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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 10:45 GMT
Has the war strategy been vindicated?
The collapse of the Taleban regime in Afghanistan has been dramatically faster than anyone would have predicted.
Only about 10 days ago, many United States commentators were talking about fighting through the winter prior to a spring offensive next year.
The rapid defeat of the Taleban has prompted questions about the wider scope of the US anti-terrorist campaign back onto the agenda.
US President George W Bush said that time was also running out for Osama Bin Laden. The President said the more territory the US forces won, the more people they have to help look for Bin Laden.
Has the war campaign that was so heavily criticised, now been vindicated by the fall of the Taleban? What steps do you think should now be taken to ensure its progression?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
It appears that the fight against terrorism is being reduced to restoration of Afghan State. The Global alliance was formed to go after Al Queda and other terrorist outfits along with their supporters - wherever they may be. By letting Pakistan evacuate its senior army and intelligence personal from Konduz before its fall to the Northern Alliance, the US has defeated the whole purpose. These non-Afghan elements are the real terrorists who have to be destroyed first. By letting them sneak-out to Pakistan, we are just transferring them to another safe haven from where they will very soon restart their activities in other places like Kashmir and Chechnya
Doug Hall, US
If the aim of this entire military campaign is to destroy terrorism, victory does not exist. Bombs and military might do not eliminate social and political injustice, it merely generates more hatred and anger to the oppressors.
How many wars do you need to destroy the terrorists worldwide? How many civilian lives need to be lost for revenge?
I think it is time the "superpowers" stop using their usual unilateral, egoistic and selfish approach and seek a more humane, just and selfless philosophy when dealing with world issues.
I can't say that I've shed any tears over the bombing of the Taliban. As for the comments regarding indiscriminate bombing of civilians, I personally don't believe that the Americans indiscriminately bomb urban areas. As for the foreign fighters in Afghanistan they knew what they were getting themselves into and presumably they were aware of what has happened to others who have invaded Afghanistan or interfered in the country's internal politics. If you live by the sword then you die by the sword, good riddance to bad rubbish!
I don't want to see more Americans murdered by terrorists. Nor do I want to see any British citizens, German citizens, Australian citizens or any other country's people murdered because we don't practice a specific religion. More than anything, though, I would like each and every one of you that believe we are doing the wrong thing to put yourself in the position of having a family member or loved one murdered by terrorists. If you're as honest as you think you are, then you will see things in a much different manner. God Bless America and those that care about freedom.
Vindicated? It's quite simple, if there are no more terrorist attacks we have won, if however they manage to kill another thousand of so Americans - then it will seem we have achieved little. I think it's too early to say.
No. Even one civilian death was one too many. The US has solved nothing but continues to fan the flame of hatred and resentment around the world. Those in the West who think that America is interested in making Afghanistan a better, fairer and more democratic place should think again. Democracy and civil rights are not even on the list - domination of the region (with its access to oil routes) and ability to exert its power across the globe using military force is right at the top.
Martin Banks, UK
There is no short-term political solution to the dangers created by the attacks on New York and Washington. If the government of the United States had not retaliated in the way that it did, terrorist groups throughout the world would have seen that as a sign of weakness and a licence to carry out similar attacks on the United States and other friendly countries. My main concern is that America and its allies must not abandon the people of Afghanistan when the war is over. Large scale humanitarian aid will be required this winter and in the years to come.
Well it looks like the media will now declare the war to be over, like they did after the Gulf War - but the US military campaign will continue for many years to come, just in a less intense form.
To claim that the war strategy has been vindicated makes false assumptions about the nature of Western imperialism. A few civilian deaths here and there are not important as long as they can secure their economic interests in the region.
Just about every country has used this war on terrorism to excuse tightening the screws of the police state, and suppress dissent at home. But it doesn't appear to be working - this anti-war movement in Britain is larger than any other since Vietnam and there is a lot more public sympathy for us than you would think by reading mainstream newspapers.
