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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 11:53 GMT
Can the US win the war in Afghanistan?
US Chinook helicopter
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US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan say they have killed hundreds of the al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters holding out in mountains south of the town of Gardez.

The Americans say they wiped out around half of the rebel forces, and seized one of their cave complexes.

However the battle in Gardez has been the cause of the worst US casualties in combat since the war in Afghanistan started, with Washington's opponents described as "well armed and capable of offering powerful resistance."

Some analysts say that the war in Afghanistan could now go on for months, if not years.

It has been six months since the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington. How do you think the world has changed? Can the international coalition can win the war in Afghanistan? Or will the US and its allies get bogged down in another Vietnam-style military operation?

We discussed these issues in Talking Point ON AIR, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online. Our guest was Mara Rudman, former Chief of Staff in the US National Security Council.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The number killed in revenge is much higher

Brendan McGowan, Ireland
There's a poster I saw recently for a debate a society in my university was hosting. There were two images with captions: the first, a picture of the Twin Towers with smoke pouring out of them was labelled "Most memorable image of 2001". The second, labelled "Most memorable image of 2002" was a bar graph showing the number of people who died in the Twin Towers and the number of people who died in revenge for the Twin Towers attack. Needless to say, the number killed in revenge was much higher, making the graph looks more than slightly similar to the picture used of the Two Towers. I think that kind of sums it all up, really.
Brendan McGowan, Ireland

KW, Australia, Oh God I've just realised your right. Better tell Mr Blair to break out the bombs and missiles straight away time to bombing Belfast. How could he have been so stupid as to try and negotiate a peaceful political solution, what sort of a monster is he? I say we take the Israeli approach straight away. Oh no wait, no I don't just remembered I'm sane.
C Wright, UK

What has happened since Sept 11th? The media have bombarded us with the "War on Terrorism" yet Osama is still free. Despite failing in this objective the USA is now turning it's sights on Iraq. It seems many Americans can't understand why the rest of the world isn't with them in mourning and action. I suggest they ask themselves how they felt when other terrorist attacks and atrocities were happening in other parts of the world. Rwanda, the Balkans, Omagh - for most of you these events were too far away to affect you. This is a self-preservation mechanism, for the majority of us to care that much about all the troubles in the world would depress us so much that we could not cope, therefore there is no guilt. Some contributors to this page seem to think that Sept 11th is all the excuse the US needs to carry out whatever military actions it likes. Unfortunately as the USA is the sole world superpower there is little the rest of us can do to stop you. Keep fighting and you'll find no shortage of people who wish to fight you. Some as desperate, fanatical and misguided as those who flew those planes into history.
Jenni, Bristol, England

The answer to the question clearly depends on how you define victory. To my mind the U.S. has already won by having the moral strength to respond to 9/11 with military force. Negotiation and compromise have their place but religious fundamentalism and intolerance must be fought by whatever means wherever it exists. One can't get bogged down in the inconsistencies and ambiguities of previous foreign policy to the point that one fails to act, for failure to act timely and decisively has cost the free world dearly in the past. I am not a war monger but I am immensely proud that my fellow countrymen are fighting side by side with Americans in Afghanistan today. The difference between right and wrong can blur at times, but this time it's obvious!
Tim Childs, Kingston, Canada

The question should not be 'Can the US win the war in Afghanistan?', but 'Can the World afford for the US not to win the war in Afghanistan and against terrorism?'. If the next atrocity kills millions instead of thousands will the so called 'intelligentsia' finally come round to believing that force must be used to combat this threat, and that some of our civil liberties must be reined in.
Tim Pile, Birmingham, UK

We must resolve to perform the work to keep the fruits of freedom thriving.

Erhan Ali, England
The password for the west to survive is Resolve. We must resolve, as proponents of all we hold dear to be willing to perform the work to keep the fruits of freedom thriving. As a farmer must butcher cattle, or lay fallow a field to eat or have fertile fields in the future but less today, we as the west must make the choice to defeat and, yes, this means kill our enemies, and to end the cultural relativism and pathological liberalism that has led us to this point. With the exact point of being chauvinistic we in the west are better than the totalitarian, misogynistic, illiberal, xenophobes of the countries whose people fear crying for freedom and are scared to death of their own rulers.
Timothy T.Tweedy, Long Island, NY, USA

A war or terrorism will be a never-ending war. Unless the needs of every person on this planet can be satisfied, terrorism will always exist.
Erhan Ali, Doncaster, England

I think that the USA aren't hitting the right target, if winning the war against the terror is their true objective. I think that poverty is the right target. To show that you are strong, help the weak. We all know that the US has a super military supply, then if USA is the right way, show us some non-lethal power, please. Until that, there is war,
Christian Loranger, Rimouski, Québec

Although I disagree with President Bush on virtually every other issue, I think the U.S. is doing what needs to be done to make the world a safer place for all freedom-loving nations. When you compare the freedom and democracy of American society to the societies that breed the kind of religious militants that we are fighting, then you see the values that are clashing. The current world-wide spread of freedom and democracy, which began with the founding of the United States and was accelerated with the US-led defeat of Hitler and Japan, is what these religious extremists are against. Sept. 11 will become known as the day that changed the world for the better. Countries of the world are uniting against terrorists now. There is no more sitting on the fence; you are either for freedom and democracy or for terror and totalitarianism; the middle ground is gone. What Pakistan did is an example; it became a better country almost overnight. We will win this war too, and world will again become a better place.
Werner Schmalz, New Paltz, New York, USA

When will we stop seeking vengeance and instead try to reform ourselves?

