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There is no shortage of news on our longest war (Afghanistan, 15 years and counting), but one item is conspicuously absent. Where is the Taliban getting their weapons and funding? Explosives, ammunition and money to pay fighters is coming from some source with deep pockets and an agenda.

Three possible suspects come to mind: Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Russia's bad experience in the 80s rules them out. Iran is Shiites and the Afghans are Sunni, so no match there.

This leaves our "strong ally in the Middle East," Saudi Arabia. To unify the country, the Saud family made a deal with the mullahs of the Wahabi sect of Islam. In return for their support the Saudis promised money and declared Wahhabism the state religion. The money had a catch. In return for state support the mullahs agreed not to interfere with the royal family politically. They went overseas to spread their sect, a particularly conservative form of Islam. They set up and supported madrassas in Afghanistan which taught a radical view of the Quran and preached hatred for infidels. These students became the Taliban.

We continue to pour money and blood into the endless war to combat terrorism by attempting to kill the terrorists. To keep our casualties down, we train the Afghans to do the fighting and most of the dying, by selling arms to the Saudis we are supplying weapons to both sides. The fighting will stop when the money does; it is our choice.

George Novak

Corvallis (Dec. 4)

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