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US Starts Attacking Afghanistan 2549

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the we-don't-know-much dept.
Several people have reported that the US has begun military operations in Afghanistan. Bush is talking on CNN live right now. Bombing has begun on Kabul. More as we know it. Here the word a on CNN and The CBC.
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US Starts Attacking Afghanistan

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  • political stunt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simm0 (236060) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:11PM (#2397831) Homepage
    This is just a basic political stunt.
    It's to tell the people of the world that hey they are actually doing something.
    About 98.5% of all work trying to penetrate deep into the terrorists heart will most definately be faught without a single bomb. This is a war of inteligence, eleet commandos, delta force, sas etc. The bombing is just to reassure the public that there actually doing something.
  • Where From? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bluesee (173416) <michaelpatrickkenny@@@yahoo...com> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:15PM (#2397855)
    I haven't seen the news yet, but from what platform are they attacking? I saw the leader of uzbekistan saying that absolutely no tropp transports or fighter/bombers will be allowed to stage from their airfield, but humanitarian ons could.
  • the bombings (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Syn404 (179434) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:16PM (#2397863)
    Some more information I haven't seen anyone mention: The weapons used were Tomahawk cruise missiles, and they sent over B-52s and 1,000 infantry men, though there's been no word yet on when the infantry will strike. However, those are only the American statistics; I am aware that other countries are preparing as well.

    MSNBC's story at http://www.msnbc.com/news/627086.asp though it isn't extremely informative, there is some useful information.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:23PM (#2397904)
    does anyone else find it sickening that the taliban said they would release the 6 UN personnel they have been keeping if the US backs off its plans for military strikes? Uh..hello...that's TERRORISM and the use of HOSTAGES...now they have DEFINITELY shown that they are a nation of terrorist (too bad innocent people are gonna die for the taliban though) and DESERVE to be attacked NOW. All of their tricks and propaganda were just to stall us so that they could prepare, after all the longer we take the stronger they get (we are giving em lots of $ and food still)...I say strike hard and fast cause sitting on our hands will only help them more than hinder.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:39PM (#2398007)
    He does have a point, though in the whole god thing. Bush cited the bible on the day of the sept 11th attacks. If he is a true and proper christian, he will note that it is a violation of the 10 commandments to kill people. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying the USA should not attack, I am just saying it is hypocritical to promote the 10 commandments and then turn around and ignore them for military purposes. It is just a really good argument for the complete seperation of the state from religion.
  • by Kilobug (213978) <le-mig_g@epi[ ]fr ['ta.' in gap]> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:41PM (#2398016)
    The European Union chart forbids european countries to extrad people to country where death penalty is still active. (this rule, like many european rules, are not followed by every european countries, I know)

    What will you do if a terrorist come to an european country? Will you bomb Paris or Berlin just because they would follow the European law?

    And if Cuba or another "foe" of US ask for extradiction, will they obey?

    USA is not the master of the world. They don't have the right to say: "this man is guilty, we have proof but don't want to show them, give him or we'll bomb you". There are international rules, an organisation called UN and so on.
  • Re:Food and Supplies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jburkholder (28127) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:53PM (#2398086)
    I've heard talk of this over the last couple days and it makes sense to me too. I even read a report that the Taliban was suggesting we use the roads to deliver food instead of air drops.

    The reason? Well, what he said didn't make any sense. Something like - the US is trying to make it appear as if they are not against the people of Afghanistan, but in fact they are against all Muslims. The roads coming into the country are all open, why don't you drive them in instead of airdrop?

    Some thoughts:

    If we were to transport the food to the region (say Pakistan) and then load into trucks and drive into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, you have the potential for the Taliban to take the food and use it to their best interest (squirrel it away for their troops?) instead of distributing it to those most in need (starving refugees). Another scenario is that they do distribute the food and supplies to those who desparately need it, but they forget to mention that the stuff came from the enemy.

    If we airdrop to the areas where people are most in need, and leave a little notes explaining it was from us and we bear no enmity to the people of Afghanistan, you undermine the Taliban's rhetoric that the US is waging a "crusade" of anti-muslim extermination against the people of Afghanistan.

    Obviously the Taliban doen't want their people to hear this message.
  • Link for pacifists (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:02PM (#2398140)
    Pretty much how I feel about pacifists.

    http://www.msnbc.com/news/637394.asp?0dm=C17QO
  • Next possibility (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Forager (144256) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:13PM (#2398195) Homepage
    Ok, as I have noted, the previous posters seem torn between the idea that this is the RIGHT course of action (catchphrases: "Muslim terrorists guests of the Taliban", "righteous war", "exact justice") and the idea that this is WRONG (catchphrases: "stirring the rubble," "emotional revenge tactics"). No one seems to be thinking about the ramifications of what could materialize from these attacks, however.

    This is an act of war by the US. Should we declare all-out war, Afghanistan will most likely declare war in response. Now, while Afghanistan cannot possibly face down the US, there is a possibility that the terrorists housed within the nation's borders could inflict more massive casualties on US territory. Perhaps another attack like the ones of 11 September, perhaps an Anthrax attack, perhaps a suitcase nuclear strike (not unrealistic) ... and so forth.

    "Senators close to the investigation of the terror attacks advised Americans to be especially vigilant about more danger at home, once military action began." - Salon.com

    And this is really how the next "war" could be brought about. While we are attacking the Afghans on their turf, the US could become the target of even more terrorist attacks. The possibilities for civilian casualties could very well be greater now than in previous modern wars. But this is meaningless speculation.

    So what would be a more intelligent course of action for the US? Surgical strikes. Special-ops style strikes against strategic targets. Find bin Laden and capture him. No assasinations ("guilty until proven innocent"), no carpet bombings ("shifting the rubble from the right side of the street to the left side"), no huge deployments of troops ("another Vietnam"). Surgical special-ops strikes; get in, get the target, get out: take out the radar facility; capture the suspect; find the leaders; etc. Doing nothing would equate to victory for the terrorists. But overreacting would be very little different.

    The Taliban promises to "fight to the last breath." This is a hopeless battle for them; with the way that America will be attacking (air strikes, long distance attacks) there will not be much opportunity for them to fight back. They did not declare that the war will be fought on Afghan soil, however. While I am certainly not going to accuse the Taliban of carrying out terrorist attacks, there is a possibility that more attacks will be carried out IN THEIR NAME. The US could be facing a major battle here. It would be best that posters not forget that in their responses.

    ~Aaron

  • by JhAgA (24929) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:20PM (#2398234)
    Hi all !

    I hate having to watch these kind of news poorly translated by local televisions. Please, could anyone post some URL's where we can watch live broadcasted news coverage from TV (such as American or British tv's).

    Thank you very much.
  • by Badmovies (182275) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:31PM (#2398281) Homepage
    Having read through a number of your posts (see his profile [slashdot.org]), I'm pretty darn certain you are a troll. However, since a number of your posts are also being moderated, on account of their amazing insight of course, I feel a reply is in order.