Amanda, Georgia, USA
I don't think there can be any winner in this farcical war. September 11th was tragic, of course, but the actions taken in its wake have only compounded the unnecessary violence. I think part of the problem is a U.S. President who, insecure in his own right to hold office and following in the footsteps of his Gulf War father, is taking advantage of the kind of extreme patriotism generated by a foreign war. When will we stop seeking vengeance and instead try to reform ourselves, our families, our children's attitudes, so that the future holds less violence and more compassion and reason?
Amanda, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Can the US win the war in Afghanistan? Probably. Can the US win the war on terror? Absolutely not. By furthering the brutality we are only producing the next generation of terrorists. It may be somewhat of a cliché by now, but violence begets violence. If the US truly hopes to end terror, it will have to explore new possibilities
Doug Jensen, Seattle, USA

This comment is specifically to our "friends" in Europe and the UK that has decided the US is an ignorant bully in retaliating after being attacked. Even though your cynicism will never let you admit it to yourself, the US does want to rebuild Afghanistan and help the country grow into a participant in the international community. We realize the mistakes we made in deserting the Afghans after the Soviet withdrawal. You Europeans should know better than anyone that the US learns from its mistakes - do you recall the Marshall Plan? Axis-Europe and Japan were rebuilt largely with American money and help.
Rob, Boston, MA

The most dangerous thing in a war is not the enemy himself but not knowing the enemy. History repeats itself and the US is headed for defeat just as it did in Vietnam. While the "war against terror" by itself is an acceptable cause, the hard line, arrogant and unilateral stand that the US is taking will be its undoing. While it can be stern in its approach, it should not make its allies feel that their interests and opinions are sidelined.
Naveen Divaker, Singapore

When the country wins, it will be a long time from now, but it will be at the expense of international freedom of movement and expression

Tim, TX, USA
The US will win, but the question is not whether, but how. When the country wins, it will be a long time from now, but it will be at the expense of international freedom of movement and expression. I find nothing laudable in the attacks, and indeed they were barbaric, evil, and the act of a brutal, inhumane constituency, but the attacks have a certain resonance - as long as the US refuses to discipline and punish Israel, there will never be security. Every day Israel pounds the Palestinians into the Stone Age. Israel demands that the Palestinian Authority curb terrorism while confining its leaders, destroying its police stations, and disrupting the very political institutions that might be able to halt the terrorism.

Continued US support for this state only serves to reinforce the perception that the US is evil - I believe the US is not evil, but it is hard to justify that in the face of unconditional support of a state that prefers oppression over international advisors, peacekeeping forces, and international observers - that's all the Palestinians ask.
Tim, TX, USA

In answer to the question, I am not convinced that the US can win "the war" in Afghanistan. Reading the comments in this section, there is clearly an awful lot of hatred in the world. If I decided to rid the world of burglars, it would be a life-long battle. The new war on terrorism is exactly that. This will be going on for the rest of our lives. Perhaps it is time that the United Nations acted as it was intended, or get rid of it entirely, since it seems to be a massive bureaucracy, costing millions, that hides away during conflict. The Palestinian people have a right to their own homeland, with secured boundaries and national laws to protect themselves, as Israeli people have had for many years. Fairness in society is the key to end violence.
SGM, Canada

I am afraid of Bush more then any other terrorist on the face of this planet. In the past year he has crushed civil rights. He called himself the education president and cut education funding for a war on idealism. How can you kill an ideal such as terrorism that has always existed? You cannot, especially with force. We have learned this in the past. We failed to stop communism. How can we blindly follow a man who brings down the economy, annoys every ally, and starts a "Shadow Government" (which must be somehow unconstitutional?) but we do. I am sure we shall learn the hard way as all empire and nations did throughout history.
Cyan, York, USA

How can the US win a war it has already lost? By using proxy forces to perpetrate a war against the Taleban, the US has created something far worse. The Taleban wasn't the worst thing in the world. Hell is in Afghanistan now. Tribal war is the least of your concerns, just wait until you hear about the little girls being sold into sexual slavery. Post-Taleban Afghanistan is no better, women's rights are not assured, what IS assured is an oil pipeline across the country giving the US access to Caspian oil reserves. What a coincidence that the "War on Terror" should reap such benefits for the oil thirsty West.
Jim Bob, London, England.

If this "war" is truly about freedom of speech, religious beliefs economic freedom and all the rest of America's hackneyed excuses for flattening peoples homes, I wonder why the world's largest oppressor of some of the most basic of human rights - China is not commanding any attention from George Bush. Maybe because China's economy will become the largest on the planet in the next 5 years and the US is already the largest foreign investor. I don't know, it's just a thought!
Darrell Painter, Hong Kong

If you were a leader of a country, any country, which was severely attacked in a similar way to that on September 11th, what would YOU do about it?

Mike Austin, England
I have found the diverse range of comments here, from people with a variety of cultures and thoughts, very interesting. Two points I would like to make. Firstly, to the people who are against the fighting. If you were a leader of a country, any country, which was severely attacked in a similar way to that on September 11th, what would YOU do about it? What would your people want you to do? If the answer is not military action, you're telling porkies. All countries (providing money and capabilities were there) would do the same as America has done.

