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September 26, 2001 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-26

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Wednesday, September 26, 2001- The Michigan Daily - 5


The Second Coming

What's the role of
academia during
times of war?
'Death threat' calls on 'U' to silence
student opposition, will non-mainstream
9/11 analysis survive in higher education?

Feb. 15, 1989 - A day uncelebrated by most, marked the departure of the
last of the 115,000 Soviet soldiers from Afghanistan after ten years of mil-
itary engagement. Many in the secretive government inner-circles of
Washington, Riyadh and Islamabad did not mind the general lack of festivity that
Wednesday morning. For them, the last battle of the Cold War had just been
called over, and they had won. The defeat of the Red Army by such hands,
though they had never officially fought, was probably enough to commemorate
anyway. The U.S-Saudi-Pak troika had dug the grave of the Soviet Union in the
mountains of Afghanistan, even though the USSR had not officially expired.
But all the credit for the ouster of the Soviets cannot go to a bunch of hushed-
up spy types. The USSR's grave had been dug by undertakers, the mighty
Mujahideen, who Reagan would laud as 'freedom fighters' in his State of the
Union addresses. Armed, financed and trained by the U.S. inspired troika, these
rag-tag heroes would eventually sprout a group whose name sounds so familiar
these days: the Taliban.

The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan -
probably the ultimate goal of the U.S. strategy there
- and a laid-back Gorbachev in the Kremlin lead to
Afghanistan being left out of the U.S. 'national inter-
est' paradigm. For the lethally armed and battle-
hardened Mujahideen, the ten-year long military,
intelligence and finance based relationship with
America now seemed like a one night stand, with the
U.S. walking away almost as soon as its goals in the
region were satisfied. The political vacuum in the
country was imminent, and so it came. The fall of the
USSR in late 1991 gave another impetus to this
group, who were now trying to come to terms with
power-sharing; basically fighting for the crumbs over
the table the Russians had left.
Inevitably, violence ensued. Battle lines were
drawn between groups, mostly split along religious
lines. All armed up with no one to fight but them-
selves, the former Mujahideen found Afghanistan in
a civil war, drought, a refugee exodus, and the over-
throw of the quasi-government which was a de-facto
successor after the Soviets followed. By 1996, the
Taliban, student-warriors from seminaries in Pak-
istan, the same seminaries which had been the hot-
bed for recruiting the Mujahideen for the anti-Soviet
Jihad in the '80s, were ruling over the capital, Kabul.
C'est la vie.
The story of the Soviet invasion - the U.S.
involvement, the Saudi and Pakistani connection, the
political and military vacuum after the Soviet with-
drawal - is not just about Afghanistan. The whole
escapade has caused a spill-over effect which not
only affected New Yorkers and Pentagon officials on
September 11th, but which has also steered the Cen-
tral Asian and South Asian region into bitter conflict
and instability.
The Daily met with Javed Nazir, a journalism fel-
low at the University and an outspoken journalist
from Pakistan. Nazir's personal life seems inter-
twined with the volatile events of the region. As
founder and editor of
the Frontier Post, a lib-
eral Pakistani daily, ;
Nazir found himself out
of a job last year when 4
his newspaper was x
burnt down for publish- J
ing a controversial let-
ter. Radicalized
Islamist elements f k
opposed to a liberal ,<< {f
press were believed f
responsible for the 3 £
attack. Currently work-
ing on a book about the N
minorities in Pakistan,
Nazir s insight has t;_:_
much to offer Ameri- /./
can readers about the
precariousness in the "'

perspective, their most lasting legacy was the milita-
rization of a country already teetering on ethnic
strife. In Pakistan today, the military is akin to god.
The intelligence wing of the army, the Inter Services
Intelligence directorate, or'ISI, defines the role of the
ultimate praetorian agency. It is also answerable to
no one. Unlike the CIA, there are no Congressional
appointments. Dark figures rule that turf.
"The ISI has devised and implemented its own
political agenda," Nazir said. "With the CIA, it was
in charge of training the Mujahideen. But after that,
the ISI has interrupted the democratic process time
and again in Pakistan." The anti-communist purpose
had been lost after the achievement of objectives.
The military became a self-indulgent animal and
turned towards its own country.
In 1988, Haq and his military cronies were blown
up in a mysterious plane explosion, along with the
American ambassador, but the damage had been
done. A precedent for the military had been set: The
armed forces' interests came first - everything else
was second. So, in a country where there already
were twice as many soldiers than teachers, where a
hundred million did not have access to even clean
drinking water, the acquisition of M-1 tanks and F-
16s got more precedence than the humanitarian
breakdown. The U.S. supplied these and more at
throw-away prices - a small cost to the Reaganites,
who were smelling communist blood in the Afghan
Meanwhile, Pakistanis suffered. The drug trade
from the so-called Golden Crescent which runs
between the Pak-Afghan border pumped millions of
dollars of black money and white narcotics into the
country. The arms trade, caused by the surplus of
weapons brought with 'Reagan bucks,' was utilized
by local militias and ethnic factions to terrorize
cities. Karachi, Pakistan's largest city of 14 million,
was especially engulfed in the 'Kalashinkov Cul-
ture,' the name dedicated to the popularity of the
AK-47 assault rifle and its use by sectarian elements.
More people died in that city alone than did in both
Intifada 1 and 2. Out in the frontier facing