    First off, let me quote Bin Laden twice for you:

    "We with God's help call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill Americans and plunder their money whenever and wherever they find it. We also call on Muslims . . . to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them."

    AND

    "Our enemy is every American male, whether he is directly fighting us or paying taxes."

    Now, along the lines of American companies making a profit from displacing governments. That would explain the billions that America invested into helping Japan and Europe rebuild after WWII and the millions being obligated right now for humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan. I'm sorry, I think that from an accounting standpoint we can safely assume our war on terrorism will be well into the red. That is not the point.

    In fact, come to think of it, a number of your arguments display massive ignorance of the mechanics behind (and following) WWII. For example: the Japanese people were devout to their emperor. The American casualties involved in attacking the Japanese mainland would have been staggering. We didn't ask for Japan to (without warning) attack Pearl Harbor, nor was the decision to use that weapon against a city an easy one. But, we destroyed the first city and asked them to surrender - they refused. We dropped the second device and finally Japan agreed to our terms of surrender.

    Lastly, on the subject of young Japanese women raped by American servicemen. The American military is drawn directly from the ranks of its citizens. Unfortunately, this means that we do get bad apples, even after extensive efforts to weed them out. I'd love to see a study of the occurrence of rape, among the American population at large and then among just military members. Which is higher I wonder? The Marines in Okinawa live under very strict rules, believe me.

    Several thousand Americans died because of the efforts of extremists (even Bin Laden's family hates him) and we have been patient with those sheltering the guilty. Words are cheap, peace has the highest price of all.

    The final thought I'll leave you with is this: go to Afghanistan (you know, the country you are sticking up for) and try bad mouthing the Taliban; see how long your head stays attached to your body.
  • by pHaze (19163) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:31PM (#2398283) Homepage
    Thought Blair's speech was excellent. Interesting that he mentioned that 90% of the UK's herion comes from Afghanistan. There's a theorey that when the cold war ended and the USA was buying back stinger missiles from the Mujahideen fighters for $200k a piece, they were inadvertently funding the world drug trade.
  • Re:Blair's the man (Score:1, Interesting)

    by joel_archer (124897) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:40PM (#2398339)
    Tony Blair RAWKS! We won't be able to tease the Brit's about pulling their bacon out of the fire in WWII ever again. I was not a huge Tony Blair fan before this. Since September 11th, however, I have become a huge fan. His elequence, grace, vision, and determination echo's back to the great PM's of Great Britian's past.

    God Bless The Brit's and God Bless The Queen!
  • by Aiee (526906) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:58PM (#2398449) Homepage
    some would say you haven't been patient, but rather inactive. It is a sad fact, but the Taliban are well-known to have been supported by the US when Soviet forces tried to take afghanistan. Heck, Ronald Regan was even quoted for saying: "Afghanistan's freedom fighters -- the resistance or mujahidin -- represent an indigenous movement that swept through their mountainous land to challenge a foreign military power threatening their religion and their very way of life. With little in the way of arms or organization, the vast majority of the Afghan people have demonstrated that they will not be dominated and that they are prepared to give their lives for independence and freedom. The price they have so willingly paid is incalculable. Let all of us who live in lands of freedom, along with those who dream of doing so, take inspiration from the spirit and courage of the Afghan patriots. Let us resolve that their quest for freedom will prevail, and that Afghanistan will become, once again, an independent member of the family of nations." I wish peace more than anything, and I wish a world free from terror. the sad fact is that terror does happen. Terror happens all over the world. Only, now terror happens in the US, and this has made Bush start a war. Regardless fo what Bush has been said, this is not a black and white argument. This isn't a case of "You're either with us or the terrorists". A large part of the world, me included, would rather just be left out of this whole mess. By attacking Afghanistan, coupled with previous statements of there only being two sides, and that america would make no difference between terrorists, and the countries who harbor them, the world has, effectively, been divided into two camps. I fear that, with the bombing of Kabul, the "terrorist" camp (I call it so for the lack of a better word, and it seems to be the popular title for everyone who doesn't throw bombs into the fray with the US these days) will finally have found the justification they crave to escalate this... war to include chemical and biological weapons on civilian targets. All they really need to do is tell their people about the evil US carpet bombing innocent civilians in Kabul, and they'll have candidates practically lining up for suicide attacks on nations worldwide. This is not war. War attacks military structures. The cruel and inhumane attacks on areas populated by civilians is best described as mutual genocide.
  • by Master_Eagle (319575) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @03:00PM (#2398456) Homepage
    I guess the ideology of this is to eliminate air defense etc. so that when they actually want to eliminate the terrorist camps they can without fear of Taliban attack... I guess...

    Yeah, a pretty dangerous tactic. But I don't think other Islamic nations will complain _too_ much.
  • Sharon did horrible things in the past, but is now governing with completely legitimate means. When Palestinians die, its almost always due to some anti-terror act, meant to prevent the next bombing of dozens of innocent people.
    Cease the one-sided view of Israeli policies, and start looking at both sides: What would you do if every day several innocent civilians are murdered by gunshot terrorism, bombing-terrorism, and you KNOW who is behind it, but the Palestinian authority does NOTHING about it?
  • by D. J. Keenan (524557) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @03:09PM (#2398518) Homepage
    The West is taking strong actions against mass terrorists. How well do we understand what we are about to do and what we have done in the past?

    To begin with, it is arguably good that this happened. The West is wide open to suicidal terrorist attacks, and if there were ever such an attack with a nuclear bomb, things would be a lot worse. Many people have been warning about this for some time. Now at least some preventative measures will be taken, and the risks will be reduced. Nuclear bombs are actually trivial to make if you have weapons-grade uranium (still a large "if"); so the risk is significant. Bin Laden has been trying to arm himself with nukes for years.

    If we want to understand what happened, we should ask what the terrorists' motivations were for attacking. The terrorists seem to hate America for its actions against Muslims in Palestine and Iraq (see below), and Islam teaches that Muslims should aid other Muslims. So, what have been America's actions?

    The Palestinians have been brutalized by the Israelis. Consider that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that rarely had a people been in so obvious need of international protection--last November, after seeing children whose eyes had been blown out by Israeli bullets and watching 40000 Palestinians kept under curfew so that 235 Israelis could go about their business (in Hebron). The Palestinians have repeatedly asked for international observers, but always had this blocked by Israel and America. Palestinians have long been tortured in Israel (this is government- sanctioned). The recent UN report headed by American ex-senator Mitchell made various recommendations, which were entirely accepted by the Palestinian Authority and rejected by Israel. Basically all other independent reports conclude that the Palestinians are treated abominably, including severe economic deprivations. (This is not to say that Israel does not have valid security concerns or grievances against Palestinians.)

