to today's meeting of the commonwealth club of california. i'm robert rosenthal, secondtive director of the center for investigative reporting. i'll be the chair today. we welcome our listening and internet audiences and invite everybody to visit us online at www.commonwealthclub.org. now it's my pleasure to introduce our distinguished speakers. tamim ansary born in kabul. he left for the u.s. in 1964. he is the writer, lecturer, teacher, and director of the san francisco writers workshop and has written several books, including "a game without rules. the often undertold history of afghanistan." he'll sign this book after the program. atta arghandiwal was a prom meant nil tear officer and
leader. after high school. atta served in the afghan air force. when the political situation changed in the 1980s and the russians invaded. atta fled to germany and then came to the u.s. where he enjoyed a successful banking career. like tamim he was shocked by 9/11. he visited afghanistan recently and you can raze about his amazing journey back to afghanistan, the untold store of afghanistan. he will sign the book after the program. i think today's program can be very interesting you've may hear different perspectives, learn a lot about the history of afghanistan, and if you read these two books you'll get the cop text and host of afghanistan. if you read at that time's book you'll see a character who comes to life during part of the period of history we're going to talk about today. so start off, please public tamim. [applause]
>> thank you all for being here. thank you to the commonwealth club. let me just check the time so i don't go over. i'm sure all of you are very interested in what is going on in afghanistan right now, who is contesting for the presidential seat in the elections next year, what happensfter the nato forces withdraw, if they do. but as a historian, we can get into all that with questions but as a historian, i'm interested in hour we got here. and i feel that how we got here is part of the question of, where do we go from here? and in this book, games without rules, i've gone back to what i consider the origin office the afghan nation state, which is two and a half centuries ago, and traced the narrative arc of that country, that emerging, developing country, which has still not quite developed. and i will note that the origin go back to about the same period that the united states was
taking shape. late colonial era. and what i see is in the early period this territory that we now call afghanistan, was populated by many tribes, clans, different populations, but it was also permeated by a sense of uniformity of culture, of which islam was perhaps the most important binding factor, but there were also value in common, a sense of common history, and something about the social structure that you would find, so that there were sayreous levels of power, but the people in the villages and in the cities and rulers and the peasants and poor and rich, they might have conflicts but consider themselves to be all part of the same world. then in the course of history, what happened is a very different cultural entity suddenly appeared on the afghan scene, and it was pressing in and these were the global powers
whose culture was basically western and who saw this territory as an important spot because of strategic considerations in their contests with each other, globally. so, now for the afghans, for anybody who was part of the ruling elite in afghanistan or wanted to rule the country, it was necessary for them to negotiate with two very different entitieses, and one was the outside power, whoever that might be. the british or whatever. and then there was the old afghan, the original afghanistan, the world of clerics and elders that came from the grassroots and the villages, and the network, the tribes, and that world still had its -- the old culture that characterized the life in this area. so, what i find is that over time, in the way that -- you
know, if you put a liquid in a centrifuge, the heavier stuff separates from the lighter stuff. there's a sense in which afghan society also separated into two societies, and there was this urban westernized ecomplete this -- elite and this other inward looking old country that was afghanistan. and these are both afghan -- these are boat aspects of afghan society and they're in contention and have been in contention for control of the identity of afghanistan. so this is a story that has been going on in afghanistan from the beginning, partly caused by the various incursions and interventions, but then there's the separate story which is that every 40 years or so, without fail, like clockwork -- well, not quite -- about every 40 years some foreign global power te the afghan scene andd
control it and use it for its own purposes. there have been periods of afghan history when the rulers of afghanistan have taken advantage of the geographical position of afghanistan, to play a sort of a neutrality card using the favoritism towards one global power, playing that against the possibility of leap -- leaning toward the other global power to keep them both at bay. and this was used the the successful afghan leaders and both the uss and the united states were interested in afghanistan, both were competing to enlarge they're influence in the country, and somehow, because of the counterbalancing of those two forces there was a period when afghans were sort of in control of their own destiny, and during that period, you saw modernization and change in
