Iran Says U.S. Paying for Giving Anthrax to Iraq
Looking for Answers About Anthrax (ABCNEWS.com)

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chief adviser to Iran's supreme
leader, said on Friday the United States was paying the price for supplying
anthrax to Iraq, which fought a bitter war with the Islamic Republic in the

``They knew anthrax was not a conventional weapon of war, but they supplied
it to Iraq ... Now anthrax which they themselves sent to this region is back
to haunt them,'' Rafsanjani told worshippers gathered for weekly prayers at
Tehran University.

Anthrax has been detected at mail facilities in the United States in a scare
that the U.S. government says may be linked to Saudi-born Osama bin Laden
(news - web sites), the suspected mastermind behind the Sept. 11 plane
attacks on U.S. cities.

Western diplomats have said Western companies, wittingly or unwittingly,
supplied Iraq with ``dual use'' materials and equipment used in its chemical
and biological warfare programs during and after the Iran-Iraq war.

Iraq, which used unconventional weapons against Iran in the 1980-88 war, has
denied any link to the U.S. outbreak.

Western officials say Iraq produced weapons-grade anthrax in the past, but
the State department said this week it knew of no clear link between Iraq and
the release of killer anthrax bacteria in the United States.

Rafsanjani, who is chief of Iran's powerful Expediency Council, also accused
the United States of trying to monopolize the global war on terrorism, which
he said should be led by the United Nations (news - web sites).

``The Americans want to take control and make a monopoly out of the struggle.
But they are not qualified for this leadership role,'' the former Iranian
president said.

He said Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite, had never been a friend of the
Sunni Muslim ruling Taliban in Afghanistan (news - web sites), but U.S.-led
strikes on the country could not root out the ``scourge of terrorism.''

Iran has in the past accused the Taliban of persecuting Afghan Shi'ites.

``We must first understand what pressures cause people to believe they are at
a dead-end, that they have got nothing to lose and so become radicals. It is
only by understanding these and going to the roots that we can counter
terrorism,'' he said.

``Killing impoverished civilians with cluster bombs is not the way to counter

Rafsanjani said the United States was trying to trick Muslims into supporting
them by announcing its backing for a Palestinian state.

``In order to fool them and buy their support, the Americans say they would
support the creation of an independent Palestinian state. If the United
States was sincere, why didn't it say this six months ago or last year?'' he

How to Lose a War

October 27, 2001


Welcome back to Sept. 10.

The "America Strikes Back" optimism that surged after Sept.
11 has now been stricken by the multitude of ways we're
losing the war at home. The F.B.I. has proved more
effective in waging turf battles against Rudy Giuliani than
waging war on terrorism. Of the more than 900 suspects
arrested, exactly zero have been criminally charged in the
World Trade Center attack (though one has died of natural
causes, we're told, in a New Jersey jail cell). The Bush
team didn't fully recognize that a second attack on America
had begun until more than a week after the first casualty.
The most highly trumpeted breakthrough in the hunt for
anthrax terrorists - Tom Ridge's announcement that "the
site where the letters were mailed" had been found in New
Jersey - proved a dead end. And now the president is posing
with elementary-school children again.

Given that this is the administration that was touted as
being run with C.E.O. clockwork, perhaps it should be added
to the growing list of Things That Have Changed Forever
since Sept. 11. But let's not be so hasty. Not everything
changes that fast - least of all Washington. The White
House's home-front failures are not sudden, unpredictable
products of wartime confusion but direct products of an
ethos that has been in place since Jan. 20.

This is an administration that will let its special
interests - particularly its high-rolling campaign
contributors and its noisiest theocrats of the right - have
veto power over public safety, public health and economic
prudence in war, it turns out, no less than in peacetime.
When anthrax struck, the administration's first impulse was
not to secure as much Cipro as speedily as possible to
protect Americans, but to protect the right of
pharmaceutical companies to profiteer. The White House's
faith in tax cuts as a panacea for all national ills has
led to such absurdities as this week's House "stimulus"
package showering $254 million on Enron, the reeling
Houston energy company (now under S.E.C. investigation)
that has served as a Bush campaign cash machine.

Airport security, which has been enhanced by at best
cosmetic tweaks since Sept. 11, is also held hostage by
campaign cash: As Salon has reported, ServiceMaster, a
supplier of the low-wage employees who ineptly man the
gates, is another G.O.P. donor. Not that Republicans stand
alone in putting fat cats first. In a display of
bipartisanship, Democrats - lobbied by Linda Hall Daschle,
the Senate majority leader's wife - joined the
administration in handing the airlines a $15 billion
bailout that enforces no reduction in the salaries of the
industry's C.E.O.'s even as they lay off tens of thousands
of their employees.

To see how the religious right has exerted its own
distortions on homeland security, you also have to consider
an administration pattern that goes back to its creation -
and one that explains the recent trials of poor Tom Ridge.

Mr. Ridge is by all accounts a capable leader - a
successful governor of a large state (Pennsylvania) who won
the Bronze Star for heroism in Vietnam. A close friend of
George W. Bush, he should have been in the administration
from the get-go, and was widely rumored to be a candidate
for various jobs, including the vice presidency. But after
being pilloried by the right because he supports abortion
rights, he got zilch. Instead of Mr. Ridge, the
administration signed on the pro-life John Ashcroft and
Tommy Thompson - who have brought us where we are today.

The farcical failures of these two cabinet secretaries are
not merely those of public relations - though Mr. Thompson
often comes across as a Chamber of Commerce glad- hander
who doesn't know his pants are on fire, and Mr. Ashcroft
often shakes as if he's not just seen great Caesar's ghost
but perhaps John Mitchell's as well. Both have a history of
letting politics override public policy that dates to the
start of the administration. They've seen no reason to
reverse their partisan priorities even at a time when the
patriotic duty of effectively fighting terror should be
their No. 1 concern.

Pre-Sept. 11, Mr. Thompson, in defiance of science,
heartily lent his credibility to the Bush administration's
stem cell "compromise" by going along with its
overstatement of the viability and diversity of the stem
cell lines it would deliver to researchers. Post-Sept. 11,
he destroyed his credibility by understating the severity
of the anthrax threat, also in defiance of science. Now he
maintains that the $1.5 billion the administration is
requesting to plug the many holes in our public health
system - almost all of it earmarked for stockpiling
pharmaceuticals, not shoring up local hospitals - is
adequate for fighting bioterrorism. This, too, is in
defiance of all expert estimates, including that of the one
physician in the Senate, the Republican Bill Frist.

It should also be on Mr. Thompson's conscience that for the
first two weeks of the anthrax crisis he kept the federal
government's house physician - David Satcher, the surgeon
general and a much-needed honest broker of public health -
locked away, presumably because Dr. Satcher, a Clinton
appointee, became persona non grata in the Bush
administration for issuing a June report on teenage
sexuality that angered the religious right. Only after Mr.
Ridge arrived on the scene was the surgeon general
liberated from the gulag.

As for Mr. Ashcroft, he has gone so far as to turn away
firsthand information about domestic terrorism for
political reasons. Planned Parenthood, which has been on
the front lines of anthrax scares for years and has by grim
necessity marshaled the medical and security expertise to
combat them, has sought a meeting with the attorney general
since he took office but has never been granted one. This
was true not only before Sept. 11 but, says Ann Glazier,
Planned Parenthood's director of security, remains true -
even though her organization, long targeted by such
home-grown Talibans as the Army of God, has a decade's
worth of leads on "the convergence of international and
domestic terrorism."

Ms. Glazier found the sight of Mr. Ashcroft and other
federal Keystone Kops offering a $1 million reward for
anthrax terrorists a laughable indication of how little
grasp they have of the enemy. "Religious extremists don't
respond to money," she points out. Such is the state of the
F.B.I., she adds, that one agent told a clinic to hold onto
a suspect letter for a couple of days "because we have so
many here we're afraid we're going to lose it" (perhaps
among the Timothy McVeigh documents).

If either the attorney general or the secretary of health
and human services inspired anything like the confidence
that, say, Mayor Giuliani does, there wouldn't have been a
need to draft Mr. Ridge. Even so, he's mainly a P.R.
gimmick - a man who should have been in the administration
in the first place reduced to serving as a fig leaf for
lightweights. As director of homeland security, he's
allegedly charged with supervising nearly 50 government
agencies - so far with roughly a dozen staff members. When
asked to define Mr. Ridge's responsibilities, Ari Fleischer
said on Wednesday that it was "a very busy coordination
job," but so far Mr. Ridge is mainly sowing still more

The one specific duty that he has claimed - in an interview
with Tom Brokaw - was that he'd be the one "making the
phone call" to the president to shoot down any commercial
airliner turned into a flying bomb by hijackers. That
presumably comes as news to Donald Rumsfeld, who made no
provision for any homeland security czar in the Air Force
chain of command he publicly codified days after Mr.
Ridge's appointment.

Since the administration tightly metes out the news from
Afghanistan, we can only hope that the war there is being
executed more effectively than the war here - even as Mr.
Rumsfeld and his generals now tell us that the Taliban,
once expected to implode in days, are proving Viet-
Cong-like in their intractability. The Wall Street Journal
also reported this week that "instead of a thankful Afghan
population, popular support for the Taliban appears to be
solidifying and anger with the U.S. growing."

