Back to Common Ground Archive

Week of AUGUST 6, 2002

Program 0232


Kabul’s Peacekeepers | Transcript | MP3

UN War Role | Transcript | MP3

Sustainable Development Preview | Transcript | MP3

Uganda Dam | Transcript | MP3

Jason Carter | Transcript | MP3

Israel’s Options | Transcript | MP3

Afghan Music | Transcript | MP3

This text has been professionally transcribed. However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: I think if we were to look back on the past, I don’t know eight or nine months in relation to Afghanistan, my goodness, we’ve come a lot further than people could have possibly thought.

KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, the challenges of keeping the peace in Kabul.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: And the role the United Nations plays in the global war on terror.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM: Since September 11 we have been gratified to see a strong and pretty much unified response from the international community on how we deal with a range of issues of common concern.

MCHUGH: Plus, a preview of the upcoming Earth Summit in Johannesburg.

DR. KLAUS TOEPFER: We have not solved the problem of climate change. We have still an increase of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, from the developed countries. So we are exporting those problems to developing countries.

PORTER: More after this.

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Kabul’s Peacekeepers

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MCHUGH: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program on world affairs. I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. The international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, an effort by nearly 20 countries to foster security there, is under new command. Turkey is now charged with administering nearly 5,000 foreign soldiers in Kabul. Alastair Wanklyn reports from Kabul on the tasks and challenges for the peacekeepers as the nation returns to self-sufficiency.

[The sound of a busy bazaar.]

ALASTAIR WANKLYN: In the bustling, dusty streets of Kabul’s central bazaar, shops are piled high with kitchenware, folded cloth, and baskets of children’s toys. And in the narrow, muddy streets, a crush of people. Swept along are three Dutch soldiers. They have radio earpieces and look like they could mean business. But shopkeepers smile as the soldiers pass, and chattering youths push round them in a show of amusement and welcome. Six months into the life of the international security assistance force in Kabul, people respect the ISAF soldiers, according to the afghan leader Hamid Karzai, speaking at a parade.

AFGHAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI: [speaking through a megaphone] That is a big tribute. The Afghan people feel secure with them and I congratulate ISAF for that kind of tremendously nice work.

WANKLYN: Nations contributing troops are monitoring efforts to keep the peace. So far, there’s positive progress to report. Afghanistan has a government, and aid is reaching the people that need it. Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair said ISAF’s stabilizing presence has allowed Afghans to make greater progress than expected.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: I think if we were to look back on the past, I don’t know eight or nine months in relation to Afghanistan, my goodness, we’ve come a lot further than people could have possibly thought.

WANKLYN: But six months of stability doesn’t mean things will stay this way. There’s tension in some areas as warlords are jockeying for influence in towns and along the country’s few, but lucrative, truck routes. Worldwide, some states and organizations argue the security force should extend now to roads and cities beyond Kabul. But under its current mandate and size, ISAF is restricted to the capital.

ROY ALLISON: The ISAF force at about 4,700 is simply insufficient to extend security further in the country.

WANKLYN: At Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, Security Analyst Roy Allison says expanding ISAF and giving it more of an enforcing role would cost host nations financially and, perhaps, politically.

ALLISON: The requirements would be for a force at least 30,000 strong. And the United Nations itself and a number of countries have wished for an expansion of the force to such numbers, but the United States is very strongly opposed to this. And in practice, I think, European countries also are not prepared to commit the troops.

WANKLYN: Yet some of those nations that don’t want to commit their troops to a broader deployment are contributing in other ways.

[The sounds of a military parade ground.]

WANKLYN: By helping to train, equip and pay the soldiers and policemen in Afghanistan’s own nascent security structures. On the military parade ground foot soldiers are encouraged to develop an allegiance to the state. That’s a big leap for many of these young men, whose identity and values were shaped in childhood less by schoolbooks and more by whichever warlord was dominant locally. It’s hard work converting fighters more accustomed to tribal or factional politics, into servants of the Afghan state. But the progress is there, according to the former commander of ISAF, General Sir John McCall.

GENERAL SIR JOHN MCCALL: I think we do need to remember that only a few months ago this was a country at war. It has had 23 years of conflict, so we’re not going to move from a situation of extended conflict to peace and stability overnight. This is going to take some time. And to expect anything else, I think, is unreasonable.

WANKLYN: Britain initially commanded the ISAF, but Turkey has since assumed administrative control. Turkey is closer in religion, ethnicity, and language to many Afghans. This means Turkish commanders are a more comfortable fit than say non-Islamic British officers. Roy Allison, of the UK Royal Institute of International Affairs, says western nations have high expectations for the Turkish administration.

ALLISION: I think the Turks, representing a model of secular Muslim government, provide also the degree of Muslim identity that, in a force of that kind, that is considered safe by the outside community. At the same time, that Turkey is far enough away not to be able to directly meddle in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, which might be a worry with some other adjacent countries.

