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US Bombs Hit Wrong Target for Second Time in Two Days

December 2, 2001 9:26 PM   Subscribe

US Bombs Hit Wrong Target for Second Time in Two Days
Just a reminder, lest anyone forget, that scores of Afghani civilians are still being killed by US bombs. [More inside.]
posted by mapalm (89 comments total)

 
Scroll down the article to read this revealing nugget:

"The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he would not rule out ordering gas to be pumped into the Tora Bora caves, 28 miles south of Jalalabad, where Mr bin Laden is believed to be hiding."

I guess one man's "gas" is another man's "weapon of mass destruction." Oh, the hypocrisy...
posted by mapalm at 9:31 PM on December 2, 2001


if I were religious, I would be praying for afghanistan.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2001


Oh, be nice. Do you have a better idea? Maybe something that doesn't use fossil fuels.

Mustard gas! And it'd float to the bottom of these caves.
posted by geoff. at 9:33 PM on December 2, 2001


more "collateral damage" ?
posted by sikander at 9:48 PM on December 2, 2001


If they've got evidence that Bin Laden is in the caves, I'm all for smoking him out the best way possible, be it gas or whatever. My only concern would be that he'd rather stay inside the cave and let himself die than be captured by the U.S. troops waiting outside.
posted by tomorama at 9:54 PM on December 2, 2001


Has anyone else noticed a surpising lack of conjectures as to the number of Afghani casualities in this conflict? The media were very quick to seize upon the one U.S. militaryman lost... and I seem to recall hearing casualty estimates within seconds of the World Trade Centers collapsing. Yet no one seems to have anything to say about the number of Afghanis killed. Strange, no?
posted by drywall at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2001


It is sad when civilians are accidentally killed. However, I'd rather this happen than to have our enemies hit their intended targets. At least the U.S. doesn't intentionally target civilians.
posted by CRS at 9:58 PM on December 2, 2001


How can the world take the US seriously when it criticizes countries for developing/using chemical weapons...and then turns around and uses them itself?

But the original link was to serve as a reminder that the carnage continues, despite the lovely, anti-septic video provided by CNN, et al.
posted by mapalm at 10:00 PM on December 2, 2001


drywall:
Yet no one seems to have anything to say about the number of Afghanis killed. Strange, no?

Indeed, you are right. It is strange, and disturbing, too, how the media have rolled over to lick the feet of jolly Uncle Donald cracking jokes at his press briefings, asking narry a challenging question.

And the same lack of investigative reporting could be said of US casualties. Here for example.
posted by mapalm at 10:06 PM on December 2, 2001


Mapalm: "I guess one man's "gas" is another man's "weapon of mass destruction." Oh, the hypocrisy..."

That is a completely unfair statement and you know it. They're not drowning the guy with water or throwing bombs down into the shaft. Gas used to smoke out the terrorists is quite different from hijacking four planes and killing thousands of Americans with them.

Hypocrisy my ass! Look up the word in a dictionary before you exploit it. Thank you.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:07 PM on December 2, 2001


I guess one man's "gas" is another man's "weapon of mass destruction." Oh, the hypocrisy...

Double standard by the US? Can't say I'm surprised. Maybe next time the US wants to raise itself above the level of third-world dictators we should just remind ourselves that that so far proposals for military tribunals, sending prisoners off to torture, and chemical weapons all seem like a good idea to the Pentagon and the hawkish (vocal majority) US citizens.

Anything to get the trains running on time, eh?
posted by skallas at 10:12 PM on December 2, 2001


And above that, "gas" and "mustard gas" are not the same thing. And even if it were mustard gas, which I don't believe it is, the point of not allowing weapons like chemical weapons to be used is because it's hard to control their effects on civilians. However, I don't think many civilians are living in the caves outside Jalalabad. Just a guess...
posted by Kevs at 10:14 PM on December 2, 2001


Its a violation of the Geneva Protocols to use poison gas. Considering the article wasn't specific it may be tear gas or some pepper/mace mix. Or it may be something unheard of that can penetrate gas masks, which I'm sure are not in short supply in these bunkers.
posted by skallas at 10:20 PM on December 2, 2001


I am sick of hearing people say that deplorable and inhuman acts are satisfactory "unless you can think of something better to do!" If something is wrong but practical it is still wrong, and you don't do it.
posted by Hildago at 10:40 PM on December 2, 2001


First I saw the link title, next I saw the decription, then I saw the "posted by mapalm". No surprise.

Just a reminder, lest [mapalm] forget, that scores of innocent people died on September 11th.
posted by msacheson at 10:44 PM on December 2, 2001


(trying that again, sorry)

First I saw the link title, next I saw the decription, then I saw the "posted by mapalm". No surprise.

Just a reminder, lest [mapalm] forget, that scores of innocent people died on September 11th.
posted by msacheson at 10:46 PM on December 2, 2001


Oh, heck with it. The code thinks I'm self-linking (to a comment last month in thread 12184).

All I'm trying to do is flame mapalm and say that (lest mapalm forget) scores of innocent people died on September 11th.

I've been meaning to point MeFi'ers to the "Portraits of Grief" in the New York Times. (The link is on the right margin of the front page. It opens a new window that cannot be linked to, as far as I can tell.) These stories ("Profiles: Among the Missing") are touching and hearbreaking. I try to read them every day and use them as a reminder to treasure each day and live a good life.

posted by msacheson at 10:52 PM on December 2, 2001


msacheson: I think mapalm is jumping the gun by calling the U.S. hypocritical - the facts are not totally in here. He's, as mentioned by me before, on a crusade. Nevertheless, it sucks to rub blood in someone's face the minute he or she questions anything the government does regarding the war or anything 9/11-related. (Can you imagine adults acting this way: "Hey, Mr. Congressman, if you don't like this fiscal stimulus package . . . well, you just don't give a shit about the 3,000 people who died, do you?" OK, maybe you can imagine that sort of behavior, but . . . ) I'm sure there's a term for that sort of thing, but it's escaping me here. It's sure not right or fair, though. It's an attempt to induce guilt, posing as an argument.
posted by raysmj at 11:00 PM on December 2, 2001


Let us also remember that there are people in Washington, DC missing pieces of their flesh.
posted by owillis at 11:00 PM on December 2, 2001


Wow, Owillis. Then why don't we just torture people by the hundreds, without a care, if people are missing pieces of their flesh. If that's worth posting, why not make it a separate front-page post?
posted by raysmj at 11:12 PM on December 2, 2001


True enough, owillis, and not to cast aspersions on their suffering, but there are people out there who are worse off than these -- equally wounded, but without top-notch medical treatment, financial aid, and insurance money. Or food, water, shelter..
posted by Hildago at 11:17 PM on December 2, 2001


raysmj, thanks. Good point. I know I'm being unfair in attacking mapalm's political tendency instead of discussing the unfortunate truth of the link, that the U.S. is, indeed, harming innocent people in Afghanistan.

