Once, during the Cuban missile crisis, a columnist on my newspaper, Walter Lippmann, said, "The American people want the thrill of the invasion headlines without having to read the casualty list on the following days."
Continuing the analysis of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack on America....
War against whom?
Across America Tonight ...
The man who occupies the White House cried today. Good. Keep crying, Mr. Bush. The more you cry, the less you will go to that dark side in all humans where anger rages to a point where we want to blindly kill. Your dad's and Reagan's old cronies — Eagleberger, Baker, Schultz — are all calling for you to bomb first and ask questions later. You must NOT do this. If only because you do not want to stoop to these mass murderers' level. Yes, find out who did it. Yes, see that they NEVER do it again.
But GET A GRIP, man. "Declare war?" War against whom? One guy in the desert whom we can never seem to find? Are our leaders telling us that the most powerful country on earth cannot dispose of one sick evil f—-wad of a guy? Because if that is what you are telling us, then we are truly screwed. If you are unable to take out this lone ZZ Top wannabe, what on earth would you do for us if we were attacked by a nation of millions? For chrissakes, call the Israelis and have them do that thing they do when they want to get their man! We pay them enough billions each year, I am SURE they would be happy to accommodate your request.
But I beg you, Mr. Bush, stay with the tears. Go today to comfort the wounded of New York. Tell the mayor, a guy most of us have not liked, that he is doing an incredible job, keeping the spirits of everyone up as high as they can be at this moment. Being there for a city I believe he loves, his own cancer still with him, he goes beyond the call of duty.
But do not declare war and massacre more innocents. After bin Laden's previous act of terror, our last elected president went and bombed what he said was "bin Laden's camp" in Afghanistan — but instead just killed civilians. Then he bombed a factory in the Sudan, saying it was "making chemical weapons." It turned out to be making aspirin. Innocent people murdered by our Air Force.
Back in May, you gave the Taliban in Afghanistan $48 million dollars of our tax money. No free nation on earth would give them a cent, but you gave them a gift of $48 million because they said they had "banned all drugs."
Because your drug war was more important than the actual war the Taliban had inflicted on its own people, you helped to fund the regime who had given refuge to the very man you now say is responsible for killing my friend on that plane and for killing the friends of families of thousands and thousands of people. How dare you talk about more killing now! Shame! Shame! Shame! Explain your actions in support of the Taliban! Tell us why your father and his partner Mr. Reagan trained Mr. bin Laden in how to be a terrorist!
Am I angry? You bet I am. I am an American citizen, and my leaders have taken my money to fund mass murder. And now my friends have paid the price with their lives.
Keep crying, Mr. Bush. Keep running to Omaha or wherever it is you go while others die, just as you ran during Vietnam while claiming to be "on duty" in the Air National Guard. Nine boys from my high school died in that miserable war. And now you are asking for "unity" so you can start another one? Do not insult me or my country like this!
Yes, I, too, will be in church at noon today, on this national day of mourning. I will pray for you, and us, and the children of New York, and the children of this sad and ugly world ...
From the LA Times, 9/19/01:
Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen, Soviet Vets Say
Strategy: Soldiers who fought there warn the U.S. to expect daily deliveries of coffins and few targets other than villages.
By MAURA REYNOLDS, TIMES STAFF WRITER
MOSCOW — When Igor Lisinenko entered what he was told was an Afghan rebel base in 1982, he wasn't sure what to expect. It was, after all, his first assignment as a member of a Soviet army reconnaissance team sent to confirm that airstrikes a few hours before had destroyed the base.
But the young lieutenant saw no ruined fortifications in the village near the Afghan city of Kandahar. No rebel corpses. All he saw was a handful of crumbly clay huts. And two old men carrying a little girl, no more than 3 years old.
Her foot had been blown off. She was white from the loss of blood. The patrol loaded her into a helicopter to take her to a hospital. In those few minutes, Lisinenko said Tuesday, he understood two things: The girl was doomed to die and the Soviet military campaign was doomed to fail.
"I didn't doubt for a second that her father would take a gun and come after me or any other Russian soldier he could find," Lisinenko recalled. "And he or some other father or brother or son 'found' many of my friends before it was over."
As the United States prepares for possible military action in Afghanistan, Lisinenko and other Soviet veterans watch with trepidation. They know better than anyone what U.S. troops might be getting into.
"Can it be that America is nostalgic for the times it was getting daily deliveries of zinc coffins from Vietnam?" asked Andrei Logunov, chairman of Moscow Afghan Veterans Assn. "This time it will be even worse."
Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan in 1979 to prop up a shaky Communist regime. They spent 10 years trying to wipe out U.S.-financed moujahedeen, or holy warriors, one of whom was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden. The Soviet Union lost 15,000 soldiers in the process and withdrew in disgrace.
The Soviets weren't the first defeated by Afghanistan's determined fighters and mountainous terrain. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the British fought three wars and suffered heavy casualties trying to control the land and its people. In 1842, about 4,500 British and Indian troops and thousands of their dependents were killed during a retreat from Kabul. Only one survivor reached India.
Veterans from the former Soviet Union say that what would await U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan's mountains would be unlike anything American forces have encountered, whether in the fields of Europe in World War II, in the jungles of Southeast Asia or the deserts of the Persian Gulf region.
First, there are no real "bases" for terrorists, they say. Fighters live in ordinary villages. Air or artillery strikes against them will invariably kill civilians.
"When I hear people talk about terrorist 'bases' I have to laugh," said Vyacheslav Izmailov, who commanded a battalion in Afghanistan. "Terrorists don't sit in bases waiting for bombs to drop. They live in houses. They live with families. . . . If America begins to drop bombs, all they will do is convince the anti-Taliban population that the United States is their enemy."
Moreover, there are few targets other than villages, the veterans warn. There are few bridges, no factories. Most of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed in decades of civil war.
"Even in Iraq you had something to bomb," Lisinenko said. "But there are no targets in Afghanistan. There's nothing there to bomb."
Bin Laden may be holed up in Afghanistan's formidable mountains, which are riddled with caves whose entrances are small, hidden and remote. Soviet veterans say they are impervious to bombing.
"The Soviet air force tried hard to smoke fighters out of their hide-outs using various methods and weapons," said Col. Alexander Akimenkov, who piloted bombers and helicopters during the Afghan conflict and is Russia's top civilian test pilot. "The Soviet military dropped vacuum bombs [that pull oxygen from underground sites]. They even dropped 3-ton bombs designed to cause local earthquakes that would bury moujahedeen in their caves. But we still were unable to wipe out the rebels."
The reason, Akimenkov said, is that the caves in the Kandahar gorge are actually deep tunnels.
"In Soviet times, these caves could accommodate thousands of people, which rendered most of air raids meaningless," Akimenkov said. "The people sitting at the far end of such a cave would not even notice that you dropped a bomb that exploded at the entrance."
Only Special Forces teams could rout Bin Laden from such lairs, the veterans said. But that requires good local intelligence, including reliable informants.
Lisinenko worked firsthand with such intelligence—he has a degree in Persian languages and he was the reconnaissance unit's translator. Some informants were paid, others were not, he recalled. Either way, the information was mostly inaccurate.
"They would take our money and then lie," Lisinenko recalled.
Lisinenko said that to understand the Afghan mind-set, you have to set aside Western values.
He learned this his first day in Afghanistan when he entered a family's hut. The poverty was more than he could fathom. There was no furniture. No light. The only object inside was a copy of the Koran, tucked into an alcove.
"I asked an old man, 'Why do you live in such conditions? Don't you want to do something to improve your lot?' " Lisinenko said. "But the man replied, 'Don't you understand that the worse we live in this world, the better our lives will be in paradise? We don't want the same things in life that you want.' "
That's when Lisinenko said he began to understand that Western ideas of warfare might not succeed in Afghanistan. How do you battle a foe who has so little to protect in this world? A person who may believe a greater good will come from sacrificing himself, his home, his family? How do you vanquish an enemy for whom categories of defeat and victory, life and death do not match yours?
