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talamh
November 13th, 2001, 07:42 AM
This first text was sent to me by a friend who is part of the local organization that is opposing free trade issues.

Interestingly, the second piece of text is spam from an investment advisory, and a shakey one at that, that happened to show up in my in box on the same day.

The two together remind me of the old adage - always read the subtext. Opinions, anyone? bb talamh

____________________

Here's an extract from the Philapdelphia Action Center:

_____________

Ever since the fall of the former Soviet Union ten years ago, Exxon, Mobil,Chevron and the other big oil monopolies have been scheming to get their
hands on the vast oil and gas wealth around the Caspian Sea, just north of Afghanistan. This region’s oil reserves may reach more than 60 billion barrels – enough to service Europe’s oil needs for 11 years. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels. The Caspian Sea reserves are
10 percent of the world’s known supply – worth about $5 trillion at today’s
prices.

In February 1998, Unocal Corporation testified to the House Committee on Internal Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific that the “Taliban government in Afghanistan is an obstacle” to having an oil pipeline from the Caspian region to the Indian Ocean – that is, through Afghanistan. In 1997, Unocal even tried to woo the Taliban with billions of dollars to support the proposed pipeline through their country. The unrecognized
Taliban government, however, was a set back to their plans.

Having a government in Afghanistan that is beholden to U.S. interests, along with stationing U.S. troops in the former Soviet Republics of
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, would secure the region and allow this project to proceed. And just in time, as far as the U.S. oil
companies are concerned, because there is international competition for the Caspian Sea oil resources.

Russia and German companies had been trying to establish a pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Eastern Europe, but U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia
blocked this plan. Russia, however, also brokered a treaty with Iran for a pipeline route. China also began negotiating to build oil and gas
pipelines from Kazakhstan. In January 2001, oil industry journals lamented that any chance the U.S. had of cementing alliances in the region seemed doomed. They noted, however, that the incoming Bush administration, heavy in oil and related interests, would likely try to reverse this trend (www.caucasuswatch.com).

_______________:

Moreover, the Taliban itself is a creation of the Americans and the British.

In the 1980s, the tribal army that produced them was funded by the CIA and trained by the SAS to fight the Russians.

The hypocrisy does not stop there. When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, Washington said nothing. Why? Because Taliban leaders were soon on their way to Houston, Texas, to be entertained by executives of the oil company, Unocal.

With secret US government approval, the company offered them a generous cut of the profits of the oil and gas pumped through a pipeline that the
Americans wanted to build from Soviet central Asia through Afghanistan.

A US diplomat said: "The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did." He explained that Afghanistan would become an American oil colony,
there would be huge profits for the West, no democracy and the legal persecution of women. "We can live with that," he said.

Although the deal fell through, it remains an urgent priority of the administration of George W. Bush, which is steeped in the oil industry.
Bush's concealed agenda is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin, the greatest source of untapped fossil fuel on earth and
enough, according to one estimate, to meet America's voracious energy needs for a generation. Only if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan can
the Americans hope to control it.

So, not surprisingly, US Secretary of State Colin Powell is now referring to "moderate" Taliban, who will join an American-sponsored "loose federation" to run Afghanistan. The "war on terrorism" is a cover for this: a means of achieving American strategic aims that lie behind the flag-waving facade of great power.

The Royal Marines, who will do the real dirty work, will be little more than mercenaries for Washington's imperial ambitions, not to mention the
extraordinary pretensions of Blair himself. Having made Britain a target for terrorism with his bellicose "shoulder to shoulder" with Bush
nonsense, he is now prepared to send troops to a battlefield where the goals are so uncertain that even the Chief of the Defence Staff says the
conflict "could last 50 years".

The irresponsibility of this is breathtaking; the pressure on Pakistan alone could ignite an unprecedented crisis across the Indian
sub-continent. Having reported many wars, I am always struck by the absurdity of effete politicians eager to wave farewell to young soldiers, but who themselves would not say boo to a Taliban goose.