Maybe we're losing that battle for Afghan hearts and minds
in part because the Bush State Department appointee in
charge of the propaganda effort is a C.E.O. (from Madison
Avenue) chosen not for her expertise in policy or politics
but for her salesmanship on behalf of domestic products
like Head & Shoulders shampoo. If we can't effectively
fight anthrax, I guess it's reassuring to know we can
always win the war on dandruff.


everything you wanted to know about chem/bio weapons- can't vouch for the science, but sounds good.

Words of Wisdom From An Armor Master

Since the media has decided to scare everyone with predictions of
chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare on our turf I decided to
write a paper and keep things in their proper perspective.

I am a retired military weapons, munitions, and training expert.

Lesson number one: In the mid 1990s there were a series of nerve
attacks on crowded Japanese subway stations. Given perfect
for an attack less than 10% of the people there were injured (the
injured were better in a few hours) and only one percent of the
injured died. 60 Minutes once had a fellow telling us that one drop
nerve gas could kill a thousand people, well he didn't tell you the
thousand dead people per drop was theoretical. Drill Sergeants
exaggerate how terrible this stuff was to keep the recruits awake
class (I know this because I was a Drill Sergeant too). Forget
everything you've ever seen on TV, in the movies, or read in a
about this stuff, it was all a lie (read this sentence again out
loud!). These weapons are about terror, if you remain calm, you
probably not die. This is far less scary than the media and their
"Experts," make it sound.

Chemical weapons are categorized as Nerve, Blood, Blister, and
Incapacitating agents Contrary to the hype of reporters and
politicians they are not weapons of mass destruction they are "Area
denial," and terror weapons that don't destroy anything. When you
leave the area you almost always leave the risk. That's the
difference; you can leave the area and the risk; soldiers may have
stay put and sit through it and that's why they need all that

These are not gasses, they are vapors and/or air borne particles.
agent must be delivered in sufficient quantity to kill/injure, and
that defines when/how it's used. Every day we have a morning and
evening inversion where "stuff," suspended in the air gets pushed
down. This inversion is why allergies (pollen) and air pollution
worst at these times of the day. So, a chemical attack will have
best effect an hour of so either side of sunrise/sunset. Also,
vapors and airborne particles they are heavier than air so they
seek low places like ditches, basements and underground garages.
stuff won't work when it's freezing, it doesn't last when it's hot,
and wind spreads it too thin too fast. They've got to get this
on you, or, get you to inhale it for it to work. They also have to
the concentration of chemicals high enough to kill or wound you.
little and it's nothing, too much and it's wasted. What I hope
gathered by this point is that a chemical weapons attack that kills
lot of people is incredibly hard to do with military grade agents
equipment so you can imagine how hard it will be for terrorists.
more you know about this stuff the more you realize how hard it is

We'll start by talking about nerve agents. You have these in your
house, plain old bug killer (like Raid) is nerve agent. All nerve
agents work the same way; they are cholinesterase inhibitors that
up the signals your nervous system uses to make your body function.
can harm you if you get it on your skin but it works best if they
get you to inhale it. If you don't die in the first minute and you
leave the area you're probably gonna live. The military's antidote
all nerve agents is atropine and pralidoxime chloride. Neither one
these does anything to cure the nerve agent, they send your body
overdrive to keep you alive for five minutes, after that the agent
used up. Your best protection is fresh air and staying calm. Listed
below are the symptoms for nerve agent poisoning.

Sudden headache, Dimness of vision (someone you're looking at will
have pinpointed pupils), Runny nose, Excessive saliva or drooling,
Difficulty breathing, Tightness in chest, Nausea, Stomach cramps,
Twitching of exposed skin where a liquid just got on you. If you
in public and you start experiencing these symptoms, first ask
yourself, did anything out of the ordinary just happen, a loud pop,
did someone spray something on the crowd? Are other people getting
sick too? Is there an odor of new mown hay, green corn, something
fruity, or camphor where it shouldn't be?

If the answer is yes, then calmly (if you panic you breathe faster
inhale more air/poison) leave the area and head up wind, or,
Fresh air is the best "right now antidote." If you have a blob of
liquid that looks like molasses or Karo syrup on you; blot it or
scrape it off and away from yourself with anything disposable. This
stuff works based on your body weight, what a crop duster uses to
bugs won't hurt you unless you stand there and breathe it in real
deep, then lick the residue off the ground for while. Remember they
have to do all the work, they have to get the concentration up and
keep it up for several minutes while all you have to do is quit
getting it on you/quit breathing it by putting space between you
the attack.

Blood agents are cyanide or arsine which effect your blood's
to provide oxygen to your tissue. The scenario for attack would be
same as nerve agent. Look for a pop or someone splashing/spraying
something and folks around there getting woozy/falling down. The
telltale smells are bitter almonds or garlic where it shouldn't
be. The symptoms are blue lips, blue under the fingernails rapid
breathing. The military's antidote is amyl nitride and just like
agent antidote it just keeps your body working for five minutes
the toxins are used up. Fresh air is the your best individual
Blister agents (distilled mustard) are so nasty that nobody wants
even handle it let alone use it. It's almost impossible to handle
safely and may have delayed effect of up to 12 hours.

The attack scenario is also limited to the things you'd see from
chemicals. If you do get large, painful blisters for no apparent
reason, don't pop them, if you must, don't let the liquid from the
blister get on any other area, the stuff just keeps on spreading.
just as likely to harm the user as the target. Soap, water,
and fresh air are this stuff's enemy.

Bottom line on chemical weapons (it's the same if they use
chemical spills); they are intended to make you panic, to terrorize
you, to heard you like sheep to the wolves. If there is an attack,
leave the area and go upwind, or to the sides of the wind stream.
have to get the stuff to you, and on you. You're more likely to be
hurt by a drunk driver on any given day than be hurt by one of
attacks. Your odds get better if you leave the area. Soap, water,
time, and fresh air really deal this stuff a knock-out-punch. Don't
let fear of an isolated attack rule your life. The odds are really
your side.

Nuclear bombs. These are the only weapons of mass destruction on
earth. The effects of a nuclear bomb are heat, blast, EMP, and
radiation. If you see a bright flash of light like the sun, where
sun isn't, fall to the ground! The heat will be over a second.
there will be two blast waves, one out going, and one on it's way
back. Don't stand up to see what happened after the first wave;
anything that's going to happen will have happened in two full

These will be low yield devices and will not level whole cities. If
you live through the heat, blast, and initial burst of radiation,
you'll probably live for a very very long time. Radiation will not
create fifty foot tall women, or giant ants and grass hoppers the
of tanks. These will be at the most 1 kiloton bombs; that's the
equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT. Here's the real deal, flying
and radiation will kill a lot of exposed (not all)! people within a
half mile of the blast. Under perfect conditions this is about a
mile circle of death and destruction, but, when it's done it's
done. EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse and it will fry every
electronic device for a good distance, it's impossible to say what
how far but probably not over a couple of miles from ground zero is
good guess. Cars, cell phones, computers, ATMs, you name it, all
be out of order.

There are lots of kinds of radiation, you only need to worry about
three, the others you have lived with for years. You need to worry
about "Ionizing radiation," these are little sub atomic particles
go whizzing along at the speed of light. They hit individual cells
your body, kill the nucleus and keep on going. That's how you get
radiation poisoning, you have so many dead cells in your body that
decaying cells poison you. It's the same as people getting
treatments for cancer, only a bigger area gets radiated. The good
is you don't have to just sit there and take it, and there's lots
can do rather than panic.

First; your skin will stop alpha particles, a page of a news paper
your clothing will stop beta particles, you just gotta try and
inhaling dust that's contaminated with atoms that are emitting
things and you'll be generally safe from them. Gamma rays are
particles that travel like rays (quantum physics makes my brain
and they create the same damage as alpha and beta particles only
keep going and kill lots of cells as they go all the way through
body. It takes a lot to stop these things, lots of dense material,
the other hand it takes a lot of this to kill you. Your defense is
always to not panic. Basic hygiene and normal preparation are your
friends. All canned or frozen food is safe to eat. The radiation
poisoning will not effect plants so fruits and vegetables are OK if
there's no dust on em (rinse em off if there is). If you don't have
running water and you need to collect rain water or use water from
wherever, just let it sit for thirty minutes and skim off the water
gently from the top. The dust with the bad stuff in it will settle
the remaining water can be used for the toilet which will still
if you have a bucket of water to pour in the tank.

Finally there's biological warfare. There's not much to cover
here. Basic personal hygiene and sanitation will take you further
a million doctors. Wash your hands often, don't share drinks, food,
sloppy kisses, etc., ... with strangers. Keep your garbage can with
tight lid on it, don't have standing water (like old buckets,
or kiddy pools) laying around to allow mosquitoes breeding room.
stuff is carried by vectors, that is bugs, rodents, and
material. If biological warfare is as easy as the TV makes it
why has Saddam Hussein spent twenty years, millions, and millions
dollars trying to get it right? If you're clean of person and home
eat well and are active you're gonna live.

