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Sunday, 7 October, 2001, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Military strikes: Is the US right to be cautious?
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American officials have been sounding cautious notes about the extent of military action against suspected terrorist targets.
They have stressed that diplomacy and intelligence will play a significant role in the fight against terrorism, along with military strikes.
The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has already cautioned that this war could take years to win, and that there will be more American casualties.
European leaders have also been keen not to play up the military aspect of the campaign against terrorism.
It follows weeks when the official talk was of imminent military action.
Are they right to be so cautious? Do the American people want to see dramatic military retaliation? How will we judge the success of this coalition against terrorism?
We took your calls on this issue live on Talking Point ON AIR, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online. Use the form at the bottom of the page to add to the debate.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Kathy Capps, Liberty, SC, USA
Why are so many people concerned with killing "innocent" people in this "war"? Someone asked whether anything had been learned in Vietnam? Well, if we start off the entire campaign with the terrorists' rules, we might just want to shut down the operation completely! Besides, did it bother the murderers that almost 6,000 innocent victims were killed in one act?
Are the Taleban scared witless of Bin Laden?
If he and his organisation can do so much damage
to the most powerful country on earth just think
what he could do to his current hosts if they tried
to hand him over.
Our delay in acting is creating a great uproar in Afghanistan - the suspense is killing them. They have been desperately changing their position every day. Now we should arm the Northern Alliance and let them take on the entrenched Taliban. Let us also feed, clothe and educate the refugees.
As far back as the Egyptian era, great civilisations existed and survived for similar reasons. The Egyptians, Romans, Americans as well as the British controlled peasants with their large armies in order to provide themselves with a cheap source of materials and goods. Inevitably, every so often there were bloody uprisings. I'm afraid that I can't see any difference with regards to the present conflict of opinions and I can't help but think that if the Romans had the same propaganda skills as the Americans have today, they would still be in power.
It surprises me that no one in the USA is asking one simple question: What was the CIA and FBI doing that these attacks took place with such swiftness and success? Millions of
dollars are spent on the intelligence agencies and they totally failed.
As an American I have reflected on reasons why most of the world dislikes us. I understand that they have grievances. We are in a position to help them financially and improve their standard of living. But that has changed because they attacked us and their populations mocked us and cheered. The US was in a trend of isolationism which would have showed less US presence throughout the world. They would have got what they wished, if only they did not resort to violence.
Now as a US citizen that used to oppose my government on foreign policy, I now fully back any action my President takes. Frankly, world opinion makes no difference. We learned that the world will criticise us no matter what we do. We are now looking after ourselves. No nation should stand in our way unless they are willing to go into an all out fight with us.
Gareth Morgan, London, UK
It seems to me that we are forced to wallow in these discussions about terrorism, only when it affects one of the big boys. I am extremely saddened by the events that unfolded in NY and WDC however don't you think the US government is being a bit hypocritical? Since March of this year, Macedonian forces have been fighting sporadic and heavy battles with Albanian terrorists/extremists in the north of Macedonia, yet the international community pushes the Macedonian government to convene peace talks and negotiations and to sit on the same deliberation table with a terrorist? Yet when catastrophic events unfold in the US, the US government wishes to retaliate with force, just as the Macedonian government wished to do?
What applies for one, does not apply to the other. Osama Bin Laden has been funding and setting up the NLA and UCK paramilitary forces in Macedonia for years, yet the international community sits and twiddles its thumbs. It is a sad world we live in, when one race of people are more important than the other.
Acts of war will exacerbate world conflict. Will create more orphans and will give rise to more people wanting to settle a score. Punishing so called terror with more terror in not the answer. It is a shame a country like the US and Great Britain cannot understand that. The disease of terror will not go away if the cause of terror is not addressed. Some media commentators and leaders of so-called civilised countries, simply reject the notion, that the US and Israel have been sowing seeds of discontent in many a Moslem country, for the past five decades.
