Afghanistan is very confusing. Here's a quick guide to help keep track of all the players in the crusade against terrorism.
The Taliban - VERY BAD Afghans. These dour 11th-century rustics wear turbans, don't shave and cover up their womenfolk. They have defied the U.S. by refusing to hand over guest Osama bin Laden, a national hero of the war against the Soviets. Nations that defy Uncle Sam get carpet bombed.
These wicked Talibs run a state based on Islamic law, an outrage in our modern age - except, of course, in the case of Israel, whose people say they were given their state by God, and that's GOOD, except for troublemaking local inhabitants, called Palestinians, who are terrorists and BAD. U.S. President George Bush says he draws instruction from the Bible, and this is GOOD, but when the Taliban's Mullah Omar follows the Koran, that's EVIL.
The Northern Alliance - GOOD Afghans, even though they run the opium trade and are led by war criminals. They make nice parades and vow to crush the Taliban - provided the U.S. does all the fighting. Their arms come from Russia, their money from the CIA. You can easily spot them because they wear baggy Iranian uniforms and caps, not turbans. They cover up their women, just like those insensitive Taliban brutes.
Pakistan - on Sept. 10 it was a borderline terrorist state run by a BAD military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who backed the Taliban and had lots of EVIL Islamic friends. By Sept. 15, however, Pakistan had become a heroic ally in the crusade against terrorism. Pakistan shamelessly ditched its old ally, the Taliban, and handed over the country for use by the U.S. military. Musharraf, now GOOD, is hailed in the West for courage and vision, though 88% of his voiceless people heartily disagree. Before getting somewhat elected, President Bush couldn't even name Pakistan's leader when asked by a reporter. Now, Bush and Musharraf are new best friends.
The USA - GOOD, minding-its-own-business, totally innocent victim of evil Islamic-Nazi forces, according to the well-read Bush, a former business partner of the bin Laden family. Just because the U.S. has gone to war against Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan is no reason to believe it has anything against Muslims. Some of America's best friends - like the shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, and the enlightened royal families of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the Gulf - have been Muslims.
And just because the Israelis use U.S.-made tanks and helicopters to crush the Palestinian uprising and assassinate its leaders - a GOOD act of counter-terrorism - that's no reason for anyone to get mad at the United States. Washington has even thoughtfully got the media to censor itself so Americans won't be upset by TV footage of dead Afghani children.
Russia - the big winner in this unfolding mess. Clever leader Vlad Putin hornswoggles Bush into backing Russia's barbaric repression of Chechens as "anti-terrorism." American cash flows to the Kremlin. The Russkis are pressing the U.S. to crush the Taliban, saving them the nasty, expensive job. Ditto for Israel, trying hard to get U.S. crusaders to B-52 Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iran.
Saudi Arabia - main financier of extremist Islamic groups - provided they stay far away from the oil kingdom. Backed the Taliban and extremist Wahhabis in Afghanistan in a covert war against hated foe Iran. U.S. troops based in Saudi Arabia prevent its people from overthrowing their beloved royal family. The Saudis - a.k.a. "our Arabs" - used to be GOOD, but now, because of their reluctance to help kill large numbers of fellow Muslims, they are being rebranded by the U.S. media as BAD.
Iran - VERY BAD ultra-terrorists until Sept. 11. Iran has been stirring the Afghan pot for 20 years. Tehran's mullahs hate the Taliban's mullahs, and Pakistan. Being much cleverer than Arabs, whom Iranians also hate, Iran's slippery mullahs are playing footsie with the U.S., and jointly backed the GOOD Northern Alliance against the BAD Taliban. Previous U.S. claims Iran was a "rogue state," and guilty of the bombing of U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, have been quietly dropped. Iran is now PRETTY GOOD.
Terrorists - Last week, Tamil "terrorists" staged bloody suicide attacks in Sri Lanka; Basque "terrorists" murdered a Spanish judge and exploded a powerful car bomb in Madrid; the IRA detonated a car bomb in Britain. Not a peep came from Washington. Terrorism, in the American definition, boils down to acts of violence only against American interests.
Osama bin Laden - ULTRA BAD and still alive and frothing after a month of being a bull's eye for America's vast military might. Calls Muslims to launch a jihad against the West, when what Muslims really need is a jihad against their own rotten societies that make them a helpless prey to western political and economic exploitation. Brother Osama is increasingly seen in the Third World as a saintly figure, thanks to his demonization by the U.S. media. Many Osama wannabes are waiting in the wings.
U.S. strategy - Carpet bomb 'em back to the 4th century, waste bin Laden, and get the hell out before the BAD GUYS in turbans win.