The situation would be farcical if it
didn't so seriously endanger us. I refer to the repeated escape by
Taliban/al Qaeda leaders from circumstances where we should have easily
captured them. So far, I can count four such instances:
- Taliban leader Mullah Omar escapes
from the surrounded city of Kandahar
- Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden
escapes from the Tora Bora caves
- Mullah Omar escapes
again, this time from the mountainous region north of Baghran
- Seven senior Taliban officials,
after surrendering, are allowed to go
free by the governor of Kandahar province
And let's not forget the local Afghan
soldiers who were supposed to be gathering intelligence information on our
behalf -- information which could very well enable us to avoid the next
planned WTC-magnitude attack. Instead of turning over the materials to
us, they were selling
what they had found -- passports, videotapes, computer disks -- on the
streets of Jalalabad!
The common thread here is that the
U.S. didn't want to commit its own ground troops to search and detain these
wanted terrorists, but instead, relied on proxy local forces to do so.
President George Bush told the country
in his speech before the Joint Session of Congress that "We wage a war to save
Osama bin Laden, we know, is trying to secure nuclear bombs and other
weapons of mass destruction, such as biological germ warfare agents.
We are in a race against time.
As long as bin Laden and the rest of
them are free, they can plan and implement new terrorist acts against
us. It's true that they can't move about in the open like they once
could. But they are still much more able to harm us than they would be
were they in our custody, or dead, as they should have each been a couple of
times already, but for our seemingly iron-clad rule about putting our
soldiers in harm's way -- even if it's to save civilization itself.
Amazingly, some officials speaking on
behalf of the Bush administration try to tell us these delays are
okay. Referring to the hunt for bin Laden, Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley,
a senior military spokesman, said
recently "If it's a little slower, that's O.K., we can live with
No, it's not okay, not with me,
anyway. I don't want to be in the location where bin Laden or some
other al Qaeda operative, still unnecessarily on the loose, sets off a
nuclear bomb, or spreads smallpox or Ebola fever.
Why are we hiring proxy forces to
fight the "dangerous" part of the war against terrorism?
We've already hired quite brave, competent people to do so: they're called
the U.S. armed forces.
The U.S. military is voluntary.
No one forced any of them to join. We're paying their salary to defend
us. We don't need to pay a substitute army to do so.
It's not the soldiers I am criticizing
here, it's the politicians. I'm sure everyone in the military from the
army private to the highest commanding officers would be only too happy to
get on the ground and really do what it takes to find the al Qaeda
terrorists still on the loose.
But it's the faint-hearted George Bush
and his political advisors, scared to death of jeopardizing his high poll
standings, who refuse to allow the military to do the job it is incomparably
equipped and most willing to do.
I know some readers have told me they
are in the military. I'd be real curious to learn what the
rank-and-file feel about being shunted aside on the ground while the
security of their loved ones at home -- not to mention the rest of us
-- is at least partly put in the hands of proxy forces who at the next
change in the way the wind blows, would be as likely to be fighting against
us, as for us.