If the US is serious about eradicating terrorism in the world, they must find an immediate solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and ease the stranglehold they and their allies have on Moslem countries such as Iraq and Iran. Equality and respect will breed equality and respect. When Moslems have been made the pariahs of the new world, and remove all dignity and means of economic survival, the US will leave no other option but the growth of an immense hatred in people so despised, degraded and starved. Needless to say such people will react in many abnormal ways, e.g. suicide attacks. My heart goes to all victims who have suffered terror, both in the US and the Middle East. I hope sanity will prevail even at this late stage
I think it is very sad to see our "brothers and sisters" in the UK to be so critical of the US. I cannot help but to think that if this would have happened to Buckingham Palace or the Parliament you would be up in arms about. I keep seeing these comments about how everyone seems to think that we are blood thirsty, I hate to point it out but if you look far enough back into any nation's history you will find acts of aggression, the beloved "peaceful" UK is not infallible in this matter. I just feel that if the knife was held to your throat rather than to ours, you would react differently and would be reacting the same.
The correct method of dealing with these terrorists is to do what, I assume, we are doing now. That is, firstly send in the Special Forces and determine where these people are and where all their supplies and bases are. Next, when you have decided on which targets are the most important take them out, either, by again using the Special Forces, or by any other effective method. Attacking their financial reserves has a limited and possibly, delaying effect but ultimately you have to remove these people to rid the world of the threat.
One important method of reducing the threat is to try and prevent governments similar to the Taleban from coming to power in the first place. This can only be achieved by the more developed countries helping the poorer countries overcome their poverty and hunger. What happens at the moment is that the 'Talebans' of the world blame the western world for their country's own incompetence and corruption and unfortunately the masses believe everything that they are told. This is because everyone has to have someone to blame their problems on. If their anger were not directed towards the West then they would start to blame their own governments and that would cause internal problems. Therefore governments like that in Afghanistan encourage anti-American felling to reduce the amount of aggression directed towards them.
Ouch! Why is it that some want to kick us when we are down & try to pour salt in our wounds? In thin-veiled attempts at responding to these questions, some have espoused the same jealousy, hatred and finger-pointing that drove the terrorists. Start to look at your own governments and the atrocities they have committed. The US is far from perfect but no state is left clean. British bombs have been falling in Iraq for the past decade as well.
The world fails to see the predicament that the US is in. By being the richest country and the world's superpower, we are called upon to assist in times of need; militarily, financially, and diplomatically. If we fail to act and do nothing, we are damned. If we respond to the world around us, we are also damned. I am tired of seeing people biting the hand that feeds them. We can't be a neutral country on the lines of Switzerland or Sweden, the world wouldn't let us. And we have paid for that with the blood of our citizens over and over again.
If the US claim it is the greatest democracy it the world it's only appropriate that they follow normal channels and find the culprits guilty - not by media. Or the president who feel he judge, jury and executioner.
Yes of course we need to be cautious. As an American I will not support my government in any rash actions that indiscriminately harm Afghan civilians (or ordinary civilians of any country for that matter).
In our campaign against terrorism, we must practice the respect for innocent life that we preach in order for our efforts to have credibility and be worth supporting. And I'm grateful that the Bush Administration has so far demonstrated this kind of prudence.
I feel that the US have handled the crisis very wisely so far, without indulging in any show of military might and trying to unravel the complex web of international terrorism.
However, I feel that not enough effort has been put in understanding why this tragedy occurred and who is behind it. In fact the term "terrorism" is in my view very vague. The question that should be addressed is: "What are the terrorists up to?" Assuming that they acted just out of hatred towards the US is too simplistic. There must a complex scheme of a well-designed strategy of subverting the world order. Any idea on that?
Not only must America be cautious, America must also be completely thorough. We must have a plan that will be successful not only now but decades into the future as well. With good planning and worldwide support for our actions, we will avoid World War III and gain respect from every civilized nation in the world.
John Ford, Leeds, UK
Refraining from military action and, as some would have us do, going before these groups cap-in-hand asking, "What can we do to become more acceptable to you?" will only reaffirm to the terrorist world that mass-murder of the September 11th variety is a wonderfully effective bargaining tool. The concept of war and the willingness to wage it are alive and well in a good portion of the rest of the world, and we are being more than foolish to pretend that they do not exist. Those behind the attack sent the world a clear and unambiguous message as to their preferred means of expression: to kill as many people, uniformed or not, as humanly possible.
While talks and negotiations should always exist whenever possible (as I feel they have been for some time now), we must face the fact that we will likely have no choice but to deal with these groups in the only language that they appear to respond to. The road to peace is not always peaceful.
