any Congress ever is the one we have today, but I will bet you most of those Congressmen and Senators keep their jobs after the next elections).
I look forward toward your comments from the articles below, beginning with Chuck’s analysis.
Obama’s Politics of Change:
Afghanistan & Gore’s Transformative Vision
I am in almost complete agreement with Tom Hayden’s article in the Nation
[or see Attachment 1 below] criticizing Obama inter aliafor jumping on the “good war” bandwagon by proposing to transfer troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Hayden’s essay is a very good article in my opinion … lots of useful information, thanx.
Afghanistan, like Iraq, is a real loser. But this should come as no surprise. In the fall of 2001, intel reports said there were between 40-60,000 Taliban, but when we quickly “defeated” them, the intel folks could only account for 6-8000 captured, wounded or killed. Nevertheless, the Pentagon brass and Bush quickly declared victory, even though it was clear at the time that the Taliban headed for the hills in classical guerrilla/Sun Tzufashion — when faced with superior force, disperse! That’s a no-brainerin some circles but not those inside the Beltway. Now we are saying the Taliban are “regrouping” when is not clear they ever degrouped. BTW, at the time, I tried to draw attention to this withsome mainstream reporters but all they wanted to write about were reports parroting Pentagon press releases which described the stunning success of hi-technology precision weapons + Special Forces on horseback executing a swift low cost victory, which was being spouted as a vindication of Transformation — aka the Revolution in Military Affairs.
It is also is important to bear in mind that no Pashtunswere involved in 9-11 … at most, the Taliban were accessories to a monstrous crime — a crime that should have be used to energize a massive world-widepolice action. Such an internationalpolice action led by the United States might have been possible, given the worldwide flood of sympathy for the US provoked by bin Laden’s outrageous mass murder. We will never know if this was a real possibility, because Bush chose to immediately militarize the bin-Laden problem then mutate into the open-ended so-called Global War on Terror, and use bin Laden as a propaganda prop to make war on a country that was at most an accessory to the crime, i.e., the Taliban in Afghanistan, and on a leader and country that was not involved in 9-11 at all, i.e., Saddam and Iraq.
Ironically, in the case of Afghanistan, there is evidence suggesting that bin Laden et alhad worn out their welcome with the Taleban. Four months before
9-11, on June 18, 2001, Arnaud de Borschgravewrote a very important front page story in the Washington Times describing his interview with the Taliban leader Mullah Omar . De Borshgravequoted Omar making some disparaging comments that suggested he was fed up with Osama [see Attachment 2 below]. Much later, in January 2008, John Pilger described a reinforcing view in report published in Antiwar.com
which included the following passage:
“By early 2001, convinced it was the presence of OsamaBin Laden that was souring their relationship with Washington, the Taliban tried to get rid of him. Under a deal negotiated by the leaders of Pakistan’s two Islamic parties, Bin Laden was to be held under house arrest in Peshawar. A tribunal of clerics would then hear evidence against him and decide whether to try him or hand him over to the Americans. Whether or not this would have happened, Pakistan’s Pervez Musharraf vetoed the plan.According to the then Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, a senior US diplomat told him on 21 July 2001 that it had been decided to dispense with the Taliban “under a carpet of bombs.”
On Oct 7, 2001, Bush launched the war against the Taliban, after the Taliban refused Bush’s demand to hand over bin Laden withoutany preconditions. On October 14, in an effort to halt the bombing, the Taliban offered to turn over Osamato an independent third country for a trial, if the US would provide evidence that he was responsible for the crime. [see Bush Rejects Taliban Bin Laden Offer,” Associated Press, October 14, 2005, “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Hand bin Laden Over,” UK Guardian Unlimited, October 14, 2001 and Andrew Buncombe, “Bush Rejects Taliban Offer to Surrender bin Laden,” the UK Independent, October 15, 2001. ]. But Bush ignored this offer and escalated the war. Today, almost seven years later, bin Laden remains at large, the Taliban are growing stronger, and Afghanistan is threatening to consume more US blood and gold as it sinks into a deepening quagmire which is spilling over into nuclear armed Pakistan.
