If you pay attention only to the commercial and so-called "public" media in the United States, you'd get the impression that the response around the world to President Obama's proposed escalation of the decades old U.S. war on Afghanistan has ranged from tepid to positive.

Inside Afghanistan - well; when do we ever hear from anyone actually in Afghanistan? I mean the Afghans themselves? Obama claims, as the Bush administration did, that The U.S. will be heading an international peacekeeping force representing more than 40 nations in an all-out effort to, in the words of both Obama and Bush "get the job done". What job? That's a question the media, by and large seems reticent to ask.

In the few days immediately following 9-11 ( September 11th, 2001, that is) I had occasion to be in New York City. The Pacifica Radio network was in a state of crisis as self-appointed rogue national board of directors had assumed control of the 5-station network and was busy scuttling its best programs and dismantling Pacifica station by station.

Pacifica's flagship program, Democracy Now, was being produced in exile and had been banned at all 5 Pacifica stations by the national program director. Long-time dedicated Pacifica employees and volunteers, with precious few resources were trying to provide coverage of the tragic events while reporting at each of the 5 stations suffered, beginning, even, to resemble the sensationalist yet shallow treatment being offered on the commercial networks.

I took a late night walk with Pacifica veteran Ursula Ruedenberg, who now directs Pacifica's affiliate station relations, down to the actual site of the World Trade Center, which had recently been re-named Ground Zero. The dust which we later learned was toxic lay deep upon every surface. We saw the ashen faces of the tireless first-responders coming off of double and triple shifts sifting through the rubble.

Block after block we found hundreds of posters bearing the faces of people who had worked in or near the towers. "Missing, if you know the whereabouts or any information please call..." In Washington Square Park a kind of spontaneous shrine had been created by friends and family of the victims. There were candles and photographs, objects of sentimental significance, and people who came just to observe were moved to tears almost instantly.

It was a tragedy of monumental proportions , to be sure, but just a few yards away in that same park I met a group of people huddled together holding a banner which foretold an even greater tragedy. "80% of us are subsistence farmers", read the hand-painted banner they were holding. It was a group of Afghan women, mostly students, who knew what was in store for their beloved country.

As journalists, Ursula and I felt isolated, cut off from Pacifica and somewhat powerless to tell this side of the story. The myriad perspectives being voiced in Washington Square Park, ranging from support for the coming war to opposition to all wars were obscenely absent from the commercial media, as George Bush mounted a small pile of rubble to deliver his proclamation that this violence would be met with violence of an even greater magnitude.

Most of the people in the park, however, didn't want more violence, having been through enough already, and even the few war proponents were embraced in the mix of humanity that had come to mourn, search, and process.

We could focus on the anti-war perspective, virtually censored elsewhere in the media. We could offer snippets of speeches by anti-war activists, cogent analysis from anti-imperialist historians, pithy debates between supporters and opponents of the Bush-Obama war policy.

But what about focusing on the perspective of one of the most influential figures in today's Afghanistan, exiled member of the Afghan Parliament, Malalai Joya. Joya was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament when she famously made a fiery speech from the floor.

In that speech, which international media reported , Joya accused the newly created Afghani government of being an amalgam of war-lords and drug traffickers serving themselves and US interests, caring nothing for democracy or the welfare of the Afghan people.

She toured the United States at the invitation of Pacifica programmer Sonali Kolhatkar, host of the program Uprising, even making a stop in Columbus, Ohio just two years before our first community radio station, WCRS went on the air. Recently she has written a book, A Woman among Warlords, and we have a recording of a recent speech she gave in Toronto thanks to Pacifica affiliate VCRO, Vancouver Cooperative Radio, a cooperatively owned, listener-governed independent community radio station there.

Here is some background. The area now known as Afghanistan claims one of the oldest recorded human habitations in the world, with archeological discoveries there tracing human civilizations in its fertile valleys some 50,000 years ago. Farming has always been the primary occupation and sustenance there. But its rich resources and geographic location at the intersection of a succession of prosperous empires to the East, West and North has made the region the target of numerous conquests and occupations.

Prior to becoming a nation, Afghanistan had been, variously, under Greek, Persian, Indian, Macedonian, Mongol , Arab and Turkish control. In the late 1700's, Afghanistan became marginally independent under an administration representing the indigenous ethnic majority known as the Pashtuns .