Overall preparation for any terrorist attack is the same as you'd
for a big storm. If you want a gas mask, fine, go get one. I know
stuff and I'm not getting one and I told my Mom not to bother with
either (how's that for confidence). We have a week's worth of cash,
several days worth of canned goods and plenty of soap and water. We
don't leave stuff out to attract bugs or rodents so we don't have

These people can't conceive a nation this big with this much
resources. These weapons are made to cause panic, terror, and to
demoralize. If we don't run around like sheep they won't use this
stuff after they find out it's no fun. The government is going nuts
over this stuff because they have to protect every inch of
America. You've only gotta protect yourself, and by doing that, you
help the country.

Finally, there are millions of caveats to everything I wrote here
you can think up specific scenarios where my advice isn't the
best. This letter is supposed to help the greatest number of people
under the greatest number of situations. If you don't like my work,
don't nit pick, just sit down and explain chemical, nuclear, and
biological warfare in a document around three pages long
yourself. This is how we the people of the United States can rob
people of their most desired goal, your terror.

SFC Red Thomas (Ret)
Armor Master Gunner
Mesa, AZ
The Challenge of Terror:
>A Traveling Essay
>John Paul Lederach
Conflict Transformation Program
Distinguished scholar; Professor of Conflict Studies and Sociology
Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
>So here I am, a week late arriving home, stuck between Colombia,
>and Harrisonburg when our world changed. The images flash even in my
>The heart of America ripped. Though natural, the cry for revenge and
>call for the unleashing of the first war of this century, prolonged
or not,
>seems more connected to social and psychological processes of finding
a way
>to release deep emotional anguish, a sense of powerlessness, and our
>collective loss than it does as a plan of action seeking to redress
>injustice, promote change and prevent it from ever happening again.
>I am stuck from airport to airport as I write this, the reality of a
>system that has suspended even the most basic trust. My Duracell
>and finger nail clippers were taken from me today and it gave me
pause for
>thought. I had a lot of pauses in the last few days. Life has not
been the
>same. I share these thoughts as an initial reaction recognizing that
it is
>always easy to take pot-shots at our leaders from the sidelines, and
to have
>the insights they are missing when we are not in the middle of very
>difficult decisions. On the other hand, having worked for nearly 20
years as
>a mediator and proponent of nonviolent change in situations around
the globe
>where cycles of deep violence seem hell-bent on perpetuating
themselves, and
>having interacted with people and movements who at the core of their
>identity find ways of justifying their part in the cycle, I feel
>to try to bring ideas to the search for solutions. With this in mind
>should like to pen several observations about what I have learned
from my
>experiences and what they might suggest about the current situation.
>believe this starts by naming several key challenges and then asking
what is
>the nature of a creative response that takes these seriously in the
>of genuine, durable, and peaceful change.
>Some Lessons about the Nature of our Challenge
>1. Always seek to understand the root of the anger - The first and
>important question to pose ourselves is relatively simple though not
easy to
>answer: How do people reach this level of anger, hatred and
frustration? By
>my experience explanations that they are brainwashed by a perverted
>who holds some kind of magical power over them is an escapist
>and will inevitably lead us to very wrong-headed responses. Anger of
>sort, what we could call generational, identity-based anger, is
>over time through a combination of historical events, a deep sense of
>to identify, and direct experiences of sustained exclusion. This is
>important to understand, because, as I will say again and again, our
>response to the immediate events have everything to do with whether
>reinforce and provide the soil, seeds, and nutrients for future
cycles of
>revenge and violence. Or whether it changes. We should be careful to
>one and only one thing as the strategic guidepost of our response:
>doing what they expect. What they expect from us is the lashing out
of the
>giant against the weak, the many against the few. This will reinforce
>capacity to perpetrate the myth they carefully seek to sustain: That
>are under threat, fighting an irrational and mad system that has
never taken
>them seriously and wishes to destroy them and their people. What we
need to
>destroy is their myth not their people.
>2. Always seek to understand the nature of the organization - Over
the years
>of working to promote durable peace in situations of deep, sustained
>violence I have discovered one consistent purpose about the nature of
>movements and organizations who use violence: Sustain thyself. This
is done
>through a number of approaches, but generally it is through
>of power and structure, secrecy, autonomy of action through units,
>refusal to pursue the conflict on the terms of the strength and
>of the enemy.
>One of the most intriguing metaphors I have heard used in the last
few days
>is that this enemy of the United States will be found in their holes,
>out, and when they run and are visible, destroyed. This may well work
>groundhogs, trench and maybe even guerilla warfare, but it is not a
>metaphor for this situation. And neither is the image that we will
need to
>destroy the village to save it, by which the population that gives
refuge to
>our enemies is guilty by association and therefore a legitimate
target. In
>both instances the metaphor that guides our action misleads us
because it is
>not connected to the reality. In more specific terms, this is not a
>to be conceived of in geographic terms, in terms of physical spaces
>places, that if located can be destroyed, thereby ridding us of the
>Quite frankly our biggest and most visible weapon systems are mostly
>We need a new metaphor, and though I generally do not like medical
>to describe conflict, the image of a virus comes to mind because of
>ability to enter unperceived, flow with a system, and harm it from
>This is the genius of people like Osama Ben Laden. He understood the
>of a free and open system, and has used it to his benefit. The enemy
is not
>located in a territory. It has entered our system. And you do not
fight this
>kind of enemy by shooting at it. You respond by strengthening the
>of the system to prevent the virus and strengthen its immunity. It is
>ironic fact that our greatest threat is not in Afghanistan, but in
our own
>backyard. We surely are not going to bomb Travelocity, Hertz Rental
Car, or
>an Airline training school in Florida. We must change metaphors and
>beyond the reaction that we can duke it out with the bad guy, or we
run the
>very serious risk of creating the environment that sustains and
>the virus we wish to prevent.
>3. Always remember that realities are constructed - Conflict is,
among other
>things, the process of building and sustaining very different
>and interpretations of reality. This means that we have at the same
>multiple realities defined as such by those in conflict. In the
aftermath of
>such horrific and unmerited violence that we have just experienced
this may
>sound esoteric. But we must remember that this fundamental process is
how we
>end up referring to people as fanatics, madmen, and irrational. In
>process of name-calling we lose the critical capacity to understand
>from within the ways they construct their views, it is not mad lunacy
>fanaticism. All things fall together and make sense. When this is
>to a long string of actual experiences wherein their views of the
facts are
>reinforced (for example, years of superpower struggle that used or
>them, encroaching Western values of what is considered immoral by
>religious interpretation, or the construction of an enemy-image who
>overwhelmingly powerful and uses that power in bombing campaigns and
>appears to win) then it is not a difficult process to construct a
>world view of heroic struggle against evil. Just as we do it, so do
>Listen to the words we use to justify our actions and responses. And
>listen to words they use. The way to break such a process is not
through a
>frame of reference of who will win or who is stronger. In fact the
>is true. Whoever loses, whether tactical battles or the "war" itself,
>intrinsic in the loss the seeds that give birth to the justification
>renewed battle. The way to break such a cycle of justified violence
is to
>step outside of it. This starts with understanding that TV sound
bites about
>madmen and evil are not good sources of policy. The most significant
>that we could make on their ability to sustain their view of us as
evil is
>to change their perception of who we are by choosing to strategically
>respond in unexpected ways. This will take enormous courage and
>leadership capable of envisioning a horizon of change.
>4. Always understand the capacity for recruitment -- The greatest
power that
>terror has is the ability to regenerate itself. What we most need to
>understand about the nature of this conflict and the change process
toward a
>more peaceful world is how recruitment into these activities happens.
In all
>my experiences in deep-rooted conflict what stands out most are the
ways in
>which political leaders wishing to end the violence believed they
>achieve it by overpowering and getting rid of the perpetrator of the
>violence. That may have been the lesson of multiple centuries that
>us. But it is not the lesson from that past 30 years. The lesson is
>When people feel a deep sense of threat, exclusion and generational
>experiences of direct violence, their greatest effort is placed on
>Time and again in these movements, there has been an extraordinary
>for the regeneration of chosen myths and renewed struggle.
>One aspect of current U.S. leadership that coherently matches with
>lessons of the past 30 years of protracted conflict settings is the
>statement that this will be a long struggle. What is missed is that
>emphasis should be placed on removing the channels, justifications,
>sources that attract and sustain recruitment into the activities.
What I
>find extraordinary about the recent events is that none of the
>was much older than 40 and many were half that age.
>This is the reality we face: Recruitment happens on a sustained
basis. It
>will not stop with the use of military force, in fact, open warfare
>create the soils in which it is fed and grows. Military action to
>terror, particularly as it affects significant and already vulnerable
>civilian populations will be like hitting a fully mature dandelion
with a
>golf club. We will participate in making sure the myth of why we are
evil is
>sustained and we will assure yet another generation of recruits.
>5. Recognize complexity, but always understand the power of
simplicity -
>Finally, we must understand the principle of simplicity. I talk a lot
>my students about the need to look carefully at complexity, which is
>true (and which in the earlier points I start to explore). However,
the key
>in our current situation that we have failed to fully comprehend is
>simplicity. From the standpoint of the perpetrators, the
effectiveness of
>their actions was in finding simple ways to use the system to undo
it. I
>believe our greatest task is to find equally creative and simple
tools on
>the other side.
>In keeping with the last point, let me try to be simple. I believe
>things are possible to do and will have a much greater impact on
>challenges than seeking accountability through revenge.
>1. Energetically pursue a sustainable peace process to the
>Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Do it now. The United States has much
it can
>do to support and make this process work. It can bring the weight of
>persuasion, the weight of nudging people on all sides to move toward
>recognition and stopping the recent and devastating pattern of
>escalation, and the weight of including and balancing the process to
>historic fears and basic needs of those involved. If we would bring
the same
>energy to building an international coalition for peace in this
>that we have pursued in building international coalitions for war,
>particularly in the Middle East, if we lent significant financial,
>and balanced support to all sides that we gave to the Irish conflict
>earlier years, I believe the moment is right and the stage is set to
take a
>new and qualitative step forward.
>Sound like an odd diversion to our current situation of terror? I
>the opposite is true. This type of action is precisely the kind of
>needed to create whole new views of who we are and what we stand for
as a
>nation. Rather than fighting terror with force, we enter their system
>take away one of their most coveted elements: The soils of
>conflict perceived as injustice used to perpetrate hatred and
recruitment. I
>believe that monumental times like these create conditions for
>change. This approach would solidify our relationships with a broad
array of
>Middle Easterners and Central Asians, allies and enemies alike, and
would be
>a blow to the rank and file of terror. The biggest blow we can serve
>is to make it irrelevant. The worst thing we could do is to feed it
>unintentionally by making it and its leaders the center stage of what
we do.
>Let's choose democracy and reconciliation over revenge and
>Let's to do exactly what they do not expect, and show them it can
>2. Invest financially in development, education, and a broad social
>in the countries surrounding Afghanistan rather than attempting to
>the Taliban in a search for Ben Laden. The single greatest pressure
>could ever be put on Ben Laden is to remove the source of his
>and alliances. Countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan, and yes, Iran and
>should be put on the radar of the West and the United States with a
>of strategic importance: How can we help you meet the fundamental
needs of
>your people? The strategic approach to changing the nature of how
terror of
>the kind we have witnessed this week reproduces itself lies in the
>of relationships we develop with whole regions, peoples, and world
views. If
>we strengthen the web of those relationships, we weaken and
>eliminate the soil where terror is born. A vigorous investment,
>advantage of the current opening given the horror of this week shared
>even those who we traditionally claimed as state enemies, is
>available, possible and pregnant with historic possibilities. Let's
do the
>unexpected. Let's create a new set of strategic alliances never
>thought possible.
>3. Pursue a quiet diplomatic but dynamic and vital support of the
>League to begin an internal exploration of how to address the root
causes of
>discontent in numerous regions. This should be coupled with energetic
>ecumenical engagement, not just of key symbolic leaders, but of a
>and direct exploration of how to create a web of ethics for a new
>that builds from the heart and soul of all traditions but that
creates a
>capacity for each to engage the roots of violence that are found
>their own traditions. Our challenge, as I see it, is not that of
>others that our way of life, our religion, or our structure of
governance is
>better or closer to Truth and human dignity. It is to be honest about
>sources of violence in our own house and invite others to do the
same. Our
>global challenge is how to generate and sustain genuine engagement
>encourages people from within their traditions to seek that which
>the preciousness and respect for life that every religion sees as an
>inherent right and gift from the Divine, and how to build organized
>political and social life that is responsive to fundamental human
>Such a web cannot be created except through genuine and sustained
>and the building of authentic relationships, at religious and
>spheres of interaction, and at all levels of society. Why not do the
>unexpected and show that life-giving ethics are rooted in the core of
>peoples by engaging a strategy of genuine dialogue and relationship?
Such a
>web of ethics, political and religious, will have an impact on the
roots of
>terror far greater in the generation of our children's children than
>amount of military action can possibly muster. The current situation
>an unprecedented opportunity for this to happen, more so than we have
>at any time before in our global community.
>A Call for the Unexpected
>Let me conclude with simple ideas. To face the reality of well
>decentralized, self-perpetuating sources of terror, we need to think
>differently about the challenges. If indeed this is a new war it will
not be
>won with a traditional military plan. The key does not lie in finding
>destroying territories, camps, and certainly not the civilian
>that supposedly house them. Paradoxically that will only feed the
>and assure that it lives into a new generation. The key is to think
>how a small virus in a system affects the whole and how to improve
>immunity of the system. We should take extreme care not to provide
>movements we deplore with gratuitous fuel for self-regeneration. Let
us not
>fulfill their prophecy by providing them with martyrs and
>The power of their action is the simplicity with which they pursue
the fight
>with global power. They have understood the power of the powerless.
>have understood that melding and meshing with the enemy creates a
base from
>within. They have not faced down the enemy with a bigger stick. They
did the
>more powerful thing: They changed the game. They entered our lives,
>homes and turned our own tools into our demise.
>We will not win this struggle for justice, peace and human dignity
with the
>traditional weapons of war. We need to change the game again.
>Let us take up the practical challenges of this reality perhaps best
>described in the Cure of Troy an epic poem by Seamus Heaney no
foreigner to
>grip of the cycles of terror. Let us give birth to the unexpected.
>So hope for a great sea-change
>On the far side of revenge.
>Believe that a farther shore
>Is reachable from here.
>Believe in miracles
>And cures and healing wells.
>John Paul Lederach
>September 16, 2001

