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Winter is coming to Afghanistan.
October 21, 2001 8:08 PM   Subscribe

Winter is coming to Afghanistan. Several million may die of starvation if aid does not reach them soon. Relief agencies have called for a pause in the bombing to allow relief workers access. Two questions come to mind: what purpose does the bombing serve? and if we continue bombing, thus allowing the Afghanis to starve, are we possibly committing genocide?
posted by kittyloop (55 comments total)

 
Yep.
posted by tweebiscuit at 8:42 PM on October 21, 2001


Understand that the aid agencies are not asking for a pause because the bombing is denying relief workers access; they are asking for a pause in the bombing because the Taliban is denying relief workers access, and the hope is that if the bombing pauses the Taliban might change their minds.

Saying "stop bombing us or we'll starve all of our citizens" should not be a valid negotiating tactic.
posted by jaek at 8:51 PM on October 21, 2001


This is simply another version of Saddam committing genocide on his own people. This kind of leftist/pacifist reasoning makes me barf.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:53 PM on October 21, 2001


they are asking for a pause in the bombing because the Taliban is denying relief workers access

Well, they're asking that all parties - the Taleban, Northern Alliance and the US coalition stop military action to allow workers in. Sorry, I should have been more clear in the post. But I have to say that in principle I agree with the Z Magazine article, that both the Taleban and the US are using the Afghani people as chess pieces (though he's a little reactionary placing all the blame on our shoulders). And I am not convinced that the bombing is accomplishing anything, since it seems to be increasing instead of slowing down.
posted by kittyloop at 9:06 PM on October 21, 2001


both the Taleban and the US are using the Afghani people as chess pieces

The bombing will, eventually, destroy the Taliban and OBL as a force to be concerned about. How do you propose accomplishing this?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:24 PM on October 21, 2001


One question comes to mind: How can ANYONE still buy into this "what purpose does the bombing serve" codswallop?
posted by aaron at 9:30 PM on October 21, 2001


Let's see here...we are bombing to get Bin Laden. And, no its not genocide if we can't feed them all. Taking that route would make any time that we don't find the milllions to prevent starvation genocide. PLus, we're feeding them because we're at war...
posted by jmd82 at 9:35 PM on October 21, 2001


Regardless of any rhetoric, any arguments, any "codswallop", I am absolutely certain of one thing: The bombing will continue. There will be no pause.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:39 PM on October 21, 2001


jmd82, we are not bombing to get bin Laden. bin Laden doesn't matter. We're bombing to weaken the Taliban militarily so they can be defeated, so that they no longer control a large part of Afghanistan, so that they can no longer offer refuge and training camps to al Qaeda, so that al Qaeda can't use those training camps to stage further attacks on the US, so that we don't have further thousands of American dead.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:41 PM on October 21, 2001


The bombing will continue. There will be no pause.

Hallelujah!
posted by aaron at 9:51 PM on October 21, 2001



The bombing will, eventually, destroy the Taliban and OBL as a force to be concerned about. How do you propose accomplishing this?

I still see the people of Afghanistan being used as tokens in a larger "game". Is it possible, that with the cooperation of the Northern Alliance and protection from the US forces that aid workers could deliver relief to the mountains and not have to worry about bombs falling on their head? Geez, I know I'm just a silly sentimental girl, but the possibility of millions starving to death seems somewhat problematic to me if it's in the context of a just war. Or is it just a war?

If you read the Guardian article I posted, the author gives three reasons that the bombing should continue. First, for revenge. Second, to destroy Taleban/Al Quaida bases and/or headquarters. Third, to serve as a "fireworks" display" to warn other states that may harbor terrorists.