Secondarily, I have found it interesting why some people, in their comments say America is unpopular in the Middle East. Some people have said it is to do with the USA's foreign policy. Let's face it, that was some cause of concern in Britain last year when Bush was going to be elected, and did not speak much on improving America's foreign policy. Some say it is to do with their heavy handiness or the way they have supported countries or regimes in the past, and then turned their back on them. Whether these are true or not doesn't matter. The fact is the perception is still there, especially in the Middle East, so although I obviously support military action, I am in favour of the notion that if America impressions are going to improve from people in other countries, they will have to review their foreign policy.
Mike Austin, England

Fear creates hatred, desire fuels greed, all our human weakness are magnified by technology. Our social structures MUST change, we must CHANGE.

I do believe we are doing the right thing to get rid of the Taleban in an effort to hamper the terrorists from committing another violent act -- we were really given no other choice, what could we do? Say, "Thanks, can we have another?" however, we must also look outside of "war methods" to deter another attack like Sept. 11th. The US needs to support the peace plan that Prince Abdullah has put forth, and retreat from the Saudi Arabian peninsula. Because our interest in the Middle East seems intimately tied to our interest (or, rather, dependency) on their oil, this will entail either: 1) looking for petroleum alternatives ("smart" cars, natural gas, etc.) to "fuel" our dependency on oil, or 2) looking to other countries from which to buy petroleum (i.e. countries in South America, Europe, or Russia).
Brenda, USA

The war on terror is, to George Bush, a computer game

Neil, Swindon, UK
I personally think the war on terror is, to George Bush, a computer game. If you catch Osama Bin Laden it is not suddenly going to bring back the World Trade Center and all the lives lost. The US hasn't got a clue where he is, let's face it. But what makes me angry is Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda are allowed to get away with this. For the second time.
Neil, Swindon, UK

Refresh your minds. Six months ago George Bush declared his war on Terrorism. His aims were to catch the masterminds behind the s11 atrocity and to usher in a new era of freedom and democracy. Now six months later, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still at large, the list of 'terrorist' states grows by the day, Israel and Palestine are in all out war, and today we find out that the US is prepared to use nuclear weapons on Russia and China. So much for freedom from terror - I hope we are all still here in another six months to chat about this
Terry Cantwell, Australia

They will never win the war on terrorism, all this fighting is only going to initiate more hatred amongst people, creating more "terrorists".
Jeff Davies, UK

I am responding to some of the comments made by so-called patriotic Americans who say we should blindly follow President Bush in the fight against terrorism. First of all may I reminded you that Mr. Bush was elected in the smoke filled rooms of the United States Supreme Court and not by the will of the American people. In short he stole the election. Second Mr. Bush was/is a draft-dodging coward! Who didn't have the guts to fight his own war when he was a young man; you remember Vietnam. If you recall the coward got his daddy to get him in the Texas Air National Guard. Poppa wanted to ensure his little boy didn't go anywhere near the real fighting. Now Georgie Boy (President Bush) wants American's poor white, black and Hispanic men to go fight a war that he myself would not. And the only thing Mr. Bush is going to give our veterans when the come back wounded and hurt is an Unemployment line? For all you so-called Patriotic Americans who say we should stand tall over there a fight, I say you should quit your job and join the Army and Volunteer for Afghanistan. Just remember the Army's slogan: Be all you can be.
Gary Schlinger, Hobart, Indiana

If any country had suffered the blow that the USA did on September 11th, it would surely have retaliated in as forthright a way as lay within its powers

Julian, Manchester
"American blood is never spilled unanswered". American blood is hardly unique in this respect. If any country had suffered the blow that the USA did on September 11th, it would surely have retaliated in as forthright a way as lay within its powers. Of course, in the case of the USA, those powers have a global span. Size matters. Yet, there is also an obvious danger. Namely, that any victim is likely to hit a lot of innocents in trying to strike back at its perceived aggressor. Like a playground schoolchild, the USA has recently received a nasty blow which one could postulate is just revenge for the thousands of innocents that have doubtless been killed in American military campaigns in the last century. This isn't baiting...
Julian, Manchester

The world was a safe place, but the way that it is going now, it would not remain a safe place any longer. Instead, it would be destroyed by man.
Zade, Caribbean

We are aware of our history, Simon. We write books, make movies and mini-series about it. Last month was Black History Month in the U.S. People across the ocean from us don't seem to realize that "Americans" didn't just wander out of the depths of the Atlantic and begin the great land-rape of the continents, it was Europeans. As British colonies, we did not sail to Africa for slaves, we traded with the Royal African Company for them. Liverpool and Bristol became major cities because of the slave trade. Slavery was not abolished in Britain until 1807 and in all British colonies until 1833 - a vast 32 years before it was abolished by an amendment to the American constitution. And to those of you who say that Bush is treating this war like a game - this may have its truth, but you're treating this like another type of game where America has been tagged and now must quietly sit out the rest of the game. The U.S. has been a juggernaut for many years - a shameful one in many ways - and September 11 has given it a significant jolt. Just don't be so naïve as to think it will just come to a grinding halt.
MG, U.S.

Most of the Americans that are speaking for the war are so ignorant they don't even know their own history. It was Americans who wiped out millions of Indians for land, it was Americans who went across to other contrives to rape and pillage the land and enslave millions of people just because they were black. How despicable these Americans are! And then they turn round and say they are just in what their doing.
Simon, UK

America has to reassess its foreign policy, otherwise it is doomed. Bin Laden has got them running around in circles, I think the US have underestimated how much support he actually has.