The war is not going to end any time soon, and neither is our opposition to it.
Why are so many people here supporting the Taleban?
The Taleban side with Bin Laden - that makes them terrorists.
The Taleban have ruled Afghanistan through terror (Executions, mutilation, the degradation of woman to the status of animals, rape squads abducting girl children as young as 8 who are never seen again, shooting groups of teenage boys who merely laugh at them, the removal of all communication between people with the banning of TV and radio and so on.
Perhaps those people here in the UK and in the USA that complain about their treatment should go and live with the Taleban and see how they like being ruled by terrorists.
Paul Riley, USA
Vindicated?? The Taliban and al-Qaeda are far from finished. When the Mujahadeen fought Russia it was a long guerrilla war from the mountains, there is no reason to believe this will be any different. Even if we win.. what then? There are terrorists in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, not to mention the state terrorism practiced by Israel's armed forces. Are we to remove every government in the region in a hail of bombing. Or will we come to realise that these wars belong to the people of their nations and the biggest favour we could do them is to cease our support for the corrupt undemocratic governments which repress them everyday with American guns!
The question we need to ask is "Would the world be a safer place with or without Osama Bin Laden?" The Taliban regime were given the opportunity to give him up but chose not to. By doing that they chose their own destiny and must therefore accept the dreadful consequences. If there was another way for the coalition to get to Bin Laden I for one would like to know what it is. Of course the military strategy is vindicated
Yet on the other hand, the overthrowing of the Taleban regime is a good thing for the Afghan people, which seems to justify the military action. In a complex world, leaders rarely have an option that is perfect, they can only choose the lesser of several evils, and they often have a limited time span to make the decision. Nobody can say the military campaign was completely in the right. Nobody can say it was completely in the wrong. It was just the most realistic decision to make at the time. Furthermore, we won't know all the consequences for many months or years, so it's a bit soon to conclude whether it was right or wrong.
The Taliban are 50000 men in arms and they have retreated. No victory is final till the vanquished surrender. Perhaps the coalition is on the road to victory/ vanquishing the Taliban and perhaps it is still too early to say so. Let this question be asked after the Taliban surrender/ are subjugated.
I don't know about vindicated, but at least there's progress. I don't like war, but what are we supposed to do? Negotiation was tried for a month, to no effect. Think of the outcry if we had cut of aid as a lever, most of which comes from the U.S, a fact which the anti-west, anti-war brigade seem to conveniently forget. They should realise that the world sometimes is an awful place and that talking and good will and negotiation is just not enough. If any of these people study history, they should realise this. If they haven't, I suggest they start with the 1930s.War is a terrible, bloody business. Sometimes we don't have the option of avoiding it. I have yet to hear a realistic alternative to this one.
It seems a strange question. Reading various comments, I get the impression that many people think that we have arrived at some new Utopian society where war is obsolete. The world is still a very dangerous place, maybe more so than ever. Pretending that brutality can be met with kindness does not change the reality of the day. War is still a necessary evil and will remain so until all people believe in this Utopia.
'Their People'!!? Did you not see the civilians cheering and dancing as they threw out these barbarous rulers? The people of Afghanistan are giving their verdict on the Taleban, many of whom are foreign invaders, yet strangely this is ignored by the apologists for their regime. At least Afghanistan has a chance now, something it did not have 2 months ago. Those 'against the war' seem only able to focus on the negative aspects, and forget that a war was already being fought before the US attacks, and that millions of Afghans had given their verdict on the Taleban by fleeing, even before the drought.
They'll say 'why didn't we do it before'...well, what are you complaining about now then?
They'll say 'The Alliance are just as bad'...no sign of them pulling out women's fingernails or putting people in prison for not having the right kind of beard or flying a kite. And they'll say 'oh there is an unstable regime'. Yes, whereas before there was a barbarous regime, plus a war, and the UN is now helping to build a stable and broad-based one. Is that bad? And for all those 'anti war' people, how would your policies of doing nothing have led to a better chance for Afghanistan?