In the days of gunboats, our imperial leaders covered their violence in the "morality" of their actions. Blair is no different. Like them, his
selective moralising omits the most basic truth. Nothing justified the killing of innocent people in America on September 11, and nothing justifies the killing of innocent people anywhere else.

By killing innocents in Afghanistan, Blair and Bush stoop to the level of the criminal outrage in New York. Once you cluster bomb, "mistakes" and "blunders" are a pretence. Murder is murder, regardless of whether you crash a plane into a building or order and collude with it from the Oval
Office and Downing Street.

If Blair was really opposed to all forms of terrorism, he would get Britain out of the arms trade. On the day of the twin towers attack, an
"arms fair", selling weapons of terror (like cluster bombs and missiles) to assorted tyrants and human rights abusers, opened in London's Docklands
with the full backing of the Blair government.

If he really wanted to demonstrate "the moral fibre of Britain", Blair would do everything in his power to lift the threat of violence in those parts of the world where there is great and justifiable grievance and
anger.

He would do more than make gestures; he would demand that Israel ends its illegal occupation of Palestine and withdraw to its borders prior to the
1967 war, as ordered by the Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member.

He would call for an end to the genocidal blockade which the UN - in reality, America and Britain - has imposed on the suffering people of Iraq for more than a decade, causing the deaths of half a million children under the age of five.

That's more deaths of infants every month than the number killed in the World Trade Center.

There are signs that Washington is about to extend its current "war" to Iraq; yet unknown to most of us, almost every day RAF and American aircraft already bomb Iraq. There are no headlines. There is nothing on the TV news. This terror is the longest-running Anglo-American bombing campaign since World War Two.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US and Britain faced a "dilemma" in Iraq, because "few targets remain". "We're down to the last outhouse,"
said a US official. That was two years ago, and they're still bombing. The cost to the British taxpayer? 800 million pounds so far.

According to an internal UN report, covering a five-month period, 41 per cent of the casualties are civilians.

____________________


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Illuminatus
November 13th, 2001, 11:54 AM
If you believe everything that appears in your Inbox...

I HAVE A BRIDGE TO SELL YOU!! What is your email addy???

Really though, there ain't nothing in Afghanistan except rocks and sand (which is just smaller rocks) and dust (which is just ground up sand)... I know an oil pipeline through that region would be a great endeavor, and it WAS the plotline of that Pierce Brosnan Bond movie, but it's not going to make you or anyone else rich because you'd have to be crazy to undertake such an endeavor in such a crazy part of the world.

arewynn
November 13th, 2001, 02:41 PM
would your friend like to be in the next ..... building that gets
nocked off the face of the earth? you know i dont at this point
care what agenda gets served as long as they get them.
as to the womens rights if your friend wants to make a difference than
rally to keep that cause alive,oh and in case you dont know it
your not driving with out oil,you can pretty much gut the interior
of your house with out it , until we have an alternative some one better make sure we have plenty of it.
by the way one of the main forums spouting anti war anti goverment prop.is freespeach.org,freespeach tv heard of them? they are
major anti PAGAN they are run by a small segment of the fanatical
christian faith.

arewynn

oh one last thing
Moreover, the Taliban itself is a creation of the Americans and the British.

In the 1980s, the tribal army that produced them was funded by the CIA and trained by the SAS to fight the Russians

we helped people who were fighting for they're freedom like
the french helped our paitriots.what we did wrong was not staying to help stablize them...the dictatership that developed
and came to power is the taliban we did not train them theyre
religious fanatisism did.

UnSolon
November 13th, 2001, 03:41 PM
Talamh - Nice article. And I must say, the stock quote was a nice touch.

Arewynn - Do you advocate MURDER? I am sorry, but what are you getting upset about. You are belittling Talamh because he choose to post an article which advocated NON-VIOLENT forms of change? That makes no sense. And his friend was trying to make a difference. The only true democratic way to truth is through knowledge, learning, and education. He was spreading information, a truely noble thing to do. And Arewynn, using the logic of another thread and other people, since you used insulting to get your point across that means you are biased, and since you are biased your points have no relevence. Look at the "Another Sept 11th" thread.

