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Have you debated the war in Afghanistan?

Afghan men
2.08.02
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NARRATOR: This week on NOW...

An American woman returns to her birthplace, Afghanistan, and is shocked to learn that 19 relatives have been killed in an American attack.

MASUDA SULTAN TRANSLATING FOR AFGHAN MAN: Can't you tell the difference between Taliban and women?

NARRATOR: This week, new reports of civilian casualties.

We talk to N.P.R. News reporter Steve Inskeep in Kandahar.

America has destroyed the Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan. What's next? We ask writer James Carroll.

JAMES CARROLL: The Pentagon now stands as a symbol of all that this country has to be proud of but it also stands as a symbol, a kind of warning to us, that we can misuse our power terribly.

NARRATOR: A Bill Moyers interview.

And big business has found a new source of profits: pornography.

BILL ASHER: Once they start hearing large companies are distributing it, they start to realize there must be demand for this. This must be normal.

NARRATOR: But author and social critic Katie Roiphe sees no danger.

KATIE ROIPHE: Maybe you're giving pornography more power when you make it so forbidden.

NARRATOR: From our studios in New York, Bill Moyers.

MOYERS: Welcome to NOW

All week we've been hearing about the administration's proposed budget. It would place our country on a war footing.

The President wants to double the spending on homeland security and increase defense spending by the largest amount in 20 years.

Spending on highways, the environment, job training would be among the casualties of the war on terrorism.

There are, of course, other casualties in that war and they are our subject now.

NPR's Steve Inskeep is on the other end of our satellite in Afghanistan.

Thank you, Steve, for being with us.

STEVE INSKEEP: Glad to do it, Bill.

MOYERS: The Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, has now admitted that the attack you reported on was a mistake, that friendly Afghans might have been killed.

Has there been any reaction yet to that acknowledgment there?

INSKEEP: Afghan authorities are happy but also pained by this whole development, Bill.

This has really put a lot of Afghan officials in a really difficult situation because the fact is the people who are in control of Afghanistan now were put there by the United States. They're very strong supporters of the United States.

I think initially their inclination, Bill, was simply to let this thing pass, if possible; but there was an awful lot of protest at a local level.

People in Oruzgan province were insisting that the people who were attacked in this raid had no connections whatsoever to the Taliban, that they were loyal to the new government.

MOYERS: Clearly the American military did not know who the bad guys were there.

Has there been a breakdown in the intelligence that American forces are receiving?

INSKEEP: U.S. and Afghan authorities have given us only the sketchiest details about exactly why they thought that these two different buildings in this village in Oruzgan province were occupied by Al-Qaeda fighters.

Now, if you look at them on the surface there was some reason to suspect that something was going on there. Both of these buildings were occupied by a lot of armed men and there were weapons stock piles in both places including weapons that had belonged to the Taliban.

But one of the buildings had armed men because they were police officers, and the other building had armed men because it was a disarmament commission.

There is one official, a very senior official in the Afghan government, who describes this, Bill, as an Afghan mistake.

It says it was the Afghans here who caused the problems by feeding bad intelligence but we don't have any details about how it happened.

MOYERS: You told me in our conversation yesterday that the ability of the American military to strike precisely is really impressive.

INSKEEP: It is really amazing.

Actually just a short distance from where I'm standing, Bill, there are three houses, two of which during the war were allegedly occupied by Arabs, supposedly members of Al-Qaeda.

And the U.S. Military bombed two of those houses and completely destroyed them. One house is just a pile of bricks.

The other house is a pile of bricks and a few pillars of concrete that somehow remain standing. Yet the house that is in the middle was relatively undamaged. The windows were blown out. Other than that, the house is fine and just needed some minor repairs.

Incredible accuracy.

But I think what we see with the Oruzgan incident is that when you take that incredible technology that the United States has, the incredible fire power that the United States has and the training that they have and direct it at the wrong target you get devastating results.

MOYERS: You reported on NPR, that handcuffs, plastic handcuffs, were found on some of the bodies.

Is there any evidence to suggest that those victims were tied up and shot by American forces?

INSKEEP: I've seen what are alleged to be the plastic handcuffs.

The governor of this province has been carrying them around in a plastic bag, and he showed them to me.

It's impossible to verify that they really came off the wrists of dead men. But that is what witnesses say.

MOYERS: Those pictures that came back of the Afghans holding the money, the American money, the thousand dollars that each family got, are the Americans now handing out money to victims as a matter of policy?

INSKEEP: I can't say if it's absolutely a policy.

What I can verify is that money was handed out in this instance. We talked to numerous witnesses who said they had received money. We talked to witnesses who said that they were in a room full of families of the victims when the governor of the province handed them money and did not say it was from the government of Afghanistan. He said "this is from someone who wants to help you."

We also spoke to the governor himself in an interview on tape. At that time the governor said he had received the cash from U.S. Special Forces.

MOYERS: Has any American said that the U.S. will start doing anything differently as a result of this sort of incident?

