Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Afghanistan: What the fuck?

It should be embarrassing that nearly five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, almost no meaningful progress has been made in bringing Osama bin-Laden to justice. It is not difficult to find fault with the way the Bush administration has handled its so-called “Global War on Terror.” The administrations standard response has been to point to Afghanistan, bin-Laden’s reported hideout, as proof of its success in the war on terror. However, recent reports of the resurgence of the Taliban in the south, and the forthcoming handover of security operations in Afghanistan to NATO control belie the administrations contentions.

The security handover has been described as a potential boon for the Taliban forces in the region. Indeed recent reports describe the increased brazenness of their attacks. But the issue is not so straightforward. An item in the New York Times of May 10, 2006, states that although some nations contributing to the NATO forces do not intend to fight the Taliban or other militants, some, including Canada, said “they consider the NATO mission to be more than just peacekeeping and would operate under the same rules of engagement as the Americans.” Clearly the British commanding officer of the NATO force, Lt. Gen. David Richards, will have a difficult task accommodating the policies of all member nations.

Still, this development is not without its benefits. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, NATO Secretary General Lord Robinson stated, “An attack on one is an attack on all.” And even though the Bush administration has sullied America’s reputation world wide and lost all moral high ground it may claim to have, I contend that Lord Robertson’s statement, and NATO’s commitment, still stand.

When American forces come under the auspices of NATO command in November, Lt. Gen. Richards should seek to fulfill the role of NATO as America’s ally, and to quote Lord Robertson, “provide the assistance that may be required as a consequence of these acts of barbarism.’’ That assistance is the elimination of Osama bin-Laden.

As awkward as it may sound, a NATO force may be the best chance for the American people to see the man most responsible for the September 11th attacks brought to justice. How ironic too, give this administrations penchant for eschewing international cooperation. Politics and ideology, not rational military strategy, have directed the Bush administrations reaction to the attacks. Perhaps a military command not leashed by political motives will be more successful.

America needs to be saved from itself.

The Bush administration has used success against terrorism as its chief campaign platform in 2004 and as boilerplate justification for its wantonly irresponsible foreign policy. There was an opportunity to correct America’s mistakes, but the American people, to the dismay of much of the rest of the world, elected Mr. Bush to a second term. Since then, the situation in Iraq has continually worsened, and recent poll numbers show that the President, and Republicans in general, are trusted less and less by the American public on this issue. A NATO led capture of bin-Laden would eliminate any remaining legitimacy the Bush administration may have in the war on terror. It would display President Bush as a failure in yet another aspect of his duties - so much so that he would not have the political capital to push forward with his disastrous policies, such as considering a nuclear attack against Iran.

The world needs to be saved from America.

The elimination of Osama bin-Laden will make the world a safer place for two reasons: First, the world’s most dangerous terrorist network, al-Qaeda, will be crippled. Second, George Bush will be unable to recover from the obvious ineptitude of his rule, so the rest of the world will be safe from his attempts at retribution – which so far have claimed tens of thousands of more innocent lives than bin-Laden has.

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