The article which he posted was without the swear words which offended so many people in regards to the Stan Goff article, and there you have it again. Ruffly the same argument was made in that other article. Will you atleast read this one and give it a fair judgement before you discredit it.

Peace...

arewynn
November 13th, 2001, 11:06 PM
i beleave in spreading knowledge not lies not twisting the
truth,i beleave in any form of peaceful resaloution that will
protect all once ..the way is clear for one...and yes i am not
bias my brother was in the world trade center my son had four
friends in the penatagon ,he's a marine over seas your opinion
means even less to me ...by the way the thread is using the logic of another what are we saying do as i say not as i do

I also suggest, that if you have something to SHARE, then do so with the intentions of TEACHING. Understand that information that you are sharing will be taken SERIOUSLY by the reader. This is NOT a good place for false information, or anything you don't know to be fact. it would be appreciated if any information be valid, and ACCURATE representations

in the words of a great moderater

respectfuly remember this is only an opinion and we all know
every one has one.

TheWordWitch
November 14th, 2001, 01:09 AM
This particular discussion is racing through my company at the present moment. To find it on the Pagan Perspectives is far more interesting.

The discussion was raised by several politicos, people who are very active in politics, stock market, Wall Street, etc. Religion is a taboo subject where I work, however they are majorily Christian.

The pipeline, if it went thru, would bring yet another third world country into the next millenium, bring peace and prosperity to people and a country ravaged by war and despotic dictators and ultimately, drive the archiac thought proccesses of the Taliban and the Terrorists that supprt them to an abrupt end.

The issue of women's rights in Afghanistan, in fact all of the Middle East, I believe is a red herring. By having us all focus on the atrocities inflicted on women, and by extension the religious fanaticism that goes with it, then the oil pipeline goes thru and the Taliban, controlled by powerful Saudi oil families (notice I said family not government), it's more money in the Saudi families pockets and ultimately control of the Western world by their stranglehold on the last world's of the oils reserves.

While the world focuses on the religious intolerance and the terrorism, Osama and his family control the oil.

This in no way minimizes the dreadful acts of these fanatics. I do believe on some level, the Saudi families lost control of their pit-bull(s) and now they are running thru the world's neighborhood bringing havoc to all they hate and despise. And the owner's of these pitbulls are too frightened of the evil they've unleashed to effectively regain control of their animals.

When you think about it, Democracy is inherently Pagan in practice and application. Equality among all humans and respect for the living beings residing on this planet. These fanatics are a threat not only to our personal belief system(s) but also to freedom and democracy throughout the world.

Personally, I would like to see these maniacs disemboweled and strangled with their own innards! However, being the peaceful Witch that I am, I keep those thoughts to myself! :p

Arewynn - I am so very sorry for your loss, and the trauma you and your family have endured. My prayers, my sympathies and most of all my love goes out to you and yours! {{Big Hug}} My you find solace in the embrace of the Goddess!

arewynn
November 14th, 2001, 02:15 AM
how beautifully put...thank you
i follow with all you have said
but after going back and reading my post
i need to point out my brother survived
my sons friends did not.

arewynn

UnSolon
November 14th, 2001, 02:57 AM
Word Witch - Nice response. I would like to commend you. You have been able to explain your point without insulting others.

Arewynn - I apologize for my previous response which seems to have upset you greatly. My thoughts and sympathies go out to your friends.

Word witch - I understand your perspective on this issue. However I myself do not necissarily agree with them all.

The so-called western prosperity which you talk about being brought to another country which gets a pipe line is EXACTLY that. Western prosperity. That pipeline is used to feed the appetites of North Americans. It brings western culture and influence into an area previously holding its own set of cultural standards.

North Americans consume 5 times more than a mexican, 10 times more than a Chineese person, and 30 times more than a person from India (quote available). And I need not point out that these are by far NOT the poorest countries in the world. Mexico has "benifited" from western capitalism the most since 1992 when the NAFTA agreement was signed. As soon as the agreement took affect, on Jan 1, 1994, the mexican currency bottomed out. It took a nose dive like it was in the high board competition in the olympics. Since than mexicans have moved more and more towards working in Maquiladors (mexican word for sweatshops), producing many of those products which we than consume.

