The longer this war continues, the more difficult it will become

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Today, the media on CNN announced "Today's bombing was the heaviest ever." A chilling hypothesis: Is this tactic being used, so the Taliban need not resort to a new terrorist strike inside the U.S. to incite popular anger to increase the civilian casualty rate?

Hyperlink: http://argument.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/story.jsp?story=99640

The longer this war continues, the more difficult it will become

16 October 2001

This, we were told, was a different kind of war. But as the air strikes against Afghanistan settle into their second week, America's war on terrorism looks all too familiar, virtually indistinguishable from the Gulf War and Kosovo before it. Missiles and high-altitude bombers rain destruction on such worthwhile military targets as exist in that benighted land, an unspecified number of innocent civilians die in "collateral damage" but with no convincing evidence that the will of the Taliban has been broken, or that the US is much closer to "taking out" its chief foes, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar.

And as the military campaign stagnates, the diplomatic landscape darkens. All along, President Bush has assured that America's quarrel is not with the Afghan people and still less with Islam, but with the terrorists who organised the attacks of 11 September and those who shelter them. For the Muslim world, however, each new civilian casualty within Afghanistan gives the lie to that assertion and makes more plausible the accusation that the US is fighting a "coward's war", killing innocents on the ground from the safety of the skies. And each new casualty renders more precarious the position of President Pervez Musharraf, Washington's most pivotal but most uncomfortable ally in the region. Consider a poll released as Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, arrived in Pakistan yesterday: no less than four-fifths of President Musharraf's countrymen sympathise with the Taliban. Every sweetener that General Powell can offer US support, financial aid and international acceptance will count for nothing if these feelings boil over on the streets.

The Bush administration knows all the above full well. But it faces two dilemmas; one military and one political. Even before the bombing began, it was assumed that the war would quickly move to a second phase, whose focus was on operations on the ground inside Afghanistan, aimed directly at Mr bin Laden. Alas, every account suggests that the CIA has so far failed to deliver the essential precondition: intelligence data pinpointing the whereabouts of the leader of al-Qa'ida. Failing that, the choice is, to bomb or not to bomb, in the full knowledge that the latter would be hailed as victory by the Taliban.

So, in all likelihood, more bombing it will be. The political dilemma rides in tandem with the military dilemma. Like it or not, the US is now committed to "nation building" in Afghanistan. But just suppose the Taliban regime does disintegrate tomorrow. Washington's political campaign to construct an acceptable and stable successor is running far behind its military offensive.

So what next? The US is indeed fighting a different kind of war, the kind of war, alas, for which it is least equipped. In this war, hi-tech wizardry counts for less than down-and-dirty gathering of human intelligence. Victory is unlikely to be secured, blood-free, from the air. Almost certainly it will require risking American lives on the ground.

No less important, the home front must hold as well. Thus far American public opinion has been overwhelmingly behind the war, and vaunted "splits" within the administration have been conspicuous by their absence. But suppose there was another terrorist attack inside the US. Almost certainly, the public clamour to lash out indiscriminately in revenge would become irresistible. On every front military, political, diplomatic and at home America must display patience and unwavering commitment. President Bush, it must be acknowledged, has demanded such qualities from the first. But modern America is a country addicted to the quick fix, and one which is easily bored. The longer this war continues, the more difficult it will become.



-- Robert Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), October 16, 2001

Answers

Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net) wrote:

Today, the media on CNN announced "Today's bombing was the heaviest ever." A chilling hypothesis: Is this tactic being used, so the Taliban need not resort to a new terrorist strike inside the U.S. to incite popular anger to increase the civilian casualty rate?

Huh??

This makes NO SENSE!!

You're saying either:

The US may be bombing so the popular anger in the US can increase so there can be more civilian casualties (in Afghanistan, I presume)...with out the Taliban having to launch another teroror attack in the US????

OR

The US is bombing so that people in the US will get so angry that they will kill more Americans??

My goodness, what have you done to your mind??

JB

-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 16, 2001.


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