Killing the Buddha in Pakistan’s Swat Valley

The Bad Karma of Imperialism

The Swat District in Pakistan’s Northwestern Frontier Province, dominated by the Swat Valley, watered by the River Swat, surrounded by snow-capped mountains rising as high as 20,000 feet, has been compared to Switzerland in its breathtaking beauty. Only 684 square miles in area (two-thirds the size of Rhode Island), with a population of 1.5 million, it has little commercial agriculture or industry but is rich in history as well as natural scenery. Until recently, it has been a mecca for the archeologist and for the tourist. Both are drawn largely by the presence of Buddhist artifacts, including great Buddhas carved into the mountainside, similar to those crafted 1500 years ago in Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

Conquered by Alexander the Greek and his Macedonians in the 320s BCE, this region became part of the Mauryan Empire. Emperor Ashoka in the mid-third century BCE promoted the spread of Buddhism here, and in the second century BCE the local Greek King Menander may have been a convert. (The Questions of Menander—supposedly a conversation between the king and a Buddhist monk—is unique among ancient Buddhist texts in its dialogue form, characteristic of Greek philosophical texts, and may have actually been composed originally in Greek.) Later the Kushan Empire centering on the Gandhara region encouraged the emergence of an Indo-Greek Buddhist style of sculpture. The Swat Valley was at the cutting edge of one of the most extraordinary syntheses in art history: Buddhist content and classical realistic western sculpture. The Buddha, earlier represented symbolically (as a footprint), came to be depicted as a Greek deity or king, standing or seated in meditation.

This, for example, is the 23-foot high Buddha of Jenanabad, one of the finest examples of Gandharan art, as it appeared until recently.

Buddha of Jenanabad

Here’s how it has looked since October 8:

Buddha of Jenanabad on 8 October 2007

Remember how the Taliban destroyed the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, in March 2001? Well, this Buddha in Swat was attacked twice last September by forces led by a local cleric named Maulana Fazlullah, who heads the “Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law,” aligned with the Taliban. On October 8, the Pakistani Talibs succeeded in obliterating its face with dynamite. This was not widely reported in the U.S. press, perhaps because it would have so dramatically demonstrated how Taliban influence far from waning has spread outside Afghanistan, and is even leading some Pakistanis to attack their national treasures.

The Buddhist law of karma states that willed actions have inevitable consequences. Evil actions produce more evil. There is a strange karma at work nowadays, making everything worse everywhere in Southwest Asia. George Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2001, to capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive,” crush al-Qaeda and topple the Taliban regime. He in fact failed to capture bin Laden, and U.S. intelligence reports conclude that al-Qaeda is stronger now than in 2001. Meanwhile, the Taliban relying on new recruits controls large swathes of Afghanistan, kills “Coalition” soldiers in record numbers (218 so far this year, including 111 Americans, compared with 191 including 98 Americans in 2006), and expands operations in Pakistan. The Taliban is rooted in the Pashtun tribes who straddle Afghanistan and Pakistan and have little use for the border. They are linked by a common language (Pashto) and culture centering around the Pashtunwali or traditional code of conduct (preceding even the arrival of Islam, which is to say dating at least to the Buddhist period) which more than any other value emphasizes hospitality to visitors (melmastia).

Perhaps the Bush administration didn’t consider this when it drove al-Qaeda and the Taliban across the border during the Battle of Tora Bora in December 2001, or when in March 2002 Bush told a White House press conference in March 2002, “I truly am not that concerned about” bin Laden. Since March of this year administration officials have been voicing mounting alarm over Taliban and al-Qaeda gains in the border area, even speaking ominously about possible U.S. attacks on Pakistani soil. These statements have produced immediate denunciations from the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, partly no doubt to assure the public that the unpopular regime opposes an U.S. attack, and partly to dissuade Washington from attacks that would exacerbate the current anti-American sentiment in the country. This has risen precipitously in recent years.