However the logic that western capitalism will make a people richer is FALSE. Perhaps the economic elite in a country will profit greatly, as have the sub-contractors of the maquilladors, however the workers continue to live as they did before if not worse. Investment is attracted into an area by showing to the prospective investor that they can have the greatest return with the least amount of investment. Therefore wages in maquilladors are usually not even a "living wage".

This is not the only problem, to increase investment even more, local governments will, and often do, lower environmental and worker regulations. This means it is easier for a North American company to get away with harzerdous pollution practices which in their native country would be intolerable.

With the signing of the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) in Quebec City in April, 2001, over 33 new countries will be entering into dual-contenental free trade. Esentially the entire western hemispher (with the exclusion of Cuba because of the US sanctions [Un-democratic and un-just no matter what your stance]). This will cause a great push as these new countries compete for the investment which will come from USA and Canada. The environmental and social consequences of this are staggarring.

Loss of cultural identity in areas influenced by western culture is not rare. How can a country which is manufacturing the consumer goods of another hope to hold its traditional practices true. Corporate expansionism has spread its fingers around this entire globe in its quest to make money.

"Whether it comes by cable, telephone line, or satalite, everyone is going to have to deal with Disney" - Micheal Eisner, CEO of Disney

The average wage of a Hatian Garment worker: $0.28
The number of years it would take for an average worker to make what Micheal Eisner, CEO of Disney, makes in one (1) hour: 156


I hope you find this interesting, and I would welcome your responses.

Peace...

UnSolon

EasternPriest
November 14th, 2001, 03:50 AM
Originally posted by UnSolon

Since than mexicans have moved more and more towards working in Maquiladors (mexican word for sweatshops), producing many of those products which we than consume.




Have you ever been to a maquiladora??? I have. Yes, the people working in them (can't say mexican, because only about half of the people working in them are) earn less than someone in the US or Canada, but they earn far more than the average for their respective countries.

TheWordWitch
November 14th, 2001, 04:19 AM
Ahh, this is why I love this board so much. There is an amazing level of intelligence amongst Pagans. I wish I could find the same among the world at large. Maybe in the future - I can hope!;)

And may I say I LOVE ARGUING with you people!! It's so refreshing to debate with people of intelect!!:heartthro

Arewynn - just because your son survived does not minimize the trauma and terror you and your family experienced. Please be kind to yourself and acknowledge the fact that you survived a horrific event. It's ok to be defensive - I am 3,000 miles away and I am still affected by the events of 9/11, and very defensive of anyone who shows even a modicum of tolerance to the Terrorists who did this.

UnSolon, you have some great arguments, and I would love to debate each and everyone as they deserve to be debated. However, in deference to the topic, I will only be addressing a scant few. Belive me, I have done much editing!!!


As soon as the agreement took affect, on Jan 1, 1994, the mexican currency bottomed out. It took a nose dive like it was in the high board competition in the olympics.
While I am sure you have plenty of research to back up this statement, I have personal experience that conflicts with what you said. In 1991, I was able to visit Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula to be specific. The peso was 36,000 to $1. I trapsed all over the Yucatan for 10days, for less than $800. That's roughly $80 per day. You can't live on $80 a day in the US, no matter how hard you try. By the way, that included my airfare and 10 days in a 5 Star resort. So the Mexican economy was well into it's Olympic Swan Dive far before NAFTA. (PS I voted against NAFTA!)


North Americans consume 5 times more than a mexican, 10 times more than a Chineese person, and 30 times more than a person from India (quote available). And I need not point out that these are by far NOT the poorest countries in the world.
Please also note, that the poorest of Americans, (American for this argument being defined as any person residing in the US either legal or illegal), live like Kings and Queens in comparison to their Mexican, Indian, Chinese, El Salvadoran and especially Cuban counterparts. Remember, our inner city housing has indoor plumbing, a semblance of heating, plaster walls and tarred roofs. Even the poorest of children eat at least 2.5 times per week - in comparison to once per week in the poorest of countries.

