September 17, 2001
Hopes, fears and dissapointments
Over the last couple of days since the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, I have been glued to the tele soaking in everything they say. I must say that there is a lot of redundency in what every body is saying about things. Only ocassionaly do I hear some words which are different from what others have been saying. I find that my own mood and outlook ocillating between hope, anger, despair and paranoia.I must admit that at this moment my feelings are one of depair particularly when I hear the noises comming out of Washington. This tragedy has generated a massive reaction all over the world and understandably this reaction is most evident in the U.S. It is the nature of this reaction that most bothers me. I fear that the politicians are about to commit a stealth attack on the liberties that make America what it is, a beacon for the rest of the world. If this heart wrentching tradegy demonstrates anything, it is the crystal clear truth that ends can never justify the means by which we wish to get there.
There are various politicians who now would like to bring back the policy of state sponsored assasinations. There are politicians, both of the left and right, who would like to take away some of the freedoms and rights that a citizen enjoys in a democracy. I can well understand the rational behind the advocasy of extra judicial killings and the need for intelligence. The former can act as a detterent while the latter allows a society to defend pre-emptively as opposed to reactively. However I feel a little uneasy about what I may be giving up as it is unclear what the unintended concequences of this actions are going to be. One possible mistake we are in the process of commiting is that we continue to underestimate the mentality that lead to the attacks of the eleventh of september. This psyche may not necessarily be dettered by threats of assasinations. These people are willing to kill themselves to achieve their aims. The case of Israel points to some of the dangers of persuing a policy of assasinating suspects using millitary force. If anything it seems to escalate rather than dimish the the threats. The extreme axis of this scenario is to send special forces to wage a medium to long term secret war against these terrorists in their home countries.
I feel that if things do escalate, this would be a scenario that will be looked upon seriously. We face a decentralized threat and though diplomacy and conventional reponses would help us narrow down the war front considerably, there will always be salients where the terrorist act with impunity, places like algeria, parts of lebanon, west bank, afganistan and kashmir. All these places have one thing in common. The political situation is extremely fluid, in that none of these places have a functioning society. We can respond to these threats along two axes; we can wage war on their sources of support, this network of support mainly comming from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Pakistan. These countries are the main supply lines of both moral and meterial support to these salient points. We can go after the supply lines by making it clear that "this will not stand". However, these counties themselves do not have the resources or the political will to side with us one hundred percent because of their own local political and military agendas. The non gulf countries have deep antagonism to the way we have conducted our economic and political policies in the persian gulf and Israel. Pakistan has had a long history of antagonism with India and has been waging a proxy war in Kashmir since its independence. It is unlikely these countries will support our non conventional military actions against the centers of terrorism. If anything, I fear that these countries may take steps to exaceberate the situation.
Within the confines of these fears, I feel that the only means of responding to this salient threat would be wage a war like these terrorists do, decentralized and local. This entails mounting covert operations against centers of their operations. Before that happens we will have to mount a "feel good" attack against Bin Laden and Afganistan. As I write, things are slowly escalating in that region. Pakistani intelligence and diplomatic officials are trying to get Pakistan to hand over Bin Ladin to Pakistan. More on what I feel about this in a little while.