We Are All Alone

October 26, 2001


So let me see if I've got this all straight now: Pakistan

will allow us to use its bases Mondays, Wednesdays and

Fridays - provided we bomb only Taliban whose names begin

with Omar and who don't have cousins in the Pakistani

secret service. India is with us on Tuesdays and Fridays,

provided it can shell Pakistani forces around Kashmir all

other days. Egypt is with us on Sundays, provided we don't

tell anyone and provided we never mention that we give the

Egyptians $2 billion a year in aid. Yasir Arafat is with us

only after 10 p.m. on weekdays, when Palestinians who have

been dancing in the streets over the World Trade Center

attack have gone to bed. The Northern Alliance is with us,

provided we buy all its troops new sandals and give U.S.

passports to the first 1,000 to reach Kabul.

Israel is with us provided we never question the lunacy of

7,000 Israeli colonial settlers living in the middle of a

million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Kuwait would like

to be with us, it really would, since we saved Kuwait from

Iraq, but two Islamists in the Kuwaiti Parliament spoke out

against the war, so the emir just doesn't want to take any

chances. You understand. The Saudis, of course, want to be

with us, but Saudis are not into war-fighting. That's for

the household help. Don't worry. Prince Alwaleed has

promised to rent us some Bangladeshi soldiers through a

Saudi temp agency - at only a small markup.

The Saudi ruling family would love to cooperate by handing

over its police files on the 15 Saudis involved in the

hijackings, but that would be a violation of its

sovereignty, and, well, you know how much the Saudis

respect sovereignty - like when the Saudi Embassy in

Washington rushed all of Osama bin Laden's relatives out of

America after Sept. 11 on a private Saudi jet, before they

could be properly questioned by the F.B.I.

And then there's my personal favorite: All our Arab-Muslim

allies would love us to get bin Laden quickly, but the

Muslim holy month of Ramadan is coming soon and the Muslim

"street" will not tolerate fighting during Ramadan. Say, do

you remember the 1973 Middle East war, launched by Egypt

and Syria against Israel? Remember what that war was called

in the Arab world? "The Ramadan war" - because that's when

it was started. Oh, well. I guess the Arab world can launch

wars on Ramadan, but not receive them.

My fellow Americans, I hate to say this, but except for the

good old Brits, we're all alone. And at the end of the day,

it's U.S. and British troops who will have to go in, on the

ground, and eliminate bin Laden.

Ah, you ask, but why did we have so many allies in the gulf

war against Iraq? Because the Saudis and Kuwaitis bought

that alliance. They bought the Syrian Army with billions of

dollars for Damascus. They bought us and the Europeans with

promises of huge reconstruction contracts and by covering

all our costs. Indeed, with the money Japan paid, we

actually made a profit on the gulf war; Coalitions "R" Us.

This time we'll have to pay our own way, and for others.

Unfortunately, killing 5,000 innocent Americans in New York

just doesn't get the rest of the world that exercised. In

part we're to blame. The unilateralist message the Bush

team sent from its first day in office - get rid of the

Kyoto climate treaty, forget the biological treaty, forget

arms control, and if the world doesn't like it that's tough

- has now come back to haunt us.

And who can blame other countries for wanting to shake down

U.S. taxpayers when Dick Armey and his greedy band of House

Republicans are doing the same thing - pushing a stimulus

bill with more tax breaks for the rich, lobbyists and

corporations, and virtually nothing for the working

Americans who will fight this war?

My advice: Try not to focus on any of this. Focus instead

on the firemen who rushed into the trade center towers

without asking, "How much?" Focus on the thousands of U.S.

reservists who have left their jobs and families to go

fight in Afghanistan without asking, "What's in it for me?"

