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Susan Faludi Slams Media, Myths in 'Terror Dream'

Culture critic Susan Faludi writes about the gender wars in America; her books Backlash and Stiffed, in particular, have sparked admiration and controversy.

Faludi's latest book, The Terror Dream, is already generating much the same critical reaction. It's an investigation of America's response to Sept. 11, 2001, in terms of the myths and stories our society — in particular, the media — grasped hold of for reassurance after that day's terrorist attacks.


Other segments from the episode on November 6, 2007

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, November 6, 2007: Interview with Ahmed Rashid; Review of Susan Faludi's book "The Terror Dream."


DATE November 6, 2007 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Journalist Ahmed Rashid discusses Pakistan under
emergency rule

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

After a state of emergency was declared in Pakistan, we got in touch with my
guest, Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who has covered Pakistan,
Afghanistan, Central Asia and Islamic extremism for about 25 years. He's been
on our show many times, dating back to the publication of his book "Taliban,"
which became a best-seller after September 11th and introduced many Americans
to this extremist group.

President Musharraf declared the state of emergency Saturday night. He
suspended the country's constitution, fired the chief justice of the supreme
court and closed down the judicial system. About 25 percent of the country's
estimated 12,000 lawyers have been placed in jail. Musharraf is the head of
the army as well as the president. He was recently re-elected president and
promised he would step down as head of the army November 15th. The Supreme
Court was expected to rule that he couldn't stay in uniform and remain
president. Today the government released a press release saying the
parliamentary elections scheduled for January would be held as planned.

My guest, Ahmed Rashid, is in Madrid now because he's speaking at several
terrorism-related conferences in Europe. This morning he went to a studio
there to record an interview with us about his country.

Ahmed Rashid, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Before we begin our conversation, I
want to know, like, if you were in Pakistan, instead of visiting Spain, where
you are now, do you think you'd be able to have the conversation that we're
about to have? You've been critical of Musharraf over the years.

Mr. AHMED RASHID: Well, I have been very critical and, certainly, I think I
would be more restrained, if I were sitting in Pakistan, about my views and
what I think has gone wrong and what should happen. The electronic media has
been taken off the air completely, something like 35 channels. And the print
media is under severe censorship. Now, some of the newspapers are kind of on
the edge, as it were, in condemning what has happened. All the media has
condemned what has happened. Some has been more muted, some has been quite
daring. But it's very risky because it's automatically three years in jail
for breaking any of these censorship laws, and you would go through a
terrorist court. That is a court which would be ruled by army officers.

GROSS: Do you have friends who were in the media and in jail now?

Mr. RASHID: Well, at the moment, only a couple of journalists have been
arrested, and it's not certain what's going to happen to them. But, of
course, there are an enormous number of people from NGOs, nongovernmental
groups, women activists, human rights groups, 75 members of the Human Rights
Commission of Pakistan have been arrested for nothing more than holding a
meeting--a kind of decision-making meeting inside a building, not even holding
a protest. Large numbers of women have been arrested because they have been
very vociferously opposed to this. And these women include teachers, lawyers.
They're not professional politicians, they are just heading or running women
NGOs that have been active in promoting educational democracy.

GROSS: Now, you're a member of the Human Rights Commission and you said a lot
of members of that commission have been arrested. What have you been hearing
from colleagues on the Commission?

Mr. RASHID: Well, out of about 70 people, 27 were women, many of them very,
very good friends of mine. They have been in jail. They were moved from one
jail to another. And, you know, you have a quite amazing spectacle now of
wives and sisters being in jail and husbands and brothers outside the jail
trying to find out how they are and trying to get messages through to them.
So it's been very disturbing.

Asma Jahangir--who is a UN rapporteur and heads the Human Rights Commission
and she's several times been nominated for the Nobel Peace Price--she is under
house arrest. And two or three of the very elderly members of the Human
Rights Commission have been put into a house which has now been declared a
sub-jail. So her house has become a kind of jail for anyone over 70 in the
Human Rights Commission.

GROSS: Now, President Musharraf is using the word "emergency rule." A lot of
people are calling what he's done martial law. You've been describing this as
his second coup. Why are you describing it that way?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I'm remembering, you know, the first coup that happened
when he replaced the elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, replaced him and
seized power back in 1999. Now we have what is essentially a second coup in
that everything that he himself has built up and allowed to happen--he takes
credit for reviving the economy, improving relations with India, allowing
cases to go to the supreme court, a free press, etc. All that has really been
dealt virtually a death blow. He has basically dropped a stone, a very big
stone, on his own foot by launching this emergency, because now you have a
very acute state of polarization between Musharraf and the army on one side
and on the other you have the judiciary, the media, the political parties,
civil society, the NGOs. There's absolutely no support now for him and any
kind of future political experimentation that he may want to do.