That autonomy was brief, however; soon the British laid claim to the area and a series of Anglo-Afghan wars ensued. It was not until the 1920's that the modern nation of Afghanistan began to stabilize under a reformist agenda that brought a relatively liberal constitution in the mold of Turkey's reform period under Attaturk, and, later Egypt's Nasser.

Schools were built. Women were granted equal rights under the law. Afghanistan's cities were modernized. Afghanistan was a neutral non-participant during the Second World War, but in the 1950's as the Cold War ensued, Afghanistan became a stage for fierce competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Each super-power vied for access to its resources and peddled influence to assure a cooperative government there.

Gradually the Afghan monarchy gave way to a parliamentary administration, but there remained a cultural disparity between the modern urban centers and the more traditional and tribal rural enclaves. When a succession of minor -- or one might even call them "castle" coups-- put in place a progressive administration dedicated to social reforms, and building a secular society, religious and tribal differences made the climate ripe for wider civil unrest.

Enter the United States. By 1979, Muslim militia groups and local drug-lords, many of which had been supported covertly by the CIA, began to mount a small scale military rebellion. One group, the Muja Hadeen, which operated mostly along the Afghan-Pakistani border, received support from a wealthy Saudi dissident by the name of Osama Bin-Laden.

The Carter administration began to aid Bin Laden's Muja Hadeen with covert shipments of weapons, money, and supplies as part of a deliberate strategy to destabilize the Afghan government. Zbigniew Brezinski, who was national security advisor in the Carter Administration, said the U.S. tried to draw the Soviet Union into an armed conflict in Afghanistan that would weaken the Soviet government, having much the same effect on the Soviets as the U.S. war on Viet Nam had had on the United States, only with even greater impact. And it worked.

Following yet another administrative coup, the Soviets invaded, ostensibly at the behest of the then Afghan regime in exile,. But they met resistance in the countryside not only from un-aligned tribal groups, but from a surprisingly well-armed and trained military coalition led by the CIA's own Muja Hadeen.

The next 10 years were some of the bloodiest in Afghan history - prior to the American invasion, that is-- and the Soviet Union began to crumble under the moral, political, and economic strain. Gradually a sect within the Muja Hadeen, later called the Taliban, ascended to take control of the country. It is important to note that the Taliban prevailed only after a protracted internal struggle within the Muja Hadeen in which Bin-Laden and his American allies were among the Taliban's adversaries.

The Taliban ruled in Afghanistan for the better part of a decade and overturned most of the social reforms since the 1920's. Women were particularly hard hit as the Taliban passed laws restricting their freedoms in accordance with the Taliban's interpretation of Islamic law.

The Taliban also tried to crush Afghanistan's Opium trade, the principle source of income for many of the country's rural farmers and the source of wealth and power for the rural drug lords.

Although the Clinton administration mildly denounced the Taliban for its treatment of women, the U.S. policy, officially, was to seek normalization of relations. Financial assistance was even issued under the guise of the so called War on Drugs. But the fiercely independent and nationalistic, as well as anti-Western, Taliban was seen as an impediment to U.S. access to oil reserves in the region, particularly in the area of the Caspian Sea.

The fall of the U.S. client regime in neighboring Iran also hindered U.S. oil interests, and the formerly cooperative Iraqi junta of Saddam Hussein, another U.S. client, had also become an obstacle. Plans were drawn up secretly for an invasion scenario, and, although the attacks of September 11th had no real connection to Afghanistan or to Iraq they were used by Bush as a pretense for waging an all-out war in both countries including massive ground invasions and air strikes, which have inflicted a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, according to a consensus of reports from the U.N. and international relief agencies.

In order to assure a cooperative government in Afghanistan, the United States enlisted a coalition of drug lords, called the Northern Alliance to defeat the Taliban. This Northern Alliance is now the majority power-holder in the present Afghan government, although the current regime has only nominal authority outside of the country's major urban centers.

By all accounts, the Taliban is once again on the rise and both civil unrest and oppression of women in the rural regions are as bad, if not worse, than they were under the Taliban regime. Against this backdrop, many organizations within Afghanistan, as well as representatives within the Afghan government, have been calling for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, though their voices, as well as those of opponents of war in the United States and elsewhere, are rarely broadcast by the U.S. commercial and public media.