I would like to ask the US and its allies for an accurate definition of terrorism. To the US, people fighting with stones are called terrorists, while people who pursue one car with F16s and crush it with tanks, are merely called soldiers. Why?
Most of the American responses are indicative of the "Wild West" mentality, which requires that they go out and kill someone, whether guilty or not. Now, more than ever, the USA is the greatest threat to world peace, not the terrorists, who represent a small group of fanatics, rather than a nation.
May belligerence be replaced by calm determination, and compliance with international law.
The destruction of the WTC towers and the loss of thousands of innocent American lives was indeed very tragic. It brought back memories of other tragic losses - like the innocent lives lost at Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, the Gulf and yes, Afghanistan. It's as if the collective ghost of all these innocent lives has risen up to avenge itself. By punishing a few lunatic terrorists (who will be replaced by more lunatic terrorists), the US will be missing the woods for the trees. It has to look within its soul and ask itself as to why it is the target of terrorism. I believe the answer lies in its arrogant and high-handed interference in the affairs of the international community and in its belief that an American life is more precious than the lives of others. That is why the US supports a non-democratic country which indulges in cross-border terrorism and which has given refuge to the perpetrators of the Mumbai bomb blasts. That is why Madeleine Albright could once pass an utterly cruel comment that the lives of 500000 Iraqi children is worth destroying Saddam.
God bless American lives and others too.
Imran Latif, Saudi Arabia
The alliance between the West and Muslim countries is a fragile one that can easily shatter, as the Gulf War showed. To defeat the Islamic brand of terrorism, the co-operation of the Muslim world is of paramount importance. An outright attack on Afghanistan would surely destroy this fragile alliance. For this reason alone war must be avoided.
I do wish people would quit blaming our policies over seas for the attacks. It's much like blaming the blacks for the KKK. Should we be asking ourselves what the blacks did to those people to make them hate? That's stupid, you say? Precisely my point. People who hate will find someone to attach that hatred to. My government is right to take its time with this. Anything else would ultimately be counter-productive.
Anna, Ipswich, UK
It is extraordinary as an American to read the comments of those in the United Kingdom who are critical of the United States for wanted to take action against those who killed so many on our soil? Odd, those in the UK weren't so willing to show restraint when the Nazi's were bombing your cities and killing your citizens. Ah, but then you've always been so superior to Americans, yes?
In reply to Bronwyn in LA. Britain declared war on Germany before any UK lives were lost. It was the invasion of Poland that prompted us to take action. For two years Churchill pleaded with the US to help, but as usual it took something like Pearl Harbor to happen before the US could be bothered to do something. I don't recall the US rushing to our aid when the IRA were taking innocent lives in this country, instead you were making contributions to NORAID. Most people here support some sort of military action, but using a bit of caution, so as to not to make the situation worse and invite more terrorist attacks. I'm afraid that your perception of history, like so many Americans, has been influenced by Hollywood, who always make it sound like the US won WW2 alone. This country always comes to your aid when it's needed, more than any other, and you're still not happy.
Ian Sykes, UK
America should use all available military means to dislodge the Taleban regime from power so that the world can be free from unnecessary disorder.
Military action will be our least effective tool in fighting terrorism. Problems are only solved when we resolve the root cause and build better relationships throughout the world.
Barrage them with information: video players and cassettes of world leaders, particularly Islamic leaders, who condemn terrorism. Carpet the country with magazines and newspapers showing the horror of the acts committed by their "guest".
Seeing your family fully fed and the prospect of a stable future is a powerful deterrent to martyrdom. All we ask in return is that they, as a people, agree to enter the civilized world. That includes allowing international law and the prosecutions of its violators to run its course.
We have the technology. Do we have the compassion?
I think a cautious approach to this problem by our governments is the correct one. Military strikes will still be necessary, but only after we have gathered the intelligence needed to determine the exact location of the people responsible. Once this has been accomplished the threat to the civilian population, posed my military strikes, should be minimized. After all the vast majority of the people in terrorist states aren't responsible for the bloodshed and they should be protected as much as possible.
The only real solution to terrorism is to remove the conditions in the world which can produce people who even consider terrorism as a solution to what they consider as problems in their lives or the lives of others.