Democracy provides government programs to help these poor individuals survive. There is no Children's services to protect the Indian child living in the streets of New Dehli, there is no Child Labor Laws to protect the child sewing clothes in China or El Salvador.


Loss of cultural identity in areas influenced by western culture is not rare. How can a country which is manufacturing the consumer goods of another hope to hold its traditional practices true.
Ah, and here lies the crux of the argument and brings us to the real issues. Cultural Identity.

Afghansistan is a perfect example of the destruction of a Culture Destroyed. Are we all aware that Afghanistan was NOT an Islamic or Arab country 25 years ago? If not, you all better do your research! The people of Afghanistan were/are not even Arab!!

Their number one export was poppies, the main ingredient of Opium. The Taliban completely eradicated 100% of the poppy crops produced in Afghanistan which was the curency that kept the country economically viable. Yes, it is illegal, immoral, yadda yadda yadda, but the bottom line is THEY HAD A GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT! The Taliban and their fundamentalist Islamic view plunged the already war torn country into further economic depression.

The prospect of an oil pipeline may indeed bring Western Prosperity to Afghanistan, but lets face it, without oil and the US & European dependancy on it, the entire Middle East would be nothing but a giant kitty litter box! Oil has made the Middle East an incredibly wealthy power in the economic scheme of things. And with all the influence of Western Wealth, the Arabs have managed to maintain a very strong and thriving culture. Take away the Mercedes Benzs and the silk burquas, and you still have the underlying Islamic influence. Also, let's not forget that it was the US who showed the Arabs in the Middle East how to drill for oil both on land and in the sea - without the US/European engineers working to find ways to extract the oil, the Middle East would have no GNP!

The reason Democracy works is because of the number one principle of FREEDOM. Freedom to believe what you want how you want so long as it harms no one. Sound familiar? "And it harm none"

While we as a Pagan Community bemoan the fundamentalists in our country (USA) the fact remains that they are held in check by our countries laws and the basic freedoms of Democracy. And the situation in Afghanistan was made even worse by the Fundamentalist Taliban, which was funded by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and of course the many arms of the Terrorist Network such as Al Qaeda. There was no one holding these maniacs in check.

As for the US not stepping in and helping Afghanistan, there are many reasons for our non-response, the number one reasons being our diplomatic ties with the former Soviet Union, and our dependency on Middle Eastern oil. Anyone who has ever bought drugs knows, you never ever ever piss off your dealer. Can you honestly say that the US and Europe are NOT dependant, even addicted to oil?


This is not the only problem, to increase investment even more, local governments will, and often do, lower environmental and worker regulations. This means it is easier for a North American company to get away with harzerdous pollution practices which in their native country would be intolerable.
Come on! You can not throw this bomb on the table and not expect to be shot down! I won't let you!!! :p (*giggle*)

The enforcement of environmental and worker regulations is solely the responsibility of the host governement. If the governement is not going to enforce these rules, who in their right mind is going to abide by them? Seriously, if you knew for a fact that you would never get a ticket for speeding because you knew the Highway Patrol was not enforcing speed laws, can you honestly say you would never speed?

To that end, take your handy-dandy search engine and check out the conditions of Baja California, which is solely governed by Mexico and inhabited by numerous US Corporate factories. The pollution is horrendous, but when investigated by several news agencies, it was discovered that Mexico really doesn't care about the effects factory pollution is having on the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California and the wild life inhabited there.

As a parting note, I have to say that I do not advocate the practices of Corporate Greed, or of Corporate Global Expansion. Yes, I benefit greatly from both, but on that I claim victimhood. I am a vicitm of my social status - boo-hoo for me, right? But if offered a viable alternative, I will be the first to embrace it.

