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[P]
How we can win in Afghanistan

By CitAnon in Op-Ed
Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:11:36 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

History shows the looming war against terrorism may well become a bloody quagmire. Here's what might be a way to buck history and win.


The heinous terrorist attacks on Tuesday have prompted calls for a War on Terrorism and in particular, to destroy the Osama bin Laden network and the Taliban. These goals may require a massive US led military operation in Afghanistan. However, as stories and commentary, including this interview with a Russian colonel who fought in Afghanistan tell us, that country is a quagmire from which no amount of military force may extract victory. In fact, the Soviet Union operated in Afghanistan for years, armed with the ruthless oppressiveness of the Soviet system, without ever making progress towards destruction of Afghanistan's militias.

History therefore tells us that an anti-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan based solely on military action will, in all likelihood, be a protracted and bloody debacle that will not only fail to destroy terrorists in that country, but will also cause the current international diplomatic, political and military support for combating terrorism to evaporate. How can the United States bring about victory in Afghanistan while securing the long-term cohesion of the anti-terrorist alliance?

I suggest coupling the military campaign with a massive international effort to rebuild the educational and economic infrastructure of Afghanistan. Such an effort will be costly, likely requiring tens of billions of dollars and the participation of a large number of workers, not just military personnel, from many countries around the world. However, there are seven important advantages.

  1. It will take away the popular base of support for the Taliban and Osama bin Laden by giving the Afghan people hope and opportunity.

  2. It will dissociate the anti-terrorist campaign from the revenge motif and put it on a high moral footing that will gain support in countries, especially Islamic ones, where the campaign currently has very limited popular support.

  3. It will bring about the participation of personnel from nations in the anti-terrorist alliance that would otherwise only give moral or logistic support, and thus engage those nations in long-term commitments in Afghanistan that will ensure their support for the military campaign against terror.

  4. It will give measurable and incrementally achievable objectives for the campaign.

  5. It will inoculate Afghanistan against future outbreaks of fanaticism.

  6. It will demonstrate to the world, particularly citizens of anti-US nations, that US leadership is not based on the force of military arms but the power of generosity and prosperity. 

  7. It will bring peace and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan.

Over fifty years ago, after one of the most costly and bitterly fought wars in US history, the United States reached out to her vanquished enemies with overwhelming and completely unexpected generosity. As a result, Japan and Germany have become two of our strongest and most staunch allies. Today, much as we faced Pearl Harbor in 1941, we face a dishonorable attack that has cost thousands of American lives. Where as, after WWII we reached out to our vanquished foes after to ensure the long term peace and prosperity in the world, we must now reach out, with the same spirit, to the people of Afghanistan in order to ensure the defeat of terrorists there and around the world.

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o this interview with a Russian colonel who fought in Afghanistan
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How we can win in Afghanistan | 167 comments (166 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
May I summarize the article? (2.00 / 4) (#1)
by chipuni on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:22:21 AM EST

So... what you're saying...

A group of fanatics attack us, giving the worst single day of deaths ever on U.S. soil. Therefore... we should aid the country that gave those terrorists a home?

I agree that the general idea is a good one for the long run, but I feel that selling the idea will be almost impossible.
--
Perfection is not reached when nothing more can be added, but only when nothing more can be taken away.
Wisdom for short attention spans.
Aid the country, not the ruling regime (4.66 / 9) (#4)
by rusty on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:34:30 AM EST

I agree 100% with this article. The experiences of the Soviets, and the British earlier, should show us that a campaign of death and suppression is doomed to fail, and will only make the problem worse. We should depose the Taliban, and we should find and destroy bin Laden and his compatriots. But we must not assume every resident of Afghanistan is guilty of the same crimes.

Right now, there is nothing but death and destruction in Afghanistan. The people have nothing to live for, and no hope except the jihad offered by bin Laden. We can only cut off his support by helping the people he hopes to recruit, and giving them a real choice. Follow his way of death, or accept our help rebuilding their own country. I hope the American people can look to the end of WWII as an example of the right way to behave toward a defeated enemy.

Of course, there's the "small matter" of defeating them first. We'll see how that goes.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Well, sure, skip back to the happy ending. (4.20 / 10) (#8)
by elenchos on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:05:50 AM EST

I think you are being too optimistic.

Why are you looking all the way back to how we dealt with the losers of WWII, rather than with more recent conflicts? Especially when they are more similar to the current situation than Germany's and Japan's cases were. We alreay attempted to win the "hearts and minds" of an entrenched, proud, and impoverished people while simultaneously making them feel the full brunt of our superpower might. They took our humantarian aid, but they didn't stop hating us for invading their country. Would you if some more powerful foe treated you and your country that way? These aren't simple children we are dealing with. They aren't stupid, nor do they lack a sense of personal diginity.

And unlike the Germans, who had an industrialized, luxurious way of life to wish to return to, the Afghans know only poverty and pride, like the Vietnamese. They kicked the USSR's ass. How do you think they feel about that?

I'd feel pretty good carpet bombing some people right now. It would be kind of cathartic after how this week has been. And for a day, maybe two, I would believe in GWB's comic book morality and his four-year-old's conception of good vs. evil. But then ordinary reality comes back to you sooner or later, and that easy conception begins to fall apart.

I'd also feel pretty good taking on the White Man's Burden, and bringing peace, democracy, wealth and cable TV to the backward uncivilized Easterners of the world. But that's just a comic book too. This is just not going to be that easy, and there is no gurantee whatsoever that we will not fail.

Sorry 'bout that.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

.sigh. (4.25 / 4) (#75)
by Zukov on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:27:56 PM EST

They kicked the USSR's ass.

Because the USA provided SAMs which wreaked total havoc on Russian helicopter gunships. Prior to the arrival of SAMs the Russians had complete air control. In addition, the lifestyle the Russians were bringing with them was not a great or obvious improvement on what already existed. Russians were not bringing freedom, in any sense. They shot women and children, instead of giving them toys or chocolate, or even clean cloths and shoes. As I am myself an escapee from a Soviet block country, I applaud the Afgans common sense at resisting Russian invasion.

They aren't stupid, nor do they lack a sense of personal diginity.

Correct. So do you think the average Afgan enjoys having his hand cut off for stealing bread? Are you suggesting that young Afgans agree with the policy of death by stoning of "adulterers"? (NB- Adultery is sex outside of marriage.)

Perhaps you suggest that young Afgans want to be flogged for cutting their hair short, or shaving?

The Afghans know only poverty and pride, like the Vietnamese.

Your comparison to Vietnam is invalid. The Vietnamese leadership did not spend every waking hour invasivly persecuting (and executing) every citizen for pointless trivial shit like shaving, sex, TV, eating pork, drinking alcohol, cutting your hair, porn, and just about any of the other things people instinctively like to do. Maybe you think Afgan women enjoy being denied the most basic rights (a huge and horrific subject by itself)? Or do you suggest they do not matter because they are women?

There is pride, and there is self-flagelation. Only a limited number of religeous zealots enjoy the latter. The average young Afgan has the same urges and hopes as any other human being on the planet of that age.

ȶ H (^

Yes, I have just bumbled upon Gnome Character Map. Please ! me.
[ Parent ]

Right. The Viet Cong were all about love. (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by elenchos on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:22:28 PM EST

It was those other communists, the Khmer Rouge, the Red Chinese, the Shining Path, all those guys who went around throwing people in "re-education" camps, or executing anyone who could read, or killing the families of anyone who criticized the Revolution.

The Viet Cong ran an open, liberal democracy where everyone's basic freedoms were protected and where it didn't matter if you didn't loudly proclaim your undying love for Marx, Mao, and Ho Chi Min. All they cared about was the liberty and human dignity of their beloved citizens.

Yes sir. Not like the Taliban at all. The Taliban are repressive, and therefore nothing at all like the Vietnamese communists. Okee dokee. HAND.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

Your glib reply (none / 0) (#110)
by pranshu on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 09:04:43 AM EST

hides the fact that there are real difference detween those you mention and the viet cong. Ho was always a nationalist first and a communist second.

[ Parent ]
And this matters how to his victims? (nt) (none / 0) (#113)
by elenchos on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 12:20:24 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Selling the idea (4.00 / 3) (#5)
by sigwinch on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:37:21 AM EST

Therefore... we should aid the country that gave those terrorists a home?
No, we should 'aid the natives in our common fight against the enemies of civilization'. Hey, it sold the Vietnam War (which was in many ways successful), and the Taliban/terrorists are considerably less loved than the Viet Cong.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

September 17, 1862 (none / 0) (#128)
by badturtle on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:57:23 PM EST

I'm sorry. I know this is off topic, but I feel I must correct a possible historical inaccuracy. The final death toll is not yet in, but I doubt that it excedes 23,110. I could be wrong. Take out the wounded from the battle of Antietam and the number may be less than the WTC attack, but I felt this battle must be mentioned. Most people seem to have forgotten about the horrible numbers from the War Between the States.

[ Parent ]
Are you even aware... (3.50 / 12) (#2)
by elenchos on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:27:05 AM EST

...that you have just given an exact description of the US strategy in Vietnam? Or does the word "buck" in your vocabulary mean "ignore" and "forget"?

This article is pretty funny looked at a certain way. I'm just not entirely sure how to you want it looked at.

Everything has changed.

Afghanistan and Vietnam not Apples to Apples (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by CitAnon on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 10:52:15 AM EST

This is not an apples to apples comparison

1. To rebuild a country in this manner, you need to first destroy the existing government and most of the existing infrastructure. In Afghanistan, 20 years of civil war have dones this for us. The people are poorer than even the Vietnamese were. The existing Taliban regime is in its infancy and the people strongly dislike the oppressive religious rule they've set up. If they see something better, there's a good chance they'll flock to it.

2. Was there a genuine effort to rebuild Vietnam? Or was it, in fact, only for show? For this to work, we need something on the order of the type of help we gave to Germany and Japan, and even more than that, because of the lack of an educated population base, in the way of sending experts there to teach them skills.

3. We did not have the same international support that we do now. Rebuilding could actually strengthen that support.

4. Vietnam didn't matter to us. In the present case, with a single attack terrorism has killed over 5000 of our civilians with energy output on the order of magnitude of a tactical nuclear weapon.. The longer we wait, the more likely it is that the attacks we suffer will be chemical, biological, or nuclear in nature. We are fighting for our lives over there. The political will exists to do what needs to be done.



[ Parent ]
Well said. (4.00 / 8) (#3)
by physicsgod on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:34:17 AM EST

I think this is the exact way the US should proceed. One problem is the taliban and bin Laden don't want something like this to happen, well-fed and educated people don't make good subjects/suicide bombers. The US military is going to have to be a part of this operation. Hopefully when the Afghanis realize life is better inside the american pale they'll work with us, and not fight us. Those who do fight us are going to find life much different than it was 20 years ago. Technology has advanced to the point where it's possible for american commanders to have 24/7 optical, IR, and SAR observation over the battlefield. Milita groups will not be able to strike and disappear.

Another problem, and a more serious one, is that, in the words of President Bush the elder, "The US does not know anything about nation building". IMO it's time for some on-the-job training.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary

Again, exactly what we tried in Vietnam. (3.00 / 5) (#7)
by elenchos on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:46:32 AM EST

Why is it going to be different this time? Sane people do not go on attempting the exact same thing again and again and expect different results. Something has to be different if the outcome is going to not be the same. So? What is different now?

Besides the fact that we ought to know better.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

Well for starters... (3.83 / 6) (#9)
by physicsgod on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:25:02 AM EST

We'd be supporting a democratic government. The gurrella's wouldn't be able to hide. If they tried to run they'd find a minefield dropped in their path. The gurrella's wouldn't have a nuclear superpower on their side for us to worry about, so they couldn't take refuge in "neutral" countries. We'd also (hopefully) learn from our mistakes in Vietnam and not send troops home after a year, chewing through leadership and increasing casualties. And maybe, just maybe, we'd actually keep our promises as if our word meant something.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
That would make us the same as the Soviets. (3.71 / 7) (#10)
by elenchos on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:55:14 AM EST

They don't exactly have one nuclear superpower backing them. Instead they have at least one country with nuclear weapons, and another several with vast amounts of money to offer. Yeah, I know, all these trustworthy countries like Pakistan and Iran and Saudi Arabia and the UAE are going to be our steadfast allies throughout the whole long, difficult campaign. Sure. What with GWB's having spent 9 months showing how much his foreign policy makes other countries love us, he should have no trouble at all keeping the countries on Afghanistan's border in line. Not like they have any corrupt neighbors like Russia to play footsie with... oh, well, ok they have Russia, but that's the only one. And Pakistan. And...

Well, then we don't have jungles to hide in. Great. Was Afghanistan covered in jungle when the USSR was in there getting spanked for years? Did the Soviets not know about these "minefields" you speak of? Perhaps the USSR just lacked our resolve and ruthlessness. Yeah, that must be what's different. They were soft.

Dream on. It seems we want nothing more now to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam. The worst mistake being that we were lying to ourselves.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

Just a thought (2.75 / 4) (#12)
by bil on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 09:13:19 AM EST

Just a quick thought, it is actually in many countries best interest to have the US embroiled in a long, drawn out, costly, and unwinnable war in some place far away from them, muslim fanatics cant make trouble at home if they are away fighting, and hopefully dying, in Afghanistan for a start, and thats before you get into any "while the cat's away the mouse will play", or "while the US is distracted we can sneak in and steal their markets", or "we dont care who wins as long as they think they couldn't have done it without us" type reasons. If I was Libya or Syria or Iran, I would be more then willing to speak support for the US while supplying the Taliban, just as long as you dont get caught....

Or maybe thats my suspicious mind.

bil


bil
Where you stand depends on where you sit...
[ Parent ]

You're missing the point. (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:52:41 AM EST

The GlobalHawk system provides the US military with realtime and near-realtime surveillance in visual, IR, and radar spectrums. The Afghanis could hide against the Soviets, They can't hide against GlobalHawk. The only way to avoid detection is to not strike. Any strike would lead to identification, which would result in either a minefield being dropped in their path or a cluster bomb dropped on thier head. Also the Soviets had to contend with an "overwhelming majority" of the afgan population, I doubt the taleban and bin Laden are supported by more than half the country, especially if we offer aid for rebuilding.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Oh! Our infallible technology! Right. (nt) (1.50 / 2) (#24)
by elenchos on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:49:52 AM EST



[ Parent ]
I wonder... (4.00 / 2) (#60)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:07:52 PM EST

How many Britsh knights said the same thing before Aigencourt.

The history of war is dominated by technological advance. Technology advances in man-portable weapons made gurella war possible, advances in information gathering is going to make it possible to bring massive firepower to bear on enemy formations before they have a chance to disperse.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

I see. (3.60 / 5) (#74)
by elenchos on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:26:45 PM EST

You have an example of a case where superior technology won a battle. Therefore you generalize to all history, and then return to the specfic case of this global hawk toy they have cooked up, and make a prediction that we can go and succeed where others have failed due to this new weapon.

There are several fallacies at work here. One is just that your examples don't match. The English longbows at Agincourt had been tried in actual battle many times, and their weaknesses and bugs were addressed. They were not a decisive weapon the first time they were ever used. To make a prediction about how well global hawk will work on the first try, we should compare it with other modern high-tech weapons when they were used for the first time.

Such as what? The patirot missle system. The AEGIS cruiser. Stealth Bombers. The M16 rifle. Cruise misslies. These are just the ones I can think of without bothering to open up Google. We have one example after another of new weapons which were advertised to remake the face of warfare, yet were discovered on first use to be vastly overrated, at best. In many cases they were utter failures. The history of technology, and military technology in particular, is filled with examples of cool-sounding ideas that turned out to not work at all, in spite of all the predictions to the contrary. The weapons that did eventually work, and the even rarer ones that changed the dynamics of the battlefield, almost without exception had to go through enormous testing and real-world trials before they became a real asset. This is more true now than ever, especially given how much all of our new weapons rely on computers, and how well we know that software never works as advertised in version 1.0. You're lucky if it is worth a damn at version 3.0.

So here you have an exact duplication of our failed Vietnam strategy, applied to a country that has embarrased one mighty Great Power, World Power and Superpower after another. And the reason why you think we can succeed this time where all those others have failed is because we have this new gee-whiz tech fresh from DARPA or wherever. It will not work until it has been used in battle many times, if ever. I gurantee it. It's madness to support such a clearly unfeasable endeavor based soley on the idea that global hawk is going to be a hole in one.

It's wishful thinking. You're lying to yourself because you want something to be true, and you're willing to have a blind faith in technology that is totally contrdicted by past experience. I don't really expect Bush to think about any of this, but his handlers, especially Colin Powell, are too smart to fall into this error. I hope.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

This isn't new technology. (3.50 / 2) (#80)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:57:32 PM EST

it's the combination of several tested systems. The UAV bus has been in operation for years in the Balkans and Iraq, we've had optical, IR, and SAR satellites for decades, and image processing for nearly that long.

As for your assertion that "The weapons that did eventually work, and the even rarer ones that changed the dynamics of the battlefield, almost without exception had to go through enormous testing and real-world trials before they became a real asset." I have one word: Whermacht. The German destruction of European armies is a direct result of thier effective use of tanks as a strike weapon, coupled with air support. The only reasons the Soviets were able to stave off the Nazis is (1) they're damn tenacious and (2) They had a couple of years to reorganize thier armies in light of what happened to the west.

I don't necessarily belive that GolbalHawk is going to be dicisive right out of the box, but the proven Predator system is, and GlobalHawk will serve as an excellent compliment. These systems destroy the one thing gurella war needs, surprise. If you can see the enemy formations forming up you can hit them before they strike. You can't take a firebase one soldier at a time, and any congregation is going to stand out like a sore thumb. Don't forget, Predator is in version 5.x and GlobalHawk is around 2.x, these have already undergone testing, and it's not like they're combat systems.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Even though Joy Smith has nothing better to do... (3.50 / 2) (#84)
by elenchos on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:45:48 PM EST

...than mod me down, I'll add a reply anyway. I'm just a nut like that, I guess.