This does not exclude pursuing Osama bin Laden (or whoever is responsible) to bring him to justice. But without raising the consciousness of the world terrorism will only continue to be used by those who cannot see any other solution to their real or perceived grievances.
Das, Dacca, Bangladesh
America should go for the throat of these suspected terrorists. What is the use of having the best-equipped army, if they can't use it to protect their interests? President Bush should not focus his policy on aid programs but instead spend that money on fighting terrorism in the world. But while I sympathise with the victims of the attacks, America should now realise that they can't have everything on their own terms. They have abandoned the Kyoto protocol and they now want to build coalitions with other countries just because they are the victims. America indirectly created the Taleban through its policies against the Soviet Union and it has done the same in Africa by supporting rebels from Angola, Mozambique and Zaire. It has also weakened UN programs by bulldozing the world body with its self-serving policies. The US, then, must reconsider its policies towards African and Asian countries.
I have in my possession a long list of atrocities committed by the Taleban regime against women in Afghanistan. To me they represent the worst human rights atrocities ever. America is doing the right thing to go after them. They must be routed out if some form of sanity is to return to Afghanistan. I hope the Americans do launch strikes against the Taleban and I firmly believe they have the power to unseat them. Please, America, help the suffering masses.
Joshua Kadmi, Abuja, Nigeria
America as always is playing the all-knowing role in world politics. Bin Laden is an American creation from its fight against communism. If the Americans are not careful they might just create another crusade. Give diplomacy a chance.
Of course restraint should be exercised. The public still has been given very little substantial evidence that leads to Bin Laden, or anyone else. We are operating under assurances by our leaders that they know who is responsible. Meanwhile, we hear reports of special forces already active in the area. Who are these special forces and what are they doing? What exactly is this solid evidence that points to Bin Laden, besides linking him to past bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania? We need to hear more, before we can further analyse the situation. Other than that, we are operating on conjecture and reaction to partial stories mixed with propaganda.
When and where to use diplomacy, humanitarian and economic measures, and even military attacks is what will really determine the fate of this situation. Bush and his advisers should follow their heads and not their hearts.
This is the most important issue to face the US for a very long time. As such it is very important to think this through before any military action.
The most important issue is to understand who the culprits are and then we will get to understand why this crime was committed. If this is understood and political decisions taken to remove the cause of this conflict the world will be a much safer place for every human being. Military action taken to satisfy public opinion in the US will most likely fail.
Let us be cautious and wise.
The experts and the American public need to analyse the hard question, "WHY terrorists targeted America"? Getting to the root cause is more important than taking revenge or before taking revenge, if we are really interested in eradicating terrorism. Of course, Bin Laden or whoever did it must be tried in court, but only when proven guilty. It is high time that America carefully evaluate its own foreign policies, especially in the Middle East.
Sorry to be so sceptical but if it is so easy to track down terrorists why is Northern Ireland in such a sorry state? We are told that the SAS knows where Osama Bin Laden is but what about the extremists in West and North Belfast or in South Armagh's "Bandit Country". Surely it would have been easier to find them! This latest "war against terrorism" seems to be developing into a struggle against anyone opposed to the fast food/soft drinks "culture" and nothing at all to do with uprooting the IRA, UDA, ETA, the Albanian rebels in Macedonia, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
Mike Littleton, Bilings, Montana, USA
Kissinger's suggestion of "cool, relentless, pursuit" implies a covert, intelligence-based response. This has already emerged as the option which fulfils the objectives of the US while denying those of Bin Laden and his militant Islamic followers.
I think that this delay is very important. Not only is this allowing the United States and the Allies to bring the required amount of firepower into the region, but we as a nation and world, are being shown the truth about the Taleban regime. The ruthlessness and blatant disregard for human rights alone should have drawn a tough response from the civilized world. What kind of nation allows itself to be controlled by these men? For the taking of women's rights, for the senseless executions on football fields, for the poverty that this regime has wrought upon Afghanistan, we should take this leadership "out". When you add in the "harbouring of a fugitive," it should be only a matter of time before this regime is toppled. It is also important to remember that this is a nation that has had our collective "psyche" bruised.
We needed this time to mourn, time to reflect, and time to become prepared for a struggle that has not been witnessed in this country for over 50 years. This may be much more difficult than past military exercises - as we realize that we are living in dangerous times.