The current military conflict in Afghanistan is a battle which the US will win, but the "war against terrorism" is not one which can be won or lost. The Islamists will always have new recruits willing to fight America, and the US forces may be able to contain them locally, but this is a struggle to be endured. I wonder what damage the Americans are doing to their own freedoms in this conflict. The right of free speech and dissent are being eroded.
Michael, UK

The US did not choose this war - it has been repeatedly attacked and things will only get worse for waiting

George Milton, Italy and US
A lot of comments seem to suggest that this war is being fought out of some choice. The US did not choose this war - it has been repeatedly attacked and things will only get worse for waiting. It should have been fought years earlier and with much more vigour. Europe is lucky that the US is such a good target, because this is a battle that would be waged by militant religious fundamentalists against all who will stand in their way. If Europe has not been attacked yet, it is only because there is a more visible target. The attacks will get worse as weapons with greater destructive power are more easily being acquired by individuals or smaller groups. Nations who would provide such weapons to these people either covertly or overtly. These nations are also your enemies as, whether they attack you or not, their actions will lead to many deaths. One can discuss things infinitely, but without the will to employ swift action the words have no meaning.
George Milton, Italy and US

I think that USA can win war against Afghanistan. I think that the world can win the war against terrorists. But it will not happen before the USA stop the war in other countries, like Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan.
Emilis, Vilnius Lithuania

Violence is caused by a lack of basic necessities, or by those who have these basic necessities, but still desire more. There is enough on this world to go around - let's make it happen. As David of Maryland said, "We all need to understand that all humans want the same things such as peace and food." We could alleviate the world of much violence if we could provide adequacy for each other. Don't think you need a government institution to let you help.
Charles, USA

Many in the UK got it completely wrong when they said that Afghanistan would be another Vietnam for the US. The only person I've seen admit it was Simon Jenkins of the Times. Now, many more will have to change their tune when the terrorists finally succeed in what they've been trying all along- to blow up large parts of London and Paris. Some people persist in their beliefs no matter how many times they're shown wrong.
Michael, Liverpool, UK

If you left-wing Europeans really believe in yourselves, break away from America!

Robert Farrell, New York USA
You ask if America can win this war? Really, who cares? If we do, the European left will either deny us victory, or resort to mind-games. That's why so many Americans have said we no longer care what others think. It's not arrogance on our part, just plain exasperation. Can't you Europeans grasp that America is not the issue? Of course, to a defeated left, which is exactly what you European Marxists are, America is behind all the worlds woes. So goes the sick and twisted logic. Again, we in America say "we'll go it alone". If we do win this war, it will be without the moral support of much of Europe. It will be attended by hysterical anti-US protests. Apparently, we are to impale ourselves on your criticism and thank you for the effort. If justice is to be served, Europe will sleep in the bed of its own making. If you left-wing Europeans really believe in yourselves, break away from America! Go ahead and set up your brave socialistic world. We won't stop you. It's your country. In the meantime, you might consider being less reactionary and hostile toward the USA.
Robert Farrell, New York USA

By all means America has to win this war against terror. But the only problem is the advisers/allies like the Pakistanis who can never be trusted. These guys inwardly support the terrorists. America should understand these double talkers better. Even those who live a better life in the west still are emotionally and culturally tied up with the terrorists. If they wanted, they could save the life of Daniel Pearl.
Tom, Canada

Unless the cause of terrorism is understood and dealt with appropriately, war cannot be won.
Tamim Islam, USA

It amazes me that some Americans, including George Bush, can be so self-absorbed and naïve as to think they were attacked because of their wealth & freedom. If the US is hated by some in the Middle East it's because of US government actions and failures in the Middle East and has nothing to do with envy of the wealth and freedom of the American people. It's not really arrogance on the part of Americans, it's the opposite. They naively feel wounded and shocked that anyone could hate them so much, and they genuinely don't realise how much power and influence they have in the world. Wake up Americans! You can't be the world's only super power and still have an isolationist foreign policy! It's one or the other, you can't have both. If the US is going to be policeman to the world, then you need to stick around and enforce international law and order and justice for all, not just send out punishment raids when US interests are threatened. And if you don't want to be policeman to the world, then you should stand aside and give some back up and support to the United Nations so they can do the job.
John Mack, Somerset, England

The question that concerns me is whether the US and our allies, Afghanistan's neighbours and the Afghans themselves stay committed to the idea of a reborn Afghanistan

Andrew S., San Francisco, USA
I feel the US will ultimately win the war in Afghanistan for three reasons: Firstly, the US military is extremely capable vis-a-vis its adversary. Secondly, there is the will - call it bloodlust, vengeance, resolute self-defence, whatever - on the part of the US military, government and populace. Lastly, I reckon a thorough polling of Afghans (were one possible) would show the majority of them see the fall of the Taleban and disenfranchisement of the mostly Arab Al-Qaeda as liberation from tyranny. The question that concerns me is whether the US and our allies, Afghanistan's neighbours and the Afghans themselves stay committed to the idea of a reborn Afghanistan and do the difficult things needed to prevent the country sliding back into fractionalised warlord-led tribal chaos and balkanisation. While it seems many of my more bombastic (perhaps ignorant) countrymen would rather fetishize the current bloodletting and lash out America's detractors who delight in using this topic (and every other one they can find no matter how tenuous the facts) to accuse the United States of being really, really evil, I am convinced there is a more profound lens through which we can and should look at the conflict in Afghanistan. If we - Afghans, the USA and allies, and the rest of the world community - succeed in Afghanistan, in 10 years, Afghans will have forgotten mush of the present pain and be members of a functioning society in which football pitches will be used for sport, not executions of women.
Andrew S., San Francisco, USA