Thank you so much for the wonderful debate. And thanks UnSolon for the compliments. It's a pleasure to debate with someone who is informed and intelligent, and who knows how to debate an issue without getting personal.

talamh
November 14th, 2001, 09:40 AM
WordWitch said :

face it, without oil and the US & European dependancy on it, the entire Middle East would be nothing but a giant kitty litter box!

__________________________________

Well, they seemed to manage to have countries and civilizations and cultures for many many thousands of years before the discovery of the internal combustian engine. i think it is important to respect cultural diversity and understand that so-called Western so-called civilization is not the only way or even the best way.

To describe a part of the world that had astronomy and mathmatics before Europeans had writing as a "giant kitty litter box" is to discount entire civilizations and cultures.

And the unfortunate fact that the Mexican government is so controlled by big business interests that it allows horrendous pollution is not a justification for American companies to go there and pollute and cause disease and degredation for profit.

Did you know that many companies in the Maquiladora won't hire women unless they are sterilized so they won't lost work time having babies? This is the freedom of democracy?

Democracy can become a tyranny of the majority unless there are provisions for minority rights.

__________________

WordWitch wrote:

The reason Democracy works is because of the number one principle of FREEDOM. Freedom to believe what you want how you want so long as it harms no one.

__________________________

Democracy in the Mexican maquiladora is harming thousands. North American style democracy allows the strong to gain by exploiting the weak. Elections can be bought.. and frequently are .. with huge budget for advertising and bribery.

Some systems other then democracy are better for some people.... and they should be free to chose what that system is. Maybe Afghanistan is a medieval, tribal society..... but it's their country. Does any other society have a right to impose democracy or any other system on the people there if they don't want it... be it communism or capitalism? If they don't want outside cultural influences and a pipeline then that should be their decision.

Now, if they ask for humanitarian aid then they obviously need some help.. but it should be culturally respectful help.

i'm not defending the Taliban. The Taliban is largely members of one tribe cleverly manipulating outside influences to defeat other tribes they have been warring with for thousands of years.

And the Northern Alliance is trying to manipulate America and her allies to defeat the Pushtans who largely make up the Taliban. i think that was obvious when the Taliban cleverly withdrew from Kabul this week and the Northern Alliance rushed in to take the city against the express requests of the United States. Now Pakistan, which has a northern province largely composed of Pushtans and which had warned the US that Northern Alliance control of Kabul would be a very big problem for Pakistan's support of the US..... now Pakistan has a very big internal rift and is seriously questioning it's support of the US and the US looks weak in it's inability to control the Northern Alliance. What a mess.

And i really do believe much of this stems from the prospect of oil reserves in the Caspian sea area and the need of a pipeline through Afghanistan.

But the larger picture is economic imperialism.. not so much by the United States government... but by the transnational interests which control many governments.. including the government of the United States. bb talamh

UnSolon
November 14th, 2001, 04:33 PM
Nice Post Talamh :)

Peace :thumbsup:

TheWordWitch
November 14th, 2001, 11:52 PM
Dearest Talamh, I've been pondering your post all day so that I could write the kind of response your post deserves.

On some levels, I do agree with you, I really do. But when it comes to the Middle East, there is one thing that I can not forgive, nor can I tolerate. And that is the subjugation of women. No matter how you cut it, the Islamic faith is an affront to any intelligent person. The very basis of the faith dictates that women are lower than men, and a few hundred years ago, even lower than slaves and cattle.

If Western Culture is able to free these women from bondage and place them in a position equal to their male brethren, then how can it be bad? I'm not talking corporate expansion here, I'm talking about human rights. No matter what we may feel as individuals about the rumors of the pipeline, there is no way freedom for these women to work and live free can be bad.


To describe a part of the world that had astronomy and mathmatics before Europeans had writing as a "giant kitty litter box" is to discount entire civilizations and cultures.
When 60% of the population is subjugated as in the case of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, then how can one label the region "civilized"? Nearly 60% of the Afghanistan working population was women, nearly 40% of the Saudi population is women, and they are prohibited from driving a car or holding title to a bank account. How can this be called civilized?
I'm not sure of your gender, but can you imagine completing even the most basic of tasks in a garment that covers you from head to toe? Hell I have a hard enough time in pantyhose!!! The fact is, the culture prohibits nearly half of this regions population from being active members of society. This is not civilization, it is barbarism. No amount of astronomy or mathmatics can change that fact. I'm talking strictly Islamic countries, who subjugate women, no the more modern thinking regions of the Middle East who allow their women freedom.

