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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 me happy.

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 NOT CIVILIANS.

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 civilians.

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 practices.

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.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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