But the bombing in Afghanistan is being done in the process and intention of improving the quality of life for all Afghanis in the future. And for vengeance, yes. Terrorists killed 3,000+ with no intention of improving the future of a large group of people, just striking at those responsible for a better quality of life elsewhere.
posted by msacheson at 11:19 PM on December 2, 2001


mscacheson: Mapalm could have been more diplomatic and thoughtful in his post, certainly. I just didn't like the nasty turn this thread was taking. Meantime, I didn't think the bombing was being done for vengeance, mainly, but to overthrow the Taliban and break up the terror network.
posted by raysmj at 11:25 PM on December 2, 2001


Hildago: "If something is wrong but practical it is still wrong, and you don't do it."

This is the same damn argument I've been having with Steven den Beste off and on for the past week or so. Violence is wrong. No question about that. However, one cannot stand idly by and allow violence to be done on oneself or those one loves, without retaliating.

Will there be "collateral damage" in the form of lost innocent lives? Yes. That's inevitable. We knew that going into it. The terrorists don't care. They think all members of the free world are against them. We know better, but since we're talking about people who not only hide in caves but have been proven to hide behind the bodies of innocents to keep us from killing them, we're given no choice.

When a bank robber gets desperate cuz he's about to be caught, he usually grabs a hostage and hides behind the bodies of innocents in hopes of getting away. The same thing is happening with the Taliban in Afghanistan. They've been hiding behind innocents for years, and yet they insist their interpretation of the Koran is of higher moral fiber than the decadent free world?

We cannot allow this to continue any longer. For every innocent Afghanistan life lost by the hands of Americans, the Taliban have killed ten of their own in the past decade. This must end. And it's gonna have to end bloody. The terrorists have given us* no choice.

America attacking Afghanistan is wrong. However, the terrorists have given us no choice. Diplomacy has been tried for over a decade but the terrorists are not playing by the rules of diplomacy. They are testing the boundaries of what they perceive to be their enemy, hoping the paper tiger doesn't have the heart to stop them.

They understand nothing but force. They claim to be doing this for the good of their people but they have embraced evil in order to accomplish their ends, because they believe the end justifies the means. The means corrupt the end. This is a lesson they have failed to learn. It is one that we must learn in order to retain the higher ground.

Hildago, if something is wrong but practical, it is still wrong. I agree with you there. However, you must do it if it means putting an end to the evil. You just have to be careful not to let the means corrupt the end.

It's called self-defense. And understand that this is precisely the line of thinking which caused people like Bin Laden to attack in the first place. They believe it's the only way to stop the wrongs that have been done to them. It's a fine line.

Joseph Campbell once told the story of a samurai warrior who was duty bound to avenge the death of his superior. He sought out the killer, and sword drawn, he went in for the kill. The killer spat on his face. The samurai then sheathed his sword and walked away, because had he killed the murderer then, it would have been for personal vendettas instead of out of duty to his superior. That's the fine line.

The US government is duty-bound to protect and insure the safety of its citizens. If we attack out of emotion, we lose. We* must attack in such a way as to insure the safety of the free world. That is our duty.

*= I don't mean me or you personally. I mean "we" as in the free world as a whole.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 PM on December 2, 2001


I regret every single civilian death in Afghanistan. These deaths, however, are accidental, not intentional. There is an enormous difference, and equating them is moral relativism of the first order.

War is messy; war is hell. I certainly never wanted to go to war in Afghanistan, but the danger posed by al Qaeda argued otherwise. The nastiest part of all this is that we've probably fought our last conventional war, a decade ago, in the Gulf; from now on, we'll either be fighting missile wars, or 4GW special-forces/guerrilla wars. These kind are even messier and more hellish. The "laws of war" were certainly never intended as "laws against war", yet many would like them to be interpreted that way. I don't see how we can -- for example -- fight a war against a paramilitary hiding in caves with any great finesse. Look at Iwo Jima -- said to be the highest casualty rate for square mile of territory seized in any war in history. These cave systems are extensive, with escape routes and -- if we start to go in -- booby traps galore. Are we to think like warriors and seek honest glory by having our soldiers die, or are we to think like professional military seeking a solution with the quickest result and the lowest casualties for our own men? Then you have the pesky guerrilla habit of hiding fighting men and materièl amongst civilians. If we allow this to dictate where we will and will not hit targets, we cede to the enemy force the initiative always sought by Napoleon: making his enemy attack when and where he wanted. Then we have the matter of civilians living in a war zone. I'm sorry, but they ought to get their asses the hell out of there, with a quickness. Just as it's insane for reporters to get into a war zone, so it must be for civilians to stay there. At what point do we allow that they are making a choice to risk being caught up in hostilities? Then there is the question of allegiance in a swiftly changing war zone. The commanders who are with us today might not have been with us when the bombing run was planned; and it's such a slam-dunk to stay on one side until you're bombed, then abruptly claim having switched sides. Reporters are not being permitted into the White Mountain hamlets said to have been bombed, because the same government which is state in this article to be a civilian and friendly one is not in complete control of the region. Finally, and this is a key related point, the people of Afghanistan have allowed a government of madmen to run their country, a government which permitted an alien paramilitary statelet to operate its craven attacks on civilians from their territory. I just don't buy this "innocent Afghan civilian" rhetoric. I grieve for every civilian, but the time for them to have helped us was 1996, when Osama returned to their country. If they are so near to Tora Bora, yet so friendly to our cause, why are they not besieging that holdout themselves? If they are not, can they truly be claimed to be friendly? Where do we draw the line between civilian farmer with a gun, and guerrilla fighter blending into the local population? What, in fourth generation warfare, is a "civilian"?