    Israel can only act this way because of American support. Indeed, America supplies advanced arms, gives Israel's six million citizens billions each year, and is often virtually the sole supporter of Israel in UN discussions-- such as discussions about Israel's violations of UN resolutions. So America is an accomplice. Even the British Foreign Secretary has now acknowledged that "One of the factors which helps breed terrorism is the anger which many people in [the Middle East] feel at events over the years in Palestine."

    Some people have claimed that Bill Clinton tried to achieve peace, and so America should not be held to blame. But Israel only exists because of American support. And America, under Clinton, did not use this power. Under Bush Sr., things were different: Bush Sr. threatened to withhold $10 billion in loans (strictly, loan guarantees), if Israel remained brutal. This worked, and led to a viable peace process. The process could have remained on track if America had forced Israel to keep it signed word.

    In Iraq, American-dictated sanctions ban anything that could conceivably be used for the military. For example, pencils contain carbon and carbon is often used in nuclear reactors; so pencils were banned. The sanctions are horrid. The sanctions regime is always supervised by a non-American (for political/PR reasons), and the supervisors have always quit in disgust after about a year, which says a lot. Iraq's infrastructure and economy are being crushed, at enormous cost. For example, according to UN estimates, the sanctions have resulted in the death of half a million children under five. (None of his is to suggest that Saddam is undeserving of a very tight leash, nor that this could be applied without the people suffering significantly.)

    What does bin Laden say? Even if he was not directly involved in the attacks (which seems unlikely), he is a leading member of the terrorist network; so his words very probably count for something. And in the past he seems to have spoken more or less honestly about his intentions. Moreover, his words have motivated those who carried out the attacks. In a 1999 interview, he said he wanted to instigate "... jihad against the Jews and the Americans" and, citing the sanctions against Iraq, he added, "Our enemy is the crusader alliance led by America, Britain, and Israel." And in 1998, he and four others signed the World Islamic Front Statement, which advocates killing Americans for three reasons: America's support of Israel, America's killing of over a million Iraqis (a figure consistent with UN estimates), and America's stationing its armed forces in the Arabian peninsula. Regarding the third reason, the complaint seems to be partly that America is using the peninsula as a base for aggression against Iraq--i.e. the second and third reasons are closely related--and partly that Muslims consider the peninsula holy and many do not want non-Muslims permanently residing there. (Bin Laden is Saudi Arabian, and first became a terrorist mainly for the third reason. Later, he drew many followers, and the other reasons became prime.)

    So, this is not an attack on democracy and freedom per se, as George Bush claims. Nor is it a culture-based "clash of civilizations", as some commentators have tried to claim (alluding to a 1993 essay by Samuel Huntington). Nor is it an attack based on spiteful envy of American wealth and military might, as some others have groundlessly assumed. This is an attack by Muslim fanatics on non-Muslims who have been brutalizing Muslims.

    (Some people point out that Muslims sometimes also brutalize other Muslims. This is true: any group of people will have internal conflicts, sometimes very severe--as here--but still often pull together when attacked from outside. This is generally true of families, for example. It is also true of Americans--as this September has shown. It is something to be proud of.)

    The terrorist attacks appear to have opened an enormous well-spring of Muslim anti-American feelings. Muslim demonstrations against America have been widely reported. The demonstrators, though, have generally said that they are against the terrorist attacks. But they, and a great many other Muslims, share the hatred felt by the terrorists, for the reasons given above.

    Many Americans seem greatly confused by widespread Muslim hatred. To them, the claim that America desires to control the world is ludicrous. Especially since the end of the Cold War, America has tended to interfere in the affairs of other countries only under extreme circumstances. The Balkans is a good example--where Europe fretted fecklessly while tens of thousands were killed or raped. Almost all Americans simply want the world to develop in peace and prosperity--and, incredibly, they ask for nothing in return despite being the world's greatest guarantor of this. But, for many Muslims, it does not look that way. America helps a state with which it is friendly--Israel--and tries to squash a state that is very threatening and sinister--Iraq--and it ends up looking imperialistic.

    Regarding the terrorists' motivations, it is interesting to compare the reports given by American and British mass media. Broadly, the American media has portrayed the terrorists as crazies who are against economic modernization and Western culture. Broadly, the British media tends to say that the terrorists are at least rational and that America partly inspired the hatred that they feel by its support of Israel. (Of course British media still strongly condemn the attacks and support the American people.)

    Britain has not really supported America's actions in Israel/Palestine. In fact, the previous Foreign Secretary (Robin Cook) was fired in part because he was too blatant in his support for Palestinians. But Britain has--almost alone (to my knowledge)--both aided and supported America's actions against Iraq. The British media thus cites the main Muslim grievance in which Britain is blameless and largely ignores the other. The American media ignores both. Even considering some criticism is unacceptable, it seems.

    The media made a lot of sacrifices when the terrorists struck. Hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising were lost as commercials were pulled from TV to make way for more news. And it was clear that many commentators very much had their hearts in their work. I still believe, however, that the media has done a disservice to people by failing to present the terrorists' true motivations--even if they disagreed with them.

    The big question now is what can/will be done to make things safer. Despite all the hype, suicide bombers are rare. But, there are about a billion Muslims in the world; so even if only one in a 100000 becomes a bomber, that's 10000 overall. More people will now want to become bombers, though, for three reasons: the success of the attacks on America, the hero status often accorded suicide bombers (in Palestine as well), and the continuing despair that many Muslims feel about the plight of Palestinians and Iraqis.

    One obvious way to increase Western safety is to inspire less hatred and give Muslims some hope for a better future. It was the crushing of hope by Israel that led to the recent spate of suicide bombers there. America is plainly well aware of this. Thus, although in the first week Israeli PM Sharon was stating that he still wanted to conquer the Palestinians, on September 18th he did an about-face--obviously under great American pressure. Real peace needs to be brought to Palestine. Arafat wants it, but with land; Sharon only wants victory, but might give in; and there are extremists in both Palestine and Israel who will try hard to derail peace. So lasting peace will hard to get, but maybe ... maybe. As for Iraq actions, this is under American control; so sanctions should ease rapidly ... maybe.

    In addition to these diplomatic efforts, there is going to be a military effort. The one purely-American purely-military option that I've seen that might potentially do something is to nuke Afghanistan. This would be politically very difficult. It would also inspire so much hatred in the Muslim world that for each terrorist killed, several more would be spawned.