I hope US will not win. Bush is a terrorist and he will kill civilians in Iraq, Iran... and so on. I hope Afghanistan is another Vietnam and this terrorist can learn that no bombs can destroy the freedom of a people. US are invading Afghanistan, no one call for his bombs. Goodmorning Vietnam!
Viola, Ferrara, Italy

I don't understand. The CIA created the Taleban, and now they want to destroy it. Who could believe this story? I cannot. There must be something that we don't know. History shows us that you can't occupy a country. Probably, in future the Afghan people, not the Taleban, will stand against USA.
Katayoun, Iran

Would I be out of order if I suggested that war is like Tik-Tak-Toe! Conclusion is that if you want to win- DON'T PLAY, or have I misunderstood the moral of the film "War Games"?
John Brewer, Nottingham

I will continue to support US military involvement in the Middle East... because, hey, it's worked out so well in the past ...right? I mean, when has violence ever FAILED to solve a complex and delicate world issue? But, to be serious, there needs to be some criticism regarding US strategy; we are attempting to treat this problem symptomatically rather than addressing the real issues at work.
Jeremy, Bristol Connecticut, USA

Right now we have Civil Affairs teams on the ground helping the civilian population in Afghanistan get the things they need to survive

Aaron Kauffman, US
I think we will win the war on terror and ignorance in Afghanistan, and I think we are going about it in the best way possible. There are a couple of reasons for this position: (1) our military response is effective without being too oppressive. We have minimised civilian casualties to a great extent with the use of our large arsenal of guided weapons, and the use of the "Daisy Cutter" has been kept to unpopulated areas. We allow the local soldiers to do most of the fighting unless the Al-Qaeda is the main target, and even then we use precision strikes if civilians are at risk. Unfortunately civilian causalities have to be expected in any military action. (2) What most people don't realise is what we do after the fighting is over. Right now we have Civil Affairs teams on the ground helping the civilian population in Afghanistan get the things they need to survive. They are helping to rebuild schools and providing medical treatment to casualties. Teams are also on the ground to remove the threat of unexploded ordnance to the local people. (3) The US is reacting in a very non-arrogant way. We could have gone this route alone, but instead we have asked for support by all our allies and some that we wouldn't even describe as allies outside the realm of this war. The problem with acting in a less aggressive way, such as the missile attacks on Afghanistan in 1998, is they don't solve the problem and help to promote the hatred of our country, as was seen. These three things being done together, The war in Afghanistan will be won by acting aggressively to remove old influences and working aggressively to incorporate new ones. This being said, the good deeds the US does are forgotten easily. The arrogance of other nations bring about a "we don't need your help" attitude from people we have aided. At least until the next time they need our help. Some even turn against us. So in closing, this war will be won, but who knows when the next one will popup.
Aaron Kauffman, US

There is no way America has the right to kill any al-Qaeda or Taleban regardless of what they did. OK so was it really that bad, what they did? The answer is both yes and no. Ask a civilian from the west - they will reply "it was wicked". Ask any Afghan - they will tell you they were simply doing what they thought right, they truly believe they will go to heaven. Also, you need to think of what America has done to them. Ask anyone in the west if America was wrong to give money and military to other countries - they will say it was ok. Ask an Afghani - they will say it was wrong and it had nothing to do with them. Both Afghanistan and America should apologise to each other and get on with it. Also, Tony Blair should not interfere.
Emily Woodrow, Canterbury England

The complaints of anti-Americanism in this post display a petulant unwillingness to even consider that current American policies are at least partially to blame for the terrorist problem. As long as America arrogantly hides behind its white veil of perceived perfection, it will gain enemies faster than it can kill them. The tragic situation in Palestine vividly illustrates that a policy of eliminating the symptoms rather than identifying and addressing the root causes of terrorism is bound to fail. America must realise that in spite of its immense military and economic power, it must learn to coexist and engage in meaningful dialogue with all the cultures and religions of the world. Engaging in a selfish worldwide war to rid the world of any and all opposition to America will eventually lose it the support of even its closest allies.
Rich, USA

What if, along with those aeroplanes that crashed into WTC, other planes crashed into buildings in your country? Suddenly your anti-Americanism would turn to Buddhism.
Joe, Toronto, Canada

The war against terrorism cannot be won by military means alone

Mark, USA
The Afghanistan campaign is not a war unto itself and it can be won. The war is against terrorism and ultimately that war cannot be won by military means alone. I believe that most people in America and our allies know that to be a fact. Before September 11 the cost of training, equipping, housing and feeding a terrorist was extremely low. Afghanistan with it despot regime was the perfect safe training ground for terrorists. Save for the rare occasion that the US would launch a cruise missile strike; they had nothing to worry about. That is no longer the case. The price of engaging in terrorism in lives and money has skyrocketed. The terrorist now has no safe haven. They can no longer move large sums of money around the world without the danger of it being seized. No nation would be foolish enough to provide safe haven for fear of devastating sanctions and potential military action by allied forces. We may or may not win, but we can change the playing field in our favour. As an American I fully expect that at some point, terrorist will use a nuclear device against my country. The question of American resolve is mute. Even if we were to desire differently we are locked in a struggle that we cannot disengage from. The anti-American minority can say what they wish but history has proven that the US has always risen to challenge and has born terrible sacrifices to preserve our nation and stand beside our allies.
Mark, USA

