Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, April 15, 2002

RE: Email war. I pulled the post for now. Just to be fair to everyone involved I wanted to get permission from everyone.

I'll give a bit of commentary on the gist of what I see from the anti-war faction. It seems very easy for them to forget the lessons of the past. For them, since everything is relative, history really has nothing to teach us. It is a waste of time to try and use what has happened as a possible roadmap to the future. Even if that history is a month old. We hear "War will just make more terror". But will it? They argue that we only need look at Israel and the recent renewal of suicide bombers despite military operations. First off, we must set aside that they only see the conventional war while ignoring the the other aspects that are still ongoing. Almost every day we read of more money being seized or some new operative arrested. But, let's stick with conventional war.

Is the conventional war in Israel a parallel of the US war in Afghanistan? Israel occupies (rigthly or wrongly) parts of the West Bank. This constant presence leads to the newly minted embittered youth and seemingly bottomless well of homicide bombers (along with the nascent desire to extirpate the Jewish state). In Afghanistan there are no suicide bombers, the US doesn't wish to occupy any territory there or enforce any serious controls on the people and their daily lives. So, it can safely be assumed that waves of angry Afghan suicide bombers will not be reaching American shores any time soon.

The anti-warriors will point to the bordering belligerent states, see our response has only led to Israel, based on our example, to bring us to the verge of an all out war in the Middle East. Did this model hold up in Afghanistan? No. Victorious US actions led to tens of thousands of disillusioned Pakistanis going home cursing the day they heard the name Osama Bin Laden. Momentos bearing his likeness no longer sell on the streets of Pakistan. All of these men who were fooled into believing Bin Laden's rhetoric and joining the Jihad, have had the scales dropped from their eyes. They are not even out protesting against Musharref's alliance with the US and the continuing usage of Pakistani bases by US troops. How maany of these would have been good prospective terrorists until facing the overwhelming force of the Unites States. While the restive populations of the bordering Middle Eastern states have alway borne animosity toward the Israeli state, therefore it would be presumptive to assume that our military action is leading to their loud denunciations of Israel.

The thousands of dead al-Qaeda in Afghanistan will no longer be available to Bin Laden and his Lieutenants. And their camps will no longer be churning out more terrorists. The immediate negative impact to further terrorism due to this can't be overstated. By Mao's dictate, Afghanistan was a big pond for the terrorists, it is now drying out and with the ongoing multi-discipline actions only puddles will exist throughout the world. And if we had tried other methods and bided our time while attempting diplomacy how many more Afghanis would have been murdered at the hands of the Taliban and their 'guests'? Once they had finished off the United Front, who could we have turned to in hopes ousting them? How many more recruits would have made their way through the training camps?

The terrorist leaders in Israel work relatively close to the action and their operatives, constantly there to recruit, support and plan terrorist attacks. The leaders of al-Qaeda are now on the run with no safe permanent bases, everywhere they go they will be suspect, everytime they cross a border there will be a chance of being caught. Steady communications with their superiors and operatives will not be assured. And they will be spending at least as much if not more time assuring their own security and future movements as they will planning more attacks, recruiting and training new agents. Every killed or captured leader in an organization structure like al-Qaeda, given the new reality of their geographic and communication instabilities, will isolate cells and further erode commincation links and their ability to carry out more attacks.

And maybe most importantly is the perception of the US in the Middle East now. Many still smolder in their hatred for America, but where are the huge rallies and calls for Jihad against the US? Indirectly as a result of continuing support for Israel, they call for our demise. But they no longer point to what will happen to us when we face the faithful in Afghanistan. While studing history at UMASS, one of Stephen Oates' favorite expressions when talking about the causes of the Civil War was that a large pice of the 'root causes' came from the 'Perception of Events'. The Southerners saw the election of Lincoln as part of a concerted plot by the Abolitionists to end slavery while in the North they saw everything (prior to Secession) as a call to war in the name of preserving slavery and spreading it to the territories and eventually the North. Nothing that the more moderate on either side said could convince the other that the preception just was not true. By refusing to act militarily America and its allies would have been perceived as weak within the ranks of the Islamic Fundamentalists. The constant exhortations of Bin Laden, Saddam and the fundamentalist Imams against the soft and decadent West that was incapable of retaliation would have encouraged thousands to flock to Afghanistan to join in more operations against the 'small horse'. But where are these people to go now? With Bin Laden and Zawahiri on the run, Atef dead and Zubayda in American custody where can those wishing to carry on the Jihad go to train and dispached on their missions? It would seem that Bin Laden now has only the existing pool of terrorists or the smaller numbers that can be trained in much smaller and less secure venues than were available in Afghanistan.

All of these factors directly lead to less terror. We have empirical evidence that our war in Afghanistan has stopped and reduced terrorism. Thousands of dead terrorists, camps that can no longer train terrorists, dead and captured leaders, and foiled plots (Paris, Singapore, Rome and Prague to name a few) and leaders uncertain of what is going on outside their immediate sphere of control. These are just a few of the things that have been brought about as a direct result of the conventional war in Afghanistan.

Those who look at the issues from a detached and sanitized view, see this more as a guerilla war against the US. They don't acknowledge the extreme fanatacism and basic incoherent hatred that do not always respond or react in the way a true guerrilla leader would. Bin Laden and his associates will not react the same way as Washington, Jefferson Davis or even Mao Tse Tung and Che. Our military will never be defeated on an open field by the armies of al-Qaeda or any allies they may find. As our techniques evolve and we tighten cooperation with friendly nations and force semi-friendly nations to stop offering refuge, now that Afghanistan is no longer a free port the terrorist leasders will find themselves with disrupted communications and broken links, they will become more and more desperate. I do not doubt that we will have more attacks here in the US, but as a result of the action in Afghanistan it will be much more difficult to carry out successful operations and it now becomes a war of time.

< email | 4/15/2002 12:13:00 PM | link

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