    Some people have suggested heavy (non-nuclear) bombing of Afghanistan, to force the Taliban into expelling the terrorists. There are no substantial military or political targets, however, and the Afghan economy is now virtually nonexistent, thanks to international sanctions and an extended drought. The UN estimates that by November (after snow starts falling), over five million Afghans will be dependent on food aid--out of a population of 20 million. So if the objective is to crush Afghans economically, stopping food aid would do more than any bombs. In fact, this is now happening, as relief agencies flee the country out of fear of military action. Actual bombing seems pointless, then, except perhaps as PR. Will a famine (induced by bombing or threat thereof) compel the Taliban into expelling the terrorists? This is dubious: the Taliban apparently shelter the terrorists because of an Islamic custom--if someone seeks refuge in your tribe, you have to protect him, regardless of the cost (the Taliban actually have little interest in the world outside Afghanistan.) Inducing a famine is also risky: if a million die, it will fuel more Muslim hatred. Would it be moral? You decide.

    Some commentators have suggested that a large-scale military operation against Afghanistan might trigger so much popular anger that it destabilises some other Muslim countries. I cannot comment on this, but it should be clear, in any case, that such operations will do vastly more harm than good. Most senior people in the American government now apparently agree.

    There has been much discussion about sending special forces into Afghanistan (likely supported by small-scale bombing). This requires intelligence on where the terrorists are hiding. Indeed, by now many of the terrorists will be dispersed among the population: good intelligence from the ground is essential for successful special-forces action against them. America apparently does not have this intelligence itself. It might try to bludgeon the ruling Taliban into supplying such intelligence, but it is very unlikely that the Taliban could be relied upon to act in good faith, if they acted.

    The Taliban, however, are very close with Pakistan (see below). So if America were to work with Pakistan for intelligence, it might get somewhere. The president of Pakistan has pledged full support, but this might mean little. The support has to come from the people on the ground, and there have been many demonstrations in Pakistan against helping America. I know of three reasons for these demonstrations. First, Pakistanis are Muslims (95%) and they blame America for what is happening to Muslims in Palestine and Iraq. Second, they don't like being bullied by Westerners generally. The third reason is more involved; briefly, it's as follows.

    The current border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is actually just a line of control (the Durand line), from a treaty that expired about five years ago. It was never clear what was to happen when the treaty expired: likely Pashtoonistan--an area overlapping both Pakistan and Afghanistan--was to be made into a state. The Pashtoon people make up nearly half of all Afghans, and they control Afghanistan; so likely Pashtoonistan and Afghanistan would become one. The effect would thus be to have Pakistan cede territory to Afghanistan. (A rough analogy might be how Britain ceded Hong Kong to China after the expiration of a 100-year treaty/lease. The Durand treaty was drawn up in the 1890s, when Pakistan was still a part of India.)

    Pakistanis, especially in the military, are very reluctant to cede a large part of their country to Afghanistan. That's why Pakistan created the Taliban. The Taliban were given both military and religious training in Pakistan. They also got lots of arms and money from Pakistan, which is why they were able to conquer (most of) Afghanistan. They were largely controlled by Pakistan, though. And under Pakistani control, they did not force the issue of Pashtoonistan. (Lately, Pakistani control has weakened.) Additionally, having some Afghan territory partially under its control gave Pakistan some extra security from the threat of neighbouring India.

    America has addressed this by telling Pakistan that unless it helps, America might rid Pakistan of its nuclear installations and support India militarily: in effect, saying that Pakistan would be liable to lose a majority of its territory (to India) rather than a minority (to Afghanistan). The president of Pakistan has made a televised speech warning people "bad results could put in danger our territorial integrity." This should help to focus the minds of those in the military, especially since Pakistan has a military government. Yet, it has had little effect on the populace, who are more motivated by sympathy for fellow Muslims. Will the low-ranking Pakistani soldiers on the ground go along and will they get enough intelligence from Afghanistan with little help from the populace?

    My guess is that Pakistan will pretend to go along, and perhaps even help find a way to get bin Laden--which is good for PR, but not for really eradicating the terrorist network. Maybe America will eventually help to formalize Pakistan's borders, which would facilitate greater Pakistani support. I have not, however, seen this discussed publicly.

    There also seems to be a common view that the Taliban should be removed from government. Indeed, it would be very difficult to eradicate the terrorist network without doing this. One approach would be to strongly support the anti-Taliban forces that currently control under 10% of (northern) Afghanistan. (This support might include bombing, but only on a small scale.) Starved of external military support, the Taliban should crumble quickly. A complicating factor is that any large military campaign in the Afghan winter is very difficult, and winter arrives in about October. Most likely, though, all this will be unnecessary: the Taliban should fall on their own, now that they are no longer propped up by Pakistan. What is in any case important is to avoid making it seem that this is American imperialism, which would unite the populace and draw wide Muslim anger.

    The military action, whatever form it takes, will make it difficult for the terrorists to train or actively maintain their network in Afghanistan. Capturing many terrorists, though, seems unrealistic. The threatened mass bombing has made this even more difficult, since many Afghans have fled population centres for safety: there seems no good way to find a terrorist, who looks and acts ordinary, in their midst. If the Taliban are removed from government, though, perhaps more Afghans would then supply intelligence.

    There is also a lot of detective work underway. Within America, and some other countries, this seems to be on track for some success, for identifying terrorists and also for hindering their financing. There appear to be many suicidal Islamic terrorists in the network that attacked America, though. Estimates are rough, but there could be several hundred who have deeply infiltrated the West. As an example, one of the highjackers had spent several years in Germany getting a technical degree. The network has supposedly spread to roughly 40 countries, which will hinder tracing it. Also, there is no real command structure: there is only a network (like the Internet is a network) with some people more influential than others; so even if someone like bin Laden is caught, the network would hardly be eradicated (a bit like taking out a few major nodes of the Internet would do little). Tracing the network is thus going to take a long effort, but should succeed.

    Diplomatic, military, and detective efforts could also be supplemented with religious efforts, though I have not seen this discussed much. Bin Laden has claimed that he is instigating a jihad. Jihads were fought many centuries ago, against the crusaders. The jihad concept was then largely forgotten. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the CIA looked for ways to help motivate the Afghans to fight (this was during the Cold War; so the CIA was arguably justified). One of they ways the CIA came up with was the revival of the long-abandoned notion of jihad. It worked (although the defining event in the Afghan-Soviet war was probably America's decision to supply the Afghans with shoulder-launched Stinger anti-aircraft missiles).

    The Koran, though, teaches that a jihad should not harm women and children. And bin Laden himself said (in 1999) that "God ... has prohibited the killing of women and children unless the women are active fighters." Fighting the Soviet army fits with this. Crashing planes into the World Trade Center does not. Of course, religious fanatics can twist anything ("America is a democracy; so the people are directly responsible for what their government does; so the women killed in the World Trade Center were active fighters."-- maybe?). But I believe that it should be possible to use the Koran, and perhaps even Muslim clerics, to motivate Afghans against the terrorists.

