An Alternative to All-out War
October 7, 2001
I'm against all-out war against Afghanistan.
I'm against the pornographers in the Pentagon who want to have a simultaneous orgasm by bombing Kabul and Baghdad at the same time.
I'm against giving the President outlandish power to bomb any country any time he feels like it.
OK, you ask, so what am I for?
How should the United States respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11?
Here goes: First, don't view it as a war; view it as a crime against humanity.
As Michael Klare and many others point out, terrorism is not a crime against a particular country; it is a crime against the world community. And it should be prosecuted by the world community, just as the crime of genocide is.
So pursue the crime with all the law-enforcement tools at the disposal of the U.S. government, our allies, and the international community, including Interpol, to track down all who were involved in this heinous crime.
Convene an international criminal court, and indict all the suspects. This process, by the way, is more likely to yield crucial evidence about the scope of the crime and the risks of future ones, than the crude instrument of bombing.
Apply all diplomatic and legal leverage to apprehend the fugitives, including Osama bin Laden, if it turns out he was the author of the crime.
And, if all of that fails, and bin Laden remains in hiding with a few of his troops, then the United Nations should appoint an international unit to use the minimum amount of force to get him.
By pursuing this through international legal channels, and by limiting the application of force to those directly responsible for the crime, the United States would not only be establishing an exemplary precedent.
It would be safeguarding itself against catastrophic consequences: thousands of innocent deaths, instability in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt, disruption of the U.S. economy, and the creation of more terrorists to avenge the needless deaths the U.S. would bring about.
Unfortunately, this is not the course that Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Rumsfeld have set us on.
They not only refuse to see this is as an international crime; they dodge the Security Council. And they don't want allied countries to have much of a say in choosing targets. The New York Times reports on October 7 that U.S. officials felt hemmed in by allies during the Gulf War and the bombings of Yugoslavia.
What does that mean?
They would have preferred to level Baghdad?
They would have preferred to board Russian ships in the Adriatic, as Wesley Clark had urged?
The United States unhemmed won't be a pretty sight.
All-out war is no answer. And we don't have much time left to realize that.