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Another War Bush Can't Win: The Fifth Afghan War
By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
Washington's war in Afghanistan is going badly, and the Taliban, or, rather, the insurgents who are Taliban leftovers and all the new insurgents who have now been labeled as Taliban, have increased their attacks on US troops and everyone they suspect of supporting the US occupation.
This is a little surprising, in a way, because you might think there would be a bit of lingering gratitude to George Bush on the part of the Taliban. Certainly, he paid a lot of money to the vicious warlords in northern Afghanistan to crush them in 2001. But just before he did that he paid the Taliban a lot of money, too.
In May 2001 the Bush administration gave the Taliban government of Afghanistan the sum of 43 million dollars. Small change, of course, to a government that considers that amount to be a reasonable annual take for the CEO of any Bush-supporting company, but it is a tidy bit of cash to a bunch of religious fanatics whose idea of adding to world culture was destroying ancient and awe-inspiring rock statues.
Two of the enormous artifacts the Taliban reduced to rubble were over 1500 years old, and they blithely blew them up in March 2001. And in May they were given 43 million green ones by Washington. In effect the Bush administration said 'Well done, Taliban : you are being told by most of the world, and even by fellow Muslims, that your destruction of history is despicable, but never mind, you bunch of demented zealots, here's some US pocket fluff to help you buy some more dynamite'.
And it is astounding that at the time of Bush's charitable handout it was known by Washington (see the 9/11 Commission Report) that al Qaeda's leaders, the people who had already given the world the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor and many other maniacal but well-planned atrocities that had killed scores of Americans, were being given sanctuary by the brutal, ignorant and barely-literate Taliban.
This instance of Bush's bizarre generosity to the Taliban has been sucked into the black hole of non-memory because everyone except Robert Scheer of the LA Times just put it out of their minds. But it is a fact -- stand by for a not very funny laugh -- that the 43 million dollars were handed over because Washington considered the Taliban to be successful in reducing drug production.