"Nothing we know works in their world," he said.
Lisinenko left Afghanistan two years later with a wounded leg and a shattered spirit. These days, the 39-year-old runs a tea bag company and represents a district of Moscow in Russia's lower house of parliament.
The lesson they learned in Afghanistan, the veterans said, is that actions to stop terrorism more often have the opposite effect.
They urged the United States to accompany military action with economic aid and forswear a bombing campaign.
"The Afghans will stop fighting each other and join together to fight you," said Izmailov, former battalion commander. "You need courage, but not to drop bombs. What you need courage for is to not drop bombs. Otherwise, your war will be endless."
And though veterans of the Afghan conflict point out that the U.S. bought the bullets for the moujahedeen who killed their comrades, Lisinenko said most wouldn't wish an Afghan war on their worst enemy.
"Don't do it like we did. Don't do it like you did in Vietnam," he said. "Don't listen to me if you don't want. Listen to your own people, those who fought in Vietnam. . . . They'll tell you the same things."
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
And from the LA Times, 9/19/01:
Defense Experts Worldwide Offer Advice
Retaliation: They urge that U.S. strategy be cautious, accurate, patient and include a coalition.
By CAROL J. WILLIAMS, TIMES STAFF WRITER
BERLIN — As Americans calculate how to vent their wrath over last week's terror, defense strategists around the world are offering time-tested advice for going after the perpetrators and deterring security broadsides in the future: Stop. Look. Listen.
Stop and make sure the targets to be destroyed are both appropriate and reachable with minimal "collateral damage," the killing of innocent civilians that would incense the Islamic world.
Look for allies to show the breadth and depth of the world's condemnation of fanatic murder, especially in unlikely places such as Russia, Libya and Iran. And listen to the reasoned voices that—amid blood lust infused by personal loss, shaken security and wounded pride—call on Americans to take a soulful examination of how their values have come to provoke hatred.
With the thunder of U.S. retaliation already approaching, many security analysts agree on which options would be most effective. Sea-launched cruise missiles could take out terrorist training camps identified by satellite surveillance. Precision airstrikes on remote hide-outs could run the prime suspects to ground. With the help of sympathetic local forces, such as Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, elite commando units could swoop down on the plotters and their Taliban hosts in a limited ground action, as long as those back home understand there will be losses.
"They will go for cosmetic strikes to start with," predicted Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies. But he cautioned that ground deployments needed to seek and destroy the masterminds of fundamentalist terror require a three- to five-year troop commitment.
The prospect of a quagmire, with neither victory nor retreat as an option, has evoked comparisons with Vietnam, the disastrous British and Soviet efforts to conquer Afghanistan and the United States' declared war on drugs. Scaled-back expectations are the experts' marching orders.
"I am very skeptical when people say they will end terrorism," said Brian Jenkins, a senior advisor at Rand Corp. and a counter-terrorism expert with 30 years' experience. "That is not realistic. It is going to demand unwavering resolve, creativity, cold, calm courage."
Even describing the U.S. mission as a war is taunting disaster, warned Taylor Seybolt, conflict strategist at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
"For one thing, it legitimizes American military attacks on other governments, when the attacks came from nongovernmental forces," he said. "Even more problematic is that calling this a war implies that victory is possible."
That said, he described a carefully planned and focused military strike as justified. "You can't respond to something this horrific by trying to talk to the perpetrators or treat terrorism as it has always been treated, as a police problem. The idea of resuming political assassinations should be considered."
James Philips, research fellow and terrorism expert at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank, says the United States should try to overthrow the Taliban regime, not just capture Saudi exile and suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"We should mount a broad international effort on a number of fronts—law enforcement, intelligence, internal security," Philips said. "But most importantly, we should go after the head of the snake, and that is Bin Laden in Afghanistan."
Philip Wilcox, a former chief of the State Department's counter-terrorism bureau, urged the Bush administration to tailor military action to avoid the appearance of an anti-Arab or anti-Islam conflict.
Others are less wedded to restraint or an interfaith coalition.
"The United States should deploy ground troops in numerous short commando raids," advised Gerald Steinberg, head of the Conflict Resolution Center at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. "This can be in Afghanistan or wherever necessary."
Most important, say analysts such as Joachim Giessman at Hamburg's Institute for Peace Studies and Security Policy, is that the United States know with 100% certainty whom it is striking at and that the firepower takes out the problem.
"Osama bin Laden is a name heard so often. But it would be a disaster if all energy is concentrated against one man when the threat is so much broader," Giessman warned.
Patient, methodical police and intelligence work is needed to identify the culprits, he said, recalling that it took two decades for Germany to quell its Red Army Faction extremists.
"An intervention is essential if the American people are to regain their self-confidence and sense of security," said Huseyin Bagci, a professor of international relations at Turkey's Middle East Technical University. He disagreed with analysts forecasting doom in any ground invasion of Afghanistan, noting that U.S. forces are far better equipped than were the Soviets during their failed 10-year effort and that the Kabul leadership is ever more fragmented.
French Defense Minister Alain Richard has insisted that a long-term strategy must accompany any short-term military action. French officials are particularly concerned about destabilizing Pakistan, which has nuclear capability and a tense conflict with neighboring India.
"You try diplomacy first, but as the past few days have shown, the Taliban has not responded to Pakistan's overtures," said Masashi Nishihara, president of Japan's National Defense Academy.
Once diplomacy has been exhausted, military force should be applied, he said. "I don't think you can send troops in, so you'll use Diego Garcia bases in the Indian Ocean, bring the ships in close to shore and fire cruise missiles, then maybe airstrikes."
Any assault on the refuges given to terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 airliner attacks in New York and on the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania would have to be waged with the assistance of local forces, analysts insisted. The Northern Alliance, which has fought the Taliban since the militant Islamic group seized power in 1996, could provide vital military and political intelligence, forward staging areas and ground troops familiar with the formidable terrain.
Otherwise, strategists repeatedly warned, the United States could face another debacle such as the failed rescue of U.S. hostages in Iran in 1980 or the cruise missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998 in retaliation for bombings blamed on Bin Laden of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In the latter, local intelligence could have led to greater precision in choosing targets.
"The U.S. must avoid any course of action which will be as unpopular as that of the terrorists," said former South African President Nelson Mandela, urging careful identification of any targets before punitive strikes.
Italy, counseling patience, believes it is essential to build a broad anti-terror coalition, including states such as Libya and Iran, before striking back, said Andrea Nativi, a security specialist with Italian Defense Magazine. "Maybe there are some people [there] we can talk to," he suggested. "The United States should use more carrots and fewer sticks."
While grieving Americans are tempted to lash out, analysts advised addressing the "Why us?" question.
"In so many ways, we've tried to be progressive in our intercultural emphasis. . . . But we've done it with an enormous dose of conceited hubris, believing that everybody is really like us in every way, in sharing our values, in valuing human life," said David Harris, former strategic planning chief for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.
The West faces a ruthless corps of holy warriors, he noted. "And where is the deterrence value when people think they are on the express train to paradise?"
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Comment: "Stop, look, listen," say defense experts. Be cautious, accurate, patient. Build a consensus. All typical Native American approaches.
Sounds like the defense experts are urging us to take a multicultural perspective. To understand our enemies and the wisdom of those who have gone before us—especially our honored Native warriors. Sounds like these experts and I are reading from the same (PEACE PARTY) script.
More words of caution
There is so much support for military action right now that it is hard to remember how little stomach this country actually has for it. I was in Somalia the last time U.S. forces tried a surgical strike against a much weaker enemy—the botched attempt to kidnap General Mohammed Farah Aidid that ended in military humiliation and hideous deaths of American soldiers and civilian Somalis. It is easy to forget the horror of the crashed helicopters in the Iranian desert or the abrupt end to the Gulf War once we got a look at the "road of death" of Iraqi soldiers trying to flee Kuwait.