This is not as cut-and-dried as mapalm and the peace brigade calling for Marquess of Queensbury rules of war would have it.
posted by dhartung at 11:30 PM on December 2, 2001


mapalm-Just a reminder, lest anyone forget, that millions of civilians were killed in World War 2...Please explain if that was 'right' or 'wrong'?
posted by Mack Twain at 11:39 PM on December 2, 2001


But the bombing in Afghanistan is being done in the process and intention of improving the quality of life for all Afghanis in the future.

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it"--General William Westmoreland
posted by Optamystic at 11:46 PM on December 2, 2001


Why does rebuking the military for killing civilians make one a peacenik, and how is calling into question the (potential) use of poison gas, something which has been acknowledged as inhumane since WWI, akin to demanding Queensbury rules in war? Or are you overgeneralizing to make a point? If so, mention it so that I don't have to throw my hands up in disgust.

Also, paragraph breaks.
posted by Hildago at 11:47 PM on December 2, 2001


The Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons by the United States and over 120 other countries.

Rumsfeld publically refused to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, and also noted that the United States has never ruled out the potential use of nuclear weapons, so the statement about weapons of mass destruction and hypocrisy has no bearing.

Terrorists don't get Weapons of Mass Destruction. No one gets to provide terrorists with WMD. Iraq doesn't get WMD. The United States does. That's not hypocritical, it's UN Security Council Resolution 687.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:39 AM on December 3, 2001


Yes, there are reports that the US has killed scores of Afghan civilians in villages around Tora Bora... but no journalists have been in to confirm them because the area is still unsafe. Mullah Omar's bounty of $50,000 on the head of any western journalist is not helping.
posted by techgnollogic at 1:09 AM on December 3, 2001


"The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he would not rule out ordering gas to be pumped into the Tora Bora caves, 28 miles south of Jalalabad, where Mr bin Laden is believed to be hiding."

Seems to me I saw a diagram of a "typical" cave that included steel doors -- not an argument against it, necessarily, but more of a "don't be surprised when nobody runs out and nothing happens" point.

Also, have to agree with mapalm that antiseptic is an excellent word for CNN war coverage. Here in Japan we see all kinds of stuff on TV that would never be shown in the U.S., on CNN or anywhere else, for that matter.

ZachsMind: However, one cannot stand idly by and allow violence to be done on oneself or those one loves, without retaliating.

At least a few great teachers have argued that one must stand idly by and allow violence to be done on oneself or those one loves, without retaliating. Not saying you're wrong -- just that the opposite point of view is pretty popular, if but rarely adhered to.

Also from ZachsMind: Hypocricy my ass.

Hahahahahahahaha! That was cool.
posted by Bixby23 at 1:22 AM on December 3, 2001


techgnollogic, "A CNN correspondent reported seeing five bodies. Authorities said eight were killed."
posted by mmarcos at 1:27 AM on December 3, 2001


I guess the difference, cold though it may seem to state it, is that the USA has millions of relatively comfortably-off citizens but has recently been the victim of one attack in which 3,500 people died. Afghanistan, after years of war in which the country was utterly decimated, is still being bombed and people are still dying, including innocent civilians. The winter is coming to Afghanistan and thousands more people will die, regardless of what we do. For me this puts things into perspective somewhat: Afghanistan's suffering has got to end now because we are starting to lose the moral highground.
posted by skylar at 2:29 AM on December 3, 2001


I don't like for civilians or terrorists to die.
posted by corpse at 3:40 AM on December 3, 2001


I don't like for civilians or terrorists to die.

How very rational. Better watch it. These days, talk like that could get a man in trouble.
posted by Optamystic at 4:39 AM on December 3, 2001


so, what does this bring the total number of afghan civilians killed by us to?
posted by mcsweetie at 5:42 AM on December 3, 2001


Afghanistan's suffering has got to end now because we are starting to lose the moral highground.

You don't fight wars to take the moral high ground. We're in this fight because a military force killed thousands of people on our soil and threatened future attacks, and the force's patron government is so entwined with the group the two are indistinguishable.

It's regrettable that hundreds of Afghan civilians are likely to die (or have already died) in these attacks, but it's an inevitable consequence of war. Should the U.S. avoid war at any cost and leave itself captive to more attacks from Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, emboldened by a belief the U.S. is a paper tiger that won't do anything to stop them?
posted by rcade at 5:53 AM on December 3, 2001


CRS - It is sad when civilians are accidentally killed. However, I'd rather this happen than to have our enemies hit their intended targets. At least the U.S. doesn't intentionally target civilians.

I think you'll find that is just the official line. In reality, not only does the US target civilians, and aid regimes which target civilians, but it is not seen as a crime.

Colin Powell wrote: "If a helo [helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM [military-aged male], the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen, Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong." In his memoirs, Powell also defends the torching of civilians' huts, a tactic his unit constantly employed in Vietnam.

Some people in the US have a handle on reality. Sadly, the media tells us that the majority prefer to live cosseted in their saccharine candy floss web of lies, rather than grow up and face reality. This may not be the case, but that's what you are shown on the 'news'.
posted by asok at 6:37 AM on December 3, 2001


Zachsmind:

For every innocent Afghanistan life lost by the hands of Americans, the Taliban have killed ten of their own in the past decade

Care to back this up with any figures?

dhartung

I just don't buy this "innocent Afghan civilian" rhetoric.

In response to that, i would say you'd get - i don't buy this innocent US civilian rhetoric. All those working in the twin towers were a part of the US industrial complex, therefore culpable for the actions of their masters, who have been responsible for the destrucion and death of many people, cultures and environments world-wide. In addition they have allowed 'a government of madmen' to run their country, making it a pariah and causing global seething hatred that bubbled over into a violent attack on US soil.
If they cared so much about democracy, where were the protests and uprisings following the un-democtratic vote-counting deabacle during the last election?
posted by asok at 7:05 AM on December 3, 2001


yada yada... a justification for killing... yada yada... another justification for killing... yada yada... yet another justification for killing

etc
posted by kv at 7:07 AM on December 3, 2001


Mapalm, lest anyone forget...er, nevermind. We will never forget 911.
posted by Oxydude at 7:12 AM on December 3, 2001


Bixby23: "At least a few great teachers have argued that one must stand idly by and allow violence to be done on oneself or those one loves, without retaliating. Not saying you're wrong -- just that the opposite point of view is pretty popular, if but rarely adhered to."