GROSS: It's kind of funny to use the word coup when the person who is staging
the coup is already in power.

Mr. RASHID: Well, exactly. I mean, you know, this is what is the odd thing.
I mean, we've had at least five coups in Pakistan by the military and they've
always had a degree of popularity in that the general was coming in to replace
either a prime minister who was corrupt or somebody who was intensely
disliked. I mean, this is the first time in history when a sitting general
has had to kind of make a coup on himself and on his own policies, as it were,
and at a time when he has no political support.

GROSS: Now, just to summarize, in case people haven't been following it,
Musharraf had wanted to run again for president and at the same time he was
unwilling to give up his position as head of the army. And what was the
supreme court about to rule on?

Mr. RASHID: Well, Musharraf ran for president. He has been elected as
president by the sitting assembly, which is basically against the constitution
because the president should be elected by a new assembly after a general
election. Nevertheless, he got himself elected, and there were several
petitions that were filed in the supreme court saying this was illegal. And
as a sop to the supreme court, he promised that he would drop his
uniform--that is stop being army chief--on November 15th. Now, we still have
to see whether he'll do this. This is one of the principal things now that
the Americans are demanding that he do, that he ceases being army chief and
becomes a civilian president.

But he feared, I think, that the supreme court was going to rule against him.
And he was already in a deeply antagonistic relationship with the chief
justice of the supreme court, Iftikhar Chaudry, whom he had sacked six months
ago. And Iftikhar Chaudry was then reinstated after four months of very
violent protest by the entire legal community in Pakistan, and he was
reinstated a couple of months ago. And since then he's delivered a number of
judgements which have gone against the military. So people fear that the full
bench of the supreme court that was hearing these petitions would now rule
against Musharraf retaining his second term as president.

GROSS: You know, The New York Times reported--specifically, reporters David
Rhode and Jane Perlez--that a close aide to Musharraf had said that Musharraf
had decided to declare a state of emergency after he was told last week by a
supreme court justice that the court would rule within days that he was
ineligible to serve as president. So that this aide said that once Musharraf
learned that the court was going to rule unanimously that he was ineligible to
serve as president, that's when he declared a state of emergency. Did you
hear anything about that?

Mr. RASHID: Yes. I mean, what I have heard is that the decision to declare
an emergency was taken several days ago. And, in fact, when he spoke to
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the CENTCOM chief, Admiral Fallon, who
was in Islamabad just the day before the emergency, it was very clear to the
Americans that he had already taken the decision to impose an emergency and
there was very little they could do about it. I think he waited for the
weekend for two reasons. One, the supreme court would not be in session so he
would be able to grab all the judges at home, which is what happened. And
secondly, he hoped that the weekend would deter international criticism at
least until Monday or Tuesday, which was not the case. The international
criticism started right the very day of the emergency.

GROSS: Most of the supreme court justices now under house arrest are in

Mr. RASHID: Well, exactly. I mean, there are 17 judges on the supreme court
bench. Fourteen of them refuse to take the new oath of office that Musharraf
promulgated. And this oath of office would mean that you would have to
express loyalty to the president and the chief of army staff, in other words
him. So 14 of these judges refused to take the oath and they're all under
house arrest. Sixty out of 97 judges in the four provinces of the
country--that is, in the high courts of the four provinces--also refused to
take the oath.

And this is unprecedented in Pakistan because traditionally in Pakistan the
judiciary has been, if you like, the handmaiden of the army in that the
judiciary has always validated military coups. It has validated martial law.
Here you have the extraordinary, if you like, maturity now of this new
judiciary in just refusing to accept Musharraf's ruling of an emergency and
clearly quite willing to take the consequences. I'm sure there's going to be
now enormous harassment of these judges, their families, their businesses,
their incomes, of every kind of harassment will now take place.

GROSS: Lawyers have been at the forefront of protests, and I think this is
kind of confusing to a lot of Americans who aren't used to seeing lawyers from
the country be at the forefront of political protests as they are in Pakistan
now. Would you explain why they are in that position?