afghanistan that was more rapid and more sort of dramatic than you've seen anywhere in this country. that period ended when the pendulum of trying so swing back and forth between the inner afghanistan and the outer world, just started to swing so fast and so far that it finally crashed and the country succumbed to a coup by the small communist group and then followed by the soviet invasion, and i content from that day to this we're still in the aftereffects of the soviet invasion. the soviet invasion pretty much destroyed the fabric of the country. the six million refugees it drove out of the country. the destruction of the villages, the tearing apart of the tribal structures and the creation of a
state of war in which, you know, the old traditional afghan systems for generating leadership, gave way to a new system which was in that state of chaos, if you had a gun and were good with it, you'd probably end up being an important guy. so that brought into being a whole other class of afghan leaders who are commanders. now they call them war lords, and that entered the fray. when the soviets left, those guys all started fighting each other and they're tore the cities apart, and then in the wake of that came the taliban. so now we're in the country, and i think we have come in with something of the same idea that the soviets had, which was, this is a primitive country and a lot of trouble and if we can restore everything and produce material benefits for the people, they will be grateful and come over to our side.
and there's more it to than that, however. i mean, afghans are very interested in material benefits like anyone is, but there is a question of the reconstruction of the afghan institutions, the society, the soul, the family structure, and the reconciliation of all these contending factors on the afghanistan scene. this taliban business is not completely separate from the contentions within afghan society over dominating the identity of afghanistan. how much time have i used? i can keep going? all right. i was so efficient i said almost everything i have to say. so, now i could go back into all of that at great length. but i will just say this. that i went back to afghanistan in 2012, this last year. and part of my mission was to help a group take bare root
trees to different villages and plant them. so we went some distance from kabul. we didn't go to the war-torn areas because they're war-torn, you know. we were timid. but we went we where we could and we went, for example to my home, ancestral village near kabul and then we went out to pabwan further distance, and i saw things in afghanistan that were interesting for me, because what i saw was on the one hand there were aspects of the modern world that to me were permeating to the furthest reaches of rural afghanistan. actually, i went to central afghanistan where the buddhas used to be. you might remember those. they were destroyed by the taliban. and then from there, we went out on a -- we wanted to see something -- someone told us about, rock structure.
so that was like a couple of hours drive out of the little town, so we were really way out in the middle of nowhere, and there i look out and i see a little village clinging to the cliffs, and i see something glimmering white, and i go, what is that? so we look closer, and it's a solar panel. and even in those distant places they know about solar panels, and next to that solar panel? what do you call those things? satellite dish. so this village has at least enough electricity from the solar panel to run at least one television set. probably not more than one. you know-because that's expensive and that village will have that one television set in some common area that people will come together in. but that in itself is a permeation of the outside world
into afghanistan, and you might say, well, what can you get on a television set in central afghanistan? you can get programming from kabul and, my goodness, there's so much programming coming out of kabul. they have like 20 tv stations. it's true that those are a motley crew of tv stations, some owned by, dare i call them, warlords. there is a certain element of control of public information that way. but at the same time, some of these tv stations in kabul are putting out such aggressive, investigative news, you guys would be proud. they go to the places where these suicide bombings have taken place and find video and broadcast it and that has an effect on public opinion, where if you just hear, oh, you know, some place was bombed, you can manipulate the spin on that information in a different way
than when you see people dying. so that's one aspect of it. the other aspect is they have aggressively called to the carpet afghan officials who are involved in punitive corruption, and they bring up documents and question them. not that has stopped any of the corruption, but i think it's important that the media exists, and people even in these distant villages can see it. on the other hand, you know, i will tell you that, i went there and stayed with my relative of mine, and he is someone i never met, but closely tied to the village. but he is, i don't know, second cousin's second cousin. very close in afghan terms. and i went to his house, and it was two days before i saw his wife because it wasn't clear that i was close enough to the family to be admitted to the really inner circle. and then i will also report to