As a citizen of the US, I do not want whatever my government constitues "revenge" as to extend to the starvation of several million people. I'm not crazy about the idea of people starving to "send a message", either. As for the Taleban/OSB, we are in the third week of bombing and escalating our use of firepower. As I understand it from the news, we have knocked out communications and destroyed their bases. I know we're bombing the front lines...but where do we go from here, from this moment? More bombs? I don't have an answer. I don't know if this will work. The military doesn't know if this will work. what makes you so sure?
posted by kittyloop at 9:58 PM on October 21, 2001


The use of force against any rogue state would be rendered obsolete; a non-option as a tool for change, if they knew all they would have to do to stop it and therefore secure victory from an outside force is starve their own people. As jeek put it 'Saying "stop bombing us or we'll starve all of our citizens" should not be a valid negotiating tactic'.

Doing so would issue a license for regimes to act as they choose, to effectively tell them ''from now on you can do whatever you want and we cannot use force to stop you."
posted by Kino at 10:00 PM on October 21, 2001


Hallelujah!

PRAISE THE LORD AND PASS THE AMMO!!! WOOHOO!! WE SURE IS TEACHIN' THEM GODLESS CAMEL JOCKEYS A LESSON, AIN'T WE???? YEEEE HAAAAAA!

Good to see that the Slim Pickens contingent is well represented.
posted by Optamystic at 10:02 PM on October 21, 2001


So let me see... the problem is, if we continue the bombing we may inadvertently cause a humanitarian disaster because the Taliban are vicious people who would let their citizens starve just for the potential propaganda value. However, if we stop the bombing and the Taliban gets to feed it's people, they will, likewise, have huge propaganda value. The goal of our campaign and continued bombing more and more seems designed to take the Taliban from power. I can do nothing by applaud that. These people are animals.

And, further, why is it that before Sept. 11, all the articles on these liberal sites that were about Afghanistan were scathing articles on the Taliban--talking about their abominable human rights record, their unthinkable treatment of women, and their wanton destruction of historical monuments.

Now I read articles about them where their record is notably downplayed--because, in the Radical-Leftist Anti-War Propaganda Mode apparently there can be only one enemy: The US Government. So, no matter how terrible the opponent may actually be, standing up to the US government apparently makes you the good little guy, fighting the aggressive militaristic genocidal racist imperialism of the US? lol.

Bah, I say. You know, I never really have been a big fan of George Bush myself, but there is no way he's sitting in the Oval Office right now saying, "Bwahahahaha, the Afghan people are going to STARVE!" and then high fiving Colin Powell.

The US Government is undoubtedly aware of the problem, and I guarantee you that they will do what they can, and what is needed, to prevent it.
posted by Swifty at 10:02 PM on October 21, 2001


jmd82, we are not bombing to get bin Laden. bin Laden doesn't matter.

Oh...that makes everything clear. So Bush was just lying when he said in a press conference that if the taliban would just hand bin laden over, the bombing would stop.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:11 PM on October 21, 2001


Good to see that the Slim Pickens contingent is well represented.

Toss around all the pathetic personal insults you want, if that's all you've got. You will still remain more marginalized than you ever have been before.
posted by aaron at 10:13 PM on October 21, 2001



Kittyloop, there is no possibility of doing what you say. The food needs to get not only to Kabul but to Kandahar, which is hundreds of miles from where the Northern Alliance are located. Even to support Kabul there is a problem; they aren't anywhere near the road extending east from Kabul to Pakistan over which the food would travel. It doesn't make military sense for them to take it; it would use supplies and expend men and not have any effect on their campaign -- so they wouldn't be interested in trying to take that road, even if they were capable of doing so.

As to what we are doing, it's part of the larger picture of the war. Remember the Gulf War? Our air forces spent 6 weeks bombing, and it may have seemed as if they were not accomplishing anything. But as a result of that bombing, when the ground offensive finally started it turned out to be extremely rapid because most of the Iraqi forces on the front line were only too eager to surrender.

What we are doing in Afghanistan with the bombing is to progressively weaken them. But it is a slow process; it takes time and it's not the kind of thing that you can easily see progress from on a day-to-day basis. Indeed, as private citizens we're not going to be given enough information about what's going on to be able to follow along at home anyway, because if we know about it, the Taliban will, too, and will learn what our military is trying to do, what they know, and most importantly of all, what they don't know.