Geraldine Brooks, "Rattling Sabers of Bigotry," LA Times, 9/16/01
Let me now speak with true fear and trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground troops. When people speak of "having the belly to do what needs to be done" they're thinking of having the belly to kill as many as needed. Having the belly to overcome any moral qualms about killing innocent people. Let's pull our heads out of the sand.
What's actually on the table is Americans dying. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than that, folks. Because to get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where I'm going. We're flirting with a world war between Islam and the West. And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants. That's why he did this. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right there. He really believes Islam would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion soldiers. If the west wreaks a holocaust in those lands, that's a billion people with nothing left to lose, that's even better from Bin Laden's point of view. He's probably wrong, in the end the west would win, whatever that would mean, but the War would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but ours.
Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden does. Anyone else?
Tamin Ansary, "Considerations in a Response of Force"
As for a ground invasion, it is neither possible nor necessary. It is not possible because it would require months of preparation and the call-up of 300,000 reservists. It is not necessary because the Taliban can be defeated by cutting off its essential military supplies from Pakistan, while providing ample supplies to its enemy, the Northern Alliance. The latter is still recognized as the Afghan government by most countries. The U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks must remain 95% diplomatic and only 5% military, if that. That is the inevitable result of the lack of worthwhile targets for either airstrikes or commando operations.
Edward N. Luttwak, "With Targets Few and Elusive, the War Is Fodder for Diplomats," LA Times, 9/26/01
War means killing civilians
A posting that supports Tamin Ansary's letter about Afghanistan:
Killing Civilians: Behind the Reassuring Words
Published Wednesday September 26, 2001
By Norman Solomon
The Bush administration has vowed that it will not aim the Pentagon's firepower at civilian targets in Afghanistan. Such assurances are supposed to make us think that innocent bystanders will be spared when the missiles fly and the warheads explode. Don't believe it.
Back in early August 1945, President Truman had this to say: "The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, in so far as possible, the killing of civilians."
Actually, the U.S. government went out of its way to select Japanese cities of sufficient size to showcase the extent of the A-bomb's deadly power. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hundreds of thousands of civilians died — immediately or eventually — as a result of the atomic bombings.
In the past several decades, presidents have routinely expressed their reverence for civilian lives while trying to justify orders that inevitably destroyed civilian lives. Denial is key to the success of public-relations campaigns that always accompany war.
While top U.S. officials spoke of fervent desires to protect civilians from harm in Southeast Asia, the Pentagon inflicted massive carnage on the populations of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Both Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon tirelessly proclaimed their eagerness for "peace with honor." Most of those who died were civilians.
When U.S. troops invaded Panama in December 1989, the USA's major media and policymakers in Washington ignored the hundreds of civilians who died in the assault. Scarcely more than a year later, during the Gulf War, most of the people killed by Uncle Sam were civilians and frantically retreating soldiers. Pentagon officials quietly estimated that 200,000 Iraqis had died in six weeks. During the past decade, damage to Iraq's civilian infrastructure and ongoing sanctions have cost the lives of at least several hundred thousand children.
In the spring of 1999, we were told, the U.S.-led bombing of Yugoslavia aimed only at military targets. The explanations were often Orwellian — not just from the Clinton administration and NATO, but also from news media.
Consider the opening words of the lead front-page article in the New York Times one Sunday in April 1999: "NATO began its second month of bombing against Yugoslavia today with new strikes against military targets that disrupted civilian electrical and water supplies..." The concept was remarkable: The bombing disrupted "civilian" electricity and water, yet the targets were "military" — a very convenient distinction for PR purposes, but irrelevant to the civilians who perished due to destruction of basic infrastructure.
Now, while people in Afghanistan fear missiles and bombs, their lives are most threatened by a dire lack of food. The likelihood of a large-scale assault has already forced aid organizations out of the country — "fearing both that they may be caught in the expected raids or that they would be attacked as westerners after the NATO bombers have flown away," says Chris Buckley, the Christian Aid program officer for Afghanistan. He adds that the nation "is in the grip of a three-year drought and on the verge of mass starvation. According to the UN-run World Food Program, by the end of the year 5.5 million people will be entirely dependent on food aid to survive the winter. That's a quarter of the Afghan population."
In human terms, the emerging U.S. military scenarios are ghastly. And — with Washington already gaining Pakistan's agreement to cut off food aid to Afghanistan — they're also illegal. Part IV of the Geneva Conventions clearly states that "starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited." The same document forbids targeting "objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population."
No amount of vehement denials can change the reality that huge numbers of civilians are now in the Pentagon's cross hairs.
Fox News: Civilian casualties aren't news
Will war strengthen terrorism?
From the LA Times, 9/20/01:
Dangers Loom in the New Conflict
Impact: U.S. runs risk of fanning new hatred and creating more enemies than it eliminates, analysts warn.
By ROBIN WRIGHT, TIMES STAFF WRITER
WASHINGTON — The outcome of the new U.S. war against terrorism may extend far beyond the fate of either Osama bin Laden's vast network or the world's last bastions of extremism. Indeed, the enduring impact may involve dangers that are barely registering on the Bush administration's radar screen.
The high-stake risks range from sparking new cycles of anger and hatred that dwarf the current rage against America to the future of nations—and longevity of governments—across the Middle East and South Asia.
"We have to be very concerned about unintended consequences, about making more new enemies than we take off the battlefield, and about inflaming the situation in countries like Pakistan, where a pro-Western government faces the danger of being replaced by a militant extremist regime," said Rick Inderfurth, former assistant secretary of state for South Asia and now a George Washington University professor. War always has its unwanted byproducts. But because of this war's unprecedented complexity, the danger of creating new problems that have to be undone down the road cannot be overstated, analysts warn. No Muslim or Arab country that joins the U.S.-led coalition is likely to be exempt from some spillover effect.
The threat is illustrated by the very onset of Bin Laden's campaign against the United States a decade ago. In the 1980s, the Saudi militant was a de facto U.S. ally during the fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. His money funded Arabs trained by Pakistan and who were often armed, indirectly, with American weapons. His rage against America became visible only after the U.S. deployment in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, when Bin Laden charged that the presence of infidel troops in the birthplace of Islam was sacrilegious.
The fate of nuclear-equipped Pakistan is the most worrisome danger. U.S. analysts are concerned about Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf, whose hold on power was precarious even before Washington asked his government to be the key player in nabbing Bin Laden.
"There are a lot of people who believe Musharraf will not survive politically and in a few months will be displaced by others within the army, even in the midst of this crisis," said Teresita C. Schaffer, a former U.S. ambassador and now director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Pakistan's fragility also reflects a long-term quandary for the administration. The current military regime ousted a democratically elected government in 1999, a main reason the United States had shifted its South Asian alliances by distancing itself from Pakistan and warming up to India's democratic government—until the Sept. 11 attacks.
Because Washington now needs Islamabad, Pakistan's military might be able to stay in power—and further defer the promise of returning to democracy.
"Up until Sept. 11, it was a near certainty that Pakistan would hold elections next year. That's much less certain now," said Schaffer.
Pakistan is a microcosm of the greatest vulnerability—and conundrum—for U.S. policy as it takes on terrorism.
Islamic activism initially emerged throughout the Muslim world in large part as a political alternative. The more than 50 nations of the so-called Dar al-Islam, or Haven of Islam, make up the last large bloc of countries to hold out against the democratic tide that has swept the rest of the world over the last two decades.
With opposition in most of these countries banned, exiled, imprisoned or even executed, Islam has often offered the only viable alternative. Islam is the world's only major monotheistic religion that offers a set of rules by which to govern society, so it has particular legitimacy—and accessibility—to populations struggling to find ways and ideas about how to have a greater say in their destinies.
The conundrum is that the United States will be turning to many of the world's least democratic regimes to rout terrorism—and, in the process, giving them greater standing and probably even political IOUs, analysts warn. And that will reinforce the very conditions that gave rise to the growth of Islamic militancy.
