2006.10.10: October 10, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: COS - Afghanistan: Journalism: Speaking Out: Democracy Now: Sarah Chayes on Life in Afghanistan After the Taliban and Why She Left NPR

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Afghanistan: Special Report: Writer, Journalist, and AID Worker Sarah Chayes (RPCV Morocco) and her work in Afghanistan: Sarah Chayes: Newest Stories: 2006.10.16: October 16, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: COS - Afghanistan: Journalism: Awards: EurekAlert : Sarah Chayes named as the first recipient of its Ruth Salzman Adams Award : 2006.10.10: October 10, 2006: Headlines: COS - Morocco: COS - Afghanistan: Journalism: Speaking Out: Democracy Now: Sarah Chayes on Life in Afghanistan After the Taliban and Why She Left NPR

By Admin1 (admin) (ppp-70-129-41-31.dsl.okcyok.swbell.net - on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 - 9:44 am: Edit Post

Sarah Chayes on Life in Afghanistan After the Taliban and Why She Left NPR

Sarah Chayes on Life in Afghanistan After the Taliban and Why She Left NPR

"We said that -- we, the U.S. leading an international coalition -- said that we were there to not only dismantle the Taliban, but begin to lay the foundations of a respectful democratic country that would carry Afghanistan forward into the community of nations, as it were. But what happened was that our other motivations of the so-called war on terror ended up trumping those goals, so that instead of supporting thoughtful, educated leaders and helping bring them to power and helping develop that capacity for leadership, we basically recruited thugs, who were supposedly helping us in the war on terror and were meanwhile abusing, robbing their own citizens. And so, what you see now is just a terrible disaffection. Itís not an ideological opposition to the United States as a Western country. Itís just exasperation with the government that we ushered into power. " Morocco RPCV Sarah Chayes has made a home in Kandahar, Afghanistan, became fluent in Pashto, one of the main Afghan languages, and devoted her energies to rebuilding a country gutted by two decades of war

Sarah Chayes on Life in Afghanistan After the Taliban and Why She Left NPR

AMY GOODMAN: Sarah Chayes joins us now. Sheís a former NPR correspondent who covered the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. She left journalism in 2002 to run an aid organization in Kandahar called Afghans for Civil Society. Sarahís new book is called The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban. Welcome to Democracy Now!

SARAH CHAYES: Thanks for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the story weíre missing in Afghanistan?

SARAH CHAYES: Well, I think General Richardsís point is really accurate, I believe, but this is not a sudden thing that just happened this year. This is something that Iíve seen developing really since late 2002. And the problem has been that we didn't really provide to Afghanistan what we said we would. We said that -- we, the U.S. leading an international coalition -- said that we were there to not only dismantle the Taliban, but begin to lay the foundations of a respectful democratic country that would carry Afghanistan forward into the community of nations, as it were.

But what happened was that our other motivations of the so-called war on terror ended up trumping those goals, so that instead of supporting thoughtful, educated leaders and helping bring them to power and helping develop that capacity for leadership, we basically recruited thugs, who were supposedly helping us in the war on terror and were meanwhile abusing, robbing their own citizens. And so, what you see now is just a terrible disaffection. Itís not an ideological opposition to the United States as a Western country. Itís just exasperation with the government that we ushered into power.

AMY GOODMAN: You, very early on in your book, talk about a report you couldnít do or didnít get in onto NPR. What was that story?

SARAH CHAYES: It was really this story. It was, I watched -- there were U.S. Special Forces that were embedded in a group, a kind of tribal militia, which was directed to put pressure on Kandahar from the south. President Karzai also had U.S. Special Forces with him. He was coming down toward Kandahar from the north. The Taliban surrendered to him. They left. Al-Qaeda left the city. The city was in the hands of President Karzai and his chosen representative, and then these U.S. Special Forces urged this warlord to take the city by force from President Karzai.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, now, explain how this went down and how you understood what was happening. You were on the border with this --?

SARAH CHAYES: I was on the border. I was not with this group, but I was on the border, and I was listening to the radio, where a lot of this played out, and I was speaking to people who were coming back across the border, and I knew that President Karzai had designated a certain person whose name is Mullah Naqib to be governor of Kandahar. And then, suddenly this warlord is in the city. And then, thereís this huge and angry standoff, which is being played out on the airwaves of the BBC actually, of their Pashto Service, and this warlord is saying, ďNo, Iím going to be governor of Kandahar.Ē And I knew there was something strange. And eventually thatís what happened. And Mullah Naqib basically pled old age and said, ďOh, Iím too old.Ē And I thought, ďThatís not right.Ē You know.