INSKEEP: I think each one of these incidents causes the U.S. to try to be a little bit more careful, Bill.

The United States' military, in fact, I think focuses first on avoiding mistakes.

They first avoid... focus on not getting killed, for example. They focus on not destroying their careers by making mistakes like this. So I have no doubt that people right now are trying to figure out how this happened, trying to avoid having it happen again.

You have a situation where you rely on your allies for intelligence, and you cannot always be sure whether the allies are giving you the best information that they can.

MOYERS: Thank you very much, Steve Inskeep, and good luck on your journey home.

INSKEEP: Thanks, Bill.




FROM GROUND ZERO TO GROUND ZERO

MOYERS: Now for a different first-hand account of the war's toll on civilians.

Soon after 9/11, the independent journalist Jon Alpert connected with a young American citizen named Masuda Sultan, whose father brought her to New York when she was five to escape the Soviet Union's invasion of their homeland. (Read an interview with Masuda Sultan)

The two of them, Jon Alpert and Masuda Sultan, headed to Afghanistan searching for her extended family.

Here is an excerpt from their journey.

MASUDA SULTAN: On September 11, when the World Trade Center collapsed, I felt disbelief and anger, like many Americans.

I'm also an Afghan, living in New York. My name is Masuda Sultan. I was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

I knew these events would have repercussions for my family back home.

Looking down at Ground Zero, I want to rebuild it. I also want to go back to Kandahar and help them build there.

ALPERT: When Masuda said good-bye to her sisters, she didn't know if she'd see them again.

She was on her way to a war zone halfway around the world. The first stop was Quetta, Pakistan. It's near many Afghan refugee camps.

Masuda wanted to visit the refugees because she had been one herself.

SULTAN: My family began leaving Afghanistan as a result of the Soviet invasion, and those that didn't leave immediately started flowing out over the last 23 years, and some of them have now left as a result of the U.S. bombing campaign.

ALPERT: Since Masuda was born, one-third of the people in Afghanistan have become refugees.

These crossed into Pakistan in the last three months.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING FOR REFUGEE): He says it was very difficult to live there in the U.S. bombing.

He says he had four cousins that were killed in the U.S. bombing.

SULTAN: Do you all know what happened to the Americans on September, 11 and what do you all think about that?

SULTAN (TRANSLATING FOR REFUGEE):Whether the deaths are in the United States or Afghanistan, they are all a bad thing."

SULTAN: When I see those refugees here in... I can't help but think that I could have very well been one of them.

Many of them come from Kandahar, the city that I'm from.

And it breaks my heart to see how much they're suffering right now.

ALPERT: Next Masuda went to visit her cousins, the most recent members of her family to become refugees.

They had been near Kandahar when the Americans started to bomb. Now they were in Pakistan.

SULTAN: We're here at my cousin's house.

I'm really nervous about what we are going to hear about their experience.

ALPERT: Masuda had reason to be nervous.

Her cousin began listing all the family members who were killed when the American planes attacked.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING FOR COUSIN): His daughter died, his daughter-in-law, his brother, his nephew, one of his cousins, another cousin.

He says he lost three grandchildren and a nephew.

ALPERT: Everybody had been killed in a tiny village named Chowkar.

Masuda's family explained why they had gone there.

SULTAN: They were living near government buildings in Kandahar with Taliban close by.

They figured that the U.S. would target those buildings, so they didn't want to get hurt by those so they moved outside of the city and went to their farm just on the outskirts.

They were there for two weeks before they were hit. There was a low-flying plane, and they came out of their houses and many of them were shot at.

ALPERT: The attack came on the night of October 22.

Some wounds have healed; others never will.

SULTAN: This is the daughter that she lost.

This couple, they had four kids.

There's only one mother-in-law left out of the whole family.

All of these children were there running from the bullets, and it's her leg, as well. That's another one of the bullets.

This is a daughter of one of my cousins. Her mom was killed, and that's her other sister over there.

There are 19 people in total, and one woman was four months pregnant, so you can count it as 20.

The U.S. was demanding from the local Afghans that they show them where the Al Qaeda forces were.

And that... because these Afghans were being paid large sums of money, they had to come up with locations and people.

They were targeting people that they had no clue of their guilt or innocence.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING): When the plane started shooting at them, they lost track of where everyone was and it was chaotic.

He says that... he says that when they realized what had happened, one of his sons yelled out that there are many sheep lying out here.

When they went to find out, they saw that it was humans.

It was their family shot on the floor.

ALPERT: Masuda couldn't understand why her family was attacked; they were cousins, and uncles, not Taliban.

So she set off to Afghanistan to find the village of Chowkar and to find some answers.

SULTAN: We're now right on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We're crossing as we speak. We're now officially in Afghanistan. Welcome.

ALPERT: Chowkar is a 90- minute drive north of Kandahar, in the middle of what looks like nowhere.

SULTAN: My family left the city, traveled through the desert thinking no one would want to bomb around here. I mean, look at how desolate it is.

23 years of war for this land, I mean, look at it.