As the original aim was to bring bin Laden to justice, no, it has not worked. This is a foolish piece of gunboat diplomacy: the kind that provokes terrorists. Terrorism has to be dealt with, not mirrored.
The policy has been vindicated-for the northern alliance. What a coup for them-the mighty USA doing its job .To date not one shred of evidence has been produced that any Afghani was involved with the attack on 11 Sept. The majority of the Taliban, many forced conscripts, don't even know what the twin towers are let alone were they are. The USA sees nothing wrong with killing innocent Afghanis in it pursuit to avenge the death of other innocent people. Is the value of dead Afghanis any less than those who were killed in New York-judging by the response from the USA the answer must be yes.
Nobody in their right mind would advocate going to war. It should be remembered why this action is being taken, whether you agree with it, or not. The persons who carried out the atrocities of September eleventh knew what the result would be. I would like to record that I do not want to see any more innocent people killed, but I would say to all those criticising the action taken so far, and that is please come up with a better idea - I'm listening.
It will only have been vindicated if it achieves the stated aim of reducing global terrorism and capturing or killing Osama Bin Laden. In the absence of either of these achievements, it will only have succeeded in exchanging one set of tyrants for another in Afghanistan.
To answer the question precisely; yes the military strategy to this point has been vindicated. We knew going in that there would be unfortunate loss of civilian life. Yes, the US military tends to kill people and break things. We spend billions of dollars each year to ensure that they are equipped and trained to do it well. To ensure proper progression of the war we need to provide clear objectives to the military and allow them to pursue those objectives with as little political interference as possible. The campaign against terrorism is multi faceted. There are political, economic, military and law enforcement objectives. I think it is important to address the merits of each.
It can never be vindicated. They dropped the bombs. They terrorized the people in Afghanistan. They killed civilians, and sent a million more on the road to nowhere.
without food. They inflicted cruel suffering on innocent people. No matter what happens, all those people they bombed are still dead,
The cluster bombs are still on the ground waiting for some kid to pick up. War is bad. This one is an atrocity. It can never be vindicated
Mark Hines, USA states that vindication is not being sought, I get the feeling he prefers vengeance. No doubt the thousands of innocent lives he refers to are those lost on Sept 11th, conveniently forgetting those civilians slain by the allies in Afghanistan. Suggesting that as the US saved Europe in two World Wars means that we have to be eternally grateful and accept without question America's actions is the kind of arrogant attitude that turns people against the US. Britain has been fighting terrorism for over 30 years, as with the world wars it has taken an attack on the US itself to stir "the strongest voice for freedom" into action. Incidentally who trained Bin Laden, supported the Muhajadin and still won't put pressure on Israel to follow UN resolutions - two faced Uncle Sam.
America is not asking to be vindacated. After the deaths of so many thousands of innocent people, we are not asking your opinion. We are simply resolved to triumph.
It truly amazes me that the British, whose chldren would be speaking German if it weren't for America, could be anything but proudly at our side in this war. We have, for two centuries and more, been the strongest voice for freedom around the world. Now, when our liberties are under attack, you ask if we need vindication. No we do not. Our cause is just and we will win.
Of Course it doesn't vindicate it. What have we achieved anyway?
We have replaced the Extreme Taliban with a band of 'murderers and rapists' as one afghan woman put it.
To those of you who cite the new 'freedom' of afghan women as justification, I say what about Saudi Arabian women?
We're not doing anything about their suffering. Why? Because they are our main oil suppliers.
This war has nothing to do with 'enduring freedom', and democracy. It is about oil and world domination.
Vindication is only partial at this point. The most obvious outstanding tasks are that Bin Laden still needs to be caught and al-Qaeda rolled up. Then the other important tasks can be pursued, not the attacking of other countries, but the rebuilding of Afghanistan and resolving the Israel/Palestinian issue, which acts as a running sore. If these are pursued with vigour and commitment, then the bigger strategic picture will have a good chance of vindication and success.