Tanks and airplanes were tested by many forces in WWI -- they were not new in WWII. Mostly they were a waste, until they had been seen in real battle enough times to see what they could and coudn't do. You're giving an example of someone applying that real-world knolwedge many years later, and against foes who stubbornly refused to learn from anything, especially the French and the Poles. Look at all the other weapons tried in WWI that turned out to be flops. Only real-world trials can sort them out.

That is nothing like what you describe. Perhaps after fighting with this thing for months or years we could get it to work. Or perhaps we will learn that the complexity of integrating several different technologies the way it does is just too complex for field conditions. I'd sit back and let some other sucker spend their troops lives finding out if the thing works. I mean, what do you do if six months or a year down the road we are in it up to our ass and are looking around for a way to withdraw with honor?

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

Look.. (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 08:25:17 PM EST

I take it all back. The US Army has the Predator system, and it's been in operation for years. It has all the observation capacaties of GlobalHawk, just a lower ceiling (still 2.5 times that of a stinger missile) and smaller payload. But at four planes per unit you get redundancy, which is nice.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
globalhawk (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by garlic on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:48:21 PM EST

globalhawk is pretty cool, I grant you that. However, its still being tested, and isn't ready for something like this.

Also, as we've seen in Iraq, UAVs can be shot down if you position your radars correctly.

Mobile SAMS (which i'm not sure if they are available in Afghanistan) were a big threat to planes in in the balkans.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Military strategy. (3.50 / 2) (#49)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:02:06 PM EST

GlobalHawk is in the testing phase, but I think deployment will be accelerated if we end up in a ground war.

The nice thing about UAV's is that you're only out a piece of equipment, just like the enemy. And I think a missile is worth more to the afgans than a UAV is to us.

From the paper today my understanding of US strategy is the first strike would take out the fixed AA systems. That still leaves a bunch of stingers, but unless they've somehow gotten the latest and greatest those have a sucess rate of about 30%, with well trained troops. They might bag some UAV's but I doubt the sensor would handle the countermeasures and active avoidance of manned aircraft.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

re:Military strategy (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by garlic on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:46:35 PM EST

depends on the package on the UAV. When the F-117 was shot down, its equipment was quickly recovered by the Serbs before the US could get in to destroy the wreckage.

GlobalHawk wreckage could potentially be sold to China, or used to figure out how to defeat its sensors.

Also, as far as i can determine, there are only 5 global hawks. So, shooting 1 down would be a big deal. Their high altitude flight capability requires a pretty heavy duty SAM however.

One of the problems of countermeasures together with active avoidance by the pilot is that they tend to counteract each other.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Well. (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by physicsgod on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:02:57 PM EST

The GlobalHawk sensors are just optics and SAR, both of which are well known. Specific detals such as camera optics and signal processing that are classified probably wouldn't survive a 65,000' fall too well, and they might even have self-destruct.

I'd assume all the SAM's able to reach 65,000' would be among the first targets hit.

The nice thing about stingers(if it's coming at you) is that they're rather dumb, so if you give them something to look at you can get out of their sight rather easily.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

i agree. (3.50 / 2) (#70)
by chopper on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:50:57 PM EST

Also the Soviets had to contend with an "overwhelming majority" of the afgan population, I doubt the taleban and bin Laden are supported by more than half the country

hence the mass exodus of Afghans into pakistan, just out of the fear of american retaliation.
doesn't really sound like a population ready to fight.

give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

Well, the exodus is not new (3.00 / 1) (#131)
by BlckKnght on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 05:05:46 AM EST

Nearly 30% of the Afghan population had left the country before any of the WTC business got stirred up. That's in addition to the 10% that have died of starvation. Most of the remaining people are in the process of starving. The Taliban have all the weapons, all the fuel and all the food in the country, so they're probably the only ones who'd be fighting (all of this is from the essay I linked to in my MLP).

The critical question is how much anger and hatred the Taliban will be able to stir up among the conservative factions other Moslem nations, if we attack. This will really come down to the reactions of the governments of Iran and Pakistan (the only other nation who would be much inclined to do anything is Iraq, and we're already beating on them). They might also try to get other extremist groups (like Hezbolla and Islamic Jihad) to engage in more terrorism aginst the US or our allies.

I think that if the US had strong support from the liberal portions of the Iranian and Pakistanian governments, and the willingness of the American public to bear some casualties, then a large (Desert Storm) scale military operation can work, and could benefit Afghanistan (just having Army Engineers build roads and dams would help enormously). Given that there seems to be no inclination toward a wholly diplomatic solution (GW wants vengeance, damn it!), I hope this is what we do.

I hope it works, as there are plenty of pitfalls. It might be the next Vietnam or, if the Bush administration totally blows the diplomacy, World War III. But it might also be the start of a new era of foreign policy for the US. We sure as hell need one. Neither our Cold War era policy of supporting anyone who wasn't communist nor our more current policy of letting our corperations rape the third world are working too well.

-- 
Error: .signature: No such file or directory


[ Parent ]
I've been contemplating this for a while, (3.16 / 6) (#6)
by Dlugar on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:45:45 AM EST

and I came up with the same conclusion--this is the only way to "win" in Afghanistan. If anyone has points otherwise, I urge you to post them here before you -1.

Dlugar

Couple of problems (3.83 / 6) (#11)
by anewc2 on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 03:35:02 AM EST

The problem bin Laden has with the US, and the west in general, is that our culture and our money has been corrupting Islam. He's got a lot of support for that idea in that part of the world. Just how would a massive infusion of western money and culture address this concern?

It will demonstrate to the world, particularly citizens of anti-US nations, that US leadership is not based on the force of military arms but the power of generosity and prosperity.

But in fact US leadership is based on the force of military arms, not the power of generosity and prosperity. There is a big disconnect here between our ideals and our practice that is IMHO a large part of our current problems. The Marshall Plan was a shining exception to a dismal history of short-sighted opportunism that goes back to the Mexican War in the 1840s.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.

Islam (4.50 / 2) (#17)
by Dlugar on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:20:27 PM EST

The problem bin Laden has with the US, and the west in general, is that our culture and our money has been corrupting Islam. He's got a lot of support for that idea in that part of the world. Just how would a massive infusion of western money and culture address this concern?
The excuse bin Laden has with the US is that we've been corrupting Islam. However, it's one thing to get people on your side when "The Great Satan" is killing your family and friends, and a completely different thing when "The Great Satan" is giving you sheep, houses, and farming equipment.

Besides, Afghanistan would take a lot before we ever get to the point where we could send in the "corrupting influences" of the United States. Unless you're contemplating putting Disney advertisements on bags of seed.

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
Corrupting Islam (4.50 / 2) (#25)
by anewc2 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:55:48 AM EST

The excuse bin Laden has with the US is that we've been corrupting Islam.

Well, in bin Laden's home country of Saudi Arabia, we have supported a corrupt dictatorship that keeps its people in poverty and oppression. This is a direct cause of bin Laden's opinion of us. He has benefitted financially, but not as much as he would have had he stayed a good boy.

Unless you're contemplating putting Disney advertisements on bags of seed.

I'm not, but I wouldn't put it past Disney.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
[ Parent ]

Bin Laden is not a real Muslim. (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by SeaCrazy on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:01:35 PM EST

The problem bin Laden has with the US, and the west in general, is that our culture and our money has been corrupting Islam.

No, that is the excuse he is using to get people to fight his personal war for him.

Bin Laden, the Taliban, and similar "religious" leaders (fanatics) have hi-jacked true islam for their own political and personal gain.

Bin Laden assures his "warriors" that if they die for the "holy" cause they go directly to paradise (i.e. you suicide bomb israel, or fly a plane into the WTC, you go straight to paradise); however, according to the Koran, only God can give life, and only God can take life (i.e. you commit suicide--even for the "holy" cause--no paradise).

Bin Laden calls Americans (and many others) for infidels; people of no faith. According to Bin Laden they are not people of God and do not deserve to live. Again, according to the Koran, Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike are all "people of the book" (i.e. people of God, they all believe in the same God). The only infidel is Bin Laden himself for twisting Islam for his own purposes.

I think it is time for Muslims to take back their faith from the fundamentalists. And it's time for all of us to try to understand eachother. What Bin Laden and other fundamentalists are doing is using religion to create a division among people, if we all knew more about our own and other religions this would not work.

[ Parent ]
Reasons and excuses (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by anewc2 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:56:00 PM EST

In fact, after more research (here and here, for example) I find it is the US military presence in Saudi Arabia that arouses his special ire against the US, rather than a generic cultural and economic imperialism.

As for his followers, they can find their own reasons, without needing excuses from him. Support for Israel is one, and support for corrupt governments who keep their people in poverty and oppression is another.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
[ Parent ]

Have Done With It (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by Steve B on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:29:22 PM EST

The problem bin Laden has with the US, and the west in general, is that our culture and our money has been corrupting Islam. He's got a lot of support for that idea in that part of the world. Just how would a massive infusion of western money and culture address this concern?

A faster acclimation to global Western culture may be less disruptive, when all is said and done. It's like the difference between inching into cold water and just diving in.

[ Parent ]

Tough to do ... (none / 0) (#87)
by anewc2 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:01:17 PM EST

... when even our threats are creating more enemies every day.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
[ Parent ]

Didnt the rebels in Afg already pledge support? (2.00 / 5) (#14)
by CrazyJub on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 10:20:55 AM EST

Just take a third of what this operation is going to cost, and air-drop weapons on the rebels. Let them fight it out.


Bad idea,... (3.50 / 2) (#22)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:12:31 AM EST

... proxy wars have a bad history of not working as intended and coming back to bite us on the ass.



[ Parent ]

We already are... (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by wiredog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:16:16 AM EST

Not sending them weapons, yet, but we do have some Green Berets who savvy the lingo (which is not Arabic, btw). No one is saying much about what they're doing. I wonder if my friend Ed, the Navy SEAL, is in that area?

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]
Exactly what got us into this mess (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by ronin212 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:10:35 PM EST

in the first place.

Supporting one regime vs. another in Afghanistan...we supported the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's war against the previous regime, which was backed by the Soviets.

Now you're suggesting supporting the Northern Alliance against the Taliban.

This may well be a good strategy but we must be sure of the ideology and goals behind the resistance movement, otherwise we'll end up supporting a new army of terrorists and a new repressive, anti-US regime.

Also, it seems like they might have anticipated this move since the leader of the resistance movement, Mr. Massoud, was assassinated by what is an apparent textbook bin Laden bomb attack, only two days before the WTC attack. This suggests that bin Laden and the Taliban are very together on this...

--
Now is the time... get on the right side! You'll be godlike.
[ Parent ]
Please correct me if I'm wrong. (none / 0) (#52)
by kworces on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:35:50 PM EST

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but our support in Afganistan was for a war that ended circa 1988 (the war started in 1979 and went for about 9-10 years). The Taliban, as I understand it, has only been in power since 1996, though I'm sure it existed long before that. We may have aided them in beating back the soviets, but I don't believe we helped install the Taliban as the official government--particularly since we (and most of the world) don't recognize them as such.

I know, however, that you're right about the US carelessly installing governments of their choice. But seeing as how the Afganistan representatives to the UN are from the Northern Alliance, helping them retake the country doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me--but IANA Foreign Policy Expert (tm).

If you or anyone knows of articles or histories (online or dead tree) that contradict my understanding, I'd like to read them. I admit complete ignorance of Afganistan history prior to September 11, so please feel free to enlighten me.



[ Parent ]
Not as new as you might think (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by dash2 on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:51:23 AM EST

+1, needs debating.

But the concept of winning "hearts and minds" through spending money isn't new. In fact, a quick Google reveals it was tried in Vietnam. (I suspect the view put forward there of the USAID effort is somewhat rosy.)

One problem is that all that money doesn't necessarily get spent in ways that benefit the supposed recipients. If corrupt Western puppet leaders get hold of it, it may not do any good.

Another problem is that some people cannot be bought.
------------------------
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

So don't give the money to the leaders... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:01:12 AM EST

One problem is that all that money doesn't necessarily get spent in ways that benefit the supposed recipients. If corrupt Western puppet leaders get hold of it, it may not do any good.
We could use microcredit systems to stimulate economic development from the bottom up. The people themselves would be playing a major role in deciding the course of development, which is important. We don't want to be seen as buying a client state but as helping those in trouble help themselves.



[ Parent ]

Microcredit (3.50 / 2) (#89)
by Dlugar on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:16:02 PM EST

I think the idea of microcredit is great, but what I've seen of the economy (or lack thereof) of Afghanistan, I think it would still take a few years before we even get to the point where microcredit could be successfully used.

How about just sending a million sheep over there? Jump start the economy with that.

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
Sounds pretty good... (none / 0) (#100)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:40:17 AM EST

... to me, but we don't have to do one or the other exclusively. We can try the sheep and the microcredit in concert. Deal?

I figure stimulating some homegrown education system would be good in the mix. Other than that, let them decide their own path. Sort of a help them get their wits about them and then pull a prime directive.



[ Parent ]

Good idea for reasons other than you suggest (4.50 / 2) (#112)
by Anonymous 242 on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 11:20:46 AM EST

How about just sending a million sheep over there?
That might be enough sheep to clear out all the unrecorded fields of land mines throughout Afghanistan. Just heard them from one end of the country to the other and collect the sheep parts to feed the shephards along the way.

Rebuilding the economy is an irrelevant point until the average Afghani can walk down the road or through a field without risking getting blown up by land mines planted during the Soviet occupation.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Good creative thinking. (5.00 / 2) (#118)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 03:59:18 PM EST

I like it.

Solves a immediate problem. Then another when we give away the meat. Then another when we give away the sheep that survive the process.

All that, and the mental picture of The Great Herd of Salvation crossing the landscape is pretty amusing. An idyllic, peaceful expanse of sheep, the contented "Baaah"ing, punctuated with explosions and sheep flying into the air.

As a matter of logistics, do sheep stampede when they get frightened?



[ Parent ]

[ot] Frightened sheep (none / 0) (#134)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 10:05:08 AM EST

As a matter of logistics, do sheep stampede when they get frightened?
Yup.

When I was somewhere around six or seven years old I went with my Dad who had a short-term job doing some re-wiring for a family that owned a farm. While he was busy fussing with wires, me and the other children were drafted to help herd a herd of escaped sheep back into the properly fenced pasture.

Me and two other children were stationed at a fork in the path the sheep were going to come down. Our objective was to wave our arms and make noise to convince the sheep to stampede down the other fork.

Sheep can run fast.

Sheep are much bigger than the average six or seven year old.

I'm not sure who was more frightened, my city-slicker six year old self or the sheep.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

The Vietnam Experience (3.50 / 2) (#28)
by wiredog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:21:11 AM EST

Vietnam is, basically, a capitalist country now. A good argument could be made that the USA won the war in Vietnam. Politically and culturally, if not militarily. Yes, the Vietnamese do not have all the freedoms we enjoy in the West, but they have more than they did 20 years ago.

Strategically, the Vietnamese have more in common with the USA than not. They've already fought one war with China recently. And Ho Chi Minh worked with the OSS.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle
[ Parent ]

Vietnam was a massive US fuck-up (3.75 / 4) (#36)
by streetlawyer on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:18:31 PM EST

Vietnam could have been a capitalist country for vastly more time, had the US and USSR not tried to play geopolitical chess in a region they didn't understand. Ho was always a nationalist rather than a Communist, and his Declaration of Independence for Vietnam was explicitly modelled on the American one. But the US saw the Vietnamese accept Russian help to ward off the Chinese danger, and suddenly started seeing dominoes everywhere.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Apples to apples? Is there an answer? (4.92 / 13) (#16)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:26:15 PM EST

However, as stories and commentary, including this interview with a Russian colonel who fought in Afghanistan tell us, that country is a quagmire from which no amount of military force may extract victory. In fact, the Soviet Union operated in Afghanistan for years, armed with the ruthless oppressiveness of the Soviet system, without ever making progress towards destruction of Afghanistan's militias.
The USSR had the objective of keeping in power a state beseiged by many different groups of rebels supported financially and militarily by outside forces such as Osama bin Laden and the CIA.

If the US goes into Afghanistan, it's objective will be the capture of individuals linked to the WTC bombing (and perhaps other terrorist acts from around the globe) with few outside forces daring support the Afghani state. (Iraq being a possible exception.)

The two key differences are (1) the scope of the objective and (2) the level of support offered by other nations. Certainly, any military operation has the potential to turn into a quagmire, but this particular operation has 'limited objective' written all over it.

That said, a cultural/economic solution would have far more lasting effects. (Although if successful, such will prove the point of the extremists involved in the attack.) I think that history has shown us that the best way to beat down opponents of American style democrapitalism is via McDonald's and Hollywood. Our decadent and luxurious western way of life has proved to be quite attractive to all those austere East Berliners and given time and access could do the same in Afghanistan.

I would say that I'm not all that certain that such would be an improvement, except in the particular current case of Afghanistan, I don't think things could be much worse. I bet the glass ceiling in the US looks quite different from the perspective of an Aghani woman. I'm not normally a proponent of spreading US culture worldwide, but when Afghanistan asks us not to bomb because they are already so miserable, I can't help but wonder if a cultural and economic invasion wouldn't help.