AMY GOODMAN: The Karzai appointee for governor.

SARAH CHAYES: The Karzai appointee, thatís right, said, ďOkay, this other guy is going to be governor. Iím too old to be governor.Ē And I knew that something had happened. And then I rode into the city maybe two days after this with somebody who had been with this warlord, so I asked him, ďWell, how did it go? How did you guys happen to go and take Kandahar?Ē And He was a very young kid, you know, so heís kind of all excited and enthusiastic. You know -- Speed! Speed! -- we went up the road, you know. And then I said, ďWell, what about the Americans who were with you?Ē He said, ďThe Americans? They told us to do it.Ē I thought, ďYou have to be kidding me.Ē

And that, I thought, was a really emblematic story to tell that would help show us the direction this thing was going in, because it seemed to me -- remember, this was before Iraq, Afghanistan was it -- and I saw the eyes of the world riveted on how we were going to operate in Afghanistan, how Afghanistan was going to turn out, was going to be crucial to what happened in the next decade or the next half-century even, you know.

AMY GOODMAN: So, heís saying the U.S. Special Forces had put this other warlord up against the U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai.

SARAH CHAYES: Right, exactly. So the United States was working at cross purposes with itself, number one. Number two, youíre already constraining the power of the person that you have designated to be president. Youíre saying, ďOkay, you can be president, but you canít name -- you donít have the power to name your own governor.Ē And this dogged President Karzai for the first two years of his administration, when he was trying to limit the powers of some of these warlord governors that we had brought, we had allied with them.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. government had.

SARAH CHAYES: The U.S. government, thatís right, had allied with these guys, supposedly in the interest of the war on terror, and President Karzai was trying to limit their power and constrain them or even remove them, and he was told repeatedly that he couldnít do that. And so, now heís pretty much given up trying.

AMY GOODMAN: So why didnít this story end up on Morning Edition or All Things Considered?

SARAH CHAYES: I was told that it wasnít important now, that we would have plenty of time later to talk about inter-Afghan squabbling, and that what was really interesting now was to look at, you know, what a bad fellow Mullah Omar had been. And in my own view at that time, that story ought to have been done in 1996 or 1997. We already knew by this point how terrible the Taliban were. But now, I thought what was important was to look forward, at how is this experiment in nation building going to work. And it was kind of flattering our own, you know, sensibilities to continue telling ourselves how terrible the Taliban were.

AMY GOODMAN: To justify what was happening, and yet the U.S. was working on all sides at that point.

SARAH CHAYES: Thatís right. Thatís right. All sides. Iím not sure we were working with the Taliban, but we were clearly working hand-in-hand with the Pakistani government, which had created the Taliban movement. And that was another piece of massive self-contradiction in our policy.


SARAH CHAYES: Well, the Pakistani government has used, has manipulated religious extremism for its regional agenda for 30 years. Theyíve been doing it in Kashmir and doing it in Afghanistan. And when the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, we provided a lot of money to the Afghan resistance, but we couldnít -- we, the United States government -- but we couldnít do it directly, because of the Cold War implications of that. So the U.S. government -- basically the CIA -- gave a lot of money to the Pakistani military intelligence agency, which then distributed it how it wanted to. And it distributed most of the money to the most extremist faction of the Afghan resistance, in the hope that this faction would then take power in Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew.

Well, guess what? Afghanistan turns out not to be a very ideological country. Itís really counterintuitive, but thatís what I have experienced in the five years that Iíve lived there, and they were having none of this guy, this very extremist faction leader. The rest of Afghanistan was not interested in him taking power. Pakistan, the Pakistani government continued to provide him with money. And so, there was four years of civil war, while the other factions were fighting him off, and he, with a lot of support from Pakistan, was still trying to take over.

After four years of civil war, the Pakistani government realized that this guy was not going to make it, and so they began creating the Taliban movement, creating this movement out of whole cloth. It didnít rise up inside Afghanistan. It was created across the border in Pakistan and inserted into Afghanistan into the Kandahar region.

But again, it wasnít a kind of global jihadi thing. The language was global jihadi language, but the objectives, the agenda was a regional agenda that has everything to do with Pakistan's relationship with India, frankly. So, to me, it was a little bit -- how to put it? -- illogical that the United States government would suddenly think that Pakistan on the drop of a hat would abandon a 30-year-old policy and suddenly join the anti-terror coalition in a real way. So what I have seen is that Pakistan has very cleverly -- the Pakistani government -- has very cleverly kept the United States happy by turning over an al-Qaeda operative every once in a while, but has always protected the Taliban. Thereís a distinction between these two groups, because their agendas are different, even though their language may be very similar. So if we work hand-in-hand with Pakistan, weíre actually working with a government that is bent on undermining Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: And, though itís not your subject, Pakistan providing nuclear material to North Korea.

