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Love Bomb!
September 26, 2001 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Love Bomb! Finally, a creative idea for the "New War." Granted, it wouldn't solve the whole mess, but it might be a step in the right direction. It sure wouldn't make us any new enemies. "A panel of four Williams College professors urged restraint in the so-called war on terrorism Monday, with one of them calling upon America to bomb Afghanistan not with explosives but with food and medical supplies. Anthropology professor David Edwards, speaking during a public forum at Chapin Hall, said airlifts similar to those provided to West Berlin by the United States and Britain in 1948 and 1949 could prove a public relations coup and an unexpected blow to terrorist Osama bin Ladin, in a country wracked by starvation, civil war and oppression. "Bin Laden expects us to strike with military force. It's what he's prepared for. In dealing with terrorism, you have to do the unexpected," said Edwards, an expert on Afghanistan who was joined on the panel by political science professors Marc Lynch, Gary Jacobsohn and James McAllister."
posted by martk (31 comments total)

 
Interesting that taking time for a "action" instead of "reaction" is allowing for options like this one to be voiced and debated...

Certainly, the precedent set in 1948-49 was under different circumstances, but it is good to keep in mind.

I also like the "element of surprise" angle.
posted by jallgire at 2:10 PM on September 26, 2001


this is the first proposal I see that goes to the roots of the problem and not just to a let's-kick-somebody's-ass kind of idea
posted by signal at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2001


pah, I suggested that days ago.. no chance of it happening, else Bush will lose the support of the redneck demographic..
posted by Mossy at 2:16 PM on September 26, 2001


If you've seen the news video from Afganistan you will notice the piles and piles of food marked USA. We have already given millions and millions in aid. Probably most of the food the Afgans are eating comes compliments of the USA since I don't see many farms there.
posted by emorawski at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2001


How does one stop the Taliban from taking the food once it gets there?
posted by stchang at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2001


I thought it was going to be something about using ecstacy as a chemical weapon.
posted by whatnotever at 2:24 PM on September 26, 2001


I thought it was going to be something about using ecstacy as a chemical weapon.
Like this problem is going to be solved with pacifiers and bad music.
posted by ColdChef at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2001


I think this is a good strategy, as it would contradict the notion the Taliban has been circulating that the U.S. is striking out against Muslims in general, and not terrorists who claim to operate "in the name of Islam." That said, I disagree that it goes to the "root of the problem."

People that think that what happened is a result of U.S. foreign policy don't fully understand the ideologies of the terrorists we're fighting. Our policies in the Middle East have certainly exacerbated the extremity of their hatred, but this isn't, at base, a political conflict. Osama bin Laden doesn't maintain a homogenous network, but for most of the terrorists involved, the only acceptable outcome of this conflict is the mass extermination of everything and everyone Western and/or non-Muslim. There's no middle ground and no negotiation and nothing we do will make them hate us less. It can't even really be construed as a "war" because the only acceptable outcome for these people is that Western civilization ceases to exist. These aren't IRA bombers or even Timothy McVeigh clones. We're dealing with a completely different animal.

I don't think most Americans are capable of intellectually digesting that level of intolerance on such a massive scale or an idealogy that not only condones but MANDATES the killing of innocents. It's just too big and non-specific. There have been only a few instances in modernity when we've seen large-scale violence enacted with the objection of the mass extermination of an entire ethnic group - the Holocaust, massacres in Rwanda, etc., and even those weren't as ambitious as what we're dealing with now. "Western and/or non-Muslim" is too broad to even categorize as an "ethnic group."

The only way to deal with terrorists like these is to eliminate them before they eliminate a significant portion of the world's population. People seem to be bracing themselves for a Desert Storm type conflict, and that's not what's being planned. We'll deal with these terrorists the way we dealt with terrorists before Sept 11 - behind closed doors. The massive non-special forces deployments are really there to reassure the public that we're doing something about the problem but I don't think they'll play a major role in actually getting rid of this brand of terrorism. this whole thing is really more analogous to fighting organized crime, and i dont' really understand why some of our public officials feel it necessary to invoke a "war" image (other than possibly because some form violence is a given and it's the only context in which we can admit that we're going to have to kill people and it's morally acceptable.)
posted by lizs at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2001


which martin amis
suggested in the guardian a week prior..
posted by tigger26 at 2:52 PM on September 26, 2001


We're going to do both.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:09 PM on September 26, 2001


I'm not sure about the precedent this might set. Countries in desperate need might very well declare war on the United States in order to be "bombed" with food and medical supplies.

