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Paratroopers?
September 11, 2001 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Paratroopers? Or cruise missiles? What will America's military response be if the Taliban are determined to be liable? The Russians certainly didn't too well with a conventional military attack on Afghanistan.
posted by MattD (34 comments total)

 
after the person trully responsible is found for this, there's only one answer:

send EVERYONE.
posted by jcterminal at 6:55 PM on September 11, 2001


I keep having these disturbing visions of a desert fused into green glass. I hope to God it doesn't come to that.
posted by darukaru at 6:59 PM on September 11, 2001


This isn't directly related except in some type of military sense. I'm noticing a tanker over O'Hare and at least two F-15s flying around. Is the whole country currently under air cover or is this just happening over large U.S. cities?
posted by @homer at 6:59 PM on September 11, 2001


It's a strange mixed series of events.

The US gave aid to those in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets - those weapons became used by the Taleban and other Afghani rebels. Later both those groups fought against each other.

The rebel, and Taleban opponent, that helped lead the battle against the Soviets was assassinated by the (supposedly) Taleban the other day.

Today, those rebels retaliated against the Taleban (supposedly).

And now the US will, most likely (supposedly) get involved in this too.

A definite powderkeg if there ever was one.
posted by mkn at 7:03 PM on September 11, 2001


The difficulties of projecting military force into Afghanistan can't be understated. First and foremost, at least one of India, Pakistan, or Russia AND one of several of the Central Asian republics must consent to support the operation.

Even in the short team, overflight rights will be at issue. Although international law has come not to regard missiles as "overflights" subject to airspace control, any other flight operation (including bombers, transports for airborne operations, or anything else) requires consent of overflown nations. Operating in sovereign airspace to conduct hostilities against a third party state is itself an act of war against the overflown state.

For operations of longer than two or three days, we will need overland supply routes and sea port-rail-road capability. Airborne (parachute) operations require heavy helicopter support within, at most, a week, and those helicopters have short ranges. Combined airborne and airmobile (helicopter) operations require overland support within a few weeks, at most.

This will be tough to work out. If Pakistan refuses, India might agree -- but we'd probably have to toss in the Kashmir for them to sweeten the deal. (I can only imagine what the Russians would want...)
posted by MattD at 7:12 PM on September 11, 2001


My bad ... India has no common border with Afghanistan. Looks even worse for US operations.
posted by MattD at 7:13 PM on September 11, 2001


A US congressman said that even nuclear missiles could not be ruled out. Fuck.
posted by adampsyche at 7:15 PM on September 11, 2001


Pakistan supports Afganistan.

We'd pretty much have to go with Russia. At least they have the experience to tell use what doesn't work (pretty much everything...). But what would be the point, anyway? Its not as if we could make their subjugated population any worse off than it already is.
posted by Ptrin at 7:17 PM on September 11, 2001


I'm so angry right now I can't even maintain the sanity to feel sad about a potential nuclear attack. I'm so livid that my brain has essentially disengaged. Apparently my political ideals only hold themselves together while we aren't under the most brutal senseless and evil terrorist attack EVER.
posted by glenwood at 7:18 PM on September 11, 2001


BTW: DAMN that is an atrocious website.
posted by glenwood at 7:27 PM on September 11, 2001


MattD - you seem pretty knowledgable about the matters, and I'm certainly not. Do you (or does anyone else) worry about Israel essentially feeling the US's "leash" loosening a bit, and possibly using this assault on the US in much the same way as the Afghani rebels did - as a justification/catalyst for increasing an offensive?

Because Israel doesn't have those nukes sitting around just for show, either. I can see them escalating this conflict before we would.
posted by Sinner at 7:29 PM on September 11, 2001


The point of the military operation would be similar to that of the World War II endgame ... complete neutralization of the enemy ideological infrastructure and leadership, lengthy occupation, restructuring along proper Western social and political lines, turn-over of civil power once properly qualified local leadership manifested, but with a heavy and essentially permanent US military force throughout.

This worked quite well for Japan and Germany. Once nice thing is that the local government we eventually install would be regarded as blood traitors by the remaining extremist, so the new local government will have every incentive to do all the dirty work of hunting them down and exterminating them. (Because, of course, if they ever returned to power, they'd be killed down to the last man.)

It would also be a playground for some very serious Israeli light-arms and commando teams (acting secretly, of course.)
posted by MattD at 7:30 PM on September 11, 2001


Let's not forget that Pakistan is a nuclear power, with a government that supports the Taleban. The only possible way that we could invade Afghanistan is if we had Pakistani support, or else things could, and quite possibly would, become even worse than they are now.
posted by rift2001 at 7:30 PM on September 11, 2001


Let's send in that pipsqueek Pepsi Girl- too cute to kill, too annoying to stand.

