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The Right Answers.

Q. How long has Osama bin Laden been living in Afghanistan? Was the U.S. helping keep the Taliban in power at this time?

-- F.W.A., Beaumont, Texas

A. Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was expelled from Sudan in 1996. Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network have been headquartered in Afghanistan since then. The Taliban seized power in that country in 1996.

While he was in Afghanistan, bin Laden helped perpetrate the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000. (He is also the prime suspect in the devastating September 11th attacks on New York and Washington.) Despite this, both the Clinton and Bush administrations sent millions of dollars in aid to Afghanistan, justifying the action by claiming such funds would not benefit the Taliban.

The Clinton administration offered the Taliban even more than monetary aid, according to Congressman Dana Robrabacher (R-Calif.), an Afghan expert on the House International Relations Committee. In 1997, Rohrabacher told Human Events, the Taliban was overextended in its fighting against the opposition Northern Alliance. "Some of its best fighters had been captured. They were totally vulnerable, and I was in contact with the Northern Alliance. I told them, 'Now is the time to move to attack."'

Yet, in April of 1998, according to Rohrabacher, then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson and Assistant Secretary of State Rick Inderfurth were sent to Afghanistan. "[E]ither [Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright or the President of the United States' had to have sent them, Rohrabacher pointed out, in order to "convince the Northern Alliance to accept a cease-fire. The cease-fire would then be accompanied by an arms embargo."

The Northern Alliance accepted the deal "because they thought, 'Oh, this is the United States. Now we've got them involved again.' And what happened? Immediately the Taliban regrouped. There was a massive resupply on the part of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The CIA didn't bother to tell the Northern Alliance about the massive resupply effort. Within a few short months, the Northern Alliance had the arms embargo against them and they got pushed right out of the country."

Q. Which nation sells the most weapons around the world?

-- C.W., Alamosa, Colo.

A. Of the $36.9 billion worth of arms sold worldwide in 2000, American manufacturers signed contracts totalling $18.6 billion. This was an increase of 13 percent over the previous year, according to a Congressional Research Service study entitled Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1993 to 2000. Next in last year's sales totals were: Russia, $7.7 billion; France, $4.1 billion; Germany, $1.1 billion; United Kingdom, $600 million; China, $400 million; and Italy, $100 million.

Q. How many slave states were in the Union when Lincoln became President? Was there slavery in Washington, D.C., when the War Between the States began? Which slaves were treed by the Emancipation Proclamation?

-- K.B., Champlin, Minn.

A. There were a total of 15 slave states in the Union before Abraham Lincoln was elected president in November 1860. Between the election and Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861, seven states seceded from the Union. At the outbreak of war, four more states seceded. Of the four slave states to remain in the Union, Kentucky and Missouri split internally.

As for Washington, D.C., slavery was not abolished there until April 1862. Later that year President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. As Professor Jeffrey Rogers Hummel wrote in North & South magazine, the proclamation was "framed as a war measure. It still gave the seceding states until the end of the year to cease their rebellion and retain their slaves. The proclamation did not emancipate any slaves in those portions of the Confederacy that the Union army had already reconquered, including all of Tennessee and large portions of Virginia and Louisiana." In other words, the Emancipation Proclamation was an ultimatum delivered to the seceding states rather than a presidential decree freeing slaves everywhere.

Q. How big is the "huge" tax cut that was passed this year compared to the economy?

-- P.D., La Porte, Ind.

A. The tax cut totaling $135 trillion represents about 1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product over the 10-year implementation Period.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:military aid to Afghanistan; weapons industry sales; slavery; tax cuts
Author:Hoar, William P.
Publication:The New American
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 3, 2001
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