So, even the most jaded observer has to admit that it is possiblethat Taliban were hunting for an escape hatch, even though a strict adherence to their moral code of hospitality made them responsible for Osama’sdefense, once we attacked him in their homeland. Osama may also have madea brilliant preemptive move to fend off the possibility of a Taliban handover. On Sept 9, he is believed to have engineered the assassination of Ahmed Massood. Massood, the charismatic albeit brutal Tajik leader of the Northern Alliance, was the Taliban’s most bitter and capable enemy within Afghanistan. Under the strict Pashtun tribal code, that assassination madethe Taliban indebted to bin Laden, particularly if he was seeking sanctuary (if indeed it was bin Laden who had orchestrated the assassination). Nevertheless the Taliban still offered to turn him over for trialby an impartial third party, if the United States provided evidence of Osama’scomplicity in 9-11. The story of bin Laden’s deteriorating relationship with Taliban in the spring and summer of 2001 is one that has not really been fully developed, but there is enough smoke to warrant a serious investigation, especially if we are on the verge of escalating operations in Afghanistan. One thing is clear, however. Capturing Osama bin Ladintook a back seat to prosecuting the wars with Iraq and the Taliban.
Now, we see Obama and Dems rushing into the deepening Afghan quagmire. They are trying to pit a “good” Afghan war against a “bad” Iraqi war to prove they are just as “tough” on defense as the Republicans, only smarter. But this is the old pusillanimous ploy of moving to middle to capture independents in an election year. The next move Obama is likely to take, if Obama’s advisors like former Senator Sam Nunn and andformer Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry have any clout, will be a call to reform of acquisition management in Pentagon while we recapitalize the Pentagon’s aging weapons with a shopping list of even more complex andexpensive “precision” weapons. They will package this reform program in rhetoric asserting the need to increase the defense budget further in order to repair the damage Bush did to military!!!!!! That shore up the right flank and quiet the Pentagon and its allies in Congress and in the defense industry.
It does not matter that the weapons aging crisis is a self-inflicted wound has been hemorrhaging for 40 years and is a direct conseqence of the bipartisan predilection (especially including that of Nunn and Perry when they were in power) for buying hi-cost weapons that do not work as well as advertised. It does not matter that this predilection has caused an out-of-control operations and maintenance budget, wherein the operating costs of increasingly complex, aging weapons have gone through the roof. It does not matter that the Pentagon’s bookkeeping system is now so corrupt that it is impossible to relate the money that goes in to Pentagon to how that money is spent or what it has produced, a condition of ambiguity which itself is useful because it lubricates the incestuously amplifying decision-making process that is powering the self-destructive predilection for hi-tech weapons that don’t work as advertised. The likelihood of such an appeal for higher budgets is now almost as probable in its effects as a cause and effect relationship in Newtonian physics.
Meanwhile, to make matters even worse, Obama just knee-jerked and endorsed Gore’s absurd call to end US dependency on carbon for electrical power (i.e., coal, oil, gas) in 10 years
by throwing money at the renewable energy programs in a crash program patterned after John F. Kennedy’s Apollo program in the so-called Moon race — which, by the way, is a ridiculous analogy. Going to the moon was a far simpler, far more narrow, engineering problem which involved only a comparatively miniscule investment in production/infrastructure facilities. Repoweringall the carbon-fired power plants withsolar, wind, and water generators in the United States would be a gargantuan effort requiring development of new technologies, particularly energy storage technologies, and massive investments in all sorts of infrastructure. The only near term energy technology that could be used on such a massive scale is nuclear power, and even that would be impossible to do in ten years, particularly given the problems of storing radioactive waste, location, and safety. Bear in mindthat Gore’s colossal feat would take place in a country that can not muster the political will to solve the comparatively simple problem of rebuilding New Orleans.
Of course, Gore packaged his transformative vision under the umbrella of national security (the politics of fear, again) Gore’s proposal, if it ever gets traction, will result in a colossal boondoggle for same hi-tech companies that now take 20+ years to move an airplane like F-22 or a weapon system that doesn’t work like missile defense from R&D to anything like operational status.