you that after that, it was like, okay, this guy is family, and then our dinners shifted from just him and me and the boy children to the family dinner, and so then we were all together then. and so now you will say to yourselves, the woman was kept in the back room and she was oprocessed something or -- opressed something or other. but i tell you, once we were all together, said i want to go there and do this and the wife was saying you're not going to go there and do that. you're going the village to visit the shrine of our great, great ancest or. i don't have time. no. you're going to make time. so, there was not anything squelched about the woman. there is a structure that was characteristic of afghan society in the distant past in my day in
afghanistan, and it's still there all over the country. so the negotiation of the old a afghanistan and the culture of the outside world is very deeply mixed up with what is going to happen going forward. i'll just stop there. [applause] >> thank you very much. made my job so much easier because i'm not an historian and not analytical as tamim, but i'm just so fortunate and -- to be here in a position to be able to speak on behalf of the afghanistan people. and the reason i went on the journey was for the afghan people, for the innocent. for millions of people who have had nothing to do with the decisions that have put them in the misery we are today. so, my mission is indeed that, and that is what i again wrote the book to start part of this dialogue to talk about the
decency of human beings, and the loss of decency, and that is what is very important to me. so, in that regard, i want to apologize to you that when i sound judgmental, because when i talk about the social aspects of life and people defend them, it is very difficult, especially in today's environment, where there are so many different opinions and so many extreme ideas, if you will. it's not just extremists fighting out there but extreme ideasing rehere within our own society. it's amazing. so puts me in a position to say, oh, my god, who are you to tell us this? go back to your own country if you don't like it. and my answer to that is, i'm a great citizen of the united states. not just an average citizen but i am much -- i do things that an average citizen would not do. so -- and i'm a great afghan. i'm an afghan-american but i'm a
human race and i'm their represent decent people. so, that's what i tell them, and don't be judgmental. so i was called to a library in san diego, and a little who was a little bit upset about i guess what she knew about afghanistan and the one of the questions was, what do people of afghanistan want, mr. are gandhi -- arghandiwal. i said, great question. what would you like in life? i really want to know what do you want in life. said, a home. bread. three meals and all that. i said, well, great. i said, that's exactly what the people of afghanistan want. a roof on their head. not three meals. how about one meal a day. that's not even available. but that's how things are prioritized in the world, where
people are suffering, and it's not because of lack of money. there's more money in this world than you can knowledge. i can tell you. i'm a banker. so i was in banking for 28 years and all aspects of it and there is no lack of money on this earth. it's how it's priority advertized and distribution. not to take it away from people but how it's pryer to advertized -- prioritized by government. so my mission was to open up the dialogue and to really go back and take people back towards the real afghanistan, the peaceful afghanistan i was privileged to live in and grow up. after 1990 it has its open share of peace and prosperity. we call it prosperous. not really developed but she really liked it. she said is wish we we go back to that environment where it was
one of most peaceful spots around the world. during my upbringing, tourists from all over the world were coming in and enjoy afghanistan. what i would as a tour guide would take them to area where they would be considered a guest of that village, and by the way, country where killing of a person would be mourned in each and every village around afghanistan. that is what the afghanistan -- i want to tell people about. we did. our father will tell news our community, somebody's prayer we would good to or watch -- 0, somebody has been killed in iraq and we will good to there. so that's the environment we're talking about. and i want to talk to people about the fact that afghanistan was never a corrupt nation. it's not okay to call -- and it is called a corrupt nation today, but corruption was
imported and was imposed on the people of afghanistan, especially in the last 13, 14 years, and when people emigrated, when refugees went to neighboring countries and the war lords and others and people started to fight, trade, sell human beings and that's when corruption came in. i remember in the place where i lived, where actually a picker would be very well known as to who you and are everybody wanted to stay and that whole area i would be ashamed of having it. today it's business all over as we know it. that's the afghanistan we knew. but what west the model that the king and others used as -- referred to what was the benefit and what did they do? and i british and i pray there was a model -- i wish and i pray there is a model that the world realize that's the model to bring back.