A Taliban patrol in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.
Student-warriors by description, they emerged
from the ranks of the U.S.-backed Mujahideen.
sion, there were several nationalist and/or secular
Afghan factions who were anti-Soviet. The US did
have the choice of courting these more moderate ele-
ments, yet Washington chose the most fundamental-
ist organizations in this network, probably under the
belief that rabid religious hard-liners make the best
commie-killers. Add a little bit of Soviet-atheism to
the equation, and you would have the staunchest ally.
We all know how that turned out. But what choices
does the U.S. geo-strategists have now?
"This is a case of deja vu," Nazir said. "This
time, there is another dictator in charge. Once again,
the U.S. is willing to finance and buy and Pakistan's
support." Engaging the Taliban, capturing Osama
bin Laden and trying him in Manhattan's 3rd District
Court is obviously not the solution, as clich6d as that
sounds. But where does the long term solution lie?
"Not in carpet-bombing Kabul," Nazir said. "Nor
in calling this a crusade or a war." Nazir is correct.
Jingoism doesn't deal with the many grey-areas in
the equation. There is always the neighbor-issue.
Russia, China and Iran might love to see the Taliban
go, considering that they have had to militarily
engage with Taliban-backed insurgencies in their
regions (or directly with the Taliban, as is Iran's
case). But would they tolerate a long-term U.S. mili-
tary presence in the region? Furthermore, as Nazir
points out, would the Pakistanis tolerate such a pres-
ence? The U.S. engagement in Pakistan and
Afghanistan should not forget to add what was left
out of the recipe in the '80s. "The intelligentsia in
Pakistan needs to be taken into confidence," Nazir
said. "Democratization needs to be encouraged,
along with planning the reconstruction of
Afghanistan." Consistency, which has been lacking
practically and morally in the U.S. foreign policy,
needs to be instilled. "The U.S. needs to reappraise
its foreign policy. It should indicate in a very strong
way to the Muslims across the world that it is now
seeking different objectives. That means gradual
withdrawal of support to the retrogressive govern-
ments like Saudi Ara-
bia and Kuwait. That
means avoiding radi-
calizing local people
in countries like Pak-
istan where the U.S.
is going (to engage).
And that means
rethinking its support
to Israel, which is
connected to all of
this." Nazir is correct.
If support for foreign
retrogression for U.S.
'national interest' and
the 'selective morali-
ty' element in foreign
policy continues, then
we can all get ready
for long-term engage-
AP PHOTO ment instead of long-
overnment has pledged to term peace. Period.
mestic backlash. Two weeks from
Sept. 11 might be as good a time as any to reflect
on such notes. Back in 1999, Dilip Hiro, in writing
an article for The Nation, quoted Richard Murphy,
the assistant secretary of state for the Near East and
South Asia during the two Reagan administrations
as saying that "we did spawn a monster in
Afghanistan." He went on to mention that this
"monster" of violent Islamic fundamentalism had
now grown tentacles that extended from western
China to Algeria to the east coast of America, and
that its reach was not likely to diminish without a
great deal of the United States' money, time and
patience, along with the full cooperation of foreign
governments. I hate adding the loss of life on his
list of requirements, as much as I abhor the acts
which propelled me to write this. Still, the second
coming can be employed properly to keep that list
WafSved can be reached via e-mail
at wajsyed@umich. edu.
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am pus:
you have
b e e n
warned. You are
being watched.
And if there are
any more anti-war
protests, there
could be hell to
pay - perhaps
even with your life.
That's according to a threatening
letter that was forwarded to the Daily
following last Thursday's anti-war
protest. Readers may interpret it as a
death threat. The author may have
meant it as a joke, but it may very well
be serious. Below are portions of the
letter, which has not been edited for
grammar, spelling or punctuation.
Judge for yourself
what does it take for the yellow bas-
tards that your school breeds,the yellow
bastard war protestors, to realize that
this war is a must-must situation!!do
they not watch tv?do they not care of
their fellow americans?do i have to
come to your school premises with a
bus and pick them up at gunpoint,to
load them up on a bus to take them to
NewYork city myself to open their
peabrain eyes so they can have a closer
glimpse into the eyes of evil and the
depths of hell at ground zero,and make
them get on their goddamn hands and
knees,hit them in the stom-
ach so they have to B
breathe real hard and Ut if p
deep,and smell the godaw- subt
ful stench of all the dead academic
americans that were killed then I fa
by the terrorists that creat-
ed the CAUSE of this be faci
WAR.whats the matter un-An
with those yellow streek up
their asses students? witchunt