[The sounds of a busy bazaar and Muslim call to prayers.]

WANKLYN: Back in the Kabul bazaar, the smartly-clothed western peacekeepers continue to keep a watchful eye for signs of trouble. Worldwide, many nations agree that it was a mistake to abandon Afghanistan once, after the Soviets pulled out at the end of the 1980s. The ISAF brigade is one pledge to avoid repeating the same mistake. I’m Alastair Wanklyn for Common Ground in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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UN War Role

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MCHUGH: Overseeing peacekeeping operations is one of the main functions of the United Nations’ Security Council. To get a better perspective on the role the UN is playing in the war on terror, I recently spoke with UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of Great Britain and United States Deputy Permanent Representative James Cunningham. I also spoke with Canadian Ambassador Paul Heinbecker. Canada, while not a current member of the Security Council, has a peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. James Cunningham started the discussion with a current assessment of the global war on terror.

JAMES CUNNINGHAM: We have together with our, with very many partners, we put together a multifaceted effort to combat terrorism, ranging from the military operation that’s still going on in Afghanistan to far-reaching cooperative efforts in law enforcement, customs, intelligence; cooperation between treasuries, among treasuries that are getting at the elements that terrorists need to survive and to work with. And we’re, we think that effort is, has been very productive so far. We’ve got a lot of elements of it in place. It’s long term. And we’re gonna, we are going to continue to work hard on that.

JEREMY GREENSTOCK: We’re working strongly down two channels with the United States in particular to clear out from Afghanistan the networks we know were associated with 9/11.

MCHUGH: Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock chairs the UN Security Council’s newly formed Counterterrorism Committee.

GREENSTOCK: Secondly, as Jim has said, to establish a comprehensive global system against terrorism. And for that the United Nations needs to be the framework, because the states of the world won’t work through any other forum than the United Nations. And we have in the Security Council passed a very strong resolution—1373—which obliges all states to take action against terrorism. And the work of my committee is to weld that obligation on all states into a working global system that raises the capacity of every member state to deal with terrorism on their territory.

MCHUGH: And Paul Heinbecker, what is Canada contributing to the war on terrorism?

PAUL HEINBECKER: We have a special responsibility because we share a border with the United States. And we have together with our United States colleagues been working up something called a “Smart Border Plan.” This is being led by Tom Ridge on the US side and by Deputy Prime Minister John Manley on the Canadian side. And there’s a 30-point program to make the, to ensure that the borders are going to be secure. One of the great issues between Canada and the United States that everybody wants to protect is the enormous trade relationship. There is a, the largest trade relationship in the world goes across that border. A billion and a quarter dollars a day are traded across that border. So we have to on the one hand preserve our respective economic well beings. And on the other hand do everything we can to make sure that there will not be terrorists crossing those borders.

MCHUGH: Jim Cunningham, the US has been in an embattled relationship with the United Nations over the past decade. But post-9/11, are you seeing an improvement in overall cooperation and attitudes within the UN?

CUNNINGHAM: I think we, we built a strong relationship with the United Nations before September 11 and we’ve been working hard to correct the problems in our relationship, again with the cooperation of our friends and with the UN itself. So that process was already under way. Since September 11 we have been gratified to see a strong and pretty much unified response from the international community on how we deal with a range of issues of common concern.

MCHUGH: Several human rights organizations around the world claim that certain countries are now using the global war on terrorism to cover up political opposition and to go after political opposition.

GREENSTOCK: This is a very interesting area, the tradeoff between enhancing security and freedoms and rights in other respects. And because we’ve intensified our action against terrorism, other parts of the UN system which are responsible for other obligations are beginning to realize that they’ve got to intensify their action to make sure that obligations that may not always be compatible with the suppression of terrorism are also realized. But it’s their job. Every member state has obligations in various areas. They’ve got to implement all of them, not just a selection because something at the moment is a real threat or, or a real interest. And the human rights groups and the human rights system of the UN has got to be as intense in making sure that their work is done as our area in, on counterterrorism, has to raise capacity in that area. So, everything is becoming more intense, because one area is becoming more intense. It’s a very interesting phenomenon.

MCHUGH: Jim Cunningham, the political landscape of the entire world changed on 9/11. No one would have thought that before September 11 NATO and Russia would sign a cooperative agreement any time soon. How does the changing political landscape in the world effect the United Nations?

CUNNINGHAM: Well, to the extent that we’re able to use this impulse to generate broader consensus, both on problems and what we needed to do about them, particularly in this case in the security area, it can’t help but benefit the United Nations, both as an institution and as an instrument of policy. Because as you broaden the area of agreement presumably you also broaden the area of what it is that you should do about a problem. And that, I think, is going to be one of the most important things that we look at in the next couple of months. As I said, we still have, there are areas of disagreement still about what constitutes terrorism and what needs to be done about it.