I think this is the village.

This is it.

This is it.

This is it.

Oh, my god.

ALPERT: On the night of the attack, there were 30 farmers here and 40 members of Masuda's family, including the ones we'd met in Pakistan.

SULTAN: This is the village that my family came to, to escape the city, where they thought they'd be targets.

Ironically, the target was here.

This is one of the craters created by a U.S. bomb. It's huge. They bombed about every three meters. There's craters all around us.

Trees have fallen. I can imagine them in flames. That's how... that's how my family described them.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING): That tree about ten meters up, they were hovering just about that high.

When the women were hit, they would try to move out of the way. They left a track of blood, the child right there next to them.

SULTAN: And they're trying to get away and this is what happened to my family.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING): Can't you tell the difference between the Taliban and the women from ten meters high?

ALPERT: Everyone told Masuda there were no Taliban anywhere near the village, but how can you prove that somebody wasn't there.

SULTAN: This is my cousin's brother-in-law's house, and they say that the only people left here are two little girls.

Everyone else was hit.This probably was the hardest hit house in this area.

Out of all these kids, these three kids were bombed right here. These three kids became refugees, and these three kids survived. Their mother and their father have died.

This is my cousin's room, Nasmiya.

Her daughter and her daughter-in-law died right here.

SULTAN (TRANSLATING): He says, "imagine what it must have been like for those women and kids that were in these houses, running out of their houses in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert, not knowing which way to run towards, and being in shot in the head by these people."

ALPERT: They were being shot at?

SULTAN: Yeah, they were being shot at.

ALPERT: By whom?

SULTAN TRANSLATING: By the Americans.

his is the child that I have left.

One.

What am I to do now?

My wife was killed, my children were killed.

This is the one that's left.

He says, "They bombed our houses.

May their houses be bombed, as well."

SULTAN: I don't agree with him.

I think nobody should have to experience this.

And if you're going to wish for something, you may as well wish for the best-- for this to be rebuilt and maybe for this to never happen again.

The consequences of September 11 range much farther than we could ever expect, both in New York and here in Afghanistan.

My family was here.

ALPERT: About 40 miles from Chowkar is the main base for the U.S. Military.

SULTAN: We're pulling up to the gate of the base here in Kandahar airport.

I'm going to find out what happened to my family in Chowkar.

SULTAN: I have a question.

AMERICAN SOLDIER: Okay.

SULTAN: Firstly, I want to say I appreciate the efforts of yourself and everyone here in ousting the Taliban.

I'd like to know what happened in that village in Chowkar in the middle of the night. Apparently there was some kind of an attack by the U.S. Nineteen members of my family were killed. They were offered no explanation. It's been about two months, and I'm wondering if you've had time to investigate that.

AMERICAN SOLDIER: We weren't even on the ground at that juncture.

So, you know, a question of that nature, you'd probably either have to contact U.S. Central command or D.O.D. as far as to the specifics of what happened.

SULTAN: How low can this helicopter be?

How close to the ground can it be when it's shooting?

AMERICAN SOLDIER #1: It can be as low as it needs to be, really.

SULTAN: My family said there was a helicopter hovering over as it was attacking.

AMERICAN SOLDIER #2: More than likely it might have been one of the special forces type aircraft we have around here.

SULTAN: It's unbelievable all the wreckage you have around here.

It's got to be kind of strange working in these conditions.

AMERICAN SOLDIER #3: Especially knowing what happened to the Soviets, how quick they pulled up to leave all this stuff behind.

Every time I start missing home or something I just think back about what happened.

I'm from New Jersey.

I've been to the World Trade Center hundreds of times.

Every time I get homesick, I think about that.

SULTAN: I want to say thank you for ousting the Taliban and for keeping us Americans at home safe, but my family was killed in this, too, and they were killed by Americans, American soldiers.

AMERICAN SOLDIER #4: It'd be kind of difficult to put it into perspective, I suppose, but I know what our intent was when we came here, and that was to try to free the Afghani people from the treachery of the Taliban.

SULTAN: What's the logic for targeting this little village in the middle of nowhere with no Arabs, you know, no Al Qaeda forces, no Taliban?

AMERICAN SOLDIER: Couldn't tell you, don't know.

Don't have any information on it.

SULTAN: Bye, guys, bye-bye.

After visiting with those guys, the only thing that has been cleared up for me was the intent wasn't to hurt civilians.

But why they would kill those people? I don't know.

MOYERS: And the truth, as in any war, is difficult to discern.

Before airing that report we talked to a representative of the organization Human Rights Watch. He interviewed three families of survivors of Chowkar and said he turned up no evidence that Taliban were in or around the village at the time.

But we also called the Pentagon.

The spokesman says nothing has appeared to change the original explanation, that Chowkar had been "a validated military target," was a Taliban facility with tents on the outskirts sheltering Taliban fighters.

Two reports, each different.



MOYERS: Why, then, bother even trying to sort out the unintended but inevitable human cost of war to those caught in the crossfire?