"There is no pleasure in life anyway, so I don't care if the bombs come and I have to die along with my children," said Leilama, a 38-year-old mother of six in Kabul. [Afghans living in dread]
"Whatever happens, I leave myself and my children in the hands of God. This is a city of beggars," he said. "We can only hope that the United States will not bomb us. We pray." [Afghans living in dread]
"Killing our leaders will not help our people any. There is no factory in Afghanistan that is worth the price of a single missile fired at us." [Taliban Plead for Mercy to the Miserable in a Land of Nothing]
Children play in vast ruins, their limbs sometimes wrenched away by remnant land mines. The national life expectancy, according to the central statistics office, has fallen to 42 for males and 40 for females. [Taliban Plead for Mercy to the Miserable in a Land of Nothing]
Women have been forced into head-to-toe gowns known as burqas and evicted from schools and the workplace. Men are obligated to wear long beards or face jail. Banned are musical instruments, chessboards, playing cards, nail polish and neckties. Cheers at soccer matches are restricted to "Allah-u-akbar,"or God is great. Freedom of speech has bowed to religious totalitarianism. [Taliban Plead for Mercy to the Miserable in a Land of Nothing]

To quote Michael Ness, it wasn't a pretty picture.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

Scary (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by /dev/trash on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 10:32:24 PM EST

When Iran and other relatively Fundalmental Islamic countries come out asay they want the Taliban destroyed, something just makes my stomach knot up. Of all the voices I hear from the Middle East concerning this whole thing, one thing is clear, a hatred/fear of teh Taliban. And fromw hat you have quoted, I can see why. To be a good Muslim is one thing, to be an extremist where even the oppressors are oppressed is another.
This in itself scares me, WTC attack or not.....

---
Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Not so... (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by skim123 on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:31:30 PM EST

I think that history has shown us that the best way to beat down opponents of American style democrapitalism is via McDonald's and Hollywood.

While this may be true for other nations, I don't know if it would work in Afghanistan. Remember, those terrorists who participated in the WTC bombing lived in the US for years, adopting suburban lifestyles. And this didn't deter them from their mission. Granted, they were fanatics, and the general Afghanistanee population may not be...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
What was the time scale? (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 10:43:55 AM EST

Remember, those terrorists who participated in the WTC bombing lived in the US for years, adopting suburban lifestyles.
It took decades and decades for the Berlin wall to come down.

I don't know that a year or so in a host country can be compared to a cultural and economic onslaught that spans decades.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Time scale irrelevant ... (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 10:55:06 AM EST

... both bin Laden and the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which are wealthier than Afghanistan by many orders of magnitude. None of the hijackers AFAIK had been to Afghanistan. Most had university level Western education; one had studied electrical engineering in Germany before moving on to the States. Bin Laden was a civil engineer, and recieved CIA training.

And I still don't understand what Afghanistan has to do with all this, nor why an invasion and cultural reprogramming is necessary since to all intents and purposes, the Afghani folks themselves have not commited a single crime against the West.

[ Parent ]

What does Aghanistan have to do with all of this? (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 11:36:02 AM EST

And I still don't understand what Afghanistan has to do with all this, nor why an invasion and cultural reprogramming is necessary since to all intents and purposes, the Afghani folks themselves have not commited a single crime against the West.
In most countries, someone who knowingly harbors a fugitive from justice is guilty of a crime. I think that, perhaps, there is moral justification behind these laws. If I know that someone in my protection is guilty of heinous crimes, I am obligated to turn that person over to the authorities.

The Taliban which is currently mostly in control of Afghanistan has aided and abetted Osama bin Laden in planning out a war of terror against the US. There is evidence that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the attack on the world trade center. There is also a large amount of evidence that he is responsible for previous attacks on US citizens.

The US has requested that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden for trial and they have repeatedly refused.

This is not to say that I think Afghanistan is deserving of any sort of invasion. However, given the current state of affairs in Afghanistan I question as to whether a cultural and economic invasion of Afghanistan could possibly make anything worse and perhaps could indeed make many things better. It seems to me that helping Afghanistan attain some measure of wealth would do much to add stability to that part of the world, and give a large amount of relief to the people of Afghanistan who are in abject misery.

Regards,

Lee Irenæus Malatesta

[ Parent ]

Agreed (3.00 / 4) (#37)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:37:48 PM EST

In most countries, someone who knowingly harbors a fugitive from justice is guilty of a crime. I think that, perhaps, there is moral justification behind these laws. If I know that someone in my protection is guilty of heinous crimes, I am obligated to turn that person over to the authorities.

I agree that bin Laden is an unsavoury man, and the Taliban makes good claim to being the most heinous government in the world in modern times, but there are still two things:

  • No evidence has been publicly presented as proof of bin Laden's guilt in the WTC attack. Countries are not required to extradite based on mere suspicion.
  • The US has no jurisdiction over Afghanistan.
As long as the US continues to sabotage every attempt to construct an international legal framework to deal with this sort of affair, this kind of situation will remain murky.

The Taliban which is currently mostly in control of Afghanistan has aided and abetted Osama bin Laden in planning out a war of terror against the US.

Define "aid and abet". I am willing to bet it is the other way around: that bin Laden pays for the "privilege" of staying in Afghanistan, and that his actions are tolerated as long as he is of financial benefit. There is a huge difference between tolerating someone, and actively aiding and abetting him.

There is evidence that Osama bin Laden is responsible for the attack on the world trade center

None of which has been publicly presented. As long as the evidence is not presented, other governments have a right to refuse to act on that basis.

There is also a large amount of evidence that he is responsible for previous attacks on US citizens.

Again, no attack involved Afghani citizens. Again, the evidence has never been made public. In addition, Afghanistan had to endure a cruise missile bombardment as a result of that refusal: regardless of the government, such actions are unlikely to induce co-operative moods. I'm sorry, but I fail to see any reason for any reasonable government (which the Taliban are admittedly not) to proceed with extradition. Were the tables turned, the US government would never extradite suspects to Afghanistan, certainly not if the Afghani's try to speed things up by bombarding US locations.

However, given the current state of affairs in Afghanistan I question as to whether a cultural and economic invasion of Afghanistan could possibly make anything worse and perhaps could indeed make many things better. It seems to me that helping Afghanistan attain some measure of wealth would do much to add stability to that part of the world, and give a large amount of relief to the people of Afghanistan who are in abject misery.

Cultural and economic invasion beneficial? Agreed. Military invasion, accompanied by the kind of media demonization we have seen the last few days? Certainly not.

[ Parent ]

Jurisdiction (3.50 / 2) (#47)
by Ken Arromdee on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:24:06 PM EST

The US has no jurisdiction over Afghanistan.

Which is irrelevant. The Taliban isn't a country, they're rebels. They don't have any more jurisdiction in Afghanistan than we do, and what remains of the actual government of the country is of course more than happy to give us permission.

[ Parent ]

And which "actual government" would that (3.50 / 2) (#104)
by StrontiumDog on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 04:06:45 AM EST

Which is irrelevant. The Taliban isn't a country, they're rebels. They don't have any more jurisdiction in Afghanistan than we do, and what remains of the actual government of the country is of course more than happy to give us permission.

In which election were they elected? Would that be the government the Talibans overthrew? They left the ousted president haging from a lamppost with his balls stuffed in his mouth, you know. Who are the Talibans "rebelling" against, since they control most of Afghanistan?

And just how much value is "permission" worth from an unspecified "actual government" that has no control over anything? Why are US representatives talking with the Taliban, instead of that unknown government?

Rhetorical questions, I'm sure you'll have noticed. The Taliban are the de-facto government of Afghanistan, and since at the State level, possession is not nine-tenths of the law, but the whole kit n caboodle (just ask the Americans when the colonies secceeded), the Taiban are the de-jure government of Afghanistan.

[ Parent ]

Easy solution : Prove bin Ladens guilt (none / 0) (#158)
by djabji on Sun Sep 23, 2001 at 04:15:53 AM EST

No evidence has been publicly presented as proof of bin Laden's guilt in the WTC attack. Countries are not required to extradite based on mere suspicion.

I agree with this statement.

When bin Laden says that he didnt do this bombing, I believe him. I think that he would take resposability if he did. He has taken responsability in the past for bombing embasies, boats, and previous attacks on the WTC.

The attacks on the embasies, US navy ships and the pentagon dont qualify as terrorism in my books. They are acts of war against military / government targets. If I were the Taliban, I would not extradite bin Laden for those acts.

Both bin Laden and the Taliban are highly religous. I assume that even though their religous views encourage holy wars and killing, they strongly discourage lying and deceipt. These people strike me as people who would rather die than violate thier religous code. Therefore I feel safe taking them at their word. I also dont expect them to violate promises that they have made in the past to bin Laden.

If the states wants bin Laden, they have two choices.
1) prove that he had a direct role in the plane crashes. This would show that bin Laden has violated his promise not to attack other countries from within afganistan. It would free the Taliban from their promise to shelter him.
2) Go into afganistan with a shitload of troops and spend years trying to root him out of the mountains. This has the negative side effect of creating thousands more extremists wanting to kill americans around the world.

Bush has to blame some alive mastermind for this attack, and kill him. Doing so quickly will assure him re-election in 3 years. Bin Laden is a convienient target for this - it does get rid of someone who has attacked the US militarily in the past - and will likely again in the future. Unfortunately, Bush just doesnt get that any military act in the middle east that the US commits will just serve to worsen the problem he is trying to solve. Since he hasnt done anything yet except make impossible demands of afganistan and spout retoric, perhaps he will prove me wrong by not pouring fuel on the simmering ashes of modern terrorism.



[ Parent ]

Humanitarian As Much As a Hunting Expedition (4.57 / 7) (#19)
by quam on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 11:24:02 PM EST

After reading a story on ABCNews, "Afghans Wait, Scared." It was disheartening to read an organization established to oppose the Taliban and publicize Taliban atrocities is now receiving hate e-mail from fellow Americans. The organization is the "Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a grassroots pro-democracy group whose work includes providing education, healthcare and economic opportunity to the country's most oppressed citizens: its women."

Information on RAWA's site provides more information and photos of the atrocities of the Taliban. After reviewing RAWA's substantive material, I hope our mission in Afghanistan is as much humanitarian as it has been in Kosovo or Bosnia while we hunt bin Laden and punish the Taliban for sheltering and supporting him. These people need help from an outside power. These people need an outside power to show them the way to freedom.

-- U.S. Patent 5443036 concerns a device for encouraging a cat to exercise by chasing a light spot.
Cartago Delenda Est (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by wiredog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 09:13:03 AM EST

This comment at slashdot, stolen from Jerry Pournelle's website, is an eloquent description on the culture war between Radical Islam and the West.

Please remember that Radical Islam is about as Islamic as Christian Identity is Christian.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

I'm all for it in principle. But remember... (2.87 / 8) (#29)
by marlowe on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 10:01:43 AM EST

no good deed goes unpunished.

Europe is conspicuously ungrateful for what we've done for them in the past. And any serious attempt to fix what's wrong with Afghanistan will be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as American imperialism.

And make no mistake, this is a form of colonialism. It contains an implicit assumption that we know better than them. That this assumption is well supported by the evidence won't make much of an impression on some people.

I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying do it with a realistic mindset. We're talking about helping people against their will, and need to plan accordingly. You've got to subdue a mental patient before you can treat him. By analogy, we've got to conquer Afghanistan before we can even begin to address its problems constructively.

Also, we can only hope for so much in the way of results. We can't remake other cultures completely in our image. The Raj pushed too hard in India, and it turned out a tad messily. But they did have a positive influence on Indian culture.

All we need absolutely to insist on is a substantial improvement, enough to make them no longer terrorists. We must achieve that at all costs, and against all resistance, for obvious reasons. But once that is accomplished, make it a principle to stop pushing when they seriously push back.

We don't need to change their religion beyond a few particulars of interpretation. There are versions of Islam that are compatible with civilization and decency. We don't need them to listen to this awful crap that's on MTV these days, or that disco dreck that's inexplicably coming back from its well-earned oblivion. Just make them not be murderous fanatics. And optionally, but highly desirable: get them to do a better job of running their own affairs, so they won't be starving all the time.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
A good reason would be nice (3.06 / 15) (#30)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 10:29:23 AM EST

just one, from all you assholes pushing for an invasion of Afghanistan:

Why the fuck should Afghanistan be invaded? For what fucking reason? What have they done?

The suicide hijackers were all from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Not Afghanistan. All had lived for long periods (10 years, in some cases) in Germany and the United States. Not Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is Saudi Arabian, not Afghani. To date, there has been no proof given that he masterminded or directly supported the WTC bombing.

He is hiding out in Afghanistan, which is full of Taliban, who are some of the most unlikeable people on Earth, but a in country with 1 million expected to die of starvation this year few Afghani's can be expected to give a fuck about bin Laden either way.

Don't you get it? The terrorists who killed 4000 innocent civilians, the guys who actually did all that shit were not from Afghanistan, had never been to Afghanistan. Bin Laden may or may not have backed them; no evidence is yet forthcoming: but bin Laden is not an Afghan. He's holed in for the moment in Afghanistan, but he could just as well be hiding in any number of other sorry beaten-up anarchic excuses for States.

On this microscopic shard of "justification" you mini-Hitlers, all hyped up from watching CNN, are prepared to invade\colonise\destroy\sterilise\terrorize 20 million Afghani citizens already suffering from the effects of 20 years of civil war and famine?

You sick fucks.

[ Parent ]

missing the reasoning (4.20 / 5) (#50)
by speek on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:15:29 PM EST

few people are talking about killing the Afghan people. The fact that Bin Laden is Saudi wouldn't justify attacking Saudi Arabia. The fact that he is physically located in Afghanistan does mean that that's where you have to go to get him. Simple logic, that.

Further, the fact that the ruling faction of Afghanistan supports and helps Bin Laden means that's where you have to go to root out Bin Laden's supporters. Again, simple logic.

And lastly, the fact that Afghanistan is full of starving people and is chaotic is not coincidental to Bin Laden being there. It thus follows that rebuilding Afghanistan into something better would be a good move toward preventing future terrorism from finding safe refuge there.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

That's bullshit and you know it. (2.00 / 6) (#62)
by marlowe on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:20:32 PM EST

All the evidence points to bin laden, and the Taliban are harboring bin Laden agressively. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

But no, Agfhanistan can do no wrong, because they're opposing the Great Satan, who can do no right. You're so full of shit it's coming out your ears.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Crap. (3.66 / 6) (#72)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:21:19 PM EST

All the evidence points to bin laden

All the evidence points to the fact that the people who did it are buried under a thousand tons of rubble. You mind enlightening me on exactly what role bin Laden is supposed to have played in this attack?

[ Parent ]

Explanation (3.00 / 2) (#108)
by davidmb on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 07:18:45 AM EST

Bin Laden flew those planes using the mind-control devices the CIA gave him back in '79.

Seeing as the CIA established both the Taleban and Bin Laden's operations, how about carpet bombing Virginia?
־‮־
[ Parent ]
no good deed goes unpunished? (2.57 / 7) (#54)
by Profoss on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:43:36 PM EST

ok, this is probably a little bit offtopic, but you refer to the american help to europe as a good deed?
To send the Marshall help was the least thing you could do, firstly, USA prosperd on the crises in europe. Britan for example had to pay for everything, and was close to bankroupcy after your generous "lend-lease", and all the other countries was in ruins. You had to send the mashall help, or else you wouldn't have any market after the war.
When you sat safely on your little island, europeans died, in large numbers. And you earned money, alot of money...
Just my little public ranting (in bad english)



[ Parent ]
Americans also died, in large numbers. (3.83 / 6) (#65)
by marlowe on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:32:16 PM EST

We had to go all the way to Europe to do it, but we managed.

Shame on you.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
That cuts both ways. (3.80 / 5) (#66)
by marlowe on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:33:56 PM EST

I should thing Europe also has a stake in there being an America to sell Volvos to.

And by the way, if you don't want that Marshal Plan money, just give it back.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
European viewpoint (4.00 / 2) (#97)
by deaddrunk on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 01:42:35 AM EST

My grandparents thank your grandparents for your wonderful efforts on behalf of them. However US foreign policy in the last 50 years has been a catalogue of sponsoring human rights abuses in the name of the Cold War. As Europeans were right at the heart of what humans rights abuses lead to, it is perhaps unsurprising that we view said foreign policy with contempt. This, of course, doesn't justify the unquestioning support of many of our governments for those abuses.



[ Parent ]
Oh, please (2.33 / 3) (#116)
by itsbruce on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 03:48:13 PM EST

The Americans are the Jews of the next century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers.

With that as your sig, how can you make any claim to rational thought or a sense of proportion, let alone expect any respect?


--I unfortunately do not know how to turn cheese into gold.
[ Parent ]
Yep. Zero for the sig alone. (2.50 / 2) (#127)
by elenchos on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:50:22 PM EST

I knew the guy was a little bent, but that's beyond the pale as far as I'm concerned.

Everything has changed.
[ Parent ]

I repeat myself ... (3.23 / 21) (#33)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 11:24:41 AM EST

in order to draw attention to one vital question:

Why the fuck should Afghanistan be invaded? For what fucking reason? What have they done?

The suicide hijackers were all from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Not Afghanistan. All had lived for long periods (10 years, in some cases) in Germany and the United States. Not Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden is Saudi Arabian, not Afghani. To date, there has been no proof given that he masterminded or directly supported the WTC bombing.

He is hiding out in Afghanistan, which is full of Taliban, who are some of the most unlikeable people on Earth, but a in country with 1 million expected to die of starvation this year few Afghani's can be expected to give a fuck about bin Laden either way.

Don't you get it? The terrorists who killed 4000 innocent civilians, the guys who actually did all that shit were not from Afghanistan, had never been to Afghanistan. Bin Laden may or may not have backed them; no evidence is yet forthcoming: but bin Laden is not an Afghan. He's holed out for the moment in Afghanistan, but he could just as well be hiding in any number of other sorry beaten-up anarchic excuses for States.

On this microscopic shard of "justification" you mini-Hitlers, all hyped up from watching CNN, are prepared to invade\colonise\destroy\sterilise\terrorize 20 million Afghani citizens already suffering from the effects of 20 years of civil war and famine?

You sick fucks.

Not at all (none / 0) (#38)
by roguerez on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:38:18 PM EST

You're probably trolling, but nevertheless my rebuttal.

You are missing the point, entirely. Afghanistan is a country ruled by a regime that PROTECTS the non-Afghans you are talking about. The plans for international terrorism are made there, somewhere in some mountain rich part of that rough country.

It doesn't matter whether bin Ladin comes from Saoudi Arabia or Afghanistan. It matters that he is in Afghanistan, protected by a regime that doesn't want to take the responsibility for the evil deeds of bin Ladin and his organisation.