Unlike the free-riders in our coalition, these young

Americans know that Sept. 11 is our holy day - the first

day in a just war to preserve our free, multi-religious,

democratic society. And I don't really care if that war

coincides with Ramadan, Christmas, Hanukkah or the Buddha's

birthday - the most respectful and spiritual thing we can

do now is fight it until justice is done.

Nuclear Plants' Vulnerability Raised Attack Concerns
1982 Report on Danger of Jet Crashes Into Reactors Was Open to Public,
Despite Terrorism Fears
By Peter Behr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2001; Page A04
A government study indicating that a direct, high-speed hit by a commercial
jetliner could penetrate a nuclear reactor's protective dome was available to
the public for nearly 20 years until it was removed after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, regulators confirmed yesterday.
The document remained public even though there have been warnings going back
to 1995 that terrorists had included nuclear power plants among their
potential targets, based on testimony in the investigation of the 1993 World
Trade Center bombing.
A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the agency would not
discuss the contents of the report or its potential value to terrorists.
The study, by the Energy Department's Argonne National Laboratory, was
prepared to assess the risks of an accidental airliner crash at a power
It calculated the impact of objects as large as a commercial aircraft,
traveling at various speeds, on the reinforced concrete containment dome
protecting the reactor core of a common power-plant design. The study
concluded that the dome would be penetrated at the highest flight speeds,
according to the D.C.-based National Whistleblower Center, which provides
legal representation for nuclear plant workers in whistle-blower lawsuits.
The ignition of a small percentage of an aircraft's jet fuel inside the
containment dome would have the force of a 1,000 pounds of explosives and
"could lead to a rather violent explosion environment and impose upon the
primary containment relatively severe loads," according to the report.
"Based on the review of past [NRC] licensing experience, it appears that fire
and explosion hazards have been treated with much less care than the direct
aircraft impact and the resulting structural response," the study said.
"Therefore, the claim that these fire/explosion effects do not represent a
threat to nuclear power plant facilities has not been clearly demonstrated."
The Whistleblower Center included excerpts of the report in a letter
yesterday to Tom Ridge, head of the Office of Homeland Security.
The center also filed a petition with the NRC yesterday calling for further
security measures to protect against an attack on nuclear power plants and a
widespread release of radiation that could result if the reactor containment
dome and core were destroyed.
At least one nuclear plant -- the Three Mile Island facility south of
Harrisburg, Pa. -- was designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707,
industry officials note.
But none of the nation's 103 nuclear power plants was built to withstand the
direct, full-speed impact by today's commercial jetliners, NRC officials say.
Another advocacy organization, the Nuclear Control Institute, said its
analysis shows that a reactor containment vessel could be penetrated by a
jetliner's direct hit.
Nuclear industry officials have emphasized the strength of the reactor
containment domes and the difficulty in steering a high-speed jetliner into a
dome in the most damaging way. "I think there's a high likelihood that that
aircraft would not penetrate the containment," Ralph Beedle, senior vice
president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said in an Oct. 14 television
The 1982 study was mentioned in a Sept. 24 report by the publication Platts
Inside NRC.
The Whistleblower Center said it found the document in the NRC's Bethesda
public reading room on Oct. 2. "We asked a volunteer to look around the
public reading room and see what was there on airplane crashes. And there it
was," said Michael Kohn, the organization's general counsel.
NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said the NRC staff also found the study during a
review of its public records following the Sept. 11 attacks and removed it on
Oct. 11. He said he did not know whether it had ever been available over the
NRC's public Internet documents service, but it is not on the agency's Web
site now.
The risk of a terrorist attack in a hijacked aircraft has not been part of
the NRC's safety regulation, officials confirm. "We never considered that a
credible threat prior to September 11," Dricks said.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
Good Piece on Afghanistan - Travel
New York Times Sunday Magazine
September 30, 2001

A Last Road Trip Through Premodern, Postmodern Afghanistan


I got my last haircut in Kabul, but Sept. 11 found me standing on John
Street in lower Manhattan with about 20 volunteer rescue workers, amid
masses of scorched paper and debris, watching fires burn near where the
World Trade Center used to be. A recently returned humanitarian aid worker,
I had rushed downtown when the towers collapsed. Brushing dust and ash out
of my hair -- still short from my haircut -- I felt the low-level shock
that came often in Afghanistan, the kind of shock I felt when I saw dead
bodies, starving children, Taliban enemies hung from lampposts by cable. I
marveled at the fact that I was feeling this familiar emotion in the
financial district of Manhattan, an unusual place to be in shock. For a
moment I felt that I had somehow not escaped Afghanistan, that I had
brought its disaster home with me to New York.

I have spent most of the past year working in Afghanistan and Pakistan for
one of the international nongovernmental organizations that implement
humanitarian aid programs for people suffering or fleeing from
Afghanistan's multiple crises: civil war, persecution by the Taliban and by
anti-Taliban military forces, economic stagnation, severe drought and food
and water shortages. We were the welfare state for a failed state.

Of course, everything has changed now. Relief workers from international
groups and the United Nations have been evacuated from Afghanistan in
response to an expected military strike by the United States. Humanitarian
operations have been severely curtailed, and an increasing number of
refugees are pouring out of Afghanistan into Iran and Pakistan. ''The
country was on a lifeline,'' one of my colleagues said, ''and we just cut
the line.''

Like many countries suffering from political instability, Afghanistan is a
complicated and weird place. In some areas, there are few traces of modern
life. Goods are carried by donkey or camel, and oxen plow the ground. Old
men with long beards sit beneath trees, fingering prayer beads, their skin
brown and wrinkled. Many rural people live as their ancestors probably did
400 years ago: iron pots over the fire, clothes they made themselves and
babies delivered by candlelight.

In other parts of the country, life is more complicated. Taliban troops
speed around Kabul in their clean new Toyota pickup trucks, tricked-out,
hip-hop ghetto rigs. On the sides they have painted pseudo-American
phrases: ''City Boy,'' ''Fast Crew,'' ''King of Road.'' Inside, young
solemn-looking Taliban men sit in their black holy dress, sporting Ray-Bans.

The juxtapositions can make your mind reel. Donkey carts carrying computer
equipment. Hungry children digging through garbage piles using shovels from
a Mickey and Minnie Mouse sand-castle set.

The number of people displaced from their homes is enormous. Populations of
the desperate roam around, begging for money and scraps of food. People eat
wild plants, garbage, insects and old animal parts discarded by butchers.
In one camp, an old man showed me a bowl filled with rotten cow bowels,
grass poking out in places. ''This is what we eat, sir!'' he said, wiping
away tears with his fist.

I often had a strange feeling in Afghanistan, a sort of temporal vertigo.
It was impossible for me to get a proper sense of time. Like many former
cold-war battlefields, Afghanistan is partly frozen in time; most of its
urban buildings and infrastructure were completed in the 1960's and 1970's
during the height of Soviet and American spending on foreign aid to the
developing world. The telephone in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kabul
is one of those heavy models from the 1960's; in a pinch, you could
probably knock someone out with the handset. There is an old telex machine
in one of the offices, sitting dusty in the corner, making you think it's
1976. Then you see the American and Soviet military remnants from the
1980's: broken old Soviet tanks painted and lined up in town squares, a
mural on a wall in eastern Kabul showing a holy warrior with a Stinger
antiaircraft launcher on his shoulder. And still there are antique doors on
some buildings with designs from the 13th century. History presents itself
in a disorderly montage, like one of those heuristic displays in
natural-history museums -- dinosaurs, the bronze age, the renaissance,
space travel -- rearranged at random: pre-cold-war, post-cold-war, cold
war, Buddhist antiquities, Kalashnikovs. The timelessness of this jumbled
history made me feel like an old museum curator: time-transcendent,
fascinated and lonely. This is perhaps why I felt so crazy at times.

Taliban troops and police are always easy to spot. They have black flowing
robelike clothes, long hair and big silky black turbans with long tails
running almost to the ankles. (These accouterments are meant to identify
them as direct descendants of Muhammad.) They are often tall and imposing,
even impressive. ''The Taliban troops are like gangsters,'' a colleague
told me when I first arrived. ''Tough guys.'' But there is often a
particular dandyism in them; many wear black eyeliner (part of the
descendant-of-Muhammad costume), and their hair is long and curly. I once
saw one buying Prell shampoo at the bazaar. They carry themselves like

The reputation for religious conservatism in the Taliban obviously doesn't
come from their foppish troops. It comes instead from the leadership in the
southern city of Kandahar, who founded the Taliban in the early 1990's.
They are considered mullahs now, but 10 years ago they were essentially no
more than a collection of seminary teachers from the rural south. These
''original Taliban'' are the ones who present the decrees barring women
from work, making men wear long beards and prohibiting me from entering the
country with ''pork products or lobsters'' (as one recent decree dictated).
These are the people who proudly call themselves ''the Mosquitoes of
Islam,'' proclaiming, ''Islamic faith is a bright light: we seek to be so
close to it that we catch fire.''