Until now the war has only been waged against the innocent and those who did not have any concern with the situation without the fulfilment of the initial purpose of Osama Bin Laden. The end of Taleban is a relief for the time being but what of the animosity that the west is creating in the hearts of those helpless people who have their fates in the hands of others including those who had been their oppressors in the past. In light of this situation I see no reason why the people of the west should be jubilant at the fact that they were able to defeat the Taleban. The real problems lie ahead.
How can anyone feel vindicated at this point? Although the coalition is well on its way to achieving its objectives, the fact is those objectives have not as yet been accomplished. Osama Bin Laden is still free; al-Qaeda has not been completely eliminated. The only vindication is success! Let's finish the job before we toot our horns!
Several hundred civilians have been killed by stray bombs, but supply routes have been opened for aid, and since the Taleban have been overthrown they will no longer be able to exacerbate the effects of the famine by their dreadful policies. We have already started to win, but it is not over yet. But something that is undeniably working must be seen to be (at least partially) vindicated.
Vindicated? What a laugh. Does the deliberate slaughter of Taliban forces by the use of daisy cutter bombs and cluster bombs achieve the aim of stopping terrorism? Oh God, when will the West ever respect the lives of other peoples?
In response to J. Meade, UK: You say, "When will the West respect the lives of other people?" Are you seriously unsure of what the answer is? Does September 11, 2001 have any significance to you? Here's a quick answer to your question from an American. We will respect the lives of other people unless they try to kill us. Then we will kill them as we are doing with the Taliban and soon to Osama Bin Laden and the rest of his group. You object to the use of cluster bombs against the Taliban? Perhaps they miscalculated by supporting Bin Laden in which commercial Boeing airplanes were used as bombs. It is only fair that the USA demonstrates Boeing's military products, such as the B-1 bomber, B-52, F-16, F111, etc. to Bin Laden and the Taliban since they have shown such a great interest in Boeings Commercial airliners on September, 11.
With Osama bin Laden now in crosshairs, I think it's finally time to land some serious blows on international terrorism, of which Osama is a key figure. If successful, the extremists would lose their main driving force.
Jenni, Bristol, England
Strategy? Vindicated? Empty words! Was Terrorism dealt
with? No! So what happens when
the next catastrophe
occur? We invade
and bomb another
country of our choice
because we have the
"muscles" and the UN
is just there to
ratify whatever is
decided by some.
Still the problem of
terrorism will not
be solved in such a
"cavalier" manner, and I am sure we will
realise that sooner or
later, no matter how
"powerful" we are!
Muscles never replace the brain
and the understanding
which is one of the
Short answer: no. Vindication in the long run is ultimately impossible, but it's good to read about a measure of freedom returning to most of the people of Afghanistan. Life without music would be utter hell for me. It was good to hear the BBC report that songs were sung at prayers Friday last. If we kill Osama Bin Laden, he becomes an instant martyr. The ramifications of this are obvious. Thousands of terrorists may arise from his blood, so to speak.
On the other hand, if we capture OBL and subject him to a trial in a western and possibly, a military court, he becomes an instant poster boy and an icon that represents the injustices that Muslims claim that we've inflicted upon them. Millions of Muslims will feel humiliated by the sight of Bin Laden in any non-Islamic court.
In the short term, things may get better for the people of Afghanistan, but in the long run, on a global basis, this so-called war against terrorism is a lose/lose situation for both sides.
But, then again, what else can we do?
I do agree with Ze'ev, of the USA. Afghanistan is an anarchic country, where western rules don't apply. All that has been achieved thus far is to put the Northern Alliance in place of the Taliban. The northern alliance well remember that the west set up against them originally and they just see the Bin Laden hunt as an excuse to get back at the Taliban. Controlling the Northern Alliance is going to be just as difficult as finding Bin Laden (Who is several kilometers east of Kandahar). Has the strategy worked? No.