This cannot be tolerated. It is to be expected that terrorists will start using biological, chemical and even nuclear waepons (in order of ease of availability). A single nuclear mine, the size of a suitcase and carryable by one man, can blow away a city center with a diameter of 1 km. Russia is missing 90 of those mines, and it is speculated not without evidence that bin Ladin's organisation bought them from Chechens (sp?) for a couple of tens of millions of dollars and 2000 kg's of Afghan heroin.

I feel for the inhabitants of Afghanistan when they are falling into another war. But still, I find the security of people troughout the entire world more important than the well being of the people of just one country - a country that houses the international terrorists that will kill many millions of innocent people when they have the chance.

[ Parent ]
No trolling, and you miss my point totally (3.16 / 6) (#42)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:55:59 PM EST

You are missing the point, entirely. Afghanistan is a country ruled by a regime that PROTECTS the non-Afghans you are talking about. The plans for international terrorism are made there, somewhere in some mountain rich part of that rough country.

Bullshit. I repeat, bull shit. Christ, can you not read?

The terrorists who destroyed the Pentagon and the WTC did not live in Afghanistan. They lived in the US, and Europe.

They did not live in some mountain rich part of that rough country. They lived, and schemed, and planned, and trained for their attack, in apartments in Hamburg, Germany, and in flight schools in Florida, USA.

How the fuck can Afghanistan protect terrorists who have never been in Afghanistan in the first fucking place?

And the crap about bin Laden and al-Quaeda being an Afghani network is just that: crap. The embassy bombings, the WTC bombing were not carried out by Afghanis, but by Egyptians, Saudis, and UAE citizens. None of whom ever set foot in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is undoubtedly one unholy motherfucker, but he's in Afghanistan because he's being hunted by the US and for no other reason. All the real action takes place outside that hellhole.

So I repeat: if the terrorists are Saudi, and UAE and Egyptian, and live in Germany, and the US, and France, what the fuck is a full scale military invasion of Afghanistan supposed to accomplish?

[ Parent ]

Not Relevant (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by SnowDogAPB on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:24:02 PM EST

The answer to your question, is: it's a cruel world. If the US were harboring an individual wanted for murdering potentially thousands of people, the international community would be outraged. People would not trade with us, the international press would band us as disgusting, etc. Our people would be outraged; they would write their leaders, demand this man be given over. Or -- the US citizens would band together, and say, "Fuck the world, we're right, they're wrong." I find these two alternatives roughly equally likely -- especially given the US's disregard for the international community in many other areas. Either way, the government does what the people want, because, fundamentally, the government is the people. If, in this situation, the secondary happened -- the people made their will known and the government continued to harbor this criminal, the international community might just make war on the US. And maybe they wouldn't -- the US has lots of bombs, lots of guns, and lots of money. So maybe they just sit and pout. In any case, that's not what's happening. The tables are turned. The "government" in Afghanistan is harboring this dangerous fugitive from international justice. The people in Afghanistan are either blindly following (case 2: Fuck the world, we stand together, what the hell do we know, if we're lucky we make it through the 6th grade as men, no schooling as women; religion is law as far as we are concerned) or terrified and brutalized into silence (or, third alternative, they are fighting actively to remove this disaster of a regime from power). So, we're at a stalemate. Diplomacy will fail, has failed. Sanctions will fail, have failed. The people there are starving, dying, miserable -- and still support the Taliban (either through action or inaction, not relevant -- all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, right?). But we don't have to sit and pout. They don't have lots of bombs, lots of guns, and lots of money. We do. It's a cruel world. But might makes right -- or at least makes possible the enforcement of what is right. I'm not saying I like it; I'm saying those are the facts.

[ Parent ]
Two words: (3.50 / 4) (#73)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:25:55 PM EST

If the US were harboring an individual wanted for murdering potentially thousands of people, the international community would be outraged.

Henry Kissinger.

And I note the US is still relatively unscathed.

Besides that's not the point. The point is, if semi-autonomous cells of Saudis, Egyptians, and UAE terrorists located all over the world are responsible for the terrorist acts of late, then (i) you wont be killing the terrorists by invading Afghanistan (ii) you'll be pissing even more people off (iii) back to square one.

[ Parent ]

Exactly! (none / 0) (#162)
by glothar on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 04:12:37 PM EST

Yeah. Right on, brother!

In a war, you have to remember that its not actually the soldier who is attacking you, it is his/her bullets. You can't just kill the person firing the bullets, once the bullet is fired, it doesn't care whether the soldier exists or not.

Really, what we should be doing is researching special GBMs (Gun to Bullet Missiles) which will intercept and destroy the bullets before they get close to you.

[ Parent ]

Bzzt! Wrong. (none / 0) (#98)
by ckm on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 01:58:51 AM EST

Get your facts straight:

According to testimony given by Bin Laden's own accountant:

1. Bin Landen personally planned and directed the Embassy bombings in Kenya

2. Shell companies were setup in Kenya by Al Quaeda to launder opium profits for the Taliban and funnel money to continuing terrorist activities

3. According to Jane's (www.janes.com), both Bin Ladin and the Taliban were infact setup and trained by ISI, Pakistan's intelligence service, at the behest of the US.

4. Al Quaeda was setup originally by ISI and US agencies to funnel resources and money to the Mujahedeen during their war against the Soviets.

Further, there is substantial evidence (most of it from the Pakistani press) that the Tabliban is heavily reliant on Al Quaeda for new bodies to fight and control the Afghani territory.

Lastly, current evidence shows that most of the identities of the hijackers are in fact fake, and at least some of the Saudi names mantioned are STILL ALIVE IN SAUDI...

Remeber, Carlos (aka. the Jackal) was from Sudan, yet he bombed in the name of Palestinians. As others have pointed out, national origin doesn't mean shit in terrorism, you have to encourage (sometimes with a big stick) governments not to harbor people who are actively involved in terrorism. The Taliban have gone a step further, they are reliant on a terrorist organisation to prop up their regime. Not surprising, since many govt's in the region have been using extremists for years to legitimize their existence, but I think the Taliban have stepped over the line...

And finally, just because networks for terrorists/spies are dormant for years does not make the countries/organizations that inserted them any less guilty.

Now, I am not saying we should bomb the Afgahini's, but they must be held accountable in some fashion. And I think that no one is talking about the elephant in the room, Iraq. The true instigator of this and other terrorist plots likely resides in Bahgad, even if Bin Laden/Al Quaeda planned and executed it.

I think that this is a huge opportunity for all the states in the region (excepting Afghanistan and Iraq, of course) for 'rapprochment', and to finally put aside long standing conflicts that no longer have relevance, esp. btw. Iran and the US. Perhaps it will also knock Israeli and Palestinian heads together...

chris.
--
chris maresca
internet systems architect -- www.chrismaresca.com


"Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch
out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending path. You know you will never get
to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy
and glory of the climb." [Sir Winston Chruchill, 1874-1965]

[ Parent ]
get real (4.00 / 1) (#85)
by ajrobb on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 06:13:05 PM EST

Afghanistan probably cannot give a single cohesive response to any demand. They are a fragmented country, in the middle of a civil war. Extraditing bin Laden to face trial in the USA will take months or years - this is 'normal'.

Note that he did not need to be directly involved in the planning or execution of this terrible crime. Although he is probably guilty by association, his arrest would not stop the problem. Other crimes can continue without him; by residents of Europe and the USA.

It is not just one man to be brought to justice. Neither is it recognised governments of countries that have attacked the USA and against whom war can be declared. It is an international organisation, partly working in the USA and its allies.

The fabric of this and all terrorist oraganisations everywhere must be identified and dismantled. Does this include the IRA in the USA? yes! Terrorism is evil, the ends do not justify the means.

[ Parent ]
Um, hello? (none / 0) (#39)
by readams on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:42:01 PM EST

Saudi Arabia is a US ally. Osama bin Laden began his terrorist campaign against the US in response to the US military presense in Saudi Arabia during and after the Gulf War, because of what he perceived as the Saudi government's lack of effort to get the US to leave "holy ground". If Osama bin Laden were in Saudi Arabia, we would have arrested and detained him long ago, and we would have been brought to justice. On the other hand, the Taliban is an oppresive, extremist state that bears and intense hatred towards the United States and the freedom for which it stands. The Taliban is harboring Osama bin Laden and supporting his terrorist campaign against the US. The Taliban refuses to allow Osama bin Laden to be arrested. This is not considerably different than if the Taliban simply instigated the attacks directly. Finally, we already have significant evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks. The terrorists have been traced to training camps in Afghanistan. One of the thwarted terrorists has admitted to being to a member of bin Laden's organization and to having been trained by bin Laden's organization. So the wisdom of attempting to invade Afghanistan may seem suspect, its justification is not.

[ Parent ]
No shit, dude (none / 0) (#81)
by StrontiumDog on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:05:15 PM EST

If Osama bin Laden were in Saudi Arabia, we would have arrested and detained him long ago, and we would have been brought to justice.

There's apparently no shortage of Saudi Arabians willing to kill themselves to hurt America though. Bin Laden or no bin Laden. The Saudi government hasn't, or can't do anything to prevent that. Nor would unilaterally invading Saudi Arabia change anything. This alone should demonstrate to you that a military solution along the lines of "let's bomb the shit out of them" is as useless as hell. This alone should show you that the problem is complex.

That won't stop politicians from bombing stuff though, as the electorate bays for blood.

[ Parent ]

Crime and Punishment (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by SnowDogAPB on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:51:50 PM EST

Regardless of the WTC attack, there are some simple facts.

Ample evidence has been found that Bin Laden (henceforth called OBL for brevity's sake) is responsible (via chain of command) for terrorist actions resulting in deaths. I don't give a damn whether he's responsible for these latest attacks; he's killed before, and will again. As such, he should be brought to justice.

If a government harbors this fugitive from justice, and when asked to hand him over, refuses, that government risks the wrath of the international community.

So, the international community goes to the government, and says, "Please, listen to reason." The government flips the international community off.

(Never mind the fact that this regime _isn't even a government_. Only 3 countries in the _whole world_ recognize this bastardization of religious fervor as a legit government.)

So. How do you reason with this regime, who won't listen to the demands of the international community? You go in with tanks, with planes, with smart bombs, with cruise missiles, with whatever weapons of warfare you have, and you remove them from power.

Will innocent people die? Yes.

I feel for them; I really do. It hurts me deep in my soul. Just yesterday I was nearly overwhelmed as I pondered the number of people who will likely die in the coming weeks, months, years ... because of the actions of a few delusionary power-mad individuals. People will die who blindly accept their religion as "right," their leaders as "good." People will die who disagree with the Taliban, but who are too weak, too poor, too uneducated, too scared ... to do anything about it.

It's shitty. It's terrible. It's a tragedy.

But it's going to happen.

Because the alternative is to let it be known that a government can harbor a man like this and get away with nothing but a firm talking to.

The people of Afghanistan are unable to remove this regime from power. They're trying.

The world will try, now. Maybe they'll succeed. And maybe things will improve in that dark corner of the world, afterwards.

And maybe it won't.


[ Parent ]
I agree but... (none / 0) (#45)
by SeaCrazy on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:20:17 PM EST

I absolutely agree with what you mean, but at first I didn't even realise that I did because I could not get past all the obscenities and foul language. (Therefore I modded you down.)

[ Parent ]
Good point, not trolling (none / 0) (#48)
by StephenFuqua on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:38:19 PM EST

The language may be strong, but this is certainly not a troll post. Thank you for pointing out these important facts.

One person's response was basically, "well, we can't bomb Saudia Arabia, b/c they are our ally and bin Laden is pissed at them too, so we should bomb where he currently is instead." Well, that just doesn't sound like a strong argument to me. By the way, why aren't we bombing the Appalachians right now (or rather 2 years ago)? That's where Eric Rudolph was supposedly hiding, the man who is suspected (but not tried, I believe) of bombing a few abortion clinics and the Olympic Park in Atlanta in '96.

There might be a sound argument somewhere, based on international law and/or precedent, for action against the current "government" of Afghanistan and against known terrorist hide-outs, based both on the harboring of known terrorist and possibly on the gov'ts other actions as well. If so, I'd like to hear it--haven't heard anything reasonable yet. I thought the conservatives in power liked to hew to the rule of law. Where is the law supporting this proposed action?

Meanwhile, back to the problem at hand: how do we effectively work to solve our terrorism problem? Long term, it seems to me that we have to really work on understanding the motivations behind all this. And by this I mean looking beyond what the media commonly tells us. This requires ASKING people why they hate America, and diagnosing it. This is something like the difference between handing users a program with the interface you think they want (Microsoft) versus asking what features and UI would work best for them. Millions of people's lives are at stake! We must stop making these blanket assumptions! We must back up our justifications with research and statistics.

Meanwhile, if we must bomb something, why not look to where the terrorists train? I don't mean bombing some flight school that an individual managed to get into. But are there large-scale terrorists training grounds out there? I'm sure I've read about such in Libya, much like our militia boot camp places scattered around the U.S. (oh yeah, why didn't we torch them after OK City? Could it be that the Constitution stopped us?). How about making these our targets?



[ Parent ]
The camps are in Afghanistan. (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by Hartree on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 06:29:26 PM EST

Meanwhile, if we must bomb something, why not look to where the terrorists train? I don't mean bombing some flight school that an individual managed to get into. But are there large-scale terrorists training grounds out there? I'm sure I've read about such in Libya, much like our militia boot camp places scattered around the U.S.

That's the main target in Afghanistan. Bin Laden has several such camps there, mostly in the southern part for example around Kandahar. Many of the people in a number of terrorist groups spread across many mideast countries have trained at those camps. The Taliban's refusal to shut down those camps is one of the main problems. It's not just the US, there are UN Security Council resolutions that call on the Taliban to shut those camps down, but they have, up till now, been ignored. The best thing to handle terrorists in a country that doesn't either turn a blind eye, or actively support them, is the police. In the case of Afghanistan, they not only turn a blind eye, but there is active cooperation between the Taliban and Bin Laden. Bin Laden helps in providing some of his troops to help fight the Northern Alliance, and the Taliban provides him with a place to safely train. In fact, at one point in the Taliban announced that Bin Laden was acting as their Defense Minister. That is not the current case, but they certainly have quite close relations.



[ Parent ]
Interesting, but... (4.00 / 5) (#44)
by StephenFuqua on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 01:17:12 PM EST

A few simple, humble comments...

  1. How do you propose we do this? Is the Afghani government going to let us come in and set up shop? No. I don't see any way that we can culturally "invade" them in the current atmosphere. Maybe Radio Free Afghanistan, but how many people actually have radios? I won't even mention TV or satellite. This is not Iraq even, where we apparently are now supporting satellite broadcasts of anti-Hussein shows. I just don't see how it could be accomplished. If anyone has suggestions, please post them!
  2. I strongly feel that most Americans have been missing the boat on one major issue. One of the posts below touched on this: American culture is one of the reasons we are so hated. Like you all, I've read the 1972 editorial from the Canadian journalist, talking about how generous Americans are. I've heard folks on the radio and the 'net talking about how we're just not "gettin any love" from our worldwide neighbors. But should it be any wonder? Our way of life is not exported; our materialist/corporatist culture is exported. It is not capitalism in general, it is our particular current brand of corporatism--that massive structure that the k5 and /. types all hate--that invades other countries today. And they bring with them images of our materialism and everything else bad about America. They can not bring with them our more intrinsic character though. And that material character that they infuse into another society can easily begin to dominate young people, leading to a great deal of anger and resentment. It is not about capitalism, maybe not even about freedom, it is about the spread of a certain part of our culture, which most of the world inside and outside of America finds heineous, and rampant corporatism, that seems to anger so many people.

Thoughts? I have no cold-hard data to back this up, though I'm sure that anthropologists and sociologists could be very helpful here. I base this judgment on everything I've read, particularly in non-mainstream media, and from conversations with people from all over the world.



here's an idea (4.66 / 9) (#51)
by speek on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:30:25 PM EST

There are hundreds of thousands of Afghani people moving toward the Pakistani 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.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

excellent! now we're getting somewhere! (4.33 / 3) (#56)
by StephenFuqua on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:47:21 PM EST

I like this! A concrete proposal on the table (unfortunately the people who matter in this issue will never hear you or I...). It sounds to me like a very interesting way of engaging the people. Questions:

  1. Is this city in Afghanistan or Pakistan?
  2. If Pakistan,
    1. Would they allow it?
    2. What is their motivation, besides fear of reprisal?
  3. Winning the hearts of the refugees in this new city--how will this have an affect on the Taliban "government"?
  4. If I'm a corporation, why would I want to be involved? I'm all about looking nice and humanitarian, but business is all about profit, PR is secondary. Is the PR produced by this effort sufficient justifcation? Is there any possibility of profit in the near term (say, within 5 years?)? Is this a speculative grasp at positioning the company for future profits (10+ years down, for instance)? What's the net upside?
Thanks for responding!

[ Parent ]
only the start of an idea... (4.25 / 4) (#59)
by speek on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:05:49 PM EST

Ok, I enjoy this game, so I'll continue...

Is this city in Afghanistan or Pakistan?

The "target" is Afghanistan, so the camps would be in Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, would be our route to Afghanistan, so we'd need their full cooperation. They could do quite well economically by helping, so they'd have that as an incentive. As disincentive, there are plenty of people there who would very much dislike America intruding in this fashion for the long haul. The supply lines would require military support as well.

Winning the hearts of the refugees in this new city--how will this have an affect on the Taliban "government"?

Who cares? If revenge is what you want, this plan isn't providing it. The goal is to win over the Afghan people and make them self-sufficient. Once a stable city has been created, the boundaries can be broadened, and more Afghani people can take part. They and the current rebels would likely form a military that would carry the fight out into Afghanistan. Civilization would grow across the country (that's the plan, anyway). I don't know what resources Afghanistan has (poppies and oil, plus everyone's desire to build an oil pipeline through it, I guess are the main ones). Anyway, the Taliban would hopefully get squeezed out.