The Pashtuns of the Northwestern Frontier provinces, including those of Swat, have plainly extended hospitality and provided sanctuary to many on the U.S. wanted list, probably including Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden. As the Taliban resurges in Afghanistan, it abets its progress, placing Pakistan’s dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a terrible bind. He has deployed troops unfamiliar with the region to attack local Taliban supporters, at Washington’s insistence, but they have fared poorly and his efforts have only produced more local support for the Islamists and more opposition to his government. According to the New York Times, the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command plans to” train and equip the Pakistani Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that has about 85,000 members coming mostly from border tribes” and to recruit Pakistani tribal leaders to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But how will they do this in a region where bin Laden is even more highly admired than in Pakistan as a whole, where his approval rating as of September was 46 percent, compared with 38 percent for Musharraf and 9 percent for Bush?

Citing the growing security threat, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and suspended the Pakistani constitution November 3, prompting an all-around political crisis in a nuclear-armed close ally of the U.S. He had apparently planned to do this in August but was dissuaded by Washington. Now he is taking a big risk. He may fall, and the Islamist iconoclasts or their backers in the Pakistani military could move into a power vacuum, as Islamists gained control over Iran following the overthrow of the hated Shah. Or power might pass to Benazir Bhutto who would, like Musharraf, need to steer a careful course between cooperating with the U.S. in its “war on terror,” and posing as a nationalist and defender of moderate Islam. In the face of near-universal hatred for the Bush administration in Pakistan, and suspicions that its war is in fact against Islam in general, the prospect for a Taliban seizure of power in parts of Pakistan is very real. The Bush administration, unable to control the events it has triggered, is in a state of consternation.

How did this happen? What are the causes and effects behind the Talibanization of the frontier? One can either trace the bad karma forwards or backwards. If we do the former, we might start with the first big U.S. intervention into Southwest Asian history: the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. (Having nationalized the country’s oil industry, he was falsely declared a “Communist” by U.S. politicians and media.) But let’s proceed backwards towards that point.

The al-Qaeda and Taliban presence in Pakistan stem from the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan stemmed from the al-Qaeda 9-11 attacks on the U.S.

The al-Qaeda 9-11 attacks stemmed from the establishment of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia (more than any other cause).

The establishment of U.S. bases in Saudi Arabia, which were never accepted by the Saudi people but seen as a travesty in the land of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, stemmed from the U.S. decision to go to war with Iraq in 1990.

The first President Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq and destroy its military stemmed from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

That invasion of Kuwait stemmed mainly from quarrels between Iraq and Kuwait concerning Iraq’s debt to the latter.

Iraq’s debt to Kuwait stemmed from its heavy borrowing from its neighbor during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, and Kuwait’s refusal (backed by the U.S.) to forgive the debt after the war.

That war stemmed from Saddam’s supposition that Iran was weak, and that Iraq could adjust the border between the two countries by military force.

Saddam’s optimism stemmed in part from his two meetings during the war with Donald Rumsfeld, who offered and provided him with U.S. military assistance.

U.S. desire to assist Saddam stemmed from the policy objective of overthrowing the Iranian government.

This objective stemmed from the overthrow of the pro-U.S. Shah in 1979 and the emergence of an anti-U.S. Islamist regime.

The acquisition of power by the Islamist regime stemmed from the hatred of the Shah, who had been overthrown in 1979 in the most genuine, mass-based revolutionary upheaval in the history of the Muslim world.

The Shah’s return to the throne 26 years earlier stemmed from a U.S. imperialist calculus that he would be the best man to look after U.S. interests in the Gulf region.

This is of course a simplified backwards-looking chronology. It leaves out a lot, including the deep background fact that the whole map of the Middle East was drawn up by British and French colonialists after World War I. (This is why Kuwait is separate from Iraq, why Kurdistan never became a state, why Lebanon’s Christians wield disproportionate political power, etc.) Some might of course blame me for laying out a “blame America first” perspective covering the period from the CIA coup in Iran, but what government deserves more blame for the current crises from Lebanon to Pakistan? I might add that the very existence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban stem from the U.S. effort throughout the 1980s into the 90s to mobilize Islamists for a jihad against the Soviets and their allies in Afghanistan. The conscious deployment of jihadis versus secularist “communists” during the late Cold War era led directly to the emergence of such groups. The Afghan resistance lionized by Reagan was not by and large progressive in any sense; it opposed the education of girls, the establishment of clinics, land reform, curbs on clerics’ powers, lifting of Islamic dress regulations. It was filled with religious fanatics as opposed to American as Soviet meddling in their affairs. After the Soviets were driven from Afghanistan, many wound up attacking the U.S. This is what the CIA calls “blowback.” It’s the bad karma of imperialism.

But back to the Swat Valley and its Buddhist heritage. Mullah Fazlulah, whose “Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law” dates back to the early 1990s, reportedly now has some 4,500 militants under his influence. He inveighs against UNESCO-administered polio inoculations, CD shops, and girls’ schools, and apparently spearheads the effort to erase Swat’s non-Muslim past. Anyone advocating U.S. strikes against Pakistan (a number of neocons have done so over the last nine months) will mention all these things in order to emphasize the enemy’s caveman otherness. But we should ask such people: Why are the Mullah Fazlulahs on a roll right now? What is the cause, what is the effect?

Why do these religious fanatics want to target priceless, irreplaceable Buddhist art? Why have some Muslims in this region, who have lived contentedly in the shadow of these images for many centuries, only within recent years started blowing them up? (The last effort to destroy them was in the seventeenth century, during the reign of the uncommonly intolerant Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb.) According to Peshawar Museum archeologist Zainul Wahab, “the militants say [the statues] are ‘symbols of evil.’” The Swat Islamists are aware that the Qur’an forbids the depiction of the human or animal forms in religious art (although some “miniature paintings” showing these in books has been allowed, notably in Shiite Persia) as a safeguard against idolatry. (See Qur’an 6:74, 14:35, 22:30, etc.) But why these actions, now?

The Bamiyan episode may hold some clues. In July 1999, Mullah Omar actually ordered that the Buddhas be preserved. They were not being used as objects of worship (there being no Buddhists in Afghanistan in centuries). Moreover, “The government considers the Bamyan statues as an example of a potential major source of income for Afghanistan from international visitors. The Taliban states that Bamyan shall not be destroyed but protected.” But in March 2001 a new decree called for the destruction of all such images. Mullah Omar explained to a Pakistani journalist in April 2004, “I did not want to destroy the Bamiyan Buddha. In fact, some foreigners came to me and said they would like to conduct the repair work of the Bamiyan Buddha that had been slightly damaged due to rains. This shocked me. I thought, these callous people have no regard for thousands of living human beings — the Afghans who are dying of hunger, but they are so concerned about non-living objects like the Buddha. This was extremely deplorable. That is why I ordered its destruction. Had they come for humanitarian work, I would have never ordered the Buddhas’ destruction.”

It sounds entirely illogical. The westerners, Omar reasons, were more concerned with saving a statue than with saving people in a country at war for sixteen years, vying with Ethiopia as the world’s most impoverished state—and so the Bamiyan Buddhas must be destroyed. Totally irrational. But it indicates a connection between extreme Islamist actions and global power structures. Omar would not agree with this interpretation of recent history, but the fact is the Soviet Union, taken by surprise by the leftist coup in 1978 in Afghanistan but determined thereafter to support a secular, progressive modern regime, sent in troops in 1979 to protect that regime from backward Islamists like Omar. And the U.S. threw its weight enthusiastically behind the jihadis, half the CIA money flowing to the notorious warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar now targeted for assassination. In 1993 the Northern Alliance warlords (principally Tajiks and Uzbeks) captured the capital, castrated and hung the last secular ruler who had taken refuge at the UN compound, proclaimed victory over anti-Islamic forces and set about constructing their new order. They fell into infighting among themselves and Hekmatyar, a Pashtun at one point named Prime Minister, laid siege to Kabul. The chaos ended in 1996 when the Taliban, supported by Pakistani military intelligence, took the capital and imposed the draconian regime deposed in the U.S. attack five years later.

In the interim—between 1993 and 2001—the U.S. basically ignored Afghanistan. Washington had relished the opportunity to (as President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinsky put it) “bleed the Soviets, the way they bled us in Vietnam.” But once the Soviets were gone, the U.S. lost interest. It recognized the new Northern Alliance-dominated government, but provided little aid. Its principal interests in Afghanistan were “drugs and thugs”—discouragement of opium production, and containment of mujahadeen who having ousted the Soviets were now venting hostility towards their former infidel allies. After the Taliban took power in 1996, the oil firm UNOCAL through its representative Zalmay Khalilzad hosted Taliban officials in the U.S. to discuss pipeline construction. Colin Powell negotiated an aid package specifically for opium eradication. But while U.S. allies Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Oman recognized the Taliban and sent some aid, the U.S. and the west in general did little to alleviate hunger in Afghanistan. Hence, perhaps, the mullah’s indignation.