I can't guarantee that we will win this war. No-one can ever know that until after the war is over. I do think we have a much better than even chance of doing so, based on my study of military science, other wars like this one, and what I've been able to learn about how this one is going. I've been reading between the lines in the Taliban announcements and in their diplomatic maneuvers. They're desperate. Despite their grandiose claims of bravery and determination, they are damned near losing control entirely and collapsing. They are not a united group in the sense that we are; the Taliban control a loose confederation of warlords who are following them not because they believe the same things in religious terms, but rather only because of the fact that the Taliban were winners and the warlords like to be on the winning side. Once the Taliban's reputation is seriously harmed, there's a good chance that some of these warlords will decide to defect to the other side, and that process could start with a trickle but end with a flood. I believe that the primary goal of the bombing, plus a lot of special forces operations on the ground (that they haven't told us about) has been to try to precipitate exactly this collapse -- and I think it's working. I see signs that the Taliban are losing hope. (I've been writing about this on my own web log for the last couple of weeks, pointing out the signs when I see them and providing analysis of how I think things are going.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:15 PM on October 21, 2001


re: "what purpose does the bombing serve?"

we can't get relief agencies into the country if Taliban forces with anti-aircraft missiles are firing at humanitarian planes. That kind of risk might be acceptable for U.S. military personnel, but it's generally not for the relief agencies and NGOs that are helping with distribution. the bombing isn't designed to take out human targets (i.e., OBL/Mullah Omar); it's designed to take out infrastructure and physical military targets that impede the U.S's ability to enter hostile territory and maneuver within that environment. If we happen to get OBL or Atef in the process, it's just a bonus. The relief workers require a certain degree of safety in order to do their work and the only way we can provide that is to weaken Taliban capabilities as much as possible and provide U.S. ground forces for support, neither of which could be accomplished without some degree of bombing.
posted by lizs at 10:19 PM on October 21, 2001


Hildegard, yes, he was lying. Or rather, he knew that what he was saying didn't matter because the Taliban were not capable of handing bin Laden over; it was an offer he could safely make because he knew it would not be accepted.

But you mistated the offer; he didn't say "Give us bin laden", he also said "Give us all of al Qaeda, shut down the training camps, and promise never to support them or anyone like them again." In factc, if the Taliban had indeed done that, I think we would have stopped the bombing.

But it's academic; in fact bin Laden owns the Taliban; he's the real power. The reason is that the core of the Taliban army is loyal to bin Laden, not to the Taliban leadership.

Nonetheless, I say again that bin Laden doesn't matter. He will die sometime in the course of this war, but the war won't end with his death, because this war isn't about killing him. It's about dismantling al Qaeda and making it so it cannot launch another attack on us.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:20 PM on October 21, 2001


I was a little disappointed with the articles linked to, because they seemed a little too one-sided (though the Guardian article did give a number of reasons why bombing should continue). This is potentially a terrible calamity. So I went seeking a few other sources of information. There are many out there. These are just some I came across:

Are aid agencies "spin doctoring" the difficulties of getting aid into Afghanistan? The following article says that they are.

Aid Agency Battles Threatened Food Aid

Should bombing continue to make certain that there are safe avenues of entry for relief efforts? That seems to be what this next article is saying.

Mazar-e Sharif Seen Pivotal in Getting Aid to Millions

Are relief efforts at risk from forces inside of Afghanistan? That's what internal relief efforts are experiencing, with details from the following article.

Attacks on humanitarian relief agencies in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan are increasing and must be stopped, Human Rights Watch said today, in releasing details of several attacks.

Are any efforts being taken to help the many refugees who are trying to flee Afghanistan?

Central Asia prepares for Afghan refugees
posted by bragadocchio at 10:35 PM on October 21, 2001


The bombing of Iraq in 1991 by American/coalition forces from Saudi soil served to inadvertantly enrage Osama bin Laden. Bombing Afghanistan could provoke a larger, more deadly response than we have seen.

