WOULD SOMEONE MIND telling me whether the war in Afghanistan is over or not? U.S. government officials seem to be proclaiming victory.
But if the war has been won, then why is the U.S. government continuing to bomb Afghanistan, conduct that everyone agrees continues to kill innocent civilians, albeit as unfortunate “collateral damage”?
If the replacement of the murderous and abusive Taliban regime with the murderous and rapist Northern Alliance regime was the goal (Internet search terms: “Northern Alliance and rape”), then doesn’t that mean that the war is over?
And now that the U.S. government’s partner, the Northern Alliance, is in power, doesn’t that mean that the Northern Alliance has the duty to handle ordinary police functions, including the bringing of suspected domestic terrorists to justice?
In fact, I’m not even clear on what exactly the role of the U.S. military is in Afghanistan, given that its partner, the Northern Alliance, is now in charge. Is the U.S. military now the de facto police force for the new Afghan government? And if so, shouldn’t these U.S. police forces conduct themselves in the same civilized manner that we expect of the police here in the United States — even when going after suspected terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh? Would we want the police here to be engaging in military-style attacks that kill innocent people, including children, in an attempt to bring suspected criminals to justice (as was done to the Branch Davidians at Waco)?
If, on the other hand, the goal of the war in Afghanistan was to capture or kill Osama bin Laden for his suspected role in the 9/11 attacks, then doesn’t it feel like déjâ vu — all over again? After all, isn’t this where we were a few months ago, before President Bush began the bombing of Afghanistan (without the constitutionally required declaration of war) — trying to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, “dead or alive”? And didn’t a few of us say, “Bring Osama bin Laden to justice by using our brains, not our brawn, because bombing will be unlikely to get him but will kill lots of people who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks”?
According to some media estimates thousands of innocent civilians have now been killed by the U.S. government’s bombing of Afghanistan (not to mention ordinary Taliban soldiers who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks) — and still no Osama bin Laden. Should we just say, “Well, ‘we’ had good intentions and that’s all that matters”? (Fortunately, as far as I know, no U.S. official has suggested that the killing of thousands of “their” innocent civilians, after the killing of thousands of “our” innocent civilians, now makes us even.)
The U.S. government is implicitly (but not too loudly) demanding that its partner in this grand endeavor, the Northern Alliance, “cough up” Osama bin Laden’s suspected co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks, Mullah Omar. But the Northern Alliance officials are playing cutesy with their partner (the U.S. government), claiming that they just have no idea where Omar is — just as the Taliban played cutesy when President Bush was demanding that they “cough up” bin Laden and they responded that they didn’t know where he was.
Like I say, déjà vu — all over again.
“But we’ve killed al-Qaeda members and captured others who have been taken to Cuba for trial before military tribunals.” Yes, but after they’re convicted and executed, we will never know whether they were executed for simply being soldiers in war or for being actual co-conspirators in the 9/11 attacks, because the purpose of those military tribunals is not to secure justice but rather to secure convictions and impose punishment.
If the al-Qaeda prisoners are executed simply for being soldiers, then the U.S. government is no better from a moral standpoint than its partner, the Northern Alliance, whose policy is to execute its prisoners of war, at least those who are foreigners. (Taliban soldiers were permitted to defect to the other side, conduct that for some reason the U.S. government has never criticized as “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”)
Moreover, if we assume that 5,000 innocent Afghan people (including Taliban soldiers who had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks) have been killed by the U.S. government’s bombing, and if we assume that each of them had an average of four family members or friends who are still alive, that means that there are now 20,000 new potential terrorists who have an incentive to kill Americans to replace the hundreds of al-Qaeda members who have been killed or taken prisoner. I thought the purpose of the bombing was to eradicate terrorism against Americans.
As an aside, the U.S. government’s base in Cuba, which was acquired in the aftermath of the U.S. government’s turn toward empire in the Spanish-American War in 1898, is probably an ideal place to hold the U.S. government’s military tribunals because the Castro regime also uses military tribunals to try suspected terrorists.
I myself saw one of these tribunals on Havana television when I visited Cuba a few years ago. The suspected terrorists were accused of bombing a Havana hotel and were also accused of having ties to the CIA. (One man’s “terrorist” is sometimes another man’s “freedom fighter.” And don’t forget that Osama bin Laden was President Reagan’s “freedom fighter” in the 1980s.) The Cuban military tribunals, of course, convicted the defendants. Oh, I should also mention that the Cuban regime also uses military tribunals to try Cuban citizens.
Remembering World War II
Actually, the entire Afghan ordeal is starting to smell like that of World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt entered into a formal partnership with the Soviet communist regime of Joseph Stalin. At the end of that war, the U.S. government “liberated” the Polish and Czech people from Nazi tyranny by delivering them to Soviet communist domination.
Even today, U.S. (and Russian) officials celebrate World War II as a great victory because Stalin’s communist regime, rather than Hitler’s Nazi regime, got to take over Eastern Europe and eastern Germany. Some victory — almost 50 consecutive years of Soviet communist domination and control.
Because of its formal partnership with the Soviet regime, after World War II the U.S. government remained silent at the Nuremberg trials about the Soviet Union’s execution of thousands of Polish officers whom it had taken prisoner (Internet search term: Katyn Forest). The United States even endorsed the Soviet Union’s bid to serve as a judge at the Nuremberg trials, even though Soviet troops had not only executed prisoners of war but also had raped German women as they were entering Germany. (See “History Is Full of Surprises for Those Who Ignore It” by Michael Peirce, retrieved August 17, 2002, fromwww.lewrockwell.com/peirce/peirce52.html.)
It should also be noted that during the war, as part of its formal partnership with the murderous and rapist Soviet regime, the U.S. government closed off any negotiations with anti-Hitler forces in Germany, demanding “unconditional surrender” of all Germans, which in turn caused German soldiers and the German people to fight much more fiercely, even to the death, which in turn unnecessarily cost the lives of tens of thousands of Allied soldiers. (See The New Dealers’ War: F.D.R. and the War within World War II, by Thomas Fleming, Basic Books, 2001, reviewed in the August issue of Freedom Daily.
Perhaps worst of all, as part of its formal partnership with the murderous and rapist Stalin regime in World War II, the U.S. government actively participated in one of the blackest acts in history — the murder of an estimated 1,000,000 innocent Russian people through the forcible repatriation of Stalin’s Russian enemies to the Soviet Union, where they were immediately killed or sent to the gulag to die (Internet search term: Operation Keelhaul).
In the short run, the so-called war on terrorism will undoubtedly continue, and it will undoubtedly be used by U.S. officials to justify ever-increasing infringements on the liberties of the American people, for, as ordinary Afghan people are discovering, the world is dealing with a government that believes no price is too high to pay for the eradication of terrorists. Hopefully, however, the American people will begin to recognize that the treatment of a political disease depends not only on treating its symptoms but, more important, on treating the root cause of the disease.
That means that while the U.S. government continues to focus its exclusive attention on bad people who do bad things (Timothy McVeigh and Osama bin Laden) in retaliation for the bad things that the U.S. government does to people (Waco, Iraqi embargo), the American people would be wise to treat the root cause of the disease by putting a stop to the bad things that the U.S. government does to people, both here and abroad. Otherwise, we will spend the rest of our lives in “perpetual war for perpetual peace” against terrorism, with our liberties under constant attack by our own government.