Now I am all for developing solar and wind technologies, etc, but a transformation of the nation’s entire electrical production capabilities in 10 years is preposterous on its face.
Gore’s top-down (I know what is best) proposal, which Obama (who claims to be a bottom-up politician) endorsed, is really a formula for looting the taxpayer, particularly when you consider that the techno-defense giants, like Boeing & Lockheed, are certain cash in on the Gore’s golden cornucopia, should it occur. The horrors of the ethanol scam will be welcome by comparison.
Surely, high speed rail, mandating better fuel economy in cars, subsidizing more insulation in houses and office buildings, wearing sweaters, subsidizing population movements from suburbs to cities, and other proven technologies would yield far larger energy benefits in the short term.
And, oh by the way, in case Gore and Obama have not noticed in the rush to a “good war” and universalgreen power … there may be a slight problem with raising the money needed to implement Gore’s Bush-like transformative vision: the economy is tanking, government and private debt are skyrocketing (more and more of which is being held by foreign countiries), socialspending demands are increasing because baby boomers are moving into social security andmedicare, the financial system may be collapsing, and the nation’s physical infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly (roads, sewers, bridges, schools, etc.), not to mention the fact that US’sproduction/technicalcapabilities have been going down the tubes, as is evidenced by the persistence of huge trade imbalances and the fact that production facilities that have been moving overseas.
But then you shouldn’t condemn an entire program for a few little slip ups.
aboard S/V Chaliventures, lying Finike, Turkey
Oama, Iraq and Afghanistan
by TOM HAYDEN
July 15, 2008
Sen. Obama listens to his introduction before making a foreign policy speech on Iraq in Washington.
Any proposal to transfer American troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan is sure to cause debate and questions among peace activists and rank-and-file Democrats. The proposal potentially represents a wider quagmire for the US government and military.
On Iraq, Obama said nothing especially new in his July 14 New York Times op-ed piece andhis foreign policy speech in Washington today. In both, he forcefully restated his commitment to combat troop withdrawals after his recent statements suggesting that he would “refine” his views when he consults military commanders on the ground. He neglected to address how many American “residualforces” he would leave behind in Iraq to fight Al Qaeda and “protect American service members,” though he made additional US trainers conditional on the Iraqis making “politicalprogress.” It is a proposal that seems to promise a phased diminishing of the American military presence, not a complete withdrawal.
Many independent analysts question the wisdom of leaving some 50,000 American troops as advisers, trainers and counter-terrorism units in Iraq after the withdrawal of 140,000 by 2010. Those forces would be protecting a sectarian political regime that is linked to death squads, militias and a detention system now holding 50,000 Iraqis in violation of human rights standards.
It is quite possible that Obama’s regionaldiplomacy, including hard bargaining withIran, could facilitate a decent interval for American troop withdrawals and a more stabilized Iraq, as suggested by former CIA director John M. Deutch.
Obama smartly exploited the recent call by Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki for a US withdrawal deadline, although al-Maliki’s timelinewas twice as long as Obama’s. In this face-saving scenario, the Pentagon would follow “the Philippine option,” in which the client government formally requested that the United States close its bases. This option was advocated openly by the Marines’ commander in Iraq in 2004. The United States withdrew only obsolete navalforces from the Philippines, however; today we spendhundreds of millions on a secret war against Islamic forces in the southern Philippines. Obama might do the same.
These public policy ambiguities are not simply Obama’s problem; they are caused by a mainstream media that stubbornly refuses to ask any questions about those “residual forces.” For example, how will “residual forces,” tied to the regime the Americans put in power, be more successful on the battlefield than the departing 170,000 combat troops?
But Obama’s proposals for Afghanistan and Pakistan are far more problematic. They can be described in everyday language as either out of the frying pan and into the fire or attacking needles by burning down haystacks.
