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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 03:30 PM
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Afghanistan, What Could Have Been ?
9/11: What Could Have Been

by Tamim Ansary
What if our war on terror left schools and hospitals-- rather than dead civilians and burning cities--in its wake?

Tamim Ansary is author of West of Kabul, East of New York, a bicultural memoir published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2002.

Two and a half years have passed since America took the War on Terrorism to Afghanistan. It's time to ask how it's working. Let's review. The day after 9/11, many Americans thirsted for revenge, and surely that's what the terrorists who carried out the hijackings were hoping for. The terrorists were calculating that an all-out American attack on a Muslim country would drive a wedge between Islam and the West and send millions of fresh recruits into their Jihadist ranks.

At first, the United States sidestepped the trap. The campaign launched in Afghanistan on Oct. 7 relied on ground troops, but not on American ground troops. Instead, America gave air cover to the Northern Alliance forged by Ahmad Shah Massoud; Afghan warriors who had been fighting the Taliban for years.

The Pentagon's sophisticated weaponry succeeded in targeting the Taliban in and around Kabul rather than the civilians of the city. We know less about casualties in the southern battlefields at Tora Bora and Shahikot, but in Kabul and points north, the Afghans I talked to in 2002 during a summer visit generally felt that America had made war not on Afghanistan but on the Taliban. Afghans saw the United States as a liberator.

A Missed Opportunity

The day after the Taliban fled Kabul, the United States was poised to make enormous headway toward a new era of peace and progress. At that historical moment, as a victim of the 9/11 attacks, America enjoyed unprecedented goodwill around the world, even among the uncommitted masses in the Muslim world. Had the United States focused all its efforts at that moment on restoring Afghanistan to the course the Soviet invasion interrupted 23 years earliera course pointed toward moderation, secular modernity and development, all within an Afghan cultural contextit would have weakened the Jihadist movement dramatically by stripping away its most powerful arguments and examples.


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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-06-04 03:43 PM
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1. Sophisticated weaponry targeted Taliban rather than civilians?

Daily casualty count of civilians killed in U.S. bombing attacks:



Back to Civilian Deaths


New York Times
December 15, 2001
An Unlucky Place
An Afghan village where errant bombs fell and killed, and still lurk in wait

December 12, 2001
How Many Dead?
U.S. TV networks aren't counting

Common Dreams
December 10, 2001
More Than 3,500 Civilians Killed by U.S. Bombs
University of New Hampshire Economics professor releases study of civilian casualties in Afghanistan
December 7. 2001
Denying the Dead
In Pentagon reports of Afghan dead, truth is the first casualty
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