Five Reasons Not to Go to War part 2

Jill Taylor Bussiere jdt at
Sat Sep 22 08:06:15 EDT 2001

3. War would be unlikely to eliminate those responsible for the
September 11 attacks.

If bin Laden is indeed the evil genius responsible for the September 11

attacks, is it credible that he and his top aides would be so bumbling
as to wait around for the U.S. military to exterminate them? We know
they have already abandoned their training camps (NYT, 19 Sept. 2001).
They may have relocated themselves to some unknown caves in the Afghan
mountains, they may have moved into various Afghan villages, blending in
with the population, or they may even have left the country entirely.
Are U.S. bombers and cruise-missiles really going to find bin Laden and
unknown associates? It's doubtful that Washington has good intelligence
as to their whereabouts; when the U.S. launched cruise missiles at bin
Laden in 1998 -- with the advantage of surprise -- its information was
out of date and he was already gone. It's likely to be even harder to
find him and his lieutenants now. War is hardly the most effective way
to pursue the perpetrators and they are hardly likely to be its primary

4. Huge numbers of innocent people will die.

It was precisely the fact that the September 11 attacks killed large
numbers of civilians that made the attacks terroristic and so horrific.
If it is immoral to slaughter thousands of Americans in an effort to
disrupt the U.S. economy and force a change in U.S. policy, it is no
less immoral to slaughter thousands of Afghans in an effort to force the
Taliban to change its policy. The United States is moving large numbers
of warplanes and missile-launching vessels into the region, yet there
are hardly any military targets in Afghanistan for them to attack. It is
inevitable that civilians will bear the brunt of any major campaign --
civilians who, in their vast majority, probably are ignorant not only of
the recent terrorist assault on the U.S., but probably even of bin Laden
himself. Ground forces might be less indiscriminate, but it's hard to
imagine that Washington's military plans won't involve the massive
application of force, with horrendous human consequences.

While the image of bombers flying over Afghanistan and bombing a people
whose average lifespan is about 45 years of age and who are suffering
terrible deprivation already -- not least due to the Taliban, which the
U.S. helped create and empower -- is horrifying enough, it is important
to realize that death and deprivation come in many forms. Even without
widespread bombing, if the threat to attack the civilian population or
outright coercion of other countries leads to curtailment of food aid to
Afghanistan, the ensuing starvation could kill a million or more Afghans
by mid-winter. Is this the appropriate response to terror?

5. War will reduce the security of U.S. citizens.

What drives people to devote -- and even sacrifice -- their lives to
anti-American terrorism? No doubt the causes are complex, but surely
deep feelings of anger and frustration at the U.S. role in the Middle
East is a significant factor. If the United States goes to war some
terrorists will probably be killed, but so too will many innocent
people. And each of these innocent victims will have relatives and
friends whose anger and frustration at the United States will rise to
new heights, and the ranks of the terrorists will be refilled many times
over. And the new recruits will not just come from Afghanistan. To many
Muslims throughout the Middle East, war will be seen as an attack on
Islam -- and this is one reason that many of Washington's Islamic allies
are urging caution. Significantly, the New York Times reports that the
"drumbeat for war, so loud in the rest of the country, is barely audible
on the streets of New York" (NYT, 20 Sept. 2001). Their city suffered
unbearable pain, but many New Yorkers know that the retaliatory killing
of people in the Middle East will not make them any safer; on the
contrary, it is likely to lead to more, not less terror on U.S. soil,
and in any event, would inflict the same pain on still more innocent

The dynamic of terror and counter-terror is a familiar one: it leads not
to peace but to more violence. Israel's response to terrorism hasn't
brought Israelis more security. Nor has retaliatory terrorism made
people more secure elsewhere. Indeed, it is quite likely that the
perpetrators of the terror attack on the United States would like
nothing more than to induce a massive U.S. military response which might
destabilize the whole region, leading to the creation of millions of
holy warriors and the overthrow of governments throughout the Islamic
world. Whether bin Laden's al-Qaeda or some other extremist group or
groups is responsible, war might play right into their hands, reducing
the security of us all.

The crisis page with current terror and war related links is:

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