Strange war: box knives vs. cruise missiles
As Yogi Berra said: “It looks like déjà vu all over again.” But Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Desert Storm differ in many respects. The military objective of Desert Storm was to expel the Iraqi invaders from the soil of Kuwait, not to capture or kill Saddam Hussein and change the government of Iraq. The mission was simple. And, the final result clearly observable.
The objectives of Operation Enduring Freedom are, at once, military, diplomatic and humanitarian. The first two will be very difficult to achieve.
The objective of the military operation is to find Osama bin Laden, the Hitler behind the al-Qaida terrorist organization, and bring him and his lieutenants to justice. The entire al-Qaida organization must destroyed wherever it exists. Because of problems of terrain, access and resupply, the military objective of Operation Enduring Freedom will be more difficult to accomplish than the military objective of Desert Storm.
As an object lesson to other terrorist-harboring governments, the Taliban regime that supports and hides Osama bin Laden must be driven from power. Fortunately, Afghan dissident groups are eager for power. Unfortunately, history tells us the Afghan people will continue to suffer.
This time, we are not driving an invader out of a conquered land. To some, we will appear to be the invaders as we seek out Osama bin Laden and his gang of thugs. This makes the diplomatic objective of forging and maintaining a world-wide anti-terrorist coalition far more difficult than the diplomatic task we faced in 1991.
Wisely, the current Bush Administration presaged its military strikes by “love-bombing” the Afghan people with food, clothing, medicine and even seeds for the crops of next spring. Some of this humanitarian aid will, no doubt, fall into the wrong hands. But much of it will help relieve the suffering of some Afghans. From a public relations perspective, it is a stroke of genius.
While this will be a war like no previous war, much is still the same. The radicals of the 1960s, many of whom now hold tenured professorships at some of our most prestigious universities, still try to undermine us. They tell their students that we are at fault for the events of September 11th. But they are astonished that most students, for now anyway, reject their cockamamie worldview. This could change if the war drags on and there is talk of conscription.
The former supporters of the former Soviet Union and the Communist International (who are at the core of the protests against the meetings of the World Trade Organization, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) have shifted their focus from economics to opposing our actions against the terrorists.
So, while the war on terrorism will be vastly different, the “blame-America-firsters” and the 5th Column of the Left are very much the same. Yet, to stifle what they have to say would be self-defeating. Thousands of Americans have given their lives to protect the right of others to make stupid, ill-informed and even disloyal statements.
And, we must not let others turn our quest (can’t use the word crusade) into a religious war with Christians and Jews on one side and Muslims on the other. The problem we are trying to solve is a national security problem. It has nothing to do with religion.
While bin Laden and his followers may cloak themselves in a perverted form of Islam, Operation Enduring Freedom is designed to destroy them, not because of their religion, but because we simply cannot live in peace, freedom and security as long as these vermin infest the world.
The Internet abounds with suggestions on how to deal with Osama bin Laden. One of the more creative is to perform a sex-change operation with a pigskin-handled box knife and then force “him” to live under the Taliban as a woman. But that would violate our constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about terrorism against the United States. See: www.thegrandconspiracy.com.
©2001. William Hamilton.