The articles that appear to be contradictory (human rights/women/statues and US bombing) that Swifty mentions really have the same message, that the people of Afghanistan are suffering.
posted by philfromhavelock at 10:38 PM on October 21, 2001


'It's about dismantling al Qaeda and making it so it cannot launch another attack on us'.

And about illustrating to others that if they attack us in ways al-Qaeda did they will be the brunt of a heavy duty hardcore ruckus. That to attack us is to, in effect, attack themselves.

Perhaps if the programmed madmen who would contemplate flying a plane into a building full of civilians realise that such actions will ultimately damage their cause by dismantling the organisation which they represent, the one that purports to be guided by and serve the interest of Allah, they will have second thoughts about the prospect of such a flight continuing all the way to paradise.

And about showing host nations th.....

And abou...
posted by Kino at 10:39 PM on October 21, 2001


You will still remain more marginalized than you ever have been before.

Are you implying that the correct stance on a given issue is the one that is embraced by the "mainstream"? I'm fairly comfortable over here in the margins. Lotsa elbow room these days. Gives a man a chance to catch his breath and do a little whittlin' whilst he mulls over the issues of the day. That way, he can draw his own conclusions, rather than gulping down nationalistic rhetoric like a hungry baby bird getting his daily dose of mom-vomit.

BTW, that was far from a personal insult and you know it. Toughen up, hombre.
posted by Optamystic at 10:43 PM on October 21, 2001


If you're genuinely interested in ending the suffering of the Afghan people -- and not merely furthering your self-destructive pacifist agenda -- the far more rational solution would be to take the gloves off and put the Taliban down by winter.

That would be a fairly reasonable objective, assuming the military isn't castrated by a public that lost the will to accomplish anything after Vietnam.
posted by John Galt at 11:11 PM on October 21, 2001


The Taliban is already committing genocide against themselves. They just haven't noticed the results yet. When you say that women cannot be educated and that women can only see female doctors, the result is that within one generation it is not possible for women to receive medical care. This plus suicide and men who "release" thier female relatives from this nightmare by murder, and there will be substatiallly fewer women than men. The female life expectancy is already notably shorter than the male. No women equals no people by the second generation. Quod Erat Demonstrandum baby.

Furthermore, thier dire economic straits are caused by the edict that women are not allowed to work. This simultaneously eliminates half the workforce and reduces any household without a male to instant poverty, just add begging.

So no, I am not concerned that "we" are wreaking a humanitarian disaster on them. The worst case scenario is that "we" are making a bad situation worse. The best case would of course be reform and reconstruction.

Of course maybe I am the only person who realizes that Taliban != al Qaida.
posted by ilsa at 11:14 PM on October 21, 2001


ending all terrorist activity, and the taliban regime, by eliminating bin laden is as logical as stopping all bombing of afgahnistan by eliminating bush.

ending all terrorist activity, and the taliban regime, by bombing afghanistan is as logical as stopping all corporate capatalist activity by driving planes into buildings.

nothing is going to be solved. sigh. warmongers and righty people you must know this is like a brigade of blindfolded people driving cars into walls, to use a really non-sensical made up metaphor.
posted by c at 11:14 PM on October 21, 2001


c --
ending the taliban regime by bombing afghanistan IS as logical as ending capitalistica activity in the WTC by driving planes into it.

ending the taliban regime can, if handled properly, significantly REDUCE catastrophic terrorist activity.

One doesn't need to be a warmonger or a righty to think that this war is a necessary evil to TRY to prevent future atrocities. It would be easier to seriously ponder the extreme pacifist point of view if a viable alternative were presented, instead of just decrying the miseries of war.
posted by dness2 at 11:28 PM on October 21, 2001


I still see the people of Afghanistan being used as tokens in a larger "game".

