The next step

The American public yearns for immediate retribution for the attacks of Sept. 11 on the World Trade Center, and the sentiment is absolutely warranted. President Bush, though, has addressed the people and asked for their patience in “the first war of the 21st century.” The word “patience” is key in contemplating the kind of intricate warfare that lay ahead. While Americans find great reassurance in knowing that Bush and company have heard their rally cry, they must remember that this is a war against terrorism, and it lacks the configuration of previous wars. There are many factors that are hostile to successful American combat, and these need to be taken into close consideration before illogical fanaticism influences the next big step for our nation.
An important question at hand deals with the “prime suspect,” the 44 year old, 6′ 5″ 160 pound Osama bin Laden: Is he more valuable dead or alive? Assassinating him may not be the best idea, since he resides at the head of a complex network of terrorists, called al Qaeda- thought to be in more than 50 countries- that are difficult to pick up because they integrate into their respective cultures. If we do assassinate bin Laden, we can expect a great upsurge in the terror campaign given that he will be honored as a martyr who died in a jihad, or holy war. This poses a greater threat to society because it will beget a true “us and them” holy war between civilizations. So how do we stop him?
The main objective is to capture Osama bin Laden, but he is harbored by the Taliban- the atrocious militant organization that took over Afghanistan in 1996- who will not simply hand him over. Necessary force will have to be engaged against Afghanistan, given that they show no signs of complying with American demands. “Taliban” literally means “students of religion.” Go figure.
There are a small number of military choices, but not many are appealing, as Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, quoted in The Economist, he points out. We can bomb Afghanistan from aircraft carriers located in the Gulf, or from B-52 bombers from America, destroying many Taliban and bin Laden bases. This does not ensure that bin Laden and his men will go down with them,however. Another problem is that the Taliban weapon store has a good defense against this style of attack.
We could simply invade Afghanistan, but many feel that the terrain is too treacherous. The likeliest method, according to O’Hanlon, would be a commando raid, plus support for the Afghan resistance.
An amalgam of the different methods should prove successful, if we begin our retribution with outside help, then launch an airborne assault: B-52s and B-2s flown from the U.S. will drop JDAMs, which are precise bombs that are directed by a Global Positioning System, to take out terrorist cells. This will give the Taliban an incentive to finally give up bin Laden. If they do not heed yet another warning, we then blitz Afghanistan with the elite forces, as outlined in Newsweek: parachute in the Green Berets and have the U.S. Air Force Special Forces drop off troops near the cells.
Afghanistan may have been a nightmare for the British and the Russians, but our armed forces are in a league of their own, and are better trained to endure the onslaught of the myriad of caves and hills. We need to first strike with the bombs, strike big, and then follow up with ground forces to drag Osama bin Laden and his cohorts out.