The Pentagon paradigm is to defeat Al Qaeda militarily while refusing to address, and thereby worsening, the dire conditions that gave rise to the Taliban and Al Qaedaoperatives in the first place. In careful prose based on reputable sources, Ahmed Rashid’s new Descent into Chaos (Viking, 2008) provides a horrific portrait of Afghanistan:
• It is estimated by RAND that $100 per capita is the minimum required to stabilize a country evolving out of war. Bosnia received $679 per capita, Kosovo $526, while Afghanistan received $57 per capita in the key years, 2001-2003.
• When the United States installed the Hamid Karzai government, Afghanistan ranked 172nd out of 178 nations on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. It has the highest rate of infant mortality in the world, a life expectancy rate of 44-45 years, and the youngest population of any country. In 2005, 95 percent of Kabul’s residents were living without electrical power.
• Seven hundred civilians were killed in the first five months of 2008 alone, according to the United Nations.
• Despite some gains in media and currency reform, plus a modest increase in the number of children in school, this was the path of least reconstruction. And despite images of Afghan democracy that made loya jirga tribalgatherings appear to be the birth of participatory democracy, a warlord state was entrenched by the CIA.
There are some 36,000 US troops stretched across Afghanistan, another 17,500 under NATO command, and 18,000 in counterinsurgency andtraining roles. They are so aggressively combat-oriented that the Afghan government itself continually objects to the rate of civilian casualties. It costs the Pentagon $2 billion per month to support 30,000 American troops. According to Rashid, “Afghanistan is not going to be able to pay for its own army for many years to come–perhaps never.”
As of 2006, Afghanistan’s economy still rested on producing 90 percent of the world’s opium, an eerie narco-state parallel with the US counterinsurgency in Colombia, where most of America’s supply of cocaine originates.
Afghanistan is an unstable police state. By 2005, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission cited 800 cases of detainee abuse at some thirty US firebases. “The CIA operates its own secretdetention centers, which were off limits to the US military.” Ghost prisoners, known as Persons Under Control are held permanently without any public records of their existence. Warlords operate their own prisons with “unprecedented abuse, torture, and death of Taliban prisoners.” And as the US lowered the number of prisoners at Guantánamo, it increased the numbers held at Bagram, near Kabul. As of January, 2008, there were 630 incarcerated at Bagram, “including some who had been there for five years and whom the ICRC had still not been given access to.” After weeks of hunger strikes about detention conditions, the Taliban recently orchestrated a jailbreak of hundreds of Afghanisfrom the Kandahar prison, an inside job.
As in Iraq, the US contracted for police training in Afghanistan with DynCorp International. Between 2003 and 2005, the US spent $860 million to train 40,000 Afghan police, “but the results were totally useless,” according to Rashid. Even Richard Holbrooke described the DynCorp training program as “an appalling joke…a complete shambles.”
When the Taliban government was overthrown, the US installed a Westernized Pashtun, Hamid Karzai, a former lobbyist for Unocal, who had been out of the country during the jihad against the Soviet Union. But for the first time in 300 years, the Pashtun tribes themselves were violently displaced from power. At 42 percent of the population, they remain by far the largest Afghan minority, heavily concentrated in Kandahar and the southern provinces andacross the federally administered tribal areas in western Pakistan. These are the areas that the Pentagon, the New York Times and Barack Obama(like John Kerry before him) designate as the central battlefront of the war on terrorism.
The question is not simply a moral one. Is an expanded war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, fueled by troop transfers from Iraq, winnable? In what sense?
Transferring 10,000 American troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, which Obamaproposes, is symbolic, a potential down payment on the treadmill of further escalation. (In his statement, Obama supports “at least” two additionalbrigades for Afghanistan.) The future of the Pentagon’s “rear” in Iraq will be questionable if fifteen combat brigades are withdrawn under Obama’s plan, while the Pentagon’s new “front” line cannot be secured with two brigades sent to southern and eastern Afghanistan. At best these might be holding actions until the next administration makes a decision about its ultimate strategy. Obama may be proposing an escalation simply in order not to lose, a pattern well-documented in Daniel Ellsberg’s history of the Vietnam War.