    What are the overall conclusions? In the short term, there is small, but real, risk of another terrorist assault, against America or perhaps Britain (or Israel). In the medium term, the terrorist network will be attacked and largely eradicated, and America's resolve will make all countries very hesitant about sponsoring other terrorist networks. Additionally, there will be widespread, permanent, increases in security measures and both domestic and international intelligence operations. Individual terrorist incidents, however, do not require a sophisticated network or large resources (remember Oklahoma City). It is not realistic to expect to be able to prevent them all. In the long term, then, we also need to lessen the causes of Muslim grievances, even if it means facing up to our past mistakes.

    Douglas J. Keenan

    Some sources:
    The 1999 interview with Osama bin Laden-- http://abcnews.go.com/sections/world/DailyNews/tra nscript_binladen1_990110.html [go.com]
    The 1998 World Islamic Front Statement-- http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/docs/980223-fatw a.htm [fas.org]
    Some insights into Afghanistan-- http://www.iranian.com/Opinion/2001/June/Afghan/in dex.html [iranian.com]
    The home page of the Palestinian Authority, with many more related links-- http://www.pna.gov.ps/ [pna.gov.ps]
    Links to insightful news stories on Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, etc.-- http://www.economist.com/countries/ [economist.com]
    A UNICEF news release on child mortality in Iraq-- http://www.unicef.org/newsline/99pr29.htm [unicef.org]
    A BBC report entitled "Explaining Arab Anger" [September 19th]-- http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east /newsid_1552000/1552900.stm [bbc.co.uk]

  • by jeffy124 (453342) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @03:31PM (#2398633) Homepage Journal
    yes, there has been evidence withheld. If the US (or other countries for that matter) releases some pieces of evidence, it makes future work for us a lot harder. If the enemy were to see the evidence we have, they could possibly figure out how we got and learn from it. I'll give an example below. Although the story is over 80 years old, the ideas it demonstrates still apply today.

    During WW 1, British Intelligence intercepted what is now known as Zimmermann's Note. The message was encrypted and sent from Germany to the Mexican Ambassador to the US in Washington. From there, the Ambassador was to send instructions contained in the note to Mexico City.

    BI knew how to break the encryption, and did so on this message. When they saw the contents, they had to take measures to make it look like the cables werent tapped nor the encryption was transparent.

    BI rewrote the message and then passed it to the US. They made the note look like it was rewritten by the Ambassador and made it look like the message was actually intercepted by Allied spies in Mexico.

    The Germans eventually learned that we (the US) had the note. After investigating, their conclusion was lax security in Mexico City allowed the US to find the note.

    In the end, the Germans continued to use the cables BI had covertly tapped and continued using the same encryption algorithm. Hence, the British were able to continue their espionage activities and continued cracking messages from the Germans.

    Had BI simply passed the original note to the US, the Germans would have stopped using those cables and changed their encryption. Two things that would make obtaining intelligence much more difficult.

    If you want more on that story, I recommend The Code Book by Simon Singh. It's a history book on cryptology intertwined with the howto's of crpyto (everything from Julius Ceasar to PGP to Quantum Cryto). I think /. had a review of it about a year or so ago.

    hmm... just noticed something interesting - Arthur Zimmermann's Note in 1917 and Phil Zimmermann's PGP software today. Although I doubt it, one has to wonder - are they related?
  • Re:Whose war? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CokeBear (16811) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @03:37PM (#2398662) Journal
    If I were a very suspicious conspiracy theorist, the first question I would ask after an attack like this, where nobody has claimed responsibility, is "Who Benefits?"


    If I were suspicious of the US Government, I would notice that Bush's rating has jumped from mid 40s on September 10th, to over 90% now. I would take note of the fact that there the USA is again returning to deficit spending, without a peep from the Democrats, and that american defense contractors are thrilled with the contracts and cash coming their way, to build the arsenal that will fight "America's New War".


    ...If I were suspicious of the American Government. But of course, I'm not. I fully support them. How could the US Government have anything but the best interests of the world at heart?

  • Re:WW3 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by yfarren (159985) <yossi@AAAfarvi.com minus threevowels> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @03:43PM (#2398694) Homepage
    "Well, it's clear that violence has never worked, so perhaps it's time to try something different."

    Actually, there is a long history of violence working very well, to combat terrorism. It typically has to be applied in heinous perportion, quickly. When that is done, violence seems to work quite well.

    It is when violence is applied in small, controlled, seeminly reasnoble perportion that is fails at controlling terrorism. Somone above reffered to Israels attempt to use violence to curb terrorism, and how that attmept had utterly failed. I think it is a good idea to examin how Israel has attempted to use violence to control radical Isalmic groups, and compare the Israeli attempt with the succesful use of violence employed by Jordan, and Syria.

    In 1970, Jordan had an intifada, much as Israel is having one now. The intifada was led by none other than Yasser Arafat. In response to this intifada, The former king Hussein killed some 10,000 palestinians, in what has become known as black september. After black september, Jordan had no further problems with palestinians.

    Similarly, Syria was faced with a militant Sunni Muslim uprising in 1982, and in response, leveled the town of Hama, killing an estimated 20,000 people. Syria had no further militant islamic problem, afterwards.

    Compare these responses to the relatively (in comparison to the responses of Jordan and Syria, when faced with similar situations) measured, reasnoble response of Israel, in response to terrorism, where soldiers are instructed not to use lethal force except in the case where they feel their lives are threatened, and where the death tolls are measured in the hundreds, and not thousands.

    I think it then becomes clear that violence, as a response, does work, but not measured reasnoble violence, but rather, brutal horrific violence. Please note, I am not neccesarily advocating the use of horrific brutal violence, but rather saying that statements to the effect of "Violence doesnt work" are wrong. Violence has a long history of working. But typically, when invoked on a large, and disperportionate scale.

    In defence of disperportionate violence, I would like to say that if you look at the syrian and Jordanian responses, and compare the long term effects of Syria, and Jordans response with the long term effects of Israels response, I think you will quickly see that a horrific disperpotionate use of violence, applied early in a conflict, is much better than any sort of reasnoble response, which tries to minimize harm to innocents. Jordan and Syria can create economic stability for their country (or they could if they had a vibrant economy). Israel, in an attempt to protect its citizens, does horrific, large scale economic damage to all the palestinians. If Israel had quelled the Palestinian Intifada in 1987, as Syria had dealt with their militants in 1982, or as Jordan had in 1970, then today, there might be a much stronger vibrant economy in the palestinian territories.
  • Re:Bullies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Darchmare (5387) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @04:05PM (#2398834) Homepage
    ---
    Why didnt the US show the taliban the "proof" that bin laden is responsible, they have said right from the start that if they were given strong evidence they would consider handing him over.
    ---

    Because doing so would have exposed our entire intelligence network.

    At best, that intelligence wouldn't work any more.

    At worst, that intelligence wouldn't work any more and we would have to deal with the death of hundreds of our informants.

    I figure it this way: If the government has plenty of proof, they don't see any reason to give a damn whether the Taliban gets to see it (as they know they were behind it, and know it).

