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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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  • by jgaynor (205453) <jonNO@SPAMgaynor.org> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:05PM (#2397796) Homepage
    Just a few cruise missles -

    Heres what CNN has to say about it:
    http://www.cnn.com/2001/US/10/07/gen.america.und er .attack/index.html
  • BBC News coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by jonathan_atkinson (90571) <[gro.kcitsnaelc] [ta] [anahtanoj]> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:06PM (#2397804) Homepage
    The BBC report is here [bbc.co.uk]. Includes comment from a Whitehouse spokesman.

    Get a map of possible targets here [bbc.co.uk].

    --jon
  • political stunt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simm0 (236060)
    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.
    • While finer and more up-close-and-personal methods will certainly be absolutely essential in killing Osama and his compatriots, these are not entirely sufficient. By attacking Osama and the Taliban on several fronts, we can vastly increase the chances of our special forces and intelligence agencies doing their jobs. Think about it, by forcing the Taliban to distance themselves from Osama, we give our forces a tactical advantage. By attacking Osama's financial resources, even if we can't get ALL of it, we increase the probability that his transactions with what he has left will be detected. By mounting a charm offensive and persuading the Afghani people, we make make the Taliban's position much more tenuous... and so on. This kind of war MUST be fought on multiple fronts.
  • Uh oh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by metlin (258108) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:15PM (#2397851) Journal
    The markets in the Asian region (India/Pakistan) are gonna plummet now.

    I hope the US realises that this is going to impact more than just one country, given the existing state of recession.

    Infact, the markets here (Bombay Stock Exchange) seem to respond more to NSE & Dowjones than anyother indices =)
    • Yeah. I for one am very concerned that we will bomb all the Nike factories by mistake (because they look like training camps) and my shoes will cost more. That would really suck.

      Foreign policy in that part of the world is a very fine balancing act. You have to keep them all poor enough that they will make your shoes and clothes for hardly any money, but rich enough that they can afford Coke and Malboro! It's not as easy as it sounds! Also, if they get too rich they might send money to terrorist organisations, but if they get too poor their lives might start to suck so much they don't mind blowing themselves up in suicide attacks.

      It's a very tricky problem, but, on balance I think we are right to bomb them a bit, because they bombed us a bit earlier.

  • Where From? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bluesee (173416) <michaelpatrickkenny AT yahoo DOT 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.
    • I heard someone on NPR make the good poitn that that probably won't really last that long. Come on, this is the US we're talking about. They'll use Uzbekistan for whatever they damn well please.
    • Re:Where From? (Score:2, Informative)

      by weeeee (196575)
      They are attacking with B2's from the States, B-52's and B-2's from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and with Tomahawks from Navy ships.

      The British are particpating but I have no idea what they are using.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The British are particpating but I have no idea what they are using.

        Bond, James Bond.
    • Early word from CNN right now is that these are likely sea-launced cruise missles coming from US and UK ships/subs in the Arabian sea. Given to 1000 mile range of these weapons, seems a likely assumption.
  • 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 wytcld (179112) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:19PM (#2397879) Homepage
    For those wanting the most paranoid view of unfolding events, debka.com [slashdot.org] is a Israeli site which has often scooped the media in the last few weeks. While it's not surprising that the US and Russia have agreed on deployment guidelines for small neutron devices to the theater, the claim that China has sent in Muslim troops to support the Taliban is hopefully alarmist.
  • Considering part of the propaganda campaign of bin Laden terrorists is that this is a holy war by the 'Crusaders and Zionists', it is surprising that Bush would take then choose a Christian Sunday to go in and start to deliver justice.
    • Considering part of the propaganda campaign of bin Laden terrorists is that this is a holy war by the 'Crusaders and Zionists', it is surprising that Bush would take then choose a Christian Sunday to go in and start to deliver justice.