Mark Borda, London, UK
Absolutely, an exhaustive investigation, to rule out the possibility that Saddam Hussein may have been behind it, should be conducted. Furthermore, I would urge President Bush to follow Prime Minister Koizumi of Japan's constitutionally mandated example and act with restraint.
Is it caution, or a realisation that the initial reaction (instant military strikes) would be self-defeating or at least VERY difficult?
Amanda, Chicago, US
Caution is preferable as the terrorist groups are banking on the US & it's allies falling into the trap of rapid military response. If that happens, terrorists will be tempted to carry out even more atrocities.
Our response should be a legal one, as in the case of the Lockerbie Pan Am bombing, based on humanitarian values. We should encourage and support dialogue in the Middle East. That is where the key to the unrest lies and we should seek to unravel it there.
Jonathan Abraham, Melbourne, Australia
Now is the time for the United States to reverse its position and
support the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court.
In a world system based on laws and not individuals, this is the obvious
Deploy 100,000 troops into the country, forming 30 brigade-sized bases.
These would be in defendable areas close to population centers, but also
distributed throughout the country.
Open relief centers in each base, with a hospital, clothing/blanket
distribution point, educational center, building material supply point, and a field kitchen.
I think these concerns are workable, and would earn the US (and
the west in general) many friends.
Now is the time for the United States to reverse its position and
support the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court.
In a world system based on laws and not individuals, this is the obvious
Bailo B. Jallow, London, UK
The United States government should be cautious considering the fact that they might be chasing the wrong enemy.
Assuming [suspects are innocent until proven guilty] Bin Laden is really responsible and they eventually attack Afghanistan, they will have succeeded in spilling the blood of more innocent men, women and children, just like the ones at the WTC.
The people in the US are eager to see a response to this attack. My main worry is that even though Mr. Bush and his team are doing their best, that still that may not satisfy the US citizens and a weak reaction might give the terrorist network an another boost to strength in their faith.
So, I feel Mr. Bush and his team members need to do some thing concrete that would regain the faith in the US government and the
Bin Laden is a criminal. There is no reason why the Taleban should give him aid and comfort. Therefore, the Taleban is an enemy of all civilized people and the Taleban must be punished. No effort should be spared to find and arrest each and every one of their members who
are supporting Bin Laden. And, sooner or later, we will find Bin Laden.
Extreme caution and careful and informed deliberation is correct before taking any military action. Nothing will be achieved by subjecting this desperate populace to further abuse.
Even if it is not proven that the Taliban is directly involved, this band of barbaric thugs that imposes such a cruel form of revenging religious moral on its own people must be stopped for the sake of the innocent.
It amazes, and to an extent puzzles me why the US led coalition against terrorism don't utilize the already existing opposition to the Taliban to tackle the difficult terrain in Afghanistan. This to me makes more sense than
entrusting the mission with a force that has little or no experience with this terrain.
Some things are worth fighting for.
Americans want revenge and revenge now. This is understandable but Americans should also ask hard questions about their government's conduct abroad.
I see the priority for the USA is to find and detain terrorist suspects, in order to stop further attacks, including retaliatory attacks, in the USA as well as around the world.
Not only do I not see the urgency to pursue military strikes at Osama and his group in Afghanistan, it is actually prudent to take time on such strikes, until accurate strikes can be made with minimal killing of civilians, and until solid evidence of Osama's role in the September 11 attacks is ready to be shown to convince many Muslim countries.
Pradeep Nair, Satara, India
It is not enough for Blair to say he has seen some evidence that links Bin Laden to the WTC destruction. This evidence should be made public, especially since the US has a history of manufacturing such evidence when it suits their purpose. Also, do the British people seriously want to start a war with Afghanistan? Perhaps it is time for a referendum.
D.Smith, Royal Oak, USA
The desire to make some bold and powerful move is understandable. But fighting terrorism will be like weeding: A regular chore, successful only if done with care.
It is better to say that we are right to be analytical than "cautious". I do not believe we have all the facts necessary to understand the issues, but it is analysis not necessarily caution which is needed to solve the problem.
Tim Donovan, Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Yes we are right to be cautious. Colin Powell is right to be cautious and measured; after all he sees a Presidential candidacy on the distant horizon, and HE needs to build up his long-term coalition. (And so far I am impressed)
Do some people forget that most European countries have been fighting terrorism for some 30 years now? Britain has been targeted by the IRA, Spain by ETA.