how do you buy people's mines and hearts? what was it? what kept retired afghans to fight so close together? what is this about factionism? what's pashtunism, and are you serious? i ask? live within a area where every single ethnicity lived together, we played together, we played soccer. i coached them. my sisters went to school with them. we had no problem. we could actually go and see our neighbor and talk to them and get some -- borrow bread or a piece of -- that's the society afghanistan was. so what you're hearinges not what it was. what you're seeing in the images on tv, it's not what afghanistan was and that really hurts. that me mission to get the world residents attention to say the models we're using is the wrong model.
when i went back, after all these years, i was hurting. i was the first after 9/11. we were hurting so bad. that is one of the days you could only read in any become -- well, other stories there are but my story, read my story of 9/11 and how i left my home and what happened and i will interviewed in washington mutual at the time when i had a meeting with me managers, and that day only -- i can't even tell you how that day went through, but how it hurt to be an afghan and know that the attacks on now my own country here, on the united states, was launched from my own native country. that was very hurtful. that's why i was on a mission to go back and do something, and i wanted to go and help. i really wanted to go help. i had a plan, a ten-felony plan. very easy. with little school, high school education, could i have done something that these people
didn't do until this date. it's not about me. it's about the fact that priorities were again missed. we missed those priorities to go back and gain the hearts and mind of people. so when i went back again to afghanistan, and i saw what i saw like tamim did, i just could not believe what i saw. so, again, it's not a lack of money. and you cannot buy people with money. as i walked out of the airport, this ten-year-old that walked to me right away and says, i want to shine your shoes. i realized he was -- i said, no, no, he said, no, please, let me do this. i said i'm going to give you ten dollars. the first thing he asked, come from america? and i said how died you -- did you know? he said, well, unfortunately they give out money. they throw money. two a ten-year-old who actually supports seven members of the family and i actually begged him to be honest because he did not want to give the money without shining the shoes.
said do it for me. do it as a gift, do it for your sister, just take ts. so i guess i gave him $20. but the point is, people may not be educated but they're not stupid. there's a difference, that world today does not understand. that's why this lady ask me what do people of afghanistan want because they think they're all criminals. they're not. they're good people. they're innocent. they have been victimized. read the history. victimized for years and years. they have been an ban -- abandoned. a section in my book where kabul, awant donned. that's exactly what happened. how is it possible for the whorled to allow a saudi arabia national to go rule another country? what happened? how is it possible for those outlaws of middle east and others to build another country or thankfully rule other nations.
did we go to sleep? here is the cost today. look at what is happening. so the point is, again, my whole focus has been to talk about the real great afghanistan, the peaceful days were basically a lot of western societies and governments were building high schools in afghanistan. were tourists were there peaceful organizations were there. good things happening. we were growing. we were making progress. our sisters were going school. we had things going. looking good. and then of course, here comes the russians and here comes the neighbors trying to get their hands in the affairs of the afghan people, and the rest is history because i don't want go through those steps. but again, it's really a tragedy as to what has really happened to afghanistan. it really is. and, again, my mission is to be able to talk about that. talk about the qualities of the past. and i am very engaged in
afghanistan sew society and the community, trying to not only enlight 'them but encourage them and challenge them to become the best citizens, whether here or anywhere around the world to stand on their feet and not accept the fact that today their country is known as one of the most corrupt nations or known for top opium producer in the world. there's nothing to be proud of that. and afghans should understand that and do something about it. not only around the world but inside kabul. to go on a peaceful uprising start thinking, start becoming educated. it's not going to happen. there have been studies, comments about my book. i know who are the top producers of weapon and who is planting all the bombs and grenades inside all over afghanistan. i know who they are.