And I totally agree with that viewpoint. However, what can you really do about it? Any situation like this is going to affect a mass population, and they are going to take a side. I cannot imagine a population remaining neutral between its government and an external attacker on its government - with the exception of the history of the United States [when the Yemen bombing occurred] (11.09.01 excluded) - where was the large outcry or cower in terror then?

I'd rather them be pawns of the U.S. than the pawns of the Taliban.

Oh, and speaking to the propagandist roots of the article...

The UN estimates that around 50,000 tonnes of food must get into Afghanistan in the next month. That is the minimum needed. Only a tiny fraction of even that - around 10,000 tonnes - has gone into Afghanistan in the last month, from the combined efforts of the UN and other aid agencies, including Oxfam.

Since when is 20% a 'tiny fraction'?
posted by pooldemon at 11:41 PM on October 21, 2001


ending the taliban regime by bombing afghanistan IS as logical as ending capitalistica activity in the WTC by driving planes into it.

yeah and you can end christianity by killing christ.

you can destoy a building but you cant destory capitialism. you can destroy a country and not destroy the taliban.

ideas scurry. like pouring bleach on an ant hill. unless you can kill every resident of afgahnistan (and lets not, ok!) theres no assurance that taliban thinking wont still exist and fester in small groups of, now even more angry due to provocation, terrorist cells.

they call it a new kind of war and try and fight it with the same cowboy mentailty with which we fought other wars. things will go very very badly.

no more metaphors for me tonight.
posted by c at 12:34 AM on October 22, 2001


That to attack us is to, in effect, attack themselves.

now where have i heard that before?

"US"

heh.
posted by gomez at 1:48 AM on October 22, 2001


> Winter is coming to Afghanistan

That was one of Irving Berlin's Jr.'s off-Broadway efforts. One of the big hits went something like this (give me a bouncy C):

I'm hitching a ride from Missouri tonight
In a plane like a bat with a hell of a bite
It's a fifteen-hour poker game all through the night
Then a "Whoop!" and we're bombing the fags.

Hey, Mr Afghan Man
Stop working on that desert tan
And tidy up a bit around the cavern
Say, Mr Afghan Man
We'll flip you out of your frying pan
And be back home in time to close the tavern

Hey, Mr Taliban
We're coming for your caravan
So park the camels out by the oasis
Say, there, Afghanistan
Here’s how to write a terror plan,
And we just wish that we could see your faces

‘Cause it’s one, two, three bombs for the Taliban,
And Mr Caliban, take five
When winter is coming to Afghanistan
The Taliban are wanted, dead or alive


Or something like that. I don’t have the lyrics in front of me.

By the way, I think there was supposed to be a song about trying to feed millions of hungry people there, but the producers pulled it from the show. They said it would be too depressing.
posted by pracowity at 4:26 AM on October 22, 2001


The kids'll dance to it. Was wondering when we'd see the new "Ballad of the Green Berets."
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:23 AM on October 22, 2001


aaron: One question comes to mind: How can ANYONE still buy into this "what purpose does the bombing serve" codswallop?

Are you more afraid of the question or the answer?

One question which springs to my mind fairly often is "how can anyone whose prejudices don't allow them to at least evaluate a pertinent question consider themselves not to be bigoted?"

Now you can just imagine I'm a "marginalised" lefty pacifist and ignore me.
posted by walrus at 6:47 AM on October 22, 2001


i know now why we send the young to die. because they would argue then just fight anyway. i cant take much more of this. I purpose the U.S. give no aid, reparations when it can(like mexico) then pack it up for one year. so we abandon the great matrix of inner-connected economics for isolation(this CAN be done kids, we are not that tied to the worlds resource tit) so, what would happen? maybe nothing. Hey its either we take the marbles home or we help(perhaps hinder) other countries. In 1947, The united states had the man-power and equipment to occupy every major power. noone could have stopped us. THATS POWER. power because we did not militarily take-over the world(Pinky?) so, what would you do. why dont you give BIG SAM a break.
posted by newnameintown at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2001


aaron, you might understand better if you swaggered a little less and listened a little more.