I am filled with despair at the way people are claiming "victory" in the "war against terror." First, no legal process has been followed, so Bin laden is officially an innocent man. Second, the Northern Alliance are drug-dealers, rapists and terrorists. Third, we have seen no evidence that the Taleban are themselves terrorists (although I for one will shed few tears for their passing). No thought has been given to ways of providing stability after the bombing, and the campaign in Afghanistan will have no effect on the pursuit of terrorism by other organisations - some of whom, no doubt, will continue to be sponsored by the CIA.
Only two things will have been secured by this war: the oil pipeline, and the re-election of George W Bush. On the other hand, since this appeared to be the only strategy anyway, you could probably say it's succeeded.
There is no vindication - the war was always one primarily of self-defence. In that position you must either fight or stand still to help the terrorists get a better aim at you.
I don't trust the Northern Alliance though. I think they see a chance to rule and I'd be very surprised if the West plays a long-term part in their plans. The country is too fragmented at the moment. The UN should declare martial law until a stable, preferably democratic, social structure can be built. For a start we need to get the warlords out of the picture. We didn't fight this war to put them in charge.
If there was a war strategy it would have included the action to be taken after the fall of the Taleban.
It is surprising that all the parties/factions, including the US/UK, have not as yet got around to thinking of what way to go forward.
What strategy? It was all knee-jerk reaction, even though the reaction was somewhat delayed. Personally I think the jubilation is somewhat premature, especially as the Northern Alliance is now making autocratic overtures.
It really does not matter because strategy was based on constructive thinking that the aims and objectives were to be precise, focused and targeted on al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden's network. That objectives hasn't yet been achieved and after so much destruction and innocent civilian deaths, I believe it is far, far away from vindication. On the contrary I feel guilty for the people of Afghanistan as well as the Taleban who had no reason to get killed.
The military strategy has been vindicated with the rout of the Taleban.
Yes a few civilians have died due to the obduracy of their fanatical rulers. But their death has not been in vain and I do hope that the NA will act in the interest of the whole country and make Afghanistan a haven of peace and not a refuge for terrorists. If they refuse to cooperate the coalition should withdraw their support for them and decommission them by force if needed.
Perhaps we should not be so conceited in our appraisal of what a civilised world should be like. Western policies have and still do lead to the deaths and suffering of far more people than the Taleban have persecuted in Afghanistan - and all mostly in pursuit of economic gain. Now the real sick thinkers feel gratification as the Northern Alliance slaughter surrendered troops, in the same way they did when the opposing troops were slaughtering the Northern Alliance in the west's last crusade for the right to freedom. A country with an undesirable rule now has no rule. Spot the achievements to date please.
The American and British troops should move in immediately in their hundreds of thousands to ensure imposition of law and order in Afghanistan, and also to ensure that the country is never again used for training al-Qaeda and other terrorists.
Thanks to the large majority who support our efforts to rid our world of terrorism and its supporters. To those who decry it, and the death of some civilians, may I suggest that without the use of smart bombs, civilian deaths would have been such as those caused by Germany in London. You forget history had best get a foot in reality. You have no concept of what you decry. What would you have done had the Houses of Parliament been hit killing thousands of people? Remember also that the US has supported you for a hundred years in European wars. We thank you for your support also.
There was no excuse for the strikes made on non-military targets such as radio and TV stations, dams and power stations which could similarly have led to massive loss of life through cutting off power, and Red Cross hospitals and water shortages for the wider population. The refusal to pause the bombing to allow aid deliveries was also taking a gamble with millions of lives during a famine. I'm pleased the gamble seems to have paid off but there was no way to know the outcome in advance. I still refuse to accept that the quickest way to end a war is always the best either, the quickest solution would probably have been a nuclear attack. Opponents of the war have never been defenders or sympathisers of the Taleban, but the proposed coalition of Northern Alliance and moderate Taleban leaders is hardly much better as a model for a democratic government.
