Take a Hard Line Against bin Laden
and the Taliban, But Spare the Civilians!
September 12, 2001
Wow! I forgot that some
people will not read a piece completely through to get my entire
argument. Instead, they will read only the beginning, get really
pissed off, stop reading and immediately let me have it!
It was only at the end of yesterday's Daily Diatribe that I said
I think we should have long ago sent in the 82nd Airborne and gotten rid of
Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban,
too, for that matter. Clearly I have no sympathy for him or them.
Readers who didn't get this
far apparently concluded that by calling in the beginning of my piece for
the United States to stop its own terrorist-type activities in the world,
that meant I have sympathy for, or even approve of, bin Laden.
So let's be clear: I don't
and I don't. Get rid of him. Such a course of events would make
That hopefully being
crystal-clear now, let me get to the point tonight: however we retaliate, it
must be in a way that attacks bin Laden and his associates, and military
forces and involved government officials of countries that aided him, BUT
We rightly claim outrage and
deep sorrow at the loss of what could now be tens of thousands of civilian
deaths at the World Trade Center and on the hijacked airliners. We
cannot then go ahead and kill, in retaliation, large numbers of civilians
ourselves -- even if we do not target them deliberately, and even if they
are what we have in the past called "collateral damage."
They are still just as dead.
Especially in this case,
Afghanistan is a dictatorship and the people there, already suffering a
Stone Age-level of deprivation, should not be punished by us for the ill
deeds of their government, whose policies they are helpless to change.
So we shouldn't carpet bomb
Kabul, as some people are demanding. And we shouldn't, as we did in
Iraq, destroy what is left of the civilian infrastructure of
Afghanistan. Just like the Taliban have said that they are willing to
let the people starve rather than have aid groups proselytize, the Taliban
would certainly be willing to let the people do without water and
electricity. That won't hurt the Taliban, but will kill many Afghan
Indeed, it should be kept in
mind that the Taliban are the descendants of one faction of mujahideen,
Islamic holy warriors, who we heavily armed when they were fighting the
Soviet Union after that country invaded Afghanistan in 1979.
When the Soviet Union withdrew, the Taliban gradually took over the country
and established their theocratic dictatorship. The U.S. did nothing to
try to force our erstwhile allies to institute any kind of democratic
So it would be a horrible
double-whammy for us to first provide the military wherewithal for the
Taliban to enslave the Afghan people, and then bomb the Afghan people for
the terrible behavior of their own oppressive government.
So like I wrote last night:
invade Afghanistan and get rid of bin Laden and the Taliban, but
DON'T kill Afghan civilians.