"There is more to this problem than simply the actions of one man or one group of men who want to oust the U.S. from the gulf. There's a deeper pool of hatred and frustration focused on the U.S. that grows out of the absence of economic and political rights throughout the region," said Ken Pollack, a former National Security Council staffer now at the Council on Foreign Relations. "As part of the longer-term solution to this crisis, we'll need to find ways to work with our allies in the region to address those deeper issues, which create the pool of disenfranchised and disillusioned young men willing to take up arms."
Analysts point to countries such as Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich gulf sheikdoms, as well as Algeria, Egypt and other pro-Western Muslim states.
Saudi Arabia, for example, has serious human rights problems, and no country except Afghanistan has a worse record on women's rights. Yet as one of only three countries that recognize Afghanistan's Taliban and as a country where wealthy individuals have financially aided Bin Laden, Saudi Arabia will be an important member of the coalition.
Some Arab and Muslim regimes may also use the U.S. appeal for help in fighting terrorism as a pretext for cracking down further against opponents at home. And down the road, the Bush administration may eventually have to face the consequences of its affiliations. It's a fine line, analysts warn.
"For convenience, we may end up supporting autocrats and authoritarian regimes that have their own agendas," said Paula Newberg, a South Asia expert and consultant to the United Nations.
"We could end up creating new enemies among the very people you want to befriend and potentially create new international dangers among groups that can't get a hearing in their own home."
Said Schaffer: "You can pay a price for success if in success you seek one objective to the exclusion of all others that may also be important to U.S. interests in the region."
By patronizing Pakistan during the war against the 1979-89 Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, for example, the United States turned a blind eye to activities that contributed to Islamabad's development of a nuclear arsenal, Newberg said.
Afterward, the United States imposed economic and military sanctions on Pakistan, but the threshold had been crossed.
Now South Asia is the one region where two Third World powers—Pakistan and India—have nuclear weapons beyond the control of the world's major powers.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
And from the LA Times, 9/23/01:
Indiscriminate bombing of Afghanistan would play directly into Osama bin Laden's hands.
By ARTHUR SCHLESINGER JR.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s most recent book is "A Life in the 20th Century: Volume I, Innocent Beginnings."
NEW YORK — In his powerful address before Congress last Thursday, President Bush correctly defined the threat of terrorism. And he correctly characterized the motivation of Osama bin Laden, the presumed evil genius of terrorism.
President Bush correctly called for American leadership in a global campaign against terrorism. But he laid down non-negotiable specifications for his "war" that friendly states will consider ill-judged and delivered in a tone they may regard as arrogant.
Our allies have had more experience with terrorism than we have had. They know how difficult it is to eradicate terrorism, even when the terrorists operate in their own countries. The Basque terrorists live in a relatively confined space in northwestern Spain, but Spanish governments have tried and failed for 25 years to stop their outrages. The Corsican terrorists live on an island, but they continue to defy all efforts by the French authorities to stamp them out. The British could not stop Irish Republican Army bombings in England; nor, now that the IRA has abandoned terrorism, can they stop bombings by the thugs who style themselves the "Real IRA." There is no knock-out blow against terrorism. Does our president really understand what he is getting us into? President Bush believes he knows how to deal with terrorists in a part of the world in which we have had meager historical experience and small operational knowledge. He should have asked himself what Bin Laden would wish us to do next. What American response would best serve the villain's purposes?
The answer surely is indiscriminate American air attacks on Afghanistan, killing large numbers of innocent people. Bombing is not likely to eliminate Bin Laden and his crowd, who have well-prepared hideouts. It would only demonstrate once again the impotence of the American superpower. Civilian casualties would confirm Bin Laden's thesis of an evil America, push even moderate Muslims toward hatred of the United States, produce a new generation of suicidal bombers for Al Qaeda, Bin Laden's terrorist network, and incite radical Muslims to rise against moderate regimes.
The only thing that would probably please Bin Laden more would be an invasion by American ground forces. Afghanistan is famous for its unconquerability. The British Empire and the Soviet Union failed in their efforts to dominate the country, and they at least knew the rocky terrain and had people who spoke the languages. American troops in Afghanistan would be even more baffled and beset than they were a third of a century ago in Vietnam.
There is, in addition, the land-mine problem. According to Robert Fisk, Middle Eastern correspondent for The Independent in London, Afghanistan contains one-tenth—more than 10 million—of the world's unexploded land mines, laid by the Soviet Red Army in 27 of 29 provinces. Two dozen Afghans are blown up every day.
Moreover, by November freezing weather will arrive, and the Pentagon has no hope of dispatching troops and winning the war in the six weeks remaining before winter comes to Afghanistan. Nor could an invading American army count on serious assistance from the internal anti-Taliban resistance, their most effective leader, Ahmed Shah Masoud, having been assassinated shortly before the assault on America.
But President Bush is not confining his attentions to Afghanistan. He seems to be contemplating confronting much of the Arab world. "Either you are with us," he said, "or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." That sounds like the "ending states" and "regime change" talk of Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of Defense and the most high-flying of hawks.
Does this mean that, after Afghanistan, we will be taking on Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya? And though the president correctly distinguishes between the moderate and the militant Muslim states, this hard line will make life considerably more difficult for the moderates in Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan.
Little is more vital in the months ahead than retaining the support of moderate Muslim states. President Bush has set an admirable example by visiting a mosque and condemning attacks on American Muslims. Islam has historically been a tolerant faith. Mohammedans ruled Spain for five centuries, during which Spain was culturally more advanced than the rest of Europe. Muslims coexisted cheerfully with Christians and Jews. Most moderate Arab states have fragile regimes threatened by radicals within. It is essential that we take no drastic actions that would please our own fire-eaters but would drive Arab states into the arms of the terrorists.
The Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington wrote a provocative article in Foreign Affairs some years ago forecasting a "clash of civilizations" that would determine the future. The Bush administration has no greater challenge than disproving Huntington. If we let the international police action against terrorism degenerate into a civilizational war of the West versus Islam, we are heading toward catastrophe. The last thing we need is a counter-jihad to respond to the jihad invoked against us by the pals of Bin Laden.
Bin Laden has set a trap for the United States. Let us not walk into it. It is hard to think of a drastic action taken at once that would not rebound against us. The quest for a knock-out blow is an illusion. We must pray that the president's tough talk will work. But, as President John F. Kennedy said during the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is "one hell of a gamble."
Will war weaken us?
From "Can the Economy Survive the Attacks?" by Kevin Phillips. In the LA Times, 9/16/01:
Americans certainly have every reason to take the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as acts of war, and 80%-90% of them do, according to national polls. The problem is that the wrong type of war—a drawn-out contest with terrorists would meet that description—could be at least as detrimental as Vietnam to the United States. Authorities who focus on the precedents of Pearl Harbor and the Persian Gulf War risk ignoring more relevant precedents.
Since the 1600s, each of America's three predecessors as leading world economic power found itself bled—economically, politically and military—by a new sort of war that forced it to fight on the wrong battlefields in precarious circumstances at too late a stage in the trajectory of its world leadership. Spain was crippled by the bloody and grotesque Thirty Years War of 1618-1648. The next power to rise up, the maritime empire of the Dutch, suffered a mortal economic and commercial wound in the quarter-century of war that wracked Europe from 1690 to 1713.
Great Britain paid the same price for World War I and II. Within only three decades of its peak economic and imperial splendors of 1910-14, the British empire of 1947, besides undergoing food and clothing rationing in peacetime, was forced to depend on financial loans and hand-outs from the United States.
If terrorists in dingy conference rooms in Tripoli, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran or Kabul have concluded that the United States cannot maintain its present economic strength through 10 to 15 years of terrorism, attrition, computer-hack attacks, eroding markets and oil and currency crises, they may be wrong—but they may also be correct. Even in 1991, the United States had to pass the hat among other coalition members to finance the Gulf War.
