"The Real War on Terrorism"

By Mark Scheffler

By Letters to the Editor
Published April 25, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

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I was surprised by what Pelton had to say about the real enemies of the U.S. When Pelton is able to know that the people who were killed by our bombing in Afghanistan are Pakistanis, how is it possible that well-known journals like the New York Times or the Washington Post or reputable TV channels like CNN or BBC has not reported on such shocking news? Why have they not uncovered what will have a devastating impact on U.S. foreign policy? If Pelton is telling the truth, then the U.S. must be waging terrorism wars against different countries. Or at least the U.S. should not refer to countries like Pakistan as a dependable ally.

Everyone knew that it was General Musharraf who had supported the Taliban in the past, it was he who supported militant training schools called Madrassas, it was he who encouraged al-Qaida. But it was reported that he is a changed man now after Sept. 11. Is this the truth? Or is he still secretly harboring Taliban and even Osama bin Laden. It would have been useful if Pelton could shed light on these issues.

In any case, this interview has been very useful to me to decide on who our real enemies are to fight against the terrorism.

-- Bhamy Shenoy

Robert Young Pelton has some interesting and often quite accurate things to say about al-Qaida and the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

But this comment of his struck me as odd: "But instead of just always knowing that [al-Qaida] was a small Mickey Mouse outfit, now they made it into this huge global conspiracy, which it isn't."

Perhaps we have different assumptions about the differences between a "Mickey Mouse outfit" vs. "a huge global conspiracy," but I'd say any group that can run tens of thousands of recruits from all over the world through rather rigorous military and terror training at camps they have built in Afghanistan is anything but "Mickey Mouse."

And that's aside from being able to pull off four simultaneous airline hijackings, the murder of 3,000 people and the radical reordering of the American psyche -- and all in just one day!

But other than that, Pelton's views make for, well, interesting reading.

-- David Kline

Thanks for publishing what Robert Young Pelton had to say. It is this honesty that will save the world from the menace of terrorism and will truly pay the respects to the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11 (and their loved ones who are in mourning). I hope the rest of the media follow suit.

Billions of dollars are being doled out to totalitarian regimes such as Pakistan who caused all the problems in the first place, with their support for terror networks around the world. In addition, these perpetrators of terror are being touted as front-line allies! I agree with Robert that we should aggressively dismantle the Saudi, Pakistan, Egypt nexus -- that is the true axis of evil. In addition these societies should be reformed to democracies.

It is time we become introspective and choose our true friends, with shared values and ideologies; otherwise the war on terrorism will be far from complete!

-- P.S. Swaminathan

Thanks for the refreshing and frank article by Robert Pelton.

What a clear and profound, yet simple question: "Hey, wait a second. We're supporting a military dictator who took power in a coup, who's one of the main sponsors of terrorism, who paid for the camps over there, who's educating and entertaining and training thousands of militants to go fight inside Afghanistan against us. It's like, whoa, wait a second, why is he our best friend?"

I wonder why the powers that be are not asking themselves these questions and answering them.

-- B. N. Sethna

I preface this by saying I don't believe the official reasons for the U.S. fighting in Afghanistan, so this is not a criticism of Robert Pelton based on any government line. However, if, as Pelton asserts, the U.S. is fighting the wrong people, I find his seeming acceptance (and even implicit enjoyment) of the fighting in Afghanistan curiously inconsistent with that assertion. That is, either we're in Afghanistan for the right reasons or we're there for the wrong reasons, but we can't be there for both. It is, after all, public knowledge (if the public stops to think about it) that neither Afghans nor the Taliban flew those jets into the WTC. If the U.S. is fighting the wrong people, but is nonetheless responsible for killing "thousands and thousands" in Afghanistan, doesn't this deserve some attempt at judging whether it's good or bad? Either Pelton's lust for adventure is getting in the way of his sense of justice, or his bluster about being in the know because he's cozy with the warrior on the ground is just that -- bluster. This doesn't very well serve those of us who read articles such as Scheffler's in search of facts to help us make sense of events. Perhaps Pelton would sidestep this criticism by saying he's only a writer, not a journalist, but then why is what he writes or says news, and why should I read or care what he has to say? My government is killing people on the other side of the world, for reasons that -- however forcefully and self-righteously stated -- are not necessarily agreed upon by all. That's serious business with possible serious consequences. It's not just some tough-guy "adventure."

-- Kerry Canfield

Great job! Finally someone who has really been there and is willing to communicate in simple terms what has happened. Pelton is a credible and valuable resource to us all. I salute Salon for running this story. My personal opinion is that Salon should do a more in-depth series with Pelton on Afghanistan. I would relish the opportunity to learn more about what is going on from Pelton's perspective.

One of America's biggest struggles is in gaining relevant information about our own government's actions internationally. The Times and CNN do not go where Pelton went nor speak to whom Pelton spoke to. More often than not the "news" does not really tell you what actually happened. It usually takes several years before we find out the extent of our involvement and the actions that took place in "our name."

So often we are navel-gazing at the NFL draft then finding out why so much of the world considers us "arrogant and uninformed." And when we do want to know what is going on in the world our own media leaves us uninformed.

-- Stephen Kotev

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