... they are very lucky
that i was'nt in ann arbor
during this protest you had
better warn your students
DOM .believe you me,it
will not end with peace on
their side.im a
patriotic,law abiding
,good red blooded ameri-
can citizen and belong to a
large and powerfull orga-
nization known worldwide.
you could say we are the

it is hard t
how the,
steer h
not revisitI
of McCa

ties to take place on campus. And when
you consider that, one must question the
role of a university during times of war.
Some television pundits we've
heard the past two weeks contend that
during our time of crisis, the nation
must restrain itself and censor alterna-
tive thought that could be construed as
un-American. By doing that, national
morale is strong.
But if that is taken literally, that
means that criticism of American for-
eign policy and U.S. military actions
must be suppressed for the betterment
of the homefront. For example, pointing
out that two great empires were slaugh-
tered in Afghanistan could become a
taboo subject, banished from national
discussion. In a nutshell, some in this
nation right now want nothing more
than American flags and "God Bless
America." Nobody wants to hear about
why the presence of U.S. forces in Pak-
istan may tear that nation apart.
To very patriotic Americans, like
many people in this nation, including
the writer of the threatening letter, times
of national crises call for the country to
stand together and place all faith in the
government. That's how the United
States succeeded in World War II. And
some blame the U.S. defeat in Vietnam
on the the lack of unity at home.
Much of the opposition to that con-
flict was fostered on university campus-
es nationwide - including here in Ann
Arbor. It wasn't just stu-
dents yelling and scream-
ing. There was activism in
vrts the classroom as well.
freedom, Whether you interpret that
activism as education or
we could anti-war indoctrination,
f a new what's discussed in the
rican nation's lecture halls may
ltho h not always be in sync with
hough the patriotic interests of the
o predict nation.
national But our "New War" is
not Vietnam. Will debates
s on the in our political science lec-
War Will tures or American history
igher discussion sections temper
criticism of the govern-
it's the ment or delve beneath the
s duty to surface and analyze the
the days hell out of the United
States' role in the world?
irthyism. As seen from last
lly my Thursday's anti-war rally,
ns are there are people who are
ded. daring enough to challenge
mainstream American
thought and oppose the
war. We've seen teach-ins where pan-
elists have indicated that the tragedies
of Sept. 11 will force the U.S. to change
its global attitude.
That's not too comforting to people
who only want to see Old Glory and
ticker tape parades down Broadway.
Just like during the Gulf War, the
University is probably not going to take
a position on the anti-war/pro-war
debate. And for good reason. The role
of the University is to provide a forum
where ideas can be exchanged and
debated. But many ideas that stand in
stark contrast to the American national
consensus have been attacked so far.
Last year, the University came
under fire from conservatives across the
state for an English course offering
titled "How to be Gay." If a political
science professor wanted to offer a
course titled "Why America is wrong"
will the University bow to outside pres-
sure to suppress those views?
During the 1950s, the University
forced professors suspected to be affili-
ated with the Communist Party to
resign. Today, the threat isn't the Soviet
Union, it's Osama bin Laden and terror-
ism. But if patriotism subverts academic
freedom, then I fear we could be facing
a new un-American witchunt. Although
it is hard to predict how the national
consensus on the coming war will steer

higher education, it's the University's
duty to not revisit the days of
McCarthyism. Hopefully my fears are
University President Lee Bollinger,
a noted First Amendment scholar asked
professors and graduate student instruc-
tors to engage their classes in discus-
sions about the terrorist attacks in the
days following Sept. 11. I hope this will
continue. I also hope that in the uncer-
tain days ahead, our society will be able
to tolerate views that clash with the
mainstream American consensus on the
war. Many of the ideas we've heard
about pacifism and peace are idealistic


crux of what
has to say

A Pakistani Ranger on patrol outside a McDonalds restaurant in Karachi. The Pakistani g
support the U.S. in its anti-terrorist campaign against Afghanistan, despite the risk of dor