that's why i do think it's not the solution. it's not going accomplish anything. as long as we have arms and wars, we will not have peace. we will not have security. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, atta, and thank you, tamim. so, now it's time for the q & a of the program, and i'm robert rosenthal, your moderator today. we're going to have more of a conversation, but so i hope you guys sort of get involved with each other and i'll be the god here today. but i think one of the things that is clear is that the west and america did not understand -- don't truly understand afghanistan historically. we've seep that happen over and over again, and tamim's book talk about the great game one, the great game two, what the
russians did when they came in start off talking about the role and what you both also mentioned today were your families, and the scale of the family, but the role of family, clap, and inner relationships which lead to the definition which i think uniquely afghan about leadership. and how address that in your book, and maybe you can start talking about that and, and atta can join in. >> the first thing to talk about is the extent to which life in afghanistan is shaped by networks of personal relationships. and i would draw the contrast to here that we're familiar with society in which there's a lot of impersonal institutions, and we think of, say, getting a job, you fill out an application and so on. in afghanistan, the age-old idea, if you want to get a job, you talk to someone who knows
how to get you a job. that might sound like corruption once you mix the two systems together, but you have to remember that the original afghanistan was a world in which there were sort of no appointed officials. everybody knew each other in the area where they lived. everybody was somebody in a family structure. and there were networks of relationships and patronage that were -- that evolved through someone doing a favor for somebody, not as a buy and sell kind of thing, not, i did this for you, now you owe me one. it's just building a relationship, and then over the course of time, those relationships extend over generations, and people whose fathers were imaccident in did great things d imminent and did agreed things they have a little more up on being an important person but they have to secure that by their own great deeds. there's a social network of do's
and don't's and should's and shouldn't's that nobody can tell you what they are. afghans just know it? and in social interaction, those who do that gracefully and well, gain press -- prestige, and those who don't lose prestige so how people become leaders is a subtle, interpersonal, interactive process. and that's how village leaders emerge and clerics emerge. people who want to be the mullah of the village, they learn how it works and after a while they have been so helpful they're part of the scene, and when the old mullah dies, there's just the mullah. and then if there are disputes
to be adjudicated in a village -- this is till the case in many villages -- the men of the village gather and they have a tribal council and they discuss that matter, whatever it is, criminal matters are ondiscussed or disputes about land. nobody is appointed to that council. it's the prestigious people sit closer to the center and the people who have less prestige are on the outside going, what's going on? so, that system of finding leaders at the local level in the original society of afghanistan, recap -- capitulates up the line, and that's hoe families and clans negotiates with each other, and even tribes. and i just add one other thing, which is to say that although this country is divided into many tribes and many clans, it's not the case that the tribes and
clans were always fighting each other. that is -- they lived in their separate areas and they interacted in various ways, and they didn't fight all the time. sometimes they fought but not all the time. >> want to follow up on that? >> quick point. really great explanation. afghanistan had the history that grew up, have great leaders. these were tribesmen. my uncle would be one. at it phenomenal impact he had on the village. and people like that, and my father, who actually was just there helping everybody, and everytime -- so i think afghanistan had to just within the tribal society had an incredible number of leaders in the style, and today that's the big gap in not having that, and guess who are the leaders? the so-called leaders the commanders who tamim referred to who had never been to school or
had no education and today they have support of the constituents and of course, armies and a lot of money. so just imagine, there's this huge gap and that's why there's hope for the educated to come in and fill that gap. and there's a real big gap right now because look who the leaders are? >> let me add one other thing. because of the system of leadership emerging, i think what is misunderstood by outside enter vennor -- intervaccinors is when you set up a rational process and gather up people identified and somebody is elected as leader, that guy is not necessarily the leader. he has now been ratified by the u.s. in a meeting that the u.s. has set up and now he has title, the president. but is he really a leader? maybe he is but he has to show off that leadership by operating in the whole other system as