Understood. This is the crux of the misunderstanding between myself and Steven. Indeed between myself as a sworn pacifist and anyone who argues war with me.

I am not dismissing the words of Jesus Christ or Mahatma Ghandi. Ideally what should truly be done is turn the other cheek. If only we could. If only that were a viable option.

Ghandi said, "Jesus Christ, Daniel, and Socrates represented the purest form of passive resistance or soul force." However, Ghandi also once said, "True nonviolence should mean a complete freedom from ill-will and anger and hate and an overflowing love for all." If we as a nation were to drop to our knees before the Taliban, the result would be an end to our way of life in favor of generations of needless suffering. This will not happen. This cannot happen. A day must come when true freedom is not merely imagined. A decade of diplomacy has not worked. There's the Cole. The American embassies which they have bombed. Turn the other cheek? We only have two.

No one hates war more than me. It is wrong to kill another human being. For any reason. Should we fight this war? No. Must we? We have no choice. However, we must fight this war in such a way as to insure that someday, war will not need to be an option. It may take many more generations. It may never come. I hope humanity survives itself long enough to see that day.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:19 AM on December 3, 2001


asok: Gee, if you're going to post something so impossibly inflammatory, why don't you include an e-mail address?
posted by raysmj at 7:23 AM on December 3, 2001


I think the point asok is making is that dhartung is using the same justification for killing Afgani civilians that the terrorists used for killing US civilians on September 11. I don't think asok is necessarily agreeing with the terrorists justification, just using it to make a point.
posted by jennyb at 7:44 AM on December 3, 2001


Any excuse to piss on the West, eh asok? So it's a war crime if civilians die in a strike against a criminal government, but it's okay to kill corporate-slave-citizens (or would you prefer the term 'drones', because they're certainly less human than you are) because you don't like what the parent company does. Gotcha.
posted by darukaru at 7:46 AM on December 3, 2001


I think the difference being that America did not wish to target Afghani citizens, and when it has killed them it has done so by mistake, whereas bin Laden and Co. have specifically targetted civilians not for their military or economic value as targets, but so as to inflame and cause suffering to their families and countrymen.

I think if both parties were to stand in the Hague docket and defend their actions, we'd have very diverse verdicts.

And lest we forget: inflammatory posts + no email address = troll. There's a bridge with no one undeneath somewhere...
posted by UncleFes at 7:56 AM on December 3, 2001


I'm not quite sure I see the moral difference between targeting civilians in the WTC and accidentally killing civilians in Afghanistan. In making the attacks, the military knows that some number of civilians will be killed. The fact that it doesn't know exactly who or where doesn't give me much comfort.

The one thing that disturbs me most among the civilian-casualties-are-a-necessary-if-unfortunate-result-of-war set is the unspoken assumption that an innocent American life is much more valuable than an innocent Afghani life. I get the feeling that they're willing to see a score of Afghani civilians die to prevent one more American civilian dying. This strikes me as antithetical to the Declaration of Independence, which holds that all people, not just Americans, are created equal.
posted by anapestic at 8:11 AM on December 3, 2001


And lest we forget: inflammatory posts + no email address = troll. There's a bridge with no one undeneath somewhere...

This is absurd. We are in a politically reactionary climate right now. People's names are being collected and there are blacklists being authored.

If someone wants to stand a state their opinions and their ID then that is fine (robb@nervous.net). If someone wants to post anon, that is fine. This forum doesn't require email disclosure and that means that this forum doesn't require email disclosure.

asok's POV is one that needs to be heard and pondered. There is a seed of truth in the spectrum of POVs seen here -- and asok's is at one end of that spectrum. Dissent is good for you.

Oh and his post is hardly a troll -- if you have forgotten what trolling really is go read the 0-modded posts on a slashdot thread about the Macintosh.
posted by n9 at 8:19 AM on December 3, 2001


Asok: Here are your Taliban atrocities.
posted by techgnollogic at 8:55 AM on December 3, 2001


I for one applaud Asok's right to free speech, as I do my own.

asok: "Care to back this up with any figures?"

Amnesty International reported in 1999 that "Several thousand civilians, including possible prisoners of conscience, were taken prisoner. Almost all the detainees were reportedly tortured or ill-treated. Thousands of people were deliberately and systematically killed; thousands of others remained missing..."

This was back in 1999. Two years before the American 911 tragedy, in which approximately five thousand on American soil were killed in four swift strokes. How many more thousands in Afghanistan have died since this report? Actual figures are difficult to attain, because whenever someone from the Taliban notices someone counting the dead, that person gets his pointing finger shot off.

These prisoners were mostly Afghanistan civilians who were caught not following the absurd, inhumane laws dictated by the might makes right Taliban.

Further: "Scores of civilians were killed in direct or indiscriminate attacks by all warring factions on the civilian population in residential areas. At least eight floggings, 14 amputations and 10 executions were announced, but the actual numbers were believed to be higher.."

The article goes on to detail the humiliating treatment of Afghan women, the spread of control of Afghanistan by Taliban forces through the month of August in 1999, and how a large percentage of the population fled their homes and became refugees in their own country. Those who weren't killed effectively had their lives disrupted to the point where their lifestyles and livelihoods were decimated.

So my original statement, Asok, was actually a conservative estimate. Thank you for insisting I back up my rhetoric with figures.

America is not trying to kill in retaliation for our own deaths. We're trying to stop the Taliban from killing anyone anymore, including their own fellow citizens - the very people they professed to lead.

The Taliban's idea of leadership has amounted to genocide.

NEVER AGAIN.

We owe it to the dead on all sides of the battlefield to defend the living.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:57 AM on December 3, 2001


I'm not quite sure I see the moral difference between targeting civilians in the WTC and accidentally killing civilians in Afghanistan.

The only way to avoid seeing the difference is willful blindness. At least the civilians in Afghanistan know they're in a war. It was a total surprise to thousands of people who died on Sept. 11.

I'm open to persuasion where the Afghanistan war is concerned, because like most Americans I'd just as soon not heap more suffering on a long-suffering people, and I don't believe the military-managed news that makes war look like a videogame. (I've been watching a lot of the foreign news shows on the BBC America and News Television cable channels, and they trot out the wounded and dead Afghans with aplomb.)