Mr. RASHID: Well, you know, the lawyers in Pakistan have always been
extremely vocal, extremely political, and always in favor of the rule of law
and the constitution. They very heavily have been opposed to military rule.
But this year, after the chief justice was sacked, it was the lawyers that
mobilized mass public support for his reinstatement, and the lawyers have been
in the forefront now, of course, against the emergency.

And I think, you know, what we are seeing now in Pakistan is that the military
has really drawn a line between itself and all other state institutions. I
mean, the military is not just forcing the judiciary to comply, it is actually
trying to subvert and undermine the judiciary. And what that means is that
the rule of law, the whole institution of an independent judiciary, the
constitution, which the judiciary is supposed to uphold, all that has gone out
of the window. And I think the lawyers are deeply, deeply concerned about
this development because this harbors very, very bad tidings for the future.
How is the next army chief or the next army regime going to reconcile itself
with the judiciary now after Musharraf has taken these very harsh measures?

GROSS: Today the chief justice of the supreme court in Pakistan, who was
ousted and, I think, put under house arrest, managed to speak by phone to a
rally in Pakistan. What were the consequences of that?

Mr. RASHID: They were very severe. The entire mobile telephone network was
suspended in the middle of his speech. He was giving a speech on his mobile
phone from his house where he's under arrest to a rally of lawyers taking
place. And in the middle of it, the entire mobile phone network was
suspended. And I think, you know, this really demonstrates--and I mean, you
don't expect the chief justice to be so radical or to take such measures.
You'd expect him to be quietly sitting at home, and this is what any other
Pakistani chief justice would have done. But this gentlemen, clearly, has
taken, you know, the bull by the horns and remains very much part of the

GROSS: Do you think that Musharraf will try to appoint new supreme court
justices or new judges that are willing to swear their loyalty to him?

Mr. RASHID: He's desperately looking for them. He has appointed a new chief
justice, but he has to immediately fill a bench of the supreme court. Now,
there's already rumor that he'll never get these 17 judges that make up the
bench; and he may, in fact, declare that the bench will be full if they can
just find seven or eight judges, which will, of course, be a huge travesty of
justice. But I think it's going to be very difficult. I think no judge, even
junior judge who may be wanting to further his career, is going to take the
risk of angering his fellow lawyers and judges and his own family, perhaps, by
taking up a position right now under Musharraf.

GROSS: My guest is Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the best
seller "Taliban." More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is journalist Ahmed Rashid. He's
Pakistani and has been covering Pakistan and Islamic extremism for many years.
He's the author of the best-selling book "Taliban." He's currently in Spain,
where he's speaking to us from, but intends to go back soon to Pakistan.

You wrote this week that the state of emergency declared by President
Musharraf will encourage further civil strife, nationwide protests and greater
territorial gains by the extremist Pakistani Taliban. Why do you think that
this state of emergency will result in greater gains by the Taliban?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think the Pakistani Taliban have been very active in the
last few weeks. They have seized a lot of territory in northern Pakistan.
There has been a very big battle in a very famous valley, the Swat Valley,
which is just about 100 kilometers from the capital. And the militants have
taken large chunks of territory and have captured troops and killed large
numbers of troops. And I think the militants all over the country are going
to see a political vacuum at the center, a much weaker army, an army that is
now chasing lawyers and women activists that will be preoccupied with the
political crisis, and this is the time to strike, while the iron is hot.

GROSS: Well, in fact, Musharraf has been taking the police and intelligence
experts from the fight against extremists and using them to control those
events. I mean, that's exactly what's happening, right?

Mr. RASHID: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, you know, the fact is that the
entire country's police are now mobilized to stop these demonstrations by
lawyers and civil society. And the same goes for the intelligence and the
army. I think, you know, one thing that the American media has been harping
on and has got consistently wrong is that the Bush administration has always
kind of posited the dilemmas for countries like Pakistan, Egypt, etc., that
`should US policy be backing democracy in these countries or should it be
backing a strong authoritarian ruler who will be willing to fight the war on
terror?' Now, I think this premise is entirely wrong, and the American media
has been harping over this in the last few days. And it's also been saying,
`Well, Bush has no choice. He has to support Musharraf because the war on
terror is more important.'

My point is that if you have a country that is deeply unstable, that itself is
going through paroxysms of civil strife and instability, how can that country
possibly, or that government possibly be fighting any war against terrorism?
And I think that's the real issue. Stability has to come first. I mean, you
have to have a stable political system in countries like Pakistan so that they
can mobilize the military and the security forces, as well as the public to
support a war on terror.