Moreover, just as Britain no longer possessed the cutting-edge technologies in metallurgy, chemicals, armaments production and electrical engineering to effectively fight the First World War—imports from the U.S., Sweden and elsewhere become crucial—the United States is increasingly at risk in Internet and computer-age technologies. Recent reports have made it clear, for example, that as commercial relationships between Taiwan and mainland China accelerate, some of America's dependence on Taiwan for critical computer parts threatens to pass to China.
None of this to say that the U.S. should not try to eliminate its terrorist attackers. To maintain domestic and international credibility, it has to. But the three-dimensional game of strategic chess now facing Washington is quite different from the ones American leaders have played before.
How will the terrorists respond?
From Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens by Ward Churchill:
...[T]his time it's different.
The time the helpless aren't, or at least are not so helpless as they were.
This time, somewhere, perhaps in an Afghani mountain cave, possibly in a Brooklyn basement, maybe another locale altogether—but somewhere, all the same—there's a grim-visaged (wo)man wearing a Clint Eastwood smile.
"Go ahead, punks," s/he's saying, "Make my day."
And when they do, when they launch these airstrikes abroad—or may a little later; it will be at a time conforming to the "terrorists'" own schedule, and at a place of their choosing—the next more intensive dose of medicine administered here "at home."
Of what will it consist this time? Anthrax? Mustard gas? Sarin? A tactical nuclear device?
Looking back, it will seem to future generations inexplicable why Americans were unable on their own, and in time to save themselves, to accept a rule of nature so basic that it could be mouthed by an actor, Lawrence Fishburn, in a movie, The Cotton Club.
"You've got to learn," the line went, "that when you push people around, some people push back."
Comment: Scary, eh? Luckily, Bush essentially fibbed when he declared worldwide war against terrorism. He quickly pulled back, naming Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network as his first targets.
It's a safe bet they'll be his only targets. Bush can't define "terrorism" in such a way that excludes "freedom fighters" and others with legitimate grievances and aims. Look for him to declare "victory" and bring the troops home after he does whatever he's planning in Afghanistan.
Previous "wars" against terrorism
From "Glorious Death: The Kamikaze Impulse" by Robert Fisk. In the LA Times, 9/16/01:
Specifically because of a suicide bomber, the Americans fled Lebanon 17 years earlier. I still remember then-Vice President George Bush visibly moved amid the ruins of the U.S. Marine base in Beirut, where 241 American servicemen had just been slaughtered. "We are not going to let a bunch of insidious terrorist cowards, shake the foreign policy of the United States," he told us. "Foreign policy is not going to be dictated or changed by terror." A few months later, the Marines pulled up sticks and ran away from Lebanon, "redeployed" to their ships offshore.
So many of our politicians provide us only with the same tired promises about hunting down the guilty—British Prime Minister Tony Blair's contribution last week was a pledge to "dismantle the machine of terror." But this misses the point. If the machinery is composed of knives and box-cutters, Mr. Blair is after the wrong target. Just as President Ronald Reagan was in the hours before he ordered the bombing of Libya in 1986. "He can run, but he can't hide," he said of Col. Moammar Kadafi. But Kadafi could hide, and he is still with us.
In the Middle East, Arabs now fear America will strike them without waiting for proof, or act on the most flimsy of evidence. For it is as well to remember how the U.S. responded to the 1983 Marine bombings. The battleship USS New Jersey fired its automobile-sized shells into the Chouf Mountains, killing a couple of Syrian soldiers and erasing half a village. The parade of U.S. naval craft off the American East Coast last week was a ghostly replay of this impotent event.
But to this day, the Americans have never discovered the identity of the man who drove a truck-load of explosives into the Beirut Marine compound.
And from "Unwelcome Lessons of Terror" by Simon Reeve. In the LA Times, 9/16/01:
Military strikes against [Osama bin Laden's terrorists] have failed before. After the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa, a shower of American cruise missiles fell on Afghanistan and Sudan. But they achieved little more than a huge lawsuit from an aggrieved Sudanese factory owner. The missiles made America look incompetent and encouraged dozens, if not hundreds, of young militants to join the organization headed by Bin Laden.
...[The terrorists] are members of a loosely knit, "disorganized organization" without a rigid structure, spread through the Balkans, Egypt, Pakistan, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines, Algeria and Eritrea. Governments of those countries have been spectacularly unsuccessful at tackling their home-grown terrorists, despite the use of state torture and assassination. It is unlikely the American military can succeed where they have failed.
More terrorist supporters we won't attack
Two big supporters of terrorism are Pakistan, which provided logistical support for the Taliban regime, and Saudi Arabia, which provided financial support. Is the US planning to attack Pakistan or Saudi Arabia? To use cross words against them? No, of course not. These terrorist supporters are our allies in the "war" against terrorism, which shows how ridiculous Bush's proclamations are.
From the LA Times, 10/16/01:
They're Rich, They're Spoiled, They're Supporting Terrorists
By ROBERT SCHEER
Robert Scheer writes a syndicated column
What do we bomb next? Saudi Arabia? The Saudis would be a logical target if President Bush were serious about his stated goal of punishing nations that support terrorism.
The evidence is overwhelming that it is the incredibly rich Saudis, far more than the desperately poor Afghans, who are responsible for the emergence of a militant and violent variant of Islam that has infected much of the Muslim world.
It is wealthy Saudi businessmen, with the complicity of the Saudi government, who have financed the religious schools and moujahedeen training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan from which the latest wave of terrorism has erupted. Yes, the very same Saudi Arabia that we protected from Iraq in the Gulf War.
It is an important caution to recognize that one decade's triumph easily turns into the next decade's disaster. If George Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell had not managed to save the Saudi royal family from the wrath of Saddam Hussein, it is not likely that Osama bin Laden or his cohorts would have been able to mount their attacks against the United States. Certainly not with the resources of Hussein, who Bin Laden has condemned as a betrayer of Islam.
It is convenient for the Saudi government to now distance itself from Bin Laden, but the record is clear that, as the New York Times editorialized, "with Riyadh's acquiescence, money and manpower from Saudi Arabia helped create and sustain Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization." When one peruses the list of directors of businesses and foundations cited by the U.S. government that allegedly supported Al Qaeda, it reads like a who's who of Saudi society.
Perhaps that's why the Bush administration rejects the Taliban's demand for proof that Bin Laden is behind the recent terror, a normal response to an extradition request. Have we refused to supply that evidence or to issue the white paper of proof promised by Colin Powell because what we have learned about the international financing of Al Qaeda is too embarrassing to the Saudis?
What we do know is that at least more than half of the hijackers were Saudi citizens; that their alleged leader Bin Laden is a member of one of Saudi Arabia's richest families; that money from the Saudi elite sustained a terrorist network; and that the Saudi government has refused to cooperate fully with the U.S. in investigating these links or seizing terrorist assets.
Nor do we have clean hands. The terror trees that sprouted in the barren desert and rocky outcroppings of Afghanistan were a foreign implant created and nourished by the United States and Saudi Arabia as byproducts of the Cold War. Religion was our weapon in the Cold War, and the militant Wahhabi brand of Islam, the predominant sect in Saudi Arabia, became our most trustworthy sword.
If Bin Laden is brought to trial, what will our answer be when he credits the U.S. with first inspiring him to fight the communist heathens to protect the free world? What if his lawyers expose the financial network that entwined Saudi money with our own to train the fearsome religious fanatics who now haunt our imagination and profoundly threaten our daily lives?
Bin Laden may be yet another Hitler—we seem to find one every 10 years, as we did with Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic, in order to cope with a world that is ever more incomprehensible—but his death will not prove the key to ending terrorism.
The problem is that the darkest impulse inexplicably lurks in the most prosperous corners of the world economy. Hate toward the U.S. resides in the hearts of men with whom we presume to share common values because we trade in common markets.
The great unsolved mystery of the terror attacks of the past decades, whether sponsored by oil-rich Libya or the elite of Saudi Arabia, is why men of wealth are not content to simply be rich and instead turn crazy.