MCHUGH: Paul Heinbecker, how is the UN affected by what’s happened in the world in terms of the political landscape? And will it be easy to win all these concessions that need to be made in order to move forward in the global war on terrorism?

HEINBECKER: I think it will be very important that all UN members, including in particular the United States, continue to make the UN a principal organ for cooperation. That we all come together there; that we share the responsibility there; that we share the obligations; and that we work together. I think that is possible and I think it’s highly desirable.

MCHUGH: Jeremy Greenstock?

GREENSTOCK: There is a remarkable trend growing which comes out of globalization generally, towards greater partnership on things in the international community. But also greater polarization when people feel strongly about things, because in a world where everything is interconnected and everybody is communicating, competition actually gets stronger when you disagree. And partnership gets stronger when agree. And that polarization is coming through on the divisive issues. When people agree together as on counterterrorism, you also get very strong positive action. And it’s managing the greater polarization in the world that the UN system is so vital for. And I think that is what we’re finding at the moment in New York and other arms of the United Nations. This contrast between issues of polarization and partnership. And it may in the end come out to the same average, but the extremes are sharper. And we’re having to manage that.

MCHUGH: Is this a winnable war? And if so, how long does it take? Jeremy Greenstock?

GREENSTOCK: This is indefinite. Because once you’ve released a precedent like 9/11 out of the box, those who hate and want to kill have got an example to follow. And you can never put nuclear weapons back into nonexistence. You can’t put high-grade terrorism back into nonexistence. You’ve got to make sure that no space on Earth, no territorial area, is a vacuum. We have got to be comprehensive and global on this. And I believe it’s going to be indefinite.

MCHUGH: Paul Heinbecker.

HEINBECKER: It’s not going to be a simple matter. And it’s not going to be short term. I think we all recognize that. And it is going to take a long time. Part of it will be military. A good deal of it will be diplomatic. A lot of it will be economic cooperation and economic development. We have to bring the international system to a place, as Jeremy says, where there are not havens, where there are places—there are no places—where terrorists can, can take refuge and plan and carry out and stage their activities. And I think we’re in it for the long run.

MCHUGH: Jim Cunningham, is this an indefinite war or is this one that has an end?

CUNNINGHAM: I think it is indefinite. It has to be—I’ve said many times dealing with terrorism is not a military problem first and foremost—although there is a military element to it—but it is first and foremost a, a political and a law enforcement problem. What we need to do and what I think we will be—because you also asked, could we win this war and I think, yes, we can. A number of countries including the United Kingdom have shown that it’s possible to deal with terrorism in a way that respects legal norms and human rights. Although that’s part of the dynamic discussion. But it is possible. We’ve seen numerous instances of, of countries and societies that have been able to deal with terrorism, even as remnants of the impulse remain. And to do that you need strong social structures, strong moral structures—because the morality that admits of the possibility that you can, you can kill large numbers of innocent people needs to be resisted. And you need a strong law enforcement framework that treats this as the enduring kind of problem that it is.

MCHUGH: James Cunningham serves as a Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the United States. We also heard from Great Britain’s UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, and Canadian Ambassador Paul Heinbecker.

PORTER: A preview of the upcoming Earth Summit in South Africa and the controversy surrounding a proposed dam project in Uganda, next on Common Ground.

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Sustainable Development Preview

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PORTER: Final preparations are underway for the second World Summit on Sustainable Development. The so-called Earth Summit takes place in the South African city of Johannesburg at the end of August. Leaders from around the world are charged with ensuring the global environment is protected. The meeting comes 10 years after the first summit in Rio de Janeiro. Suzanne Chislett looks at the progress over the last decade and asks whether any concrete improvements are likely to result from Jo-burg 2002.

CHISLETT: More than one hundred heads of state and tens of thousands of representatives from the United Nations, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and charities will descend on the South African city of Johannesburg in late August. They’ll be updated on the progress of the last decade and will discuss further international efforts on sustainable development. But the road from Rio has been far from smooth.

The United States pulled out of the one significant agreement to come from the meeting—methods to combat global warming—shortly after President Bush was elected. In May the United Nations published its third global environment outlook and it made for disheartening reading. The report warned the Earth is at a crossroads in terms of environment control and environment damage. Dr. Klaus Toepfer is Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which researched the study. He says although progress has been made in the last few decades there are still many issues which need to be addressed.

DR. KLAUS TOEPFER: We have not solved the problem of climate change. We have still an increase of the main green house gas, carbon dioxide, from the developed countries, so we are exporting these consequences to developing countries.