If I'm a corporation, why would I want to be involved?

Wouldn't ask the corporations to do this at a loss. The resources are subsidized, as are the corporations. The companies are lending experience and logistics to the task of building, supplying, employing. The money to do so comes from the US-UN government agencies. Eventually, all these employed Afghans start paying for these services. Companies are encouraged to build manufacturing plants there, etc. It would absolutely require a permanent committment to the area, militarily.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Evidence of minds at work (none / 0) (#67)
by StephenFuqua on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:39:34 PM EST

Thank you again for the reply. If I were a policy maker, I'd feel sufficiently convinced to take a deeper look at this. Of course it is just the beginning of an idea, as you said, and probably none of us here on k5 have time to really sit and evaluate it.

Small digression...

Baha'u'llah, founder of the Baha'i Faith, once said "Let deeds not words be your adorning." As a Baha'i, I had to take a moment to ponder that exhortation in light of our little discussion. What purpose does this dialogue hold? Is it idle speculation, unworthy of our time and efforts? I think this is true of many a discussion. But not this. For I feel that I have learned something from this exchange, something whose value I may not ever realize but gain from nonetheless, through experience and potential for value. Just thinking aloud...



[ Parent ]
trhurler changed his mind (none / 0) (#79)
by speek on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:51:53 PM EST

Think about that!

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Some Thoughts (5.00 / 2) (#68)
by Best Ace on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:41:31 PM EST

Interesting idea. Here are some thoughts in no particular order:

1) What are the legalities of just moving into a country without the consent of the government there, and setting up shop? What if the Mexican army decided to annexe part of the USA so it could have an area for illegal Mexican workers in the USA to live and work? Sounds barmy, I know, but at the end of the day, is there any difference between this and your suggestion?

2) If America sent its corporations into Afghanistan, people would be suspicious; People already hate America promoting its self-interest in the rest of the world. They would think the US was trying to gain economically out of the hardship of the Afghan refugees, and this is exactly the reason that leads to bin Laden-style hatred. People might assume (hell, even I would) that corporations were getting a foothold in Afghanistan so they could develop oil pipelines in the region, thus siphoning natural resources and wealth out of the country.

Think about it: the US army protecting US corporations in a foreign country. Described in such blunt terms, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

3) By allowing subsidized corporations to be the developers, you are undermining any indigenous sources of development. This is one of the common criticisms of sending aid to developing countries. e.g. by flying in sacks of grain, you are denying the local farmers a chance to make a living.

4) You admit that a substantial US presence would be required for a long time in the region. Would this be popular with the American public? Maybe not if Taliban snipers and terrorist groups start picking off US soldiers.

5) Were the UN and other NGOs not doing something similar in Afghanistan before they had to leave? OK they were getting hassle from the Taliban, but in the end did they not leave out of a fear that they are about to get flattened by US cruise missiles?

I don't mean to undermine your idea. It's an interesting one, and probably deserves a new story/comment to itself. Keep posting everyone, maybe we'll come up with something.

bA


[ Parent ]

Legalities, Shegalities (3.00 / 1) (#71)
by Steve B on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:14:35 PM EST

1) What are the legalities of just moving into a country without the consent of the government there, and setting up shop?

We're at war (certainly de facto, and should make it de jure) with the Taliban regime for its harboring of bin Laden & Co. Moving into a country without the consent of the local government is one of those things that you tend to do when you're at war.

[ Parent ]

no way to win PR (5.00 / 2) (#77)
by speek on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:46:40 PM EST

I just read the new story that linked to Saddam's essay. It made me realize that we can never win in a PR war (not in the Arab world, anyway). Yes, this will be looked at as US imperialism, more blatant than ever, and it will motivate more terrorists.

In answer to 1) - we have the power to do it, Mexico does not. It's that simple. Assuming the alternative is war, then this point is moot, I think.

Regarding 2) - we can't win the PR war, as I said above. However, I believe there are ways to do this so that local resources are always given priority over remote ones. Of course, in the beginning, everything would be supplied from outside Afghanistan. But, you'd probably want rules that prevent external companies from owning any land in Afghanistan - thus only Afghans could become the true capitalists of the country. The companies would be there temporarily siphoning money from the US government, then later providing services only, and delivering resources from abroad. It seems we succeeded at something similar in Japan and Germany.

See above for 3)

5) I can't credit such a half-hearted attempt not backed up with force and lots of money.

But, it seems we can't win the hearts of Arabs, but perhaps only of Afghans who benefit from it. That leaves a large war to be fought throughout the rest of the Middle East, and I wouldn't advise this strategy for other nations. If anyone can figure out how to make Arabs love us, then that's the winner, but I don't see how.

I would like to point out that my real feelings on these matters run quite the opposite of these ramblings. I believe we should get the hell out of there, and restrict our involvement to helping the Palestinians and Israel make peace. But, if we're insisting on doing something, I'd just prefer it was the right thing. Who knows, maybe doing the right thing would lead to a PR victory in the very long run.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Re: Some Thoughts (5.00 / 3) (#91)
by MemeTransport on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:25:26 PM EST

1) What are the legalities of just moving into a country without the consent of the government there, and setting up shop. [c]

There is no legitimate government in Afganistan. Only three countries officially recognize it: China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.

Also, there is no need to annex anything. Settlements for Afghan refugees in Afganistan is perfectly legal and, I think, entirely moral (though immoral acts/policy could be attached to it).

2) If America sent its corporations into Afghanistan, people would be suspicious; People already hate America promoting its self-interest in the rest of the world.[...]

Think about it: the US army protecting US corporations in a foreign country. Described in such blunt terms, it sounds like a recipe for disaster.

I completely agree. There are many existing UN, Red Crescent (a Muslim equivalent to the Red Cross) and NGO organizations that are much better choices for providing aid. These organizations would have much more legitimacy than any for profit corporation. An agreement among Western and Muslim countries on how to provide this aid would be very important.

The idea of setting up new settlements and/or rebuilding existing ones is a very good idea and long overdue. Aid organizations have been trying but a few billion out of the forty allotted by congress would go a long way to restoring a sense of order and hope. All work should be done by the refugees themselves. It would also show the difference between the Taliban and the rest of the world. It would be important to avoid the massive waste that the UN is capable of: it spent over a billion on its own compound in Somalia. Bet that really impressed the impoverished locals.

Aid should focus on making permanent, self-sufficient settlements. This doesnft mean megaprojects or movie theatres. It does mean basic structures like homes, schools, and hospitals. It also means training people in things like more sustainable farming techniques, medicine, government, policing and teaching. If people with appropriate schooling can be found, scholarships to good quality western and Muslim schools should be offered. Most Afghans have never seen the world and have no idea what it is like: it makes them easy fodder for extremist teachings.

Any (re-)building or other aid operation must be done in a way sensitive to conservative Islamic beliefs. Brushing aside local values wonft work and will be taken as an insult. It would also provide an excellent target for extremists.

Military action should have two threads. The first and most visible thread should be the explicit protection of civilians from extremists of any flavour (including the western kind). This will be extremely hard since the extremists look exactly like everyone else. Over time, more and more policing and defense should be assigned to the local communities. Once they have received training there is no reason they shouldnft do it. After all, theyfll have to in the long run anyway.

The second thread of military action should be rapid commando strikes against clearly identified targets (i.e.. people). If possible, people should be extracted and sent to the world court and/or a reputable Muslim court for trial. If capture is not possible then, yes, kill the bastards. The SAS have being doing joint training with the Pakistani army for at least five years. They can provide training and leadership to US commando forces.

4) You admit that a substantial US presence would be required for a long time in the region. Would this be popular with the American public? Maybe not if Taliban snipers and terrorist groups start picking off US soldiers.

5) Were the UN and other NGOs not doing something similar in Afghanistan before they had to leave? OK they were getting hassle from the Taliban, but in the end did they not leave out of a fear that they are about to get flattened by US cruise missiles?

It will be a long and expensive effort and there will be casualties. The end result could be considerably more stability in the region, a much better life for Afghans, and perhaps, a more moderate perception of American goals.

It is important to point out that there are also a million plus refugees along the frontier with Iran. If the West could perform a similar plan with the aid and cooperation of the Iranians it would help them (the refugees are a huge burden for them) and perhaps help open more productive dialogue and understanding between the Iranians and the West. Iranfs moderate political party consistently wins elections and has made overtures. A Western led relief effort, if handled well, could give them more leverage against the powerful fundamentalist faction in there own country. Who knows, maybe we would wind up with a new friend.

Pakistan could use some relief within its own borders, especially along the northern frontier. Similar programs to the one outlined above could be very helpful for moderating the populationfs politics and might open up Pakistan's military regime to more democracy and freedoms. Right now they barely control the cities let alone the country side. There is a lot of warlordism and corruption in Pakistan.

In summary, it will be necessary to emphasize peaceful and stabilizing action rather than out-and-out warfare. It is also necessary to have cooperation from Muslim countries and stakeholders in the region. Most of all, it is necessary to respect local mores and values. In no way should the effort be to westernize local populations. The coming effort must allow local populations to find their own way forward, peacefully. A prosperous and hope-filled population is poor soil for extremism.

[ Parent ]

This is looking good... (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 03:42:05 AM EST

... gotta say, I really like this thread. Progress in an online discussion is so very rare in my experiance. Thank you all.

That having been said, I've got .02$ to throw in.

There is no legitimate government in Afganistan. Only three countries officially recognize it: China, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia.
I think that is the wrong way to go at it. It puts a negative spin right from the get-go. Those are three of the countries that we need most behind us on this one. Convincing Europe will be a snap in comparison.

How about this? If the Taliban don't want us in the country, and Pakistan likes the Taliban, then we look for bordering nations that are already having a hard time with refugees. That included Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan gets a load lifted, and we just did them the favor of not forcing the issue against their friends in the Taliban, so they are a bit obliged to us.

Aid should focus on making permanent, self-sufficient settlements.... It also means training people in things like more sustainable farming techniques, medicine, government, policing and teaching.
All of what you just said can't be stressed enough, and I think it also important to stress that we hope to allow for local decisions about the course of development, as much as we can. Those schools should have school boards of parents (guardians). The plans for urban and rural improvement should be approved by the locals involved. It would also be nice to have a timetable with a point after which we hope to have our hands out of the region entirely. Letting them follow their own course after getting on their feet is a selling point.



[ Parent ]

Development to Make Friends (5.00 / 2) (#117)
by MemeTransport on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 03:58:43 PM EST

I think that is the wrong way to go at it. It puts a negative spin right from the get-go. Those are three of the countries that we need most behind us on this one. Convincing Europe will be a snap in comparison. How about this? If the Taliban don't want us in the country, and Pakistan likes the Taliban, then we look for bordering nations that are already having a hard time with refugees. That included Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan gets a load lifted, and we just did them the favor of not forcing the issue against their friends in the Taliban, so they are a bit obliged to us.

All of what you just said can't be stressed enough, and I think it also important to stress that we hope to allow for local decisions about the course of development, as much as we can. Those schools should have school boards of parents (guardians). The plans for urban and rural improvement should be approved by the locals involved. It would also be nice to have a timetable with a point after which we hope to have our hands out of the region entirely. Letting them follow their own course after getting on their feet is a selling point

I'm glad we largely agree. Maybe we should write it up and send it to that Bush fella? ;)

I'll start my reply by admitting a boo-boo. China has not officially recognised the Taliban but has recently finished a trade agreement with them. Their motive for this is that they want the Taliban to stop training Uighurs from Xinjiang Province (the Uighurs are a Turkish speaking Moslem people who largely resent the Chinese presence). The third country to recognise the Taliban is the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

I'm a strong believer in bottom-up development so it's easy for me to agree with you. Someone else mentioned micro-loans. I love 'em as long as they are community controlled. It's a great way to go once there is some stability.

Working with XUSSR and other countries with a stake in the region is absolutely essential and could help the west ease tensions with many of these countries--especially Iran. I agree with you that going easy on Pakistan is a good idea as it could very easily implode from internal tensions. If fundamentalists successfully took over Pakistan they would have access to a supply of nuclear weapons.

If you're implying that we shouldn't go after the Taliban directly then I agree. Doing so is exactly the sort of behaviour that Muslims the world over despise (shades of crusade). A military presence is needed to protect the relief effort and the desparate people who flock to it. Security from walk-in bombers would be almost impossible but we have to try.

There is one last thing that I'm ashamed I forgot: mosques, with schools. It must be very clear that the effort is in no way an attack on Islam. Great respect should be shown to local Imam. Muslim teachers should be brought in to ensure children receive proper religious training.

[ Parent ]

No clever subject line (none / 0) (#123)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 07:22:30 PM EST

I'm glad we largely agree. Maybe we should write it up and send it to that Bush fella?
Yeah, we seem to be in good harmony. Given a conference room, some donuts, and coffee, I'm sure we could hammer out the details of this scheme to our mutual liking without much trouble. And isn't it a sad commentary on the state of the democracy when we both understand so well the joke you made and the snowball's chance in hell that we would have of getting our(?)--don't know your nationality--government to listen to us.

Do you have any ideas on how we could get this idea to someone or some organization able to refrigerate hell for the snowball?

Don't worry about the mistake with who has recognized whom as offical governments, I know just about jack on such things. Nice to see that you are taking the time to educate yourself. Sounds like a middle level of hell to me, trying to learn the intricate interactions of peoples in lands far away, their alien plots and schemes, and strange motivations. But very necessary to have that sort of info to pull this type of plan off.

Moving on, I totally agree about not directly threatening the Taliban and especially respecting the Islamic faith in general. That is why I've been including a mention of local control over the course of development. Like local school boards for the schools. The parents and community leaders can decide the curriculum of the schools. The farmers of the region should get the major say in whatever sort of irrigation improvements we can help them with. Microcredit fits with the ideal of local control as well.

On the subject of microcredit. The term "credit" might be something of a misnomer for what we need in the beginning of our development project. Since we might be willing to sink some funds at that stage into the bottom up process without expecting repayment, perhaps "microgrants" (in the form of goods, training, and small bits of startup capital) is a better term. We can pull off a transition from microgrants to microcredit as things improve.



[ Parent ]

this is great (4.00 / 1) (#109)
by speek on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 08:24:35 AM EST

This is a great write-up. My only problem is that I think you are brushing aside the military requirements of what you suggest. The danger here is that terrorists are going to be gunning for this massive relief effort. Any and all western personnel and structures will be targets. Any Muslims seen as cooperating will be targets. Thus, the military presence required to ensure this goes smoothly will be very noticeable - thus making for a big target. That military has to be western, for obvious pragmatic reasons, I think, and that's going to make the whole operation seem like a unilateral US action - even if non-US agencies do the non-military work.

Interesting idea to start with Pakistan and Iran - unfortunately, it's drawback is that it doesn't address the problem smacking us in the face right now, and it would probably seem a little threatening to the Arab countries. After all, it would look a lot like the US had decided to openly move in on the entire Middle East, and not just Afghanistan.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Military Protection of Aid Efforts (4.50 / 2) (#119)
by MemeTransport on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 04:28:23 PM EST

My only problem is that I think you are brushing aside the military requirements of what you suggest. The danger here is that terrorists are going to be gunning for this massive relief effort. Any and all western personnel and structures will be targets. Any Muslims seen as cooperating will be targets. Thus, the military presence required to ensure this goes smoothly will be very noticeable - thus making for a big target. That military has to be western, for obvious pragmatic reasons, I think, and that's going to make the whole operation seem like a unilateral US action - even if non-US agencies do the non-military work.

Interesting idea to start with Pakistan and Iran - unfortunately, it's drawback is that it doesn't address the problem smacking us in the face right now, and it would probably seem a little threatening to the Arab countries. After all, it would look a lot like the US had decided to openly move in on the entire Middle East, and not just Afghanistan.

I did underplay the military effort that would be needed. Partly because I don't understand this aspect very well and partly because I would really like to see all of the carnage in the US and in Asia turned into an opportunity for greater peace, prosperity, and stability. For the first time in history we have all large powers and most of the Islamic countries on the same side of the table--or at least willing to discuss what's needed. It's an incredible opportunity and one that is not likely to come our way again.

The effort to find, detain, or kill terrorists should be a big part of the effort. Groups that like slaughtering innocent people should not be tolerated. This includes lousy cruise missile attacks by the US. It's also important to recognise that many terrorists are not muslim and to go after them with equal vigor.

The military effort in and around Pakistan would be enormous and long term. Iran would probably prefer to use its own forces (Iran allowing US troops on its soil is a little unlikely!). As much as possible, the militaries of host countries and other Islamic countries should be used. Although fundamentalism is a deep problem for Pakistan, the General Staff of its military is very competent.

A program like I've outlined will be extremely difficult to pull off. The politics, "optics", and military strategies are all nightmares. Emphasis must be placed on kindness and generousity as well as respect for Islam. How one keeps the perception of Western Imperialism under control I don't know. Distrust and hatred are the worst problems we face.

Any relief effort will be a target of course. My hope is that such an effort will convince more people of the Wests good will than otherwise. Failing that, prosperous people with hope for their children make lousy terrorists.

An effort like this will take decades and cost many lives. The end result is, I think, worth it. It will be as close to world peace as we've ever come.

[ Parent ]

Orginal and attractive idea! (none / 0) (#57)
by claesh1 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:49:10 PM EST

I like this suggestion. I don't know if it will work, but it is surely original and I don't know if anything like it has been done before. Probably it won't work, but credits to you to come up with it!

[ Parent ]
Skip the capitalism, send in Stuff (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by Dlugar on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:35:18 PM EST

I personally don't see any reason to attempt to invade them with our culture. Why bother? Once their country is wealthy enough, if they happen to be decadent humans like the rest of us, they'll naturally want the nasty stuff we peddle.

Meanwhile, send in materials: cows and sheep, materials to build houses, bags of grain and seed, those sorts of things. Really, you don't need any US presence (military or otherwise) there at all.

The important part, in my opinion, is that you don't blindly give them food or clothing or whatever--you give them the materials they need to make more food or clothing or whatever. The "teach a man to fish" idea, if I may say so.