For generations, the Saudi elite, led by the royal family, has indulged a sick compromise between obscene opulence and puritanical religion that has proved deeply unsatisfying for many—even among its most privileged citizens. Theirs is an absurd stance in which the rich elite of the oil sheikdoms, often engaging in the worst decadence of Western society, retain their sense of virtue by encouraging the poor masses of the Islamic world to die in a fruitless battles against modernization.
For that reason it is hypocritical in the extreme for the U.S. to be bombing the impoverished masses of Afghanistan, who have suffered for so many years from Saudi manipulation, while letting off scot-free the oil sheiks who created this mess.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
I helpfully tried to make our hypocrisy clearer in some letters to the LA Times:
I read in the Times that Britain is harboring known terrorists. Since President Bush promised to make no distinctions between terrorists and those who harbor them, I assume we'll invade Britain right after Afghanistan. I want to bomb the bejeezus out of the Bin Laden supporters described in the article.
And didn't the Brits burn down the White House once? The White House...the World Trade Center...I'm beginning to see a pattern. Let's punish these limey killers for fomenting centuries of terrorism.
Rob, letter to the LA Times, 10/3/01
While we've rounded up 600 suspicious characters, Bin Laden and Al Qaeda supporters are operating freely in London. I thought President Bush said any country that harbors or supports terrorists is our enemy. I call again for invading or bombing Great Britain, that devilish den of iniquity.
Rob, letter to the LA Times, 10/12/01
World war against terrorism? Ain't gonna happen
The worldwide "war" against terrorism will be an exercise in futility because there's no legitimate way to distinguish between terrorists and "freedom fighters." People don't go to war because they're mad or suicidal, they do so because of real or perceived grievances.
From the LA Times, 9/22/01:
The Local Face of Terror
Most violence globally is home-grown, played out in little-noticed conflicts, and U.S. war is unlikely to quell it.
By RICHARD BOUDREAUX, TIMES STAFF WRITER
ROME — The day before last week's slaughter in the United States, a suicide bomber protesting the abysmal state of Turkish prisons set off an explosion in a busy shopping district of Istanbul, killing himself, three other Turks and an Austrian tourist.
As the world was absorbing scenes of horror from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, three police officers in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, narrowly escaped death when a roadside bomb, apparently planted by Irish Republican Army dissidents, exploded in their path.
In Colombia one night this week, a right-wing paramilitary squad rousted most of the inhabitants of three neighboring villages from their sleep, accused them of collaborating with the country's Marxist guerrillas and opened fire with assault rifles, killing 15. Thousands of civilians die around the world each year in armed conflicts or politically motivated attacks that the U.S. State Department classifies as terrorism. But relatively few of the killers are likely to end up in the cross hairs of President Bush's declared war on "every terrorist group of global reach."
The United States is gathering support to fight a highly specialized form of terror—a wealthy, mobile, technologically savvy transnational network of groups linked to Osama bin Laden, the Saudi expatriate identified by U.S. officials as the prime suspect in last week's attacks. Concentrated in the Middle East and Asia, inspired by an extremist interpretation of Islam, these groups have vowed to kill Americans and their allies.
Yet most of the world's terror is local. It is rooted in narrow conflicts that have little or nothing to do with America. Millions who live in fear of terrorism around the world are unlikely to breathe easier, specialists on terrorism say, if the United States wins what Bush has called the first war of the 21st century.
Barely noticed by a grieving America, the rest of the world's bloodshed goes on. It's been business as usual these days for violent separatists, ethnic hate warriors, politically driven kidnappers and the paramilitary thugs who strike back at them, killing civilians in the process.
"Because there is such a variety of conflicts and underlying causes, it would be unrealistic to think that all of them are going to be swept away by a concerted strategy against the international network that carried out these atrocities in America," said Paul Wilkinson, professor of international relations at St. Andrews University in Scotland. "These battles are going to have to be won by the local governments most under attack."
Yet the blow to America could have a ripple effect, for better or worse, on other countries' battles.
In some conflicts, it has put guerrilla groups that use terror tactics on the defensive. It has quickened a move to make arrest and search warrants enforceable in all 15 countries of the European Union. It may give a boost to some peace negotiations while undermining others. It also may embolden authoritarian governments to rally to America's side and then terrorize their own peaceful critics at home, in the hope that Washington will turn a blind eye.
The U.S. State Department listed 138 "significant terrorist incidents" last year in 29 countries. They were perpetrated by 43 armed groups, 31 of which are on the department's blacklist, barred from getting money from American citizens.
Few realists believe that last week's attacks will shock many of these warriors into embracing peaceful politics.
"Sometimes terrible things happen to make way for better things," said Adriana Delgado, a political scientist at Javeriana University in Bogota, Colombia. "The only sensible thing is that the world will understand that this craziness, wherever it started, has no reason to be. But this is utopian."
The United States may be drawn into new conflicts—and make new enemies—as it goes after Bin Laden's network, but it remains unclear just how far-reaching the mission will be.
Many Islamist groups suspected of loose ties to Bin Laden's network—separatist guerrillas in Indonesia's Aceh province, for example, or the Abu Sayyaf, which specializes in kidnapping in the Philippines—have intensely parochial agendas that in general do not concern America.
The United States is unlikely to directly take on such groups as the Revolutionary United Front, which seeks to topple the government of Sierra Leone and keep control of its diamond mines, or the ETA guerrillas fighting to carve an independent Basque state from northern Spain and southern France. They are notoriously brutal, but neither has spread its terror beyond those countries' borders.
Yet no Western leader is struggling harder to link his own enemies with America's than Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar. "There can be no distinction among terrorists," he said last week. "They are the main adversary of the world."
A Basque separatist newspaper gave Aznar some ammunition by applauding the destruction of the World Trade Center. But there are real differences in motivation among groups that practice terror.
Bin Laden's holy war excludes compromise. Other armed groups, including the ETA—an acronym for Basque Homeland and Freedom—have civilian constituencies and often feel moral constraints. They rarely go for mass slaughter and—with the exception of some fanatics in Turkey, the Middle East and Sri Lanka—do not carry out suicide attacks. Most guerrillas, like the governments they fight, calibrate violence to seek advantage in negotiations over local disputes.
Even so, the violence in America has put some armed insurgents on the defensive. Danny Morrison, a former IRA prisoner, felt compelled to declare in a radio interview this week that his group "by and large made attempts to issue warnings before bomb attacks." The IRA has joined other guerrilla groups in condemning the suicide hijackings in America.
America's tragedy has radically altered the climate in the Middle East, prompting Israeli and Palestinian leaders to order a pullback from their yearlong bloody conflict. To a lesser extent, it has added to outside pressure for disarmament in Northern Ireland and Macedonia to end guerrilla conflicts there.
IRA inaction on handing over weapons has impeded Northern Ireland's 1998 peace accord, but now the group may be forced to yield. Since the U.S. attacks, the Bush administration has hardened its attitude toward the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, over the arrests last month of three IRA terrorist suspects in Colombia, where they were allegedly collaborating with Marxist guerrillas. Protestant politicians in the British province are demanding that the United States ban Sinn Fein's fund-raising in America.
In Macedonia, North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops are collecting guns from ethnic Albanian rebels under a recent cease-fire accord. After the attacks in America, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson called the effort "a tiny ray of sunshine . . . that might break the blackness of this terrible week."
Since fighting started earlier this year, Macedonia's ethnic Slav leaders have pressed Washington to side with them against ethnic Albanian "terrorists." Now the Macedonians believe that a U.S. war on global terrorism will weaken the Albanian rebels, whom they say get help from Bin Laden's network.
But there is also concern in Macedonia that the United States, focused more on the threat to itself, "will not be involved in the way that it was involved until now" and that the Balkan region's latest hot spot will flare anew, said Iso Rusi, a political analyst.
In Colombia, where the United States has invested $1.3 billion in a war on drugs, some fear the opposite: that the U.S. will take a more militaristic approach and undermine the Colombian government's peace talks with guerrillas, who control a swath of territory used for coca production.
