ARE WE ON THE BRINK 0F LIMITLESS WAR?
by Will Hart
American Reporter Correspondent
TU.S.CON, Ariz. -- Nearly everyone seems to agree that military action had=
to be taken against the terrorists that committed the atrocities of Septem= ber 11. But what actions exactly has the American public agreed to? Preside= nt Bush initially outlined a campaign that had two goals: Neutralize Osama = bin Laden and his al-Qaida network and get rid of the Taliban. Those twin g= oals seemed logical and doable at first glance.
As a nation, we signed on= .
But that scenario quickly expanded into wiping out terrorism on agloba= l scale and that package included dealing with rogue states that supportter= rorism.The list includes: Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Iran. Thatscenario = conjures up a nightmarish vision of a series of wars fought invarious Musli= m countries.So the tragic events of the 11th of September havequickly escal= ated into a war without clear-cut goals, a war without nationalboundaries, = an open-ended, amorphous military action, in short,a limitlesswar.
In the past 55 days we have been given a cram course on the war-torncoun= try of Afghanistan, which we have learned is poverty stricken and ruledby f= euding despotic tribesmen. The country has never risen beyond theprimitive = level forget about it being a nation-state. The images that thevarious netw= orks have shown of Afghanistan reveal a country that was alreadybombed back= to the Stone Age by the Soviets in the 1980s. It is in ruins.This educatio= n has come while we are bombing Afghanistan day in and day out.
Why the extended bombing campaign?Remember our original goals: This is t= he way to root Bin Laden out of his cave and destroy al Queda and theTaliba= n, right?
Lately, we've been told that we may never get Bin Laden by no less anaut= hority than defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. So, ostensibly, the purposeo= f the bombing is to weaken the Taliban. Weaken is all that a bombingcampaig= n can do. Military experts concede that you can't win a war with airattacks= alone. You have to send in ground troops at some point. But winter iscomin= g to Afghanistan.
History tells us that nobody takes Afghanistan. The Soviet Unioncollapse= d not long after its failed decade long attempt to take the country.Perhaps= the worst-case scenario would be to send in American troops anddefeat the = Taliban.
If we destroy and remove theTaliban we are faced with rebuilding asociet= y that has known nothing but war for two decades. There an estimatedone mil= lion land mines in Afghanistan. The old tribal enmities and conflictswill n= ot vanish with our victory. We would be caught in the middle of civilstrife= for another decade. Our allies, the Northern Alliance are no betterthan th= e Taliban according to Afghan citizens.If we pull out immediatelyafter the = war, as we did when the Afghans defeated the Soviets, we would berepeating = a mistake we made in the 1980s.
No one can predict how long it will take to win the war in Afghanistano= r what the eventual human and economic costs will be. The administrationcon= tinues to council patience.
In the best-case (worst?) scenario we destroy Bin Laden, al Queda andthe= Taliban. But does that mean we have won the war and eliminated terrorism?N= o. It simply raises the question of how we win the wider war againstterrori= sm?
How will we ever know when we have won?
The fact is, we will never know that we have eliminated everypotential= terrorist or terrorist cell. And it isn't just a matter of keepingtrack of= the Attas and Bin Ladens of the world we also have to find a way tomonitor= and neutralize the McVieghs and Unibombers. We have assorted domesticterro= rist groups with various agendas including Neo-Nazis, survivalists,radical = greens and Christian extremists.What are we going to do if theanthrax attac= k turns out to be the work of domestic terrorists?
We can never know whet= her we have contained terrorism once and forall. We can only know the date = of the last terrorist attack. That date is asrecent as the woman, the fourt= h victim, who died of anthrax last week.
The administration keeps harping on the usual suspects like Saddam andho= stile nations but there are terrorists in friendly states like Egypt andthe= Philippines and many of the men involved in the September 11 attack werefr= om our Middle Eastern ally, Saudi Arabia. How do we deal with thistroubling= reality?
This new war against terrorism is not another Gulf War, not a r= epeatof Viet Nam and it is not another World II.Those wars had specific goa= ls; theenemy had a face, borders and someone who could surrender. This is a= war withmany elusive faces, without boundaries and no leaders who can wave= the whiteflag and surrender. Terrorists are distributed haphazardly around= the globeand they are also right here at home.
A limitless war doesn't have a rationale. It is just attack-counterattac= k ad infinitum. As a nation we had every right to feeldeeply hurt an= d be angry enough to want revenge about the destruction of theWorld Trade C= enter and the loss of 5,000 innocent lives. But is this theanswer to the pr= oblem? The world is watching and the future is beingdetermined by how we ha= ndle this crisis.
It is time to ponder what we are now plunging into more deeply than eve= r.