11/26/2001

 

Now is When We Should Have Gore In There

 

In the aftermath of 9/11 George W. Bush is doing some things all right; rallying the troops and the allies, presenting a firm response. But just bombing Afghanistan and getting investigative powers that wouldnít be tolerated otherwise is not enough. It doesnít show an eye on the long term.

 

For one thing it looks as if this has been turned into a conventional war. Itís easier to bomb Afghanistan than deal with an enemy thatís hard to pinpoint. Certainly we needed to destroy the terrorist camps. The Taliban has been foolish enough to connect themselves with this guy and should be treated as terrorists too. However it would have been more effective to give the Taliban some evidence against Bin Laden, let them refuse to turn him over, thereby undermining their only rationalization, then take out their minor air defenses and get to his camps.

 

Having bombed a few important targets, well away from the population, there isnít much more to do by an air war thatís effective and necessary. Going too far only creates more enemies.

 

We need some patience in this. We can tie up Bin Ladenís finances, monitor communications and apprehend his operatives, thereby preventing him from doing anything serious. We can also assist his enemiesÖcarefully. It needs to be clear to the world that we donít condone this barbarous Northern Alliance. And we canít have the world finding in the future that they are brutalizing their own peopleÖwith U. S. weapons.With that policy in place we could wait awhile. The Taliban will fall eventually and so will Bin Laden.

 

Then we should take him to the court of the world. If we unilaterally act to kill him or throw him in our prison itís not nearly as effective as getting the whole community of the world to join in condemning him.

 

Itís in these subtleties that Iím concerned that Bush will fall short. On the surface he may do all right. But how much of these problems we have years from now depends on the quality of leadership. I whish Al Gore was in there. He has immensely more experience at government, international issues, and long-term vision. The long view would lead us to get through this without all this compromising of our liberties, thereby showing the world the power of these liberties, and how unwilling we are to be altered by these threats.

 

The last complaint is with the past. Despite previous attacks Clinton did not take out those terrorist camps in Afghanistan or block their money that was within our control. And despite several warnings of terrorism in the first half of the year Bush didnít seem to be to focused on it either. Plus many of these terrorists had a trail of evidence linking them to such activities, yet they operated unhampered in our country for long periods. Thereís a lot that fell through the cracks here, both in policy and in policing. I understand the Clinton administration did try some things. They tried a mission to get Bin Laden that didnít work, but they certainly didnít try enough. I suppose though Clinton was highly distracted with his own personal proclivities and the resulting endless attempts of his enemies to make a mountain out of a molehill. (Thereís a joke on Clinton in that, but Iím not going there.)

 

We can support the president in fighting terrorism without thinking everything he does is right. How many mistakes are tolerated is partly a matter of how much feedback he gets from us.