would be a terrible mistake to bomb Afghanistan back into the stone age.
the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, America is
impassioned not only for justice, but for retribution.
But the form that our response takes is critical to its success.
And while it must be executed with passion, it must be considered
and planned in the cold light of day.
we must define exactly what victory will be at the end.
If that victory is the punishment of the perpetrators and the
diminishment of the terrorist threat against the American homeland, then a
mass bombing campaign is not the answer; it would merely create new
enemies, while strengthening our existing adversaries.
is why. If we assume for this
discussion that Afghanistan is complicit in the attacks, and bomb them
into oblivion (it's a short trip from where they are to the stone age
anyway), it is far from certain that we would be successful in hitting the
leaders of the Taliban, any more than we were in hitting Saddam Hussein in
Iraq during the Gulf War.
by destroying power plants and bridges, we would not punish the government
leaders we seek to affect; rather, we would confirm to the Islamic masses
the notion that America wants more than anything else to kill their
does not mean we let the terrorists and those who support them go.
We must be true to the Bush doctrine that there will be no
distinction between the terrorists directly involved and those who harbor
them. But we must be very
specific in whom we attack and how.
review of history is in order at this point.
Take, for example, Barbarossa.
the course of Hitler's invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa), he made
a number of critical mistakes. And
thank God he did.
of the most decisive mistakes had nothing to do with the clash of armies.
Hitler directed the SS and the Army to commit barbarous abuses
against the Russian people. Civilians
were brutally beaten, burned out of their homes, and left to die without
shelter or food as winter descended.
Stalinist regime was highly unpopular in many parts of the Soviet Union.
But those who would otherwise rise up in rebellion to the
Communists, instead were forced to unite behind Stalin to defend their
homeland from an even greater terror-the atrocities that would come with a
Nazi occupation, as previewed by the actions of the invaders.
ironic that the Germans squandered what could have been a potent weapon in
their war against Stalin-the desire of Soviet peoples themselves to be
free from Stalinism.
does this mean for us today? Most
of the Islamic world wants only to live and worship in peace.
A small minority uses terrorism to further their own fanatical
aims. We will never defeat
that minority if we drive those who desire peace with the West into their
bridges, power plants, and dams in Afghanistan will squander any hope that
we may have to strengthen pro-West movements that would be helpful in
identifying terrorists and in pre-empting future assaults.
won the Cold War in large measure by exporting capitalism and democracy.
When people have food for their families, good schools for their
children, and hope for the brighter future that economic freedom promises,
they are rather less likely to grab an AK-47 and join a communist
acknowledging that there are differences between the Cold War and Islamic
extremism, the long-term answer to this problem lies partially in that
same vision. We must increase
freedom, not limit it. We
must help to enrich the masses of the Third World, not bomb them into
oblivion in hopes they blame their own leaders.
History tells us the usual result of both courses of action.
the same time, we must visit vengeance-not justice, but raw, naked, brutal
vengeance-upon those who are directly and indirectly responsible for the
atrocities committed against the American people.
We must make it so catastrophic for a government to abet those who
would attack Americans, that no future government would even consider it.
we must target the members of those governments, not the masses.
Within most Islamic countries there are factions that want better
relations with the West. Our
actions must not drive those factions into the arms of the extremists.
If we are to combat terrorism, we need those factions, for they are
the people upon whom we rely to build a peaceful coexistence with America
in the future.
not carpet bomb Afghanistan. Take
a lesson from history.