In urban Afghanistan, crime was rare (one of the seldom-mentioned upsides
to Taliban authority), and expatriates were treated with a good deal of
respect by government officials and the military. ''He who believes in
Allah and the hereafter shall perform good service for his guests,'' reads
a sign in one small government office in the north. This is a telling
poster. It might seem strange, but aid workers were considered guests of
Afghanistan, and the title bestowed a special status on us. Even if we were
seen as an enemy of sorts (perhaps by a particularly grumpy mullah), we
were guests -- distrusted and carefully examined, but still welcomed.

In our humanitarian work, my colleagues and I interacted with neither the
black-robed troops nor the mullahs from Kandahar. We dealt mostly with the
''new Taliban'' -- the civil servants who in recent years have appeared
from between the cracks to run the country for the predominantly illiterate
and uneducated ''original Taliban.'' These people form the real bureaucracy
of Afghanistan. Though they now sport the same flowing black turbans and
long hair as the troops, many were ordinary municipal leaders a few years
ago, local politicians. For the most part, they are opportunists who saw
the direction the wind was blowing when the Taliban took power and adjusted
accordingly; they grew out their beards and put on black robes and became

Of course, these new leaders' commitment to the moral righteousness of the
Talib movement is questionable. Many seem fascinated by Americans and the
West, eager to learn more English, more American phrases and more about
America. (One afternoon, a Talib in Kabul kept me in his office for an hour
to go over some English grammar rules and ask about New York and the
''Hollywood movie company.'') Still, the new Taliban follow the orders of
the Taliban leadership. The decrees are enforced.

The summer wind up in Mazar-i-Sharif in the north is just absurd -- you
feel as if you are on another planet. The temperature is usually well over
100 degrees and the wind blows about 40 to 50 miles an hour almost every
day, raising huge clouds of dust that hang hundreds of feet over the
desert. You feel as if you're standing in front of a space heater in a
dusty attic at the height of summer. Your nostrils fill with dust and dry
up; your eyes turn to red slits. You have to wrap a turban around your head
and nose and drink a great deal of water. It is a war against desiccation.

On a particularly windy and hot day in June, some colleagues and I took an
almost insane trip from Mazar-i-Sharif west into the scorching Iranian
Plateau, to a province called Jozjan, to gather some information about the
drought crisis areas there.

We started out at 5 in the morning to avoid some of the heat and drove for
hours through the desert -- or what I thought was desert. I learned later
that it was, in normal years, productive agricultural land. The heat and
dust were intense. The car rocked in the wind, and sometimes visibility was
reduced to only a few car lengths. To pass the time, the young Afghan staff
members told me about their time in the jihad when they bombed Soviet
installations from the mountains. I recited hip-hop verses at the request
of one of the young Afghans, who wanted to know ''about the African people
with black skin in America'' who ''sing, but without music, like
shouting.'' We drank huge amounts of water.

We arrived in a small village called Aqchah, a dusty and extremely windy
trading town. We stumbled out of the car, clothes soaked with sweat and
filthy from the dust, and walked into the local Taliban office to ''check
in.'' (One must indulge in this courtesy in order to avoid problems later.)
Then we sat for an hour with the entire village leadership -- 15 or so men
with long beards who argued among themselves about what sorts of aid
projects might keep more people from leaving town for the city. (We had
this sort of meeting all the time.)

We drank a lot of tea. The men spoke in Persian, and my interpreter just
filled me in on essentials. In the next room, through the doorway, a man
with a large knife stood cutting fat from a sheep carcass hanging from the
ceiling. Every so often, the man would come halfway into the doorway in his
blood-stained apron, knife in hand, join the conversation briefly, make a
point and then go back to his butchering in the next room. The others
listened to him with respect, but I never found out why. Our meeting
finished when the tea ran out.

We drove through another desert -- a real desert -- to arrive in the
capital of Jozjan, Shiberghan. The trip took about three hours. We arrived
dusty, wind-blasted and spacey. We staggered into the local Taliban office
-- a bombed-out building without windows -- to check in. The local liaison
official for international relief workers in Shiberghan was about 22 years
old. We were invited into his office, a room facing the courtyard with no
furniture, just a rug on the floor and a phone. After the regular
introductions, the young official explained that he would need to ''ensure
my safety'' by supplying me with guarded accommodations. I insisted that
this wouldn't be necessary. I told the official that I did not fear for my
safety. I even flattered him and said that I was sure that his city was
exceedingly safe. Still, after 15 minutes, he stood up, put on his black
turban and left to go secure my lodging.

We had to wait for more than two hours. We got bored. I examined a curious
calendar on the wall that displayed a map of Afghanistan surrounded by
planes, tanks and ships all labeled ''U.S. ARMY'' and all pointing missiles
toward the center of Afghanistan. Various Taliban functionaries came and
went -- new Talibs mostly. Finally, the official returned to inform me that
I would be staying at a hotel reserved ''for foreign dignitaries'' (this is
how my interpreter translated it) called Dostum's Castle. It was obvious
that this was an honor, so I made an effort to thank him profusely, despite
the fact that I did not want to go. I insisted, however, that the Afghan
staff accompany me. He obliged me at least on this point. Off we went.

Dostum's Castle. What can I say? It was chintzy Soviet-style public
architecture combined with low-rent Miami design: long frosted-glass
windows and a faux marble facade. There were peacocks on the front lawn --
peacocks -- and a swimming pool filled with algae-plagued water.

Inside, it was like ''The Shining.'' We walked down long wide corridors
with dark red carpeting; each of the hotel-room doors had a padlock on it.
We were the only guests. The air-conditioner in my room sounded like a
Harrier jet, and there were bullet holes in the furniture.

The bathroom in our room didn't work, so we had to go down two floors to
use another one. On the landing of the stairs two floors down, there was a
large landscape painting, about 16 feet by 12 feet, of a pond, some
flowers, a forest and a few animals. The heads of the three animals had
been cut out of the painting to comply with Taliban aesthetic restrictions:
the creation of images of living beings is forbidden under the Taliban's
kooky interpretation of Islamic law. This left a decapitated deer standing
by a pond and a headless beaver sitting on a tree stump.

I considered the piece as I stood on the landing. A terrible painting in
the style of Bob Ross, done entirely with two shades of green and one shade
of brown and then vandalized by Taliban police trying to ensure its
innocence before God without destroying it altogether. In its own way, I
thought, it is a post-postmodern masterpiece. But surely I could add still
more to this artwork. I could buy it from the Taliban, sell it for a
fortune in New York and give the money to the Afghan opposition. Yes.
Participatory political art. It just might be crazy enough to work. How
much would a rich New York liberal with a sense of irony pay for this, this
bad art, vandalized by the Mosquitoes of Islam and then sold to raise money
against them? A new school: censorship as an art form unto itself. Politics
as art. Art-dealing as art. I could be rich.

I was still chuckling to myself when one of the Afghan engineers came down
the stairs. ''What are you laughing about?'' he asked.
''I don't know,'' I answered.

The next day was a nightmare: human suffering on a shocking scale.
Displaced persons without enough food to eat were drinking water taken from
muddy ponds -- mud really. ''They're drinking mud,'' I said into my tape
recorder. ''They're drinking mud.'' I remember one particular experience
especially. We were in a windy camp for displaced persons, and a man was
showing us the graves of his three children, who had died of disease on
three consecutive days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It was Monday, and
he had buried his last child the day before. After he described all this,
we stood around the graves in the strangely loud silence of the wind, hot
as an oven, and the man absent-mindedly adjusted a rock atop one child's

It was a very emotional moment, yet I didn't really feel sad. I was just
fascinated by the realness of it all. You look out an office window, and
you see a displaced family living in a bombed-out school, sleeping on the
balcony and cooking some birds they caught, doves. This is their life. They
can't change the channel.

There are no channels, in fact. We are ''off the grid,'' not linked up with
the world's information sources or any of its culture. There are no
telephones outside the cities. There is no television reception. We have no
access to ''entertainment.'' There are no theaters, films, galleries or
circuses. The Taliban has even banned music. All this is in contrast with
the Western world, with its many reality-altering and distance-distorting
mechanisms: television, cellphones, the Internet. Again, there seems to be
a time warp. Sometimes it feels as if we have been brought back not just to
a time before modern entertainment but to a time before art -- a time in
which reality was just more real, a time without images and ideas and
representations, only actual events.

And yet moments here often seem cinematic to me. I constantly see things as
scenes. Here we are walking in Kabul, near some women in their concealing
blue burqas; goats are running by and an ancient Soviet tank lies gutted by
the side of the road. Here we see the schoolchildren running by in their
little Taliban uniforms, black turbans hanging to their knees, yelling to
me in robot English: ''Hello! Hello! How are you?'' And here we are at the
U.S. government club in Peshawar, over the border in Pakistan, sitting by
the pool with some Belgian journalist, drinking Grand Marnier and orange
juice and talking about German novels. I feel outside myself seeing these
scenes play out: absurdities that seem so normal while they're happening.

