Beneath the notion of “war on terrorism”, the U.S. and its western allies are waging a war on an independent Islam.
A common argument/justification I have read, most recently coming from Tony Blair’s government, is that the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan is justified because the alternative, no bombing, would allow so-called terrorist organizations and their camps to exist in Afghanistan, thus continue to pose a threat to the U.S. and its allies.
The main problem with this position is that no bombing is not the only alternative to deal with the September 11 aircraft attacks. For instance, the U.S. government could have taken a legal approach similar to how it dealt with the East African bombings, minus the cruise missile attacks on Bin Laden, thereby avoid more destruction and loss of civilian life. The Taliban on numerous occasions have asked for evidence against Bin Laden and negotiations, and even said based on receiving sufficient evidence they would have Bin Laden tried in a neutral country, only to be turned down by the U.S.
Why didn’t the U.S. opt for the legal approach?
I think the reason has less to do with insufficient evidence, and more to do with a need to send a message that the attacks against the U.S. on the scale of the aircraft attacks will not be tolerated. Yet, ironically, the U.S.’s retaliatory response is sending a message that the U.S. was hurt by the aircraft attacks, while its bombing campaign against Afghanistan, with civilian casualties now estimated to be around 400, is creating the conditions for more hatred against the U.S, thereby more attacks against it. Even if the U.S. specifically targeted Bin Laden and al-Qaida without civilian casualties, it would have acted outside of legal bounds, while leave the Taliban government, which is sympathetic to Bin Laden, in power. So the U.S. has targeted the Taliban government as well, thus bring civilian casualties and the sovereignty of another country into the equation, which only continues the cycle of hatred.
Ironically, the U.S. could have taken a legal approach, while adjust its foreign policy by removing its troops from Saudi Arabia, ending its sanctions, no-fly zone, and bombing campaign against Iraq, and withdrawing its pro-Israel involvement in the Palestine/Israel conflict, but that would reduce the U.S.’s power/influence. Though I contend that it would actually increase U.S. power by the U.S. earning the partial respect of the world and eliminating a cycle of hatred. Instead the U.S. is in a conflict it cannot win (i.e. the Taliban are not simply going to disappear, nor is the resistance to U.S. presence in the Middle East), while the Afghanistan conflict itself fuels the cycle of hatred.
Is the George Bush government that arrogant that they cannot see what is so clear, or are they simply in denial about the limits of U.S. power, or are they simply taking advantage of the September 11 attacks, regardless of civilian life, legal norms, and the sovereignty of another country, to assert their power?
I think we all have good reason to feel threatened by the U.S. government.
Mr. Stephen Garvey is a philosopher and writer, and publisher for Inexpressible Publications who resides in Canada.