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Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban

By suntzu in MLP
Tue May 29, 2001 at 01:46:47 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

A story about how the president decided that, though the Taliban can do plenty to hurt the U.S. (that doesn't even take into consideration their gross human rights abuses), we had an overwhelming duty to fight along a line of common interrest: the drug war.

One of the really interesting things here is how this story shows that in general, politicians are willing to grandstand for some superficial goal, even if it goes directly against other, possibly more important goals. I don't know for sure, but it's possible that the average American citizen doesn't know just how dangerous the Taliban is. But we all know how dangerous it is for people to get high. Wouldn't want that to happen. What's a few genital mutilations, terrorist acts, or other human rights abuses when you can possibly lessen the supply of drugs to a couple of smackheads, by a little bit. Way to keep priorities straight. In my opinion, the supposed immorality of getting high has been used to justify too many disgusting policies. In keeping with the "war" metaphor, the War on Drugs has wreaked far too much collateral damage.


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Is this support of the Taliban justified?
o No, I don't want my tax dollars spent on such frivolous and misguided things. 17%
o No, there's no reason to encourage human rights abuse to stop something that shouldn't be illegal anyway. 66%
o Yes, we need to do everything we can to keep our people off of drugs 1%
o Yes, all we're doing here is supporting another group of people who happen to have a common goal with us. 3%
o What? Would you just stop politicking and take a hit. 12%

Votes: 99
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o story
o Also by suntzu

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Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban | 30 comments (22 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not Either-Or (3.90 / 11) (#5)
by Komodo321 on Sat May 26, 2001 at 09:19:10 PM EST


While I'm not a great fan of the current president, I don't think he is catering to the Taliban. Its a question of opposing them when the US or World community disagrees, and working with them when there is common interest. The US is not all-powerful, and having some type of diplomatic relations and cooperation might be better than shunning them altogether (and they do feel like international pariahs, although maybe that feeds into their psychology of being spiritually pure and harrassed and martyred for their purity.

Stranger collaboration occurred on an international program to help reduce pollution going into the Mediterranean Sea. Political enemies put their differences aside to cooperate on something that was important to all of them: Israel and the Arabs, the Greeks and Turks, France and Algeria, etc. The program didn't bring about Utopia, but within the limited scope of the project, the results were good.

disgusting. (3.37 / 8) (#6)
by nickco on Sat May 26, 2001 at 11:04:01 PM EST

This can be nothing else than wrong. I don't understand how anyone, even a politician, could consider giving money to the Afghan Taliban, let alone actually do it!

This in my opinion should be the last straw. Don't people realize the government of the self-proclaimed freest nation on earth should not be funding the destruction of fundamental human rights?!

This 'War on Drugs' has effected countless atrocities. There are people that have been sentenced to 5+ year jail sentences for possession of marijuana! 5 years for a completely victimless crime. Why doesn't anyone care? It's pretty fucking sad, and it makes me despair for humanity.

Treason (4.07 / 13) (#7)
by Blarney on Sun May 27, 2001 at 01:08:51 AM EST

The United States Constitution defines treason as "giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States". Well, $43 million should be plenty of aid and comfort to a country whose Taliban leaders constantly denounce the United States, which harbors Osama Bin Laden's terrorist gang, said gang having destroyed a US embassy, which is technically an invasion of US territory.

George W. Bush is a traitor.

Not Treason (4.77 / 9) (#8)
by Osiris on Sun May 27, 2001 at 03:40:30 AM EST

According to the Findlaw commentary on Article III, Section 3, it is probably not treason for the government to give money to the Taliban. It appears treason has historically only been found to apply during wartime. We are not at war with the Taliban, so aiding them isn't treason. Aren't they on the state-sponsored terrorism list? That's a possible angle, but you'd never get a conviction, so no prosecutor would bother bringing such a case to trial.

Personally, I would be very careful even trying to expand the definition of treason. There's a reason that section has been so narrowly written and interpreted- accusations of treason have been very much abused by tyrannical governments. I think it's a terrible idea to give any aid to that bunch of nutcases, but it's not treason.

[ Parent ]
Terrorism isn't war? (none / 0) (#30)
by marlowe on Thu May 31, 2001 at 11:52:21 AM EST

Well it sure as hell ain't peace.

Legalities aside, helping these guys is as close to treason as makes no difference.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Excellent point (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by Pseudonym on Sun May 27, 2001 at 04:06:34 AM EST

I don't know if it's true or not, but just in case it is, I dropped an email to Michael Moore suggesting that we start a campaign for impeaching, and if possible bringing criminal proceedings against, President W.

I figure he can get some mileage out of it at any rate.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
[ Parent ]
Speaking of traitors ... (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by I Robot on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:46:11 AM EST

Under Clinton we sent $114 million ... not the paltry $43 million GW has proposed. Funny ... no one called it treason when Billy - boy did it.

