While I am told (and know) that our litany of special
operations forces can rout all comers, least of which are
a bunch of turban-sporting Islamic fundamentalists, I think the
current plan making its way around Washington, wherein groups
like Delta Force, Army Rangers and Navy Seals would engage and
ideally destroy pockets of terrorists, is fatally flawed and
built on numerous assumptions that probably donít carry over
to combat in rugged Central Asia.
But before I elaborate as to my reasons for thinking this
way, I want to issue a disclaimer: THE REMARKS CONTAINED HEREIN
ARE NOT THOSE OF A SEASONED MILITARY EXPERT OR ANYTHING OF THE
SORT. Actually, Iím just a concerned citizen whoís had a lot
of time to think on potential retaliatory operations and have
concluded that there are better ways of doing this, more
efficient ways to hunt down these terrorists than by employing solo
special ops and a few well-placed smart bombs. Indeed, to
ultimately win this war the United States will be forced to
invade selected countries unwilling to cough up their terrorists
in a massive show of force that suffocates the offenders to the
point they show themselves on the battlefield, in which case weíll
crush them when they surface.
To ask our best commandos to wade into rugged Afghanistan in
pursuit of former Mujahidin warriors is asking a lot. Not only
are these terrorists battle hardened from fighting the Soviets
in the 1980ís and more recently their involvement in the
nationís ongoing civil war, but also they are warring on their
home turf. And theirs would be some of the most God-forsaken
regions on earth. A rugged landscape, rocky, hilly and dotted
with caves and crevices able to conceal hordes of men and
supplies, enabled Afghanistan to frustrate the Soviet conquerors
and still complicates the designs of the Taliban clerics today.
The Hindu Kush Mountains slice through the heart of the country,
forming a formidable challenge to invading armies, much less
special operation commandos. Perhaps the Soviets might have had
more success had they not intended to take over the entire
country, but thatís another story. The point is that a smaller
team of SEALS or Delta Force types would have a difficult time
snuffing out seasoned terrorists from their mountain hideouts.
In fact, the probability of getting bogged down in those
mountains in some sort of game of chicken would see Americans
die at the hands of guerilla backwoodsmen -- something I donít
want to see.
If we get into a tit for tat in the mountains of Afghanistan,
wherein we win a few battles but at a great cost in lives, the
president will quickly lose the favor of Democrats and liberals.
The comparisons to Vietnam will sprout up, as they always do
when military campaigns capture the national debate.
Unfortunately, in this instance, the detractors would probably
be proven right. In Vietnam the nationís politicians failed to
wage all-out war in a concerted effort to give our men the best
chance to succeed in the jungles of Indochina; the situation in
Afghanistan could deteriorate in much the same way unless we
integrate other aspects of American military might with special
ops. The North Vietnamese knew their own topography just as well
as these Mujahidin know theirs, and no matter how prepared our
men are and how committed the militaryís strategy is, special
ops donít tend to work well against a knowledgeable enemy that
expects you to act. With the globeís amalgamation of media
outlets broadcasting every troop movement and the whereabouts of
every SEAL detachment, Usama bin Laden would be ready for
anything. Stealth missions work best when the offensive side has
with it the element of surprise. Ask Generalissimo Manuel
Noriega how successful these furtive missions can be carried out
against an unsuspecting enemy.
To expound on this a bit more, if we were to get bogged down
in an Islamic state, I can guarantee that these supposed
coalition Moslem peoples would grow quickly tired of an American
presence. It wouldnít be too long before angry villagers would
assist in the ambush of infidel troops. I canít even
comprehend how horrible the news reports would read, of our best
men being betrayed by villagers and then drug through the
streets like our Marines through the dust of Mogadishu.
safe to say that these Muslim nations would rather harbor rogue
murderers such as bin Laden then facilitate the deployment of
Western troops. Pakistan has a history of funding bin Laden
according to recent news reports, and to honestly conceive that
the Pakistanis would abandon their affection for this terrorist
on our account is wishful thinking. From all indications, we
already have caveats galore in our agreements with Pakistan,
including a clause that prohibits any Israelis from stepping
foot on Pakistani soil as part of a multinational strike force.
Expect these promises to be couched in additional conditions
before itís all said and done.