Northern Alliance forces away from the television cameras in Mazar-e-Sharif behaved very differently to those in Kabul. They massacred Pakistani volunteer allies of the Taleban, kidnapped civilians and seized UN aid convoys. Not surprising considering their long track record of rape, murder, torture and massacre. Few people seem to be asking why the governments of Pakistan and the United States armed, trained and funded first the various Mujahedin factions, most of whom now make up the Northern Alliance, and later the Taleban in their rise to power from 1995-6. Not least among the former proteges of the US was one Osama Bin Laden. You can be sure that whatever President Bush's motives for going to war with the Taleban are the freeing of Afghanistan from oppressive government is not at the top of the list.
Paul F, UK
No American or British lives lost in combat, the oppressive Taleban in full retreat, and many criminals brought to justice through death - yes the strategy has certainly been vindicated.
Until Bin Laden is destroyed, along with his forces, success in Afghanistan will remain elusive. What the world needs to understand at this very moment is that what the US has done to the Taleban will happen to any regime, to any people, that harbour terrorist networks. Afghanistan can be the end if the rest of the world cooperates. To the naysayers, it is the United States and her armed forces that are preventing the Empire State Building, Big Ben and so on from becoming the next target.
Of course this war campaign has been vindicated. We humans have such short patience when it comes to carrying out a noble military goal. I feel that the world is already a safer place than before September 11. Imagine if we did not engage in this action, thousands of people might be dead in further terrorist attacks around the world. Do we have to wait until thousands more are killed until we do something?
For those who disagree and said that innocent civilians are being killed, they must understand that our goal is not to kill innocent civilians. What good does that do? Whoever disagrees with my opinion, I have one question for you: What would you do in this situation and would it really protect us from another terrorist attack? Would it really work? Remember, we are dealing with terrorists, not defiant politicians.
The fall of Kabul doesn't mean an end to the war. The war is against al-Qaeda. They are the prime target. The Taleban harbour them. That makes them one in the same with al-Qaeda. Is the fall of Kabul important? Highly. Does it signify a foreseeable end to the war? No.
The armchair generals told us that air strikes wouldn't work in Kosovo, the Serbian army left. The Taleban soldiers suffered the same fate. Now NATO forces can operate inside Afghanistan with greater ease, to locate and bring to justice Bin Laden. The war is not over but the strategy is working.
Many people have died as a result of this strategy. Some of those may have been guilty of serious crimes, but many will have been innocent and almost none of them will have had anything to do with September 11th. To those who are happy with this, I wonder if you are the people who expressed disgust on this forum at the news of people celebrating after September 11th. Is this just a case of short memories, or is it that for you deaths in some far off place are not as important as those nearer to home?
The fall of Kabul is a huge victory, not only for the military forces, but for the Afghan people. This is only one step in the long plan. Reading comments below, no the terrorists have not been taken yet, but without the Taleban, it will certainly be harder for them to hide long-term. Remember, the majority of Afghan citizens do not support them either.
Never before have I seen so many world leaders so unprepared. The USA has been bombing the Kabul front line but then seems surprised when the Northern Alliance breaks through it. We should have been more prepared for this.
This question is premature. "Has the strategy been vindicated?" is a question that can only be addressed after the event. If there is one thing military, political and spiritual leaders agree on from all sides, it is that this is not over yet.
David M, UK
Of course the military strategy was right - will the "hand ringers" tell me how they would "negotiate" with suicidal maniacs.
Vindicated? How can the killing of innocent people ever be vindicated? Had the Taleban stayed in these towns then there would have been a complete blood bath from soldiers on both sides and thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire would have perished. It is the Taleban who should be vindicated since they made the right decision for their people. Let us not forget the 20,000 foreign Taleban contingent still stand to be massacred by the Alliance even if they surrender should Kunduz fall. Hundreds of surrendered Taleban already have been massacred. The US however can redeem itself if the war prisoners are given safe sanctuary.