CHISLETT: The United Nations, which organized the four international preparatory meetings ahead of the summit, wants the world’s leaders to agree to firm action plans for sustainable development, with not only goals that need to be achieved but also timetables to monitor each country’s progress. But the last time environment ministers met in Bali they failed to agree even on a final implementation document for their leaders to discuss. The South African President Thabo Mbeki, who will host this year’s summit, is urging nations around the world to work together.

SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI: We want them to attend the conference as all of us will do with a frame of mind which says we have to move forward with regard to all of these matters. And that essentially is the message I would like to communicate. And I think that we need to communicate that message as firmly as possible, and indeed as has been said, we would expect that the peoples of these countries who are interested in these things, the ordinary people, that they will also communicate the same message to their political leaders.

CHISLETT: When politicians gather in Johannesburg they will be shown video messages from children all around the world, giving their opinions on their leaders’ actions and stating their hopes for the future. These teenagers in London were asked what issues trouble them.

A LONDON TEENAGER: We’ve only got one world and especially now, today, with all the industrialization it is being ruined. And the abundant use of fossil fuels is leading to things like the ozone layer being eroded and I think that if we begin to destroy this world then there’s not really much hope for the future.

A SECOND LONDON TEENAGER: I think exploitation of less economically developed countries. Countries which are abused by more successful countries, when they’re just, I don’t know, they’re puppets on a string. They’re desperate for money to develop themselves. They’re in, you know, deepest poverty and so they need aid.

A THIRD LONDON TEENAGER: I think they should slow down. They should think about the future. I think they should try and preserve places of natural beauty and historical interest. Also tourism, because soon tourism will decrease if there is nothing for people to see and I think they should think of the future.

CHISLETT: Leaders who will travel to South Africa agree poverty must be tackled in order to ensure economic development is sustainable. A giant step forwards came when the leaders of the world’s main industrial nations met for the G8 summit in Canada. They agreed to $1 billion of aid for Africa’s poorest nations and also an action plan which includes debt relief, medical help, and military intervention. British Prime Minister Tony Blair believes it is another step in which the world’s richest nations can help the world’s poorest and therefore improve the global environmental situation.

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: The thing that is so terrible about the situation of some of these African countries is that when they are desperate to spend money on their people to eradicate poverty, to help them with education, they are spending money on servicing debt. So I think that is an earnest of good intent here and I hope we can build on that for the African plan.

CHISLETT: Some of the African leaders attended the Canadian summit and President Obasanjo of Nigeria welcomed the agreement, saying helping the underdeveloped nations to progress is the way forward.

NIGERIAN PRESIDENT OBASANJO: There is need for renewal, there is need for revival, there is need for a buoyancy that will lead Africa out of the morass and put Africa in the mainstream of the world, economic, social, and political life.

CHISLETT: The majority of those who will gather in South Africa agree on what needs to be done; it is the process of completing that task which will be the main issue of contention. The financial costs must be weighed carefully against the possible environmental costs. And many who have been observing the progress since the first Earth Summit in Rio have serious doubts the United Nations will get the firm commitment it seeks. For Common Ground, I’m Suzanne Chislett in London.

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Uganda Dam

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MCHUGH: Near the source of the Nile River in Uganda, Bujagali Falls creates some of the most spectacular rapids in the world. The spot has become a major tourist destination, but before long it may be underwater. Uganda has hired a US-based corporation to build a dam at the site, and the World Bank has already agreed to kick in $225 million dollars. The project hopes to bring electricity to thousands of Ugandans, but opponents say it would come at too high a cost. Judith Smelser has more.

[The sound of protesters chanting, “Stop the rip-off, stop the folly, stop the dam at Bujagali.”]

JUDITH SMELSER: Protesters who gathered outside the World Bank had a lot on their minds. They were concerned about the environmental impact of the Bujagali Dam, and the effect on people who’d be uprooted from their homes. But mostly, it came down to two things: economics and information. Graham Saul is with the nonprofit Bank Information Center.

GRAHAM SAUL: We’re working with a number of Ugandan organizations that have expressed a series of concerns about the economic viability of the project: the fact that it put risks on Ugandan rate payers, consumers, without divulging the necessary information for them to make an informed decision about the actual consequences of the project.

SMELSER: Opponents of the project say Bujagali is just one example of the World Bank’s bad behavior in the developing world. But Bank officials, like Uganda Country Coordinator Ron Brigish, argue it’s the best way to bring much-needed electricity to Uganda.

RON BRIGISH: Uganda needs power. This is a landlocked country with only three percent of its population having access to power. This is a really very, very low percentage by any measure, and it is a binding constraint on investment and economic growth.

[The sound of protesters chanting, “People before profits, people before profits.”]

