Sunday, December 12, 2004

Afghanistan - the Good War? Why???

Lately I have noticed that there are some things in the American discourse that seem to shut out a particular view as being "beyond the pale" taking it for granted that everyone else will agree with this assumption. (Darn. That does not sound coherent.)

I am aware that this is not new. For example, Chomsky documented since the 60s that the US discourse re: Vietnam never, ever discussed the US actions as an "invasion of South Vietnam" although there is no dictionary definition of "invasion" on the planet that would absolve the U.S. of precisely that action.

Lately a particular issue has been bothering me. It concerns the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan right after the September 11 attacks. At the time the U.S. was preparing to bomb, I was in the U.S. for a conference, reading newspapers as fast as I could. I distinctly remember that the Taleban made an offer to the U.S. to turn over Osama Bin Laden and that I was profoundly relieved that obviously, we could get him tried for the crimes without having to bomb a country and kill a lot of innocent people. But the next day or the day following, the U.S. started bombing the Hell out of Afghanistan, killing thousands, and shortly after that their mission morphed from "getting Osama" to "overthrowing the Taleban regime".

Now, not so very many years later, I feel like these memories are either a hallucination, or everyone in the left-liberal U.S. spectrum has serious amnesia, because I keep hearing about the fact that though we can argue the war in Iraq was a bad idea, NO ONE can possibly question that the US HAD to bomb Afghanistan; it just had no choice.

Also I hear that the bombing of Afghanistan was a complete military success, which bothers me yet again, because a) if the point of it was to "get Osama," he was not gotten, and b) if the point was to overthrow the Taleban, well, they were momentarily overthrown, replaced with warlords of less theocratic tendencies but capable of just as much oppression, and now the Taleban are still a political force to be reckoned with in Afghani politics. It seems like it was a colossal failure, both from the military standpoint, and from the moral one.

If this understanding of mine is wrong and I am missing some self-evident point that is so obvious it is never voiced, I wish someone would clue me in! As usual, I am "confused in Cairo."

1 comment(s):

  • Anna, I think you're right that even when questioning the Iraq mess, people here don't seem to question the bombing of Afghanistan. What I remember is that the Taliban said they would turn Osama b. over if they were given evidence linking him to the crime, and of course this didn't happen. Does that fit with your recollection? (I actually got a letter printed in Newsweek about why we shouldn't bomb Afghanistan.) This country behaves as though civilian casualties don't matter--they're just unavoidable 'collateral damage'. I think there's definitely some racism and cultural prejudice involved in whose lives are rated as more or less important.

    By Blogger Karima, at 12/13/2004 10:16:00 AM  

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