But the US escalation policy already is deepening, withbipartisan support–or silence–so far. In keeping withcounterinsurgency strategies going back to America’s long wars against native tribes, the Pentagon has fostered the ascension of a new Pakistani general, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, whose background includes training at Fort Benning andFort Leavenworth. An unnamed US military official praises Kayani “for embracing new counterinsurgency training andtactics that could be more effective in countering militants in the country’s tribalareas. Over $400 million is being spent to recruit a “frontier corps” of to “turn local tribes against militants.” CIA and Special Forces operatives already have invaded Pakistan to setup a secret base from which to hunt Osama bin Laden–before Mr. Bush leaves office–as well as fighting Al Qaeda andthe Taliban on the ground and from pilotless Predator drones.
All this constitutes yet another preventive war by the United States, this one in violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and against the stated policies of the newly elected Pakistani government, not to mention the overwhelming sentiment among Pakistan’s people. On the Afghan front, the Taliban will be able to retreat in the face of greater US firepower, or attack like Lilliputians from multiple sides if the US concentrates its forces around the Pakistan border. Further violence and tides of anti-American sentiment could sweep across the region into Pakistan with unpredictable results.
Michael Scheuer, the former CIA officialonce charged with tracking down Osamabin Laden, suggests that the American delusion is that “by establishing a minority-dominated semi-secular, pro-Indian government [in Kabul], we would neither threaten the identity nor raise the ire of the Pashtun tribes nor endanger Pakistan’s national security.” In his recent book, Marching Towards Hell, Scheuer wrote that “for the United States, the war in Afghanistan has been lost. By failing to recognize that the only achievable US mission in Afghanistan was to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their leaders and getout, Washington is now faced with fighting a protracted andgrowing insurgency. The only upside of this coming defeat is that it is a debacle of our own making. We are not being defeated by our enemies; we are in the midst of defeating ourselves.”
The beginning of an alternative may require unfreezing American diplomacy towards Iran andconsidering a “grand bargain” instead. Teheran is the single power, according to CIA director Deutch, that could destabilize the US withdrawal from Iraq. It happens that they were America’s ally against Afghanistan not so long ago. The Iranians have lost thousands of police andsoldiers themselves in a border war against Afghan drug lords. As William Polk wrote in Violent Politics, “ironically, the only effective deterrent to the tradeis Iran.” In exchange for security guarantees against a US-directed regime change, Iran may be willing to discuss cooperation withthe “Great Satan” to stabilize its borders with Iraq and Afghanistan. Improbable? That depends on whether one thinks the alternative is unthinkable.
Only a short time ago, the United States was supporting the jihadistsin the same tribalareas as they ventured to destroy the Soviet occupation. In the same years, the United States was hosting the Taliban for talks on a possible oil pipeline across Afghanistan. Since twists andturns seem to be the only pattern in divide-and-conquer strategies, it is possible that Obama thinks being tough towards Afghanistan and Pakistan is a defensive cover for withdrawing from Iraq, andhe later will follow up with unspecified diplomacy after he takes office. But history shows that creeping escalations create a momentum and constituency of their own. Obama might get lucky, lower the level of the visible wars and embrace a diplomatic offensive. But North and South Waziristan could be his Bay of Pigs.
To borrow a popular phrase of the season, ending one war Iraq to start two more in Afghanistan and Pakistan seems to be a dumb idea.
About Tom Hayden
Tom Hayden is the author of The Other Side(1966, with Staughton Lynd), The Love of Possession Is a Disease With Them (1972), Ending the War in Iraq (2007) and Writings for a Democratic Society: The Tom Hayden Reader (2008).
June 18, 2001 Pg. 1
Taliban Invalidates Bin Laden’s Orders
By Arnaud de Borchgrave, The Washington Times
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Any holy decree or “fatwa” issued by Osama bin Laden declaring holy war against the United States and ordering Muslims to kill Americans is “null and void,” according to the Taliban´s supreme leader.
Bin Laden, America´s most wanted terror suspect,“is not entitled to issue fatwas as he did not complete the mandatory 12 years of Quranic studies to qualify for the position of mufti,”said Mullah Mohammad Omar Akhund, known to every Afghan as amir-ul-mumineen (supreme leader of the faithful).