Yasser Ajaz states: "It is the Taliban who should be vindicated since they made the right decision for their people..." Clearly, Mr. Ajaz is delusional in thinking that the Taliban had altruistic motives for fleeing. Does he not understand the concept of "we don't stand a chance so we better get the hell out of here?" No, I'm afraid Mr. Ajaz has been reading too much of the press that spent the past few weeks acting as lapdogs for the almighty Taliban. Fierce warriors who will dig in and fight to their death? Obviously not.
The Taleban were the product of policies adopted by the US, Saudi and Pakistan governments which saw Islamic fundamentalism as less of a problem than communist sympathetic regimes. Now it seems that they favour warlords over the Taleban.
The smiling faces of the people in Kabul being liberated said it all. The United States brings freedom to the oppressed.
Images of boys flying kites, music blaring on the streets of Kabul for the first time in five years. Is this really worth a billion dollars a month? Where are the terrorists this action was supposed to catch?
JF Kallin, England
Just as the air war against Serbia was vindicated despite all the whining from various journalists, so too has this air war against the Taleban been a resounding success. It's really very satisfying to see the smiling faces of the liberated people. The pictures tell the true story.
It was the people who questioned the effectiveness of the air campaign who should have been patient. There is no need for vindication. I can't think of one important thing that I have ever done in my lifetime that has not taken planning and preparation.
Absolutely vindicated. Just last week the press was reporting on how high the morale of the Taleban and their Arab masters was, and they made it appear that US bombs were completely missing their Taliban and al-Qaeda targets (one and the same), and instead raining down on civilians. Yet this week's successes by the Northern Alliance show that the news media had it all wrong again, being completely manipulated by the liberals and the enemy on the ground. The people of Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and countless other cities in Northern Afghanistan will certainly have a happy Ramadan.
Fat Bob, UK
What a ridiculous comment by Bob, UK, and Jenni, Bristol. It angers me so much when people make the claim that Israel is in any shape or form responsible for what took place on September 11, or any of the troubles that have followed. What we have seen (although of course not of the same scale), namely cold-blooded terror attacks on innocent civilians is exactly what the people of Israel have been putting up with for years. It is the only Jewish state in the World, (as opposed to around 50 muslim states) surrounded by enemies that have invaded it countless times, that merely wants security for it's citizens. It is also the ONLY democracy in the middle east, which allows total freedom of worship for all its citizens, regardless of religion, as well as access to public health and education. Its citizens fear that the bus they put their children on to go to school or shopping centre they go into will be blown up by a suicide bomber, because this has happened on too many occassions. The main reason why Israel has had to enforce military presence over Palestinian areas in Israel, which sadly has indirectly involved the loss of Palestinian lives, is to try to minimise the violence which is indiscriminately perpetrated against its citizens, and to try to find and bring to justice extreme fundamentalists who think along the same lines as Bin Laden. It is so sad when the attitude of 'what has caused this? - it must be the Israelis' keeps coming up. It shows pure ignorance about the real situation in the middle east, and history of the conflict. Israel and its people deserve compassion and respect - not blame. When the Israeli public have voted liberal, 'soft' political leaders in the past, they have still had to live under the threat of terror from extremists. Why do you think they have ended up voting a hard-liner like Sharon? Out of desperation!
The bombings have undoubtedly achieved a tremendous amount. Only last week the Taliban were proclaiming how the Russians never succeeded in Afghanistan, and how the US would fail too. Not so I'm afraid. The Taliban is being systematically destroyed. Yes there are still unaddressed problems - finding Bin Laden, putting in place a fair and representative government, and most importantly getting aid to the Afghan people.
But bombing was the best choice we had, and thankfully the government of this country took swift decisive action, rather than prattle on about the morality of bombing, like so many do-gooders, who are abject of alternative ideas, have done throughout the campaign.