Reading some of the comments here quite frankly frightens me almost as much as George Bush does. There are reasons why the US is hated, but instead of trying to deal with these reasons Bush simply tries to kill anyone who disagrees with him. This will only result in more hatred. Religion and national pride are two very dangerous things.
IK, Scotland

Americans are concerned about their safety and freedom, do they forget how USA interfere in other countries affairs and try to be like an international policeman, also neglecting all UN's parameters. What a selfishness! USA trained these so-called terrorists, now Cut what you grew, baby! Anyway, We want peace.
K, Canada

Given its technological superiority the US may win the war in Afghanistan, but this war is not about terrorism. It never was. It is revenge pure and simple. Revenge is a sentiment that puts into motion a cycle. And that is something the US, with all its superiority will not be able to stop. The US knows that. Maybe that is the reason why it is not in a hurry to disengage. They want to leave Afghanistan, if at all they ever do, after ensuring that they have permanently disabled the enemy. The temptation is too strong and that I believe will bog them down in a war that they will find hard to win, perhaps impossible to win. Because Al-Qaeda and the Taleban will soon be joined by forces inimical to the US. The US is not famous for making friends, if anything. There are a lot of entities waiting in the wings for a shot at them. It is this that the US needs to guard against.
Shariq Jamal, India

About 15 percent of Americans did not and do not support the "war" in Afghanistan. We can assume that this is the same 15 percent who have IQs of one hundred twenty and over.
Anita, USA

We fight now because others simply want to KILL us for espousing such principles as free speech and religious freedom

Kate, Boston, US
For my own peace of mind, I continue to believe that the average Brit, and hopefully the average European, has a stronger grasp on the issues surrounding this War on Terror than some of these entries or your talking heads would have us in the US think. I appreciate those who have expressed that they do understand that it is time that the U.S. and other democracies take a stand to prevent another such attack, and I appreciate those countries that have committed soldiers to this cause. Don't lose heart when things about this war begin to get messier than they are. WWII and Hitler were nastier than this war and bin Laden, but we pulled through it together. On behalf of the average U.S. citizen, I will say that we clearly understand that U.S. policies regarding the Middle East and elsewhere may be disagreeable to some, even vehemently so. However, what U.S. citizens mean when we say that we "don't give a damn what anyone else thinks" is this: Others can disagree with us, even hate us, for who we are and what for what we stand--but you can't KILL us because you disagree or hate us. We fight now because others simply want to KILL us for espousing such principles as free speech and religious freedom.
Kate, Boston, USA

This is a war of ideology. There is no terrorism in the world, except some freedom fighters who want to free their own motherland. No matter under what name US tries to fight Islam, Muslims are ready to response more and more in logic, reason and ideology. So far USA could not prove in it's own court with it's own judge that Muslims did the September 11 incident. Nevertheless, USA already destroyed a country, went to internal affairs of another country, killed it's Government, killed the civilians, put a group of crooked, drug dealer, rapist in power as legitimate government in Afghanistan. History will not forgive USA.
Masroor Anwar, USA

The genie (jinni) is coming out of the bottle. Now that it is out in the open on this forum, let's take it one step further. Is there still anybody out there who hasn't realised that the terrorists could no more act without the complicity and blessing of some Arab regimes than they could fly to the moon? Why do we tiptoe around the subject? Politeness always has its place, but we must be able to have an open, honest dialogue. To that end, we need to unmask the organisations funded by many Arab countries without the express consent of their citizens that contribute to the violence. They deny it, of course. What else are they to do? Efforts to install some transparency and accountability are vigorously progressing on that front at present, thank goodness, but such measures are doomed to fail because where there is a will, there is a way. It is grand that we are striving for solutions, but the sheer variation of people on this earth will always provide a ripe environment for dissension and radicalism. None of us want to be thought of as sheep, so why are we surprised when we act like wolves?
Chris, US

This war is about freedom of American citizens to be free of fear from terrorism

Pavlos Zafiropoulos, UK
This war is about freedom. Not in general as Bush's good/evil rhetoric would have us believe, but specifically about the freedom of American citizens to be free of fear from terrorism. I'm sorry but I'm not sure if they truly deserve this freedom. I think most average Americans on the street are some of the most generous and kind people one can meet (if somewhat unquestioningly patriotic). However, given that the American government has been acting in a completely selfish manner, actively supporting oppression and terrorism when it suits them for decades, waging unjust wars and harming hundreds of thousands of people, how can Americans justify demanding to live in a world that's completely safe for them? (This also incidentally applies to many European countries). We always reap what we sow. I must say I am utterly disappointed in the US. For all its talk of equality and freedom, in reality it is nothing more than an unfair, hypocritical oppressor getting rapidly out of control - drunk on its own hubris and might. In my eyes this war will inevitably end in failure not necessarily because the US will lose, but because victory for the US will mean nothing in terms of increasing equality and freedom across the globe.
Pavlos Zafiropoulos, UK

We are living in an era victory is gained by losing.
Lulu, San Francisco, USA

Its seems to me that a lot of people here want to compare this war with Vietnam. I believe it is closer to WWII, when we were attacked by surprise. We are fighting a group that believes they are better than us in every way. And I believe that like WWII we will win this, we have the support of the people back home and with that Americans will never lose. If you want to compare battles, the battle going on now is more similar to Iwo Jima than anything else, and in that one we won. It may take time but we are patient, and we will follow this to the end.
Steve H, USA

It truly saddens me, being an American, to read most of these comments from other countries. Do you realise that AMERICA is the country that sends help ANYWHERE when it is needed? Do you realise that, much like Hitler, Bin laden and his crew want me, and all of the rest of my countryman DEAD. They don't know me; they just want me dead. Sit back and think about that for a few minutes, then tell me how you would react. People who are not citizens of this country do not understand what it is to be an American. It is something that words cannot express, and believe me, we WILL win this war, just as we always do. I take much pride in our military and economic power.
Brian, USA

Would we really expect any war to be wholly free of unintended civilian casualties?