There is a propensity among some aid workers (usually younger ones) to work
endless hours during a crisis. You cannot take a break, it is argued, when
children are hungry. You cannot sleep, have a beer or lie in your bed. You
have to act. And so you work endlessly. And then, inevitably, you crack:
you go nuts, start acting righteous and weird, and your colleagues come to
despise you. Ultimately, your organization evacuates you on psychological
grounds -- a procedure churlishly referred to as a ''psycho-vac.'' You end
up back home: unemployed, asocial, crazy, useless and pathetic.

I remember a story that a friend told me about an aid worker she worked
with in Albania. During the Kosovo crisis, they were working together in a
huge new refugee settlement across the border with inadequate sanitation

''We had to get 5,000 latrines built, like immediately. But I'll tell you,
he was gone, man -- his brain was fried by trauma. He had been at Goma'' --
in the Congo -- dead bodies and hacked-off limbs in a pile, and they had to
clean it up. I guess he was scarred. Anyway, he got like a pound of pot
from some Albanian mafia playboy in Tirana. He would drink huge amounts of
that terrible instant coffee, Nestle's -- I think they put speed in that
stuff. He was high all the time. He didn't talk to anyone. He just drank
that crank coffee and smoked pot. He worked like a madman. But we did it,
man. We built those 5,000 latrines. They psycho-vac'd him a little later
though. He lost it.''

Just a few weeks ago, on an unusually cool summer evening in southeast
Afghanistan, I was sitting with some colleagues at an outdoor restaurant
above a small pond beneath the beautiful mountain ranges southeast of
Kabul. We were enjoying a rare night of relaxation away from the madness of
our work. We sat on carpets, drinking tea, waiting for food and enjoying
the evening sky.

The pond below was unnatural -- the result of a small hydroelectric dam
built by Soviet contractors decades before -- but it was pretty enough, and
we were enjoying the scene. We had come to have some fried fish, a rare
dish in this landlocked country.

We watched as a young boy climbed down to the pond to retrieve our dinner,
some fish previously caught but still alive, swimming in a burlap bag laid
in the water. In Afghanistan, dried to the bone by three years of drought
and enduring a decreasing food supply, the sight of both fish and water was

Some Taliban troops appeared from the nearby road. ''We are here for
fish!'' they announced in Pashtu. (My interpreter told me this later.) They
sat beside us. My colleagues stiffened.

''Is he a Muslim?'' one of the Talibs asked, indicating me. (He appeared,
incidentally, to be very stoned.) My interpreter answered in the negative.
''Christian?'' the Talib asked.

My interpreter turned to me. ''Are you a Christian?'' he asked.

''Basically,'' I answered.

My interpreter translated this, somehow.

Questions began to fly: ''Is he an American?'' the Talib asked. ''Where is
America? How close is America to Saudi Arabia? Are there Muslims in

My interpreter turned to me again. ''These are very uneducated peasant
people from the south.'' I nodded.

''Is this a problem?'' I asked. ''Should we leave?''

''No. They are bemused by you.''

The Talibs ordered some fish. Although we had ordered our dinners first,
the owner gave the Talibs our fish and started to cook some more for us.
The Talibs ate with gusto, spitting bones onto the floor, fish catching in
their beards. When they finished, they rose and went to the next room for

Our fish arrived. We began to eat, but soon the Talibs returned and sat
down with us. ''Which province are you from in America?'' one of them
asked. I told them I was from New York. ''This is a place with many black
people, from Africa, is this right? Very dangerous.'' I tried to explain
that this was a misperception.

One Talib began to help himself to our fish, taking it from our basket as
though he hadn't just eaten. ''The black people are very dangerous,'' he
said. ''I hear that they are very tall. How tall are they?''

I tried my best. There is only so much that can be translated from one
language to another, from one culture to another.

After a while, the Talibs rose to leave. Amazingly, the one who had stolen
from our bowl of fish wiped his hands on my turban, lying untied on the
ground next to me. Then he started to leave, but turned back, and a smile
came across his face.

''God bless America,'' he said in English, inexplicably.

John Sifton is a human rights attorney and humanitarian aid worker. The
views expressed here are personal reflections and do not represent the
organization for which he worked. For security reasons, it is not named

The London Guardian sounds off on oil implications of Afghanistan
America's pipe dream

A pro-western regime in Kabul should give the US an Afghan route for Caspian oil

George Monbiot
Tuesday October 23, 2001
The Guardian

"Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here," Woodrow Wilson asked a year after the first world war ended, "that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?" In 1919, as US citizens watched a shredded Europe scraping up its own remains, the answer may well have been no. But the lessons of war never last for long.
The invasion of Afghanistan is certainly a campaign against terrorism, but it may also be a late colonial adventure. British ministers have warned MPs that opposing the war is the moral equivalent of appeasing Hitler, but in some respects our moral choices are closer to those of 1956 than those of 1938. Afghanistan is as indispensable to the regional control and transport of oil in central Asia as Egypt was in the Middle East.

Afghanistan has some oil and gas of its own, but not enough to qualify as a major strategic concern. Its northern neighbours, by contrast, contain reserves which could be critical to future global supply. In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked: "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian." But the oil and gas there is worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and economic sense is through Afghanistan.

Transporting all the Caspian basin's fossil fuel through Russia or Azerbaijan would greatly enhance Russia's political and economic control over the central Asian republics, which is precisely what the west has spent 10 years trying to prevent. Piping it through Iran would enrich a regime which the US has been seeking to isolate. Sending it the long way round through China, quite aside from the strategic considerations, would be prohibitively expensive. But pipelines through Afghanistan would allow the US both to pursue its aim of "diversifying energy supply" and to penetrate the world's most lucrative markets. Growth in European oil consumption is slow and competition is intense. In south Asia, by contrast, demand is booming and competitors are scarce. Pumping oil south and selling it in Pakistan and India, in other words, is far more profitable than pumping it west and selling it in Europe.

As the author Ahmed Rashid has documented, in 1995 the US oil company Unocal started negotiating to build oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian sea. The company's scheme required a single administration in Afghanistan, which would guarantee safe passage for its goods. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul in September 1996, the Telegraph reported that "oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan". Unocal invited some of the leaders of the Taliban to Houston, where they were royally entertained. The company suggested paying these barbarians 15 cents for every thousand cubic feet of gas it pumped through the land they had conquered.

For the first year of Taliban rule, US policy towards the regime appears to have been determined principally by Unocal's interests. In 1997 a US diplomat told Rashid "the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco [the former US oil consortium in Saudi Arabia] pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." US policy began to change only when feminists and greens started campaigning against both Unocal's plans and the government's covert backing for Kabul.

Even so, as a transcript of a congress hearing now circulating among war resisters shows, Unocal failed to get the message. In February 1998, John Maresca, its head of international relations, told representatives that the growth in demand for energy in Asia and sanctions against Iran determined that Afghanistan remained "the only other possible route" for Caspian oil. The company, once the Afghan government was recognised by foreign diplomats and banks, still hoped to build a 1,000-mile pipeline, which would carry a million barrels a day. Only in December 1998, four months after the embassy bombings in east Africa, did Unocal drop its plans.

But Afghanistan's strategic importance has not changed. In September, a few days before the attack on New York, the US energy information administration reported that "Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from central Asia to the Arabian sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan". Given that the US government is dominated by former oil industry executives, we would be foolish to suppose that such plans no longer figure in its strategic thinking. As the researcher Keith Fisher has pointed out, the possible economic outcomes of the war in Afghanistan mirror the possible economic outcomes of the war in the Balkans, where the development of "Corridor 8", an economic zone built around a pipeline carrying oil and gas from the Caspian to Europe, is a critical allied concern.

American foreign policy is governed by the doctrine of "full-spectrum dominance", which means that the US should control military, economic and political development worldwide. China has responded by seeking to expand its interests in central Asia. The defence white paper Beijing published last year argued that "China's fundamental interests lie in ... the establishment and maintenance of a new regional security order". In June, China and Russia pulled four central Asian republics into a "Shanghai cooperation organisation". Its purpose, according to Jiang Zemin, is to "foster world multi-polarisation", by which he means contesting US full-spectrum dominance.

If the US succeeds in overthrowing the Taliban and replacing them with a stable and grateful pro-western government and if the US then binds the economies of central Asia to that of its ally Pakistan, it will have crushed not only terrorism, but also the growing ambitions of both Russia and China. Afghanistan, as ever, is the key to the western domination of Asia.

We have argued on these pages about whether terrorism is likely to be deterred or encouraged by the invasion of Afghanistan, or whether the plight of the starving there will be relieved or exacerbated by attempts to destroy the Taliban. But neither of these considerations describes the full scope and purpose of this war. As John Flynn wrote in 1944: "The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells." I believe that the US government is genuine in its attempt to stamp out terrorism by military force in Afghanistan, however misguided that may be. But we would be naïve to believe that this is all it is doing.
American Mullahs - From People for the American Way
RIGHT WING WATCH ONLINE -- People For the American Way Foundation
October 18, 2001

The latest from the Right Wing's mail, television, radio and web
activity, courtesy of People For the American Way Foundation's
research and monitoring operation. PLEASE FORWARD!
Subscription information is at end of this message.