Ratna Sengupta, USA
To Paul G, UK, Just the cheering of a few kids that the media highlights on public television does not make the Northern Alliance a liberating regime. Do you know how horrendous their track record is? The Northern Alliance ruled the country before 1994 when the Taliban emerged and they did nothing but kill tons of Hazaras, rape women, and loot. As you can see now, again we go back to the same scene, people are getting murdered in the streets and the looting starts. How can you say that the Afghans have been liberated? In my opinion, it is way too soon to believe that the war strategy has been vindicated.
Paul Marsden MP said nobody could possibly think that the bombings have been vindicated. How arrogant is this man - yes, it was tragic that a few hundred civilians lost their lives, but I think the Afghan men who are shaving off their beards, the women who are throwing off their burqas and the children who are going to school and listening to music - they all appreciate the effect the bombing has had. This was not urban carpet bombing - it simply helped the Northern Alliance break the Taleban lines and liberate half the country. The bombing was used like a carrot for them, but can be used as a stick too - it can be turned off if the Alliance don't now play ball with the West.
Andy Pye, UK
No, it seems the US is now merely supporting the lesser of two evils, as the reports of massacres in Mazar-e-Sharif prove. It's more than obvious that the Northern Alliance do what they like, and not what the US tells them to do. I wonder what difference the capture of cities which all have been bombed back to the stone-age, and have been largely evacuated by the inhabitants is going to make to the overall conflict.
Too early to tell. Some of the country has been taken, but the Taleban are still in control of other areas. In addition, Bin Laden is still at large, as is the terrorist network, and there is no guarantee yet of better living conditions and freedom for the people of this war-ravaged country. When terrorist attacks lessen, and when the Afghans have food and freedom, then a victory of sorts can be claimed.
Now that free press is allowed to transmit the pictures of the liberated people of Kabul, hopefully the nay sayers and critics will finally realize how wrong they were.
The coalition government's have been 'used' by the Northern Alliance all because the British and American governments felt that the general public could not face heavy losses from a ground invasion. Okay we have not lost any soldiers, but what have we gained? As far as I can see we have replaced one corrupt force with several forces acting as one, who will soon begin to break up and squabble amongst themselves over power. We still need to get in and restore law and orders before it's too late.
I have been reading with disbelief the comments on this website for the past few weeks from pacifists and peace-nicks who disagreed with the bombing of Taleban forces. These comments varied from a Western oil conspiracy, to the deliberate targeting of Afghan civilians and a war against Islam. I now feel elated that these weak arguments have been dispatched because of recent developments. The smiling face of an Afghani child says it all. And by the way, if Afghanistan wants to sell it's resources to the West, what's wrong with that? Its called "trade". Trade is something the Taleban see as evil, but is also something that helps to feed people.
I'm sure the Northern Alliance know that the US bombers can target them if they don't control themselves. Nice tactic, to get others to fight your war for you. The allied tactic appears to be paying off, but the Taleban might well be more dangerous in a forthcoming guerrilla war. Look at what Mao achieved from a mountain cave. This isn't over by a long chalk.
Yet again we see the liberation of a country from tyranny due to the sensible use of bombing to degrade the enemy followed by ground troops when the time is right. I wonder what the motive is of these so-called Anti-war groups, it certainly is not allowing the oppressed to have their freedom. So now we add the Afghans to the list of free people joining the Serbs, Kosovans, Kuwaitis, Bosnians, Croats and so on. History has shown that negotiation with tyrants does not work and we must bear arms to free the oppressed. It looks like the media got it all wrong yet again; in each conflict they have believed what the tyrants say when they discuss 'civilian casualties'. It always seems that the media must report what the 'enemy' says without any verification of the facts, in the hunt for a 'story'. The media must get a grip in future wars, the BBC included.
Zameer Ahmed, USA
Bombing civilians will always be an atrocity, and two wrongs will never make a right.
14 Nov 01 | South Asia
Taleban in retreat across Afghanistan
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