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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jacob Hornberger: The War on Afghanistan Was Wrong, Too


While most Americans have turned against the Iraq War, many of them still think that the war on Afghanistan was morally and legally justified. Their rationale is that the United States was simply defending itself by attacking Afghanistan and retaliating against those who had conspired to commit the 9/11 terrorist attacks. . . .

Another major problem with the attack on Afghanistan was the one that most U.S. presidents and, alas, most Americans, have chosen to ignore for the past several decades: that the U.S. Constitution requires the president to secure a congressional declaration of war from Congress before waging war against another country. Bush failed to do that.

Why did Bush order an invasion of Afghanistan? Not because he believed that the Taliban had conspired with al-Qaeda to commit the 9/11 attacks and not because he felt that the Taliban had committed some act of war against the United States by knowingly "harboring" a known fugitive.

Instead, Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan for one reason: the Taliban government refused to comply with his demand to unconditionally deliver bin Laden to the United States. He always made it clear that if the Taliban delivered bin Laden to the United States, such action would spare Afghanistan from a U.S. invasion. The "offer" that he made to the Taliban was not significantly different from that made to Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf, a close friend of the Taliban, after 9/11: play ball with us and you stay in power; refuse to do so, and you're history.

So why did the Taliban refuse to turn over bin Laden? For one thing, there wasn't any extradition agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. And there is a long tradition in Muslim countries to treat foreign visitors as guests. Nevertheless, the Taliban did express a willingness to deliver bin Laden over to the United States or to a third country if U.S. officials provided convincing evidence that bin Laden had, in fact, been complicit in the 9/11 attacks. Was the demand unreasonable? Well, it would be nothing more than any government, including the United States, would expect in any extradition proceeding.

Bush's response was that U.S. officials would not furnish any such evidence to the Taliban government. The Taliban simply needed to follow U.S. orders and turn bin Laden over to the United States, with\ no guarantees of what would happen to him once he was in U.S. custody. That is, there were no assurances that bin Laden would be brought back to the United States for trial for terrorism in federal district court instead of being turned over to the CIA for torture and execution.

The Taliban refused to accede to Bush's unconditional demand. The result was the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the ouster of the Taliban from power, the installation of a U.S.-approved regime, a nation ruled by regional warlords, the deaths of countless Afghanis, the failure to capture bin Laden, and an ever-growing terrorist movement generated by ever-deepening anger and hatred against the United States.
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Obviously, the only reason that the U.S. government is getting away with its "war on terror," including regime-change operations against Third World countries and military wars of aggression on sovereign and independent nations, is that it has overwhelming military strength, especially compared with Third World countries. In the U.S. government's war on terror, might makes right. But as the U.S. empire becomes increasingly overstretched by waging such a war, the American people are going to inevitably discover what lies at the end of that road: death, destruction, conflict, discord, terrorism, torture, rendition, and infringements on liberty.


--from "The War on Afghanistan Was Wrong, Too" by Jacob G. Hornberger
at http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger136.html.

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