He no doubt thinks the west doesn’t have its priorities right. But is his thinking about art so distant from that of the architects of the Iraq War, who failed to protect the Baghdad Museum from looters, calling the looting “creative chaos”? Or the U.S. military whose vehicles have crushed artifacts in Babylon dating back to the time of King Nebuchadnezzar II? Or the U.S. troops who used the ninth-century Malwiya Minaret in Samarra as a lookout and sniper post, drawing a bomb attack that damaged its top tier? I don’t sense that preservation of culture looms large among the priorities of the Bush administration; it’s concerned with conquest, not art and religion. The Pakistani state meanwhile ostensibly seeks to preserve the Buddhist images of Swat. But as a police official at the police station closest to the Buddha of Jenanabad put it, “Due to the precarious law and order situation in the area we are confined to the police station and could not go to the place.” The state is spread thin and its top priority is to protect itself.

So other Buddhist sites in Swat, including the Butkara stupa and Takht-i-Bahi Buddhist monastery ruins, remain under threat, at the mercy not only of religious fanaticism but the absence of a state apparatus preoccupied elsewhere. Both of these problems are aggravated by the U.S. invasion of the region. The current wave of Islamist violence was unleashed by U.S. imperialism, itself born out of capitalist competition between states dating way back to the nineteenth century. That’s when the major western powers, having carved up China into concessions and colonized the Pacific, divided Africa and Southeast Asia. Russia and Britain vied for control of Afghanistan, with Britain ultimately winning control over its foreign affairs. But the British imperialists were unable to obtain colonial control of Afghanistan despite two bloody wars for that purpose (1839-42 and 1878-80). In May 1919 the Afghan khan Amanullah attacked British forces, who responded with the first aerial bombardment (on Kabul) in Afghanistan’s history. Fighting ended inconclusively with an agreement in which Britain acknowledged Afghanistan’s self-determination in its foreign relations. (That was just after revolutionary Russia had established relations with the country.)

In 1857, Friedrich Engels described the First Anglo-Afghan War as an “attempt of the British to set up a prince of their own making in Afghanistan” that was doomed due to the Afghans’ “indomitable hatred of rule, and their love of independence.” This I submit is an issue larger than any kind of religiosity. People don’t like being invaded. They don’t like it when their close kin across an artificial border created by imperialist mapmakers are invaded. The Pashtuns of the Swat Valley are angered by the toppling of the Taliban, and no doubt by U.S. support for Musharraf and by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And if they are like Muslims throughout the Middle East, they turn to Islamic extremism in part due to frustration with poverty and lack of economic opportunity. These are the results of imperialist globalization; the Swat Valley is rich in minerals and has significant agricultural potential but the state has not promoted all-round development, relying instead on tourism. Outrage at military strikes, the growing civilian death toll in Afghanistan, and the lack of jobs and income in Swat combines with religious passion to attract young men into pro-Taliban groups. Now these groups are defying neocon plans for the region, rebelling against the Pakistani state, and attacking Buddhist images. But these Pashtun assaults are only the proximate cause of the Jenanabad Buddha’s defacement. The deeper karmic causes lie, in time and space, far outside the beautiful Swat Valley.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu. Read other articles by Gary.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Shaheen Buneri said on November 21st, 2007 at 10:12am #

    This is an interesting and informative article on raising Talibanization in Swat valley of North West Pakistan. But I have strong reservations about some of the points raised by Gary Leupp.

    First why western writers and journalists equate all of the Pashtuns with Taliban? Taliban is not our product, Pashtun culture is liberal in its contents and practices, we as a Pashtuns have liberal values and traditions, and all of us are not Taliban.

    The main question is who produced Taliban? the answer is United States and its allies. When you are not providing education and when you are not investing on human resource development such things will happen. General Parvez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator is the close ally of US and the US has accepted him with all his wrongdoings and anti-people and anti-democracy policies.

    Gary Leupp has also written that Osma bin Laden or Mullah Muhammad Omer may be hiding in swat valley, this is just an assumption. We ourselves dont want even to see the faces of these two CIA agents. We want to live according to our own cultural values of peace, harmony and love for humanity.

