Thank you for reading my article. Since posting this article last
weekend, I've read some of the responses here, as well as some of the responses
to a revised
version of this article I posted at another forum (that article and two
responses I wrote in that thread explains my ideas in a way that answers some of
the objections raised here). I have also looked at
maps of Afghanistan and read some Soviet documents
on the time the spent at Afghanistan. I'm sure you've all seen articles
and interviews about he Soviet experience in Afghanistan in the LA Times and
elsewhere. Here are some more of my thoughts.
Excuse me for any grammatical errors or unclear sentences. This is way
past my bedtime :-)
If you believe in this idea, please spread the word.
The power of a single person or a single site is small, but if you spread the
message through the internet, to your congressmen and to your friends, then
eventually, a decision maker will see it, and it will get it's day at the
Right now, many military options are being discussed in the media, but there
have been few solutions that reach out to the roots of the terrorist problem and
try to build lasting peace. Please help put options that promote long term
solutions on the table of national discussion. If you believe in this idea
or another that's better, please spread the word.
When I wrote the articles I posted, I assumed the following scenario.
Diplomatic and more limited US military options have been tried but proven
unsuccessful at seriously disrupting the Osama bin Laden terrorist
network. Since I do not believe that failure is an option in this war
against terrorism, I believe at that point, the besting thing to do would be to
mount a massive ground invasion of the country. The article I wrote
applies to how that invasion should be carried out.
I also assume that the Afghan people will welcome economic opportunity and
greater freedom. I don't believe this is far-fetched. There are some
that believe Afghans are religious fanatics. In my humble opinion,
fanaticism, whose hallmark is the sole devotion to a religious and/or political
cause coupled with hatred or disregard for those who differ on those causes, can
only seize a person in its evil grip when that person has no hope of fulfillment
from other aspects of his or her life. Where is no hope, fanaticism
thrives, where there is hope, fanaticism will shrivel. If we provide
opportunity for the people Afghanistan, they will leave their Taliban
Some Possibilities for the Plan of Operation-Isolate the Taliban
are hundreds of thousands of Afghani people moving toward the
border. So, here's an idea - the US military moves in and establishes
big, big refugee camps. The military aggressively defends these camps
(as in, enemies don't get within many miles of them). Supplies are
subsidized and brought in (mainly food). Corporations are asked to help
set up stores, build homes, provide food, health care, etc. The refugee
Afghans become "employees" of these companies. A city is built
- hopefully mostly by the Afghani people themselves.
There's a lot of logistics to cover, but essentially what I'm saying is,
reverse the strategy. Instead of seeking out the terrorists, seek out
the people of Afghanistan. When the Taliban comes calling, destroy them.
Same with Bin Laden. Rather than make this a decades long war against
terrorism, make it a decades long war to win the hearts of people all
over the world to the American way."
My thoughts exactly. As many Russians interviewed by the media have
pointed out, one of the reasons the Soviets failed is that there is almost no
valuable target to bomb in Afghanistan. The people have almost
nothing. We need to turn this from their strength into our
advantage. The refugee camps would provide the seed population with which
to start the process during which we will build a new Afghanistan by providing
new roads, wireless communication systems, new settlements with homes, shops and
We should do all we can to make sure that the Northern Alliance does not
become the de facto government for these new settlement areas. Current
indications are that they are corrupt and ineffectual and using them, in their
current form, as the government will sow the seed for disaster. Instead,
we should start the process with small local governments under the direction of
an international governing commission that includes participants from moderate
Islamic nations such as the UAE and Kuwait. From those beginnings, we
should try to build up a democratic government that emphasizes checks and
Since non-combatant Afghans have few valuable possession in their current
settlements and villages, we will be able to attract them to new settlements
away from existing villages and locations holding potential weapons
caches. We will ensure that, upon entry, prospective residents allow
themselves to be searched for all forms of weapons. Beside giving Afghans
who seek to escape from poverty and hopelessness de-weaponized zone in which to
build their lives, this could also make these towns more amenable to policing by
an international peacekeeping/police force, which could free the US military
from needing to having to be both an occupation army and a war-fighting army.