Instant surrender.
posted by Zbobo at 7:39 PM on September 11, 2001


using this assault on the US in much the same way as the Afghani rebels did - as a justification/catalyst for increasing an offensive?

That's speculation. For all we know, the attack on Kabul could have been a revenge attack in retaliation to the assassination of the rebel's leader - unrelated to the events in the US. But that's just speculation too. Though the timing of all those events is, I think, not coincidental.
posted by mkn at 7:44 PM on September 11, 2001


That's speculation. For all we know, the attack on Kabul could have been a revenge attack in retaliation to the assassination of the rebel's leader - unrelated to the events in the US.

mkn - you're right, it was speculation on my part (actually, I was parroting another MeFi thread) and I should have made it clearer.

But that does not change my question about Israel, which was purely hypothetical from the get-go.
posted by Sinner at 7:53 PM on September 11, 2001


Do we know it was Afghanistan? Last I heard there was no idea who had done it.

People keep saying "Osama bin Laden", but I don't see any evidence to connect him with this attack except that a lot of people read his name on magazine covers a couple years ago.

In any case, it'd be more or less pointless to invade Afghanistan. There's very little there to destroy, the population is mostly rural and widely dispersed, there are weapons everywhere, and the society is not stable enough to sustain an occupation government.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:13 PM on September 11, 2001


People keep saying "Osama bin Laden", but I don't see any evidence to connect him with this attack except that a lot of people read his name on magazine covers a couple years ago.


a)On Tuesday, an editor of a London-based Arab newspaper said bin Laden warned three weeks ago that he would attack American interests and promised "a very big one."

b) There are now intercepted communications discussing the attack linked to Laden associates.

Granted I don't have links (my information has been so all over the place I am loathe to recall the source of anything. My point is not to prove his involvement, but to emphasize that there is some evidence pointing his way.
posted by glenwood at 8:23 PM on September 11, 2001 [1 favorite]


One of my best friends is in the 101st Airborne. If the sh*t goes down, he'll probably be knee-deep in it. Shit. I'm going to give him a call now - depending on the course of the coming days, there's a good chance I may never see him again.
posted by Spirit_VW at 8:57 PM on September 11, 2001


A US congressman said that even nuclear missiles could not be ruled out.

Who said this? Nukes are weapons of terror, if the US wants to at least seem to be on a slightly higher moral plane than terrorists they'd shouldn't stoop that law. I'm also curious of potential targets, I'm sure this guy was thinking Afghanistan and its civilian population.
posted by skallas at 9:01 PM on September 11, 2001


The scenario I see is that the US demands that Osama bin Laden be turned over NOW and no more delays, and the Taliban refuses.

In that case the US would start destroying infrastructure (especially bridges and electric power generation facilities) with Tomahawk cruise missiles. The US has B-52's at Diego Garcia which could launch such attacks with about six hours notice. The missiles would be launched by the B-52's while still over the Indian Ocean, and the missiles would overfly southern Pakistan and strike Afghanistan. As the campaign continued, surface ships would move in and fire more missiles.

If that did not prove sufficient, one of our carriers would move into waters near there and Pakistan would be told (not asked, told) that we were going to flying over their territory. Navy jets are not really capable of hitting all of Afghanistan but they are capable of reaching most of it. And B-52's are capable of hitting the whole thing even with conventional munitions.

I think some of you overestimate the degree of support that Pakistan has for the Taliban. They're the only nation which has given them diplomatic recognition but I don't see any sign of them as allies as such. Given a choice of having the Taliban as enemies or the US, which do you think Pakistan would choose? In any case, Pakistan isn't capable of holding its airspace against the US if it should come to that.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:24 PM on September 11, 2001


The Russians certainly didn't too well with a conventional military attack on Afghanistan.

Whatever the difficulties of launching an attack on Afganistan, I find it difficult to take uch of a lesson from corrupt Soviet regime with less than sophisticated weapons funded by a bankrupt economy.

Nonetheless, finding this demon, who can run to Iraq or somewhere else will be difficult.

Let's just hope that American, and perhaps Israeli intelligence knows more than they let on (which, of course, would always be the case).
posted by ParisParamus at 9:35 PM on September 11, 2001


SDB: would you endorse the mission you describe?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:38 PM on September 11, 2001


"that Osama bin Laden be turned over NOW ".

What do we do then? In this scenario and they comply. He sits in a U.S. prison? There would be some sort of trial, right? Then a sentence of death?

