RF Letter of Sept 13 2001

>Tim McVeigh was not a Vietnam Vet, as previously posted, but a Gulf War vet. 
>Here is a link to a history of the First Afghan war, and Kipling's comment:
> When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
>And the women come out to cut up your remains,
>Just roll out your rifle and blow out your brains, 
>And go to your Gawd like a soldier.
>And here is a story about Bush and the Taliban
>found at http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20010522/t000042732.html 
>Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban 
>Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy 
>every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush 
>administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an 
>ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still
>That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the 
>Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators 
>of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by 
>Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the 
>U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for 
>declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the 
>Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs 
>that catches this administration's attention. 
>Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading 
>anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, 
>among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American 
>embassies in Africa in 1998. 
>Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a 
>time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on 
>Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden. 
>The war on drugs has become our own fanatics' obsession and easily 
>trumps all other concerns. How else could we come to reward the 
>Taliban, who has subjected the female half of the Afghan population to a 
>continual reign of terror in a country once considered enlightened in its 
>treatment of women? 
>At no point in modern history have women and girls been more 
>systematically abused than in Afghanistan where, in the name of madness 
>masquerading as Islam, the government in Kabul obliterates their 
>fundamental human rights. Women may not appear in public without being 
>covered from head to toe with the oppressive shroud called the burkha , 
>and they may not leave the house without being accompanied by a male 
>family member. They've not been permitted to attend school or be treated 
>by male doctors, yet women have been banned from practicing medicine 
>or any profession for that matter. 
>The lot of males is better if they blindly accept the laws of an extreme 
>religious theocracy that prescribes strict rules governing all behavior, 
>from a ban on shaving to what crops may be grown. It is this last power 
>that has captured the enthusiasm of the Bush White House. 
>The Taliban fanatics, economically and diplomatically isolated, are at 
>the breaking point, and so, in return for a pittance of legitimacy and cash 
>from the Bush administration, they have been willing to appear to reverse 
>themselves on the growing of opium. That a totalitarian country can 
>effectively crack down on its farmers is not surprising. But it is grotesque 
>for a U.S. official, James P. Callahan, director of the State Department's 
>Asian anti-drug program, to describe the Taliban's special methods in the 
>language of representative democracy: "The Taliban used a system of 
>consensus-building," Callahan said after a visit with the Taliban, adding 
>that the Taliban justified the ban on drugs "in very religious terms." 
>Of course, Callahan also reported, those who didn't obey the 
>theocratic edict would be sent to prison. 
>In a country where those who break minor rules are simply beaten on 
>the spot by religious police and others are stoned to death, it's 
>understandable that the government's "religious" argument might be 
>compelling. Even if it means, as Callahan concedes, that most of the 
>farmers who grew the poppies will now confront starvation. That's 
>because the Afghan economy has been ruined by the religious extremism 
>of the Taliban, making the attraction of opium as a previously tolerated 
>quick cash crop overwhelming. 
>For that reason, the opium ban will not last unless the U.S. is willing 
>to pour far larger amounts of money into underwriting the Afghan 
>As the Drug Enforcement Administration's Steven Casteel admitted, 
>"The bad side of the ban is that it's bringing their country--or certain 
>regions of their country--to economic ruin." Nor did he hold out much 
>hope for Afghan farmers growing other crops such as wheat, which 
>require a vast infrastructure to supply water and fertilizer that no longer 
>exists in that devastated country. There's little doubt that the Taliban
>turn once again to the easily taxed cash crop of opium in order to stay in 
>The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug 
>war zealots, but in the end this alliance will prove a costly failure. Our 
>long sad history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates 
>the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession. 

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