    Please try to know crux of the issue, dont generalize things and please please dont say that all of the Pashtuns are Taliban.

  2. Neal said on November 21st, 2007 at 11:05am #

    Professor,

    Either the US ought or ought not intervene. Either the US should stay in or get out. Re-read your article. You want it both ways, depending upon the political point you are making in a particular part of the article.

    Moreover, notwithstanding the evil Shah – and he certainly was oppressive -, he was, by far, the most tolerant ruler in more than a thousand years of Persian history as Iran does not have much of a history of tolerant rule.

    So, yes, it was not our place to overthrow Mossadegh – a man who, by the way, also did not respect democratic rule but, in fact, was in the process of seizing power when the West helped to stir up public discontent that, in fact, was already brewing because he was seizing power. So, it is not as simple as you would have it.

    Now, I have no brief for the Shah. But, I also have no brief for proclaiming what was non-existent in Iran, namely, a real democracy. Mossadegh was just another of demagogue looking to be a strong man.

    Also missing from your note is why there have been no Buddhists in Afghanistan for centuries. The reason is that they were massacred pretty much in their entirety, as in many million of them were killed by invaders claiming to be acting in the name of Islam. So, we have people of one faith that displaced, by a genocidal massacre of historic proportions, people of another faith.

    We certainly do not know what Mullah Omar had in mind. We do know, however, that his later time in rule was dominated by extreme religious prejudice against non-Muslims and he was moving to force non-Muslims to wear special identifying clothing. In that period, he also decided that he would remove a symbol of another religious heritage, which is entirely consistent with people looking to force non-Muslims to wear special clothing to denote their faiths.

    I might also suggest you consider that, notwithstanding the religious fanatics who want to seize power again in Afghanistan, the Afgani people want something a bit different. See http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071018.wafghanpoll1810/BNStory/Afghanistan/home

    According to the article: 51% of Afghans indicate that their country is heading in the right direction; 59% claim, for whatever reason, that President Hamid Karzai represents their interests; 60% of them assert that the foreign presence in place since the fall of the Taliban has been a good thing; 60% of Afghans believe they are better off today than five years ago; 64% of them say that foreign countries are doing a good job in their fight against the Taliban; 65% claim that foreign countries are doing a good job with respect to providing reconstruction assistance; 71% say they have a very or somewhat positive view of the Afghan government; 73% claim that women are better off now than under the Taliban; and, last but not least, 84% of Afghans claim they have some or a lot of confidence in their country’s army.

    That suggests that the US invasion of Afghanistan is not seen as such a bad thing by most Afghans. I thus suggest that your theory is not such a good one after all.

  3. sk said on November 21st, 2007 at 11:11am #

    An expression of concern by Western antiquarians from a nearly 5 year news story:

    On Friday, a declaration signed by a list of distinguished American and European academics highlighted the “grave danger” to the heritage of Iraq and called on all governments to respect the international protocol protecting cultural property in armed conflict…It’s hardly surprising that these concerns are not first priority for politicians or soldiers in the midst of battle but archaeologists and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic believe that once the dust of battle clears, the importance of this irreplaceable heritage in rebuilding Iraq’s identity as a nation and as an economic factor in developing tourism will become clear. The fate of Ur and thousands of other sites will become part of the wider culture war in the Middle East, which it is by no means clear that Britain and the US are winning.

  4. Ekosmo said on November 22nd, 2007 at 1:34pm #

    Professor Leupp’s away — perhaps at a conference discussing “a thousand years of Persian history”, so I guess I’ll have to take his calls…

    Neal writes:

    “the evil Shah…” [who Neal has “no brief for”] “was oppressive ”

    However — Hey Presto — on the other hand, “the evil Shah… was, by far, the most tolerant ruler…”
    says Neal, a confused, if unacknowledged expert on Persian history [so unlike “the Professor who wants it both ways”…]

    but Neal knows a sure-fire slam dunk when he sees one —
    “I also have no brief for proclaiming what was non-existent in Iran, namely, a real democracy.”

    by now we can conclude that Neal is a “real democrat” – with a twinge of moral conscience too — as he goes on to write,
    “it was not our place to overthrow Mossadegh”

    but nevertheless ‘WE’ did “overthrow Mossadegh” Neal – and, in an act of sublime “democratic choice”, Iran got who ‘WE’ — the planet’s ubermenschen — chose…!