Of course, if he's going to use the Berlin airlift as an exemplar, he'd have to advocate the following course of action: bomb them, invade them, occupy them, and then feed them.
posted by mcwetboy at 3:11 PM on September 26, 2001


There have been numerous so-called hearts and minds campaigns against guerrilla/opposition/rebel groups in many countries, most notably for Americans in Vietnam. Generally, they haven't worked extraordinarily well. As sympathetic as I am to Tamim Ansaray's point of view that the Taliban are oppressors of the people, there is widespread popular support, and the divisions in the country are tribal rather than ideological. People who can't live under the Taliban have already left for refugee areas in Iran and Pakistan.

The most important thing that's happened is that Pakistani covert support for the Taliban (their own pet creation via the ISI intelligence service) will be ended. Places like India are eager for a replacement of the Taliban but the Muslim world isn't going to give support for that, yet.
posted by dhartung at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2001


The US is the leading contributor of aid, isn't it? The more the merrier.

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

It's interesting to note that the Taleban has now taken control of the humanitarian programs there. Perhaps dropping more food wouldn't help so much with the Taleban still in control?

Regardless, prevention of terrorism still needed.
posted by aaronshaf at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2001


The hearts and minds approach didn't work very well in Vietnam. On the other hand, the bombing approach failed there also. From what I've read some of the popularity of Taliban in Afghanistan doesn't come from religous fervor but from the fact that they restored a sort of order to the country.

I think that feeding people might work better in Afghanistan than elsewhere. Afghans are starving. For them food would be a matter of survival rather than just an incremental improvement in their life. I don't believe that someone will overthrow their government just because you give them food. However, if the Taliban are percieved by the general population as getting in the way of food distribution then they might lose some popular support. If the Taliban are stupid enough to try to take food away starving people, then they would lose even more support.

Even if there were a way to topple the Taliban who would replace them?
posted by rdr at 3:43 PM on September 26, 2001


I think America should bomb them with BLTs and cases of Budweiser, bringing about an instant peace by creating an infinite 'catch 22' loop of saving onself from starvation versus breaking Islamic taboos.

That probably wouldn't work 100% though, given that the suicidal pilots of Sept. 11th were bellied up to the bar a few weeks beforehand.
posted by daragh at 3:45 PM on September 26, 2001


Sure, we could provide food and aid...But how long would it last, really? Until the 'Infinite' war is over?
posted by dogmatic at 3:49 PM on September 26, 2001


We could nuke ourselves -- that would sure surprise bin Laden, wouldn't it? The fact that something is "unexpected" doesn't necessarily mean it is going to be effective.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:28 PM on September 26, 2001


How do you see a conventional war being effective? Do you really thnk that it's likely the U.S. will be able to hold enough territory in Afghanistan for long enough to track down and capture bin Laden and his aides?
posted by rdr at 5:07 PM on September 26, 2001


I say we Soy Bomb 'em.



That'd be unexpected.
posted by tpoh.org at 5:10 PM on September 26, 2001


pah, I suggested that days ago.. no chance of it happening, else Bush will lose the support of the redneck demographic..

So if you support the use of the military you must be a redneck, probably from the south, huh?

Please.

Amazing how you turned this into a put down for an entire section of the country when basically the whole country is supporting it.