Thanks for the wonderful response, and I so appreciate the time you took to formulate an articulate post. Thank you as well for starting this post. It is a pleasure to debate with you!

talamh
November 15th, 2001, 08:46 AM
WordWitch - thanks for the kind words. i too am enjoying our discussion. :)

____________________

WordWitch wrote:

On some levels, I do agree with you, I really do. But when it comes to the Middle East, there is one thing that I can not forgive, nor can I tolerate. And that is the subjugation of women. No matter how you cut it, the Islamic faith is an affront to any intelligent person. The very basis of the faith dictates that women are lower than men, and a few hundred years ago, even lower than slaves and cattle.

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Two points here.
1. There are many different branches of Islam just as there are many different branches of Christianity or Judaism or paganism, for that matter. Some countries that are predominantly Islamic are quite equitable. Some definately are not. So i would suggest it is not fair or accurate to talk about "the Islamic faith" as if it were only one manifestation. My understanding of the origional writing gives equality and great respect to women.

2. Some women in countries where they have every right not to.. like the United States and Pakistan, are choosing to embrace a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and willingly choosing the veil and even the burkka. If it is indeed a free choice, then that is entirely their right.

A lot of it all goes back to developments in Islamic thought in the 10th century when it became part of the teachings and writing that it is OK for Muslims to live in peace with people of other faiths. (This is my understanding from reading i've been doing and i could be wrong) But apparantly after a co-allition of Muslim tribes and nations led by Saladin won the Crusades a division arose between more liberal and more fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic teaching.

The more recent history can be traced to the creation of Isreal in the late 40s and the creation of Palestinian refugee camps, and also to the expansion of Isreal's borders in the 1967 war.

But it is very difficult to accurately make broad statements about "all" of Islam because it is so varied in it's interpretation. It can be a faith of peace and enlightenment and it can also be a faith of violence and oppression. In that it is no different then just about every other faith.

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WordWitch wrote:

When 60 % of the population is subjugated as in the case of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, then how can one lable the region "civilized"?

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The political/religious state of these countries today is just a hiccup in history, relatively speaking. Many scholars credit the Islamic cultures for keeping alive the flame of the body of western knowledge during the dark ages of Europe from the fall of the Roman Empire till late medieval times. It was the Crusades that brought Europeans back in contact with much of science, classical writing, mathmatics and astronomy. Although there is also evidence that Irish Catholic monks also keep much of it alive and re-introduced some learning to Europe.

My objection was not so much based on issues of present-day inequality for women in some Islamic cultures and countries. Although i do believe that is not a problem that can be changed with a bomb. In places like Saudi Arabia women are working at change by such clever strategies as becoming Islamic scholars and using the very words of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Unto Him) to argue for their basic rights.. and winning significant changes.i think we can best help by offering support for education and health care and a general understanding that the world is, indeed, watching. Although places like Iraq had excellent health and education systems until the United Nantions imposed sanctions which have hurt the women and children but not the government. But i digress.

My objection was to your characterizing a geographical area that was the home of the great Mesopotamian cultures as being no more then a giant kitty litter box. I truly believe we need to understand history if we are to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

i know that in school i studied British Colonial history five times... with my understanding of most of the rest of the world limited to how it fit in with or was opposed to the British Empire. i am still working and reading to overcome this huge lack of knowledge and understanding of vast areas of the planet. It bothered me to see centuries of rich and diverse cultures discounted.

i totally agree that we need to support equality and justice globally... and the recent plight of the women in Afghanistan troubles me greatly... but the present conflict arises out of a larger context of which women's rights is one important aspect.

And the entire region has such a diverse and rich heritage that i find it sad to see it being overshadowed by recent political events. bb talamh