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Robert Scheer

Contributing Editor

Robert Scheer, a contributing editor to The Nation, is editor of and author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books), The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America (Twelve) and Playing President (Akashic Books). He is author, with Christopher Scheer and Lakshmi Chaudhry, of The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq (Akashic Books and Seven Stories Press.) His weekly column, distributed by Creators Syndicate, appears in the San Francisco Chronicle.

  • Drug War and Drug Policy October 3, 2001

    Thugs Make Unreliable Allies

    Are we losing it? Have the recent acts of terrorism caused us to cut our moorings in a flood of outrage and frustration?

    Robert Scheer

  • Politics September 26, 2001

    Falwell Should Have Listened to the Feminists

    Ever hear of the Feminist Majority?

    Robert Scheer

  • Politics September 18, 2001

    Destined to Shadowbox With the Devil

    In a war on terror, there is no victory, for terrorism will always exist. It can be contained, but not eradicated.

    Robert Scheer

  • Economic Policy September 4, 2001

    W, Ever Hear of FDR? Fix Some Potholes, Help Some Schoolkids

    Finally, President Bush is "deeply worried" about the economy. Yep, in remarks last week, he even went so far as to observe that "the recovery is very slow in coming."

    Robert Scheer

  • Politics August 28, 2001

    Bush Binds Us Into a Fiscal Straitjacket

    Are we all dimwits? We just sit there with goofy looks on our faces while the economy sputters and the President blows what remains of the budget surplus on a tax giveaway to the rich.

    Robert Scheer

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  • Political Figures August 21, 2001

    You Can Use God to Justify Anything

    The country was founded on the idea of keeping religion and politics separate--but you'd hardly know this by the way the idea of the Almighty has intruded itself into political and social issues of the day.

    Robert Scheer

  • Bush’s Faustian Deal With the Taliban

    Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti-US terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush Administration will embrace you. All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously.

    That's the message sent with the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell, in addition to other recent aid, makes the United States the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God. So, too, by the Taliban's estimation, are most human activities, but it's the ban on drugs that catches this administration's attention.

    Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998.

    Sadly, the Bush Administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at US insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden.

    The war on drugs has become our own fanatics' obsession and easily trumps all other concerns. How else could we come to reward the Taliban, who has subjected the female half of the Afghan population to a continual reign of terror in a country once considered enlightened in its treatment of women?

    At no point in modern history have women and girls been more systematically abused than in Afghanistan where, in the name of madness masquerading as Islam, the government in Kabul obliterates their fundamental human rights. Women may not appear in public without being covered from head to toe with the oppressive shroud called the burkha , and they may not leave the house without being accompanied by a male family member. They've not been permitted to attend school or be treated by male doctors, yet women have been banned from practicing medicine or any profession for that matter.

    The lot of males is better if they blindly accept the laws of an extreme religious theocracy that prescribes strict rules governing all behavior, from a ban on shaving to what crops may be grown. It is this last power that has captured the enthusiasm of the Bush White House.

    The Taliban fanatics, economically and diplomatically isolated, are at the breaking point, and so, in return for a pittance of legitimacy and cash from the Bush Administration, they have been willing to appear to reverse themselves on the growing of opium. That a totalitarian country can effectively crack down on its farmers is not surprising. But it is grotesque for a US official, James P. Callahan, director of the State Department's Asian anti-drug program, to describe the Taliban's special methods in the language of representative democracy: "The Taliban used a system of consensus-building," Callahan said after a visit with the Taliban, adding that the Taliban justified the ban on drugs "in very religious terms."

    Of course, Callahan also reported, those who didn't obey the theocratic edict would be sent to prison.

    In a country where those who break minor rules are simply beaten on the spot by religious police and others are stoned to death, it's understandable that the government's "religious" argument might be compelling. Even if it means, as Callahan concedes, that most of the farmers who grew the poppies will now confront starvation. That's because the Afghan economy has been ruined by the religious extremism of the Taliban, making the attraction of opium as a previously tolerated quick cash crop overwhelming.

    For that reason, the opium ban will not last unless the United States is willing to pour far larger amounts of money into underwriting the Afghan economy.

    As the Drug Enforcement Administration's Steven Casteel admitted, "The bad side of the ban is that it's bringing their country--or certain regions of their country--to economic ruin." Nor did he hold out much hope for Afghan farmers growing other crops such as wheat, which require a vast infrastructure to supply water and fertilizer that no longer exists in that devastated country. There's little doubt that the Taliban will turn once again to the easily taxed cash crop of opium in order to stay in power.

    The Taliban may suddenly be the dream regime of our own war drug war zealots, but in the end this alliance will prove a costly failure. Our long sad history of signing up dictators in the war on drugs demonstrates the futility of building a foreign policy on a domestic obsession.

    Robert Scheer

  • Media February 8, 2001

    The Times and Wen Ho Lee

    The paper of record has a curiously difficult time reporting the 'Chinese espionage' case.

    Robert Scheer

  • Economic Policy December 26, 2000

    These Messes Are What Deregulation Gets Us

    We do need government regulation—not to build socialism but to save capitalism.

    Robert Scheer

  • Executive Branch December 19, 2000

    Powell Will Make Heard the Voice of the Common Man…

    Some reasons (personal and political) for applauding Colin Powell's new appointment.

    Robert Scheer