I'm sure his money is just as hard to find as he is. While he's in prison, whoever is tending is books is free to continue financially supporting terrorist 'cels'(sp?) with redoubled efforts....

I just don't know any U.S.A. action that doesn't leave every U.S. citizen directly in on the front line. No option I've heard all day today anywhere makes me feel any safer.

I hope this doesn't sound confrontational to anyone in this thread, specifically, STB. I am currently just shellshocked and kinda scared. The thread itself is very information, but none of the posts or ideas for retaliation make me feel one bit safer.

dP
posted by darkpony at 10:49 PM on September 11, 2001


ParisParamus: Afghanistan is made of mountains and high plateaus. No conventional military does well against armed insurgents in mountainous territory. It wasn't the economic system of the aggressors that allowed the people defending Afghanistan to force a Soviet withdrawal, it was the army it paid for getting absolutely nowhere at tremendous cost in an eight year time frame.
posted by vbfg at 3:56 AM on September 12, 2001


One Peace Keeper MIRV would do it.
10 warheads, 1 missle. I think that would get the message thru
posted by a3matrix at 4:38 AM on September 12, 2001


vbfg: I wasn't suggesting it would be easy. Or even that Vietnam didn't happen. Just that, for whatever reason, we vastly overestimated the Soviet Union, and shouldn't use their experience as completely, or even largely determinative of how we should act.

The hard question is that there are four or five countries implicated in terrorism: Syria, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq, and the the "maybes" of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syrian-controlled Lebanon. If we successfully invaded and occupied Afganistan, I'm not sure what would change.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:55 AM on September 12, 2001


Things to note:

- There is not much infrastructure to be destroyed in Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
- The Taleban, according to the BBC news ticker, and a Hindustan Times report, have announced that they would turn over Bin Laden if there was evidence against him
- Besides nuking Afghanistan, there is no way that the US would not face ultimate defeat if it occupied Afghanistan because of the level of daily casualties that would be the result of such an attempt
- The result of attacking Afghanistan would be an exponential increase in terrorist attempts against the US

Conceivably Bin Laden could be kidnapped, but that would require an intelligence service much better than the CIA, which, as of yesterday, revealed itself to be a third rate agency, good for deposing and murdering elected leftist presidents but not for protecting its own country from the most massive terrorist plot ever conceived.
And let me remind you: No one knows for sure that it was Bin Laden who did this.
posted by talos at 5:01 AM on September 12, 2001


- The result of attacking Afghanistan would be an exponential increase in terrorist attempts against the US

This is a false, dangerous approach to existence.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:24 AM on September 12, 2001


A thing to note:

Best as I can tell, airport security in this country is a joke. We should follow the practices of France, Israel and most countries and let the military run things.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:26 AM on September 12, 2001


ParisParamus: This is not false, it is very likely. And it is not an approach to existence, just a statement of forseeable reaction. You might think that it is an acceptable risk, but pretending it is not a risk won't make it go away.

And airport security in internal flights inside the US is indeed very, very poor. But could that be American Airlines' ineptitude too? Why did they pick that particular airline for the hijackings?
posted by talos at 5:34 AM on September 12, 2001


PP, I think that such an attack would be necessary but not sufficient. Simply capturing and executing bin Laden is not enough; this is going to go on for years. The US will declare war not just on one man but on the whole organization. His assets will be found and seized, his allies located and attacked or assassinated. But it's going to be like fighting a brush fire, and the struggle may take 20 years if not longer.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:27 AM on September 12, 2001


Talos: you stated it as a truth. Its something you can't prove. Bombing Libya didn't increase terrorism. The Gulf War didn't demonstably increase terrorism. When Israel drove Yasser Arafat out of Lebanon, terrorism didn't increase (increase= a demonstrable, short-term increase)

My point is not to become pacifist. No one proposes indiscriminate return-terrorism. If targets are found, they should be gone after. It's worth the risk.

And it cannot be overemphasized: put pressure (including military force) on the criminal states which "merely" harbor/host/passively support terrorists (Saudi Arabi, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, the PA, and the problem will be reduced.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:33 AM on September 12, 2001


PP, my dad has flown through Israel and I wouldn't wish Israeli airport security on anyone. There is a fundamental difference between Israel and the US. We have an open society and I consider it part of our national character. Our civil liberties make us more vulnerable, we will never be completely safe and we have to live with that.
I'd like to see those responsible arrested, tried and imprisoned, obviously that is not what is going to happen. I simply believe that there is and ought to be an asymmetry between the methods our enemies use and those which are available to us. We are, in a word, better.
posted by Octaviuz at 9:11 AM on September 12, 2001


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