well. >> so we're now at pint where the u.s. is preparing or hoping to leave, and this foundation of understanding afghan culture and the role of family and what makes the culture work and the richness, atta, you described. so let's go forward. i guess two questions. how did the u.s. -- how did they not learn from the past and what lessons should we have learned? and going forward now, where is a solution to potentially stabilize? can you see that happening? >> sure. i believe we had a great opportunity, devastating attacks of 9/11 where, somebody did ask me and said, what now? i said, you know, i'm really sad to say it's like a lottery where now afghanistan has chance to come out of this whole misery into -- and we have an opportunity to build a model, if you will. and to do that, because people
were on the run. we had great time to recruit and build a national army. the number one priority to build a strong national army like the pest, where people could have defended their own country and be paid. but instead, of course, went to the warlord and went to the commander and said, here's a bag of money. build your own army. so it is really kind of brought in a different type of culture, environment, into the -- and i think took the real leadership -- going back to the earlier conversation, -- the control of the village or the respect to the elder, those things were now stopped. so i think it was a huge mistake in that record, that we did not really address from the virgining to understand -- from the very beginning, to understand the country and build the country and the infrastructure to really gain support of the become.
going forward, for me, again, i wish, and i hope there is a way that we can go back and depend and rely on those tribal leaders. give them back to the defend their own area. give them real support, not cash, but real support, and strike tour to build -- structure to build their own area, and if we don't gain the support of all the tribal areas there will not be peace in afghanistan, i can assure you. >> well, you know, i just want to first say that i don't want to come off assaying -- off as saying people made a lot of mistakes. it's a mess because it's really hard to fix that and a lot of complications, and with the question of building a national army, the question was first, we have a professional army, but
the questions when the foreign forces leave and there's any interruption of their pay, whose army is there? there has to be the development of the sense of leadership of the people who are in charge of that army that will enable the people in the army to say, yes, these are our leaders. we are the army of this country. that's the problem. if we want to go back to 2002 and what happened there, anyone can give their opinion, but to me, the major thing that the u.s. didn't do was to go in there with a lot of small scale but really distributed help, and it also did not do something that i know is very difficult to do, but it did not cede control of the development moneys it was bringing in to afghans, because
it's understandable to some extent. we talking about technocrats-experts and they know what is right and they're worried that afghans will screw it up, but you have to allow for afghans to take charge of their own destiny because that's how you build -- what's what enables a generation of afghans to come into leadership, and if you just go in there and do it, bring in engineers, hire afghans to break rocks and build a highway from one major city to another. you sideline the afghans and just give an afghan a highway. well, that doesn't really help an afghan. you have to do it in a way that afghans are participanted -- participants in the solution. >> there would be an afghan solution if the afghans were
left to do it but the reality, whether the pakistans, the russians, iranians, u.s., other interests, china, mineral wealth, and the taliban. so, how do you see the next period of years with all those forces at work and what will the role of the taliban be? do you see them having a productive role possibly? >> if you're only thinking of the u.s. presence in afghanistan as being about helping afghans, i think you're in trouble there. there is a certain sense of, oh, you know, the u.s. owes -- the u.s. doesn't owe afghanistan -- afghans north entitled to be fixed by the united states. afghans have to fix their own country. the u.s. there is for a different reason. the u.s. there because, like all the great powers of the past, it does actually have strategic interests in afghanistan, and my
thesis it can best serve that by having an afghanistan that is friendly to the united states. then the u.s. would have an actual ally that is strongly associated with and will not cut its ties with, being a muslim country and right in central asia. the domination of afghanistan is going to hurt u.s. interests but i think the u.s. does have to be there because of all these things you said. there's pockets down there, those guys are going to be swarming in two days after theirs a power vacuum in there and that will be a mess for afghans, too. >> very true. again, there's outside interests and there's bigger -- i would say questions inside afghanistan as to how you control the neighbors and what is the interests. look at this latest example of the border area of afghanistan
and pakistan where now suddenly a conspiracy -- a true conspiracy, where basically now an attack on both sides in trying to actually question the line that was drawn many, many years book back. i said are you serious in that's all the problems? that we're going to question who that we're going to question who it belongs to while we have all these problems? so that's the hand of the foreign -- whether it be one neighbor or another those are the kind distraction. there have to be better control of your neighbor. >> we'd like to remind our listening audience this is the commonwealth club program called "afghanistan." and heat -- let's go on with another question.