GROSS: One of the really frightening things about the instability in Pakistan
now is that Pakistan has a nuclear weapon, and it's the only Muslim country to
have a nuclear weapon. I'm sure that al-Qaeda and the Taliban would love to
get their hands on it. How worried are you about the nuclear weapon in a time
like this?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think I'm even more worried about the fact that, you
know, Pakistan has been, in the past, the largest proliferator of nuclear
technology and nuclear materials in the world. It's supplied equipment and
materials to Iran, to North Korea and to Libya. And now President Musharraf
has stopped all this, but the network that was put in place by Pakistan's
leading nuclear scientist, Dr. A.Q. Khan, is, by all accounts nuclear
experts, still very much in place. And, of course, it is--it would be
relatively easy, with this network in place, for terrorists, al-Qaeda, other
groups to try and get hold of nuclear material. So I think that's the first
major fear.

The second fear is that, you know, what would happen in the army if there's a
countercoup against Musharraf? Could there be Islamic officers at the
mid-level, at the colonel or brigadier level, trying to launch a coup in
league with some of these extremists outside the Taliban and other militant

So, yes, I mean, there is an enormous fear. But at the moment, certainly, I
would say that the nuclear weapons are safe. They are being controlled by the
army. There is no access to them by any civilians, and the high command at
the moment seems pretty loyal to Musharraf.

GROSS: What about the rest of the soldiers below the high command? How loyal
are they?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think that's a very good question. I think there are
several trends in the army right now. One is that there's an acute
demoralization from fighting these militants in the north. Hundreds and
hundreds of soldiers have surrendered. At least seven, 800 soldiers have
surrendered in the last few months to these militants. And I don't mean
captured, I mean literally handed over their weapons and surrendered. Now
that has set in a very severe demoralization.

The second, I think, trend has been professional army officers were really fed
up with this kind of high profile the army had, and they were welcoming the
idea that, with Benazir Bhutto coming back, elections taking place, finally
the army could kind of take a backseat and would not be a target of abuse and
criticism by the civilians and could get back to doing its real job of looking
after the frontiers and the borders, etc. Now, I think these professional
officers are dismayed by what has happened and what Musharraf has done,
because he's brought the army back into the firing line and back into the
trenches, as it were, the front line against the political classes.

And I think the third trend is basically a wave of Islamization that is taking
place inside the country is also taking place inside the army. And this, of
course, does pose huge dangers.

GROSS: It certainly seems like the Bush administration is in a really tough
spot now. It supported Musharraf with a lot of money, and now Musharraf has
basically declared martial law. The Bush administration says that's it's for
democracy, but how can it be for democracy if it's supporting somebody who's,
you know, illegal taken over his country and arrested a lot of the supreme
court, suspended the constitution? What do you have to say about the spot
that the Bush administration is in now?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think not only that. They are feeling really betrayed.
I think Condi Rice, Mr. Gates, the defense secretary, they have been urging
Musharraf not to impose an emergency, go down the route of elections. And
he's been reassuring them that he would, and they he does a u-turn. And I
think they are feeling very embarrassed, very betrayed. And I think, you
know, in the coming days you will see in Washington questions being raised in
Congress, you know, `Who lost Pakistan and why did the Bush administration
allow Musharraf to betray them so blatantly and embarrass them so blatantly?'
So I think--above all, I think there's a lot of anger now in senior officials
in the Bush administration, frustration, anger, and, of course, acute

GROSS: Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid will be back in the second half of
the show. I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross, back with Pakistani journalist
Ahmed Rashid. He's been covering Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and
Islamic extremism for about 25 years. He's the author of the best seller
"Taliban." He was out of the country when President Musharraf declared the
state of emergency Saturday. Rashid is speaking at a couple of conferences in
Europe. This morning he went to a studio in Madrid to record our interview
about the crackdown in his country.

What do you think are the options that the Bush administration has now? I
mean, it's been supporting Musharraf, it's given Musharraf's government $10
billion since September 11th. What are the Bush administration options now?

Mr. RASHID: I think the Bush administration has really demonstrated its
weakness and its enormous policy failure. It has had a policy, as Senator Joe
Biden said, it's had a Musharraf policy, it's never had a Pakistan policy.
And even today we're seeing the Bush administration still trying to salvage
something for Musharraf. I think, you know, this has been wrong on all counts
right from the beginning.

