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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Afghanistan at a Glance

West of China, north of India...there´s Afghanistan. ()
West of China, north of India…there´s Afghanistan. ()

Do you support military action against Osama bin Laden? According to a Guilford poll, 180 were in favor, 16 were not, and 14 were undecided. Guilford senior Faith Jost said she is worried that “people are jumping to uninformed conclusions.” But Faith said she knew little about Afghanistan, our potential enemy. I suspect that many here at Guilford share this sentiment.The Taliban’s hostility demonstrated against America, is also apparent in Afghanistan: the United Nation’s estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan. Afghan women have few rights, and must always cover themselves from head to toe. Widows are buried alive in mass graves.The Afghans are starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering, and have no energy left to rise up and overthrow the Taliban.

Tamin Ansary, an Afghan-American living in Berkeley, California, said “American’s speak of bombing Afghanistan, but why? That has already been done, the Soviets took care of it already. Make the Afghans suffer? They’re already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Wipe out their hospitals? Done.” Ansary believes that new bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier ones.

The Taliban rose to power in 1996 as a fundamentalist band of religious students. They promised peace for a country ravaged by corruption and civil war. Unfortunately the Taliban’s interpretation of peace mutated into an oppressive system where the average life expectancy is 47 and a quarter of the population is in danger of starvation.

It started when Soviet-occupied Afghanistan tried to expel its Russian occupants during the Cold War. Many Muslims saw soviet-occupation as an attack on Islam. And a group known as the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) prepared for Jihad (holy war).

The United States, through a directive signed by President Ronald Reagan, and in order to protect interests during the Cold War, gave covert military aid to the Mujahedeen. The CIA helped Pakistani trainers establish schools for the Mujahedeen for using heavy weapons. The $6 billion of aid helped to end the Afghan war, and resulted in the Soviet withdrawal. Since then, the Taliban has been Afghanistan’s only government.

The Taliban is a protector of Osama bin Laden, a Mujahedeen financial backer and a main suspect in the terrorist attacks on the WTC. His own words perhaps best convey his anger towards the USA: “The call to wage war against America was made because America has spear-headed the crusade against the Islamic nation, sending tens of thousands of its troops to the land of the two Holy Mosques.” Essentially the U.S. has committed a religious violation. Osama bin Laden is waging Jihad against the U.S. because of American troops’ occupation of the holy lands of Islam during the Gulf War.

Religious violations could have huge implications. Ansary worries that “We’re flirting with a world war between Islam and the West, and that is what Bin Laden wants.”

The Afghan people in general are not responsible for the actions of their government regarding Osama bin Laden, any more than Americans were responsible for our government’s decision to arm and train Osama bin Laden’s soldiers in a misguided effort to undermine Communism. Afghans have no representation.

We have an enormous challenge at hand. Can we distinguish between those who commit the crimes and the innocent who share their culture but not their cause? Not only is our security as a nation at stake, but so are our values as a people.

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