- It needed my old Irish journalist colleague, Vincent
Browne, to point out the obvious to me. With a headache as big as Afghanistan,
reading through a thousand newspaper reports on the supposed "aftermath"
of the Afghan war, I'd become drugged by the lies. Afghan women were free
at last, "our" peacekeeping force was on its way, the Taliban
were crushed. Anti-American demonstrations in Pakistan had collapsed -
we'll forget my little brush with some real Afghans there a couple of weeks
ago. Al-Qa'ida was being "smoked out" of its cave. Osama bin
Laden was - well, not captured or even dead; but - well, the Americans
had a videotape, incomprehensible to every Arab I've met, which "proves"
that our latest monster planned the crimes against humanity on New York
- So it needed Vincent, breathing like a steam engine as
he always does when he's angry, to point to the papers in Gemma's, my favourite
Dublin newsagents. "What in Christ's sake is going on, Bob?'' he asked.
"Have you seen the headlines of all this shite?'' and he pulled Newsweek
from the shelf. The headline: After The Evil.
- "What is this biblical bollocks?'' Vincent asked
me. Osama bin Laden's overgrained, videotaped face stared from the cover
of the magazine, a dark, devilish image from Dante's circles of hell. When
he captured Berlin, Stalin announced that his troops had entered "the
lair of the fascist beast''. But the Second World War has nothing on this.
- So let's do a "story-so-far". After Arab mass-murderers
crashed four hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon
and Pennsylvania, a crime against humanity which cost more than 4,000 innocent
lives, President Bush announced a crusade called Infinite "Justice"
- later downgraded to Infinite Freedom - and bombed Afghanistan. Using
the gunmen and murderers of the discredited Northern Alliance to destroy
the gunmen and murderers of the discredited Taliban, the Americans bombed
bin Laden's cave fortresses and killed hundreds of Afghan and Arab fighters,
not including the prisoners executed after the Anglo-US-Northern Alliance
suppression of the Mazar prison revolt.
- The production of the bin Laden videotape - utterly convincing
evidence of his guilt to the world's press, largely, if wilfully, ignored
by the Muslim world - helped to obscure the fact that Mr Evil, seemed to
have disappeared. It also helped to airbrush a few other facts away. We
could forget that US air strikes, according to statistics compiled by a
Chicago University professor, have now killed more innocent Afghans than
the hijackers killed westerners and others in the World Trade Centre. We
could forget that Mullah Omar, the mysterious leader of the Taliban, has
also got away.
- We could ignore the fact that, save for a few brave female
souls, almost all Afghan women in Kabul continued to wear the burqa. We
could certainly close our eyes to the massive preponderance of Northern
Alliance killers represented in the new UN-supported, pro-western Government
in Kabul. We could clap our hands when a mere 50 Royal Marines arrived
in Afghanistan this weekend to support a UN-mandated British-led "peace"
force of only a few thousand men who will need the Kabul government's permission
to operate in the city and which, in numbers, will come to about one-third
of the complement of the British Army destroyed in the Kabul Gorge in 1842.
- The "peace" force thinks it will have to defend
humanitarian aid convoys from robbers and dissident Taliban. In fact, it
will have to fight off the Northern Alliance mafia and drug-growers and
warlords, as well as the vicious guerrillas sent out to strike them by
bin Laden's survivors. If nothing else, the Taliban made the roads and
villages of Afghanistan safe for Afghans and foreigners alike. Now, you
can scarcely drive from Kabul to Jalalabad.
- Presumably, the CIA will let us pay the Alliance mobsters
for their war in Afghanistan. One of the untold stories of this conflict
is the huge amount of money handed out to militia leaders to persuade them
to fight for the US. When Taliban members changed sides for an Alliance
payment of $250,000 and then attacked their benefactors, we all dwelt on
their treachery. None of us asked how the Alliance - which didn't have
enough money to pay for bullets a few weeks earlier - could throw a quarter
of a million bucks at the Taliban in the middle of a fire site. Nor how
the Pashtun tribal leaders of Kandahar province are now riding around in
brand-new four-wheel drives with thousands of dollars to hand out to their
gunmen. I wasn't surprised to read that a Somali warlord is now offering
his cash-for-hire services to the US for the next round of the War on Civilisation.
- Fortunately for us, the civilian victims of America's
B52s will remain unknown in their newly dug graves. Even before the war
ended, around 3,700 of them - not counting Mullah Omar's and bin Laden's
gunmen - had been ripped to pieces in our War for Civilisation. A few scattered
signs of discontent - the crowd that assaulted me two weeks ago, for example,
outraged at the killing of their families - can be quickly erased from
- It is obviously perverse to note that I haven't met a
single ordinary Muslim or, indeed many westerners - Pakistani, Afghan,
Arab, British, French, American - who actually believe all this guff. Let's
just remember that the new Kabul government is as committed to support
"Islam, democracy, pluralism (sic) and social justice'' as Mr Bush
is to Good (sic) and the Destruction of Evil. Roll on next year, and don't
worry about bin Laden - he may be back just in time to participate in Part
Two of the War for Civilisation.