Mullah Omar made clear that the Islamic Emirate, as the Taliban regime calls itself, would like to “resolve or dissolve” the bin Laden issue. In return, he expects the United States to establish a dialogue that would lead to “an easing and then lifting of U.N. sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of the Emirate.”
The two issues are linked,both in Washington and in Kandahar, the nation´s sprawling, dust-choked religious center of 750,000 people where Mullah Omar and his 10-man ruling Shura, or council, have their headquarters.
Mullah Omar, 41, is a soft-spoken man of very few words. He relies on Rahmatullah Hashimi, a 24-year-old multilingual “ambassador-at-large,” rumored to be Afghanistan´s next foreign minister, to translate and expand his short, staccato statements.
The one-eyed, 6-foot-6-inch, five-times wounded veteran of the war against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s was also the architect of the Taliban´s victory over the multiple warring factions that followed the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.
Sitting cross-legged on the carpeted mud floor of his spartan adobe house on the west end of town, Mullah Omar´s shrapnel-scarred face, topped by a black turban, shows no emotion as he answers in quick succession a military field telephone, walkie-talkies and a wideband radio.
“We´re still fighting a war,” he says impatiently, referring to Ahmed Shah Masood´s guerrilla forces, which still hold 10 percent of Afghan territory in the northeastern part of the country.
According to U.S. intelligence reports, bin Laden has issued instructions that his followers have described as fatwas. But Mullah Omar said, “Only muftis can issue fatwas.” Bin Laden “is not a mufti, and therefore any fatwas he may have issued are illegal and null and void.”
The Afghan supreme leader also said bin Laden is not allowed any contact with the media or with foreign government representatives.
Afghanistan, according to the amir, has suggested to the United States andto the United Nations that international “monitors” keep bin Laden under observation pending a resolution of the case, “but so far we have received no reply.”
Mr. Hashimi, in flawless English, added: “We also notified the United States we were putting bin Laden on trial last September for his alleged crimes and requested that relevant evidence be presented.”
He said the court sat for 40 days, but the United States never presented any evidence of suspected crimes by bin Laden, including his suspected involvement in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, which Mullah Omar agreed were “criminal acts.”
“Bin Laden, for his part, swore on the Quranhe had nothing to do with those terrorist bombings and that he is not responsible for what others do who claim to know him,” Mr. Hashimi said.
On Tuesday, a New York court sentenced one Saudi Arabian to life in prison in connection with the embassy bomb attacks; three more men — a Tanzanian, a U.S. citizen and a Jordanian — have also been found guilty and are awaiting sentencing. All claimed to have been acting on orders from bin Laden.
In March,Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf told The Washington Times that by demonizing bin Laden, the United States had turned him into a cult figure among Muslim massesand “a hero among Islamist extremists.”
Since then, the State Department has played down the importance of bin Laden. Mullah Omar clearly wishes to do the same. But politically, he cannot afford to deport him lest he arouse the wrath of his fellow extremists.
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and theUAE are the only three countries that recognize the Taliban government.Saudi Arabia and the UAEsecretly fund the Taliban by paying Pakistan for its logistical support to Afghanistan.
Mr. Hashemi, a highly intelligent high school dropout who toured the United States earlier this year, fielded other questions that Mullah Omar felt had been answered in recent months:
* On the lack of schools for girls: “We don´t even have enough schools for boys. Everything was destroyed in 20 years of fighting. The sooner U.N. sanctions are lifted, the sooner we can finish building schools for both boys and girls.”
* On the treatment of women: “You forget that America and the rest of the world are centuries ahead of us. If you introduced your manners and mores suddenly in Afghanistan, society would implode and anarchy would ensue. We don´t interfere with what we consider your decadent lifestyle, so please refrain from interfering with ours.”
* On the destruction of TV sets: “Try to imagine what would have happened in 18th- or even 19th-century America or Europe with the overnight introduction of television and all the sex that is now part of programs everywhere except Iran. We are not against television, but against the filth that pollutes the airwaves.”