Mann for School Board
Is the War in Afghanistan Justified?
Here I will address two arguments against calling for the withdrawal of US (and British) military forces from their staging areas around Afghanistan.
1) The antiwar movement cannot appear to be in bed with the enemy (bin Laden and the Taliban). One cannot oppose US intervention in Afghanistan without supporting the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.
One cannot oppose US military intervention anywhere, anytime without being accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
2) The US has the right to intervene in Afghanistan as a matter of self-defense, so long as the goal is to round up bin Laden and other leaders of his organization and the killing of innocents is avoided.
Osama bin Laden admitted having prior knowledge that a big terrorist attack was in the works, but says he wasn't directly involved, and didn't plan it. However, he clearly approved of it after-the-fact, and he encouraged good, God-fearing people to do more of the same.
As Arundhati Roy noted in her article, The Algebra of Infinite Justice, "From what is known about the location of Bin Laden and the living conditions in which he operates, it's entirely possible that he did not personally plan and carry out the attacks - that he is the inspirational figure, "the CEO of the holding company". The Taliban's response to US demands for the extradition of bin Laden has been uncharacteristically reasonable: Produce the evidence, then we'll hand him over. President Bush's response is that the demand is "non-negotiable".
The Bush Administration insists that there is incontrovertible proof that Osama bin Laden was at the center of the conspiracy to crash commercial airliners into the World Trade Center Towers, the Pentagon, and other targets, but will only share this information with close allies of the US government, such as the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Osama bin Laden justifies the slaughter of innocents in the US as a means to force the US government to withdraw its support of Israel, end the economic blockade of Iraq, and to abandon its military bases in Saudi Arabia. It is understandable that some people in the Middle East see Bin Laden as "the good guy" because he is doing something to punish the US for it's bad deeds. Others agree with bin Laden's stated goal of forcing the US to leave the Middle East, but oppose the type of terrorist actions he encourages either on abstract moral grounds (killing is bad), or on grounds of political expediency (it creates popular support within the US and elsewhere for policies that bin Laden denounces).
The United States asserts the right to bomb Afghanistan because supporters of bin Laden killed over 5,000 innocent people in New York. But if it was wrong to do that, then it's also wrong for the US to drop bombs on Afghanistan and to maintain a trade embargo against Iraq that has caused the death of over a million innocent people in the past decade (see "US Sanctions Against Iraq").
One must also consider whose interests were served by the September 11 attacks. It isolates a regime that opposes the presence of US military forces in the Middle East. One of the "vital interests" that the US is looking after in that region is control of gas and oil supplies in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
It is also noteworthy that the US helped to create and build up Osama bin Laden's terrorist network during the 1980s, and that the US also helped the Taliban movement come to power in Afghanistan. As others have noted, if Osama bin Laden didn't exist, the US would have created someone else just like him. Terrorist actions against the Soviet Union and the Soviet-backed Afghani regime, which served the interests of the US during the 1980s, were good. Terrorist actions against the US in recent years are bad.
No confidence should be placed in the US government to bring about world peace, put an end to terrorism, and to defend the interest of the world's oppressed and exploited masses.
Bring our troops home now!
Hands off Afghanistan!