Eliot Stein says YES: A war will kill fewer innocent lives

Oct. 11, 2001, midnight | By Eliot Stein | 19 years, 3 months ago

Responding to the recent terrorist attacks against the U.S. without using military retaliation is waging a war on innocent civilians, not on terrorism. While many argue that the latest terrorist attacks can be combated with economic and diplomatic sanctions, the reality is that such a measure will starve countless innocent Afghans and have little effect on the ruthless Taliban, the terror-sanctioning Afghan government.

The Taliban was created in the early 1990s by Mullah Mohammed Omar to bring order to an increasingly lawless land. By the mid-1990s, the world began to see the Taliban as an experiment in pure fundamentalist Muslim rule. Today, according to CNN, the Taliban controls 90 percent of Afghanistan and has one of the worst human rights records in modern history.

The Taliban government demands that all Afghans live by the Taliban's strict interpretation of the Koran. Frederic Grare, director of Human Sciences in New Delhi, calls the Taliban "ruthless, very primitive and cruel.” Thieves are often lashed to death in public and Afghan women who commit adultery are routinely executed as part of halftime festivities at soccer games. As a result, many Afghans detest the horrendous actions of the Taliban.

In addition, the Taliban has been harboring and thus encouraging a group of radical militant terrorists headed by Osama bin Laden known as al Qaeda. Bin Laden has been a regular fixture on America's Most Wanted list for a decade and is considered responsible for the Sept 11 terrorist attacks which left over 6,000 Americans dead or missing and countless others injured.

In theory, whenever possible avoiding military action is wise. In this instance, however, doing so is not humane. Relying solely upon economic sanctions on Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations on Earth, will starve millions, many of whom openly detest al Qaeda and the Taliban. More than a quarter of Afghanistan's population is entirely dependent on aid agencies for food and medical assistance, and a third of the total population are children. Economic sanctions would cause unprecedented starvation. Both sanctions and military force imposed on Afghanistan by the U.S. will undoubtedly result in fatalities. The difference is that military force will target those responsible for terrorism, while sanctions will only harm the many Afghans who are prisoners of the Taliban. As the U.S. began employing military against Taliban strongholds, relief was dropped to the Afghan people. According to CNN, since Sept 12, when foreign countries affiliated with NATO began cutting economic ties with Afghanistan, food prices there have risen 15 percent and the death rate has already begun to rise.

Using economic sanctions will not punish multi-millionaires like bin Laden, the strong Taliban government or others who encourage and propagate terrorism. Instead it will starve and kill thousands of innocent victims. The war against terrorism should be focused on the regimes that foster it, not the people who are prisoners of it.

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Eliot Stein. Eliot Stein is an 18 year-old senior at Blair High School and a co-opinions and editorial editor in his second year on the Silver Chips staff. He attended Highland View Elementary School and Takoma Park Middle School and has lived in Silver Spring his whole … More »

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