In Afghanistan, the carnage continues and more and more innocent civilians are getting killed. Why? Why are we still trying to find a military solution to a political problem? We invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of finding and bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks of 9/11. Establishing a democracy was a secondary goal, if it even was one from the beginning.
At first, I supported military action in Afghanistan. Like all Americans, I was hurting, especially being from NY and an AF vet. I wanted someone to pay for what had been done, and in my emotional state, I thought that our armed forces were the surest way to give them payback. I came to realize much too late that I was not thinking clearly then. I was wrong.
I came to believe that no matter what al Qaeda said or did, their “declaration of war” was an illegitimate excuse to use our military in such magnitude. Perhaps a small strike force penetrating the hills and seeking out bin Laden might have been acceptable, but a full-scale military invasion was not a proper use of force for this particular issue.
The use of terrorism, however high on the list of deplorable activities it may be, is still a crime, not an excuse for all-out war. With the possible exception of the killing of Zarqawi, every “success” at defeating the terrorists has been through good old-fashioned police work, not the use of our military. I call it “success” because many of those efforts may result in failure because our government mishandled the situation, and the people arrested may have to be let go. Mission NOT Accomplished there.
Military force should only be used a last resort, but that list of options should be very, very long. In the case of Afghanistan, it was probably only two items: 1) Turn over bin Laden, now! NO? 2) Send in the military. Even though the world was behind us at the time, it was thought that this military action might achieve its goals quickly and decisively. (After all, ours is the greatest military force in the history of mankind, isn’t it?) But the chances for success were turned into almost certain failure when we did not go in and finish the job ourselves. We relied too heavily on the absurd adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." This is moronic, because once your common enemy has been vanquished, your "new friend" just goes back to being your enemy again. We assumed that because the Northern Alliance (which had no great love for us) hated bin Laden, we could ally oursleves with them. We bribed them to go in and get bin Laden in the caves at Tora Bora. As has often been pointed out, anyone who can be bribed once can be bribed again. Bin Laden bribed them again to let him go. Again, Mission NOT Accomplished there.
But terrorism is a crime with no military solution. It can only be solved through education and cooperation among nations. Children around the world are being taught, at an age when they want to believe everything their elders tell them, that it is okay to kill people to achieve your goals. Sadly, Co-Presidents Bush and Cheney do not believe in either education or international cooperation. Plus, being business opportunists, they saw a chance for people just like them in mind and spirit to make a boatload of money, which has always been their goal in life. I do believe it was their goal here.
We need to educate people everywhere in the world about how and why these despicable people use terrorism as a tactic. They have grievances, I don’t doubt that. But somewhere along the line (for some, their childhood) they were told that violence is a legitimate way to resolve disputes, even when other means have not been tried first. Violence can be used in self-defense, but not as pre-emptive action. This is why I deplore Bush’s pre-emptive strike foreign policy. It is illegal, and it is inhumane. Only a small number of well-financed people want to do us harm.
We must also learn the role that poverty plays in terrorism. While the people funding it have plenty of money, the people (sometimes kids) doing the actual deeds at the expense of their own lives are often poor, without hope, and desperate to do something, anything, if they think it would bring an end to the injustices they perceive. They are often uneducated (by our standards) and many grew up attending schools where hatred of Western ideals is taught, and that their poverty can be blamed directly on us. They grow up never meeting or speaking to someone from the West who might open their eyes. For some of them, their first sight of a Westerner is the last thing they see as they blow themselves up. It's sad that children can taught to hate; it's even sadder that they can be taught to kill.
Killing innocent civilians in an effort to prevent the terrorists from killing innocent civilians is simply unjustifiable. No two ways about it. How long can we continue saying that the killing of 3,000 of our citizens justifies the killing of an even greater number of innocent civilians elsewhere in the world? Actually, I think we’re long past the point where this war is in any sense justifiable.
I remember watching Nightline years ago during the Iran-Iraq war. Ted Koppel had both of their ambassadors to the US on his program and he asked one of them (I forget which), “If (the other nation) agreed to just lay down their arms and talk this situation over, would your government do the same?” The ambassador’s answer? “They started it.” I could see Ted’s face just drop in exasperation. There’s just no getting through to some people.
Diplomacy with the nations who fund and support terrorists (like Saudi Arabia, our so-called “ally) is the answer. We must also engage in diplomacy with the other nations of the Middle East with whom we've had no meaningful, productive discussions since this president took office. The idea that if you're not with us, you're against us is not only foolish, it's antagonistic and a little bit childish, too. But what would you expect from the Boy King?
It’s time to pull all of our troops out of both Afghanistan and Iraq and face up to the fact that we are doing more harm (on so many levels) than we are good by remaining there. Support the troops by taking them out of a militarily unwinnable situation. Support them today.
Peace on earth.