Seeking U.S. help to crush armed foes at home, national rulers in Asia and Africa have rushed to pledge support for a wounded America.
The latest was Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who met with Bush on Wednesday. Bush promised to ask Congress to ease a ban on funding for Indonesia's armed forces, whose brutal police actions in East Timor and elsewhere have fueled violent rebellion in the world's most populous Muslim country.
In Algeria, a Muslim country embroiled in a conflict with massive human rights violations on both sides, the authoritarian government is seeking sophisticated U.S. military hardware, including night-vision equipment, to aid its fight against Islamist extremists.
South Africa wants the FBI and Britain's Scotland Yard to help stop a 3-year-old terror campaign in Cape Town, which it blames on an Islamist-allied group called People Against Gangsterism and Drugs.
It remains to be seen whether the United States, spread thin as a world policeman, can help. With counterinsurgency training missions in 55 countries, Washington may have to retrench to fight its own battles. Also, previous U.S. administrations have been reluctant to aid many of these supplicants because of their dismal human rights records.
Some strong-arm governments are seeking moral support, not material aid, from Washington as they get tougher at home. China, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Russia and Uzbekistan hope the United States will simply not condemn their crackdowns on violent separatists, home-grown guerrillas and unarmed dissidents.
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, partially blinded by a separatist suicide bomber in 1999, is especially vocal these days. Often criticized by the West for her country's human rights abuses, she now says the attacks on America have given the "so-called superpower" a "wake-up call to end its double standard on terrorism."
The expectation that Washington will be more tolerant of harsh anti-terror tactics abroad filters down to ordinary citizens in violence-plagued countries.
"When our women and children were being killed, the West did nothing," said Sebnem Ozsuer, an accountant in Ankara, Turkey, recalling the worst years of separatist conflict in the country's predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces. "The West called those terrorists freedom fighters. But now that their own freedom is under attack, they may understand us better."
Reed Brody, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch in New York, said Bush's signaling of a U.S. foreign policy geared toward fighting terrorism could sweep away concerns about civil liberties abroad and lead to more atrocities on both sides of armed conflicts.
"Around the world, this is something that worries us, not just for moral reasons," Brody said. "Indiscriminate killings do nothing to eliminate terrorism. If anything, it is going to create a backlash and breed more terrorism."
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
A closer look at one so-called terrorist organization. From the LA Times, 10/4/01:
One Country's Terrorists Are Another's Liberators
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN, TIMES STAFF WRITER
AIN BOUSWAR, Lebanon — Manal Karaki has bright eyes, a slightly crooked smile and the quick wit of a 20-year-old college student who wants a career in television.
America says she supports terrorism.
Haida is a 25-year-old college graduate who volunteers on weekends selling discounted school supplies to low-income families. America says he promotes terrorism.
Nayef Krayem leans back in his leather chair, papers spread across a black-lacquered desk, as he runs one of the Arab world's most-watched satellite television stations.
America says he works for terrorists.
All three are members of Hezbollah, or Party of God, a Lebanese Shiite Muslim group that the United States has branded a terrorist organization, accusing it of operating cells around the world and having ties to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.
But to Lebanese, Hezbollah is a liberation movement, a well-oiled militia that forced Israel to withdraw after a nearly 20-year occupation of southern Lebanon.
Karaki, whose family home in the southern Lebanese village of Ain Bouswar was damaged by Israeli rocket fire, said that in her view, Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization but actually fights terrorism. "I consider myself Hezbollah," she said.
Perhaps more than any other organization, Hezbollah illustrates the murky waters of America's global campaign against terrorism. The United States needs a coalition that includes Arab states if it is to avoid having its effort perceived as anti-Islamic. But when the battle shifts from Afghanistan to the Middle East, the U.S. will find its plans undermined by diverging views of what constitutes terrorism. Syria and Iran, for example, two states crucial to any effort, both support Hezbollah with money and arms.
"This is one complicated issue," Jordanian Prime Minister Ali abu Ragheb said in an interview. "Nobody can answer you clear-cut. When the United States fought Vietnam, they bombed civilians. Are they terrorists?"
The U.S. view of Hezbollah has been shaped by the organization's history of high-profile bombings and kidnappings.
At its core, Hezbollah is also virulently anti-Israeli, refusing to accept the idea that the Jewish state is a permanent fixture in the region. In practical terms, that allows it to serve as a proxy for Iran and Syria. It also has led Hezbollah to define the United States as an enemy because of its support of Israel.
Locally, Hezbollah has become part of the establishment. It controls at least 10 seats in parliament; it runs a hospital and schools; it is a television broadcaster; it offers small business loans, hands out scholarships and sells school supplies.
Even Christian leaders who are at odds with Hezbollah's ultimate aim of transforming Lebanon into an Islamic state grudgingly offer admiration for its accomplishments.
"Hezbollah is a resistance group that fought to liberate its land," said Marwan Fares, a member of parliament who is a Greek Orthodox Christian. "Do we consider the French who fought to liberate their land terrorists, or Abraham Lincoln?"
But Hezbollah has also become a regional player, and to deal with it is to have to address the thorniest problem in the Middle East: the failed Palestinian-Israeli peace process. Over the course of the current Palestinian uprising, Hezbollah has coached and supplied the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The Party of God has evolved so fundamentally that even some Western diplomats in Beirut acknowledge that the U.S. view is simplistic.
"Hezbollah can be more or less trusted," said one Beirut-based Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition he not be identified. "It's not a gang of runaway bearded radicals. It's a group of professionals."
The United States continues to take a different view. In interviews since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has said that Hezbollah is a terrorist group that "destabilizes" the Middle East.
The State Department, in a recently published report on terrorism, wrote that although Hezbollah had not attacked U.S. targets in Lebanon since 1991, it still was a threat to U.S. interests here and around the world.
Among 27 Lebanese the United States regards as terrorists are Hezbollah Secretary-General Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, its spiritual advisor Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, former Secretary-General Sheik Sobhi Tufeili and former security chief Imad Mughniyah.
U.S. officials say that Hezbollah also may have played some role in the attack on the U.S. destroyer Cole in Yemen last year and in the Khobar Towers military barracks bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996—unproven allegations that Hezbollah denies.
Its anti-American rhetoric has been toned down since last month's terror attacks.
The new Hezbollah was on display at a recent rally in a Beirut suburb marking the one-year anniversary of the Palestinian uprising, an event attended by more than 10,000 people. Under heavy security, a men's choir and band took their place on a stage. The band played a jaunty, chest-swelling tune as the choir belted out "Death to Israel, Death to Israel."
A boom swiveled a camera through the crowd, projecting spectators' images up on a screen, like fans at a baseball game. Hundreds of yellow Hezbollah flags waved.
Nasrallah, wearing a black turban denoting that he is a descendant of the prophet Muhammad, stepped up to a lectern behind bulletproof glass and delivered his traditional themes—including a call for the destruction of Israel.
He condemned the terror attacks on the U.S., while sharply criticizing American support for Israel. In a sign of the group's interest in preserving the status quo, he declared that the attacks should not be allowed to spark a war between Christians and Muslims. But his sentiment was cloaked in anti-Zionist rhetoric.
"Each person who destroys a church as a retaliation for burning a mosque is executing the desire of the Zionists," he declared.
Lebanon started to fracture along religious and ethnic lines in the late 1970s, triggering a ruinous civil war that dragged on for more than a decade. In 1982 Israeli forces invaded Lebanon, going all the way to Beirut. The forces withdrew from the capital but stayed in the south, setting up what Israel called a buffer zone.
When Marines set up camp as part of a multinational peacekeeping force, Hezbollah did not even exist. Some members of the Amal movement, a Shiite Muslim political party with a militia, broke off into a more militant faction that would eventually become Hezbollah. They were funded by Iran and trained by its Revolutionary Guards.