However, most anti-war rhetoric boils down to condescending sneers like your statement that supporters of the war believe 20 dead Afghans are worth less than one dead American.

Of course I do, anapestic, for I am a monster who feeds on human suffering like saccharine candy floss and traps small brown children in my web of lies to devour as a late-night snack.

My support for this military action has nothing at all to do with my belief that Al Qaeda will keep escalating the violence of its attacks in the U.S. until it has been destroyed, using any chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons it manages to acquire. The last thing on my mind is a desire to live in a world in which fewer organizations are free to level occupied skyscrapers.

Let loose the dogs of war!
posted by rcade at 9:08 AM on December 3, 2001


I'm not quite sure I see the moral difference between targeting civilians in the WTC and accidentally killing civilians in Afghanistan.

There can be no such thing as absolute morality -- if there were, then either all acts would be justified or no acts would be justified. Lacking absolute morality, there must be relative morality that is tacitly agreed upon by a consensus of society. That is, a majority of people draw a line and say, "This far and no more".

That's the moral difference: some civilian deaths in the pursuit of a goal (and keep in mind that this goal must also be on the favored side of the drawn line) is acceptable; the mass murder of civilians in pursuit of a goal is not.

Some may have concepts of moral behavior that differ from those of the society they live in. If those concepts lead them to acts that are outside the bounds of what that society believes to be acceptable, then the perpetrator must pay the price.
posted by joaquim at 9:15 AM on December 3, 2001


The one thing that disturbs me most among the civilian-casualties-are-a-necessary-if-unfortunate-result-of-war set is the unspoken assumption that an innocent American life is much more valuable than an innocent Afghani life. I get the feeling that they're willing to see a score of Afghani civilians die to prevent one more American civilian dying.

This is very noble, and probably what we should aspire to, but very hard to practice. By that logic, if I'm attacked by two people and I have a gun, I shouldn't shoot them because better one person die (me) than two people die (them). Or if I have a choice between my child living and two other children living, I should let the the other two children live.

Not many of us can live up to that ideal, and I have a hard time condemning people who don't. The US govt. sees its primary responsibility as protecting its citizens, so yes, that means they think it's better that several Afghani citizens die than to let more Americans die.
posted by straight at 9:16 AM on December 3, 2001


Zachsmind, nice comment. You're on a roll today.

In regard to the use of gas and nuclear weapons: threatening to use (or not ruling out the use of) these weapons is NOT the same as using them. If your enemy thinks you're crazy enough to use them, you probably won't need to use them.

Also, "gas" by itself is nearly meaningless. Nerve gas? Tear gas? Chemical (i.e. mustard or chlorine) gas? Police (and civilians) all over the world use mace, pepper spray, etc.
posted by groundhog at 9:16 AM on December 3, 2001


asok's said similar stuff before: in fact his views expressed here have from the beginning hardly deviated from that narrow viewpoint. So I don't accept that "mr anonymous" asok was taking a rhetorical position to make a point: he really believes this crap.

I, for one, put my real name (and contact info) on my posts, because I'm not afraid to stand by difficult moral choices.

Please, asok, drip your brilliance upon us: how did the attacks on 9/11 advance the cause of -- hell, whose cause DID it advance? Any specific one? Or was it just an act of "seething hatred", which you seem to think is something that's morally justified?

The only cause ever stated by bin Laden that anyone in the West seems to get behind (and then often to the exclusion of his true, constant causes, which they wilfully ignore) is the Palestinian one -- and we've seen this weekend how they've repaid the second chance this war gave that cause.

And your rhetoric is slipping further from reality by the day: the United States is hardly a "pariah". The United States has the support of virtually every democratically elected government on the planet. The Taliban? Oh, not a single embassy anymore. What dictionary, pray tell, did you use to look up "pariah"? (Twist words how you will, your lies will always be exposed.)

anapestic: the people who are not valuing civilian lives are the assholes who are hiding behind them. The people who had responsibility for the lives of Afghan citizens were ... the Taliban. The only people who are interested in body counts are the people who want to use those body counts to stop the war. The United States military is not counting bodies. They are advancing toward specific objectives; and they are using the most advanced and accurate ordnance and military technology in history. Meanwhile, Afghan civilian deaths caused by American military action pale in comparison to Afghan deaths during the endless civil war which they prosecuted practically all by themselves for the last decade without American involvement or assistance.

Here: According to Human Rights Watch in July of this year, deaths attributable to the Afghan civil war -- all 23 years -- have mounted as high as 1.5 million. That's about 65,000 people every year on average. In June of 1992 in Kabul alone over 1600 people were killed by indiscriminate rocket attacks. So far the total civilian deaths reported in nearly two months of American bombing -- using weapons of commensurately greater strength and destructiveness -- don't approach a fraction of that.

Now, do I need to start listing the known incidents where French citizens were killed by Allied bombing raids back in 1944? Lord, what we could have done with JDAMs back then. But we didn't have GPS; all we had was the Norden bombsight. Fairly accurate as far as a remote analog device dependent on model physics, but nothing like what we have today.
posted by dhartung at 9:17 AM on December 3, 2001


Jeez, I... I wonder why our military would ever attack a residential area? Oh...
posted by techgnollogic at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2001


(of course, that article also notes that we're not falling for it)
posted by techgnollogic at 9:35 AM on December 3, 2001


raysmj: Then why don't we just torture people by the hundreds, without a care, if people are missing pieces of their flesh.

Ha-ha-ha. I'm just making the point as others have here in much better words than I , that its not like we woke up a month ago and said "Let's blow up Afghanistan, you know, for fun!". There's a reason for it.

Hildago: True enough, owillis, and not to cast aspersions on their suffering, but there are people out there who are worse off than these -- equally wounded, but without top-notch medical treatment, financial aid, and insurance money. Or food, water, shelter..

The average Afghan on the street is in a far better situation than they were a month ago, huh.
posted by owillis at 10:00 AM on December 3, 2001


Straight said:

This is very noble, and probably what we should aspire to, but very hard to practice. By that logic, if I'm attacked by two people and I have a gun, I shouldn't shoot them because better one person die (me) than two people die (them). Or if I have a choice between my child living and two other children living, I should let the the other two children live.

The scenarios you're giving here are not logical conclusions of what I suggested. I was talking about innocent lives. Two people who are attacking you are not innocent. What I'm saying is that if those two people shoot your wife and then flee into a crowd of innocent bystanders, you should think long and hard about shooting at them, if you can't be certain you won't hit the bystanders.

