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The Temple Issues Forum discussed the issue of the United States’ continued bombings of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Oct. 30 in the Kiva auditorium. Held in conjunction with WHYY-91 FM’s “Radio Times” show, TIF convened a panel to debate the situation overseas.
|“A bombing campaign cannot win any war, because ultimately it is ground forces that occupy terrain.”|
— Michael Radu,
Senior fellow, Foreign Policy
The broadcast featured two experts on terrorism and religious extremism.
Farid Esack, a South African Muslim and visiting professor from the Auburn Theological Seminary, felt that the American response to the Sept. 11 attacks was simplistic in that it did not deal with the larger issues.
If the United States thinks that bombing Afghanistan and killing Osama bin Laden will win the war on terrorism, they are wrong, Esack said.
“This war has more to do with an expression of anger, resentment, a sense of insult,” said Esack. “If one is thinking that you are going to go in there with an army, you are going to destroy the Taliban regime, you are going to catch [the Taliban leaders]. This whole way of thinking reduces history to a bad king, good king [story].”
Citing other heads of terrorist regimes like Hussein and Kadafi, Esack cautioned that these so-called bad kings have outlived all the “good ones.”
The United States, said Esack, should look to countries with histories of terrorism, Israel and Northern Ireland for example, and take from them some insight on how to deal with the situation in a more constructive way.
A more extensive plan is needed in this instance, more than the bombings the United States has done, said Esack.
When asked if these bombings could win the war on terrorism, Michael Radu, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, had a predictably different viewpoint.
“A bombing campaign cannot win any war, because ultimately it is ground forces that occupy terrain,” said Radu. “The goal of the bombing campaign is to destroy the Taliban’s advantage over its opponents.”
Radu does think, however, that these bombings serve as a deterrent to other countries with malicious sentiments toward America.
He cited Libya’s and Syria’s cooperation with the CIA as an example of a change of thinking that was brought about because of U.S. military actions.
This new way of thinking will make other countries think twice about repeating what the Taliban did, said Radu.
He felt that the U.S. response had less to do with revenge and more to do with an obligation to protect the country’s borders and punish the criminals, both morally and politically.
“We know who the terrorists are and where they live, and they don’t live on the same mental planet as we do,” said Radu.
When asked by Marty Moss Coane, moderator of the debate and host of the “Radio Times” show, what response would have been more appropriate from the United States, Esack wasn’t sure if it could give one.
Since most of terrorists responsible for the Sept.11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia, Esack wondered why the United States wasn’t bombing that country as well.
Esack also said that since the President has not formally declared war, the United States needs to find bin Laden guilty in a court of law before he can be apprehended or even killed.
“The Taliban government has not been identified as a suspect for the attacks, bin Laden has,” said Esack. “Why are we holding the Taliban government responsible for what bin Laden has done? If we want to follow uniform standards, we should start with ourselves.”