    Regardless, strong evidence has already been released ... Just not something that would expose our intelligence community to risk.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @04:31PM (#2399003)
    http://www.aljazeera.net
    Its where all the channels are gettting there info and broadcast. See the little symbol on the right side of the screen its theres. Its the 'CNN'(used to refer to its respect rather than the garbage CNN spits out) of the middle east and only station broadcasting from inside there. On the site they have a live broadcast feed.
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @05:14PM (#2399266) Journal
    Debka.com [debka.com] (right side column, 1/2 way down) has been reporting for the past couple of days that China is moving troops to support the Taliban. The report goes on to mention that Taiwan is now exposed to a Chinese takeover as we reposition our carriers to attack Afghanistan.

    In evaluating the news, be aware that debka is based in Israel and is about as reliable as Drudge - sometimes is, sometimes not.

  • by Gorimek (61128) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @06:02PM (#2399518) Homepage
    Saying that "violence is our only option" is both right and wrong. Right because there has to be a violent response. Wrong because there are a great number of different violent options.

    Carpet bombing Kabul is one violent option that would fill the world with disgust. But it's not the only violent option.

    I've been pleasantly surprised by the cautious and sensible US reaction so far. Today's attacks seem to have been at serious military targets, with little potential for civilian casualities.
  • by AdrianG (57465) <adrian@nerds.org> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @06:10PM (#2399543) Homepage
    > > Should the U.S. not retaliate or otherwise defend itself

    > NO, the US is attacking them. Someone committed a crime, not and act of war, and the US is responding by making war.

    > its always wrong.

    This is nonsense. All nations have some responsibility to make sure that they are not, under normal circumstances, used a shelters from which to stage attacks on other countries, unless they are prepared to be accused of acts of war against the attacked country. A position as naive and irresponsible as the one you are advocating in the remarks I quoted above can only come from someone who has lived a life that has been sheltered by people who are less naive and more responsible than you. No nation can afford to sit on its hands in the face of acts of mass murder simply because the self-proclaimed governement that shelters the perpetrators pleads ignorance.

    > America is not blameless.

    I have to agree with you here, but only to say that we are not completely blameless. The palestinians should not be made second class citizens in the country in which they are born. All people born in a democratic country should be full citizens and should enjoy the full rights. By failing to make ethnic palistinians full citizens when those palistinians are born in Israel, the Israelies are pushing palistinians who might not be inclined toward simpathy to terrorists into the arms of terrorist organizations. Democracy is not just important for its symbolic value; It is also a final outlet through which people can peacefully express their discontent with government. In the absense of this outlet, it is only natural that palistinians express their discontent through attacts on Israeli soldiers.

    Having said this, indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians cannot be justified this way. By continuing to permit palistinian controlled areas to be used to stage attacks on Israeli civilians, the would be governement of palistine has drawn its fitness to govern into question. If the palistinians want to prove themselves fit to govern themselves, they must confine themselves to attacks on the Israeli government, and they must work to bring those who commit and actively support acts of terrorism to justice. In the mean time, the Israelis must give all law abiding people that it governs equal opportunities to participate in government, without regard to ethnic or religious background or affiliation.

    But if you ask me whether I am going to support the people that dance in the streets at the mass murder of thousands of Americans or the imperfect people that honestly pledge their support in helping us fight the mass murderers, my choice is clear. I hope the Israelies will, in the months ahead, give serious thought to the way they deal with the palistinians the govern; But, even if they don't, I am on the side of the Israelies. Dancing in the streets to celibrate the mass murder of Americans is not a good way to get American sympathy for one's cause. I hope we, as Americans, will do the mature thing and pressure the Israelies to do some serious thinking in spite of this attack, but appart from that, this attack makes me even more sympathetic to the Israelies, no matter that they are less than perfect.

    > you are most certainly wrong when you say this is NOT an attack on Islam - it most certainly is.

    This is really stupid. Nothing I've ever heard about Islam suggests that it advocates terrorism. Everything I've heard suggests precisely the opposite. When we are finished with our work in Afghanistan, I am sure it will still be a country of Islamic people. Even those parts of Afghanistan that are not under control of the Taliban still function under some form of Islamic Law. While I am against any government sponsorship of religion, Islamic Law appears to be what the people of Afghanistan want. I hope that, after the Taliban, the people of Afghanistan at least choose a more modern form of Islamic Law. I hope that they do not attempt to continue this cowardly and shameful mistreatment of the women in their country. Dispite our president's unfortunate and ill considered choice of the word "Crusade" in his speech before Congress, I don't think even a substantial minority of Americans believe that Afghanistan will not be an Islamic country when we are finished bringing the terrorists and the Taliban militia that sheltered them to justice. We should not attack a people because they are Islamic, but neither should we tolerate the mass murder of thousands of Americans on our own soil simply because the perpetrators make an incredible attempt to hide behind this religion who's very laws they have violated.

    SubtleNuance, I wonder just how much thought you've really put into all this. Perhaps you should change your name to "SubtleNuisance".

    Adrian

  • Re:It is time... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nexum (516661) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @07:14PM (#2399817)
    To say Bin Laden IS the Taliban is shortsighted.

    Bin Laden and his al-Qa'eda organisation should be though of as a cousin to the militant ruling Taliban authority.

    We should help ourselves by using sense to understand that clobbering a combined 'super-enemy' called 'Afghanistan and its contents' is detrimental to our cause, and un-productive militarily.

    Instead, the combined military forces seem to be going about the situation in the best way, Bin Laden/al-Qa'eda should be dealt with in the best way for an underground rooted network, which possibly spans not only Afganistan but neighbouring and maybe more foreign nations.

    You cannot tackle the Taliban in the same way, they can (and evidently are) being pursued in a more effective way for a more entrenched authority.

    ---

    As a side note, I like to watch CNN and other US news channels here in Britain, as it gives us a great sense of your national state. I do however urge you to also employ other news-sources (such as the famously impartial BBC (bbc.co.uk)) as the dramatisation and... well... cheesyness (sorry) of CNN sometimes turns my stomach.... maybe it's being brought up on the bbc that's done it :|
  • Re:It is time... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @07:38PM (#2399943)
    Okay, let's review a few things first:

    One, it's not necessarily even the US Government that these people are angry at. It's the fucking American "Corporate Citizens" that use their money and influence to completely fuck over the economies and governments of 3rd world nations to provide them cheap labor. Usually, it works something like this:

    The Shoe and Garmant industry lobby to build manufacturing plants in a 3rd world nation (pick one). The nation still has a sizeable agricultural base, most of the population is employed by owning their own farms. It's a meager life, but they make do and have for hundreds of generations.

    Okay, after making considerable campaign contributions, the powers-that-be, smelling more money, give in. The companies are allowed to build their factories and the government conveniently looks the other way when "safety" and "fair treatment" gets in the way of "profitability." After all, the more money the garment industry makes, the more money they can skim off the top.