SARAH CHAYES: Of course, of course. To North Korea and to Iran, I believe, also. I mean, A.Q. Khan, the guy whoís considered to be the father of the bomb in Pakistan, itís manifest that he has been involved. I mean, the whole nuclear trail leads back to him, and there is no way he is a rogue actor acting on his own. Pakistan doesnít function that way. The Pakistani government is a very closed system in the hands of the military, basically, I would say, military and military intelligence establishment. So I keep hearing about the military intelligence establishment being rogue, you know, and so there are these rogue elements in the Pakistani military that are supporting the Taliban. And then we hear the same thing, ďOh, A.Q. Khan was a rogue element. No, President Musharraf is a product of that establishment.

AMY GOODMAN: General Musharraf.

SARAH CHAYES: Thatís right.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to the Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist saying that Afghanistan has to accept that Taliban should be in the government.

SARAH CHAYES: I find that an extremely ignorant statement, because that implies that the Taliban are a homegrown movement that is genuinely competing for power inside Afghanistan. They are not. Anybody who is any Talib or former member of the Taliban regime who is genuinely interested in participating in the Afghan government, there are plenty of them right there right now. There are plenty of former Taliban currently in the Afghan government. The people who are fighting right now are ginned up by a hostile neighbor, which is Pakistan. So that would be -- you know, itís completely illogical.

AMY GOODMAN: And the hunt for Osama bin Laden being shut down, and soldiers who were in Afghanistan being moved to Iraq, once Iraq started happening once the U.S. invaded Iraq?

SARAH CHAYES: Well, this was a really interesting experience for us on the ground, because we had been hearing about this Marshall Plan that was supposed to happen for Afghanistan. And throughout 2002, we were wondering, where is this Marshall Plan? You know, what are they waiting for? Where is all of this focus and interest and energy thatís supposed to be devoted to Afghanistan? And it wasn't until a number of books started coming out about Iraq, starting really last year, that I realized there was never any focus on Afghanistan, you know? The resources, the focus, the money were already being held in reserve for Iraq from the day the Taliban fell in Afghanistan. So, indeed soldiers were pulled off, but I would say that the full effort was never devoted to Afghanistan.

Now, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, I think that thatís a red herring in a lot of ways. I actually donít think that Osama -- this is a personal opinion based on some evidence, but a lot of deduction also -- I don't think the guy was ever in Pakistan after 9/11 or on the Afghan/Pakistani border. I think, you know, youíre going to rob a bank, are you going to hang around on the street corner for the cops to arrive?

AMY GOODMAN: Youíre saying heís not in Pakistan?

SARAH CHAYES: Correct. Neither Pakistan nor eastern Afghanistan. I suspect that he left Afghanistan very early on, perhaps even before 9/11. And so, the whole -- all of this focus on the eastern mountains -- there may be other al-Qaeda operatives who were there -- but I donít believe that Osama bin Laden is there, and I donít believe that Pakistan is protecting him, because I have seen Pakistan be very forthcoming with al-Qaeda operatives. What theyíre not forthcoming with is the Taliban leadership, which is not sitting around in caves or in Waziristan or in secret places. Itís sitting around in Quetta and Balochistan, the capital of a province.

AMY GOODMAN: Before we end, Sarah Chayes, you left journalism, and now youíre with an aid organization. Tell us what youíre doing now? We have less than a minute.

SARAH CHAYES: Right. Itís not an aid organization. I left that aid organization. Iím now running a cooperative called Arghand -- thatís A-R-G-H-A-N-D -- and we make high-quality skin-care products, which you can buy in the United States and Canada using licit local agriculture.

AMY GOODMAN: Why are you doing this?

SARAH CHAYES: Itís way of trying to combat opium-growing. In other words, the best way to make it possible for people not to plant poppy is for them to be able to make money growing other things.

AMY GOODMAN: And your choice to do this?

SARAH CHAYES: Itís about grassroots. Itís about building democracy on whatever level you can in a cooperative, where there are good relations with producers, where thereís a collective decision-making process, and where we can honor a lot of the traditional licit crops that Kandahar has been known for for millennia. Sems like a worthwhile thing to be involved in.

AMY GOODMAN: Sarah Chayes, former NPR correspondent, left NPR in 2002, is now working with a soap collective in Kandahar, and we will link to that website on democracynow.org. Thanks for joining us.

SARAH CHAYES: Thanks for having me.