      Er, you have that exactly backwards. In Christianity, Sunday is the sabbath on which one is not supposed to work, and certainly not to wage war. If anything, this is sort of a demonstration that this is not a religious action, by violating that religious restriction.

  • by psych031337 (449156) <<psych0> <at> <wtnet.de>> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:32PM (#2397958)
    is probably isolating the 8000 Taliban fighters that have moved to the Uzbekistan (sp?) border. They could be easily cut off in this area.

    Here in germany a reporter has told about his stay in the Norther Alliance area. He has seen long lines of trucks filled with material. At least 55 tanks from Russia. Crates of ammo with russian and american/english inscriptions on them.
    • I read on USA Today that they have a total of about 40k troops. I don't know what they think they are going to accomplish w/that low number of forces but whatever.

      I am really intrigued by their "prepare of jihad" statement. Honestly I don't think that they quite understand that this is in no way linked to any such "holy war". Maybe the language barrier is really a problem.

      This is not a holy war people. This is a retaliation for stupidity. A simple request that had a simple solution. Hand the asshole over and we are done.

      If you really want to remain in power just hand the fucker over.

      I do NOT agree w/war and I do NOT think that retaliations are really necessary but I also do NOT believe that the Taliban is being too smart about this ordeal. We gave them like 26 days or something. They had the idiot under their control and all they had to do was comply.

      DO NOT SAY IT IS HOLY WAR, it is a god damn single person that is a fucking jackass. Turn the stupid shit over and be done w/it.

      I wish the forces in Asia the best of luck and worry for them.

      Support our descision and do your best to verbally attack the stupidity of the Taliban.
  • 12:32 CDT update (Score:2, Informative)

    by TheHawke (237817)
    The Strikes have been aimed agianst CnC (ccommunication and command) sites, primarily agianst radar and several communication sites.
  • Now what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @01:43PM (#2398027) Homepage
    It looks like the plan is
    • Suppress enemy air defenses (always step 1 of an air campaign)
    • Destroy Taliban military forces near Kabul from the air (hard, they're dug in)
    • Assist Northern Alliance to capture Kabul (they're stuck about 30km away)
    • Declare victory.

    Bin Laden may survive this. But that may not matter. Just getting the message across that allowing terrorists to attack the U.S. from your country means your government gets crushed may be enough to deter state-sponsored terrorism for a while.

    • Of course he will survive this. Iraq was basically destroyed yet that dumbass is still running around over there.

      I don't see how attacking is going to stop any of the problems that we faced (and will probably continue to face).

      I know that they have declared their little "jihad" and I have a feeling that more strikes on American soil is possible. Even though these are minor compared to what we can do over there I have a feeling that they will be just as problematic as the Sept. 11 fiasco.
    • Re:Now what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bwt (68845) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @07:01PM (#2399766) Homepage
      * Suppress enemy air defenses (always step 1 of an air campaign)
      * Destroy Taliban military forces near Kabul from the air (hard, they're dug in)
      * Assist Northern Alliance to capture Kabul (they're stuck about 30km away)
      * Declare victory.


      Declare victory ?! You've got to be kidding.

      I think from there it would go something like this from there:
      • Capture and secure a military base outside of Kabul
      • Use that base to launch close range reconaissance and special operations rapid strike capability throughout Afghanistan
      • Systematically secure every enemy cave, bunker, training camp, meeting place etc...
      • Eliminate all Taliban methods of mass-communication (radio, news, etc...) and begin massive Psy-Ops campaign
      • Step up humanitarian relief campaign, encouraging refugees to move back into central Afghan territory
      • Develop a robust Afghani human intelligence network to ID Taliban and Al Qaeda members
      • Use seek and destroy Special Ops strikes against all Taliban leaders, centers of resistance, Al Qaueda strongholds, etc...
      • Have the Afghani King return, and draft a Constitution based on a broad based democratic government
      • Schedule elections and implement a "Marshall Plan for Afghanistan".