Hayden J.A. Bellenoit, UK
Isn't it interesting how people can be so obsessively fixated on the number of civilian deaths? If you want to be pedantic, that is fine, but it is no way to analyse a situation rationally. One must look at the other facets involved: Humanitarian aid is now getting in, and a humanitarian disaster, which would have been inevitable before 11 September, has been avoided. Would we really expect any war to be wholly free of unintended civilian casualties? Moreover, what the US does in the world is only a small part of the problem. Many of the motives come from internal tensions within Islam itself, and these have to be recognised--the world cannot keep blaming the US for their problems. Let's all stop being so narrow-minded and start looking at things rationally and panoptically.
Hayden J.A. Bellenoit, UK

How do we know beyond any doubt that hundreds of militants have been killed and only 8 American troops? What if America is exaggerating a bit? What if the American troops have suffered more then they are letting on? Is there any way of telling?
Yasmin Ahmad, UK

According to the Geneva Convention this is an illegal war so it cannot be won anyway. How can a war on terrorism be won? Terrorism is a relative term. It will only be 'won' when the global political/social climate will change (mainly a bit more respect for other countries). I also wonder at the moment how many people actually support the 'war'? I have not met one person yet (apart from my local MP!) who actually agrees with the US tactics. Come on USA, be brave for once and talk peace instead of war! You have not won a war yet, what makes you think you can win this one? This is not fighting for democracy, this is fighting for imperialism.
Matt Davey UK

There will never be a peace in our time. It was a naive dream when Chamberlain first uttered those words and it is a naive dream today. There cannot and will not be a winning of this war. It is a battle that must be fought against a foe that must be pursued relentlessly--but to assume a final victory is sheer bravado and posturing. We can at best hope for victories on the battlefield, and negotiated political settlements, but if every cell of Al-Qaeda were dead today, then a new head of the hydra of terrorism would appear tomorrow. We can hope only for a tenuous peace and baby steps toward understanding and compassion. Terrorism is a nebulous and ever-changing enemy, and in a world where dislike becomes hatred and political differences are viewed as attacks upon the individual, there can be little hope of resolution. If today the United States is the object of hatred, then tomorrow it will be Great Britain, or France, or Japan, and the list goes on to include, probably, all 190 nations of the UN and probably some new nations yet to be named. Even if we today appeased and placated every terrorist in the world, tomorrow someone would rise up and proclaim, "This world is not how I want it, and I and my followers will fight to the death to get our way." The solution seems so simple: respect for the individual, respect for their beliefs, respect for their way of life. Yet, for all its simplicity, it seems to complex a concept for us to grasp.
Kip Tabb, USA

You cannot expect the US or anyone else to simply change its policy

Mark Turner, Plainsboro, NJ, USA
The US will easily win the war militarily, but let me point out that EVERYONE will be a loser if there is not a fundamental socio-economic reform in the countries where terrorism arises in the first place (this reform is unlikely to happen soon)...and you cannot expect the US or anyone else to simply change its policy or contribute money and make the problem "magically" go away if the regimes governing the countries of the terrorists' origin continue their current injustices to their own people. Also, I find it amusingly absurd to criticise the US for "civilian casualties" when many regimes throughout the world are happily persecuting and slaughtering their own civilian populations.
Mark Turner, Plainsboro, NJ, USA

The US may win the battle but the war as currently planned cannot be won. Cultures and ideologies are not changed in the space of a few days, weeks or even years. So the US will score media victories but little real change. A problem is how blind the US is to the world it influences. You cannot be a true global superpower and be largely unresponsive as to what the rest of the world thinks. However 'wrong' the rest of the world may seem to you. Should there really have been so much surprise that the awful events of Sep 11 happened? That there are militants out there crazy enough to act in such horrible ways? If you live in a global existence like this then you will have global reaction and consequences.
Esteban, London, England

It is not arrogant of America to defend herself. It is not arrogant of America to build her economy and defenses into the strongest in the world - bar none. It is, however, ignorant and naive for anyone to think that America will not respond in a violent and deadly way when she is flagrantly and arrogantly attacked by cowards using commercial airlines filled with civilians. The US has never professed perfection. The US knows it has warts - the difference is the US admits to these flaws freely because we are always striving for improvement. That's why millions flood into our nation every year. They know that the single, best environment for them to succeed is here in America - inspite of its warts. If that makes some people in the world angry or resentful - so be it.
Daryl, Texas, USA

You must accept that war is at least part of the answer.