As for the example involving your child, I think that everyone recognizes special obligations to one's children. Still, it's not clear to me how you're going to get into a situation where you have to choose between your child and two others, nor how it's relevant to the situation in Afghanistan.

rcade said:

Of course I do, anapestic, for I am a monster who feeds on human suffering like saccharine candy floss and traps small brown children in my web of lies to devour as a late-night snack.

In other words, you're a troll?
posted by anapestic at 10:01 AM on December 3, 2001


I guess one man's "gas" is another man's "weapon of mass destruction

"gas" does not necessarily equal "weapon of mass destruction," and according to current international law, doesn't necessarily equal "chemical weapon," either. (example: I don't think it's any secret that police *in the U.S.* use tear gas in riot situations.) this is legal because 'chemical weapons" are strictly defined by law and don't necessarily include everything that happens to be a chemical.

i hardly think rumsfeld was suggesting we pump the tora bora complex full of sarix or VX, which *would* constitute weapons of mass destruction. (btw, HD/mustard gas, while definitely a chemical weapon, is not generally considered a WMD.)
posted by lizs at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2001


That's the moral difference: some civilian deaths in the pursuit of a goal (and keep in mind that this goal must also be on the favored side of the drawn line) is acceptable; the mass murder of civilians in pursuit of a goal is not.

This is, unfortunately, a very fine line, and one that shifts subject to the position of the individual or entity within the conflict.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:11 AM on December 3, 2001


As for the example involving your child, I think that everyone recognizes special obligations to one's children.

That reminds me: Shortly after the war began, an Al Qaeda member threatened in the press to target American children at playgrounds.

In other words, you're a troll?

Another sneer. Do you have any interest in persuading anyone, or is your opposition to the war a fashion statement?
posted by rcade at 10:15 AM on December 3, 2001


In other words, you're a troll?
Another sneer.


OTOH, you did say that you were a monster that eats children. If you can be facetious, why can't anapestic?
posted by iceberg273 at 10:57 AM on December 3, 2001


Where did Anapestic say he was opposed to the war? He may well be, but one of the many, many reasons that America is better than those we are currently fighting is that our military considers the moral, ethical, and legal implications of killing innocents. For Heaven's sake, people doing target acquisition for unmanned aircraft have JAGs sitting next to them. It certainly seems to me that there's no magic, universally agreed upon extent to which we should allow concerns about civilian casualties to hinder our military campaign.

More fun reading on the Taliban.
posted by snarkout at 11:01 AM on December 3, 2001


One of the many, many reasons that America is better than those we are currently fighting is that our military considers the moral, ethical, and legal implications of killing innocents.

I think "considers" is the key word -- consideration, people. Seek consensus and distrust it; defend principles and question them; work through. This is, by and large, what's happening. But anyone addressing this debate as if there were an easy position to argue from (and, by extension, that others are simply blind to the easy truth) ought not to be trusted.

And asok: When people frame debates so that one side becomes a protectorate of "reality" all hope of worthwhile debate is lost. Let me restate: If you have to believe that "reality" is on your side and that those who disagree with you don't "have a handle on reality" then some part of your reasoning process needs to grow up.
posted by argybarg at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2001


< sarcasm> well that worked < /sarcasm>
< src=asok tag=RoyalTroll takes=allcomers>
it seems i will have to be more clear in my formatting still.

jennyb has hit the nail on the proverbial regarding the 'innocent civilians' post.

darukaru- 'criminal government' - care to define this?

n9, thanks- as will self repeated in an interview this year: 'if people get so comfortable that they are easily shocked, then they need shocking'
(or something along those lines, he was quoting someone else again)

ZachsMind - thanks for the figures regarding the Taleban oppression of the people of afghanistan. it is easy for some of us in the west to forget the daily terror that a good proportion of the worlds population live in.

dhartung - i am glad that you consider my posts 'brilliant'. bask away.
i am sorry that your arguments have not swayed me from my 'narrow view-point' since i joined this community weblog, but then neither have my arguments swayed you from yours. room for improvement for us both?

whose cause did the 911 attacks further, you ask. well, both the attacks and the response have furthered the cause of anyone with an interest in perpetuating violence, IMHO.

i note that you have refrained from approaching the subject of my first post, whilst focusing on the, you now realise, entirely sarcastic, second post.

argybarg- i agree that my use of the word reality was perhaps flawed. however, like morality, reality is subjective, as this thread and all debate proves.
link script not working: http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/books/seized/fuzlog.html
posted by asok at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2001


you did say that you were a monster that eats children. If you can be facetious, why can't anapestic?

Whether facetious or not, calling someone a troll when you know the truth to be otherwise doesn't contribute to a discussion. It's just another way to say fuck you.
posted by rcade at 11:42 AM on December 3, 2001


Just a reminder, lest anyone forget, that more than 3,000 people are still dead.

Those who constantly fail to see the need to exterminate those who might replicate such a tragedy may re-commence their hand wringing.
posted by darren at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2001


n9, thanks- as will self repeated in an interview this year: 'if people get so comfortable that they are easily shocked, then they need shocking'

I know I needed the shocking I got when I read about the Taliban's use of torture on prisoners or the estimated 300,000 Afghan civilians killed between 1995 and 1998 by mines largely laid by the Northern Alliance. Good job, gang! Thanks for lifting me momentarily out of my staid bourgeois existance!
posted by snarkout at 12:01 PM on December 3, 2001


This is, unfortunately, a very fine line, and one that shifts subject to the position of the individual or entity within the conflict.

I disagree, mostly because of your injection of individuality into the equation. My position is that morality is a consensus of society. It's the imposition of individual morality that has caused the problem here.
posted by joaquim at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2001


the peace brigade calling for [...]

I'd rather be in the "peace" brigade than the "war" brigade in general. Is anyone actually twisted enough to consider themselves "pro-war" as a general categorization?

With regard to this war, it probably had to happen. It's still unpleasant, and maybe we could be doing it better. I can't think they mean "asphyxiating, poison or other gases" however, because of the aforementioned geneva protocol. Oops ... that just about covers any gas though, doesn't it? The US are the second listed signatory.
posted by walrus at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2001


owillis: "The average Afghan on the street is in a far better situation than they were a month ago, huh.