Everyone assumes that a week of carpet-bombing will soften
the resolve of these people to the extent that theyíll give
themselves up or else enable our boys to make quick work of them
thereafter. But as these Arab rogues have shown over and over
again, they can withstand even our best payload. Saddam Hussein
has demonstrated this repeatedly, and our intelligence suggests
bin Laden has an underground shelter to escape American
projectiles, as well. And more than that, when the first bomb
goes astray and kills a few hundred civilians, how long does
anyone think it will take before the fragile coalition comes
apart and the entire Moslem world turns against us? I dare say
quickly. When push comes to shove, these civilians will support
a fellow Arab, no matter his blood soaked resume.
Additionally, these terrorists are keen on their own
self-preservation and not the lives of the expendable masses.
Theyíll wait us out in their bunkers till we deplete our
supplies of bombs and missiles if thatís what it takes, not
caring if their fellow innocent Moslems die at the surface. As
bin Laden has shown, the engines that make this terrorist
machine go are not in to leading by example -- they send others
to complete suicide missions and his essentially misanthropic
outlook probably applies to Afghani citizenry as well.
With all this said, I have another way to go about this.
Assuming that the Taliban doesnít turn over bin Laden before
this goes to print (in which case I donít know which terrorist
weíll then focus on) the best course of action would be an
invasion force pushing over the Pakistani boarder and summarily
squeezing bin Laden into submission, at which point weíll kill
him and his henchmen.
While the task will be difficult, I like
the chances of a larger invasion force to be able to find bin
Laden rather than selected teams of Special Forces. Of course,
the United States should serve up a large dose of B52ís mixed
with Tomahawk cruise missiles to kick things off, but after
three weeks of bombardment, our troops, escorted by tanks,
fighters and missiles should march into Kabul demanding Usama
bin Laden and leveling the city until our demands are metÖthat
means eliminating supporters of bin Laden, too.
Wherever he is,
we hunt him down with a show of overwhelming force, so fearsome
in fact that potential peasant insurgents would be deterred from
acting in cahoots with our enemy. And once we corner the
barbarians in some hideaway, we goad the fanatics from their
holes and show them just how serious we are in accommodating
their desire to reach heaven.
If Pakistan to the southeast or any of the former Soviet
Republics that border Afghanistan to the north refuses to
accommodate our invasion, the tanks will roll. On second
thought, weíll bribe them with several hundred million dollars
(Islamic supremacists have their price) to allow us to launch
our injection into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Entry into
the World Trade Organization or some other status oriented UN
committee ensures compliance. Afghanistan currently enjoys
official recognition by exactly three foreign states! Itís
somewhat rational to believe the ruling clerics are willing to
rid themselves of that very odious reputation and oblige the
American military in whatever course the U.S. pursues.
The perceived anti-American predilection seems to be only
skin-deep among some quarters of the populace, particularly the
suicidal elements. After all, these people that purported to
abhor the American way of life, were busy slipping twenties into
g-strings at topless bars and perfecting the arts of chain
smoking and binge drinking till the wee hours in Florida in
preparation for their September 11th
self-destruction. Perhaps these Taliban rulers are just as
hypocritical in their secret affinity for some of the Westís
most greedy values.
If America is to do this right, we must act quickly,
overwhelmingly and decisively before the patriotic fervor wears
off of congressional liberals and before American haters abroad
think twice about supporting the most envied nation on earth.
The "experts" say itís crazy to invade Afghanistan,
that weíll become an occupying force, driven by jingoist goals
to install a pro-American regime in Kabul. Thatís nonsensical
garbage spouted by misguided people that see the military as an
inherently civilizing force that canít help itself from
However, contrary to previous
editions under Billy Clinton, our armed forces under the
direction of President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense
Don Rumsfeld appear committed to the basics of military know
how. That is, they fight to crush the enemy and win wars, not to
build nations based on some internationalist utopian dream. That
sort of thing is best left to an autonomous citizenry. Any
invasion would be purposed to seek and destroy the scum that
killed Americans on American soil. With that
objective achieved, we disengage, come home and let the locals
sort out their own problems.
Hopefully, weíll leave such an indelible mark on the
natives that theyíll think twice before supporting terrorists
again. And if they decide to fund and harbor and sanction
another direct attack on either the United States or one of our
diplomatic outposts around the globe, I trust this great nation
of mine will rise up and destroy the offending party. For too
long weíve placated these rogues with empty threats and
morally equivalent platitudes, and our refusal to retaliate for
the 1998 African embassy attacks or the USS Cole bombing or the
even the 1993 World Trade Center explosions only emboldens these
people. Itís time we defend our people and head off future
terrorist incursions, as our Constitution demands.
by David McCullough
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