Southern Afghans Have Never Heard of 9/11

An opinion survey carried out in Helmand and Kandahar provinces showed that 92% of the Afghan respondents (1000 men) had never heard of 9/11.

Most Americans are ambivalent about the Afghanistan War precisely because it is hard to dismiss the argument that the September 11 attacks were planned out there in some of 40 terrorist training camps that were aimed at waging war on the US.

If Afghans, 72% of whom are illiterate, have never even heard of September 11, then they have no idea why the United States and NATO are even in their country! And the entire lack of such knowledge would likely make them more hostile to that presence, since it would seem wholly unjustified and from out of left field to them.

Knowledge of the wider world is connected in part to information infrastructure. Afghanistan suffers from lack of electricity, which limits access to television and the internet. Internet penetration is only 3%, in part because of the high cost of satellite communications and the lack until recently of cheaper fiber optic cables. The satellite signals have allowed around 30% of Afghans to have cell phones.

But information is more available in urban areas such as Kabul and Mazar than in the mostly rural Pashtun south.

It is also possible that Pashtuns who had supported the Taliban are embarrassed by 9/11 and that their denials are a way of saving face.

5 Responses

  1. One might also mention that the Taliban only hosted Al Qaeda on the condition that they didn’t attack the US. Also that they offered to give up bin Laden to the US if they provided proof of his complicity in 9/11. The US refused and then immediately invaded Afghanistan.
    Although the US did later promise to offer proof of his complicity to the rest of us, they never actually have. Bin laden has never acknowledged involvement (quite the opposite), and all we’ve bee given are a couple of poor quality blurry videos complete with “bin Laden” wearing a watch on the wrong wrist and jewellery, which the real one never did.

    All of which make you wonder what the hell we are doing there, especially since Gates says there may be substantially less than 100 members of Al Qaeda there.

    We have spent an almighty amount of money chasing and failing to catch a few n’er do wells. What an incredible waste of money and human life. And coincidentally, what an incredible positive reinforcement of the ideas that encouraged Al Qaeda in the first place…

  2. re.”If Afghans, 72% of whom are illiterate, have never even heard of September 11, then they have no idea why the United States and NATO are even in their country! And the entire lack of such knowledge would likely make them more hostile to that presence, since it would seem wholly unjustified and from out of left field to them.”

    I live in the West, and have access to television, radio, newspapers, internet, and the telephone (both cell and land line), and am not illiterate.

    I have no idea why the United States and NATO are even in Afghanistan, it seems wholly unjustified and from out of left field to me.

  3. link to nytimes.com

    November 20, 2010

    NATO Agrees to Assist Afghanistan Past 2014
    By STEVEN ERLANGER and JACKIE CALMES

    NATO leaders, backing President Obama’s plan for a gradual phaseout of combat operations, agreed to control Afghanistan’s security until 2014 then assist with its logistics and training.

    [President Obama has just made sure that America will be occupying and warring in Afghanistan beyond 2014, no matter the astounding cost, no matter the destruction, no matter that we are not Constitutionally at war with Afghanistan. We truly have an imperial Presidency.]

  4. President Obama has made sure America will be at war till at least 2014, when there is no possible Constitutional reason for America to be at war even now, and there is not even a pretense that Congressional approval is needed or that ordinary Americans have to in any way know what the President is committing us to. I am appalled.

  5. This gives the Republicans a chance to do us some good. There will be little argument now that Afghanistan is Obama’s war, and I don’t think “2-0-1-4 – and then maybe a few more” will resonate in a positive way with the public, but it is a catchy phrase for the opposition.

    The Tea Party Republicans have a ready made good cause that can help them disown their campaign nonsense – get us out of Afghanistan in the foreseeable now. Obama has taken all the fight out of the Democrats, and the legacy Republicans will be busy choking on their contradictions (pay down the deficit with a tax cut), which leaves the Tea Party to break loose from the pack.

    In my view the Petraeus Pentagon sees its self preservation dependent on never returning to the barracks, and Obama is helping along by providing a minimum of three more years of deployment time. It will take a ferocious political effort bring the troops home, and the only raging bull around with any political power is the Tea Party.

    Just a speculative thought not based on the fossil record.

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