December 2, 2001
Bush's inexperience is showing
Dire threats emanating from Washington have horrified America's allies
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Contributing Foreign Editor
Crusades are messy, bloody affairs, and it's often hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Exhibit A: Afghanistan, where the United States just suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the wily Russians. Happily for the White House, neither the media nor the American public understand what just happened. They continue to cheer on the president, who is mighty thankful he is leading a jolly little war against Muslims instead of having to explain to voters why the economy is nose-diving and hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs.
The Northern Alliance is not a merry band of pro-American freedom fighters battling the wicked Taliban, but a Russian front organization run by leaders of the revived Afghan Communist party. It has also reopened the heroin trade the Taliban had shut down.
The Alliance proclaimed itself Afghanistan's legitimate government last week. Moscow recognized the Alliance, and rushed "advisers" and troops into Afghanistan.
On Sept. 11, Alliance forces were a mere 10,000 men. A month later, it fielded 30,000 with an array of Russian armour and artillery. It's likely regular troops from neighbouring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - all Russian satellite states - were sent into Afghanistan.
OIL AND GAS RESOURCES
Russia now dominates Afghanistan, thus reversing its historic defeat of the 1980s, shutting the U.S. and Pakistan out of Central Asia, and ensuring future Russian control of the Caspian Basin's oil and gas resources. Bush was too busy trying to "smoke out" outlaws Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar to notice his new best friends, the Russians, had drygulched him and grabbed the lion's share of Afghanistan.
The much ballyhooed Afghan unity conference in Germany last week, hailed by the U.S. and UN as a "breakthrough" and the beginning of a viable "democratic" government in Afghanistan, was a farce.
The U.S., UN, and Europe are waiting to shower tens of millions in aid on a "new," non-Islamic Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance realize they need a few women and some toothless royalists to create the illusion of a multi-party government in order to cash in on western aid. Armed, supplied and guided by the Russian Army and KGB, the Alliance remains the real power in Afghanistan.
Last week, hundreds of Taliban prisoners of war were reportedly massacred in the Mazar-E-Sharif fort by soldiers of communist warlord Rashid Dostam, assisted by U.S. and British special forces, and air strikes by U.S. warplanes. Our side says the prisoners tried to break out and had to die. Some more neutral observers claim the prisoners were murdered en masse. Amnesty International is calling for an investigation. U.S. troops also watched while 140 Taliban prisoners were executed in southern Afghanistan.
The U.S has been using fuel-air munitions that rights organizations claim are inhumane weapons that should be banned.
Last week, bin Laden's holy war syndrome seemed to infect the White House. Bush proclaimed a new jihad against Saddam Hussein, warning Iraq was next on his hit list. Saddam was moved into the terrorist column by Bush for allegedly planning to produce weapons of mass destruction to threaten his neighbours. The president forgot to mention Israel and India, who have also threatened their neighbours with nukes.
While Bush was preaching a new crusade against Iraq, other high administration officials were warning that Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Somalia and even Pakistan might be added to Bush's jihad list. A decade ago, this would have been called warmongering. Now, the frightful Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. are being used to justify all sorts of adventures abroad, and the curtailment of civil rights and free speech at home.
Bush's anti-Muslim crusading policy is being advocated by a group of Dr. Strangeloves, hardline "neo-conservatives" - the Washington chapter of Ariel Sharon's far-right Likud party. They want to use America to destroy all of Israel's enemies and block peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Sensible Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the administration's sharpest mind, Secretary of State Colin Powell, are trying to restrain the Sharonistas, who seem dangerously close to convincing Bush to launch a crusade against much of the 1.2-billion-person Islamic world. They failed with clever Bill Clinton, but are succeeding with the unworldly Bush.
America's European, Asian and Muslim allies are horrified by the dire threats emanating from Washington, but so far no one has dared to publicly break ranks and tell the president to holster his sixguns and simmer down. America is not refighting World War II.
In fact, it is not even at war, since none has been declared by Congress. It is fighting a handful of small but deadly international criminal organizations. This is not D-Day, nor the Alamo, and certainly no reason to launch America on the 21st century's first world war.
Eric can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.