SMELSER: But detractors criticize the World Bank for not disclosing more information about the project. Specifically, they want access to the agreement between the AES Corporation—the company that plans to build the dam—and the Ugandan government. Those two parties say the document is a private business contract. But opponents, like Njoki Njoroge Njehu with the anti-World Bank organization 50 Years is Enough, say Ugandan taxpayers deserve to know how much money their government has committed to spend on the project.

NJOKI NJOROGE NJEHU: This is about adding more debt to Uganda, so it doesn’t matter that Uganda was the first country in 1999 to be a recipient of HIPC debt relief funds because here you have $250 million more being added to that debt.

SMELSER: That figure reflects a new proposal now being considered by an arm of the World Bank. The Bank has already invested $225 million dollars in the project, and now it may throw in an additional $250 million for political risk insurance. Supporters of the project hope the new guarantee will calm the fears of potential partners, who’ve grown skittish because of a recent plunge in the value of AES Corporation’s stock. Opponents hope the guarantee won’t come through and that the project will die as a result. But Graham Saul with the Bank Information Center is not holding his breath.

SAUL: The project has already taken on a life of its own, a certain momentum. It’s very difficult once a project of this size gets this far in the process for the Bank and for the Ugandan government and others to take into consideration Ugandan organizations’ concerns and to really suspend and take a brand new look at this project.

SMELSER: Surprisingly, a decision on the insurance proposal has now been postponed indefinitely, but the World Bank says that has nothing to do with the alleged problems with the project. And either way, the Bank’s Uganda Coordinator Ron Brigish says activists have got it wrong when they argue that Ugandan taxpayers will end up paying for Bujagali.

BRIGISH: No, it’s gonna be the Ugandan consumers of electricity who’ll pay for it, who will consume Bujagali power, who will provide revenues for the sponsor, and the sponsor will be able to remit that in the form of profit. The Ugandans are contributing perhaps resources domestically, but not financial resources. This is coming from the private sector.

SMELSER: Of course that all depends on whether Ugandan consumers actually buy Bujagali’s power output, and opponents of the project believe the World Bank’s predictions about demand for electricity there are far too optimistic. At the request of a number of the project’s detractors, the Bank ordered its internal investigative arm to take another look at Bujagali. According to the interpretation of project opponents, the findings suggest that the dam would violate several of the Bank’s own policies. The institution flatly denies that and has promised to hold new consultations with those affected. But it has no intention of pulling out.

[The sound of protesters chanting, “We’ll be back, we’ll be back.”]

SMELSER: So the protests continue, and detractors will continue to ask why more information was not made available sooner about a project that will forever alter the landscape of the Nile.

[The sound of protesters chanting, “We’ll be back, we’ll be back.”]

SMELSER: For Common Ground, I’m Judith Smelser in Washington.

PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

MCHUGH: I’m Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, Jason Carter remembers rural South Africa.

JASON CARTER: The matriarch of this family that I stayed with—I would come home for, you know, from work, and there would be an extra child at the table. And I would say, “Now, who is this? Is this a cousin or whatever?” And she’d say, “No, that’s Lindeway. Her parents can’t feed her this month so she’s gonna live with us.”

PORTER: Plus, an Israeli political scientist’s thoughts on the Middle East. And the rebirth of Afghan music.

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Jason Carter

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MCHUGH: The news from South Africa that makes headlines in the US and around the world often focuses on the negative developments that have occurred there since the collapse of apartheid. Now there’s a new opportunity to get caught up with the real situation on the ground in South Africa following the publication of a new book by the grandson of former US President Jimmy Carter. Jason Carter has just completed a two-year stint in the Peace Corps in South Africa, and in his book, Power Lines, he says he wasn’t at all prepared for the country in which he found himself. He told Common Ground‘s Simon Marks that at first he didn’t even want to go to South Africa.

JASON CARTER: It’s true. I had done some things in Africa before with my grandparents and was excited to get what I thought was an African experience. And I originally, like a lot of people in the United States maybe, thought that South Africa was sort of not a real African place because it was so industrialized and it did have the great roads and all of those things that, that it does have, actually.

SIMON MARKS: And to some extent, that is true. But as you discovered through your journey in South Africa, it’s also a simplification of what South Africa is.

CARTER: Absolutely. I mean, one of the first things that I found was that it is two, really two South Africas, at least. And the one in which I lived for most of my time there was a very rural and black South Africa. Where folks carried their water from the river and they built their houses out of, you know, sticks and mud. And that’s exactly what I thought of in the United States as Africa. And it is out there. The reason that I called the book Power Lines is because power lines from First World South Africa ran right through the town where I stayed and, as I said, folks carried their water from the river there. And there was no electricity. And those two South Africas existed in that town physically because those poles sort of grew up out of the ground there, but there was no real connection between the two.

MARKS: You seem to have been really struck by the extent to which there is an inheritance in South Africa from the apartheid era that has still not fully been overcome.

