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Passions in Poetry

Another perspective

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since 02-29-2000
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0 posted 09-19-2001 06:49 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

I received this from a friend. It's worth reading. Would appreciate anyone's views on this.

Dear Friends and UW-Oshkosh Students,
As we reflect upon the tragic events of this week and an appropriate "response," I thought you might like to see this letter from my college roommate, Tamim Ansary, who grew up in Afghanistan.  I think he offers an interesting perspective on Bin Laden, the Taliban, and Afghanistan.

Toivo Kallas Department of Biology & Microbiology Dear Friends,
Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio 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," and he asked, "What else can we do?  What is your suggestion?" Minutes later I heard a TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

And I thought about these issues 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 been going on over there.  So I want to share a few thoughts with anyone who will listen.

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 fervently wish to see those monsters punished.

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 captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in bondage ever since.  Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master 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 love for someone to eliminate the Taliban and clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.  I guarantee it.

Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban themselves?  The answer is, they're starved, exhausted, damaged, and incapacitated.  A few years ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan -- a country with no economy, no food.  Millions of Afghans are widows of the approximately two million men killed during the war with the Soviets.  And the Taliban has been executing these women for being women and have buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves.  The soil of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost all the farms have been destroyed.  The Afghan people have tried to overthrow the Taliban.  They haven't been able to.

We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age.  Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done.  The Soviets took care of it.  Make the Afghans suffer?  They're already suffering.
Level their houses?  Done.  Turn their schools into piles of rubble?
Eradicate their hospitals?  Done.  Destroy their infrastructure?  There is no infrastructure.  Cut them off from medicine and health care?  Too late.
Someone already did all that.

New bombs would only land in 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.  (They have already, I hear.) 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 be making common cause with the Taliban -- by raping once again the people they've been raping all this time.

So what else 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.  I think that when people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as needed.  They are thinking about overcoming moral qualms about killing innocent people.  But it's the belly to die not kill that's actually on the table.  Americans will die in a land war to get Bin Laden.  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.  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.

The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war between Islam and the West.  And that is Bin Laden's program.  That's exactly what he wants and why he did this thing.  Read his speeches and statements.  It's all right there.  AT the moment, of course, "Islam" as such does not exist.
There are Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity as Islam.  Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can constitute this entity and he'd be running it.  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 Muslim lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's point of view.  He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west would probably overcome -- whatever that would mean in such a war; but the war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours.  Who has the belly for that?  Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?

I don't have a solution.  But I do believe that suffering and poverty are the soil in which terrorism grows.  Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish.  We can't let him do that.  That's my humble opinion.

Tamim Ansary
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1 posted 09-19-2001 07:57 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Thank you, rwood and Tamim.  This is VERY important information for us to know.  Were we to follow European issues closely, we'd surely be aware of these details... Few Americans do that, however.

Every Passionate member should read this poignant account of conditions there. Insight is a good thing.

God Bless us all...
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2 posted 09-19-2001 08:24 AM       View Profile for Romy   Email Romy   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Romy

Thank you very much for this information from one who knows.  I hope much thought is put into this situation before our government acts.  It's scary to think of what could go wrong if they don't.

[This message has been edited by Romy (edited 09-19-2001).]

doreen peri
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3 posted 09-19-2001 08:38 AM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

I received this letter also, but as if it were written by an Afgani woman who has lived in the US for 35 years. i also heard this letter was circulating the internet as if it were written by an Afgani man.

The origin of it is therefore quite unclear, and its' authenticity debateable, however i do believe the descriptions of the Afghanastan nation reasonably accurate..... this after consulting with some friends more knowledgeable than i and after viewing a recent pbs' Frontline documentary and checking other news and history sources, including NPR.

i posted this letter, also, on another website and someone told me this....

"see:, then left column 'news', then 'special coverage: 'pariah nation, afganistan'"

also, there's another link here where i posted the link to PBS information...

as far as the comparisons between hitler and bin Laden, a friend who's opinion i respect said this, "I probably wouldn't go as far as to say the taleban are like nazis and that bin laden is like hitler".