Some of you will remember that I was the White House spokesman for part of the Vietnam War.

You try to sort these things out as best you can, to discount the thrill of war for those who advocate but never have to suffer from it.

SNAPSHOTS - LORI GRINKER

LORI GRINKER: I think that as an American, I never thought I would experience war in my country, and I wanted to know about war from the perspective of these people.

As many as 15,000 children served as soldiers in Liberia.

In the case of the boy who's standing in the center, Otis, he was the colonel.

They called him "Commanding Officer Dirty Ways."

And he had six boys assigned to him, like guards.

And then they would go out and do things, horrific things.

Sometimes they even had to commit atrocities against their own families to show loyalty to their commanders.

I was in Cambodia trying to document the effects of war on the people who'd been in that civil war.

This man had been a fighter. He was with three comrades. They were out in the field and they were hit by a mine and he lost his legs. He said that sometimes he gets confused in dreams and he thinks he has two legs.

In Vietnam, women have been fighting for over 2,000 years.

They were called the long-haired warriors.

She was working building this bridge along the main highway, and they were hit by a bomb from the United States.

She's wearing her old prosthesis, and this new one that's sitting next to her was brought over by this American group.

She said that they hated the Americans when they invaded them, and that now it was different because they were coming and giving them limbs. She said the people are good, it's the leaders who are not so good.

This is Henry Green.

He's a British veteran of the Korean War.

You know, he had a successful life, but when it came to the war, he just couldn't speak. He was in this group therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and every time he attempted to speak in the group he would start to cry. He just broke up so badly that he couldn't talk.

And I find that all over the world, all these people who have fought come away with kind of a poetry in them and a sadness.

And it... it... I'm sure it's always there.

I haven't found one person who would say there's a day that goes by that they don't feel the war in some way or another.





BILL MOYERS INTERVIEWS JAMES CARROLL

MOYERS: Listening to Lori Grinker, I realized James Carroll could say much the same thing.

James Carroll has wrestled with the demons of war.

He's working right now on a history of the Pentagon.

His father, an Air Force General, was founding director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and during the Vietnam War picked the target for American bombers.

There was grief in the family, and Jim Carroll won the National Book Award for his memoir called AN AMERICAN REQUIEM: GOD, MY FATHER, AND THE WAR THAT CAME BETWEEN US.

Since leaving the priesthood, he's published 11 books, including most recently CONSTANTINE'S SWORD: THE CHURCH AND THE JEWS

He's also a columnist for the BOSTON GLOBE.

Thank you for joining me.

JAMES CARROLL: A pleasure, Bill.

MOYERS: I was in the White House while your father was at the Pentagon. And I'm wondering did he ever come home and and anguish over the civilian loss of life in that war?

CARROLL: Not directly, not openly. My father took seriously, I think, very seriously his... the bond of silence and secrecy that went with intelligence work.

There were implicit and painful signals that I recognize after the fact.

The main thing I saw from my father in those years though was a profound sense of worry and anguish.

One time he told me that I would be responsible for the family if he didn't come home thinking, I think, of the imminent threat of a nuclear war.

MOYERS: What you say in AMERICAN REQUIEM and other writings, what you reveal is your discovery that among your father and his colleagues there was a real debate going on about what to do in Vietnam or whether the war could be won.

CARROLL: It's true. As I learned, for example, those of us standing outside the Pentagon denouncing the bombing of North Vietnam, simultaneously I discover from Robert McNamara's memoir and other sources the Defense Intelligence Agency is giving McNamara monthly, weekly reports saying the same thing: the bombing of North Vietnam is not working.

It's stiffening the resolve of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong, which led eventually to McNamara's own loss of faith in the possibility of the bombing working.

It came as a big surprise to me that my father could be understood as having opposed the bombing, even while, to me, he was very critical of those of us outside who were raising questions about it.

MOYERS: So you stood outside the Pentagon opposing the bombing in Vietnam. Your brother was a draft resister. Your father was inside, a general who was directing the strategy.

CARROLL: Right.

And I had another brother who was an F.B.I. agent catching draft resisters.

So it was a family story in a way in my experience which was very pointed.

MOYERS: Do you suppose that the men inside the Pentagon right now and at the White House had the same kind of ambivalence, the same kind of doubts that your father experienced?

CARROLL: Well, whether they would recognize it as ambivalence and doubts, there's no doubt in my mind one of the most important and unknown stories in America today is the argument that goes on inside the Pentagon. I'll give you one example.

In the '50s into the early '60s one of the great debates was whether preventative war was a strategy America should undertake. There were people in the Pentagon who argued the morality of and the political necessity of preventative war, that is to say, we should attack the Soviet Union now before they have the capacity to launch a retaliatory strike that would undo as a nation, and it was a serious debate.

One of the great political and moral victories of that era, I would say, is when the American government decided — I think on moral grounds — preventative war is unacceptable.

The United States of America does not do that.

The reason I point to that is because the same debate now is going on in the Pentagon.

Preventative war is the question when we're dealing with we think of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the so-called Axis of Evil.