    Now, you ask, what person in their right mind would do this if it were happening? We come to stage two:

    The garment industry requires cheap, easily manipulated labor. Veteran workers are more prone to organize, even despite crackdowns, so an environment conducive to turnover is created (see Fast Food Nation). But, this requires a readily available pool of cheap, desperate labor to choose from.

    Where to get this labor?

    From the farms! When the industrial revolution freed labor from the farms, cheap labor was available to the city. So, how to industrialize the farms?

    In comes Dole and the like. They offer to "modernize" the farming structure, but they need special concessions to do so. The small farmer is an obstacle. Dole gets the government to pass taxes and various fees to make small farming a regularly loss-providing livlihood. So, the small farms get driven out, they head to the city, seeking a way to feed themselves. Dole industrializes the farms. However, it's more profitable to ship the food overseas and have it rot on grocery store shelves than sell to the locals.

    Back to the displaced farmers, they look for jobs. The garment factories are hiring. At below minimum-wage. However, below-minimum-wage is better than nothing, so they go to work. They have a family to feed. And, if you complain, you're sacked. If you don't like the work, there's 10 thousand outside who will.

    It's a systemic approach to labor and destruction. What you end up with is a nation who has less ability to feed itself, less ability to defend itself, with an ever growing poverty level while a few politicians and some overseas CEO's getting fat. The quality of living, despite "industrialization" has actually DECREASED. Workers go from working on farms (which is, comparatively speaking, really difficult during the planting and harvesting stages) to working really hard every day (12-16 hours a day in poor, hazardous conditions that we here in the states have deemed illegal for our own citizens to work in). They can barely afford the food that they used to grow.

    If the government is finally "overthrown" by the burgeoning masses of malcontent, then the US government steps in to protect "it's interests".

    Yes, I'd say it's about time someone got pissed off.
  • Re:It is time... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @07:46PM (#2399978)
    The Taliban wanted us to give them the evidence so that they could try bin Laden in their own country. This cannot happen for three reasons.

    First, giving them evidence might compromise ongoing investigations. After all, we don't want them (al Qaeda) to know what we know, because it might help them to dodge us.

    Second, we cannot trust them to give him a fair trial. It would be a joke. He would be tried under Islamic law by Islamic clerics that he helped put into power, who no doubt have any number of justifications they can squeeze out of the Koran as to why it's OK to slaughter thousands of innocent people.

    Third, FUCK THEM. They hosted bin Laden, and they knew just exactly what he was up to the whole time. They knew what they were getting themselves into by hosting organized lunatic groups that had their gunsights on the USA. As far as I'm concerned, we have given them ample opportunity to redeem themselves. They had a chance to turn that sack of shit and his band of kooks, and declined. SO BE IT.
  • by einhverfr (238914) <chris@travers.gmail@com> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @07:54PM (#2400011) Homepage Journal
    I side with that Minority Viewpoint. But the solution has to be carefully planned.

    Let us look at our former ally, Saddam Hussein, who, while he was backed by the CIA, dropped chemical weapons on the Kurds of Northern Iraq (note: Kurds are a Persian rather than Arabic people as are the Afghans). By GW Bush's definition, the CIA therefore is an organization which harbors terrorists (like Hussein). Note that there was no stop to the military aid that was given to Iraq in the wake of that incident. Maybe we should send in the B2's-- target Langley...

    Now, one of our current allies is the equal of Hussein in every way, save that he was elected by the people. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon presided over a military operation where the IDF provided tactical support for a Lebanese militia to massacre 3,000 Palastinian refugees, mostly women and children, and we was held partially accountable by the Israeli gov't though no penalties were assessed! This incident too happened during the Reagen years. Sharon, like Saddam Hussein would probably be found guilty of serious war crimes. Yet he is our ally.


    As much as I hate to admit it, the US government has created this problem, and it can be argued that even far more devastating action would be justly deserved by the American states, just arguing from the numbers. But, like most, I diregard the numbers because I feel that all of this injustice does not excuse nor truly justify the deaths of innocent people here in America or abroad (yes, that includes the 50,000 children a year in Iraq who die because of US sanctions-- nearly ten times as many as the number of dead on Sept. 11th).

    So, in response to your question, I think the first thing that has to be done is for the realization to exist that this is a situation that we created. Then we can look at solutions. Here is what I would propose:

    1: Relax ban on foreign assassinations only in cases where the person in question was put into power or heavily supported by the American gov't in proxy wars. That would allow us to get rid of problems that we have created like the situation in Iraq.

    2: Tighten restrictions on aid given to Israel-- no blank cheque approches which were common in recent years. If Israel does not play nice with their neighbors, then they are causing problems for us and we should not help them do that.

    My point is that our country has to admit that we caused the problem so that we can take responsibility and actually clean it up. Without that realization, though, there will be no end.

  • Re:Bullies (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @08:18PM (#2400102)
    bin Laden's been indicted already for previous terrorist attacks against the US. The Taliban got to examine the evidence and let bin Laden go on his merry way. Far from being hypocritical, the US has learned that the Taliban aren't going to follow international norms and adjusted its strategy.
  • Bullies. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by flip-flop (178593) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @08:39PM (#2400167)
    Argh. This makes me angry. What gives the US and Britain the right to attack a sovereign nation in this manner? And what do they hope to achieve?
    Let me be clear, I realize what a bunch of madmen the Taliban are - but they were not the ones who bombed the World Trade Center. And they have been requesting to negotiate frequently during the past few weeks, which the US - with all the arrogance of a superpower - repeatedly dismissed.
    These guys are just bullies. If bin Laden were hiding in China, or even Pakistan, they wouldn't just bomb the country he is hiding in like this! They would actually have to talk things over, try and find another solution. Maybe actually reveal some evidence?? I don't think that is such an outlandish request.
    In a way I'm impressed at the way the Taliban are standing up to these bullies although it seems, they won't be around for much longer (and that is no doubt a good thing for most people in Afghanistan). But this self-righteous crusade our governments are currently on really pisses me off. Argh! Bastards. Anyway, rant over.
  • Re:WRONG (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2001 @09:56PM (#2400367)
    Sure there is. look at this [doe.gov]:

    In February 1998, the Taliban announced plans to revive the Afghan National Oil Company, which was abolished by the Soviet Union after it invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Soviet estimates from the late 1970s placed Afghanistan's proven and probable oil and condensate reserves at 95 million barrels. Oil exploration and development work as well as plans to build a 10,000-bbl/d refinery were halted after the 1979 Soviet invasion. A very small amount of crude oil is produced at the Angot field in the northern Sar-i-Pol province. It is processed at a primitive topping plant in Sheberghan, and burned in central heating boilers in Sheberghan, Mazar-i-Sharif, and Kabul. Another small oilfield at Zomrad Sai near Sheberghan was reportedly undergoing repairs in mid-2001.
    ok, not a whole lot, but there is some.
  • by Steeplerot (118968) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @10:17PM (#2400436)
    75% of the worlds opium. I guess the smack street prices are getting kinda high for the CIA to profit much. Oh well fuck it bomb them. And watch herion become WAY more popular with the youth now that we'll have such convient access.
    Makes me all warm inside. Think it's time to take a shot soon and watch CNN and not care ahhh america I sure love being a shining beacon of freedom.
  • evil must be opposed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by darrellr (526974) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @11:08PM (#2400573)
    50 million people died during WW2. I believe that had Nazi Germany been attacked sooner, before it's military and economy built up, total casualties would have been an order-of-magnitude lower.