The United States picked up and left Lebanon after a suicide bomber drove a truck into the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing more than 200 service personnel.
That reinforced the notion that this new group was on to a successful strategy, and that the United States could be made to flee. In 1985 Hezbollah announced its formation, and over time developed an international reputation with a series of high-profile kidnappings.
The group also allegedly attacked the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and is a suspect in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.
When the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990, many militias were forced to disarm, but not Hezbollah. With the support of Syria and Iran, Hezbollah continued its hit-and-run attacks on Israel, which still occupied a swath of southern Lebanon. Last year, when Israel withdrew, Hezbollah was credited across Lebanon with having liberated the land.
Many Lebanese believe that Hezbollah's growth was a direct result of U.S. policy at the time of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Eager to bring Syria into the Desert Storm coalition against Iraq, the United States, they said, expressly or implicitly agreed not to interfere with Syria's subjugation of Lebanon.
"For the past decade, the United States has looked the other way while Hezbollah has developed from a small resistance group to a pan-Arab example of resistance," said Simon Karam, Lebanon's ambassador to the United States in the early 1990s. "Now, if the United States comes and asks Lebanon to go after Hezbollah, it is the equivalent of reigniting the civil war."
In some ways, Hezbollah's highest point is also its most difficult. With Israel gone from southern Lebanon, according to one Western diplomat, Hezbollah becomes "a liberation movement without something to liberate."
Officials here said that some members wanted to transform Hezbollah into a civil force, while others wanted the resistance to continue. A decision was made in Iran and Syria that the fighting would continue.
In addition to contesting with Israel an unpopulated 10-square-mile patch of land called Shabaa Farms, Hezbollah got the go-ahead from Iran to throw itself behind the Palestinian drive for an independent state—an extraordinary union bringing a Shiite Muslim group together for the first time with a Sunni Muslim group.
Although its members insist that it does not get involved in activities beyond its boundaries and has no relations with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda, for example, Hezbollah does try to export its brand of resistance.
"Hezbollah seeks to make other Arab nations aware of how to resist forms of occupation," said Abdullah Qasur, a Hezbollah representative in parliament.
Inside Lebanon, Hezbollah continues to control the southern border region.
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud has refused to deploy the Lebanese army in the south, saying it would in effect protect Israel from Hezbollah.
Roads in southern Lebanon are lined with hundreds, maybe thousands, of billboards of young men considered martyrs who died in operations against Israel. Some blew themselves up. Some died in combat.
In this village, many of the houses still bear the scars of Israeli shrapnel, bullets and rockets. Though the village was not occupied, it was repeatedly attacked because it was a stronghold of Hezbollah fighters.
At the top of the village, high on a cliff, waves the yellow Hezbollah flag, emblazoned with a green emblem of a fist holding an AK47. High above that, in the hills, villages said Hezbollah's militia still holds positions.
Down the road in the next town, Jbaa, five Hezbollah flags wave outside a storefront. Posters of a blood-covered hand holding a rock are pasted on the window.
Inside, Haida, who said he was afraid to give his last name because he works with Hezbollah, was selling school supplies. As he talked about Hezbollah, a crowd of men and children pressed around.
"All of these villagers support Hezbollah!" an elderly man shouted in the crowd.
Seventy miles away in Beirut, Hezbollah's most high-tech and, some say, most effective tool is guarded by a man with an automatic weapon. Past a black metal gate, through a mirror-tiled lobby, up the secured elevator is the studio of Al Manar, or Hezbollah television.
The station allows Hezbollah to broadcast its brand of news to viewers throughout the region eager to have their sentiments confirmed, though there is still room for American comedies.
In the wake of the attacks on the United States it reported the widespread rumor that more than 4,000 Jews did not show up for work that day in the World Trade Center.
Krayem, the Al Manar executive, said the television engages in "psychological warfare" but has nothing to do with terrorism.
"If we are terrorists, then the French resistance were terrorists, then Americans are terrorists because they liberated Kuwait," he said.
Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Terror isn't going anywhere
From the LA Times, 10/3/01:
Change Tactics or Concede to Terrorism
By NORAH VINCENT
Norah Vincent is a freelance journalist who lives in New York City. E-mail: email@example.com
Both in intent and outcome, the war on terrorism upon which the United States is so gallantly poised to embark has a great deal in common with the war on drugs.
In intent, because the search-and-destroy tactics we are planning to use against terrorism look and sound a lot like the tactics we used against drugs.
In outcome, because our jingoistic confidence in our ability to win a war on terrorism using such tactics is as laughable and misguided as our once similarly robust confidence in our ability to win the war on drugs. We can't, and we won't. Ever since the war on drugs was declared, the U.S. has been focusing the bulk of its efforts on the supply side: routinely dusting coca crops with herbicide and firebombing cocaine production outposts in Colombia, impounding smuggled shipments at the border, overcrowding our prisons by giving hefty sentences to petty drug offenders.
None of this has done the job because, as one former kingpin said on the PBS program "Frontline," you can intercept 90% of a coke cartel's product and they'll still make a profit.
As the abysmal failure of this typically Reaganite supply-side drug war has become apparent, its opponents have been making a case for fighting a demand-side war instead.
Their rationale: As long as there is a demand, the suppliers will continue to find sneaky and creative ways to satisfy it, so focus on remedying the human need for drugs through education and treatment.
The same is true for terrorism. We've made a great show in these past weeks of making it sound as if this war on terrorism can and will be won. Never mind that Britain and Israel, just for starters, have been losing the war on terrorism for decades.
We figure it'll be different for Uncle Sam. But it won't.
Of course, it may take a decade or three for us to realize the idiocy of our current bravado. We figure we'll just kill off all the terrorists and punish the countries that fund them, and there will be no more terrorism. Poof. All better. Skies safe. Pizzerias impregnable. Towers redoubtable.
This isn't going to happen.
It will be impossible to keep every Islamic militant from entering the country or operating within it, since so many of them already are here.
It will be impossible to guard our population against the kinds of random car bombings that the Israelis, even with their much-declaimed assassination tactics, have been unable to prevent.
It will be every bit as impossible as it has been to prevent every ounce of cocaine from crossing our borders.
Sure, we'll catch some of them. We'll thwart some attacks. But not all.
This is not to say that we should give up on supply-side anti-terrorism.
It does mean, however, that we should not entertain the false hope that it will bring us lasting peace.
In addition, we should be making diplomatic and missionary efforts to bring this perversion of Islam back to true Islam.
We need to be waging a war of anti-terrorist propaganda here and abroad, in countries where children are being inculcated in the ways of religiously justified hate.
In the end, there may be no satisfactory answer. Terrorism may be something with which we, like much of the rest of the world, will have to learn to live.
From Destined to Shadowbox with the Devil by Robert Scheer. In the LA Times, 9/18/01:
When is someone going to admit that the terrorists have already won, immobilizing the world's greatest democracy and that much of what we are doing as a nation is simply stomping our feet in frustration? Instead, we need to learn to deal rationally with the mayhem that much of the world has long endured—some of it even inflicted by us.
Sorry to break the news to the flag-waving kids on the overpasses and to the media and politicians leading them on, but terrorism is here to stay. It can be contained, and much more should have been done over the past years to bring Osama bin Laden and his ilk to account with appropriate pressure on the Taliban and Pakistan. But the measures required to totally eliminate terrorism would turn the world into a police state.
And from the LA Times, 9/26/01:
During the teach-in, one student asked: "You all agree something is going to happen. What sort of war can we expect to see?"
Ron Steel, an international relations professor, responded: "This is a war that terrorists cannot win. But it is equally important to understand they also can never fully be defeated."
He added: "Wars have victories, and that's not going to happen. Wars have solutions. That's not going to happen. . . . The war on terrorism? This is a fantasy."
Not exactly the response students hoped for. Most are still hoping all the drama will just go away....
Terrorism: "good" vs. "evil"
Winning through nonviolence
Violence in America
America's cultural mindset
. . .
All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.
Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.