I admit not following the news and current events like i should for several years and this past week has been a time for a LOT of studying. It's truly embarrassing to me that i knew so little before all this started and i think many Americans are also in need of educating themselves.

From all the sources I consulted, each and every one agree that Afganastan is a war torn nation, already pretty much leveled by the Russian presence and it is true the people are starving.

again, i'm embarrassed at my ignorance.... and intend to find out as much about the history of events as i can and the current state of affairs throughout the world...

in spite of the fact that the author of this letter is not truly known and that different versions are circulating the internet, i think much of the factual information is knowledge people should have....

i encourage everyone to go to several valid  news and history sources to confirm information they receive, whether by internet email or by talking to others. it is very important to distinguish fact from embellishment of fact and from propaganda.

Thanks for posting this. I was going to post the version i received here, but didn't know whether to or not.
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4 posted 09-19-2001 09:09 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Thank you, dear Doreen...
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5 posted 09-19-2001 02:32 PM       View Profile for RSWells   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for RSWells

It's an awful dilemma we're in. An entrenched enemy which hides behind innocents who are as well the victims of these thugs. While the knee jerk reaction is to bomb them to hell from a safe distance, we know that innocents would suffer. However to try to go in with ground forces would be to invite the same disasterous results the British of a century ago and the Soviets of a decade ago experienced. The only answer is to invade with numbers so overwhelming and strike so quickly that nowhere is left to hide, no stone unturned, all the offenders are killed or captured and the people of Afghanistan are released from the bondage of these fanatics and allowed to determine their own fate in some democratic fashion. YES DEMOCRACY!
   What we don't need is another Vietnam where we feed the fodder of our youth piecemeal to the slaughter of a limited war. We need to overwhelm them.
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6 posted 09-19-2001 04:28 PM       View Profile for RSWells   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for RSWells

Now that I've given this a bit more thought I realize the terrorists and their direct supporters would simply flee to another sympathetic arab nation so I remain frustrated.
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7 posted 09-19-2001 06:45 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Yes...I'm afraid to trust anything as fact when indeed it could be fiction on the letter I posted. It angers me that we don't know who to trust on the outside. But I'm sure the Afghanistan region is barren and stark. You could see that from news clips. And years of war.

We are in a very deep mess indeed. But some of the Afghani people have been downgraded to dirt. I wonder how many joined up with Bin Ladden just to eat.

I'm frustrated too. For even when I read and try to find clues to what we are dealing with....the signals are very mixed even between a people the same. Even our news channels and internet resources. Some say the Taliban and Bin Laden are recreating Viet Nam, some say that they are Nazi Cultists. I don't know if we'll ever know.

Thank you so much for all of your input. I just can't trust even a letter as sincere as this one seems. But I do believe it has truth to the state Afghanistan is in. And the possible separation of the Taliban and it's still unclear identity.

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8 posted 09-19-2001 07:31 PM       View Profile for Sven   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sven

even if this isn't true. . . it's a perspective that I know a lot of us will forget. . .

and we shouldn't. . .


To the world, you may only be one person. But to one person, you may be the world.

Local Rebel
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9 posted 09-19-2001 07:43 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I agree with most of what is expressed here and I'd quote George Will from Sunday's 'This Week' on ABC..

"We simply can't use a million dollar Tomahawk to blow up $15 tents"

... which is about all there is left of Afghanastan at this point.  Nevertheless 100 war planes are on thier way as we speak -- whatever their intentions are I know not but I'm sure the administration has something usefull in mind -- and that's all that I'd say about that..

I found this article online fortunatly that I thought was very good when I first read it during the Gulf War.

Bernard Lewis
Atlantic Monthly Online
Sept. 1990
The Roots of Muslim Rage

I'd suggest everyone in the West needs to read it.

Hate is a dead thing. Who of you would be a tomb? -Kahlil Gibran

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10 posted 09-19-2001 10:39 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Thank you Sven. I'm afraid this will be etched into my heart forever. Everything about this time. And I will see that others out there in our world do not go unnoticed by me.

LR: Thanks! I had a hard time understanding some of the article (probably because I need sleep) but it sheds a lot of new light. There have been years between us. Years of hate, years of our birth being almost the ticket to their afterlife in their eyes.
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