With all due respect, that's evasive. We weren't talking about the average citizen in Afghanistan or Washington, D.C., we were talking about the wounded ones. I believe my point still stands.

rcade: At least the civilians in Afghanistan know they're in a war. It was a total surprise to thousands of people who died on Sept. 11.

The attack on the WTC came as a surprise to the citizens of Afghanistan as well. It was an attack orchestrated by a very small faction within that country, and was probably known of prior to its executation by only a small inner circle within that faction. I think it's important to remember that 99% of the people we're killing had no more knowledge of the attack than your or I.

Doesn't make the average die-hard Taliban soldier a nice guy, but to me at least, it does put things in a different perspective.

darren: Those who constantly fail to see the need to exterminate those who might replicate such a tragedy may re-commence their hand wringing.

You are correct in saying that more than three thousand people are dead. I would even add that more than three thousand innocent people are dead. Going further, I would also add that more than three thousand innocent people are dead, and that number is rising every day..

But who do we exterminate? Your statement is a little ambiguous; if the United States kills the same number of Afghani civilians as the Al Quaeda has, must we submit to our own extermination? Why or why not?

... This is not meant to sound like an essay question.
posted by Hildago at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2001


Joaquim: "I disagree, mostly because of your injection of individuality into the equation. My position is that morality is a consensus of society. It's the imposition of individual morality that has caused the problem here."

By way of butting in to your conversation, and just because I think the idea is interesting, I would just like to ask what you would say the connection between this relativistic morality and the legal system is. Are laws also reflections of moral consensus? Or, more to the point, should they be?

I don't think this is too off topic.. with a flick of the wrist it could be applied to the Current Situation pretty neatly. I think it's at the heart of a lot of what we're seeing. For instance, in whether it is acceptable to lock people you don't like in a room full of poison gas, even when you said you weren't going to. If that's not legalistic enough, it could be applied to whether or not a 90% approval rating is a passport to taking Constitutional liberties reserved for war-time without actually declaring war on anybody.
posted by Hildago at 12:53 PM on December 3, 2001


I think it's important to remember that 99% of the people we're killing had no more knowledge of the attack than your or I.

Assuming that you're including Taliban and Al Qaeda military forces in that 99 percent, so what? I can't imagine a war has been fought yet that only targeted the enemy forces who had direct knowledge of the conflict's casus belli.
posted by rcade at 1:18 PM on December 3, 2001


As for the example involving your child, I think that everyone recognizes special obligations to one's children. Still, it's not clear to me how you're going to get into a situation where you have to choose between your child and two others, nor how it's relevant to the situation in Afghanistan.

We're accepting the fact that a few of their children may get killed by our efforts to destroy their ability to kill our children.

Ugly. I'm not happy about it. My kids pray for the children of Afghanistan every day. But that's war.
posted by straight at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2001


I'd count the US government as murderers as long as sanctions against Iraq continue irrespective of the almighty UN security council resolutions - I'm not sure what the figures are now, but wasn't it 5,000 kids dying a month because of these sanctions (as seen on the UNHCR page) there?

As for the 3,000 people dying, what distinguishes these 3,000 from the 3,000 dying every 3 hours of starvation around the world (based on the stat on the front of The Hunger Site)? One group were innocents who were swiftly and tragically killed, the other are those who died because they didn't have any food to eat or water to drink - I remember when I was fasting in summer once, just one half-day of no food and water made me feel physically ill..

How much have the "allies" (ie mainly America) spent on this war? Roughly? Why is it that if there is this money there to be spent, we don't spend it on all those people on the brink of death? A stealth bomber costs tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, right?

There will be a surplus of aid for Afghanistan I'm sure in the next few months, some will die, but most (hopefully) will survive thanks to the increased international attention - anyone remember that Onion article about the concerts for disasters springing up around the world?

One dead in the US, one dead in Africa, one dead in Afghanistan, all dead.. Ramble caused by coming home from work at 10pm.. sigh..
posted by Mossy at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2001


Are laws also reflections of moral consensus? Or, more to the point, should they be?

Yes, I believe that laws are reflections of a moral consensus. In a legal framework, however, there are "meta-laws" that will take precedence (e.g., 1st Amendment rights vs. flag-burning statutes) over what might be considered short-term reactions to moral outrage. I also believe that laws should reflect the moral consensus since laws are a codification of the agreements between people that are used as a basis for civilization.

That's what's happening in the US right now: the administration is taking advantage of the polarizing effect of the WTC disaster to push through some actions that were previously resisted. Some of these actions might not survive closer inspection after the current moral outrage has died down due to their conflict with meta-laws that are considered (by consensus) to be more sacrosanct.

(This isn't pointing the gnarled finger of guilt at the US; other nations/peoples have and would follow the same pattern when provoked. I just think the US has a much better mechanism to recover from short-term realignments of its moral compass than most other nations have.)
posted by joaquim at 3:47 PM on December 3, 2001


I read that they've been sending a lot of Pabst and high-fiber beans to the forefront in Afghanistan....I think they are planning on using Ass gas on those poor guys...

Anyone whose walked into my bedroom on a Saturday or Sunday morning knows that is highly leathal stuff.
posted by hellinskira at 5:00 PM on December 3, 2001


Anyone whose walked...

oh man, I hate myself.
posted by hellinskira at 5:02 PM on December 3, 2001


rcade: "Assuming that you're including Taliban and Al Qaeda military forces in that 99 percent, so what? I can't imagine a war has been fought yet that only targeted the enemy forces who had direct knowledge of the conflict's casus belli."

Two things. If what you say is true, why do we morally condemn those who killed 3000+ in the WTC, yet not condemn our own military? Is it just because we're on one side and they're on the other?

The other thing: Yes, I was including Taliban and Al Quaeda forces in my arbitrary 99%. The number of civilians who knew about it that we're killing is likely to be even smaller.
posted by Hildago at 5:07 PM on December 3, 2001


This is a good discussion...the self-defense justification is hard to pound down, regardless of why one feels that way. However, this will be over soon, and regardless of what the 'polls' say, I'm not getting behind a new war with Iraq; in fact, I hope we can drop the sanctions and get on with life. If they are bad in the future, we'll deal with it, but the Gulf War needs to be over. Anyone?
posted by Mack Twain at 5:39 PM on December 3, 2001


So Iraq should abide by the conditions of their surrender, or, you know, eh, whatever?
posted by techgnollogic at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2001


I've gotten awfully tired of hearing the argument that we are doing this for the good of Afghanistan and it's people. It's a nice justification, but continually rings false to my ears. Sounds more like propaganda and glorified rhetoric than part of our motivation for the current conflict.

