What would be enough?

The following is a forwarded letter I recieved yesterday. I think it really resonates with what I have been thinking the last couple days. It was written by Tamim Ansary an Afghani-American writer. Here is his take on Afghanistan and the whole mess we are in.

    I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about “bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone
    Age.” Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio today, allowed that this would mean
    killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity, but
    “we’re at war, we have to accept collateral damage. What else can we do?”
    Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing whether we “have the belly to
    do what must be done.”

    And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am from
    Afghanistan, and even though I’ve lived here for 35 years I’ve never lost
    track of what’s going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will listen how
    it all looks from where I’m standing.

    I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no doubt
    in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New York. I
    agree that something must be done about those monsters.

    But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They’re not even the
    government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who
    took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan.
    When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden, think Hitler.
    And when you think “the people of Afghanistan” think “the Jews in the
    concentration camps.” It’s not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do
    with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They
    would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear
    out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.
    Some say, why don’t the Afghans rise up and overthrow the Taliban? The answer
    is, they’re starved, exhausted, hurt, incapacitated, suffering. A few years
    ago, the United Nations estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in
    Afghanistan–a country with no economy, no food. There are millions of
    widows. And the Taliban has been burying these widows alive in mass graves.
    The soil is littered with land mines, the farms were all destroyed by the
    Soviets. These are a few of the reasons why the Afghan people have not
    overthrown the Taliban.

    We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age.
    Trouble is, that’s been done. The Soviets took care of it already. Make the
    Afghans suffer? They’re already suffering. Level their houses? Done. Turn
    their schools into piles of rubble? Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done.
    Destroy their infrastructure? Cut them off from medicine and health care? Too
    late. Someone already did all that.

    New bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at least
    get the Taliban? Not likely. In today’s Afghanistan, only the Taliban eat,
    only they have the means to move around. They’d slip away and hide. Maybe the
    bombs would get some of those disabled orphans, they don’t move too fast,
    they don’t even have wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs
    wouldn’t really be a strike against the criminals who did this horrific
    thing. Actually it would only be making common cause with the Taliban–by
    raping once again the people they’ve been raping all this time.

    So what else is there? What can be done, then? Let me now speak with true
    fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with
    ground troops. When people speak of “having the belly to do what needs to be
    done” they’re thinking in terms of having the belly to kill as many as
    needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent
    people. Let’s pull our heads out of the sand. What’s actually on the table is
    Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their
    way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden’s hideout. It’s much bigger than that
    folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we’d have to go through
    Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have
    to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I’m
    going. We’re flirting with a world war between Islam and the West.

    And guess what: that’s Bin Laden’s program. That’s exactly what he wants.
    That’s why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It’s all right
    there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem
    ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the
    West, he’s got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those
    lands, that’s a billion people with nothing left to lose, that’s even better
    from Bin Laden’s point of view. He’s probably wrong, in the end the west
    would win, whatever that would mean, but the war would last for years and
    millions would die, not just theirs but ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin
    Laden does. Anyone else?

    Tamim Ansary

What would take more courage – be harder to “belly up” for than not taking the easy way out and bombing and killing the Afghani people? How about changing the way we are viewed in the world by changing our actions and policies so that we are not seen as an imperialistic, oppressive bully the world over?

What to do then? We can’t sit idly by you say? No we can’t. But we must:

  1. Focus on and solve the problem (i.e.. the hatred of the U.S.)
  2. Find & punish the perpetrators of terrorism (all of them)
  3. Solidify the alliances (and even unify) with the governments of the world
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Why are Americans hated? Why can’t we see why?

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A chart of the World Response to Tuesday’s terror. This link is from the World New York site which is a very good site for the continuing events in New York and elsewhere. This site was in turn shown to me by Jason.

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It seems to me that whatever action the U.S. and its allies may take, it won’t satisfy us. If Afghanistan delivers Osama bin Laden and his henchmen to us, they stand trial, are found guilty, and are executed it will not be enough. If Afghanistan does not give up Osama bin Laden and we bomb them over and over will this be enough? Hardly. No military action can ever be enough. No amount of punishment can be dished out that will allow us to be ok with what happened – to feel vindicated. We, as Americans need to come to a resolution with our feelings long before we start looking for satisfaction with tanks, and bombs, and wars.

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