October 9th, 2001

fashionable

improvisational cooking

Every now and then, I get the need for a bit of cooking, where I make something without any real plan whatsoever. That's how I came up with my latest creation...

Put enough water to make rice on the stove. Add in some olive oil... some hot chilli sauce... I use Sriracha... add bouillon... veggie chicken, chicken, or something like a seafood broth would work very well... put in the rice, in about a 2/3 ratio of rice to the liquid. Do everything to taste... add a bit of salt or whatevah.

Let it simmer until the extra liquid starts to diminish. Throw in some kinda protein... veggie, chicken, shrimp, mussels, scallops, black beans, whatevah. Stir until extra liquid is largely diminished. The end result is hot and spicy... somewhat Caribbean, somewhat like paella. Very yummy. Feel free top it off with something appropriate... maybe a little cheese and cilantro. Or not... just be sure to have a bit of wine when you're cooking... and if it's a tasty wine, you can always add a smidgen of that too. hehe. No better way to cook...
fashionable

Bombing blind... and other shrapnel.

9 PM last night in Kabul, a building for a UN-funded mine-clearing organizations, the Afghan Technical OCnsultancy (ATC), was hit by a U.S. missile, killing four security guards and injuring a fifth as they slept.

"This is a civilian area and they have killed four of the guards of this building," said Dr Shah Wali - an official for the group which runs de mining in one the world's most heavily mined countries.

The ATC is the main organization in Afghanistan responsible for removing landmines and unexploded ordinance -- dangerous reminders of years of war.

An international team of researchers supported by UNICEF and other organizations studied the social costs of landmines in Afghanistan in 1995. Their results?

- One household in 20 reported a land mine victim, a third of these dying in the blast. In Afghanistan, one adult male in every ten had been involved in a mine episode.
- Without mines, agricultural production could increase by 88-200% in Afghanistan.
- Households with a land mine victim were 40% more likely to have difficulty providing food for the family.

In November 1996, Agence France Presse reported that up to one person an hour is killed by landmines and shells in battered Kabul. Still more worrying is that children are the main victims of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) -- shells, rockets, bombs and bullets that have been fired but not yet detonated -- which cause horrifying injuries if they fail to kill, the US-based aid agency Save the Children added here. According to one survey, about 30% of mine victims in Afghanistan are children, most of whom die due to lack of medical facilities.

I wonder how many of the mines and how much of the unexploded ordinance is from the US? Seems hard to believe that we let these people fight our war against the Soviets for us, then let them suffer for nearly twenty years, as they tried to rebuild their country in the middle of a war zone... a minefield. These Afghanis were our Freedom Fighters, armed with our Patriots... and every other weapon we could give them.

With an average life expectancy of about 40 years and a staggering mortality rate of nearly 26 per cent for children under five years of age, Afghanistan ranks among the most destitute, war-weary countries in the world, according to figures released yesterday by the United Nations Development Programme.

70 per cent of the Afghan population was estimated to be under-nourished, and only 13 per cent have access to improved water sources.

And we knocked out all the power in Kabul, too...

The UN are unable to supply the Afghanis with emergency food and supplies, and report a huge humanitarian disaster looming. They will need food and supplies for over 8.5 million people, over a third of the country.

So far, Washington has fired 55 cruise missiles at Taliban targets -- at about $1 million apiece, the cost of the missiles approaches the Taliban's $90 million budget for last year. Maybe, under the circumstances, we would be better off bombing them with dollar bills instead.
fashionable

The Trap

I figured that some of you might be interested in this interview to see just how calculatedly the US government used the Afghanis to destabilize the Soviets. The US government knew the risks of arming and training potential terrorists, but those risks were overlooked because of the potential rewards.

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Interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski
Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of The pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

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After the Soviet-Afghani war, the countryside was riddled with mines and run by a corrupt government -- one that enacted the first harsh "Islamic" policies against women in Afghanistan that the Taleban have since escalated... one that routinely violated human rights, according to Amnesty International... one that allowed corrupt warlords to murder, rape, sell drugs, and effectively kill all trade, throwing the country into starvation. No wonder that when the Taleban came along, they were seen as reformers. Even a spokesman for the US government indicated that the fall of Kabul to the Taleban was a "positive" development at the time.

As far as providing a stable, less corrupt government, the Taleban are clearly superior to the prior Afghani government. The opium trade has actually been decreasing under their watch. However, they are also more fundamentalist, meaning that they apply the strictest version of Islam on their people, especially women. This, of course, has been the cause of many human rights violations.

It is worth noting that the Northern Alliance are the remaining supporters of the old, corrupt Afghani government. They lack popular support amongst the majority of the Afghani people, but the US seems interested in bringing back the old King of Afghanistan to bolster support, effectively forming a coalition government. How this will manifest itself in who actually runs the country, however, remains in question. In other words, if the US isn't careful, it will replace one evil with another... again.