The problem now is, of course, that Congress is very likely to take the
initiative out of the hands of the Bush administration. There's already
legislation passed and signed by the president which would allow Congress to
stop aid to Pakistan if it is deemed that Pakistan is not moving forward on
democracy. Well, clearly that point has come about now with this emergency.
And it's very possible that now Congress will demand that Bush cut aid to
Pakistan or at least some aid, if not all military aid, but some aid to
Pakistan. And there's already been the suggestion, for example, that the US
stop providing 18 F-16 fighter bombers to Pakistan, which have been ordered
and which have nothing to do with the war on terror but everything to do with
building up the forces against India.

So there is legislation in place. And it's very likely that the Congress,
which is now controlled by the Democrats, and they have been very hostile to
Musharraf, will actually force the Bush administration to cut some kind of

GROSS: Do you think the Bush administration has the power and/or the
inclination to try to get rid of Musharraf?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think very much--down the road, I think that's what it's
going to come to. Because the fact of the matter is that, having declared
this kind of mini martial law, he's reached a dead end. There's no way
now--although he's saying he will hold general election--there's no way that
any general elections under Musharraf are going to have any credibility under
the kind of draconian rule that we have today. The media is being restricted,
political meetings are being restricted. And even if these measures were
ended and an election campaign was allowed, the rules of elections set by
Musharraf are just not going to be acceptable to the political opposition or
to the media.

And secondly, even the results of the election will--the losers in that
election will deem it rigged. So I think, really, we have reached a dead end
with Musharraf. I think there's no way else that he can go except out. This
is the real crisis that the international community faces. But I think, in
the days and weeks ahead, they will have to wake up to this solution that any
kind of lifting of the emergency, moving back to some kind of elections and
representative government, has to also mean that Musharraf has to go.

GROSS: Well, the Bush administration has done a lot to keep Musharraf in
power. What do you think the Bush administration can do to remove him from

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think, you know, obviously the key factor here is going
to be the army and the mood in the army and what the army thinks of doing.
Now, if these demonstrations spread, especially to the main, the largest
province of Punjab, where 60 percent of the army is recruited from--in fact,
about 75 percent of the army is recruited from Punjab--the army is not going
to fire on demonstrators in Punjab if it is ordered to do so. And other
martial law administrators had learned that to their cost.

So I think what the big danger is now, that if this confrontation continues,
if the army and the police and the security services are forced to clamp down
on, you know, middle class demonstrators, many of them, you know, are related
to army officers themselves. I mean, you know, many families in Pakistan have
one brother who's a lawyer and one who's a bureaucrat and another who's in the
army. So it's not that these army officers are somehow unrelated to the
people that it is trying to crush in the streets. I think then there will be
writhing dissension in the army.

Much depends, first of all, on what Musharraf does on November 15. Will he
relinquish power as army chief and hand it over to his nominated vice chief,
General Ashfaq Kiani, or will he continue as army chief?

GROSS: Where does Benazir Bhutto fit in now? She's the former prime minister
of Pakistan. She's been living in self exile. She recently returned to
Pakistan with the intention of running for prime minister, and the idea that
there be some sort of power sharing arrangement between her and Musharraf, the
United States was a supporter of that, and now, of course, where does this
leave her? It leaves her being in the opposition and she plans on holding a
big opposition rally on November 15th, which is the day that Musharraf had
promised to step down from his position as head of the military. So what role
do you see her as playing now?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think she's in a very impossible situation. This deal
that was brokered by the Americans and the British, to some extent, I think
what it had failed to do was really convince Musharraf. I think in retrospect
we can say, really, that Musharraf never had his heart in the deal and was
quite willing to let her come back, but then would sabotage it. And of course
that is what has happened with this emergency. She trusted Musharraf. She
came back. She hoped for elections only to be confronted by the state of
emergency. And now her party is demanding that she join the opposition,
denounce Musharraf and ask him to leave politics completely. So far she's
declined. She's still trying to strike a middle part. But the pressure in
her party, the pressure from other opposition parties, for her now to lead the
opposition against Musharraf, in defiance of Musharraf, is very, very strong.
So she is up--some of her aides are holding talks with the army and the
intelligence services right now. And it has to be seen, you know, if the army
is going to offer anything in the sense that, you know, will they give a
deadline, for example, for lifting these emergency rules. But if the state of
confrontation continues, I think she will have to take the side of the
opposition and come out openly against Musharraf.

GROSS: Now, al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban don't like Benazir Bhutto.
So, say she starts to lead the opposition to Musharraf, what position does
that put her in with al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban?