Anybody see any holes in that? (Except, of course, that nobody would do it since it (a) lacks PR (b) doesn't make anybody here a profit and (c) would actually create a more independent country instead of one dependent on the US for survival.)

Dlugar

[ Parent ]
US already aids Afghanistan... (4.00 / 2) (#53)
by nutate on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 02:38:03 PM EST

According to this state dept link, the US is already the largest supplier of "humanitarian assistance" to the Afghan peoples. In 2001 alone, we have promised $143 million, as documented here. This aid does not interfere with the sanctions currently imposed against Afghanistan.

The Taliban is against such foreign aid, and has killed aid workers and prevented deliveries of foodstuffs.

I think StrontiumDog's comments are worthy of consideration, and so is the link to the filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf's story on the horrid conditions in Afghanistan at the moment. Afghanistan is not a unified country. It is an agrarian tribally based state whose main export (from poppy plants) is illegal and even then constitutes only $500 million per year which mainly goes into the hands of the ruling class.

It will be interesting to see how our "War on Terrorism" will be played out in the media, since journalists aren't going to be deployed with the troops. There has been so much talk of a mastermind/masterwallet behind this attack, but who knows whether that is really the case, and if it has been, whether it will be in the future. Clearly, the ideology behind these attacks exists around the globe in nearly every country imaginable. Much more devastating attacks could happen (blow out a tunnel of the NYC Croton water supply for example) and may if the US can't begin to deal with the fear that propogates the hatred that spawns terrorist acts. Remember, the US has been a state sponsor of terrorism from Dresden to Hiroshima...

We can all hope and/or rally for peace, but cynical me still thinks we'll go into war. Let's just hope we can sit at computers and talk about it instead of getting our hands bloody...

Some replys (5.00 / 1) (#102)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 03:13:31 AM EST

In 2001 alone, we have promised $143 million, as documented here.
Well congress just passed 40 billion for the "war on terrorism." That is two more orders of magnitude to try with. Hell, we could give the sum you mentioned to ten of the current polys in charge, and still have buckets of cash to provide stuff, microcredit, and schools (with parental run school boards).

It is an agrarian tribally based state whose main export (from poppy plants) is illegal and even then constitutes only $500 million per year which mainly goes into the hands of the ruling class.
So clean up that system by taking it out of the hazy atmosphere of the black market. Establish a streamlined supply chain; get the money to the growers. Of course that means there needs to be a legal market. Hey, the Americans (and a lot of other peoples) like to take chemicals to be happy. Have designated Happy Parks. Nothing anywhere but in those.

Yeah, I'm kidding, but not because I don't think it would help some people in Afghanistan (and a few in the US).

Remember, the US has been a state sponsor of terrorism from Dresden to Hiroshima...
Again with the comparisons of what many people see as clearly different situations. I don't think we are going to be convinced by simple repetition. But feel free to keep at it, you might get lucky and brainwash us.

And to step off into the absurd for dramatic reasons, we've got your state sponsored terrorism right here, tough guy. You wanna see flames, we can do those. Seriously, why are you intent on drilling unproductive downers onto the communication channel? Try to be positive.



[ Parent ]

Bloody Hands... (4.00 / 2) (#114)
by dbc001 on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 12:22:53 PM EST

Let's just hope we can sit at computers and talk about it instead of getting our hands bloody...

Are you kidding me? I hope the rest of you arent such fucking pansies. As the Beastie Boys said, "you gotta fight for your right to party", and these terrorists are doing everything they can to stop your party. Maybe they'll pick your building next and then you'll understand.

I understand everyone who doesnt head down to their local recruiter, but people who say things like this should be ashamed to be Americans (my apologies if the original poster isn't!). America is about fighting for whats right, that's why everyone is flying flags right now, because we are not a nation of cowards! Don't forget that this whole thing was started by an act of cowardice (hit & run)...

(sorry about the Beastie Boys reference, I couldnt think of anything else)

[ Parent ]

Maybe you're right. (none / 0) (#138)
by nutate on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 05:34:07 PM EST

(hit & run)...

err... hit & die

I live in nyc and experienced the pain firsthand. It was a terrible terrible thing that happened here, but I really don't think "taking out bin Laden" will help. The issues behind this attack are deeper than that. Although I agree that we have to fight for our rights, I just don't think this is the time or place for it.

To be honest, I am really confused by the whole thing. I don't have any answers, but I just fear for the servicepeople who are heading out there now. In some ways I think Hunter Thompson's latest article is the most interesting thing I've read about it lately.

I wouldn't be a draft dodger, but I don't believe that our current moves are going to save innocent lives. I wish for the best, but I fully expect another attack in the U.S. ...and who knows? maybe nyc again.

[ Parent ]

Link to the Hunter S. Thompson column (none / 0) (#139)
by nutate on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 05:43:49 PM EST

Here. He ain't afeared to fight for his rights. And neither am I... I am just afraid to fight for something that seems to be going nowhere... best of luck... sorry for the negativity.

;P

[ Parent ]

Clarification & elaboration (none / 0) (#167)
by dbc001 on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 02:30:21 PM EST

Ok I just wanted to follow up on this because I think I came off sounding like an asshole there. I watched "Band of Brothers" the other night and realized that I could have said that a little nicer:

My grandfather fought in World War II. He survived, but only because he was rescued by the underground resistance and smuggled back to Allied territory.

The point is, a lot of us have relatives who have died defending this country. America is pretty fucked up, but its a great place. Just remember that people had to bleed to get us where we are now, and try not to be afraid when it's your turn to bleed for your children, your brothers and sisters, and everyone else here regardless of race, creed, color, sex, etc.

-dbc (patriot, asshole, convicted felon)

[ Parent ]
Difficult. Worthwhile, but difficult. (4.83 / 6) (#61)
by akp on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:10:35 PM EST

First, let me say that I agree with the central points here wholeheartedly. Hunger, fear, and hopelessness are the breeding grounds for terrorism. The best way to combat violence is to remove the factors that cause people to become violent in the first place. It's not the only way, mind you, but, overall, it's the most effective.

However, I think that there are seveal other factors that we should think about before going down this path:

First, the question of invading Afghanistan in the first place... Now, to a certain extent, that question is irrelevent to the discussion at hand; we should be trying to go in and provide food, training, education, etc., whether it's following up an invasion or not. And certainly if we do end up having to invade, then we should try to rebuild the nation, rather than just installing another repressive regime that's more friendly to us. The problem comes if, for instance, the Taliban decides to hand over bin Laden, and cooperates with our attempts to track down anyone else involved in terrorism, and yet at the same time forbids us from coming in and helping their people. That still leaves us with a lot of poor, hungry people with a lot of anger, and, most likely, a lot of people who will be perfectly willing to help them direct their anger at the United States, instead of at the more local people who are contributing to their problems.

Second: How does this apply to the rest of the countries in the world that are unhappy with U.S. policies? Shouldn't we be doing the same thing in Iraq, instead of refusing to give them food unless they give us cheap oil and bombing them every now and then for good measure? And what about Central and South America? Should the people there who are suffering under what are effectively military dictatorships go without aid simply because they're not fanatical enough to kill thousands of Americans?

Mentioning Central and South America: what should we do about the issue of drug production in Afghanistan? How much success have we had in convincing all the South American farmers that they're much better off growing food than growing poppies? And how are we going to deal with the people who are making a whole lot of money--money that can be used to buy weapons, and to hire people to use them--from this trade, and who are not likely to be all that happy with anyone who might promote behaviour that would threaten their source of income?

...what's next? Ah, yes... The general issue of rebuilding an economy. The U.S. really doesn't have a very good track record there as of late (as opposed to after WWII, which seems to have worked out ok). A lot of people say that this is because, instead of actually promoting domestic industry in these countries, the U.S. instead insists that the countries allow large multinational corporations to come in and set up shop. The companies make a lot of money from these deals, since they get lots of labor at very low prices. The people in the countries themselves... Well, it's debatable as to whether or not they benefit. I think that you could certainly argue that they don't benefit as much as the companies do. And these same companies have a very lound voice in the U.S. political process... (Quick note: I may be devil's advocating a little bit here. The question remains: just what _is_ the best way to develop an economy? I know that we've discussed this here before...)

Hurm. I think that's enough for now. There are definitely more questions to be asked. And I think that there are a lot of reasonable, if maybe not easy, solutions to these problems. (You can probably guess from the ways that I've termed the questions what my opinions are, but I figure that we're better off discussing the questions in general than just arguing about whether or not the answers that I offer up are right or not.) So I don't bring up these concerns in order to convince people that this is the wrong course of action. Rather, I just want to make sure that we don't let our lofty ideals blind us to the complexity of the real issues that we face.

-allen



Re: Difficult. Worthwhile, but difficult. (4.40 / 5) (#93)
by MemeTransport on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:39:05 PM EST

...what's next? Ah, yes... The general issue of rebuilding an economy. The U.S. really doesn't have a very good track record there as of late.

That's ok, the Americans don't need to rebuild Afghanistan's economy. The Afghani's need to do that. American can help provide the tools and stability that the Afghans need to get the job done. They are a tough and resourceful people and know what they want/need far better than anyone in the West does.

[ Parent ]

Dangerous Precedent (4.00 / 2) (#63)
by nd on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:22:47 PM EST

Okay, let's say this plan is adopted and everything works as anticipated.

What does this tell other countries/organizations that were similar before the rebuilding?

Want lots of money and American support? Simply bomb/terrorize America and your wish will be granted.

Now, whether or not this is actually how the Afghanistan situation transpires, this could be the perception regardless!

Not really (4.00 / 3) (#69)
by lithmonkey on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:42:24 PM EST

Afghanistan is not the Taliban. From what I can tell, most of Afghanistan does not support the extreme fundamentalism of the Taliban who are fucking everything up. The problem is, America does! We gave the Taliban $43 Million dollars in may so long as they declared Opium to be against god. God bless america!

[ Parent ]
Been done... (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by Zukov on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 04:48:05 PM EST

There was a movie on just this subject:

The Mouse That Roared

with Peter Sellers(sp?)

ȶ H (^

Yes, I have just bumbled upon Gnome Character Map. Please ! me.
[ Parent ]

Not at all... (4.00 / 2) (#101)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:48:15 AM EST

... other countries wishing the same treatment (should it be successful) can submit their written request, and we (one of the great economic engines of the world) will get to them in turn. We can't pull everyone up at once, but they are welcome to wait in whatever line.

"We thank you for their patience; we are getting to your country with what speed we can." or something like that. :)



[ Parent ]

You want to win in Afganistan? (3.12 / 8) (#64)
by Nelson on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 03:29:29 PM EST

Simple. I call it "the Nelson Plan"
  1. Push their "government" out. You might need guns and some bombs for this.
  2. Rebuild their infrastructure
  3. Establish a democratic government and a constitution. Easier said than done but we've done it before in Germany and Japan.
  4. Give every Afgani a TV, a case of coke, and a box of Nike's
  5. Start piping American TV in.
  6. Establish a public school system and some kind of "Channel 1" program.
We would totally clean their culture off the face of the planet in a matter of years.

Re: You want to win in Afganistan? (4.00 / 1) (#94)
by MemeTransport on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:45:40 PM EST

Simple. I call it "the Nelson Plan"

1. Push their "government" out. You might need guns and some bombs for this.
2. Rebuild their infrastructure
3. Establish a democratic government and a constitution. Easier said than done but we've done it before in Germany and Japan.
4. Give every Afgani a TV, a case of coke, and a box of Nike's
5. Start piping American TV in.
6. Establish a public school system and some kind of "Channel 1" program.

We would totally clean their culture off the face of the planet in a matter of years.

I hope this is sarcastic. The result of this would be hordes of new extremists. It is exactly what we shouldn't do.

[ Parent ]

Step 1 (none / 0) (#111)
by anewc2 on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 10:51:02 AM EST

I see a couple of problems.


Someone did once tell me to get a life, but due to a typo, I got a file instead.
[ Parent ]

We'd be the USSR (4.33 / 3) (#82)
by Sheepdot on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:16:16 PM EST

I suggest coupling the military campaign with a massive international effort to rebuild the educational and economic infrastructure of Afghanistan.

This is exactly what the Soviet Union ended up doing, using communism to try to estinguish the culture and integrate the society into the community that communism needs to produce more than it consumes.

Granted, capitalism has its benefits and appeals, the people could keep their religion (under communism it would be abolished) and once some enterpreneurs started gaining economic advantages, there'd be a sense of self-support that the Afgans would have. But the real problem is that the US would have to occupy the country the entire time this was occuring, which could take years. Counter-attacks from the mountains would occur, and terrorist organizations could move to Africa or some other secluded area to base their operations.

By expanding our virtual borders, the US is only doing what the USSR did, creating new conflicts and tasks that the country must address. It would be a sorry burden to have to endure such problems for a long time, and while we would succeed in Afganistan, we would undoubtedly fail in some other area.

It would be even greater trouble for us if China or another hostile country attempted to fund organizations, (much like the US did to start the Taliban) in an attempt to make the US focus even harder on foreign issues and policies.

I personally think we'd be better off going in, getting OBL, pulling out and dropping him off at some UN trial along the way back home. Then we announce that his organization has won the war, pull out of Saudia Arabia (which is all they wanted us to do in the first place) and let them fight each other over control of the penninsula. Once a victor emerges, we go in, eliminate them, and *then* establish a democracy and all the other junk that was stated.

We could make Saudi Arabia look so good that the peoples of the nations surrounding under authoritarian control would rise up and overthrow their leaders, and we wouldn't have had to spend much time or money at all doing so.

I'm not saying that we *couldn't* solve the social problems of Afganistan, I'm just saying that it'd be better to do it in Saudi Arabia after the terrorists have eliminated each other (much like gang leaders do) to see who would get to control Saudi Arabia.


Bin Laden agrees with you. (3.66 / 3) (#83)
by Stalyn on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 05:27:01 PM EST

This is worst IDEA EVER.

You want to first invade Afghanistan and then turn around to say 'Hey we are your friends, here is our money'. In order for us to rebuild Afghanistan we would have to take control of the entire country. That would mean overrun the Taliban. The Taliban is supposed to have about 40,000-45,000 troops. As their opponents in the north, our new allies, have about 10,000-15,000. However their leader Massoud who is thought to be the mastermind behind the repulsion of the Soviets is dead. So their forces have lost the leader who kept them together and could have lead a successful campaign against the Taliban.

Also we have no ground base for operations against the Talbin. Pakistan is willing to help but only according to UN resolutions to fight terrorism. They have made it clear they will not help with an outside military campaign. Afghanistan is landlocked, so what are we going to do? Parachute 30,000 troops in a foreign land? I have yet to hear of a reason why a military campaign in Afghanistan will not fail.

Also, no matter how much technology we have it does work that well in a guerilla-warfare type conflict. Maybe if the US has been hiding a new weapon that can knock on every cave on Afghanistan and ask if there are any terrorists inside then I stand corrected.

Once again I refer to this link which in great detail shows how a large scale military campaign is going to be very difficult and bloody.

Some Math (3.50 / 2) (#99)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:28:42 AM EST

The Taliban is supposed to have about 40,000-45,000 troops.
Hmmm, at $50,000 each, that comes to $2.25 billion. How many leaders are there to convince of our sincerity?

But the real important part of the plan is to make available something like microloans, but even nicer, to the populous at large. I figure the whole operation could be done (squeezing things in a bit optimistically) for less than the $40 billion they've (US.gov/ploys) already approved.



[ Parent ]

Some Economics (2.00 / 1) (#129)
by Stalyn on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 11:04:26 PM EST

Hmmm, at $50,000 each, that comes to $2.25 billion. How many leaders are there to convince of our sincerity?

Great thinking! Lets give these people some of our money. Oh wait a minute what are they going to spend it on? The majority of Afghanistan doesn't even have electrictiy. Afghanistan is living in the middle ages just handing them a check isn't going to do anything.

But lets suppose we try to rebuild their entire infrastructure, which will cost billions upon billions of dollars. We would have too first build roads, lots of them in mountainous terrain. Then rebuild the cities and towns that still lie in rubble from the Soviet invasion. Then build schools, factories, housing, and basically everything. However I don't know what they would do with all this stuff.

The Afghani people are basically farmers and sheep herders. Their biggest export are crops and wool. However opium is pretty big there so the majority of the farmers with some new finances with probably start producing opium. Thats a huge cash crop. With the factories we build them, they will start refining the opium. Then with the profit start hiring armed guards to defend their opium. Then create gangs and then drug cartels. Wow look at what we did! We made Afghanistan what was already the largest supplier of opium in the world into a relative powerhouse. Those former Afghan guerillas will no longer be fighting for freedom but fighting for opium. How did this help the Afghani people? Instead of being a poor simple people with a warrior culture we created a doped up nation of heroin addicts. Not only will the majority of the nation become a wasteland of drug addicts but so will the surrounding nations. Only a matter of time before it pours into our nation.

However we could prevent this scenario by just invading the nation and rebuilding it under a puppet regime. Then again that will take thousands of American lives and billions of US dollars. And with all that, we still might fail.

I stand corrected THIS IS THE WORST IDEA EVER.



[ Parent ]

Strawmen... (none / 0) (#149)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:31:43 PM EST

... don't help the discussion. I'd appreciate it if you didn't make one of my position. I didn't say just cut them checks. Although, if we did send money, and we also sent people that can sell needed services, then the people to whom we sent the money would be able to pay for the services they want.

But if you look at some of the positive posts I and others have made in this article, you'll see that the proposed plans are more complicated than just this.

On the subject of farming. If they know how to grow opium, they can easily learn to grow all sorts of other things. Including food for their neighbors, who might actually be able to afford it after some intervention (even something as simple as those checks you proposed).

One of the bad points of "just invading the nation and rebuilding it under a puppet regime" is that the rest of the Muslem world won't like that very much, and we are trying to get/stay on their good side. While I would think that they would appreciate us helping rebuild.



