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Editorial on Buddha Destruction



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Read the following editorial from the Moscow Times. I've noticed that a lot
of Indian media tend to engage in India-bashing, and in any Indo-Pakistani
dispute they will vilify India and leave Pakistan blameless. Note a similar
tone in the Russian media.
Both have a tendency to wear their anti-national attitudes as a badge of
pride. No matter how ugly the outside adversary is, they will always bash
their own country first. It's very useful to understand where the sympathies
of such "enlightened liberals" lie.



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Who Really Destroyed the Statues?

The Moscow Times.com 3/13/01 - Editorial

"The destruction work is not as easy as people would think," Taliban
Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told CNN in regard to his
government's demolition of the unique ancient giant Buddhas of Bamiyan.

The statues, built in the fourth or fifth century and having withstood the
invading armies of Alexander the Great and the Huns, were the most visible
and symbolic victims of the Taliban's recent edict ordering the destruction
of all statues on the grounds that representations of people and animals are
offensive to Islam. "We are not going to back away from the edict and no
statues in Afghanistan will be spared," the minister said.

As horrifying as this edict and the loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas are and as
easy as it is to simply blame the intolerant and narrow-minded Taliban for
all Afghanistan's woes, the incident should give the world pause to think
about what it has wrought upon this impoverished, long-suffering nation.

Decades of civil war - the flames of which were eagerly and selfishly fanned
by both the Soviet Union and the United States in their pitiless Cold War
rivalry - have already long ago obliterated Afghanistan's cultural heritage.
The Kabul Museum has been thoroughly looted, which may have actually saved
many of its treasures from a rocket attack in 1993 that destroyed much of
what had been left behind.

And what about the unspeakable human costs of this tragic conflict and the
isolation inflicted on the country by misguided international sanctions? The
Taliban may well have taken more moderate stands on issues such as harboring
suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden or destroying the Bamiyan Buddhas if
they had had international business or tourism ties to protect.

In 1998, when a Taliban commander ordered the destruction of one of the
Bamiyan statues, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar ordered him to stop,
evidently hoping for a revival of tourism. Apparently, the latest wave of UN
sanctions - advocated jointly by the United States and Russia - was enough
to kill off that slim hope.

The international community's outrage over the desecration of cultural
monuments might have been more effective had it not come against the
background of decades of indifference to, and even complicity in,
Afghanistan's plight.

Now Russia and the West will use Bamiyan to further stigmatize the Taliban
and to justify additional torments for Afghanistan. The real lessons of the
Bamiyan Buddhas will go unheeded and further cultural and humanitarian
catastrophes - Chechnya, Iraq - are inevitable unless we all stop now to ask
who is really to blame.





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