CARTER: Absolutely. I think part of that inheritance as you say, or the residue of apartheid is the physical residue, the material inequalities and, and that type of economic issues that are left over. But the other part is the psychological part.

MARKS: By the time you finished your tour of duty in South Africa, how did you assess where the country is heading?

CARTER: I’m really hopeful for South Africa. I think that from the morning that I spent with Mandela when my grandfather came to visit, to the months that I spent in this little town working with teachers and working with just regular folks in, they’re leading their everyday lives, the sense of purpose that everyone has is palpable. And inspiring. And you know, they’ve pulled off miracles before. And I don’t think it’s gonna take a miracle this time. But I really think that people are committed to working together, committed to waking up every morning and, and trying to make a better life for their kids and their family. And there are folks in, you know, the most remote parts of South Africa doing incredible things.

MARKS: You experienced some of the problems associated with the country firsthand. Crime touched you directly. What was that experience like?

CARTER: There was, there was some crime. And as you know, South Africa and South Africans especially talk about crime all the time. And it really dominates the landscape there politically. What I found—you know, I spoke Zulu, I lived with a family, I really immersed myself in the culture—and I never felt threatened. I did as you say, I did get touched by crime because someone broke into my house and they took a lot of my things. But because I was a part of that community and because, you know, they had accepted me, within 20 hours we found the person—all of it was back. And, and we moved on. And so it really is an interesting, it was an interesting lesson for me to be a victim, I guess, of crime in my capacity as a part of this community, because they did come together and help me out.

MARKS: Well, let me ask you about that sense of community. ‘Cause you talk a lot in the book about ubuntu, which is this concept that Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks about so often. From your perspective and experience, it’s more than a concept. It’s something very real.

CARTER: Absolutely. And in South Africa it really has almost become a cliché, to talk about ubuntu. I mean, you see bumper stickers on people’s cars that say, you know, “I believe in ubuntu, don’t steal my car.” Or whatever. I mean, there’s a variety of ways that ubuntu manifests itself in pop culture today. But the folks where I lived, in Lochiel, South Africa, live it in their lives everyday. The matriarch of this family that I stayed with—I would come home for, you know from work, and there would be an extra child at the table. And I would say, “Now, who is this? Is this a cousin or whatever?” And she’d say, “No, that’s Lindeway. Her parents can’t feed her this month so she’s gonna live with us.” And it’s not as it is sometimes in the United States, a check written to charity. It is bringing them in and living with them as a part of your life every day.

MARKS: I was struck by the fact you learned to speak Zulu. How did you do that? How long did that take?

CARTER: It took a little bit. And [speaks in Zulu] I’m not that great at it. But, and a lot of it’s gotten rusty. But the Peace Corps teaches people a lot. And living in the community and having those folks teach me was the way that I learned. And really, nothing that I did in the Peace Corps was more important than learning to speak the language. And one of the reasons is that it sets people at ease. It lets people bring you in and it also lets the folks that I lived with know that they’re teaching me more than I’m teaching them.

MARKS: How did you find yourself accepted as an American?

CARTER: Speaking Zulu helped so much. And it really let people know that I was interested in what they were doing, that I was, you know, humble to some extent, enough to want to learn their language and let folks talk in their own mother tongue, as they say. And I think that that helped more than anything. I was accepted almost, almost immediately. I could walk into a room and, you know, say “hello” in Zulu and folks would be super excited. And you know, when they found out I was from the United States, it was a novelty. But, but, you know, I think that, I think that I was accepted, you know, beyond my expectations for sure. I have great friends there now.

MARKS: Let me ask you about HIV. In the rural communities like the one where you were living and working. How present is HIV?

CARTER: It’s very present. In the community where I lived we, one of the things that I did while I was there was start student AIDS committees, which gave people an opportunity to talk to their peers without teachers in the room. And it also split up the girls and the boys. And we educated a small number of those students to be leaders in these discussions and the girls would be able to go and talk for the first time, really, without a parent, without a teacher there, and without any intimidation. So they had some free flowing discussions. And it was the first time that they’d ever really discussed AIDS.

MARKS: And what’s the answer? I mean, you speak in the book a little bit about the political leadership of South Africa and its response to the HIV crisis. What do you think the answer is?

CARTER: I think one of the things that we found, having asked these questions of the children—who are the people that need to be targeted, obviously—in the process of doing some of the AIDS education work that I did, we asked people what they thought about, you know, young high school-aged students, what they thought made their community a high risk community. And they all said that trying to get money was the main motivation behind a lot of the sex that was going on. And that’s something that, you know, when they talk about poverty and the extent to which, you know, that type of behavior results in AIDS transmissions, they really do mean that folks go out and send their daughters out to make some money. And that happens in my community. And that was the number one thing that the girls said. The answer on some level is, give people a reason to not get AIDS. You know, give people a reason to believe that their lives are really valuable, that they’re gonna have an exciting and fulfilling life if they don’t get AIDS. And they’ll be more motivated to really to avoid it.