One question comes to mind: How can ANYONE still buy into this "what purpose does the bombing serve" codswallop?

Do you really want to know, or are you just trying to score rhetorical points? If the former, lacing your question with words like "codswallop" and phrases like "still buy into this" pretty much guarantees that you're not going to get a helpful answer. If the latter, you're being a jerk. Making inflammatory assertions and backing them up with insults is sometimes called "bullying".

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:28 AM on October 22, 2001


My prediction is this: in the coming weeks the US will take Kabul, Kandahar and other cities and then proclaim "victory" over the Taliban. The provisional government the US installs will have little popular support, as US atrocities will by then have alienated most of the remaining local population. Meanwhile the Taliban, Al Queda and their supporters will have headed for the hills, plotting their revenge. Thus will ensue another long, deep civil war. (remember, the Soviets defeated four local governments before they settled in for good).

As for lack of food, civilian casualties etc, it's obvious that the American govt cares very little. There has not been any apology for any deaths of innocents, nor any major effort to ensure food gets through. That a government agency would act this way is understandable, what troubles me more is the indifference of ordinary folks...

This indifference is one reason why discontent across the Muslim world is boiling away, and that, not Bin Laden, is something we should be very wary of.
posted by dydecker at 8:41 AM on October 22, 2001


The bombing of Iraq in 1991 by American/coalition forces from Saudi soil served to inadvertantly enrage Osama bin Laden. Bombing Afghanistan could provoke a larger, more deadly response than we have seen.

More likely, however, we’ll kill all of them. It’s hard to be enraged when you’re dead.
posted by gleemax at 9:09 AM on October 22, 2001


Well there are several pragmatic reasons why we should be cautious about this war. For example, the bombings are creating quite a bit of support for the Taliban and Ben Ladan throughout the Islamic world. How is this support compromising our ability to isolate and investigate a terrorist group that exists accross several borders? How will relying on Pakistan tip the balance of power in a country that has nuclear capabilities?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:11 AM on October 22, 2001


Another point: one of the reasons the terrorists gave for the 911 attacks (wrong or right) was that "half a million Iraqis died through American bombings", or somesuch.

If several million innocent Afghanis die of starvation before next spring, then whether it's the fault of the US or the Taliban, we could just be giving another generation of terrorists an even bigger excuse.

So far I fall down pro military action, but if the US were to allow these deaths either through action or inaction (note strawman), I would find it hard to continue supporting this. I think many other Europeans might feel the same way.

ps. Saw gleemax' post while previewing: please try to remember that Bin Laden is not Iraqi or Palestinian, but he's still fairly enraged. Most of the people who would die of starvation are not fundamentalists or terrorists. In fact, starvation tends to hit the elderly, the infirm or the young first. Any potential terrorists using this campaign as an excuse would likely hail from outside Afghanistan in any case. Good rhetorical point though: add 50 to your score.
posted by walrus at 9:15 AM on October 22, 2001


More likely, however, we’ll kill all of them. It’s hard to be enraged when you’re dead.

Yeah, you're right. I'm sure the US will manage to kill all of the people who have the will and the money to do these things. They will spend the rest of the century trying at least, if that's the goal. Do you really think that people who support this kind of thing are all in Afghanistan? Did you notice the opposition party in Malaysia, for instance? Radicals in Saudi Arabia? Yemen? Iraq? Pakistan? How about radicals in east Africa? I know there are some angry groups of young men in Germany and Russia, too, when it comes down to it. The IRA? The Palestinians? What about South America, there's some seething anger there, too. Cuba? Hell, what about characters like Timothy McVeigh? There are lots of people out there who would have no issues about doing things like this. Are we lulling ourselves into a false sense of security by bombing one pathetic little dictatorship?
posted by Hildegarde at 9:27 AM on October 22, 2001


To those of you who misinterpreted my comment: I was not presuming that terrorists only live in Afghanistan. Duh. However, one goal of this war is to shut down, or in plainer terms, kill al Qaeda. Bin Laden’s anger over the attacks is irrelevant if he dies in this war. That’s all I was trying to say.

