Thursday, 20 November 2008


Robert Fisk has been my favorite journalist since the first time I read him. Sorry, my friend Bartholomeus Grill, you must be great as well, at least considering all the prizes you have won, but you know how few opportunities I had to read your articles, mainly written for the German speaking audience (pity!).

So, Robert Fisk returned to Afghanistan after a 5-year absence. One must read him. He says in the end of the article:

"Barack Obama wants to send 7,000 more American troops to this disaster zone. Does he have the slightest idea what is going on in Afghanistan? For if he did, he would send 7,000 doctors."

Afghanistan has come to haunt me in the last 2 years, through different books, articles, talks (the one other place that did it to me: Rwanda). It IS an amazing place. One of the books I'd suggest is Christina Lamb's (herself a good journalist) "The sewing circle of Herat".

I remember the day of the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. We used to live here in Tanzania, before we moved to South Africa. That day, I had breakfast with my friend Nazrin, a person who knows much about people's suffering. I remember we wondered how could Bush's American government be so quick in bombing a country to revenge the attack to the towers in New York. The discourse was that bin-Laden was the culprit of the attack in NY and he was hiding in Afghanistan.

Talking about him, Mr bin-Laden. I had heard about him some months before the 09/11 when "coincidentally" he was put on Time Magazine's cover, as one of the biggest world dangers. In Afghanistan, the Taliban was becoming out of control, more and more criticism to US relations with a government that ran public executions on a daily basis was mounting up. Taliban's activities close to the border of Tajikistan was making Russia nervous. A coalition of the willing was already set-up when the towers in NY went down. It seems that an attack was already ready to be launched in October that year. I found a quote of Tony Blair's saying that:

"To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11." July 17, 2002

And now, I see the news on the Independent: girls being punished more regularly for going to school in Kandahar, everywhere. The Taliban is back.

As my friend Álvaro says, Karzai, the mayor of Kabul, has not enough power - even to call a meeting with the Taliban's leaders. The latter call the shots.

Robert Fisk recommends 7,000 doctors instead of 7,000 troops. Will Mr president elect Obama listen?

For more voices on sending more care and less violence, you must read "Three Cups of Tea", by Greg Mortenson.