inspired the title for this piece. The second coming,
from a U.S. perspective, is indicative of this second
instance the U.S. is getting involved in Afghanistan.
Like last time, the involvement will not be limited to
that country alone. Spill-over effects are as threaten-
ing extra-region context this time as they were in the
Eerily familiar are the circumstances which enve-
lope the nations involved. Central again to the issue
is Pakistan. An Islamic republic of a hundred and
fifty million, Pakistan seems to be at the same cross-
roads as it was in 1979. Pervaiz Musharraf , the cur-
rent President, is a military dictator. As the
commander in chief of the armed forces, Musharraf
came to power in 1999 in a bloodless coup, oustering
the popularly elected but thoroughly retrogressive
and corrupt government of Nawaz Sharif. Now,
Musharraf is getting into the same courting dance
which another dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq had been
seduced into by the U.S. in the 80's.
Haq had grabbed the reigns of power in the 1977
when he engineered a coup to oust the first democra-
tically elected prime minister, Zulfi Bhutto. Seeking
foreign and domestic legitimacy, Haq was interested
in creating a popular base for his regime by merging
Islam into politics. One way of doing this was to give
aid to the exiled Afghan fundamentalist leaders in
Pakistan. . This fell in perfectly with the ambitions of
the founder of the American strategy, Zbigniew
Brzezinski, U.S. national security adviser to Jimmy
Carter, for whom this was a immense opportunity to
export an amalgamated philosophy of nationalism
and Islam to the Muslim Central Asian states and
Soviet republics, all in order to atrophy the USSR.
117.a' L &L TTC 1-1 - u n l n nn t

Afghanistan, the social fabric was torn by the influx
of millions of Afghan refugees. "Sectarianism flour-
ished. The democracy, dependent as it was on the
military, was in suspended animation," said Nazir.
"In the political chaos, the military gained the highest
of power. No local institution, especially with the
destruction of the judiciary, could save the country."
But parliament meddling, threatening judges, and
sacking elected representatives were not the only bad
habits of the military government.
It was under Haq when the Pakistani nuclear pro-
gram gained momentum. "The U.S. had a benign eye
for Pakistan when it came to nuclear weapons under
Haq," said Nazir. "In 1998, when Pakistan went offi-
cially nuclear, U.S. sanctions were slapped on the
country, basically because Pakistan had served its
purpose. The Russians were gone, the Cold War was
By this time, what was also over was the claim of
morality when it came to U.S. foreign policy in the
Pak-Afghan diad. Not that realpolitik has a soul, but
the fact of the matter was, and remains, that Pakistan
and Afghanistan, the last battlegrounds of the Cold
War, were left to clean up on thei? own the mess - a
mess the U.S. had had an interest in creating. The sit-
uation there was reflective of the 'use and abuse'
U.S. stance in foreign policy. The Reagan adminis-
tration had given arms, money and more than any-
thing, legitimacy, to an absolute dictator. With
American muscle behind him, the dictator had gone
on to make an unprecedented political mess. A
power vacuum came about with his death, and the
U.S., instead of keeping an active and progressive
interest in the region nurturing its weak democratic
institutions, let it all be. The Pak military became the
end-all of all sytems of governance and went on to
nmn10tC the Frankenctein the i T had left half-

U.S.A.s GHOST battallion.we fight for
the red white and blues causes. when
the govt. is 100% right,without any
shadow of a doubtand when the
govt.cant solve the problem within just
means in the eyes of the public,no mat-
ter how hard they try,then we take over
the fight of that cetain cause.
... no matter how ruthless our
method may be,in the eyes of all
humankind ,our ends justify the
means.we all live by the code "iget
cut,my brother bleeds,my brother gets
cut,i bleed",in other words if these pea
brains dont understand what brother-
hood is all about,they are not fit to be
an american,or live on my american
soil.with this letter they have been
... what these cowards need is a
taste of terrorism i guess,in order not to
protest our country engaging in war to
rid this evil.im ashamed to let my other
brothers and sisters from other states
know i live in a state that has a presti-
geous school that allows their students
to protest against all the dead ameri-
cans honor,from new york and wash-
ington.if it happens again,they will be
dealt with.you can take that to the
bankdo they belong to a terrorist orga-
nization???tell them to remember what
president Bush said about
terrorists. "your with us ,or your against
us "and my organization waves the
same flag president Bush waves,god
bless his sole.these students will be
filmed,photos will be madeof them ,they
will be followed to their homes,and
their address' will be recorded.they then
will be filed as suspects. my organiza-
tion will not be as lenient with these yel-
low cowards when the sword of swift
justice swings,as their parents were
when they were caught doing what they
were forbidden to do,as children.these
kids need a wake up call and I hope this
warning reaches them to do just
that.thank you...

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