I was not saying this war will solve all our problems, kill all those who would do the same to us, and bring about harmony. For that we need doughnuts.
posted by gleemax at 2:54 PM on October 22, 2001


Let me toss out a nightmare scenario: what if Al Qaeda moves the remnants of its operations to Kashmir? (In fact, it's more than likely that bin Laden is already underwriting insurgents in the territory. And even if every camp and terrorist in Afghanistan is flattened, that's not going to end things across the border.)

Anyone want to come up with a nice little "bomb 'em and feed what's left" solution if the War On Thugs envelops that little powder-keg?

In 1947, The united states had the man-power and equipment to occupy every major power. noone could have stopped us.

A good and wise choice not to, though, since forces like that which tore apart the subcontinent in that year might have repulsed even the power of all-conquering Uncle Sam. (There's nothing to match a colonial power that has the desire and the means for freedom.) In fact, the success of the US as a Great Power, if you follow Paul Kennedy's arguments, is that it was smart enough to know where to stop: something that previous empires had singularly failed. (That said, Anatol Lieven's recent LRB essay offers a thoughtful, if questionable, discussion of "certain structural features in both the Wilhemine and the US system tending to produce over-ambition, and above all a chronic incapacity to choose between diametrically opposite goals.")
posted by holgate at 5:56 PM on October 22, 2001


Neither Pakistan nor India will tolerate that; both sides will use troops (and may even cooperate) to make sure that doesn't happen. While al Qaeda forces might be able to hid out in Kashmir, they won't be able to operate there the way they have in Afghanistan, i.e. no training camps.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:47 PM on October 22, 2001


we're doing more to feed them than thier own people are, we're NOT BOMBING THEM< wre're bombin the taliban.

We're not bombing schols and temples... we're bombiing bunkers and hangers.

get over yourself. wah... I bet you don't eat meat either.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 10:12 PM on October 22, 2001


Mmm ... doughnuts.
posted by walrus at 12:22 AM on October 23, 2001


War sucks whether you are a "good" or "bad" guy.

Innocent people, truly innocent children, suffer and die in war at the hands of "good" and "bad" guys.

Wars have unexpected results, whether you win or lose them.

Pull out all the relativisms you want, put up all the marginalist barriers you desire, but you will not be able to deny war is inhumane.
posted by mmarcos at 5:51 AM on October 23, 2001


the american military industrial complex is raining terror on the afgan people.
this is an act of revenge for the One Big Event, there will be no winner.
please can someone explain to me how killing people will stop hatred?
there is no honour in this, it is an affront to the human spirit.
posted by asok at 7:08 AM on October 23, 2001


Asok, the point of it isn't to "stop hatred". It has a specific military goal: to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and to remove all support for al Qaeda in that nation. The specific way in which the bombing serves that goal is described quite thoroughly in this article.

It's easy to demonstrate that the strategy used in the war will fail to accomplish the goal if you get to pick the goal. It's important to understand what the goal really is.

This is not about attacking the Afghan people. (If we were trying to kill the Afghan people, the death toll would be in the hundreds of thousands by now.)

This is not about revenge. The purpose of the bombing is not to dish out retribution for the attack which already happened, but to try to prevent the attacks which might come if we do nothing. (And it is absolutely certain there would be more, and the next one or the one after might create a level of devestation to make the WTC attack look tiny.)

The war in Afghanistan is only the first step in this. It alone is not sufficient to end this, but it is an essential piece of the solution. Once it's finished there will be other struggles in other places. This is going to take a long time.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:46 AM on October 23, 2001


Steven, I understand what you're saying, but how do you reduce a problem by escalating it?