[ Parent ]
Geez, drop the pro-drug bias, willya? (3.45 / 11) (#10)
by marlowe on Sun May 27, 2001 at 12:25:10 PM EST

It's distracting from the real issue.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
So what's new? (3.42 / 7) (#11)
by associatedrediffusion on Mon May 28, 2001 at 06:04:37 AM EST

As I understand it, the Taliban are descended from the Mujahdeen in the first place - and in the '80s the Western governments were propping them up just on the grounds that they were anti-Russian.

Not to mention that - this being the days before the War On Drugs - those same governments turned a blind eye to the fact that they were getting most of their income from heroin smuggling. Hence the heroin boom of the '80s.

not entirely accurate (3.50 / 4) (#12)
by cory on Mon May 28, 2001 at 11:05:10 AM EST

Yes, some of the Talibans were some of the Mujahdeen fighters. No, Western governments weren't "propping them up" because they were "anti-Russian". The Mujahdeen were fighting against a Soviet invasion, and Western governments helped them because they knew the next step for the Soviets would be Iran and their oil fields.

Also, the "War on Drugs" was declared by either Johnson or Nixon (I forget offhand which), and was referred to as such fairly often since then. But you're right, most people turned a blind eye to the Afgani herion smuggling then because of the Soviet threat.


[ Parent ]
Disgusted, but not surprised (3.16 / 6) (#15)
by RareHeintz on Tue May 29, 2001 at 10:21:35 AM EST

Like the Taliban, the right wing of the Republican party (and I specify the right wing so as not to tar some decent people with a pretty awful brush) are a pack of moral absolutists and ideologues who would like nothing better to impose a theocracy and care little about who gets hurt (or how badly they get hurt) while they implement their fantasies of a morally pure nation.

Is it really a surprise that they get in bed together over some issue like the drug trade?

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Fascinating. (3.83 / 6) (#20)
by Samrobb on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:23:14 PM EST

I'd make the same comment, only I'd be speaking of the left wing of the Democratic party, and how they would like nothing better than to impose a police state to implement their fantasies of a socially correct nation.

My point being that both the extremes are detestable. They have the same goal("We will tell you how to live your life..."), albeit for different reasons.

I do not desire to live in a police state, whether it is one founded on religious principles, or one founded on humanist priciples. Since I personally consider it far more difficult in this day and age to establish a theocracy than a humanist police state, I find myself politically inclined towards the right. Perhaps someday the political balance will swing back the other way, and my children or grandchildren will feel the need to fight oppresive conservatism in order to maintain their freedoms for the next generation.

"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment." Job 32:9
[ Parent ]
Disgusted, but not surprised (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by I Robot on Wed May 30, 2001 at 02:41:31 AM EST

"Scheer's column on Bush's "deal" with the Taliban omitted important facts. The $43 million in humanitarian aid comes largely in the form of food supplies. It is also not a new policy; according to the State Department, the United States sent $114 million in aid to Afghanistan last year. Accusing Bush of entering into a deal with the Taliban by providing desperately needed food to starving people--especially when the Clinton administration did the same thing--is at best disingenuous and at worst an outright deception." latimes.com -- this week

The Bush administration clocks in at $43 million and you call them "moral absolutists and ideologues". The Clinton administration clocked in at $114 million . What does that make them?

If you objected over principle, you should have spoken up long before now.

[ Parent ]

reflection (2.60 / 5) (#17)
by core10k on Tue May 29, 2001 at 02:14:40 PM EST

]What's a few genital mutilations, terrorist acts, or other human rights

Great question. Circumcision, random bombings of political enemies, and shadow governments all have to be accounted for. Justify yourself, America.

i agree (sort of) (2.00 / 1) (#24)
by suntzu on Tue May 29, 2001 at 10:14:35 PM EST

but we're not helping anyone by promoting the bad stuff we do, nor am i suggesting we're sqeaky clean either (there's plenty america needs to change).

[ Parent ]
Taliban dangerous? (2.42 / 7) (#18)
by jungleboogie on Tue May 29, 2001 at 02:31:01 PM EST

What makes the Taliban so dangerous ? You make these vague references to it being so without explaining why, or what it is! As a Muslim extremist group, the Taliban is pissing off women's groups, it runs two thirds of Afghanistan, indirectly protects Osama Bin Laden, etc. You don't explain why this deal with George Bush and the Taliban is dangerous, you don't explain the politics behind it. What kind of bullshit is this?

The Actual Press Release (4.33 / 3) (#19)
by Mzilikazi on Tue May 29, 2001 at 03:21:46 PM EST

From the State Department Website:


There is also a good discussion linked at the bottom of that release:


One important thing to note is that last year we provided them with about $114 million in various forms of humanitarian aid. Though I think sending any money to Afghanistan is a bad idea (because we don't have any representatives there to see how it is used, and even if it is used for humanitarian purposes it just frees up the government from worrying about that and lets them focus on building up the military and oppressing the citizens), we were sending them money under the "glorious and enlightened" Clinton era.