atta in your book, you have wonderful personal scenes. the day 9/11 happened, very powerful. when you returned to afghanistan, there's a great description of the scene around the corrutur officials and the party you went to at the private home. one of the things i found most memorable is vivid to your family's home village. and in that you visit your father's grave, but also i talked to your earlier about you visit a mosque, and when you went there there were taliban there, so can you describe the scene and what role might they have coming forward? a productive role? >> it really was an eye-opener when i did go to cab bill and told my cousin that was the first order of the day, to go in and -- so we left early morning, just kind of going back to the old days and there was snowing,
and we -- it was just early mo veing leading towards the village, as we meet there and one of the first things i was told it's frizz and it's going to be a prayer. i said, what a wonderful opportunity to connect with so many, which we did. by the way, my cousin says there would be some taliban there i said, oh, good. he said what due you mean? i said i want to talk to them. this would be my first opportunity ever to find out what are these people? i said, in our own vil snge. he said, yes. because they do go out and they spread out but they come whenever -- they have families so a wonderful opportunity. then on that day and the mosque was full because they found out that i was coming, and not because of me to be hospital, but because my brother was sey a great fighter for ten years, he was well-known, and he was
lost three years ago to cancer but he was very well known and like a champion to them and knew i was a brother. so the mosque was completely filled up, peofirste outside lig up, and we all prayed together and at the end i said i want to meet these boys and which we did, and i could not find a older person than 25 years old in those taliban groups, which was really sad. these weresel, 17,n tho9-yearwa, younn tha i, and hredible, withg beards and guns and so i said, one of the questions was that, i said, what did you pay them? i believe they're average ing $50 a month. and because they have noe oob. ...
brought in their part of the society. then you have the extremist that is not too many but destructive to society that are walking from the borders from chechnya and saudi arabia and they're all on the mountainous area of pakistan. it is a nightmare. that is what exists but as far as a place in the future? absolutely they should be brought to did it be given up place to build their own society to be a part of the solution rather than fight. >> is one of the powerful elements was schools in reuse this as a symbol so maybe you could tie that into your thoughts? >> there is one thing to say
about schools. we tend to use the word school and then think of it out -- think of it like medical care. also the taliban did have schools but what kind? 30,000 along the border where they taught fundamentalist g hottest it islamic ideology of the profit and to they taught them how to shoot a gun. so when we put schools in areas where there is a conflict that is also part of the conflict. so i just want everybody to be aware of that. and one of the turning points above the post net of 11 reconstruction of afghanistan came during 2006 with 200 school burning sore
attacks in really traumatized people in those areas and they were all in the helmand province in those areas that were not well under control. so in a way the children were made hostages to the war of the older folks and it was a terrible thing. also, although many others killed -- schools have been built with 2.2 million girls in school, the there is still a real crisis about schooling and there is still a big problem. and with girls' schooling, the culture still has so much control fitted is able to restrict the education of girls of a
certain age by men. so people say we're not against girls education but it has to be taught by women. but in the dark ages when women were not educated there is a gap of women who can teach girls. so the women are teaching the young girls and they themselves are studying the next great depth as hard as they can to stay ahead of their students. this is my opinion but when i went to kabul, in my day cover there were a number of schools open by the government with a curriculum now there are hundreds of schools, people send their kids to private schools not the public, and they specialized in technical education. there is a university of microsoft word or something
like that. and that kind of schooling would replaces the schooling regular literature, geography, histo ry, the history of your own country, all of that, it tends to add to the fragmentation and so there has to be a commitment to rebuild the school as a unifying force. i have 70 more things to say but i will stop there. >> and with clarity to understand the role of islam and the afghan society isn't is there more of this duty or the she it influence in the role of sharia in the future are in the past?