These animals are still trying to strike various targets in the US. I am sure that our president is taking careful aim so as to not shoot the wrong people. I am happy that Britain is with us as well as a few other nations; however, for those clamouring for peace, we here have no more time to listen. Our blood is up and we will fight.
We have to be sure who the enemy is before we do anything. America's reaction to the attacks was understandable but we must remove those who were responsible not the innocent people of any country. I have a great fear that any poorly thought out reaction will result in more innocent people being killed.
Julian Dennis, Lawrenceville GA
Why would people who could plan so many civilian deaths in New York suddenly be 'deterred' by more civilian deaths in Afghanistan or Iraq?
Contemplating any sort of invasion into Afghanistan by US or any other troops would be a disaster. This country is a harsh, mountainous desert, no infrastructure, no food, nothing. The only way forward is through the capture, by any means, of Osama bin Laden, e.g. cutting off his supply routes, and the replacement of the Taleban.
It is not just on the military front that caution is needed. It seems that the US is likely to repeat mistakes of imposing a leader for Afghanistan, the exiled king, when there is a legally acknowledged President in exile as well. Has the US learnt nothing from Vietnam onwards, that installing puppet leaders doesn't solve anything.
Sangeeta Dhami, Harrow, England
Bomb Afghanistan NOW...with food parcels. The people will soon realise what the Taliban have done, and will do nothing for. Surely this will make the Taliban look even more like the inept, fanatical, uneducated, corrupt 'leaders' that they are.
There is a need to be cautious in any use of force, unless it is a matter of do or die. Bombing the likes of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen out of existence will neither bring the dead back to life nor put an end to the problem. What is needed most now are cool heads for sober reflection. The question that must be asked, debated and answered thoroughly is "who are the real enemies of the American government and why?" I am astonished that the Media are not interested in this question. Maybe the answer is obvious but "politically incorrect" to admit it publicly.
Caution in terms of military strikes is advisable, and the governments that are making these decisions have proven that they are exercising caution. It is the media that are not exercising caution - giving terrorists useful information on the position of troops, ways in which biological and chemical agents could be used, and the ease with which terrorists can delay justice via the courts in this country. The media should exercise more caution.
Mano, Yokohama, Japan
It is crucial that the UN is involved at all stages of the campaign against terrorism. Only through this can a united front be presented by all the international community. The United Nations is still humanity's best hope for peace and security!
So, the line-up in the next military episode in the battle over oil resources in the Middle East is, on the one hand, a section of the local capitalist class using Islam to rally support, and on the other, the Western capitalist powers (who have their own rivalries with each other) using "democracy" as their ideology to win mass support for another murderous war. But "Islam" versus "democracy" is only a smokescreen for the real issue at stake: control of oil and trade routes. This is not an issue which is worth a single drop of blood.
This cycle of terror is but more reason to bring to a speedy end the capitalist system which divides humanity and causes pointless war on an ever more horrifying scale.
Immediate military attacks and strikes would be foolish. A lot of innocent lives would be snuffed out. This would anger a lot of other nations and cause an even bigger, heated conflict. And as it was stated earlier a few times on this board, if a lot of innocent, starving Afghans are killed that will make us no better than those monsters of 11th September. The investigating and gathering of information is key and critical in winning this war. They need to zero-in and pin point them and apprehend/destroy the guilty.
David de Vere Webb, Washington, England
I don't think the Western forces are cautious. How do you fight an enemy who sees the gates of paradise down the barrel of your gun? Even nuclear weapons are not a deterrent to those who are willing do die for what they believe in. Against such forces the Western nations are cowards.
The real way to fight terrorism is to remove racist and neo-colonial foreign policies. Stop supporting Israel and the Arab regimes who suppress their own people.
While it is important to state clearly that this is not a war on Islam, it is a war on radical Islam. A failure to see this will direct our actions to too small a goal. I think that military action of any magnitude in Afghanistan is pointless. Take out the limited airpower of the Taliban and destroy from the air some of their artillery and armour capability and let the Northern Alliance fight the ground war. If we get bin Laden that's great, if not he's not that important. The most critical issue for the Allies is to take the oil fields in Iraq.
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