Mr. RASHID: Well, as you said, I mean, Benazir Bhutto--and more than that
her party--her party has always traditionally for the last 35 years, it's been
anti-army and anti-mullah. The religious parties have never liked the
people's party of Benazir Bhutto. And, of course, I mean, that confrontation
will be there at the political level. The Taliban, the extremist groups, may
also tried to kill her. They tried to do that in Karachi the day she landed
when that massive bomb explosion took place that killed 140 people in her
convoy. So clearly she's at enormous risk by the extremists.

But at the same time, it must be said that she is--as was demonstrated when
she came back in Karachi, she is the only national leader who can command the
support of people from all over the country, of all ethnic backgrounds and all
religious backgrounds. And that is where her importance lies.

GROSS: What do you think is most likely to happen?

Mr. RASHID: Well, I think it's very difficult to say right now. I mean,
things have been very unpredictable in Pakistan. For example, I mean, many
people predicted this, an emergency, but nobody predicted that Musharraf would
take such draconian measures against civil society. Nobody predicted that he
would defy the judiciary in the way that he has by arresting the chief justice
and 14 other judges. So I think the regime itself doesn't know what to do. I
mean, we've already seen that, you know, one day they've said elections will
be delayed for a year, the next day they said, no, no, they'd be held on time.
You know, tomorrow they may say something else.

I think the regime itself has been, first of all, taken aback, I think, by the
international reaction. They thought they could get away with this somehow.
I think secondly, they've been taken aback by the domestic reaction and the
people coming into the streets. They thought that by terrorizing the
population, having these draconian measures, it would keep people in their
houses and prevent people coming out. Well, it hasn't. And consequently the
regime has had to take very harsh steps to arrest and, you know, beat up
people, as it were. Now I think, you know, the situation remains very, very

If he tries to have elections, I think they will be denounced by all the
opposition. And it has to be seen if Benazir would denounce them, too. If he
doesn't have elections, well, then he'll be denounced anyway because he will
then be called a dictator, an usurper of political rights, etc. So I mean
he's in a totally no-win situation.

GROSS: My guest is Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid. We'll talk more after
a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of the best
seller "Taliban." He was in Europe for a couple of conferences when President
Musharraf declared the state of emergency. Rashid is speaking to us from a
studio in Madrid.

The tribal areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been a
home for the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghani Taliban and al-Qaeda. And you've
described that as becoming like this, you know, Muslim extremist state with
its own rule of law. So what are the implications for Afghanistan security
now that Pakistan is under a state of emergency and is so unstable?

Mr. RASHID: I fear that the risks in Afghanistan are going to increase
enormously. Because not only will we have the Pakistan Taliban launching more
offenses in Pakistan, but this is a very good opportunity for the Afghan
Taliban to do the same there. In fact, this week we've seen the western
province of Farah has almost entirely fallen to the Taliban, and the Italian
NATO forces there have unable to push them out. And we are now in the midst
of a very harsh winter in Afghanistan. The Taliban traditionally never fight
in winter, but this winter it seems that they're going to continue fighting
throughout the coming months. And I think they will be hugely bolstered by
what they see as two very weak governments in the region: the government in
Kabul that is weak for other reasons, and of course the vacuum that is being
created in Pakistan, which will allow their brothers in arms in Pakistan to
expand their area of interest.

GROSS: Are the Afghani Taliban trying to retake the country?

Mr. RASHID: Oh, I think there's no doubt about it. I mean, they're
certainly trying to re-conquer southern and western Afghanistan. They don't
have support in the north. The ethnic groups in the north are very much
opposed to the Taliban. But we saw last week in Kandahar, the second-largest
city in the country, some 800 Taliban had massed outside Kandahar and were
trying to infiltrate the city. And they were pushed back by the Canadians in
a battle that lasted almost a week. So, you know, we are seeing huge
advances. We're seeing large scale brigade-size movement of Taliban inside
the country. And a lot of this--their logistics and support comes from their
fellow Taliban and al-Qaeda who are active in Pakistan. So this is a mutually
reinforcing movements. They each reinforce each other and support each other.
So if you have a vacuum in both states, and a weak government in both states,
I think this is really going to make things much, much worse in Afghanistan.

GROSS: So do you think that the Taliban has their sights set not just on
Afghanistan but also on Pakistan? Like, how serious are they about trying to
take over parts or all of Pakistan?