    Moreover, Neal tells us how these “real democrats” in “the West helped to stir up public discontent” [er… Neal’s euphemism for ‘regime change’ – 1951 variant]

    So Neal becomes an apologist for the “public discontent” — [aka ‘regime change’] — the “real democrats” did their utmost to “stir up”… presumably because “Mossadegh was just another of demagogue looking to be a strong man.” [sic]

    Yup, that Mossadegh – he was just so, so utterly unlike ‘OUR’ — the Judeo-Christian “West’s” — pantheon of “demagogue[s] looking to be strong men” – viz.
    Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Ben Gurion, Truman, Franco, Battista, Johnson, Meir, Samoza, Nixon, Pinochet, Begin, Reagan, Shamir, Bush [1 and 11], Peres, Sharon, Blair, or similar whores we could mention…

    Finally, “Iran does not have much of a history of tolerant rule…”
    says Neal — [now a fully mutated ‘real’ democrat and a ‘real’ historian of note with his expertise spanning “a thousand years of Persian rule”… again so unlike “the Professor” who “wants it both ways”]

    Here one is left to compare and contrast Neal’s potted history of Persia with the 250-plus years of “tolerant rule” that “a real democracy” meted out domestically to a Cherokee, or a Sioux, or an Apache, or to a black slave, or their offspring —
    or to the geo-politically “regime-changed” governments of Guatemala [1954], Vietnam [1954-76], Chile [1972], Iraq [2003] et al, et al, et al…

    Re-read your post Neal. Depending upon the confused, contradictory political points you make here…you want it both ways…

    PS: I wonder why there have been no Cherokees in Georgia for centuries. The reason is that they were uprooted pretty much in their entirety — as were many millions of Amerindians killed by invaders claiming to be acting in the name of Christianity…!

  5. hp said on November 22nd, 2007 at 2:41pm #

    I wouldn’t trade Neal’s version of history for all the oil wells in Israel.

  6. sk said on November 22nd, 2007 at 3:21pm #

    hp, you only confirm your own moral and intellectual bankruptcy :)

  7. Neal said on November 22nd, 2007 at 5:33pm #

    Ekosmo,

    My points about Mossadegh were that he was no democrat but that it was not our business to overthrow him.

    My point about Iran is that it has a particularly intolerant history, even by the history of that part of the world.

  8. Ekosmo said on November 23rd, 2007 at 1:40pm #

    Oh dear…

    Readers will observe how the normally verbose and long-winded Neal – in his brief and most uncharacteristic 2-sentence riposte [above] — squirms, evades, prevaricates — then finally backs off from witch-hunting “the Professor… ”

    before your next class assignment Neal,
    you and Prof Leupp should perhaps sit down and discuss “intolerant” notions of US-sponsored geo-political lawlessness,
    — or Black and Amerindian “intolerant” holocausts,
    — or the “intolerant” pantheon of Judeo-Christian “demagogues” and “strong men” killer-whores — mass-produced in this “intolerant part of the world”,
    — or whatever other sheer arrogant hypocritical chauvinist drivel you write on these pages Neal …

    no doubt you’ll both benefit from a quiet talk re. exactly who “wants it both ways…”

    you may even be assigned to write a paper Neal — on
    “Why there’s no Cherokees in Georgia” …!

  9. brian said on November 23rd, 2007 at 4:21pm #

    What neal MEANT to write:

    Ekosmo,

    My points about Bush were that he was no democrat but that it was not our business to overthrow him.

    My point about US is that it has a particularly intolerant history, even by the history of that part of the world.

  10. Ekosmo said on November 23rd, 2007 at 8:46pm #

    I’m afraid that Neal in his eagerness to learn more about “real democrats”, or “real demagogues”, or “”a thousand years of Persian history”, has goose-stepped of somewhere to consult his guru…

    — Norman Pod-whore-etz

    who’s currently attending a Judeo-Christian-Armageddonist Thanksgiving ceremony on the White House lawn,
    featuring fainting, hysterical, neo-Nazi torch-light orgies designed to invoke the Triple Corporate Shamens of …

    a. Manifest Destiny,
    b. Free [meaning monopoly] Ennerprize,
    [and as a climactic, Wagnerian finale…]
    c. WORLD WAR THREE …!