When this story was posted in October 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Contact PCOLBulletin BoardRegisterSearch PCOLWhat's New?

Peace Corps Online The Independent News Forum serving Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series Date: October 26 2006 No: 1011 Harris Wofford to speak at "PC History" series
Senator Harris Wofford will be the speaker at the 4th Annual "Peace Corps History" series on November 16 sponsored by the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Maryland Returned Volunteers. Previous speakers in the series have included Jack Vaughn (Second Director of the Peace Corps), Scott Stossel (Biographer of Sargent Shriver), and C. Payne Lucas (President Emeritus of Africare). Details on the time and location of the event are available here.

Top Stories and Breaking News PCOL Magazine Peace Corps Library RPCV Directory Sign Up

Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs Date: October 22 2006 No: 1002 Election 2006: Top Races for RPCVs
Congressman Chris Shays in Connecticut
Shays not afraid to differ with Bush 21 Oct
Maybe it's time for Shays to depart 29 Sep
Shays says US should have gone into Iraq sooner 20 Oct
Shays slams National Republican Committee 13 Oct
Shays says Abu Ghraib more pornography than torture 14 Oct
Chris Shays calls for Rumsfeld to resign 4 Oct
Shays says his faith has been shaken 15 Sep

Governor Jim Doyle in Wisconsin
Doyle started with service in Peace Corps 8 Oct
Margaret Krome writes: Doyle helps Wisconsin 27 Sep
Doyle has a slight edge in the polls 20 Oct

Kinky Friedman in Texas - Candidate for Governor
Kinky Friedmanósinger, writer, governor? 31 Aug
Friedman No. 2 in polls as election day nears 16 Oct
"I want to be your good shepherd" 12 Sep

Congressman Jim Walsh in New York
Walsh facing his first serious challenge in a decade 11 Oct
Walsh points with pride to his earmarks 27 Sep

Congressman Sam Farr in California
Sam Farr and the case of the missing opponent 16 Oct

John Garamendi in California - Candidate for Lt. Governor
Garamendi best for lieutenant governor 13 Oct

John Kefalas in Colorado - Candidate for State House
John Kefalas is waging a determined campaign 3 Oct

October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories Date: October 22 2006 No: 1005 October 22, 2006: This Month's Top Stories
The crisis over North Korea's nuclear bomb test 14 Oct
Hill faced strong opposition for denuclearization agreement 8 Oct
John Coyne writes: The first Peace Corps book 20 Oct
Thomas Tighe moderates discussion with President Clinton 17 Oct
PC announces Community College degree program 18 Oct
Donna Shalala expresses dismay over football brawl 16 Oct
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley defends Lebanon policy 16 Oct
Jan Guifarro elected Chair of NPCA Board 15 Oct
Carl Pope writes: From the pump to the polls 13 Oct
Ambassador Gaddi Vasquez Says Africa a Priority 12 Oct
Chris Dodd opposes Bush terrorism bill 10 Oct
Isaac Edvalson is founder of Africa's Tomorrow 9 Oct
The Man who turned down Shriver 8 Oct
Mae Jemison tells girls to reach for the stars 6 Oct
Loren Finnell receives Shriver Award 4 Oct
Matt Sesow paints onstage during opera 2 Oct
Film examines anti-malaria drug lariam 29 Sep
Blackwill dismisses Musharraf's claims 27 Sep
Ron Tschetter sworn in as 17th Peace Corps Director 26 Sep
Rape Victim Student Gets $1 Million From City College 26 Sep
Ricardo Chavira narrates Public Service Announcements 25 Sep

The Peace Corps Library Date: July 11 2006 No: 923 The Peace Corps Library
The Peace Corps Library is now available online with over 40,000 index entries in 500 categories. Looking for a Returned Volunteer? Check our RPCV Directory or leave a message on our Bulletin Board. New: Sign up to receive our free Monthly Magazine by email, research the History of the Peace Corps, or sign up for a daily news summary of Peace Corps stories. FAQ: Visit our FAQ for more information about PCOL.

Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps Date: September 23 2006 No: 996 Chris Dodd's Vision for the Peace Corps
Senator Chris Dodd (RPCV Dominican Republic) spoke at the ceremony for this year's Shriver Award and elaborated on issues he raised at Ron Tschetter's hearings. Dodd plans to introduce legislation that may include: setting aside a portion of Peace Corps' budget as seed money for demonstration projects and third goal activities (after adjusting the annual budget upward to accommodate the added expense), more volunteer input into Peace Corps operations, removing medical, healthcare and tax impediments that discourage older volunteers, providing more transparency in the medical screening and appeals process, a more comprehensive health safety net for recently-returned volunteers, and authorizing volunteers to accept, under certain circumstances, private donations to support their development projects. He plans to circulate draft legislation for review to members of the Peace Corps community and welcomes RPCV comments.

