A War Barely Begun

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A War Barely Begun

October 29 2001

No one said the war on terrorism would be easy or quick. From the start, officials from President Bush on down said just the opposite: Expect a long, difficult campaign of many battles, some visible and some not, waged on several fronts and not just militarily.

Bombing began only three weeks ago, and the first publicly announced ground raid by special operations forces took place little more than a week ago. Why then should there be calls to halt the bombing so soon after the attacks in the United States that killed more than 5,000? Leaders of some Muslim nations such as Malaysia, Pakistan and Egypt want the bombing stopped, which is understandable for their own political reasons, but strategic goals must not be changed on the basis of diplomatic hesitations.

The United States and its allies need to keep pressure on the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, home to terrorist Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the New York and Washington mass murder. Well-targeted bombing is one way to do that. Ground attacks are another. Freezing bank accounts is a weapon. So is arresting suspected terrorists around the world. Last week Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, a senior official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was "a bit surprised" at how doggedly the Taliban forces were hanging on. We're surprised that he was surprised. Afghan guerrillas battled Soviet troops for more than a decade. True, the guerrillas received enormous amounts of money and weapons from the United States, Saudi Arabia and other nations. But it never was realistic to expect the battle-hardened Taliban to imitate the Iraqi army of 1991 by throwing down its rifles and surrendering as soon as war began.

Before Stufflebeem's remark, another senior Pentagon official said the Taliban's combat power had been "eviscerated." That was in keeping with upbeat comments from other senior military officials. But a Taliban soldier with knowledge of the caves, tunnels and other hiding places in a land of daunting mountains and precipitous ravines, carrying a machine gun and a grenade launcher, fighting for a religion or ideology, is a powerful foe.

It is easy but often erroneous to accuse Americans of having a short attention span, lack of patience or fearfulness about accepting casualties in war. The U.S. involvement in Vietnam began with the Eisenhower administration, continued through the Kennedy years and escalated with large numbers of ground troops during the Johnson presidency. The troops were withdrawn only in Richard Nixon's second term, a year before he resigned. And that war did not involve an enemy assault on the American mainland.

This is a different war, we are constantly told. Even so, it is not realistic to think the phase that includes military operations in Afghanistan could end in three weeks. Getting Bin Laden and disrupting his terrorist Al Qaeda network will take time. The effort will require patience and resolve from the American people and their leaders.

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 30, 2001


Martin, you need to get a life. I apoligize because board restraints allow me to correct some spellings, and yet, others do not allow me the consideration of an astrophe. They post HeyDay and change the dates, I have seen this. Further remove yourself from Eds board, I have called on him about the date descrapancy. I await his return. It is not right.

-- My Story (andIam@sticking.com), October 30, 2001.

Hey Mystory,

Where yhave you been hiding? Haven't seen you for some time. Someday you can explain what the hell you are talking about. I see you are using your alternate name in this post.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 31, 2001.

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