1. Introduction
2. The Usual Suspects
3. Limiting American Freedoms
4. Controlling the Political Debate
5. Protecting Civil Liberties


Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's recent comments blaming progressive groups, in part, for the terrorist attacks in New York City and the Pentagon have been widely condemned by a variety of groups across the country and across the political spectrum. Though their viewpoint was repeated by a few Religious Right spokesmen a majority of their political bedfellows were critical of the intolerant viewpoints expressed and joined others in rejecting the intolerant message.

In general, the Right's response to September 11th has fallen into one of several categories; they attacked their favorite villains and supported their favorite causes. And they joined those they usually oppose in expressing concerns for the protection of Americans' civil liberties.

To learn more:


The Right used the September 11th attacks as an opportunity to bitterly denounce some of their favorite targets.

**The Media**

The media was the first target of some right-wing groups who have long held that the media is part of a liberal agenda.

Former Representative Dan Frisa (R-NY), now a commentator for the right-wing NewsMax, said: "Even now, in the midst of the most vicious and horrific attack on Americans on American soil, the leftist media have shown themselves not only incapable of supporting the nation, but of actually undermining the President, with relish." He went on to criticize a New York Times editorial as "tantamount to a declaration of support for those who murdered tens of thousands innocent Americans."

**President Clinton**

Those complaints were followed by attacks on another of the Right's favorite targets: former President Clinton.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) and a frequent commentator in the right-wing press said: "As our Commander and Chief, Bill Clinton was a disaster, losing the respect of our fighting men for his draft dodging, foreign-soil demonstrating behavior; but more importantly for gutting our military, sending them on dubious missions around the globe, softening our forces by the "don't ask, don't tell" pro-homosexual agenda, and generally allowing morale to fall to an all-time low."

Ret. Gen. Jack Singlaub agreed:
"Clinton policies also feminized the military. The promotion of feminization and homosexuality not only ruins morale, but to the rest of the world, our enemies look at that and think we are weak."

**Blame the Left **

The favorite target by far was "The Left." Falwell and Robertson were by no means the only voices blaming progressive groups and policies. Several commentators joined their attack on progressive values in tones that were even more strident and divisive.

David Yeagley writing in the online newsletter, FrontPageMagazine, published by David Horowitz wrote:
"President Bush couldn't say the word "war." It would have been politically incorrect. It would have offended the Left, the feminists, the minorities, and Amnesty International…. Our leaders would rather see us slaughtered. That's the way of the Left. Let someone else take the hit, while the lofty Left preserves its rhetorical righteousness, and prepares to file suit so the enemy gets a fair elongated trial."

Gary Aldrich of the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty:
"Excuse me if I absent myself from the national political group-hug that's going on. You see, I believe the Liberals are largely responsible for much of what happened Tuesday, and may God forgive them. My job and the job of all Conservatives now is to keep Liberals out of power as long as humanly possible. Our country is not safe when Liberals are in power. How much more evidence do we need?"

Rabbi Yehuda Levin concurred with Falwell and Robertson:
"This has come on the heels of an outrageous conference that was attended by almost all members of the civilized world in Durbin. There was violence, anti-semitism, and anti-Americanism shown, and we now see this next step. I wonder if there is some kind of a spiritual connection between these things."


Several groups such as the Family Research Council and the Institute for Justice echoed the Bush Administration's call for tolerance toward Arab-Americans and Muslims. Others expressed their anger toward terrorists with calls for reprisals. And some groups attempted to ward off questions about future actions by criticizing those who raised their voice to dissent.

**Attacks on Islam and Arabs**

Right-wing columnist Don Feder:
"We must understand the nature of the conflict. A creed that uses God to justify its horrors deserves to be treated like any other criminal enterprise. There is no United Methodist Jihad. Suicide bombers don't quote the Talmud. Unbelievers aren't converted to Mormonism by the sword….What is to be done? Wherever Islam seeks to advance by force, it must be resisted. Wherever Christians, Jews or Hindus are threatened - in Africa, Israel, the Balkans, the Kashmir, East Asia - they must be supported. After almost 1,000 years, the Crusades have resumed. But now it's the West that's besieged."

Columnist Mona Charen:
"…It would be foolish to permit 'sensitivity' or a exaggerated worry about giving offense to inhibit authorities from tracking suspected terrorists. Let's not pretend that "ethnic profiling" is out of the question. It is absolutely necessary… "While we cannot and must not fight a religious war against Islam, we do have to take seriously the ideology of Islamism. Only a population thoroughly indoctrinated with hate could yield suicide bombers with the ferocity of those we have recently suffered."

Columnist Ann Coulter, who appears to have reached a new low for intolerant rhetoric, said:
"Airports scrupulously apply the same laughably ineffective airport harassment to Suzy Chapstick as to Muslim hijackers. It is preposterous to assume every passenger is a potential crazed homicidal maniac. We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

In fact, Coulter's statement was so outrageous that the right-wing National Review fired her.

**Attacks on Dissent**

And a special scorn was reserved for those who dared raise any dissent or question a policy. Columnist Andrew Sullivan:
"The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead - and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column."

National Review Online started a "Kumbaya Watch" to ridicule those who refused to rush headlong into war. The almost daily column, which has criticized both individuals and entire publications, calls its Watch the "latest in anti-American commentary from the Left."

The Heritage Foundation sent out an e-mail fundraising appeal that blasted both media outlets and educators who have said "bizarre" and "shocking" things in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Among the targets are: CNN, for requiring that terrorists be referred to as "alleged" or "accused," local school officials who have restricted placement of "God Bless America" signs, and a variety of academics who were critical of U.S. foreign policy. The letter equates those who hold contrary views with "those who want to destroy our liberty and freedom."


Efforts to focus on recovering from the September attacks and to prepare the country for war didn't stop several groups who urged their fellow activists to use the opportunity that presented itself. Many groups saw the new-found bipartisanship on Capitol Hill as an opportunity to stop legislation they opposed. At the same time, others saw the unified Congress as an opening to push through a right wing agenda that a majority of Americans would have opposed.

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, a publication widely read by right-wing activists, expressed for many the opportunity that some now see. Calling for quick presidential action on a range of items including defense spending, drilling for oil in Alaska, and quick confirmation of nominees, including judicial nominees, the paper said,
"In the wake of last week's terror attacks, most Americans are putting their trust in President Bush and want him to succeed. This gives him an historic opportunity to assert his leadership, not just on security and foreign policy but across the board."

For many, last month's horrible events provided a justification for their ongoing efforts to promote their agenda. In fact, many seemed to feel that if we had only listened earlier, the attacks could have been prevented.

**Missile Defense**

The Heritage Foundation released a backgrounder offering a defense agenda for the 21st Century. The first item on the agenda: "Accelerating development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses."

Christian Josi of the American Conservative Union echoed those feelings saying, "For logical people, the attacks will serve as a wake-up call on the missile defense issue."

**Anti-Gun Control**

Commentator Duncan Maxwell Anderson:
"No police force or army can protect people who have emasculated themselves of all weapons. Order cannot survive where men in particular have given up the idea that it is right and good that they be equipped to stand up for themselves and protect the innocent."

On the other hand, Pat Robertson's CBN News alerted activists to progressive legislation: "Despite calls for unity and bipartisanship by most members of Congress, there is a growing concern in some corners of Capitol Hill that some liberal lobby groups are still pushing their agenda. And conservatives, concerned with maintaining a posture of national unity, seem unwilling to object." CBN quoted an unnamed Congress staffer who says, "But some members and interest groups are taking advantage of the situation and the focus of Congress and most Americans on the tragedy to push legislation that would never pass under normal circumstances."


Efforts to reintroduce the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) giving gays and lesbians protection against employment discrimination were met by an outcry from the Right that seemed to question the patriotism of those who supported the legislation.

Bob Knight of Concerned Women for America:
"While the nation mourns and prepares for war, homosexual activists and their allies are trying to capitalize by jamming through their agenda.

**Hate Crimes**

Efforts to pas federal hate crimes legislation that included gays and lesbians were also denounced: "Senator Kennedy is trying to move an essentially homosexual agenda on the backs of American Muslims," said Michael Schwartz, vice president of government relations for Concerned Women for America.


But on the issue of civil liberties and American freedoms, many on the Right added their voice to others across the political spectrum to warn about the danger in some of the calls to sacrifice privacy and some of the liberties we enjoy.

The American Conservative Union's David Keene cautioned:
"We must be careful lest a few Muslim extremists manage to do what neither Hitler nor Stalin could accomplish by convincing us that we must sacrifice our liberty, privacy and freedom of movement for a greater measure of security. If we do this, we will have lost the struggle just as it is beginning because we will have surrendered the essence of America in the probably vain hope that by so doing we can preserve the trappings of the greatest nation in human history."

Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation started gathering petitions to send to the President urging that their efforts "reconcile the requirements of security with the demands of liberty."

The Institute for Justice's Clint Bolick said:
"It would be easier if government could monitor our conversations and activities, or could stop or segregate those whose skin color or religious beliefs resemble the terrorists.' It is tempting to trade freedom for security. But to do so sacrifices both. For the freedoms we have not only make America a moral exemplar but provide us with the wealth and means to effective combat terrorism."

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