Blogs > Liberty and Power > Looking Back

Sep 20, 2004 8:09 pm

Looking Back

We all know now about the Bush administration's pre-9/11 $43 million gift to the Taliban -- in thanks for the regime's prohibition on opium. Still, this Robert Scheer column written in May of 2001 is simply chilling:
Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-U.S. terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that"rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this administration's attention.

Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998...

...Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.

The war on drugs has become our own fanatics' obsession and easily trumps all other concerns. How else could we come to reward the Taliban, who has subjected the female half of the Afghan population to a continual reign of terror in a country once considered enlightened in its treatment of women?

...The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug war zealots, but in the end this alliance will prove a costly failure. Our long sad history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession.
The sad irony here is that the same government that signed checks to the Taliban in the name of the drug war just months before September 11 to this day accuses drug users of supporting terrorism (a charge that doesn't stick, by the way).

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M.D. Fulwiler - 9/21/2004

Brian Carnell of disputes this alleged "fact." He writes:

"The $43 million grant was, in fact, humanitarian aid. At the time, Afghanistan was yet again experiencing drought and hunger. Beginning in the late 1990s, the United States was the primary donor of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan related-relief, and the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, authorized relief aid that the World Food Program requested.

Moreover ... the $43 million didn't go directly to the Taliban nor was it in the form of cash. In reality, the United States authorized the shipment of $43 million in food and other supplies to United Nations famine relief efforts that were based in Pakistan at the time. In fact, at the time Colin Powell was explicit in saying that the relief aid would "bypass the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it."