This article was originally written in 2001 and updated lately as has become current with the death of bin Laden
We didn’t have to do this
“Anger is a wind that blows out the lamp in the mind. “Strong emotions including, anger makes it much more difficult for individuals to make reasoned decisions”
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t agree on many things while involved in politics, but in old age they corresponded by mail and found they agreed on many political issues. Adams made the following statement in one of his letters to Jefferson: “Wouldn’t this be a wonderful world without religion.” This statement rings true in looking at not only the abundance of religious wars throughout history from the Old Testament to the many wars in the world today. 9/11 and the Gulf war in Kuwait, that caused the two wars we are in today, can easily be traced to religious origins and oil.
An excellent columnist, Stephanie Salter, formally with the San Francisco Chronicle, lost her column in 2001 as a result of writing a column “We Didn’t Have To do This.” about the war in Afghanistan. After seven years her views now ring true. I wrote a similar “Other Voices” article around the same time and had many critics.
Quote from Stephanie’s column: “We Americans have never been known for critical thought and analysis. Context and historical perspective rank low on our national priorities list—-Add to that our deliberate myopia and chronic impatience, and you have the U.S military trashing big chunks of Kabul, Kandahar and Mazar-I-Sharif in pursuit of a cave-dwelling, mass murderer and his worldwide band of suicidal disciples.”
Within only three weeks after 9/11 we were carpet bombing the villages in the hills of Afghanistan in an attempt to kill one man, bin Laden, and a few recruits; resulting in the deaths of 4 to 5 thousand innocent civilians, probably not even aware of the 9/11 bombing. We had to do something as the public and politicians were angry and wanted revenge. Many deaths are still continuing every day with no end in sight. When Americans are killed it’s a tragedy, when non American civilians are killed its collateral damage. The government cleverly shielded viewing the deaths of Americans and Muslims and are still shielded today.
Thousands of innocent civilians had to move to the desert in the dead of winter with many dying from hunger, bad water, land mines and the weather. Besides the bombing, civilians were killed because we employed the barbaric War Lords of the Northern Alliance to do the ground fighting for us to reduce American casualties. These war lords have now set up their own provinces and have their own armies supplying the world with opium, plus providing soldiers for the Taliban. They don’t want an American democracy that may threaten their power. After seven years our original objective hasn’t been met. Why are we still fighting?
If our leaders and the public had used critical thought and analysis in considering the history of other countries akin to the Russians spending ten futile years in an attempt to drive out the Taliban, we may have used different tactics in our quest for eliminating one man.
We should have also used thought and analysis before invading Iraq without any real knowledge of the slim probability of uniting two different religious cultures in Iraq. This created another costly and ineffective military endeavor. If we leave there will be a resumption of the civil war we are now refereeing.
Although I voted for Obama he has cast some votes in the Senate I question. He has also raised the prospect of sending more troops to the deadly quagmire in Afghanistan.
We should have been aware of why and how the Soviet Union, after ten years, left Afghanistan with their tail between their legs before our hasty attack. We should keep this in mind in continuing this war and adding more troops.
My first and last two paragraphs will irk many people as reality is difficult to accept. Observing the history of wars, violence and poverty in the world has led me to conclude that civilization and organized religion are nothing but remote ideals. 9/11 and the three Gulf Wars are not good examples of civilization. Mass killing of civilians in Israel and Palestine is also an example of people regarded as civilized settling religious difference.
John Adams said it well: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Point of interest: all but one person in congress voted for this war.