What is President Bush proposing when he considers an action against those nations? He's talking about preventative war, that is, we initiate the strike, we initiate the conflict.

A generation ago, America decided that this country doesn't do that. And I believe that inside the Pentagon today there are people still saying that: this country doesn't do that.

MOYERS: There's a lot of argument and a lot of advocacy in Washington right now for those... that preventative war. They say that these three countries are dictatorships, they're openly hostile to U.S. interests, they are actively developing weapons of mass destruction and the means to develop... deliver them. They've all spilled American blood and they all harbor and support international terrorism.

Now, do you think those are grounds for action against those three countries?

CARROLL: Well, you could have said the same things about Joseph Stalin's regime and the regime that succeeded him, Nikita Kruschev's, there's no question about the evil those regimes were capable of. We saw it. We know what kind of a threat they were.

There was a time when this country could have in fact taken actions against the Soviet Union without at least, so the general said, without suffering a strike against the mainland of the United States.

We didn't do it. What we did was we found other ways of dealing with the Soviet Union.

The theory of containment, diplomacy, alas a ferocious arms race which I believe was misbegotten.

But nevertheless, we found nonviolent political diplomatic responses that ultimately, over a long haul, one of the great tributes we have to pay that generation is the patience that enabled the demise of the Soviet Union without a war.

Let's remember that the great political assumption of our youth was that the contest with the Soviet Union could only end with a war.

Inexorable totalitarianism — it would never dismantle itself on its own accord.

Guess what? It did.

The Soviet Union self-destructed in response to pressures from the West.

Why can't we learn from that?

MOYERS: Let me read you something you wrote.

Quote: There is wisdom to be claimed from the life span of the Pentagon, for in these decades assumptions of absolute American virtue have been stripped from us.

How is that?

CARROLL: Well, the Pentagon is the temple of the heroes who successfully led the resistance against Hitler and Stalin but it's also the place from which the most devastating American mistakes have been made, especially Vietnam but not only Vietnam, a misbegotten war in Central and Latin America, a terribly misguided uncritical pursuit of an overwhelming arms race that the world has really been lucky to survive.

No one knows the, I would argue, no one knows the limits of Pentagon power better than men and women inside this debate in the Pentagon itself.

One of the interesting things is when political power is wielded in America, the people who have served in the military tend to be much more humble in its wielding.

President Eisenhower stood against generals on the question of the development of nuclear... and use of nuclear weapons.

And who is the so-called dove in the present administration?

It's the general. It's the man who has exercised authority on a battle ground: Colin Powell.

The man who is now... I mean, it must make him wonder who he is in the morning... on the far left of America's inner circle political debate.

MOYERS: We do seem to be marching in lockstep. The consensus in the country, the cheerleading press in Washington and other places.

We seem to be marching in lockstep right now. It seems to me, Jim Carroll, that absolute American virtue has never been more emphatically asserted than it is right now.

CARROLL: It's true, which is a very alarming development. It's understandable. It's human. We accepted... we didn't accept.

We took a blow as a nation on September 11.

MOYERS: You call it a diabolical act.

CARROLL: It is a diabolical act. It's one of the most savage crimes in history.

That assault on civilian life at that level. We're all stunned still. But at a basic level what was it? It was a profound humiliation.

It was an experience of humiliation unlike anything America has experienced perhaps since Pearl Harbor but even Pearl Harbor we didn't see it on television. We didn't relive it again and again. And we didn't assume our status as the indispensable nation at that point.

This blow to our self as a people has left us reeling. One of the manifestations of our trauma is the ease with which we have fallen back into a very self-justifying and I would say self-righteous tendency to divide the world, as President Bush says, between us and them.

It's consoling and it helps us to see the world that way, but alas politically and in the real situation of what is in the world today, that's another formula for disaster.

MOYERS: But when it comes to the ability of a Saddam Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction, when it comes to the spirit of terrorism which I think is legitimate... a legitimate concern, I mean, we are the indispensable nation; are we not?

Who is going to do it? Not Ireland, not France, not Switzerland.

CARROLL: Well actually I think that's wrong because the threat of terrorism is transnational.

The only way to respond to terrorism is in coalition with other nations. The C.I.A. Director described what the threat of Al-Qaeda is today. I mean, our war, let's face it, that was going to decapitate Al-Qaeda didn't do it.

We didn't even capture or kill Osama bin Laden apparently.

MOYERS: But the root base of terrorism in Afghanistan, the Taliban, has been destroyed not with a coalition but one could say with unilateral American military action.

And some people argue — and I think I might be one of them — that it would have would have taken too long to put a coalition together to try to do that.

Was there any way to bring pressure against a hostile power structure like the Taliban in Afghanistan without inflicting suffering on the civilians caught in the cross fire?

CARROLL: Well that's a question that we'll never be able to answer now.

I argued in the weeks after September 11, and I believe I would argue still, that we would have been much better off to shape our response to that horrendous event, September 11, in terms of the language of... and the culture of law rather than the culture of war.