Anyway, this is similar to the 'bombing with butter' suggestion. A wonderful thought that, by itself, doesn't have a chance in hell of working.
posted by justgary at 5:13 PM on September 26, 2001


"On the other hand, the bombing approach failed there also. " please do not distort history. bombing was relative in various phases. the x-mas bombing was a big crowd pleaser. also, nixon formulated something called 'mad bomber' theory which, ironically worked well and got uncle ho back to the tables. also several "hearts and minds" programs where very successful. The failure came from resolve. history is repeating itself and it is uninformed.
posted by newnameintown at 5:51 PM on September 26, 2001


On the other hand, the bombing approach failed there also. " please do not distort history. ...The failure came from resolve. history is repeating itself and it is uninformed."

I take a fairly pragmatic approach to history. I figure if you lose a war you can't call your strategy a success.
posted by rdr at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2001


image

cnn front page graphic, 7:37pm, 26 september 2001.
posted by rebeccablood at 7:37 PM on September 26, 2001


I fully agree. Bomb them with Portable generators, fuel, dvd players, microwave ovens, microwave popcorn, lots of great movies, food, medical supplies, greeting cards made by kindergarteners in the US, little USA flags, t-shirts, stickers, game boys, AOL CDs (no just kidding), Gatorade (would taste good in the desert), Air conditioners, books, rice crispies, marshmallows, margarine, m & m's, thousands of video and audio greetings, people singing, poems, airline tickets, lottery tickets, wristwatches, shoes (preferably not made by little indonesian children), hair toys, eggo waffles, toasters, freezers, chalk, chalboards, textbooks, pencils, karaoke players, MP3 players, Laptop computers, subscriptions to Utne reader, Coca Cola, LoveGety, 600,000 miles of Cat-5 cable with crimpers and rj-45 ends, Aibo the robodog, pokemon, Magic the gathering cards, foam earplugs, 3000 tons of legos, lots of reruns of the simpsons + vcrs, 2453 packs of Top Ramen, 3389 postage stamped envelopes with addresses of international pen pals, 2345 scholarships to international universities, and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, and we could probably also ship them Regis, though that would be for our benefit, not theirs.
posted by mikojava at 8:15 PM on September 26, 2001


Yeah, offer them a free membership in the WTO. They'll love it.
posted by Loudmax at 9:58 PM on September 26, 2001


off topic

justgary:

just pointing out that you're the one who made the assumption that all rednecks live in the south, therefore you turned the argument against a whole section of the country.

also, you turned around what mossy said about rednecks supporting the military. the intended stereotype goes "if you're a redneck you support the military," not "if you support the military you're a redneck."

*smile*

on topic

as long as there are hungry mouths to feed, and we have food to give them, i don't see any problem with doing so. if they bite the hand that feeds them, we always have another hand.
posted by carsonb at 10:07 PM on September 26, 2001


just pointing out that you're the one who made the assumption that all rednecks live in the south, therefore you turned the argument against a whole section of the country.

True enough. Let's not kid ourselves here though. Use the term 'rednecks' and the majority of people think of the south, regardless of the fact they can be found anywhere.

as long as there are hungry mouths to feed, and we have food to give them, i don't see any problem with doing so.

Judging from the amount of homeless/hungry on our streets, I'd say we don't.
posted by justgary at 10:26 PM on September 26, 2001


"I take a fairly pragmatic approach to history. I figure if you lose a war you can't call your strategy a success." what? Vietnam lasted years and went through many phases. we did not lose the"war", We lost the peace by not either fighting harder or pulling out. Besides your talking mostly tactical aspects as applied to strategic operations.
posted by newnameintown at 8:09 AM on September 27, 2001


If you drop the Afghani people food the Taliban will just take it away and tell the people it's poisoned or sumthin'. Then they'll eat it themselves. Last I checked you can't eat bombs. How about dropping some of those?
posted by daragh at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2001


daragh said:
> Last I checked you can't eat bombs.

I see, so we should bomb people who are struggling to scavenge enough moldy bread every day to survive, while missing the people we actually want to kill (who aren't anywhere near anything we're actually going to bomb). That way, we make millions of new, even more angry (and justified) enemies, while spening billions of dollars, and failing to achieve our goals? Sounds great! Woohoo!
posted by chrisat at 8:50 AM on September 27, 2001


How about we don't drop food or bombs?
posted by thirteen at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2001


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