MARKS: Let me go back to the Peace Corps issue. There’s a lot of debate in this country, especially post-September 11, about the extent to which Americans should expose themselves to foreign cultures and foreign experiences and overseas. What would you say to Americans about that?

CARTER: I think that September 11 and the events after that and leading up to it have opened the eyes of America to a great extent. In a variety of ways. One of the lessons in my opinion is that we do need to be more engaged in the world. And we do need to understand more about other cultures. And the way that people live their lives. And I think Americans will be more interested in it. They’ve certainly shown more of a commitment to service. I know, for example that since September 11 Peace Corps applications have risen 37 percent. And I think that there is a response. There’s certainly this, this outpouring, as you saw, of you know, desire to help their country and to act in their community. And I think there’s also a desire to learn more about the way people live outside of America.

MARKS: And you’re still in touch with the folks in Lochiel?

CARTER: Yeah, I just went back there last week, as I said. And the woman that, that was, as I said, the matriarch of this family Goga that you read about in the book, she had built a preschool; she had finished, completed the construction; she doubled the number of children. There’s now almost 50 kids that learn in her preschool and that get fed twice a day there. She’s hired a new teacher. I mean, the kind of triumphs that I saw from the regular people that live out in these places where people don’t think there are triumphs. Where people think are places of despair, it was really shocking to me and phenomenally inspiring.

MCHUGH: Jason Carter, speaking to Common Ground‘s Simon Marks. His book, Power Lines: Two Years in South Africa’s Borders, is published by the National Geographic Society. It includes a foreword by his grandfather, former President Carter.

PORTER: Still to come, the sound of music fills the air once again in Afghanistan. You’re listening to Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.

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Israel’s Options

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PORTER: As suicide bombings and violence in the Middle East continues, the prominent Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri says Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank. He explained his reasoning at a recent stop in Vienna, Austria. Karen Engel reports.

SHLOMO AVINERI: What do you do when solutions have failed you for 35 years? Let’s opt for a nonsolution.

KAREN ENGEL: The Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri says there’s no chance for a reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians at the moment. But he says steps must be taken to prevent even further violence, despite the fact that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has lost all credibility with the Israeli government and public and there are currently no other Palestinian representatives available for negotiations.

AVINERI: If Israel has no partner—and I think Israel has no partner now—unfortunately—this should not be used as an alibi for not doing anything. The present situation cannot go on. Israel has to make difficult decisions on its own and the voices for these decisions are becoming stronger. Israel has to get involved in unilateral disengagement.

ENGEL: That means, says Avineri that Israel should do unilaterally, more or less, what former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to do at Camp David nearly two years ago—withdrawing from most of the occupied territories, dismantle some of the outlying settlements, and evacuate 20,000 to 30,000 settlers. There are currently some 190,000 settlers in the occupied territories, but most of them live in areas adjoining Israel. Evacuating at least the outlying settlements would give Israel a border on the West Bank which would be easier to defend. As Avineri pointed out, almost all the recent suicide came not from the Hamas dominated area of the Gaza strip, which is even more desolate than the West Bank, but from the West Bank where the patchwork character of Israeli settlements makes border controls extremely difficult.

Once the Israelis move out, Avineri suggests that a temporary Arab protectorate, such as by the Saudis or Moroccans should administer the Palestinian area until new independent Palestinian structures can be installed. He admits that there will be little Palestinian support for such an idea. Yet he sees no alternative.

AVINERI: It’s not to replace autonomy by a Saudi protectorate. There is no Palestinian autonomy any more and there will not be one in the foreseeable future because Israel destroyed it in the last two months, and will continue to destroy it—puff!

ENGEL: Shlomo Avineri was Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry under Yitzhak Rabin in the late 1970s, and he was one of the first and most outspoken advocates of Palestinian self-determination. But under the current situation, Avineri says the prospect of currently negotiating a solution is bleak.

AVINERI: You don’t go back to square one. Because the attitude today among Israelis and Palestinians vis-à-vis each other is much worse. There is much more hatred, much more fear, much traumatization, I could say on both sides, than there was two years ago.

ENGEL: Avineri admits that the present Israeli government doesn’t want unilateral disengagement. In fact, neither Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon nor Foreign Minister Shimon Peres support the idea for different reasons. But Avineri believes that eventually there simply will be no choice.

AVINERI: Everything else has failed. If it is impossible to find a solution, let’s at least stabilize. And a unilateral Israeli disengagement more or less on the line I suggested; a legitimate Arab protectorate—this is not the way toward a solution; but the way toward stabilization. And stabilization is a maximum that one can hope for.