Matt Burns, UK
Some people propose imposing sanctions, an idea a bit like robbing a pauper. The US and allies is not at war with Afghaninstan, Karzai will tell you that. How can you impose sanctions on a nation simply because there are criminals there who the western world wants eradicated. What exactly will you be able to do? Besides, this will effect the ordinary people. Sanctions can only work against an organised state and this war is not against a country as such but against people who happen to have used that country because of the complicity of the previous government, not the present one. In response to those people who say that war is not the answer: you must accept that it is at least part of the answer. All over the world suspect cells are being arrested and bank accounts are being frozen. This action must be seen as only part of the action against terrorism and to assume that the US and allies have initiated military action for the sake of it is a fatal and unjustified assumption.
Matt Burns, UK

I have read each of the entries submitted here. I am impressed with the variety of opinions and thank the non-US entries for pointing out what most Americans don't know, "Hatred is not about the US but unfair treatment of humans in general" We all need to understand that all humans want the same things such as peace and food. We just need to work together to make it so. I also want friends in the UK to know that there is at least one American that would prefer to live under a government such as yours. Keep the UK the same, its great!
David, Maryland, USA

I agree with the sentiment that wars are never won. The path that those who desire peace must take is a difficult one: both complex and risky.

Not only must the resources available at our disposal be used to "fight terrorism" (i.e. act to promote humility, scepticism, awareness and rationality both at home and abroad), but also to build trusting and confident relationships between all governments, organizations and individuals. As these objectives are gradually achieved, we will find ourselves more and more in a position to plan for the future, and to allocate the resources that we have in such a way as to best benefit mankind, rather than waste them in conflict.
Will, UK

Despite numerous claims in this forum to the contrary, the average American is not oblivious to the manner in which our nation is viewed throughout the world. It saddens many Americans such as myself, who truly love and respect my country. I would like to remind everyone that arrogance and knee-jerk reactionism are not traits possessed exclusively by America. Nonetheless, I wish everyone who criticizes current US actions would truly re-examine this situation: there IS a clear line between right and wrong here. US foreign policy may occasionally blur that distinction, yet the truth remains: terrorism on the scale we witnessed on September 11th cannot go unanswered. We are not dealing with rational individuals with whom you can negotiate. These terrorists preach unmitigated violence, and are no less interested in peace than Hitler was in 1939. To all the member states of the EU, stick with America, unless you consider the alternative (Islamic fundamentalism and savagery) more appealing.
Mark Christy, Ohio, USA

We have to be proactive rather than reactive.

Dan, USA
I think the 'war' is noble, but it needs to take a different face. We have to be proactive rather than reactive. Just stamping out dissent as it arises does not get to the heart of the problem. Global peace, will only be obtained when we wage our war against poverty, injustice, and our own tendency towards hegemony. The US is in a unique position to either continue on it's current path or become something much greater, and I can only hope that our leaders are wise enough to understand that.
Dan, USA

As an American, I would like to address a few of the anti-American comments that I have been reading on this site:

1. "US arrogance and foreign policy were the cause of the 9/11 attacks" - The fact is that the cause of the attacks, as everyone knows, but will not admit, is religious bigotry. We were attacked because we are infidels and we infidels are too close to someone's sacred pile of dirt.

2. The US thinks it can solve every problem with military force - This is, of course, nonsense. If that was the case, believe me, we'd be at war 24 x 7 x 365. However, at least we can recognize when force is required.

3. America doesn't care about innocents. Comments of this type are the most disturbing. No military force in the history of warfare has done more to avoid civilian deaths than America's. Unfortunately, war is a messy business. .

Rest assured, we will win this war.
Michael, New York, USA

The US-led coalition cannot pick and choose who they go to war with. All terrorists must be targeted and stopped. This includes the IRA. How can the British government be taken seriously if it is freeing convicted terrorists in Northern Ireland? The campaign in Afghanistan must be backed up with consistency and resolve.
Stuart Preston, UK

Surely it must be time for some common sense politics before it is too late

Cam, Reading UK
If all the rich civilised and democratic countries of the world were to stand together against rogue states and nations, instead of ignoring the problems and generally burying their heads in the sand, the world would be a safer place. Surely it must be time for some common sense politics before it is too late.
Cam, Reading UK

I am referring to the statement of David, USA. What is if there IS a reason? If there is some one out there hating America because he/she has suffered or seen destruction, pain and malice caused directly or indirectly by the USA or at least perceives it that way? What could it be?
Thomas Roth, Bern, Switzerland

Well said Zach Beacham! I travel frequently to the USA on business, and I'm frankly amazed at the news coverage available to you. It's relatively well reported in Europe that there are, in fact, soldiers from 6 countries, including Germany and Italy (but not the UK) involved in the current battle at Gardez. Is this even being reported in the USA? If not, it's hardly surprising that the "average American guy" gets to feeling a little isolated, and thinks the world is against him.
John, England

Mario Gutierrez says "There are many Americans like myself who don't give a damn what the rest of the world thinks." As long as Americans have this attitude, attacks on them will continue.
Cig, London

Former US National Security Advisor Mara Rudman:
"I'm supportive of what the administration has done to date"
September 11 survivor Richard Wajda:
"I have nightmares every single night"
Philip Clayton of Guatemala:
"This war cannot be won by conventional means"
Don Truitt of Florida, USA:
"We have no choice but to protect...western civilisation"
Simon Katzov of Israel:
"Here in Israel every day is a mini September 11"
See also:

05 Mar 02 | South Asia
US pounds militant hideouts
02 Mar 02 | South Asia
Picture gallery: New Afghan army
05 Feb 02 | South Asia
Afghanistan's security nightmare
04 Mar 02 | Europe
German special forces in action
23 Dec 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda threat lives on
07 Oct 01 | Americas
Guide to military strength
04 Mar 02 | Americas
Analysis: Last stand or long war?

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