We went to....

MOYERS: The Taliban ignored the law.

CARROLL: Well, the Taliban was a lawless regime. Absolutely. It's not the only one in the world.

And if we think that we can respond to anarchic regimes by going to war with them, we've condemned ourselves and the future of the planet to an endless succession of terrible conflict.

When you say to people in... who are in the middle of this world conflict, you choose them or you choose us, it's inevitable that many of the people who could choose us if the question were put differently are going to choose them.

That's happening now according to news reports recently among the elite, for example, of Saudi Arabia.

What does it tell us? That middle class, privileged people in Saudi Arabia in overwhelming numbers apparently think well of Osama bin Laden.

It tells us not that they're demons. It tells that if they're given the choice between the United States of America pursuing power with overwhelming force and someone who is standing up and defying it, they're going to choose against the United States.

MOYERS: George W. Bush would say they're harboring terrorism and that they are planting themselves against the civilized world.

CARROLL: It's true and it's interesting how selective our overwhelming force is.

We won't use force against Saudi Arabia, and I think you could make the case that the terrorist assaults of September 11 were as rooted in Saudi culture as they were in Afghan culture, and we don't do that.

Why? Obviously because we need Saudi oil. I'm not going to get into the endless discussion about oil, but that's a factor here.

When our interests dictate it, we're prepared to use diplomatic and political pressure, which you can bet we're putting on Saudi Arabia today.

My argument is, that's the kind of pressure we should have used in Afghanistan.

MOYERS: See, I would disagree with you.

I support the strategic aims of this war, and I don't think it's a misguided mission they're on in Afghanistan.

CARROLL: We can't evaluate the war in Afghanistan, Bill.

You and I may disagree on it at this moment, but one of the things we have to understand is we have set in motion a momentum that is going to roll on.

If India and Pakistan go to war with each other, as well they might, with disastrous consequences for those two nations and the globe, will we still be so confident that our policy of "dead or alive," "us or them" which licensed that war was the right thing?

MOYERS: Thank you very much.

CARROLL: Thank you.





COMMENTARY: VERTAMAE GROSVENOR ON LANGSTON HUGHES

MOYERS: We celebrate this month the 100th birthday of the poet Langston Hughes.

Whether it was the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s or the civil rights movement of the '60s, Langston Hughes turned the American black experience into stories that can transform the reader.

An appreciation now from Harlem by NPR's Vertamae Grosvenor.

VERTAMAE GROSVENOR: Langston Hughes loved Harlem, he lived in Harlem.

In his first book, published during the Harlem Renaissance, THE WEARY BLUES, he wrote about Harlem.

LANGSTON HUGHES: The emotions in a number of my poems are the emotions of the Harlem people.

GROSVENOR: Langston Hughes did not like long novels, the cold weather, the opera AIDA, the card game bridge or the taste of parsnips.

He did like short novels, hot weather, the opera TRISTAN,the poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar, jazz and lyrical lines, and he wrote them: "life for me ain't been no crystal stair."

"the sweet flypaper of life."

"crumbs from the tables of joy."

When he was the new kid at a high school in a small Illinois town, a boy in class nominated him to be class poet.

HUGHES: Almost all American white people at that time seemed to think that all Negroes could sing and dance and that all of us had a sense of rhythm.

So I came to the conclusion that maybe poetry, rhythm, color, me a Negro, that little boy had thought he must have some rhythm to give a poem, and maybe that's why I was elected the class poet.

At any rate, I'm glad that I was.

GROSVENOR: I grew up on Langston Hughes' poetry and so did my children, but I was wonderfully surprised when among my granddaughter's school papers I found a Langston Hughes poem in Spanish.

"Charlotte," I said "do you know that in 15 minutes while riding on a train, he wrote one of his most famous poems and he was only 18?"

"my soul has grown deep like the rivers."

HUGHES: "ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers."

GROSVENOR: Langston Hughes found poetry in ordinary places and ordinary people.

He made finding poetry everywhere seem deceptively simple.






FRONTLINE EXCERPT: AMERICAN PORN

MOYERS: Watching FRONTLINE last night — FRONTLINE is our premier documentary series, as PBS fans know so well — watching FRONTLINE last night I was struck by the thought that Enron might still be around if instead of trading in energy and politics they had stuck with core Wall Street values: enduring demand, enduring supply.

Some big brands in American capitalism are, in fact, reaping huge profits from those core values — you might say hard-core values, as Peter Boyer reports in this excerpt from FRONTLINE.

PETER BOYER: Pornography is the high-tech boom that didn't go bust.

Before the digital age, there were only so many ways to sell a dirty picture. Technology transformed the business.

BILL ASHER, PRESIDENT, VIVID ENTERTAINMENT GROUP: We distribute those movies on video, VHS, DVD; we have internet sites; television channels.

Our international business is growing in 30-some countries with all the different products.

BOYER: The new technology allowed pornography to break through into the mainstream and into association with some of the biggest brand names in American business.