    I was in the military during the Gulf War (although my unit was not sent). SadaamH has used chemical weapons against his own civilian population. Imagine how much damage he might have caused by now had he gained Kuwait's oil fields and been able to sell oil for $$ for the past 10 years (his oil sales have been limited due to economic sanctions since the war). Although our victory in that war was not total (mostly due to concessions we made to our allies whose bases we needed), the US and our allies performed a service to the world by containing evil (nerve-gassing his own civilians) before it grew too strong. As a soldier I'm proud to have been in the military during that fight.

    Once again the US is faced with evil. People who murder 6000 civilians for their own political purposes. Do you have any doubt that Osama would use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons if he had them? Fight evil now, or fight stronger evil later. Will we take casualties? Yes. Will there be civilian casualties? Yes.

    But fighting now is an imperative.
  • Re:Whose war? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by warpeightbot (19472) on Monday October 08, 2001 @01:29AM (#2400896) Homepage
    ...If I were suspicious of the American Government. But of course, I'm not. I fully support them. How could the US Government have anything but the best interests of the world at heart?
    Allow me to draw an interesting parallel.

    In 1937 the Navy held war games on Hawaii. The blue team was to defend Pearl Harbor; the red team was to go out to sea and attempt a carrier-borne attack. The red team struck by surprise early on a Sunday morning and totally devastated the blue defenses. Standing on a mountaintop overlooking the harbor were some American brass.... and the Japanese naval attache, a senior officer whose name with which I'm sure you're familiar. Isoroku Yamamoto was scribbling furiously on a notepad, taking down everything he saw.

    We all know what happened some four years later... but the truly interesting part was what did not happen. American intel had gotten pretty good at figuring out what the Japanese were about (witness the devastation of the Japanese Navy at Midway six months later)... they knew something was coming. It's never made much mention of in the history books, but one has to wonder why all of the American carriers were out to sea on the morning of 7 December.

    I think Roosevelt knew the Japanese were coming.

    Fast forward sixty years. There were intel hints all over the place that Osama was planning something big. The Israelis told us as much. Just like Yamamoto, we taught Osama everything he knows.

    I think Bush knew something was afoot.

    But.....

    In both instances America had grown complacent. Very few people wanted to help England defend herself against Hitler. Roosevelt was having major problems just giving the Brits some old, rusty, worn-out cruisers, much less any real war materiel. And heaven forfend we should send troops....

    Likewise after Desert Storm (aka the Video Game War) Uncle Sam had grown fat, dumb, and happy. We figured we could open a can of whoop-ass on anybody, any time, and they couldn't touch us, because we were America, dammit, that stuff don't happen anymore. Besides, shouldn't we spend more money on old people and national parks? And all of a sudden, Bubba ain't president no more, we've got some buckaroo... and the economy's for shit and he's kinda stuck for what to do about these Arab hooligans his predecessors (on both sides of the aisle) helped create... the American people are more worried about Gary Condit than Osama bin Laden.

    So the way I figure it, both Roosevelt and W. let it happen, knowing that getting our collective asses kicked was the only way rank and file Americans were going to wake up to the necessity of war. That once there were dead Americans on American soil by virtue of a sneak attack, there would be no trouble getting Congress (and the people) to back the necessary military moves to do what was... is... right, i.e. eliminate the dirty so-and-sos that are trying to impose their twisted way of life on the rest of the world.

    It's a nasty way of doing business, but I'm not sure either gentleman... President.... had much of a choice. Even if there had been a public warning, it wouldn't have been taken seriously to the extent it needed to be... far better to allow a sneak attack, and get instant, wholehearted support for what must be done, than to take several years trying to coalition-build on a reluctant Congress and people and allow the jokers in question that much more time to get something truly devastating in place.

    And I use the word "must" carefully. Had England fallen, all of Europe would now be speaking Russian. Not German, because no one beats Russia in a land war on her own turf (Napoleon), but Russian. And America would not now have Tony Blair to match strength for strength in the war on terror. Which brings us to the present. Since the (20/20 hindsight) premature end of Desert Storm, America has been soft on terror. It is now time to correct that mistake.

    I do not accuse W. of orchestrating the attack. That's just plain evil, and I don't think anyone thinks W. is capable of that.... some would say he's not that smart; others, that he's a better man than that. Which is the truth is outside the scope of this comment. The fact remains that Osama, Saddam Hussein, and others like them needed to be dealt with..... and no amount of using the bully pulpit was going to convince Joe Average of that. Will George W. Bush, President of the United States, profit from the events of 11 September? Almost certainly. But so, in the long run, will the American people... and so will freedom. As the Ferengi say, war is good for business. And Jefferson noted that the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots alike. That tree has been parched for sixty years now. (I mean no disrespect to those who have lived and died in America's service since then, but really, we have not had a shooting war for our freedom since then. Now we do.)

    Six million innocent people died during the last war for freedom. The lateness of our involvement in that war was probably a factor. If six thousand lives is anywhere close to the extent of our losses in this war for freedom, I shall count us either extremely lucky.... or extremely smart.

    --
    "Still, if you will not fight for the right ... when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival."
    -- (Sir) Winston Churchill

  • Re:Now what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by scheming daemons (101928) on Monday October 08, 2001 @01:22PM (#2402482)
    Bush's presidency has now come down to this singularity:

    if bin Laden is still breathing and at large in November of 2004, Bush will not see a second term.

    Forget the current 92% approval rating. His dad had a 90% rating at the height of the Gulf War as well. 18 months later he was getting less than 40% of the vote and losing to Bill Clinton.

    That 92% support is a mile wide and an inch deep. If he fscks it up...if bin Laden survives until '04.... Bush will not. 3 years is an eternity in politics. If, in the fall of '04, we are still mired in recession and mired in a "war on terrorism" that hasn't succeeded, Bush's 92% approval will have whittled away.

    If, however, bin Laden is eliminated, Bush will be president until '08. It's that simple.

    Whether he wanted this or not, the timing of Bush's meteoric approval ratings rise is not necessarily good for his re-election hopes in '04.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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