      Bin Laden may get killed in one of the Special Ops raids or he might flee the country. In any event, he'll be the CEO of a much smaller operation at this point.

      Even this is not the end, though. At this point, we'll turn to other terrorist groups and probably pick a fight with Iraq.
  • Damn... (Score:2, Funny)

    by aiken_d (127097)
    And I was just about to go on vacation there, too!

    -b
  • I would suggest that you stop for a minute and think... Once again Daniel Quinn has put it eloquently:
    A reader who is not online phoned me last night to get my take on the WTC attack. As with others who have contacted me, he wanted to see the possibility of something good coming from this calamity. As we talked on, I began to see that there is such a possibility--and it's entirely in our hands to bring it about. No one and nothing can prevent us from bringing it about--if we wish to.

    We want to see an end to terrorism--on that we're agreed. To take aim at this goal, however, we must stand on the solid, level ground of truth, and this we're not doing as yet. Our leaders are not speaking the truth as they surely know it; they're posing (as they have consistently done for many decades). They're posing as knights in shining armor, as paragons of perfect virtue, as the champions of godliness and decency ready to smite evil-doers (as our enemies must be, by definition). We can find no firm footing in this pose, because it's false, and so our aim is going to be shaky.

    The good we can bring about is to abandon this pose and to stand resolutely on the truth, which is that we can't pretend to bear no responsibility for the spread of terrorism and to have earned none of the hatred that drives it. (For more on this subject, see "Why a Military Response Won't Work -- Historic Roots of Mideast Grievances," [pacificnews.org] by William O. Beeman, Pacific News Service, September 19, 2001.)

    By saying this, I'm not in the least condoning terrorism. I'm just rejecting as useless the fiction that we are immaculate saints while our enemies are Satanic monsters. This kind of posing brings us no honor in the world community and does nothing to steady our aim against terrorism.

    But where do we go from there?, my caller wanted to know. It seemed to him that the pose of righteousness gives us a clear program: Rage out into the world with our hands full of bombs to wreak vengeance on the tools of Satan. Yes, the pose of righteousness does give us that, whereas merely standing on the truth does not. You might say that standing in the pose of righteousness makes us lean toward wrath and violence, whereas standing on the truth merely puts us in balance. In this balanced state, we need to think about what to do. We need to listen to the wisdom of others and to understand what our enemies want--not to concede it to them but in order to defeat them. As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
    'Nuff said.

    -- Shamus

    Bleah!
    • OK, platitudes aside, what should be done? It's great to sit around armchair quarterbacking the biggest foreign policy event of the new millenium, but the people doing it have very little of substance to add to the discussion.

      You're right...America should NOT go off half-cocked. The response should be carefully measured and considered. That's what's been going on in the last month. The Taliban have sown the wind, and now they will reap the whirlwind.

      As far as the article you linked to, all it illustrates is that America assisted these governments (yes, out of America's self interest, but protected them nonetheless) from the immediate threat of Russian occupation. How did this get us nominated for Great Satan status, exactly?

      Oh yeah, we created Israel. Almost forgot about that.
  • Blair's the man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColGraff (454761) <maron1@mindspr[ ].com ['ing' in gap]> on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:03PM (#2398147) Homepage Journal
    I just have to say, I listen to Blair's speech a few minutes ago, and I douub the United States could have any better friend than Britain and Tony Blair himself. He was with us the day of the attack, he's been with us since, and he's with us now, and Britain's soldiers' lives are on the line along with ours.

    I'm not normally a religous man, but I have to say: God bless the UK and Tony Blair.
  • Whose war? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by voiceofthewhirlwind (451735) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:14PM (#2398203) Journal
    "Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

    -Hermann Goering, Hitler's #2 man
  • 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.
  • by T.Hobbes (101603) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @02:54PM (#2398426)
  • 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]

    • + 5 from me too.

