the Taliban cuts and runs for the mountains, there will be less
collateral damage from the U.S. bombing campaign which means
that critics have to find some other way to complain about the war.
And they have
already settled on it Northern Alliance "atrocities."
I put quote
marks around atrocities not because I think prisoners of war should
be shot. Nor do I doubt that the Northern Alliance has already acted
brutally and will in the future. But against the background of recent
Afghan history what seems to be occurring on the ground so far in
Kabul and elsewhere is the equivalent of a barroom brawl.
the Taliban took Mazar-e Sharif in 1998, they
drove up and down the streets for two days and shot everyone and
everything in sight. Pulling someone from a ditch in front of
a New York Times photographer and shooting him in the chest
as Northern Alliance troops did the other day is certainly
awful, but barely registers as an Afghan atrocity.
Maureen Dowd today reflecting, as usual, the laziest bottom
line of liberal conventional wisdom writes, "We give
the Northern Alliance an air force and they embarrass us with savage
I'm hopelessly retrograde, but I'm not embarrassed.
Just as we
did everything possible to limit collateral damage from our air
strikes, we have done everything we can to try to convince the Northern
Alliance not to kill innocents, including going to the extraordinary
(and ridiculous) length of asking them not to occupy Kabul.
on the ground is a product of the corruption of Afghan culture,
a reflection of the fact that Afghanis haven't yet grasped the rules
of civilized warfare. We are no more ultimately responsible for
this nastiness than we are for bombs accidentally going astray in
a war that was foisted upon us by our enemies.
retribution is not unusual when a people has been crushed under
foreign occupation for years, as has essentially been the case in
Afghanistan, thanks to bin Laden and his "Arabs." When
the German occupation of France ended, surely some collaborators
got rough treatment, but the allied armies didn't seem too embarrassed
The only way
to try to prevent any retaliation against the Taliban whatsoever
would be for the United States to have invaded ourselves. Given
the logistical difficulties and the time it would have taken to
deploy, this wasn't a realistic option, at least in the short term.
But reality doesn't seem to intrude here.
is a trick of soft anti-Americanism to hold the U.S. up to impossible
moral standards. To wit: We have waged an excruciatingly precise
and calibrated bombing campaign to avoid civilian casualties, have
repeatedly urged the Northern Alliance to restrain themselves, but
a captured Taliban soldier got shot on Tuesday. For shame!
followed to its conclusion, means that we simply can't act in the
world, because something might go wrong or we might have to forge
an alliance with a nasty country or army. And then our enemies win,
although New York Times photographers may not be there to
capture all the consequences.