we had had a benefit of religion this really was not a factor at all we expected to collaborate and collaborate but it had taken a different for but to the august 0 lot of it is a work of neighbors for crowhop i saw all the activity will summon the neighbors tried to separate the shia from sunii that was devastating to see that. leno there is not enough time to talk about the details of that, but that is what is happening. the oxide influence is enormous but today it is
something that brings people together that is islam and that is the first thing they look at. >> i will set aside sunii / shia that is that the important question to ask but in the old afghanistan afghanistan, is long was like an atmosphere it was not separate just from daily life. and afghans consider themselves a devout muslim and would not even say i am religious. what does that mean? be a good person means being a good muslim but it was soft matt was mixed in ways the people did not bother to differentiate into the course of these wars a think what happened is this other hard-edged doctrine is long that is preached by
international jihadist revolutionaries came into afghanistan in the belief the younger ones are sympathetic to that because the old ways are sown destroyed the have no history so they grasp for something in this just comes as a package in you can take the whole thing. i say forget about sunii / shia but conservative islam old-fashioned islam and the politicized jihadist is on that as a whole different thing. >> we can appreciate that because we were encouraged we were not pushed to go to the of moscow it is part of what we wanted to do because it was embraced in the you are so right about the threat that exist that has been brought upon these people that actually have an up new real education and
now they are associated in to in the day of of of islam to show people they are threatened to but now it comes into it. >> clear getting near the program that end seven like to say whatever you like but we are where we are today the future is not clear but can a new frame go last question about the role of women and going forward? king to lay out what you hope happens in the next cycle and what role you hope the women will have been changing afghanistan? >> in that golden period and there was a rapid
development of the liberation and empowerment of women, it was pleased that the afghan women have powerful leadership within them and the afghan society is very capable to adjust and accommodate so it becomes a society in which men into women have an equal place in life. afghan skean to it still echo the refrain that the outsiders could spoil it. [laughter] very well stated and that is a real barrier how to overcome that and how to open up but something that hurts personally not saying a lot of support for the national leadership in afghanistan so what with their outside forces they have denigrate job to i
failed as far as i am concerned. >> going forward in the aftermath of the u.s. involvement, if you are is an athlete can now how do you perceived -- perceive the intervention? is it viewed as a similar occupier? >> i've read back to afghanistan twice. both times in 2002 after the taliban were driven out and last year after tenures of americans. in 2002, and everything i saw was reduced to rubble. the physical country was more destroyed that i have never seen but yet i feel the the social atmosphere was not changed at all. it was the afghanistan that i knew. tin years later i feel the
country has changed more in the last 10 years than the previous 38 and were ever there was rubble now there is a skyscraper and probably a wedding palace where some rich person had a thousand guest for a wedding. there is some way they could stand up to bombs but not able to stand up $2. [laughter] >> guide to look at that question but was the referred to, it is about priorities. and with those children that told me he was turning really tough and i said why? he said it is not for a sir
children what is the difference? that he answers the question. is now for the masses is it if you look at this differently otherwise you are in need of help and the data numbers. >> our thanks. to the author of the game without rules. the director of the same francisco writers workshop. and also for describing himself as a bigger red bell a writer a and now a mission. post book survey of zero outside. we also want to think our audience to those who listen of the recording in the internet. the meeting of the commonwealth club of california celebrating 110 years of the light in that discussion is adjourned.