This thread has been bashing a strawman to some extent: no-one really knows the extent or effects of the bombing, and no-one has clearly shown that the international coalition will allow millions to starve. Throwing caution to the wind and assuming they do (which is what this thread is about): they will worsen the very problem they are seeking to quash.

Thanks for the link btw ... one of the most informative articles on the subject I've read.

asok: nearly every political or military event ever has been an affront to the human spirit. I don't see how it can ever stop. Thank you for continuing to point it out, though.
posted by walrus at 9:02 AM on October 23, 2001


Maybe if we all agree that war sucks it will magically go away.
posted by gleemax at 9:51 AM on October 23, 2001


Like Jerry Falwell?
posted by walrus at 10:06 AM on October 23, 2001


How do you reduce a problem by escalating it? That's nice rhetoric, but in fact history has shown many times that escalation can work well. It doesn't always work, but sometimes it does.

your statement also misstates the situation. The problem is terrorist attacks. Our response isn't escalation of terrorist attacks, but rather an armed response whose purpose is to prevent future terrorist attacks. (Of course, to some people every use of military force is terrorist. I reject that usage of the term.)

In this case, we reduce the problem by annihilating al Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan is the first step in that process. In a kill-or-be-killed situation, you kill or you're killed. I would rather there not be another major attack on a US city, all other things being equal.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2001


That's nice rhetoric, but in fact history has shown many times that escalation can work well.

You're probably right. Escalation of violence just saddens me. Sorry about the rhetoric, btw. I got carried away.

Your statement also misstates the situation. The problem is terrorist attacks. Our response isn't escalation of terrorist attacks, but rather an armed response whose purpose is to prevent future terrorist attacks.

Hmm ... I think you misstated my statement ;)

I didn't mean our response is an escalation of terrorist attacks, I meant if our response goes horribly wrong (in terms of millions of deaths) it will worsen the terrorism.

I agree in broad terms with a military response to the events of 11th September. I question the wisdom of its implementation, as apparently perceived by the relief agencies.

Of course, to some people every use of military force is terrorist. I reject that usage of the term.

I also reject that usage. I think a good definition of terrorism would be intentional attacks against civilian targets.

I would rather there not be another major attack on a US city, all other things being equal.

Me too. Your point being?
posted by walrus at 11:42 AM on October 23, 2001


Holgate:I guess that is my point. we did not. our will was not up to that. to turn even more solders out to fight. but my scenario does not include colonies sir.those would have been "dealt with" in the breifs and notes when i attempted to outline my masters on that premises. only one, that we did have the military ability to do that. The United States is the only power to have reached that level, a zenith if your so inclined. But history proves that despots fall or change face. perhaps we are one of the few societies whom prevented such a mad plan(imagine patton as prezdent?) no what ifs here. the data is in books. declassified War department stuff and the ability of hindsight. by 1945 we produced over 50% of the worlds total goods.(manufactured) Now imagine all that lend-lease and aid to russia back here...building, waiting. advent of nuclear weapons and long range bombers by 1947 and you have a sha-bang. (this would have started jan. 46' with a sneak attack on the russsians with conventional weapons.) so we did 'the right thing'? with Chile, Iran, vietnam, korea..all those fun CIA sideshows? Was that not worse. the deals, the betrayals, the girls, the guns the drugs, the wheat da-da-da."There's nothing to match a colonial power that has the desire and the means for freedom.' uhhh ten nuclear weapons might put a dent into india under the evil sam scenario. who cares about occupation. You tried that. what, we were not wise to Ghandi and the tumble weed afire? come now. again. the point of America is not her tanks or MIRVS. it is the choice that she does with them. I see her choice as clear. ( the author does not support a world conquest in the year 1947, nor supports the presidency of patton, all emotions about BIG SAM dropping a bomb on India is pure historical what-iffy)
posted by newnameintown at 8:17 PM on October 23, 2001


and kennedy is one the few sources i do trust relating to these matters. but war confuses all that freedom, fair play crap.
posted by newnameintown at 8:19 PM on October 23, 2001


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