[ Parent ]

No it isn't (4.00 / 2) (#106)
by pranshu on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 06:02:08 AM EST

You start with occupation of the north of the country. And set up camps for the refugees fleeing the center. As people see the good being done in the north support for the Taliban (already not high) will evaporate.

You put infrastructure in place there and defend. Combining this with air strikes and commando raids against them could make the campaign quite doable.

[ Parent ]
So We Should Do Nothing? (3.44 / 9) (#88)
by datian2001 on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:05:37 PM EST

After reading all the negative responses to this excellent idea, I'm astonished that people can decide to get up in the morning without plotting its effect on sub-alterns in post-colonial Micronesia. So, according to the avatars of action we can't actually retaliate against countries that harbor and support terrorism because an innocent might get hurt, but neither can we try to eliminate the root causes of terrorism over the long run by rebuilding their infrastructure and improving their standard of living because that would be disrespecting their culture? Give me a break! To hear all you naysayers talk I'm starting to think that Osama's real preemptive strike was to paralyze all of you with post-modernist garbage in college. How enormously glad I am that none of you are, or ever will be, in a position of power to waste and fritter away life, liberty, and property for the rest of us.

The solution is not to curl up in a corner and attempt to solve the world's problems by feeling intensely guilty. The solution is to flatten not only the perpetrators themselves, but their support system; then you show everyone who survives real, material incentives for seeing things your way. Some of them will always hate you, no matter what. But most of them will decide that in the greater scheme of things it's better to deal with the U.S. like civilized people than to be obliterated for committing terrorist acts.

The children of Baby Boomer liberals will always point to Vietnam as a reason why such a policy won't work, but that is because their historical awareness is completely limited and warped by that one event. The situation in Vietnam was identical to that in South Korea, which at the start of the war was mostly populated by communists or their sympathizers (see the book by Bruce Cummings). The US pursued the same policy in Korea and it worked. Today South Korea is a firm ally, a strong country, and their culture is intact. No South Korean terrorists fly jets into New York office buildings.

And Korea isn't the only example of such a stick/carrot approach succeeding. It is a time-tested method with a long, long, history of getting the job done. The Romans, in fact, pursued the same policy to great effect in Gaul. They settled Romans there, and set up trading relationships with the local tribes. Occasionally a given tribe would get pissed off at Roman influence on their people and slaughter Roman civilians (analogous to today's terrorism). The Romans always responded by obliterating the offending tribe. Sometimes they got the wrong tribe by accident, but the message always got across powerfully. Eventually, the Gauls figured out it was better to go along to get along.

So, if this policy is pursued with resolve and grit it will work. At least it will be much more effective than sitting around doing nothing, waiting for the next attack, which will come.

I emphatically agree (2.00 / 1) (#105)
by pranshu on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 05:56:05 AM EST

As for "Their culture" - Fuck it, it mostly sucks especially the way it treats women.

A person's culture is simply the sum total of their experience - change that experience and you change the culture.

Change people's experience of the US and you change their attitudes.

[ Parent ]
The different cultures. (4.00 / 1) (#130)
by Znork on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 03:47:15 AM EST

Well, you know, they used to have a government that believed in secularization and equal rights for women.

Of course, we helped overthrow that one. They were, after all, communists.

People must have a very strange experience of the West in general. Its not exactly like we're always a consistent Force of Good. More like a Force of Whatever political agendas we have today. This is sometimes beneficial for some people, and sometimes not.

[ Parent ]
Roman Empire not a good example (none / 0) (#121)
by thePositron on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 05:06:12 PM EST

"The Romans, in fact, pursued the same policy to great effect in Gaul. They settled Romans there, and set up trading relationships with the local tribes. Occasionally a given tribe would get pissed off at Roman influence on their people and slaughter Roman civilians (analogous to today's terrorism). The Romans always responded by obliterating the offending tribe. Sometimes they got the wrong tribe by accident, but the message always got across powerfully. Eventually, the Gauls figured out it was better to go along to get along. "


The approach you outline worked only temporarily. If you haven't noticed the Roman Empire no longer exists.

However, I believe something should be done I just don't know what.


[ Parent ]
Roman Conquest of Gaul not Temporary (none / 0) (#150)
by datian2001 on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:37:17 PM EST

The Romans conquered Gaul around 50 BC, and controlled it until its own collapse in 480 AD. That's over 500 years of continuous rule, and if you count the Western Roman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire it's even longer. Next to the US's mere 225 years of existence, that is a not inconsiderable degree of success.

Granted, the Roman tactics of the time are not what we'd call civilized today, but they did work. The fact is, if you're the one on top everyone else will be gunning for you. So the best option for a state in Rome's or the US's position is to starkly define the choice for its adversaries: either you can peacefully coexist with us, or you can be destroyed.

Fighting terrorism will not be over next week, but if the policy of stick & carrot is pursued resolutely, eventually it will succeed. More innocent people will die, guaranteed. But if we do nothing the only innocents dying will be your friends and neighbors, as mine were last week.

[ Parent ]

I agree as well (4.00 / 1) (#126)
by lightsweep on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 09:45:15 PM EST

It's an interesting intellectual exercise to dissect these situations. They are enormously complex and there is no straightforward answer. However, there has to be a strong, decisive, fear-inducing reaction. Obviously it isn't a "solution"; obviously it will have negative consequences both foreseen and unforeseen. But make no mistake -- it is necessary for our survival. And I don't make that statement gratuitously. The reference to the Roman Empire is interesting as well... they didn't fall by their sword -- they collapsed from within by getting "fat" and self-absorbed. Something us Americans should be mindful of.

[ Parent ]
The West's allies won't like it either (none / 0) (#132)
by pdion on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 07:51:41 AM EST

South Korea is also a repressive dictatorship governed by a corrupt regime that students and others are frequntly revolting against. Can you remember when were the last "elections" in S. Korea? I can't. But I remember that once or twice a year there are riots with the police and students/workers etc

I think the main problem with this approach is that not only the Taleban and other against US regimes (Iran, Iraq etc) won't accept it but also US allies will not like it at all

The reason is that all of these regimes are either dictatorships or monarchies. With the exception of Turkey, I believe no other muslim country in the Middle East even has a constitution. For countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait democracy, free speech and elections are as repulsive as they are to the Taleban and Iraq. Kuwait has not even abolished slavery, for gods sake. Their society is deeply divided, with a rich caste around the ruler/king/emir/whatever getting richer and richer while their people and other Arab and muslim immigrants from poorer countries are sometimes worse than the Palestinians. So if you go educating and feeting the masses you will undermine your allies position in their countries!



[ Parent ]
Korea (none / 0) (#147)
by free779 on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 04:06:20 PM EST

Korea is now a liberal democratic state. Korea has had a democratic government since 1988, and the 1993 election instated the first truly democratic government in South Korea.

[ Parent ]
_No_ easy solutions (4.75 / 4) (#96)
by Dacta on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 08:54:57 PM EST

While it is possible a plan like this could help drive the taliban from power in Afganistan, is going to do nothing to solve the problem of terrorism.

Until the US wakes up and realizes that a terrorist organisation is independant of any nation, America is going to be spending a lot of money and lives making the problem worse.

While "invade Afganistan, remove the Taliban from power and kill/arrest bin Laden" is such a tempting solution because it sounds so simple it will be even less effective than when the Israelies invaded Lebenon in 1982. At that time Lebenon didn't really have a functioning government, and the south of Lebenon was controlled by Hezbolla (sp?) who were using it to launch rocket, morter and ground attacks on northern Israeli settlements. By invading, the Israelis created a "security zone", which allowed a degree of protection against attacks. However, they found themselves targets, and did nothing to solve the actual terrorist problem.

Invading Afganistan won't even increase protection for the US against terrorist attacks. There is no evidence that the attacks were organised there, and while bin Laden may approve of them it is doubtful he knew about them in advance. It seems much more likely that the attacks were planned somewhere like Germany by a group with loose ties to bin Laden. Don't forget that bin Laden wasn't even in Afganistan until late 1998, and he can quite easily leave an go somewhere else (eg Iraq)

It seems that killing bin Laden is going to be required for political reasons. He's the US's bogey-man of the moment, and killing him may satisfy some of the blood lust that has (understandably, I guess) been seen in America. Unfortunatly that will make a martyr of him. Without a concerted attack on the networks linking fundlementalist terroist groups and on all of their leaderships it isn't going to help, however - someone else will just take his place. Fighting a war against groups (because it is groups - not just one easily defined entity) is possible. The Israelis (in the 1970s-80s) and the French have both succeded to certian degrees with it. It's a dirty, nasty type of war against a highly mobile and motivated enemy, and it only ends when the conditions that caused the problem in the first place go away. The US isn't well prepared to fight a war like this. It needs ground intelligence in countries where the US has little, and all the sattelites, cruise missles and stealth bombers in the world are for the most part irrelevant.



It's an interesting idea. (4.71 / 7) (#107)
by Herring on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 06:40:55 AM EST

But I'm not sure that the US military is in to anything which doesn't mostly consist of camera-equiped cruise missiles hitting buildings on CNN.

I had a thought about that during the Kosovo unpleasantness. These missiles cost about $1m a piece. Using a million dollar missile to knock down a building worth $5,000 doesn't make sound economic sense. I suggested giving $500,000 to a couple of unemployed Serbs and getting them to knock the building down with big hammers. Cheaper and it gets some people on your side. Doesn't look as good on CNN though.

The point I'm making is that the US military is willing to spend thousands of times more money on killing people than it would helping them (or buying them off if you prefer). Seems dumb to me, but then what do I know.

Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
Let's ask the Muslim world to police its own (1.62 / 8) (#115)
by wytcld on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 02:17:56 PM EST

In the World Trade Center towers certain Muslims chose two large black block-shaped objects that are arguably at the center of our culture's values. The Muslims too have a large black block-shaped object at the center if their culture's values. They also have among them - although unevenly distributed - great wealth and military capability. Let's give them, say, one year to round up and execute all the terrorist cell members among them, during which Western countries will pursue the cell members we have allowed to infiltrate here. If they proceed effectively and completely, and only then, we won't bomb Mecca.

This is only a threat against a cultural property. No one lives in their black block-shaped object, and we will give full warning before the bomb falls on it, so no one need be killed. All we would be asking is that they take the responsibility for their own people that we would take for ours, if ours were committing terrorism in their territories. If they will not do that, they hardly need pretend to have either a morality nor a religion.

Re: Bombing Mecca as a threat (5.00 / 3) (#120)
by MemeTransport on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 04:58:10 PM EST

This would, of course, confirm everything the extremists believe about us. What about the billion or so Moslems who bear us no ill will?

[ Parent ]
Good plan - except for the warning (none / 0) (#124)
by Highlander on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 08:32:53 PM EST

It is a good plan except for the warning - muslim will actually crowd the building if you warn.

Besides, a more useful place to erase would be this idiotic black rock in Jerusalem, which makes it hard to reach agreement about Jeruslam between Arabs and Israel (and let's not mention the christian Crusades). That rock really is the perfect equivalent of setting your totem(=gathering point for your people) on the enemies totem in Populous 1.

Moderation in moderation is a good thing.
[ Parent ]

Moral Inversion (2.50 / 2) (#125)
by rgrow on Wed Sep 19, 2001 at 08:58:31 PM EST

The problem with this is that it rewards terrorists and those who harbor them (govts.) and those who support those who harbor them (people). We want to make an example of Afghanistan, but we don't want the lesson to be: attack the United States, get massive foreign aid for your country. We want the lesson to be: attack the U.S., get obliterated.

I also have a hard time believing that money and support would convert them to being friendly towards us. Our prosperity is part of what their religion tells them is wrong with us. If they were principled (and they certainly seem to be), they would either turn their noses up at our money or accept it and use it against us, which is what bin Laden has already done.

No, no aid for Afghanistan. Ace the Taliban. Seek and destroy bin Laden and all terrorists and terrorist camps in the country. Install the friendliest possible government (which would hopefully encourage economic development and secularization). Let them make a go of it on their own. If they can't hack it and breed more terrorists, we might have to mess them up again.

No, don't give them money (none / 0) (#133)
by netmouse on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 09:03:31 AM EST

Giving them "Aid" in the form of money or even food given to the government to dole out would be a huge mistake. No, we need to send people there, civilians, women and older men, to give food and medical care to those who need it. We need to find a technological solution to how to discover and disarm (or blow up) the remaining landmines. If we can clear a couple mountain valleys of armed opposition, we could build a dam. Build some roads, some bridges. Give cars, vans and busses to someone other than the Taliban. Give people filters and other equipment to make their water and food safe. Rebuild schools and restock livestock in collaboration with an irrigation system so the livestock will survive next year's drought.

What amazes me when I hear about Afghanistan is the absence of culture there. How can they be without music? Are they really so fanatical that they would disapprove of classical music? Maybe. But we could put up radio towers and give away radios and give them the option to listen to some and see what happens.

--netmouse

[ Parent ]

Culture is a luxury (5.00 / 1) (#140)
by bugmaster on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 05:51:17 PM EST

But we could put up radio towers and give away radios and give them the option to listen to some and see what happens.
What do you expect to happen ? All the people in Afganistan will spontaneously join hands, sing Kum-ba-yah, and usher in a new era of prosperity ?

Culture is a luxury for people who are fed and healthy. If I have a choice between listening to classical music, and going to beg in the streets so that my children would not go hungry, I know which choice I'd make. Furthermore, if someone DID give me a radio, and somehow managed to explain to me (a person who thinks that a "button" is something that rich people sew onto their clothing) how to use it, I would:

  • Humbly thank you
  • Sell the radio on the market as soon as possible
  • Buy much-needed food and medicine with the resulting money
Giving radio, television, AOL accounts, etc. to starving people is not the solution. They have no time for luxury - they are too busy surviving.


>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

Music to sooth the savage breast? (none / 0) (#142)
by netmouse on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 09:40:07 PM EST

You suggest a person given a radio in Afghanistan would:
  • Humbly thank you
  • Sell the radio on the market as soon as possible
  • Buy much-needed food and medicine with the resulting money

You are assuming that there is a lively capitalism in afghanistan that I actually doubt exists. If as many people are lying around starving as one Iranian Filmmaker described a few days ago, I think perhaps, yes, there are many people who would not actively get rid of things quickly. Even if the first person to get the radio sold it, or the second or third, eventually someone would own it and hopefully listen to it.

Giving radio, television, AOL accounts, etc. to starving people is not the solution. They have no time for luxury - they are too busy surviving.

You are going in the wrong direction from what I was saying. Sure, giving them television and AOL accounts is a ridiculous notion. Heck, most of them don't have electricity. But there are very effective wind-up radios that are also not expensive. And if we also gave various groups the ability to broadcast, you might see some alternative press spring up. If we also broadcast International Public Radio as well as some music stations that would not offend most muslim ears (and heck, maybe even a recorded call to prayer? let someone religous have a station or two, I don't care.) The trick there is having the power (both freedom and electricity) to (re)broadcast. And the mountains are probably a serious impediment to that, I don't know.

I guess I'm mostly brainstorming.

At the same time, I don't think that culture is a luxury. Partly because many aspects of culture don't cost anything but free time. We see lots of cultural expression in many poor communities. People sitting around starving have boku free time. Unfortunately, when we're speaking of afghanistan, they also have an oppressive government that won't let them make music.

In my world, music is an expression of the soul. I have actually crooned the blues to myself many a time to get me through a hard spot, and I am unsurprized to see people everywhere express themselves through the old patriotic songs to strengthen their feelings of unity, express their stength and their pride, and also to mourn.

Perhaps mourning, healing and appreciating beauty are all luxuries. But they are also fundamental parts of being sane human beings. And I think an increase in sanity must be part of any campaign to reduce the insanity of terrorism.

--netmouse

[ Parent ]

No Free Time (none / 0) (#155)
by bugmaster on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 03:41:28 AM EST

You are assuming that there is a lively capitalism in afghanistan that I actually doubt exists.
Fine - substitute "barter" for "sell". In any case:
Even if the first person to get the radio sold it, or the second or third, eventually someone would own it and hopefully listen to it.
Exactly. That person would be someone who can actually spare some food (or the money and/or goods that can buy food) to buy objects of luxury. This person is, by the local standards,
  1. Filthy rich
  2. Not our target audience for the radio
And if we also gave various groups the ability to broadcast, you might see some alternative press spring up.
Even if these groups did organize, despite widespread starvation and illiteracy, what prevents the Taliban from mercilessly crushing them ?
Partly because many aspects of culture don't cost anything but free time.
Free time is precious. If I spend all my time trying to scrap together enough money for a loaf of bread, I have no free time to sit there and compose music, or watch TV.
And I think an increase in sanity must be part of any campaign to reduce the insanity of terrorism.
That is true; however, the most surefire way to increase sanity is to make sure that people are fed, clothed and housed properly. There is a lot of room for increased sanity when a person doesn't have to ask himself, "Will I be alive tomorrow ?" as he goes to sleep each night. You are right in saying that culture is part of being human; however, self-preservation is also a part of being human, and it takes precedence over anything.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Re: Culture is a luxury (4.00 / 1) (#143)
by MemeTransport on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 12:31:47 AM EST

Culture is a luxury for people who are fed and healthy.

This is a common misconception about "culture". It isn't a museum, stodgy music, or Jackson Pollock. Culture is the ingrained practices, mores, values, language, beliefs, religion etc. of a population that get passed from generation to generation. Humans could not exist without culture. Recognisable material artefacts of human culture have been dated at more than 2 million years (stone tools).

One of the big problems the Islamic Fundamentalists have with the West is that they are very worried that their culture will be subsumed by the siren call of western culture. We may like funky toys, rock music, and starlets on screen but many of these people see these as extremely decadent. The materialism and sexual license they see in the west is, in their opinion, the antipathy of their values and a distraction from the worship and service to God.

* [...they would sell the radios you gave them and] Buy much-needed food and medicine with the resulting money

No argument there!

