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November 16, 2001

Consistently Inconsistent:
Rhetoric Meets Reality in the War on Terrorism

By Tim Wise

So it appears the Taliban have fallen, or are close to a total collapse. And given what we know about their brutal rule in Afghanistan, this is, so far as it goes a good thing. Furthermore, this is true no matter how we feel about the war being waged that has brought it about. After all, good results can occasionally come from actions that are themselves unjust or likely to aggravate human suffering in the long run. Full Article

Saddam will be the next US target, one way or another

By Martin Woollacott

Victory in war breeds new ambitions. In spite of the political disarray to which the military breakthrough has led in Afghanistan, the downcast mood of only 10 days ago in Washington has been replaced by a feeling of confidence. There is an expectation that the accelerating retreat of the Taliban will lead to their complete collapse, a hope that it will be followed by the capture or killing of Osama bin Laden and the rounding up of many of his followers, and a determination to begin at once the work of reconstructing Afghanistan. Such successes are hardly taken for granted, but they are sufficiently on the cards for the decision makers to raise their eyes beyond the Hindu Kush. And on that horizon looms Iraq. Full Article

More Q & A On Terror and War

By By Michael Albert & Stephen R. Shalom

A number of folks feel that current events -- particularly in the last few days -- have dramatically changed the logic and morality of what has been done in Afghanistan, calling into question much of the analysis and assessment that has been offered by critics of the war. Here are some of the questions we have been asked, and our brief replies.

1. You geniuses have expressed skepticism that Osama bin Laden was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. What now, Sherlock?

Actually, what we and other advocates of democratic judicial values argued was not bin Laden's innocence, but that evidence regarding his involvement was not presented. On November 14 -- more than five weeks after the bombing began -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair declared that the evidence "now leaves no doubt whatever" that bin Laden was responsible. But isn't the evidence supposed to precede, not follow, the punishment? In any event, however, Blair's evidence even at this point is not decisive -- the only real addition to Blair's earlier dossier are quotes from an unpublicized bin Laden video -- that Britain doesn't have a copy of, but has knowledge of, reports the Los Angeles Times (15 Nov. 2001) -- that are not given in context and fall short of an admission. Bin Laden's guilt seems very likely, but the point is not to convince Blair or one allied government or another or even us, but public opinion in the Muslim world. Despite Washington's initial promise to present evidence publicly, it has yet to do so. Full Article

Local land grabs cloud chances of Afghan unity

Anti-Taliban forces closed in on the Islamic militia's last bastions of power, with local tribes grabbing new chunks of territory and clouding prospects for a unified government. Local forces claimed control of the home province of Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar while pressing efforts to negotiate the surrender of the Taliban's spiritual home of Kandahar in the south.

In Kunduz, on the other side of the country in the far north, a local commander issued "surrender or die" orders to as many as 30,000 Taliban fighters digging in for a desperate last stand.

Four days after the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance took Kabul, Afghanistan was a patchwork of local conflicts and ethnic rivalries, complicating efforts to form a successor government with broad support. Full Article