“When you think ‘Taliban,’ think ‘Nazis.’ When you think ‘Bin Laden,’ think ‘Hitler.’ And when you think ‘the people of Afghanistan,’ think ‘the Jews in the concentration camps.” - Tamin Ansary, West of Kabul, East of New York (2002)
I think the “War on Terror” is an inaccurate catch phrase used to describe another black mark in American history. Recently I spent some time reading a few pages from the book West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamin Ansary. A memoir that explains the conditions in Afghanistan before 2001 and the turmoil that would follow if America really did “[bomb] Afghanistan back to the stone ages.” Aside, from the fact that the Soviet Union already destoryed Afghanistan and killed innocent people; going in and bombing a place all willy nilly doesn’t even sound like a good military strategy and makes as much sense as believing anything Joe McCarthy ever said.
I don’t want to condemn the idea of removing the Taliban or the capture of Bin Laden or even the obliteration of Al Qaeda but those three groups are not a whole country. To fight what they stand for and what they represent is to fight an Ideological War and you can’t fight a war like that with weapons or in one specific place. Those groups represent a mind frame that can only be described as narrow-minded to the point of recklessness. Yet, unfortunately more than those three groups are victims of an evil so broad that even those who hate them think fundamentally the same way they do.
In a war where the mind frame is to stick to ones belief no matter the cost is to fight under the belief of martyrdom. One may not agree with the beliefs others fight for but it must be acknowledge that the groups are fighting for a cause they believe in. It’s this mind frame people can’t use weapons to break because death only fuels the cause the fighters are dying to protect. To get the desired results one must use the highly underestimated art of persuasion; it’s how many leaders create their following. Hitler and Bin Laden didn’t start with guns front and center they left those behind the curtain until Toto revealed the truth and by that point they already held power.
My opinion on this War on Terror is that the wrong type of warfare is being fought; bombing and taking over an already apocalyptic world only worsens the situation, to win the war one must win the people and weapons don’t win the public opinion they aid the opinion once it’s been set. America should have gone into Afghanistan and stayed there finishing the job of clean up and establishing a unity that would keep the country together. By going in with hate and blunt force the result was an inevitable rebellion.
Ideological warfare must be fought from the inside, America should have gone to Afghanistan and influenced the people from the bottom up. Bin Laden used his power to crush the people and keep them below him. He feed them promises that the East could beat the West, however untrue that might be, and gained their approval only to leave them rotting as he used his powers to influence a hate that would lead to a World War between the East and the West. While he didn’t reach his ultimate goal, he did get some of what he wanted. He wanted a war and he wanted destruction because once everything is gone there is nothing left to lose.