3893Bombing Afghanistan is Not the Way to Defeat al-Qaida
- Nov 1, 2001Interesting read, some excerpts below:
Published on Wednesday, October 31, 2001
in the Guardian of London
"Wrong Tool for the Job:
Bombing Afghanistan is Not the Way to Defeat al-Qaida -
Instead, We Must Use All the Creativity We Can Muster"
"Perhaps Britons have simply decided that bombing is not an effective way to defeat al-Qaida. Maybe some of them accept that aerial assault can only boost Osama bin Laden's standing in the Muslim world, spectacularly confirming his claim that this is a clash of the west against Islam - pitting the richest country in the world against the poorest. Perhaps they now accept that killing Bin Laden would merely make a martyr of him, and that his chosen hideaway was the worst possible place to pick a fight. Maybe they have heard the Afghan national epigram: "When God wants to punish a nation, he makes them invade Afghanistan." "
"Given all that, bombing is just not going to do the trick. Bin Laden's reach goes far beyond a mere country; even obliterating it (and killing many of its civilians) would not remove the threat he poses. Remember, the men behind September 11 did their crucial training not in Kandahar, but in Florida."
"So we need to have our own, alternative strategy for countering al-Qaida. Most in the peace camp have confined their thinking so far to the long term, demanding the western powers tackle the underlying causes of terrorism. It's suddenly become fashionable to quote Chairman Mao's axiom that, if you can't catch the fish, you can at least drain the sea in which they swim. In Bin Laden's case, that means the sea of grievances he's so adroitly exploited - chief among them, western support for the raft of vile regimes across the Arab and Muslim world which deny their peoples opportunity, free expression and basic human rights."
"That makes good sense and, in Britain at least, has become government policy. Blair's "Let's reorder this world" speech at Brighton showed he had understood that ultimately the best way to defeat terrorism is to soothe the rage which fuels it."
"That process will take years and cost billions. It will be worth it, because every time an injustice is remedied another recruiting sergeant for Osama bin Laden is slain. But it will not deal with the immediate threat - the young men already recruited to Bin Laden's cause. One estimate has al-Qaida counting on 50,000 sympathizers around the world, another 10,000 activists, including 2,000 who would be ready to kill and be killed and 800 who qualify as leaders. That is a huge network consisting of people already won over to Bin Laden's Islamist nihilism. They might never go anywhere near Afghanistan - and yet they pose a clear danger to us all."
"Others say that since the terrorists are waging "asymmetrical warfare" - a superpower laid low by a few Stanley knives - we have to learn to fight asymmetrically, too. More than one analyst has suggested this conflict is more Don Corleone than D-Day, forcing us to learn the techniques of the Mafia - finding individuals bent on mayhem and getting them before they get us."
"Maybe there is no quick fix that passes both the ethics and efficiency tests. But we have to start looking. We need to get going, recruiting the very best brains to get inside the minds of this new enemy, unlocking their modus operandi and finding their weak spots - a Bletchley Park for the 21st century. It will require all the smart creativity we can muster. For this enemy will not be beaten by flattening Afghanistan. He lives right here among us, and it will take more than moral fiber to defeat him."
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J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
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