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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Allies’ actions thus far merit praise and careful scrutiny

Early public opinion polls indicate that up to 94 percent of Americans support the military actions the United States and its allies have taken so far in Afghanistan'an indication of nearly unprecedented national unity. This level of support is partly due to the lack of knowledge thus far; Americans currently have little to go on other than what officials tell us. However, if this degree of support continues, it could show that we as a nation are blindly taking everything our leaders say at face value, thus forgetting one of the central tenets of a free society: the need to question those in charge.  

 

 

 

At the same time, we should not be automatic in our disapproval. It is too early to determine the total damage and casualties from the attacks in Afghanistan begun Sunday by American and British forces, and officials are understandably reluctant to release details of current and future actions. Based on the statements of U.S. and British officials thus far, however, it seems that our government and the international coalition it has constructed have been careful and thoughtful in planning their response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

 

 

 

In particular, it was a wise move to include humanitarian aid for Afghans almost simultaneously with military attacks against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network and the Taliban regime harboring much of it. Just hours after the cruise missiles began to pound their targets, U.S. cargo planes dropped 37,500 Humanitarian Daily Rations to the starving citizens of Afghanistan, who have been the innocent victims of many conflicts in recent years. 

 

 

 

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President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have stressed that neither the people of Afghanistan nor other Muslims are the focus of the military action. This is the proper message to send and continually reinforce in the hopes that it will reach even the subjects of authoritarian regimes. And our leaders should continue to reinforce this message through the actions they direct, or a difficult fight against terrorism will become nearly impossible. 

 

 

 

While it is difficult to avoid some 'collateral damage' in strikes, even by so-called smart bombs, our leaders must do everything possible to ensure that these promises are kept for two reasons. One, civilian lives in New York City, Washington, D.C., or Pennsylvania are worth no more than those in Kabul, Kandahar or Mazar-e Sharif. Two, the surest way to prevent terrorism is to improve the living conditions of the millions of people around the world who live in such desperate poverty they are willing to turn to anyone who promises a better life. 

 

 

 

The Bush administration should also show caution when considering expanded military action in the Middle East. There has been some talk, both in and out of the administration, of using forces already in the area for the Afghanistan action to vanquish longtime U.S. adversary Saddam Hussein of Iraq. If the United States can show credible evidence Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, as it has done for bin Laden, Iraq would be a fair target. But we must be realistic in our goals of eliminating terrorism through military action and wary of becoming ensnared in a prolonged conflict that will likely result in the defection of many current coalition partners. 

 

 

 

As ordinary citizens, we have little knowledge of our military's actions or the intelligence the government has gathered regarding ongoing threats to our nation. With that in mind, we should be circumspect in our criticism or praise of the current action. In this age of instant news it is tempting to pass judgment just as quickly. The current conflict is an example of an instance requiring patience and careful consideration.

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