Mr. RASHID: Well, you know, the Taliban in the '90s was this very kind of,
if you like, extremist but still nationalist force. Now I think the Afghan
Taliban leadership has been very heavily influenced by al-Qaeda and the whole
philosophy of global jihad. And we've seen the emergence of Pakistani
Taliban, I think the next stage we will see the emergence of Central Asian
Taliban and Caucasian and Chechen Taliban. I think you will see this
influence of the Taliban spreading as they take on not just the Afghan regime
but regimes in the entire region. I think the Taliban really now believe that
they are an ideological force, they're a force for good, they're a part of
al-Qaeda, they have a tested regime systems, if you like. And they're very
keen to expand.

GROSS: And meanwhile, you know, India and Pakistan have had a very difficult
relationship. They both have nuclear weapons, so what does the state of
emergency and the instability in Pakistan mean for the relationship between
India and Pakistan?

Mr. RASHID: I think, you know, this really reflects very sadly on
Musharraf's legacy. I mean, he--over the last three years he had brokered a
series of peace agreements with India, the tensions had cooled down
considerably, and by all accounts, I mean, this would be one of his greatest
legacies. Here was a military ruler who had invaded, in fact, a part of
Indian Kashmir in 1999, and four years later made peace with India. This
would have gone down in the history books as being, you know, as a big plus
mark for him. And I think he's just going to destroy this legacy now because
India has halted all negotiations with Pakistan until the situation
stabilizes. And so a lot of trade and drug control and the coming and going
and visa regulations, etc.--all these, you know, talks on a myriad of issues
have all been halted for the last three or four months because of the
political crisis in Pakistan.

GROSS: You are trying to figure out when to go back to Pakistan. As we said
earlier, you're currently in Madrid because you have some business in Europe.
I hate to put it this way, but it seems to me if you return to Pakistan you
have two opportunities to be arrested: one, as a journalist who's been very
critical of Musharraf as we've heard in this interview; and two, you're a
member of the Human Rights Commission, and a lot of members of that commission
are under house arrest now. So how safe would it be for you to return?

Mr. RASHID: I have no idea, I mean, to tell you the truth. I really have no
idea as to, you know, what the situation has been. So far, at least, the
print media--which is certainly publishing--only a couple of journalists have
been arrested from there. And they were arrested largely because they were
demonstrating with the lawyers rather than for anything that they've written.

But we have to see what happens. Again, this is very unpredictable. I mean,
if the protests increase by the lawyers and by other groups and the newspapers
continue reporting these and continue writing very negatively about Musharraf
and the emergency, we may see arrests of journalists. So far I think, you
know, the regime itself--I mean, they've taken the electronic media off the
air, but so far they have not indulged in mass arrests of journalists. So I'm
trusting that that will continue.

GROSS: Let me ask you to just get a little personal for a second. Your
concerns as a Pakistani person--not even as a journalist now, just as a
person--your concerns about the future of your country.

Mr. RASHID: Well, quite honestly, Terry, I mean, this has been an incredibly
depressing time. I was at a conference in Germany on terrorism when this
happened. I'm going to another conference in Stockholm tomorrow on
Afghanistan, where I'll be speaking, and it's very difficult to concentrate on
anything else apart from what's been happening in Pakistan. And I really do
fear now that the polarization between the military and civil society and the
other institutions of state are so acute right now that it's going to require
a real wizard--a real healer, if you like, as the next army chief to come in
and heal this rift.

And secondly, I think the really big fear is that the extremists are going to
gain enormous amount of ground in this period. We--as a country, we have no
time left. We have to combat this extremism on our own for our own sake, not
for the sake of the Americans or for anyone else. And I think that the
problem in Pakistan right now is there's a lot of confusion. People consider
an anti-extremists position as being somehow pro-American. What you need are
genuine elected leaders who can educate the people, which is something
Musharraf utterly failed to do. You need leaders who can educate the people
that, you know, we have to fight this extremist virus for our own sakes, for
our children's sakes, not because, you know, Bush is ordering us to do it.
And, unfortunately, this confusion is very widespread in Pakistan.

GROSS: Well, Ahmed Rashid, I want to thank you for talking with us. It's
always a pleasure to talk with you, and I wish you, you know, good luck and
safe travel in what is, I know, is a very difficult time for you. Thank you
very much.

Mr. RASHID: Thank you so much.

GROSS: Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist and author of the books
"Taliban" and "Jihad." He spoke to us from Madrid. Our interview was recorded
this morning.