ENGEL: Shlomo Avineri is a Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was speaking at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna. For Common Ground, this is Karen Engel in Austria.

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Afghan Music

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MCHUGH: While the Taliban’s repression of women and the destruction of Buddhist statutes made international headlines, probably its most unpopular policy inside Afghanistan was banning music. Afghanistan has a long history of classical, folkloric, and western music. And as Reese Erlich reports from Kabul, music is back in swing.

REESE ERLICH: It’s only 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but most musicians here at Afghan Radio & TV have packed up their instruments and are heading out the gate. The country’s one TV and one radio station only broadcasts a few hours each day, and it’s quitting time. But I convince a musician to reach into his burlap bag, pull out a harmonium, and hit a few bars.

[Musicians in front of Afghan Radio & TV, playing, and laughing.]

[The sound of Mr. Erlich walking on stairs inside building.]

ERLICH: The cavernous building is almost empty—not only of people, but of microphones, speakers, mixing boards—even desks and chairs. Like everything else in Afghanistan these days, the new state broadcasting network is almost starting from scratch. But not quite.

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan.]

ERLICH: The broadcasting network is able to draw from a rich pool of talented musicians, all of whom are anxious to work. In a practice studio, I meet Aziz Ghaznawi, one of the country’s most famous singers. He’s also music director of the station. He puts on an extemporaneous concert on our behalf.

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan.]

ERLICH: He’s singing “My Beloved Afghanistan,” the country’s unofficial national anthem. The lyrics include: “Afghanistan is my love, Afghanistan is my body, Afghanistan is my soul.”

[The sound of the Afghan song, My Beloved Afghanistan, followed by applause.]

ERLICH: Ghaznawi’s voice has lost none of its power and appeal, despite the fact that he and other musicians couldn’t perform publicly since 1996 when the Taliban took power. The Taliban leaders considered all music to be decadent and un-Islamic.

Aziz Ghaznawi: [via a translator] During the time of the Taliban regime, all music was banned. All music—folk, classical, or whatever kind was banned. Instruments were burned and destroyed. The Taliban saw music as a great sin. It was forbidden. They allowed the chanting of poems without music. But that didn’t interest us. Without melody, you don’t have music.

ERLICH: These days, however, Afghans are listening to music wherever they can. Music CD stores dot Kabul’s busy streets. Taxi drivers blare music from radios and cassette players. Afghan Radio & TV features live music for several hours every day. I asked Ghaznawi if the musicians—who hadn’t touched their instruments in five years—had lost their skills.

Ghaznawi: [via a translator] Although during the Taliban years we could not practice, we did not forget how to play. God gave us a talent. We are professional musicians, and we have not forgotten our skills of playing. And now with the new government we are allowed to perform on the radio and at private parties.

ERLICH: [interviewing Mr. Ghaznawi] So they always played the music in their head even if they couldn’t play with their hands?

Ghaznawi: [via a translator] Yes.

ERLICH: Ah, wonderful.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: Several studio musicians strike up an impromptu tune on tabla drums and a long necked, stringed instrument that, for all the world, looks like an Indian sitar. That’s because it is a sitar. Singer Fazal Rahman Nayriz argues that the Afghans practically invented the sitar—or at least its precursor instrument.

FAZAL RAHMAN NAYRIZ: [via a translator, being summarized by Erlich] He says, when the famed Afghan musician Amir Khesrawi Balkhi went to India, he introduced the tambour—a string instrument. The sitar comes from the Afghan tambour.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: [speaking to Nayriz] When I heard them playing—I’m not an educated man about this music—it sounded to me like music from India.

NAYRIZ: [via a translator, being summarized by Erlich] He says, classic music does not have a certain place or origin, whether it’s from India or Afghanistan. Classical music is classical music. The language of music is universal.

[The sound of Afghan music.]

ERLICH: [speaking to Nayriz] Can we induce them to extemporize? To sing? Is that possible?

[The musicians speak among themselves.]

ERLICH: Fantastic.

[The musicians speak among themselves and begin to tune their instruments.]

ERLICH: Ghaznawi and Naireez consult among themselves. After a few brief moments, they decide to improvise a song on the spot. Neither had thought of the melody or lyrics in advance. Yet they manage to come up with rhyming couplets.

[The musicians sing an Afghan song, entitled California.]

ERLICH: The song is beautiful, perfectly executed among the three singers and two instrumentalists. I ask Ghaznawi to explain the lyrics. It’s a song in honor of my visit. The song asks if I could arrange a concert tour for them in California.

[The song California continues.]

ERLICH: For Common Ground, I’m Reese Erlich in Kabul.

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is made possible by the Stanley Foundation. The Stanley Foundation promotes public understanding, constructive dialogue, and cooperative action on critical international issues.

Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security

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