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The Unwinnable War

by freesoil.org Friday, Dec. 07, 2001 at 2:38 PM

Now with the near collapse of the immediate foe, the Taliban government, and the approach of winter, the window of opportunity is closing to get food to those facing starvation before they get snowed in. Yet America is determined to finish off the Taliban as first priority, while the Northern Alliance celebrates victory, executing prisoners and interfering with food shipments. As the old saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies. Imagine the shock if America were to get smart, learning from some of its past mistakes, shaking up its foreign policy, and withdrawing obvious unwarranted affronts.

The Unwinnable War

Now with the near collapse of the immediate foe, the Taliban government, and the approach of winter, the window of opportunity is closing to get food to those facing starvation before they get snowed in. Yet America is determined to finish off the Taliban as first priority, while the Northern Alliance celebrates victory, executing prisoners and interfering with food shipments. As the old saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies. People can hope these new friendly warlords, with agendas and bloody history of their own, will not turn out as bad as the last ungrateful bunch, but their recent actions are hardly encouraging.

Despite the moment of glory, mopping up a cornered enemy on the run, this war against evil terrorism is already as good as lost. America cannot possibly win a guerrilla war, because targets it would lose are far more valuable to Americans than any kind of satisfaction from revenge, while its stature as a nation erodes steadily. That may become harder to deny, once the patchwork coalition behind Bush springs too many leaks, or the next counterattack defies all precautions.

This concept of fighting evil terrorism is not new and still popular, but unsound on its face and deliberately unspecific, making it too easy to fabricate excuses to take down Afghanistan or any other nation daring to oppose American tentacles. The law is now on the side of officials snooping on dissenters suspected of being domestic terrorists. This is supposed to protect patriotic Americans from terror.

America can sacrifice its bill of rights, bomb all it wants, mock international law and the Constitution, only to witness all that making no difference when the next big strike comes. This course is just a colossal show of force, with no stated purpose beyond destroying suddenly designated evil menaces. The motive was not to bring Osama bin Laden to justice or to liberate the women, given a token presence at the Bonn meeting to set up another new government for Afghanistan. This war will cost America far more than tax dollars and obvious casualties of war, while a few corporations with political alliances reap the spoils.

Free Soil Party wants to know why must a clash of cultures degenerate into war. It is clear enough that people of many, if not most, nations resent many forms of Western imposition. Some significant dictators have personal grudges. Imagine the shock if America were to get smart, learning from some of its past mistakes, shaking up its foreign policy, and withdrawing obvious unwarranted affronts. Instead it looks like Bush wants to start World War III. Whatever point he may think was necessary to make against Osama and company has been made. Trying to complete the extermination is provocative and pointless. It is not possible for America to eradicate its enemies, being so eager to make more.

Diplomacy may seem a dead letter, especially with Presidents preferring to issue non-negotiable ultimatums. All our lives are at stake in a world war. If this war cannot be won, one predictable consequence of bombing rampages is provoking retaliation. Maybe after the prime suspect is captured, dead or alive, then comes another strike, then sensible people will see there can be no winner, with heavy casualties on both sides and no end in sight. Perhaps America will have to lose another war to make Congress come to its senses. Giving Bush blanket approval to wage war as he pleases seems mandated by public blood frenzy. Congress has fallen down on its duty to debate important issues to check the executive branch. No entity should try to dominate the world. That is at best reckless and arrogant, however clever or intimidating the propaganda, business, or military impositions may be.

America has no great need to station troops in Saudi Arabia. Those troops are meant to contain Iraq and other oil rich nations with reason to distrust American intentions. The United Nations could establish and maintain a demilitarized zone around Israel. America could tell Israel, its assassination efforts must stop, and its ancient capital must be split. Germany lived with such a system, ghastly as it was, long enough to see the Berlin Wall come down. Eventually a figurative wall could come down in Jerusalem, but for the foreseeable future, these warring factions need to be kept apart.

The United Nations could serve no better purpose than to restrain those who are determined to settle grievances through war, or warlike tactics. American hawks will call any concession appeasement, a sign of weakness, but steadfast refusal to consider diplomacy reveals nothing but weakness and hidden dishonorable intent. That must be some high ground, that can only win by conquest.

The Taliban regime has been a major irritant for oil companies drooling over the region, which could become the next major discovery, but lacks a pipeline route through stable friendly nations like Pakistan and Afghanistan. Given that kind of motivation, one might speculate this initial phase of the war is retaliation more for obstructing American business interests, than for hosting the alleged planner of suicide attacks on symbolically significant buildings. Sheltering the prime suspect mastermind cannot be sufficient reason for war, without really clear evidence he was and is a dangerous enemy, not just a foaming preacher of jihad covering for the real culprit who gave the orders to design and execute the plan to blow up the Twin Towers. The convincing evidence is conveniently deemed too sensitive to declassify. Sorry, secrets do not make good reasons for war. The international court could try bin Laden in his absence, so some decent evidence of his direct responsibility can come out. If the evidence is solid, people around the world would find it a lot easier to believe the war against the Taliban and the al Qaeda network is a just cause.

America could also recognize the right of other nations to restrict trade with its corporations. None of these measures would disrupt American people much, if at all, though the same is not true for multinationals. For most people, the potential benefits vastly outweigh the risks. The exceptions and pundits would scorn such diplomatic efforts as appeasement, treason, cowardice, naivete, encouraging the jihad, or GATT illegal. Yet such measures could create severe healthy doubts in people hearing all about America as the Great Satan.

If America could show genuine interest in solving international problems, bitter enemies might take note of such a monumental shift, call off the jihad, and agree to disagree on cultural practices and values. If America is really the friend of the Muslim people as Bush claims, let him demonstrate something besides shameless propaganda ploys. Dropping a little surplus food onto land infested with mines is pathetic. Now reportedly more aid is getting through, though some got blocked or seized by out of control allies. American spin relentlessly insists there can be no alternative to continuing the war, no way to reason with such fanatical foes.

America cannot sustain its claim to the high ground, after having killed so many civilians in its war efforts, not to mention repressive allies like Israel and all the puppet dictators America has supported across the globe. The cost of fighting an endless war against an undefinable enemy goes way beyond defusing what bin Laden says are reasons for this war. He is by no means alone in these grievances so it is foolhardy to dismiss him as just an evil man who needs to be eliminated.

Evil thrives aplenty at home, if one wants to use the word. When a government as powerful and reckless as Uncle Sam throws that word around so loosely, it could threaten people across the planet, anyone the current Administration does not like. There can be no war against an undefinable enemy like evil terrorists, no matter what snow intelligence agency spin doctors throw around. This kind of warfare just fuels the fire, revealing hypocrisy and vicious intentions, making it ever easier, though riskier, to debunk the oily American propaganda machine.


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