From the Vqr Vault: The Us Presence in Afghanistan

The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

From the Vqr Vault: The Us Presence in Afghanistan


"Those of us serving with the United Nations in Afghanistan first heard the word Taliban' around the middle of 1994. The group, headed by a shadowy, one-eyed 'Mullah Umar,' appeared mysteriously on the scene in Kandahar, southeast Afghanistan's major town. I was planning officer and deputy head of office for UNICEF Afghanistan at the time, though the periodic outbreaks of war between factions occupying the capital Kabul had prevented my ever taking up residence in that country. From an office across the border, in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province's ancient city of Peshawar, a place bustling with refugees and intrigues, I had been working since March 1993 on delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan's children and women."

-Alan Brody, "Revisiting Afghanistan: A Conversation with Najibullah," Web Exclusive, January 2008

"Led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban occupied all but the northern part of Afghanistan by 1996. Opposed to Western secularism, the Taliban brought not only the semblance of stability to much of Afghanistan but also imposed a pristine Wahhabi-like form of Islam on the country which included the severe repression of women. The Taliban also welcomed Osama bin Laden when he returned to Afghanistan in 1996. Bin Laden not only shared the Taliban fundamentalist theology but placed much of his wealth at their disposal. In return, the Taliban permitted him to set up training bases for his terrorist al Qaeda organization."

-Jack R. Fische!, "The Road to September 11," Spring 2002

"We push on toward downtown Kabul. Padlocked vendor stalls line the road. The empty streets resemble little more than paths. Dogs howl unseen. We continue driving. Bro talks us through three more checkpoints. My status rises with each stop. He says I'm an FBI agent working for Karzai, a UN official, an aid worker. Anything to keep moving. When we reach downtown, a man materializes out of the fog, rears back on his right leg, and then lunges forward, extending a rifle. He aims it at the windshield. Bro slams on the brake and we drop down in our seats."

-J. Malcolm Garcia, "Curfew: Afghanistan, 2002," Spring 2004

"Given their history of resistance, it's not surprising that Herat was also one of the first cities to revolt against Kabul's communist government in 1979. Ismail Khan, a Sunni Tajik who was a young Afghan army captain at the time, led the uprising. He butchered more than a dozen Russian military advisors, along with their wives and children.

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