[ Parent ]

Overloaded Term (none / 0) (#152)
by bugmaster on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:24:02 PM EST

This is true, "culture" is an overloaded term. I was using the word "culture" to mean things like music, art, movies, etc. I believe this was the meaning that the original poster used, as well.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
So why send "culture"? (none / 0) (#153)
by Dlugar on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:15:14 AM EST

If all you're talking about is that generic stuff, then I think it's terribly obvious that once they have time, means, or otherwise for music, art, movies, etc., they'll start producing their own. For us to try and cram it down their throats would be ridiculous.

Dlugar

p.s. for us to offer our western "culture" very nicely would still be ridiculous.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (none / 0) (#156)
by bugmaster on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 03:42:37 AM EST

This was my point exactly :-)
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
It might... (none / 0) (#148)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:17:50 PM EST

... be helpful if you read the other posts before making the same objection as several other people. You would also see that responces have been made to this "dangerous precedent" objection. If you find the responces unsatisfying, you could point that out and try to explain why. This strategy actually furthers the discussion along instead of bogging it down in the obvious first questions.



[ Parent ]

Some more of my thoughts (4.83 / 6) (#135)
by CitAnon on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 10:24:48 AM EST

Hi, 

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 table.  

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.

My Assumptions

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 oppressors. 

Some Possibilities for the Plan of Operation-Isolate the Taliban

Speek wrote:

There are hundreds of thousands of Afghani people moving toward the     Pakistani 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 schools.

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 balances.

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 up.  

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 public sentiment.

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 general outline

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.

 



How does this work in the minds of people? (none / 0) (#137)
by karjala on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 02:32:36 PM EST

Does a good deed somehow offset or negate a crime?

[ Parent ]
This is my proposal (none / 0) (#144)
by anonymoushero on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 01:41:52 AM EST

Unfortunately, I'd only been suggesting it at f2f conferences of people involved in WTC bombing discussions.

Key points: the 5th branch of military (not 1 intelligence, or combat, or logistics) hasn't been seriously used since WWII. I ferget the designation. But, anyone who wants to career-track in the military hasn't gone in this branch, and so it's been very undernourished for talent. It should have been used to re-educate/indoctrinate Iraqi troops when we had them in camps, send them back to start up a republic. But it wasn't.

We should be building small earthen dams. Largest problem is control of water, large dams would invite terrorist action, as well as opportunities for corruption. Water control will increase their agricultural output, which will stop the starving - 1 afghani every 5 minutes. This might even entice the huge refugee population back to the country. (another large un-address problem to the pure force solutions, most of the able population isn't in Afghanistan)

By building, we create value. Right now, they have mud huts. They threaten pakistan with artillery, telling them you can bomb our huts, but we can rebuild them after the next rainstorm, can you rebuild glass, iron, concrete as easily? Well, if we give them things of value, we create something that military force can take away from them. Right now, the only thing we can bomb is their surplus population, which will mean less people will starve. Most of their economics for export is already cut-off, remainder is the basis of the drug trade (which we gave the ruling thugs 42 mil to suppress, now that they've declared jihad against us, is probably back in business).

We should take down the Taliban. We should do this by going into one of minority tribe areas, and setting up our branch-5 mission. Put together a democratic republic (hopefully with proportional representation, intant run-off voting, sunshine and sunset laws, etc), and train/protect the locals as we offer them something better.

Only argument I've had from the last portion is that it's changing the culture. I'm a little callous. The current culture supports terrorists, that's not a culture worth keeping.

Other fun stuff to look up: Propoganda of the Deed has been historically very successful, so don't knock it too much..

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Wise man (4.33 / 3) (#141)
by keymonkey on Thu Sep 20, 2001 at 06:26:31 PM EST

I'd just like to commend CitAnon for expressing the first sensible retaliation proposal I've heard since this madness began. All the bombs in the world will not route-out terrorism, because terrorism is based on exploiting weakness. The western intelligence community has been ignoring Afganistan since the mid-80s, so any useful information is over 15 years old. Military action requires a Where? and a When? to be effective, and these are the two questions terrorists have successfully avoided since the "civilized" world evolved.
The one problem with educating out terrorism? It is not a quick or spectacular revenge. Americans want drive-thru justice. What I forsee is a surgical strike on known training camps, and a massive police investigation into anyone who so much as borrowed a cigarette from Bin Laden's 5th cousin twice removed. In the end, an impotent response, and a perfect reflection of the US and it's short attention span foreign policy.

You don't understand the Taliban (4.00 / 3) (#145)
by labradore on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 06:59:00 AM EST

Western thinking is useless when analyzing the cultural and social condition in eastern states and societies. (Aside: I can't believe that no one made this comment yet). The Taliban is a federation of fundimentalist, often radical Islam clerics who are also the governement officials. The goal of the Taliban is the complete removal of western influence and culture from the society in Afganistan. They wish to return to the "golden age" of Islam that was hundreds of years ago before colonization and westernization. An attempt to foster modern capitalism and western values and culture in Afganistan is pointless. It is the exact opposite of the stated mission of the Afghan leadership.

Don't you even remember that there are foriegners in Afghanistan right now who are being tried for attempting to teach Christianity? They will be lucky to leave the country alive. Afghans who prostletize anything but Islam are felons. The penalty is death.

The terrorists who killed themselves and so many others were middle-aged sleeper agents who were deeply rooted in our culture. They had families and friends right here in America. They or their masters held the belief that western culture is literally satanic. The belief was so strong that the terrorists gave up their comfortable, middle-class lives and left their families behind.

We are not the Borg and Afghanistan cannot and should not be assimilated. They surely will not take any aide from us.

not true (none / 0) (#166)
by Tyke on Mon Oct 08, 2001 at 12:21:35 AM EST

Its just not true, yes the Taliban may well be in control, but Afghans are an amazingly diverse bunch ethnicly, lingusticaly and in loyaltys, being Afgani doesnt preclude a desire to drink pepsi, far from it.
Beware of looking too deeply into the abyss, lest the abyss look deeply into you F.Nietzche
[ Parent ]
Culture-wars lite (4.00 / 1) (#146)
by nichughes on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 09:06:21 AM EST

While it is tempting to follow any military action with the full force of Pepsi, McDonalds and Baywatch I don't really think you need to do that to create a stable Afghanistan. What the people there want is to be able to feed their families and not to be subjected to constant harrasment by armed gunmen.

All of this could possibly be achieved by putting in place moderate Islamic peacekeepers to keep the factions apart while helping an interim government build the sort of utterly basic infrastructure the people actually need - like irrigation systems to trap the spring meltwater and a replacement supply of sheep to replace those they have lost in the past few years.

There is no guarantee that anything would work but I tend to think that starting small is better, it will seem like less of an alien solution to the ordinary Afghans and will be less likely to provoke resistance.

--
Nic

Bush fails to understand (4.66 / 6) (#151)
by jafac on Fri Sep 21, 2001 at 07:45:37 PM EST

I know this isn't a very timely comment -

The Taliban is said to be a puppet regime, set up by the Pakistanis and the CIA. (I don't believe the CIA part - why in hell would the CIA set up a government of religious extremists).

However, I don't believe that the Taliban approve of terrorism in any way. They are a splinter group of more moderate Muhajadeen (who now make up the remainder of the Northern Alliance who oppose them). The Muhajadeen fought the Russians like crazy to keep them from changing their way of life - making them modernize, making them slaves by forcing them to join the "Modern Society Game" in it's later stages. Then, when the Muhajadeen finally kicked the Russians out, they got kicked out by their own radical fringe (supported by the Pakistanis).

Now, the thing is; the Taliban are honorable people. They take their religion seriously, and to them, "jihad" doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as "jihad" coming from the lips of a terrorist. A terrorist wants to make change in any way they can, and they'll use Islamic law, or any other law, when it suits their puposes.

And here's the crucial point. The point that I'm afraid Bush and the rest of the US Govt. is missing:
There is an ancient sacred tradition among Afghanis called "Peshtawali" - it's sort of a "code of honor". In Peshtawali, there's a thing called Nanawatai. If an Afghan is asked for Nanawatai, they are obligated to feed, clothe, and shelter that person, NO MATTER WHAT. Even if they are previously obliged to render "Badal" (revenge) to that person. If an Afghan does not honor this code, they are considered "not a man". It's very deeply held - I think mostly among just the Pashtun tribe.
Bin Laden has taken advantage of Nanawatai. The Taliban are obligated to shelter this bastard. The only way out they have is if they can show proof or evidence that he has broken his oath not to be a part of terrorist activities.

If Bush has evidence - then we better share it with them. We will get Bin Laden, and all of his men too. Most likely. But we don't. Bush talks tough. Is it out of ignorance of Peshtawali? I'm sure that SOMEBODY in the goddamned State Department must know this crucial fact of Afghan culture, but nobody is saying anything on the newsmedia. Everybody likes the tough-talking Bush.
But, if Bush does NOT have evidence, then we really have no business going after Bin Laden in the first place.
If we don't show the evidence, then we'll have to take Bin Laden by force.

If we take Bin Laden by force, here's a list of things that could happen
-Lots of innocent Afghanis will be killed
-A few American/Coalition troops will be killed
-Lots of Afghanis that don't get killed will hate the US and a new generation of terrorists will be created
-Some Afghans that survive (Northern Alliance or Masood and Hekmatiar) will form the new Afghan government, and they'll be fighting extremists ever after to maintain control.
-Lots of Afghan refugees will flood into Iran and Pakistan, particularly the extremist Taliban, destabilizing them. India will love that, and so will Iraq. See the beautiful symmetry with Afghanistan directly in the center? Iran has had many bitter and brutal years of war with Iraq. Pakistan has had many bitter and brutal years of war with India. Pakistan has nukes. India has nukes.
-The coalition of support that the US has gained (already eroding thanks to Bush's stupidity) will evaporate - and though we may actually get Bin Laden and a few of his lackeys, we will have "blown our wad" and nobody will support us going after terrorist camps in Syria, Lebannon, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and the Sudan. ONLY if the US shows calm, level-headed and wise moves will we be able to maintain this coalition.
-US Defense contractors and arms manufacturers will make a buttload of money.

How is any of this in the interest of the US? Well, we're all pretty much better off if the whole region is semi-unstable. We can't let any one country remain stable long enough to become strong enough to form a coalition or empire - because then we'd all have to junk our SUV's and ride bicycles to work. Also, if India and Pakistan nuke eachother, the US won't be on the list as the only bad guys in the world who have used nukes - and maybe it will be a more credible threat in the future. (So we'll have more backing to control the spread of this technology, and we'll also be respected more because we have more nukes than anybody, and we've demonstrated that we're not afraid to use them, and it will be more "acceptable" to do so).
Perhaps this is why we let Saddam maintain control of Iraq? They're strong enough to keep Iran down, but not strong enough to threaten Kuwait or Saudi Arabia - etc.
Enough conspiracy theories.

Attribute this to ignorance: remember during the election when Bush was asked what the capital of Pakistan was? He couldn't answer. You bet your ass he knows now. So maybe they don't KNOW about Nanawatai, or just don't care. They like the approval ratings that the tough talk will get them.
So, we'll get Bin Laden - but we won't get the whole organization, and in fact, Bin Laden may not even be responsible.
One of the terrorists was known to have met with Iraqi intelligence.

The "cell" nature of the terrorist organization is fine for fault-tolerance. Take out one cell, and the rest are still functioning. However, the loose association allows a loose cannon to come in and take things over. Which is what I'm betting has happened. Someone in this organization knows someone in Iraqi intelligence. Iraqi intelligence passes on a suitcase full of money and instructions. What am I saying? I'm saying Saddam did it. Using Bin Laden's resources. I'm not saying Bin Laden didn't know about it - but he sure could not have funded it. He may be a former millionaire, but his funds have mostly been frozen when he left Saudi. No way he has the money by himself to fund this - he's collecting funds from muslims all over the world (one of the Kenya bombers used a muslim charity as a front). I'm not saying that we shouldn't go after Bin Laden. We should. He's clearly guilty in the Kenya bombing. But there's a right way to go around this and a wrong way. And the way we seem to be going about this is the WRONG way, and it's going to screw a lot of things up.
The US Government either does not KNOW or does not CARE about Nanawatai, and running off all hot-blooded without thinking is the WRONG thing to do, and will not give us an effective solution to the terrorist problem, and may actually cause the US and the world economy, and the cooperation of nations great harm in the long run. What if we got kicked off the UN security council because Bush refused to listen to them? What if the US had economic sanctions imposed? Pissing off the rest of the world is not a good idea at this point.

What if we:
Listened to the Taliban, and produced the required evidence (assuming it exists) and allowed Bin Laden to be tried in an Islamic court. The Islamic laws he's broken, if he's responsible, are punishable by death. Public beheading. That's good enough for me. Possibly if we could get many of his organizations' members alive, it would give us enough information to track down the rest of them, and put the whole thing out of commission from the top down, without very costly bombing campaigns.
Should we still provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghanis? Yes. Should we support the Taliban? No. But neither should we destroy them just because they must adhere to a sacred cultural tradition (nanawatai) - one that, among other cultural traditions in this world, is one, in my opinion, worth keeping.
In fact, if we go into Afghanistan and build, and food, and shelter, and clothe these people, we'll prove to them that we DO understand Nanawatai. We'll have their undying respect in a way that a religious war will never earn, whether we win or lose. It's not rewarding the terrorists. We're still going after the terrorists, but as police. Not as invading marauders.

Plus, as a bonus, we won't have a bunch of Islamic fundamentalist extremists refugees with a chip on their shoulders about the US. We won't have Islamic US Citizens who believe that the US is trying to exterminate their religion.

CIA (none / 0) (#154)
by Dlugar on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 01:25:12 AM EST

(I don't believe the CIA part - why in hell would the CIA set up a government of religious extremists).
Because they were better than communists.

Ha ha. Boy, I really wish that were a joke.

Dlugar

p.s. You made some very good points. I agree with the majority of it. I'm looking forward to seeing replies and rebuttals to your arguments.

[ Parent ]
Hey! Rational thought has no purpose here! (none / 0) (#163)
by Blackfell on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:48:00 PM EST

The unfortunate truth is that John Q. American neither knows or cares about how the cultures of countries halfway around the world work. And I think Bush (and his handlers) know this. And they know that 'the American People' don't want to hear about foreign aid, peace, or any of that. The American People want bin Laden's head on a spike, preferably after a couple of weeks' worth of CNN pictures of exploding Afghani buildings. It would be political suicide for any other course to be taken, and that is the overriding concern as I see it.
Written by a single drunk monkey with a copy of MS Word 2000.
[ Parent ]
the foreign policy of your gouvernem. may kill you (none / 0) (#165)
by krbonne on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 07:13:20 PM EST

The unfortunate truth is that John Q. American neither knows or cares about how the cultures of countries halfway around the world work.

Well, once he starts to realise that he is not 'save' anymore just because the USA is located between two oceans and that the foreign policy of his gouvernement DOES CAN have a DIRECT impact on his life; he might become more interested in it in the future.

I only fear this will still take a couple of years before this is so; and I that -until then- there will be casualties (on both sides)!

Cheerio! Kr. Bonne.

[ Parent ]
CIA/the double standard of US foreign policy (none / 0) (#164)
by krbonne on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:49:57 AM EST

The Taliban is said to be a puppet regime, set up by the Pakistanis and the CIA. (I don't believe the CIA part - why in hell would the CIA set up a government of religious extremists).

Why NOT?
The US foreign policy has ALWAYS been one of double standards.
Just look at the current (heavy) support the fundamentalist gouvernement of Saoudi Arabia.
In the past, they supported Sadam Houssein when they needed him to 'teach Iran a lesson' (resulting in the first gulf war which resulted in such a large number of casualties that makes the attacks in the USA look like peanuts).
It is exactly this double standards (look at the way UN resolutions are implement concerning Israel vs. converning Iraq) that makes it that most people in the Middle East do not trust the US foreign policy for a cent.
Sadly enough, the "US foreign policy" sometimes gets translated into 'the American people", with the concequences we've seen two weeks ago.

Cheerio! Kr. Bonne

[ Parent ]
Win the easy way (2.00 / 2) (#157)
by ryooki on Sat Sep 22, 2001 at 07:38:58 PM EST

Here is how to win : 1. Cut of all forign aid. 2. Close all borders; keep anyone from leaving the country on pain of death. This prevents us from getting into a hot ground war like the Russians tried. We dont' want to give them a chance to go into jihad. Eventualy everyone in afganistan will starve to death, or they will become more Diplomatic.

Letting a large number of people starve... (none / 0) (#159)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 12:14:48 AM EST

... would most definitely not be seen as a win by most of the population of the world (including a great many Americans).

Oh, the USSR tried this sort of thing with Berlin last century, and we rightly pulled an end run around it. I imagine the same sort of thing would happen again. Only this time your plan would have us play the bad guys. Bad plan.



[ Parent ]

The afgan government and AID (none / 0) (#161)
by ryooki on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 11:30:17 AM EST

The afgan government has requested all forign nationals to leave. The afgan government does not seem to want aid and have said so publicly. If we send in people with food there is a high probiblity they will get killed by the same afgan government. If we give food to the afgan government without some overwatch all we would be doing is giving food to the already rich taliban. If they went to the trouble of burning most of the farms in their country why whould they then give food tot he people there. None of the food would reach the people useing any of Those methods. We could try humanitarian airdrop missions like we did in Bosnia, but that would not ensure the starving people would get food. I think this is why the UN pulled out. It is sad that so many people are without food, but I see no way to help them.

[ Parent ]
great idea (none / 0) (#160)
by jotango on Mon Sep 24, 2001 at 04:40:29 AM EST

1. the people in afghanistan receive nearly no foreign aid, they are starving already. the brilliant successes sanctions can achieve are shown quite nicely in cuba, iraq, where the US has not achieved any of its goals.

2. you cannot close the afghan border. I have been there, it is simply not possible. The pathans will always know 10 better ways of crossing it than any western soldier. If you think of asking them to cooperate, think again. Why would they?

[ Parent ]
How we can win in Afghanistan | 167 comments (166 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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