    ALL this at OUR expense…
    [if anyone survives long enough to pick up the tab…]

    Neal, I fear, will flunk out of Professor Leuup’s classes,
    and may not be returning to this thread…[?]

  11. Neal said on November 23rd, 2007 at 9:22pm #

    Ekosmo and brian,

    I only write enough to make my points. That, and nothing more.

    The history of the US, whether or not tolerant, does not tell anyone whether Iran has a tolerant history. To be clear: your reply is a form of the logic error called tu quoque. My point was about Iran. That point is not addressed by telling me about the nature of the US. That is simple logic. Try learning some.

  12. Mike McNiven said on November 28th, 2007 at 2:58pm #

    As long as US/UK imperialists create and promote “Islamic Republics” , and as long as US progressives believe/practice double standards, there is no hope for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan!

    If separation of church and state is good for us, let’s ask for it world-wide!

  13. imran said on November 29th, 2007 at 2:45am #

    i am from district dir in nwfp in pakistan . i want to save the picture of budha culture of andandary and etc which is in pakistan for your website so please

  14. Ravi Kumar said on September 10th, 2008 at 10:52pm #

    Ekosmo,

    Do you know during the American Civil War 5 million white men died to liberate 2 million black slaves. Do you know that that the Delawares and Mingos fought along the English and French armies, and naturally made enemies of the white man?

    Look buddy, we all make mistakes, but atleast the Americans realise their mistakes and know how to rectify them.

    WAY TO GO NEAL, ALL RIGHT THINKING PEOPLE ARE WITH YOU.

    Ravi Kumar,
    Chennai City,
    India

  15. Thomas said on September 11th, 2008 at 6:48am #

    1. Show me a ‘true democrat’ and I’ll show you a grave or a jail cell.

    2. Iran is relatively tolerant and democratic compared to the countries around it. They are Indo-European peoples, not so dissimilar to (most of) us.

    3. Mr Kumar,
    (a) There were not 5 million deaths of white men in the civil war. There were about 31 million people total in the USA/CSA at the start of the war, of whom maybe 14 million were White men. Therefore, you just suggested a death rate of 36% of white men of all ages.

    (b) The Civil War was also fought for economic profit. No, I am not referring primarily to the slave owners, though they shared some fault. The military offensive was first launched by the USA, by a Republican Party aligned to a mercantilist-industrial capitalism. The purpose was economic domination over the agricultural territories, not necessarily freedom for Blacks to go slave away at dirty factories without ANY semblance of social security, although the latter was a bi-product and one that caused fear among the Northern white working class both during and after the war.

  16. Ravi Kumar said on September 16th, 2008 at 3:52am #

    To Mr. Thomas

    Sir,

    Are you sure of the figures you are quoting ( 5 million)? If you are correct, then there must have been something wrong with the history I learnt in school here in India.
    But I am still not convinced that ‘commerce’ was the motive of the Americans in the war as you suggest, maybe its because of my own conservative mindset.

    Anyway, I stand corrected if I am wrong.

    But I am still convinced that the world can expect a better deal from the US, UK, and the Aussies rather than any other group of nations when it comes to policing and maintaining law and order across the world.

    Ravi Kumar,
    Chennai City,
    India

  17. Fazal Maula Zahid said on March 2nd, 2009 at 8:31am #

    I support Shaheen Buneri comments on the article under discussion. Actually it is the wearer who better know where the shoe punches. Why western media represent Pashtuns as Taliban? Taliban is not ours but their product. We as a Pashtun have liberal values, culture and traditions.
    Fact is that during afghan war (1979 -1989) Pashtun soil of Pakistan was used as a hub of global war forces against afghan government and Russian states that converted Afghanistan into ruins. Geneva accord show the way back to the US forces, leaving behind a 14 years war destroyed territory without constitutional government, in a frustrating law and order situation, broken institutions, damaged networking and without any plans for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. Most painful was the neglect that the bulk of unused and under-use arms and ammunitions that was supplied to the war forces during this transaction, left on as and where basis, was never taken care of. Rather those forces were practically organized and regrouped. It was in fact here, the shoe start punching.