He served with honor Date: September 12 2006 No: 983 He served with honor
One year ago, Staff Sgt. Robert J. Paul (RPCV Kenya) carried on an ongoing dialog on this website on the military and the peace corps and his role as a member of a Civil Affairs Team in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have just received a report that Sargeant Paul has been killed by a car bomb in Kabul. Words cannot express our feeling of loss for this tremendous injury to the entire RPCV community. Most of us didn't know him personally but we knew him from his words. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends. He was one of ours and he served with honor.

Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director Date: September 6 2006 No: 978 Meet Ron Tschetter - Our Next Director
Read our story about Ron Tschetter's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that was carried on C-Span. It was very different from the Vasquez hearings in 2001, very cut and dried with low attendance by the public. Among the highlights, Tschetter intends to make recruitment of baby boomers a priority, there are 20 countries under consideration for future programs, Senator Dodd intends to re-introduce his third goal Peace Corps legislation this session, Tschetter is a great admirer of Senator Coleman's quest for accountability, Dodd thinks management at PC may not put volunteers first, Dodd wants Tschetter to look into problems in medical selection, and Tschetter is not a blogger and knows little about the internet or guidelines for volunteer blogs. Read our recap of the hearings as well as Senator Coleman's statement and Tschetter's statement.

Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable Date: September 2 2006 No: 971 Chris Shays Shifts to Favor an Iraq Timetable
In a policy shift, RPCV Congressman Chris Shays, long a staunch advocate of the Bush administration's position in Iraq, is now proposing a timetable for a withdrawal of American troops. How Mr. Shays came to this change of heart is, he says, a matter of a newfound substantive belief that Iraqis need to be prodded into taking greater control of their own destiny under the countryís newly formed government. As Chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, he plans to draft a timetable for a phased withdrawal and then push for its adoption. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War who said that if drafted he would not serve, Chris Shays has made 14 trips to Iraq and was the first Congressman to enter the country after the war - against the wishes of the Department of Defense.

Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance Date: August 19 2006 No: 964 Peace Corps' Screening and Medical Clearance
The purpose of Peace Corps' screening and medical clearance process is to ensure safe accommodation for applicants and minimize undue risk exposure for volunteers to allow PCVS to complete their service without compromising their entry health status. To further these goals, PCOL has obtained a copy of the Peace Corps Screening Guidelines Manual through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and has posted it in the "Peace Corps Library." Applicants and Medical Professionals (especially those who have already served as volunteers) are urged to review the guidelines and leave their comments and suggestions. Then read the story of one RPCV's journey through medical screening and his suggestions for changes to the process.

The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again Date: July 31 2006 No: 947 The Peace Corps is "fashionable" again
The LA Times says that "the Peace Corps is booming again and "It's hard to know exactly what's behind the resurgence." PCOL Comment: Since the founding of the Peace Corps 45 years ago, Americans have answered Kennedy's call: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." Over 182,000 have served. Another 200,000 have applied and been unable to serve because of lack of Congressional funding. The Peace Corps has never gone out of fashion. It's Congress that hasn't been keeping pace.

Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact Date: July 20 2006 No: 930 Support the US-Peruvian Trade Pact
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, the Peace Corps President, has been lobbying both Democratic and Republican legislators to support the US-Peruvian trade pact before July 28, when his term ends and a US congressional recess begins. If President Bush fails to get approval before Congress goes on recess, it will be a case study proving that the United States does not reward its friends. Please call your representatives.

PCOL readership increases 100% Date: April 3 2006 No: 853 PCOL readership increases 100%
Monthly readership on "Peace Corps Online" has increased in the past twelve months to 350,000 visitors - over eleven thousand every day - a 100% increase since this time last year. Thanks again, RPCVs and Friends of the Peace Corps, for making PCOL your source of information for the Peace Corps community. And thanks for supporting the Peace Corps Library and History of the Peace Corps. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

History of the Peace Corps Date: March 18 2006 No: 834 History of the Peace Corps
PCOL is proud to announce that Phase One of the "History of the Peace Corps" is now available online. This installment includes over 5,000 pages of primary source documents from the archives of the Peace Corps including every issue of "Peace Corps News," "Peace Corps Times," "Peace Corps Volunteer," "Action Update," and every annual report of the Peace Corps to Congress since 1961. "Ask Not" is an ongoing project. Read how you can help.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Democracy Now

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; COS - Afghanistan; Journalism; Speaking Out


Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.