Also, let the record stand that I am against the war on drugs in principle, and this specifically is a horrible use of taxpayer's money. Even if you buy into the argument for the War on Drugs, how many opiates make their way from Afghanistan to the US, when there are more easily available sources from Thailand and Mexico?

While this is a boneheaded move on the part of the Bush administration, let's not forget that this sort of thing has been going on for a long time in a lot of countries.

Two Wrongs don't make a Right (2.66 / 3) (#22)
by jd on Tue May 29, 2001 at 04:49:53 PM EST

(Although three rights do make a left.)

It is WRONG to finance an oppresive, violent regime that has even destroyed evidence that there -was- a past. The Taliban are straight out of George Orwell's novels.

It is WRONG to support persecution and religious terrorism, regardless of what "intent" there is.

It is WRONG for that regime to then use those tactics in this "co-ordinated" effort. (You don't expect them to go and ask nicely, do you?)

Even if the illegal trade were stopped tomorrow, the suffering that the "cure" created would continue for countless generations. It is for this reason that we have another Golden Rule, ingrained into our culture -- The End NEVER Justifies The Means.

There are millions of much more effective ways to fight the war on drugs. Some of them could be argued as being a little unethical, but none of which need have the kind of devastating long-term impact that this kind of deal =WILL= cause.

Such as? Complaining without an alternative is whining. If you can't figure out a good, solid, possible option that's even fractionally more tennable and acceptable, then maybe you should accept that the politicians have already LOOKED at the alternatives, and this IS the only one that's any good.

Ok, here's an alternative. Detox centers already use assorted mixtures which react with alchohol, making it useless as an intoxicant. They usually also make the person throw up, violently. The patient usually gets the message, fairly quickly. Such mixtures have been used for centuries to detox people with serious, out-of-control behaviours that they no longer have any power to stop.

All you need is =one=, not a hundred, not even ten, just one such mixture for each of the major classes of substances, which has a VERY low probability of allergic response, has NO measurable side-effects, has NO impact on a person who isn't taking any illicit substance, has NO unwanted reactions to any existing medication (prescribed or off-the-shelf), and has an impact never exceeding "aggravating" on those who are taking the trigger substances.

I'm certain that medical science is well aware of dozens of such mixtures, for every major illegal substance known to man, that meet every requirement (and more besides), and would be cheap to mass-produce.

You'd never even need to deploy such a remedy. The mere fact of it's existance, and the potential of it's use, would virtually wipe the market out. Especially if the recipe were made public, rather than a commercial secret. A market that requires secrecy to thrive cannot exist under conditions that preclude secrecy from the word go.

Don't give money to anyone (2.66 / 3) (#23)
by weirdling on Tue May 29, 2001 at 07:02:16 PM EST

I really don't like the idea of handing out money, and the war on drugs is as supercillious a reason as there is, as it's paying someone not to sell you something, but the political leanings of the country are not a good reason to not interact with them.
Someone posted down somewhere that this was ironic in that the freest nation on earth was doing this. I would postulate that is not the case. The freest nation on earth should not care what others do in their own nations, and the US all too often meddles in other countries as it sees fit, thus restricting their freedom.
Freedom cuts both ways. If the Taliban make exquisite rugs, let's purchase them, but please, don't pay them not to sell us drugs.
If the Taliban harbor groups known to terrorize US citizens, let's embargo them. But let's not sanction them for their religion or way of life or the way the treat their own citizens, because that is none of our business.
If we really are the freest country on the face of the earth, we wouldn't care at all what practices the Taliban engaged in *unless they threatened us*. Anything else is our pushing our theories of government on them and is a *restriction* of their freedom.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
Rebuttal from a fierce Bush critic, Jesse Berney (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by Paul Crowley on Wed May 30, 2001 at 05:30:03 AM EST

I was pretty outraged by this when I saw it, but I noticed the letter in the LA times from someone describing themselves as a critic of Bush who said the anger was misplaced. I checked out his website, and no-one could accuse the guy of being a Bush sympathiser. Check out his rebuttal of this story, and the rest of his website for a picture of where he's coming from, including The George W Bush Scorecard of Evil for his coverage of some bad stuff Bush really did do.
Paul Crowley aka ciphergoth. Crypto and sex politics. Diary.
Out of curiousity... (none / 0) (#28)
by darthaggie on Wed May 30, 2001 at 10:52:22 AM EST

...when are you going to post a story denouncing foreign aid to Israel? or perhaps Russia?

I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.
wouldn't be opposed (none / 0) (#29)
by suntzu on Thu May 31, 2001 at 01:24:28 AM EST

i'd post that if i came across a good story on it. i'm in general not a big fan of supporting this sort of thing, but the Taliban, i think we can all admit, is a lot farther over the line than say Israel or even Russia.

[ Parent ]
Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban | 30 comments (22 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
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