      Continuing from your post, it is interesting to see the differences between CNN's version of Bin Laden's speech and CBC's version.
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/indepth/us_strikingback/b ac kgrounders/binladen_speech011007.html

      http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/10 /0 7/ret.binladen.transcript/

      And the paragraph that is most striking to me is this one:

      CNN: "People -- event of the world -- in Japan, hundreds of thousands of people got killed. This is not a war crime. Or in Iraq, what our -- who are being killed in Iraq. This is not a crime. And those, when they were attacked in my Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam, Afghanistan, and Sudan were attacked."

      CBC: "When people at the ends of the earth, Japan, were killed by their hundreds of thousands, young and old, it was not considered a war crime, it is something that has justification. Millions of children in Iraq is something that has justification. But when they lose dozens of people in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (capitals of Kenya and Tanzania, where U.S. embassies were bombed in 1998), Iraq was struck and Afghanistan was struck. Hypocrisy stood in force behind the head of infidels worldwide, behind the cowards of this age, America and those who are with it."

      I can't believe that this is simply the result of some hurried translator working under a deadline. The portions that are most 'altered' and are most central to his argument, and have dashes replacing the text. The rest of the text looks like two different translations, to me.

      It is unfortunate not only because Americans should know exactly why they go to war (not just their government's viewpoint), but also because Bin Laden's argument is not convincing--so a strong case for alterations was not required to make the changes.

      Hope I'm wrong.
      -B

    • While his people starve at the hands of the 'dreadful sanctions from the West', Saddam has managed to do much to rebuild his army and infrastructure, all the while very successfully (as witnessed in the parent post and all the drooling support it has garnered) using the sanctions as a perfect excuse to starve his own people into a frenzy of racial hatred and win the support of bleeding-hearts in America itself.

      He has barely scratched the surface of what he could gain for his people with the Oil for Food program as it would eliminate the unofficial but worldwide support he gets as a 'poor victim' who only needs to pose occasionally for the camera with his hands in the air saying "My poor people. What can I do against these terrible impositions from the West?"

      Wake up for Chrissakes, and stop playing into their hands like a bunch of puppets.

  • by gotan (60103) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @04:22PM (#2398931) Homepage
    It's a war against sationary targets. Some buildings will be destroyed with high precision. But will that work against terrorists who are in hiding, maybe not even in the country and who travel light? Or against a government, that has no scruples to hold their own people as well as the american people hostage, and that is not bound to locations like administrative buildings and the like?

    Also what damage will be done to relations with arabic countries? The early (and probably long prepared) press statement shows, that bin Laden has expected, even wanted this to happen, to kindle a "holy war". It's probably even hard to find a building in afghanistan that's worth more than the bombshell that hits it. But it gives bin Laden and other radical fundamentalists the means to polarize the islam peoples, and probably get even more followers. The war is only a few hours old, and we will only later see, what was achieved by bombing of some buildings and, on the other hand, by accusing the americans to attack the islam people of afghanistan.

    I don't know how to do it better, but the aim should be, to isolate bin Laden and other fundamentalists, to rob them of support, support from neighbouring countries, and support from their own people, to show them as the warmongers they are, and to show, how they misuse religion for their own personal goals. The point is, that the "resources" of the terrorists are people, and support from people, and not some buildings. And bombings are the wrong tools to hunt down people.

  • Stratfor.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by kruczkowski (160872) on Sunday October 07, 2001 @04:29PM (#2398990) Homepage
    For anyone that wants better intel than cnn.com on what is going on, a site called stratfor.com [stratfor.com] exists. It's setup by x-military intel people who know this stuff, they have good info and a daily newsletter that is free and worth singing up for. They also provide their intel services to companys and media, but that cost a bit.

    Some links

    http://www.stratfor.com/home/sitreps.htm

    http://www.stratfor.com/preview/specialproject.h tm

    (And no I do not get a commotion for this ad)

Optimism is the content of small men in high places. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack Up"

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