Yes the Taliban are an oppressive regime, as is the Saudi government, but I don't remember hearing about any plans to invade and and remove them prior to the 9/11 attacks. So let's call a spade a spade shall we? The current conflict is entirely retaliatory and a result of attacks launched against innocent civilians on American soil. Our motivation for entering into this conflict is entirely self-serving in that it's prime objective is to deter future terrorist attacks here in the US. You can lump in all the justifications you want, but we are wholly concerned with the safety and well-being of the US and it's citizens. If the rest of the world benefits by any of the actions we undertake it's icing, but let's not delude ourselves. We'd like to believe that we are taking these actions in the interest of a global peace, but we are not in this conflict to rid the world of terrorism. This 'War on Terrorism' will only be perpetuated until the United States feels it has a measure of safety again. It will of course have global effects, but stop giving me "Oh those poor Afghanis. They have no democracy and no freedoms. We must help them and render them aid in their mighty struggle against the evil Taliban regime. We shall be the torch, lighting their way to freedom, helping them to throw off the shackles of oppression. Of course some innocents may die, but they will have died so that others might live in freedom." There's a great metaphor I always wanted to use, "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining." Judging by the instability of the coalition at the mere mention of possibly taking this conflict to Iraq, I'd say the rest of the world doesn't buy the hype either. They may allow us to bomb a few Afghanis in retaliation, but they don't seem to be as supportive of a full fledged mid-east smackdown.

I'd also like to get some clarification. While it's commonly referred to as the 'War on Terrorism', and people keep talking about 'the war', we have not officially declared war have we? Yes, we are warring, and yes we are involved in military actions, but we have not declared war on Afghanistan as a whole. It's a fine line (to use a justification found elsewhere in this thread) between a war and a military action. It gives us some leeway and offers, in a small measure, the appearance of having taken the moral and ideological high ground, in that we are not at war with the Afghan people, but their oppressive, tyrannical government who, with our help of course, they can expect to be free of once and for all. This fine line also thankfully, keeps us from having to fight a united Muslim people. Armchair warriors that we are, we can sit back, safe in our moral undergarments, scratching our crotch saying, "The Taliban have brought this upon the Afghan people. Our Fight is with them. You can't blame us if a few innocent Afghans die while we defend ourselves against these evildoers. The Afghan people will be thanking us when they realize that with every bomb dropped, our fervent hope was that it would drop the gift of democracy into their dry and dusty little land."

You'd think it would be obvious by now though, that the middle east does not want to be democratized. Nor do they particularly care for outside interference. I'm sure they will gladly take whatever money and aid gets thrown at them, but they will feel no obligation. It will be a, "Thank you very much, now get out" sort of thing. This is not a people crying for democracy. Do you really think that they will accept the 'Americanization' of Afghanistan?

Lastly, as an end to my little sarcasms and rants, let me say that innocent people die every day. It is a byproduct of battles, military conflicts, and wars. In the abscence of a universal peace, it is inescapable. You can decry war and posit the beauties of peace, but until you can eradicate the root causes of war, it will always exist in the world, and therefore innocent deaths are inevitable. I don't want to belittle the pacificst or moral outcries, since it's perhaps only through these calls for peace, that we might one day achieve it. And I want to speak to those who say they want peace, but feel that we must be involved in this conflict and say, "You do not want peace. You want quiet." True peace is not gained through violence, but through the courage and conviction to the face violence and adversity with peace. That begins as a personal struggle. Since I don't think we are near achieving true peace any time soon, like many, I just want it quiet again. So faced with the inevitabilities of conflict, and what, if left unchecked, can only be a never ending cycle of violence and terror, and in the pseudo-struggle for peace, I see the death of innocents as unfortunate but inescapable.
posted by mikhail at 6:30 PM on December 3, 2001


You'd think it would be obvious by now though, that the middle east does not want to be democratized.

How do you know that? Did they take a vote?
posted by rcade at 6:12 AM on December 4, 2001


I think the history of the region, with it's centuries of tradition steeped in tribal culture should be some indication that these are a people who are not clamouring for the kind of democracy that the west would like to see it unite under. They are not without their own form of democratic ideology, but it is not based on long term unity of all the different tribes of Afghanistan. Even when they are able to reach a point of national assembly they are not far from the tribal fueding and vengences which have kept the region in turmoil for ages. They seem far less concerned with national interests than with the interests of their own tribal factions. The volitility and instability of which should be evidenced by the walk out of the Pashtun representative at the Bonn talks in Germany, and the subsequent backing of this decision by a group of tribal chiefs in eastern Afghanistan. I believe that any government that gets set up there, no matter how 'broad-based', will eventually splinter into pieces. You would think that all these factions, each claiming its desire to represent the will of the nation would be looking for ways to come to permanent resolution to their problems. This doesn't seem to be the case. They seem far from abandoning their old and failed methods of governing themselves and adopting more modern ways of conflict resolution and democratic unity.
posted by mikhail at 9:16 AM on December 4, 2001


Hey Mikhail, that's exactly what they said about Yugoslavia and look what happened th... oh wait a second, yeah.
posted by cell divide at 10:31 AM on December 4, 2001


Afghanistan - a country study

Yugoslavia - a country study
posted by mikhail at 10:58 AM on December 4, 2001


I think the history of the region, with it's centuries of tradition steeped in tribal culture should be some indication that these are a people who are not clamouring for the kind of democracy that the west would like to see it unite under.

I don't think the West cares what kind of representative government Afghanistan forms, as long as it's stable and unfriendly to terrorists.
posted by rcade at 6:02 AM on December 5, 2001


Well, I'm part of "the West", and I care. I care that people get the kind of government they ultimately want, insofar as it's stable and unfriendly to terrorists. It's quite OK to democratically decide that you don't want democracy, however. Just so long as it isn't a minority decision, enforced on the majority with guns or torture. I think we'd be wrong to allow that to happen, after interfering so aggressively.
posted by walrus at 8:21 AM on December 5, 2001


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