Mr. Ansary: "I've
been hearing a lot of talk about 'bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone
there's too much of that kind of thinking. As Mr. Ansary notes
below, the enemy is not the Afghan people, but rather the planners,
financiers and perpetrators of these acts and those who harbor them and
provide them with aid and comfort. The Taliban 'government' should
not be equated to the Afghan people. (There are no free elections
"Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio [San Francisco]
today, allowed that this would mean killing innocent people, people who had
nothing to do with this atrocity, but 'we're at war, we have to accept
collateral damage. What else can we do?'"
While true, that
sentiment has the danger of becoming an excuse for indifference. The
actions appropriate for dealing with a threat should be commensurate with the
threat. In this case that will probably mean that some innocents will
be hurt or killed. If so, such a consequence should not be approached
or accepted lightly. And it goes without saying that it must not be
our intent. "Wars" are a messy business.
"Minutes later I heard some TV pundit discussing
whether we 'have the belly to do what must be done.'
"And I thought about the issues being raised especially hard because I am
from Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never
lost track of what's going on there. So I want to tell anyone who will
listen how it all looks from where I'm standing.
"I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no
doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in New
While to date the evidence,
such as it is, certainly points in his direction, what we've seen of it so
far is only suggestive. Before any physical action is taken, I for one
hope that the evidence supporting it will be presented to us in some
detail. The last thing we need is to have it come out at some future
date that in our haste to strike out at someone, anyone, for this atrocity,
we selected a target of opportunity and chose the wrong group.
Least I be misunderstood, I am as anxious as anyone to see these thugs
punished for their crime. But bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical
factory because of faulty intelligence does us no good service. Let's
be sure before we act. Then let's act.
"I agree that something must be done about those
"But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even
the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant
psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997."
Calling religious fanatics
"psychotics" does nothing to further our understanding of what
motivates these people. And in order to defeat your enemy, you must
first understand him. (Please do not confuse understand",
with "accept" or "excuse".)
Dismissing them as "psychotics" may make the speaker feel good.
But that puts us on the wrong road. Evil should not be equated with
psychosis. These people are not maniacs. And the failure to
understand that can cost us American lives and frustrate our efforts to