This is the main control room at DirecTV, the satellite distribution service.

This is how pornography is channeled into millions of American homes.

ASHER: So we know what's called a buy rate, which is that for every million homes you're in in any given month we'll know how many times someone bought a movie.

Generally our buy rates were between 10%-20%.

BOYER: And how many million homes were you in?

ASHER: We're in 40 million cumulatively.

BOYER: That's four million homes every month paying to view a Vivid Video.

That's good for Vivid Video, and it's good for General Motors, which owns DirecTV.

AT&T is the biggest American company that has accommodated itself to the pornography boom.

For AT&T, porn distribution is great business, but you might not know it from reading the company's annual report.

There is no mention of adult material nor how much it contributes to the company's bottom line, but it's no secret to Wall Street.

DENNIS MCALPINE, WALL STREET ANALYST: If you look at how much money is coming in from adult — remember, there's virtually no cost to AT&T for carrying it — and if he's generating $10 million, $20 million a month, that's virtually all found money going into the bottom line.

So it can be a significant amount. $20 million times 12 months, that's... That's a lot of bread.

TAPE: You want to pay $52 for 4,300.

I got you, baby.

BOYER: Pornography's new acceptability in corporate America has made it an amenity in many of the nation's hotel chains.

MCALPINE: The hotel needs to provide television as an amenity to the consumer.

If it's a businessman, he probably wants to see adult.

So this is a way of keeping that consumer happy.

MARK GROSSMAN, VICE PRESIDENT HILTON HOTELS CORP: It's an offering much like in a hotel, there will be bars that serve alcohol.

And that's not to say that we condone drinking or that we should judge people whether or not they want to drink alcohol, but it is there as a convenience. It is there as an offering for guests who wish to do it, for guests who wish to watch this material.

BOYER: The major chains — Hilton, Westin, and Marriott — all offer porn in their rooms delivered to the hotel by one of two major distribution companies, LodgeNet or OnCommand Video.

Some analysts say these movies make more money for the hotel chains than all the alcohol and snacks in the minibar.

MCALPINE: So the 5% or the 10% of revenue that the hotel chain gets, that's pure profit to him because they have no cost; they didn't put in the wiring system, they didn't supply the programming.

BOYER: It's a happy alliance for both sides of the business equation: for the mainstream companies, easy money; for the porn industry, a protective layer of legitimacy.

ASHER: The mainstream companies help legitimize what we're doing.

They tell America that, by definition, if this company, this large company that you respect is distributing this, obviously there's demand for it.

I think that is what has helped us is that in the past it was always, people talk about, "how big is the adult industry?"

And people would say, "oh, it's huge," but I think that the average person said, "well, that's a lot of hype." There really isn't that much interest in this product," or, "it's a very small segment of people who really buy this product." I think once they start hearing large companies are distributing it, they start to realize, "there must be demand for this. This must be normal. I shouldn't feel odd because I enjoy it."






MOYERS: Katie Roiphe has thought about these things. (Read more about Porn in the U.S.A.)

She stirred a storm with her first book, THE MORNING AFTER: SEX, FEAR AND FEMINISM.

Now she's written a novel, called STILL SHE HAUNTS ME, based on Lewis Carroll's fascination with the young girl who figured in the inspiration for ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Katie Roiphe earned her doctorate in literature at Princeton University.

Thank you for joining me.

Does it surprise you that Fortune 500 companies have added pornography to the goods and services that they offer us?

KATIE ROIPHE: It doesn't really surprise me.

I mean you just look at the Victoria Secret ads on TV.

I think there's definitely, it seems that it's everywhere.

MOYERS: Sex is everywhere, but is there a distinction in your mind between sex and pornography?

ROIPHE: Well, I think there definitely is.

But I don't really find the idea of businessmen in their hotels rooms watching pornography that much, you know, that alarming.

I think that, is it really more soul deadening for them to watch a pornographic movie at night rather than DIE HARD 3 or whatever else they'd be watching?

I'm not sure why it's considered so dangerous.

MOYERS: Once upon a time community standards sort of protected the innocent from this stuff.

Now it comes to us from everywhere, from the internet, from cable, from the video store, from movies.

What happens for our protection of children when there are no community standards anymore?

ROIPHE: Well, I think that parents can regulate, block out their televisions.

I know my ten-year-old nephew was recently complaining to me that his mother had done just that.

I think that it really has to be in the hands of the individual just because the idea of regulating speech is too dangerous.

To me the alternative is much worse, the idea that you would say this is not acceptable speech and this is.

I feel like we're too close to that moment in time when Nabokov's LOLITA couldn't find a publisher in America because of the obscenity laws.

MOYERS: I once asked the historian Henry Steele Commager if he thought censorship could work in a situation like this.

He said censorship never works.

I said what's the alternative?

He said we need an alternative strategy of affirmation. Society has to offer different alternatives to this.

I find American society becoming so coarse and so vulgar if you will, in your face, there's almost no place anybody can flee to make choices.

ROIPHE: Except maybe you're giving pornography more power when you make it so forbidden.