Coming up, a feminist take on stories and myths Americans grasped after 9/11.
Maureen Corrigan reviews Susan Faludi's new book. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Maureen Corrigan on Susan Faludi's book "The Terror
Dream," which investigates America's response to 9/11

Culture critic Susan Faludi writes about the gender wars in America. Her
books "Backlash" and "Stiffed" have sparked admiration and controversy. Her
latest book, "The Terror Dream," is already generating much of the same
critical reaction. "The Terror Dream" investigates America's response to 9/11
in terms of the myths and stories our society grasped hold of for reassurance
after the attacks. Book critic Maureen Corrigan has a review.


In perilous times, lots of folks are willing to jump feet first into whatever
shelter is available, whether it's a literal one sealed with duct tape or a
psychological one constructed out of reassuring stories. But a few
curious--or just plain contrary--souls always remain standing above ground,
trying to get a clearer view of what's happening.

Susan Faludi is one of those daredevils, albeit an intellectual one. As a
culture critic she's never been content to duck and cover. Certainly Faludi's
new book, called "The Terror Dream," is guaranteed to rain down a whole lot of
trouble onto her head. Among the audience already, or likely to be angered by
it, are conservatives, the mainstream media and bipartisan fans of the John
Ford classic "The Searchers."

What drew Faludi into writing yet another controversial book were the phone
calls she received immediately after 9/11 from reporters pursuing reaction
stories. As Faludi recalls, the first of those reporters to interview her
wound up answering his own questions about the social effect of the attacks
when he gleefully exclaimed, `well, this sure pushes feminism off the map.'
What followed was an avalanche of soft news stories proclaiming reactionary
trends like a return to nesting, the resurgence of both the manly man and the
feminine--read `less feminist'--woman, and the displacement of soccer moms by
security moms obsessed with fencing in hearth and home and electing a
presidential Matt Dillon to do so.

Why, Faludi wondered, did the women's movement after 9/11 become framed as not
just a domestic annoyance but a declared domestic enemy, a fifth column in the
war on terror? Her answer in part two of "The Terror Dream" is startling.
Faludi delves into the earliest chronicles of our country to point out that,
far from being unthinkable, an attack on civilian targets on our soil by dark
skinned, non-Christian combatants fighting under the flag of no recognized
nation, was in fact the characteristic and formative American ordeal. What
she's talking about is the war on terror fought for hundreds of years by white
settlers against Native Americans.

Faludi examines captivity narratives in which white women told their story of
abduction by Native Americans. More importantly, she scrutinizes how these
captivity narratives were culturally rewritten over the span of 300 years so
that real life women who were not saved, or who saved themselves, or who chose
to remain with their Indian captors were transformed into helpless victims,
always awaiting an all-powerful Daniel Boone or John Wayne to deliver them.

The post-9/11 tale of Army Private Jessica Lynch, Faludi says, is a
contemporary example of this kind of revised captivity narrative. Blonde,
doll-like and allegedly abused by her captors, Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi
hospital by an assault force of Navy SEALs, Army rangers, Air Force pilots and
Marines, among others. It was the feel-good war story everybody wanted.
Except, as Lynch herself protested, it wasn't true. The rescue mission was
overblown. She said she wasn't abused and insisted that the real heroine of
the whole episode was her fallen comrade in arms, Lori Piestewa, hailed as
self-reliant and tough.

Other narratives of 9/11 that Faludi investigates with her characteristic
restraint and depth of research are the saga of Flight 93, scant on facts and
again overladen with tales of heroic men, as well as the super-sized image of
the New York City firemen, often paired, she says, with a contemptuous slap to
feminists who've attempted to soften up such real men for the past three

Faludi's aim here is not, of course, to take away from the genuine heroism
exhibited by men and women on 9/11 and beyond, but to investigate the
peculiarly American response to the attacks in which the media and politicians
across the spectrum reach for an age-old myth of American invincibility, which
required the accompanying mirage of womanly dependency and a family circle in
need of protection from a menacing outside world.

Faludi's detractors are already chipping away at her provocative thesis by
citing Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency, Katie Couric's elevation to
CBS anchorwoman, Harvard's female president. But they don't do justice to her
crucial insight. America can have the kind of reactionary gender politics
Faludi sees post-9/11 and simultaneously witness major cultural gains for
women. Faludi here has once again described the pushback, the demand to
retain the straitjacketed roles that tell us what a man and a woman should be.
With a rigorous insistence on truth, not comforting stories, Faludi proposes
we can still awaken from the terror dream to what one prescient man of the
'60s, in a mixed metaphor for the ages, called the chimes of freedom flashing.

GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She
reviewed "The Terror Dream" by Susan Faludi.

You can download podcasts of our show on our Web site,


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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