Life in these zones will still be less than secure. Terrorist attacks will
not be infrequent, but by controlling the weapons flow, we will be able to
substantially reduce their intensity.
We won't need to limit our actions to the areas close to the refugee
camps. Remember, the Afghan fighters are most formidable in the central
mountain regions of the country. On the outlying plains, where there are
few places to hide from our heavy weaponry, our military will be dominant.
We will use our advantage on the plains to drive the Taliban militias into the
mountains. There, with help from neighboring nations, we will bottle them
After we've established these development zones, the quality of life on the
plains will begin to drain population from the central regions of the nation
where the Taliban and bin Laden will be hiding. This will deprive them of
civilian support, making them increasingly desperate until they can no longer
bear to stay in the mountains.
The Effect on the Wider War on Terrorism - Isolate radicals, empower
moderates, unite our friends
For starters, Osama bin Laden has become a symbol as well as one of the
spiders in the tangled web of international terrorism. Capturing or
killing him and defeating and his supporters in a manner that win favor from the
Afghan people will prove our ability to implement threat we now routinely throw
at terrorist organizations.
For a long time now, the moderate elements of the Islamic world have been
pushed into agreement with radical militants because of anti-US and Israeli
anger. If we show the Muslim world our good will by undertaking a genuine
effort to rebuild Afghanistan, and if, even better, we are able to get
moderate elements from the Islamic world to actively participate the rebuilding
process, we will divide the peace-loving majority of the Muslim world from the true
radicals and give moderates a distinct and powerful voice that will allow them
to push for the liberalization of Muslim Nations, this, in turn, will provide
political cover for the governments of nations such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia,
Egypt and Indonesia to cooperate with us in moving against militant organization
that they have always been concerned about but unable to confront because of
On the European front, using rebuilding Afghanistan as a rallying point free
from the dark shadings of revenge, we could more easily get our allies,
many of our whom currently speak with sympathetic words but refuse to send one
soldier, to send massive economic aid, engineers, teachers, doctors, policemen
and soldiers for long term commitments in Afghanistan. Once those people
and that aid are there, the nations that send them will be locked in earnest
battle with terrorists world wide. This will ensure long term European
support for our efforts in combating terrorism
What kind of a message will this send?
The messages we send will depend on our skill in sending them, but here's a
To the government of nations that support terrorism: We will seek your
personal annihilation by military force and the turning your own people against
you with our generosity.
To the people of those nations: Abandon your leadership and we will
help you build a better future.
If the people of a nation are so desperate that entire organized groups are
willing to sacrifice themselves win economic aid for their fellow countrymen
then that nation is probably already a breeding ground for
terrorism. When the existing terrorist threat as as grave as the
attacks on the WTC, the Pentagon, and near Pittsburg, the plan's advantages
outweigh disadvantages in this area.
Dangers in Afghanistan
There are substantial dangers. Afghan fighters and terrorists will try
to lash out at us anyway they can. There are indications, including large
numbers of dead animals around his training camps (reported by the LA Times),
that Osama bin Laden has chemical weapons or biological toxins. He will
try to deliver these by smuggling operations or by Scud missiles in the Taliban arsenal.
Against missiles, we might try to deploy weapons such as the PAC-3 Patriot missile
and the Air Born Laser (sounds crazy but we're actually trying to put a big
laser on a Boeing 747 to shoot down missiles). Against smuggled weapons,
our only defense is relentless vigilance and close cooperation with partner
nations, especially those in the Muslim world.
At any rate, since his network of organizations has already shown their
willingness to cause extraordinary loss of human life, by taking the war on
terrorism to his home turf, we will only hamper, not enhance Osama bin Laden's
ability to support high impact terrorist operations.
Goals and Sacrifices
The cost of the operation, in both economic and human terms, will be
high. I hope this plan will reduce American casualties, but I think what
is more important is that it will give American forces a way to win so that
lives will not be sacrificed in vain.