Maybe if you can walk into any Howard Johnson's and see this kind of, you know, badly acted pornographic movie on television, it becomes less powerful and less taboo and less sort of titillating to people.

Somebody like Larry Flynt, probably the worst nightmare that he can imagine is for pornography to be so easily available.

MOYERS: Many of the feminists were very unhappy with you when your first book, THE MORNING AFTER came out, because they said you were buying into a system they had been trying to fight, a system that does reduce women to objects and maintains the superiority of male domination.

ROIPHE: Yes, and when I wrote that book back in '93 it was definitely a big issue especially surrounding the pornography, the idea of protecting women. The idea that in some way there was something harmful to women about these images of pornography in our culture.

And I found that and did write in my book that this is somehow insulting to women and condescending to women.

And I don't think that women need to be protected from male sexuality in quite the way the '70s feminists would have us believe.

The men are just as objectified as the women are. Both of them present this kind of almost absurd vision of sex.

But I don't necessarily think that women come out of it any worse than men do.

MOYERS: HBO, which runs some of the best documentaries on television, documentaries I greatly admire, has explicit sex programming, not pornography but explicit sex programming.

It gets better ratings than most of the cultural and political shows. What do you think about that?

ROIPHE: It's depressing.

I mean, I think, you know, to me what's alarming about it is the banality of these images. I don't think it's dangerous.

I think it's squalid and depressing to think of that lonely person at home on Saturday night watching HBO, Real Sex or Go-Go Dancers or whatever the show is they're watching.

To me that's what it's about. It's not about danger. I think that's giving these images too much credit frankly.

MOYERS: I once did an interview with the critic Cleanth Brooks and he talked about pornography as one of the bastard muses. That it just concentrates on one aspect of the human being at the expense of the total personality.

ROIPHE:Well, Susan Sontag also wrote an essay THE PORNOGRAPHIC IMAGINATION about how economical the form is, the same type of thing.

I have to admit I am not a big fan of pornography, but I do see that there could be a fascination with it, because it does pare out all aspects. It's an obsessive medium and there's something about that obsession that I think, you know, is very human.

MOYERS: Many, many women really despise you for those views. I mean I've read the attacks on you. What do you think about those attacks?

ROIPHE: Well, that is true.

I remember being called the Clarence Thomas of women in NEWSWEEK once.

But I, you know, I say what I think, and I've been honest.

I think that the culture has actually changed a lot since I wrote my first book.

A lot of the ideas....

MOYERS: How so?

ROIPHE: ...that people were so shocked by in my first book namely that we shouldn't constantly portray women as victims to the male sexual threat, that idea has become very mainstream.

And my point that you can take the obsession with sexual harassment too far has become accepted by the larger culture.

If you look at the Clinton scandal — that was to me the logical conclusion of this feminist idea, you know, co-opted by the Republicans that the personal is political, that anything that goes on in someone's private life is relevant to, you know, politics, to the world.

I think the entire country showed... reacted against that idea and said, you know what?

We don't want to hear about this.

MOYERS: It concerns me more that Kenneth Lay is meeting secretly with the Vice President than it concerned me that President Clinton was meeting with secretly with Monica Lewinsky. There's more of public policy at stake in that it seems to me. The Conservatives would disagree with both of us.

ROIPHE: Well I think the country agrees with you in that, you know, I think the country....

MOYERS: I'm sure glad to hear that.

ROIPHE: The country clearly showed that in the end the contents of the Starr Report ended up hurting the Republicans, you know, more than the Democrats, ended up hurting Ken Starr more than it hurt Clinton.

MOYERS: Did you read the Starr Report.

ROIPHE: I did, and I have to say the Starr Report was probably a much more pornographic document than your average issue of HUSTLER or PLAYBOY.

MOYERS: In the meantime, does pornography lead to unacceptable behavior on the part of the people who see it?

ROIPHE: That's a premise that feminists have long tried to say, that pornography causes men to go out and rape women and attack them.

I frankly think that's ridiculous.

I think the idea is very condescending to people that you think they see something on TV and they imitate it or they see a picture and they imitate it.

I think, frankly, if that were true pornography would be the least of our problems. That seeing somebody blow up a building and then going and blowing up a building is a lot more of a big deal than some of the pornography we're talking about in these sad hotel rooms. To me, I don't really buy that argument.

MOYERS: Thank you, Katie Roiphe, for helping us think about all this.

ROIPHE: Thank you.








MOYERS: And now a look at stories coming up on NPR radio.

BOB EDWARDS: I'm Bob Edwards.

Monday on MORNING EDITION from NPR News: the hidden history of the Lincoln memorial, one of the most famous landmarks in the Capitol began with a political battle.

The debates were endless over Lincoln's role as emancipator to whether he should sit or stand.

That's Monday on MORNING EDITION.

You can find your local public radio station by logging on to the web site: npr.org.

MOYERS: That's it for NOW.

Join us again next week to continue the conversation.

I'm Bill Moyers.


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