The Pentagon has launched a competition for the American public to contribute with ideas on how to catch Osama Bin Laden and how to operate in Afghanistan.
The document called for new ideas on “how to destroy difficult targets, conduct operations in remote areas and avoid the development of weapons of mass destruction”. It would appear that if the Pentagon has no new ideas, and its staff are highly paid to produce intelligence, there does not exist a magic wand or miracle which will produce the desired effect in the short term.
Special Forces can scale mountains better than untrained troops, but a child with an AK-47 assault rifle at a distance of 50 meters can cut down a platoon with the greatest of ease. Operating in remote terrain is always difficult, as the British and Soviet armed forces discovered to their cost at different times in history. The regime in Kabul may be different today but the terrain is the same. It will be remembered that the name of the impenetrable mountains in Afghanistan, Hindu Kush, means “death of Hindus”.
Difficult targets hiding in underground caverns where bunker-destroying bombs cannot reach, heavily armed and with three years of supplies, are always going to be…difficult first to find and second, to destroy.
The easy answer to the Pentagon’s search is one word: Intelligence. Where were the intelligence services when they were most needed, namely in the run-up to September 11th, especially since some of the hijackers were on a list of “suspect persons?" By cooperation between the world’s intelligence services, and not division among them, as seems to have been the case among the various agencies within the USA before September 11th, intelligence can circulate.
Covert search-and-destroy operations within Afghanistan and the rest of the world harbouring terrorists would appear to produce a much more effective result than bombing busloads of civilians in Kandahar or dropping cluster bombs in Herat. Extending the campaign into Ramadan will lose the USA any sympathy it gained in the aftermath of September 11th, when for the first time this country was perceived by many others as a victim and not an aggressor, if indeed this sympathy has not waned already.
This to attack the issue immediately at hand. Basic notions of intelligence of another kind will lead one to suspect that an approach which envisages the root causes would prevent phenomena like Bin Laden from appearing. This approach would be along the lines of not committing acts of international terrorism, not sponsoring fascist and oppressive regimes across the globe, not supporting the fascist state of Israel, a country which overtly chooses not to respect UN resolutions ordering it to leave the Palestinian lands it occupied in 1947, while its “soldiers” kick pregnant women in the street and shoot children in the eye with rubber bullets.
Financial operations which aim to help countries and not to transform them into monetary automatons, which exist like a perpetual-motion engine, forcing them to change their social and economic policies to support the pay-back of loans, creating a total economic and political dependence, would also produce less resentment and more respect. These are simple notions of basic intelligence, a question of brain over brawn, grey matter over ignorance, which has unfortunately produced what the Pentagon, now Quadragon, is currently seeking to destroy.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL