FW: Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban
jcraven at clark.edu
Thu Dec 20 15:13:37 MST 2001
NOTE: As late as three weeks before 9-11, the Bush Admin sent more funds to
the Taliban under the Poppy Eradication Program; the funds were ostensibly
for suppression of drug trafficking, the majority of which was conducted by
the thugs/rapists/warlords/medievilists of the now-US-allies of the Northern
If John Walker is charged with giving material assistance to a terrorist
organization, the charge Bush et al also as they gave far more assistance
than Walker well after Walker is known to have come into contact with the
Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban
By Robert Scheer
Published May 22, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times
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 takes seriously.
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
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
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 economy.
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 will turn once
again to the easily taxed cash crop of opium in order to stay in power.
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.
Robert Scheer Is a Syndicated Columnist.
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