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Don't Bet on the Taliban27 September 2001
If you read the newspapers and listen to some of the pundits, you might think the United States forces are facing a fierce opponent should we have to confront the Taliban in Afghanistan. By now everyone is well aware of the Soviet Union's defeat in that country and often we hear it referred to as "Russia's Vietnam." One retired Soviet army major was reported in New York's Daily News (Sept. 27, 2001) as warning that America could not win a war in Afghanistan. He complained that he couldn't trust Afghanis who pretended friendship and that the more Afghanis the Soviets killed, the more Afghanis there were to kill. He said they just kept coming.
But the facts don't support the conclusion the pundits or the defeated army major are pushing, that conclusion being America is in for one big problem as it enters the lists with the Taliban.
In fact, the Taliban will be easier to defeat than the Iraqis in the Gulf War. Recall how the pundits prior to that particular conflict were telling us chilling tales of the world's "third largest army," hardened "battle-scarred" veterans of the Iran-Iraq War who would fight "to the death" against the relatively untested American coalition. If wars can ever be considered "jokes," this one was, thankfully, a Henny Youngman howler -- on the order of "take me prisoner, please!" The aftermath of the war were still more jokes such as: "One Iraqi rifle for sale -- unused," or "How can you recognize an Iraqi soldier? His hands are in the air and his rifle is on the ground."
The Taliban alone did not defeat the Soviet Union, all of the guerrilla anti-Soviet forces in that country did -- aided by America (and many other nations) supplying intelligence, weaponry and tactics. In fact, the Soviet troops in Afghanistan weren't even the best troops. They were disheartened conscripts defending a communist puppet state for their own communist puppet-master state that was about to collapse. The Soviets were similar to the British inhabiting the American colonies; they weren't quite the fighters the British were. Only with all that Western help were the Afghani forces able to wear the Soviets out.
If America engages the Taliban in any kind of serious skirmish in the days and weeks ahead, the Taliban's ineptness and cowardice will make the Iraqi forces look like an army of Hercules. I anticipate more than a rout when these forces meet, I expect a massacre -- that is, if the Taliban don't cut and run, which is exactly what they might do when they realize how overmatched they are.
Unlike the Soviet Union who got bogged down in Afghanistan, American forces will not be trying to prop up any corrupt regime; they will merely be on an extermination mission, looking for terrorists hiding in the nooks, crannies and caves of that mountainous country. They'll be securing a given area for a finite period of time, flushing out the terrorists, killing the terrorists' Taliban bodyguards, then capturing or killing the terrorists themselves before moving on to the next house, hole or hovel.
If the northern rebel army of Afghanistan takes back the country, and if they put in place a government that is friendly to the U.S., then by all means we should recognize that government. But, as President Bush has said time and time again, America is not in the nation-building business.
Sadly, this struggle to ferret out the terrorists will see Americans killed in action. There is no doubt about that. But keep in mind that the 40,000 Taliban army is no match for our army. The terrorists in the hills are no match for our special forces. The Taliban are not a "country" that is preparing for war, they are more like a very large, loosely organized conglomeration of street gangs with automatic weapons. They will be no match for the United States firepower, that is, if it is even necessary to unleash firepower on them.
Finally, some pundits have expressed the fear that "holy warriors" from all over the Islamic world are now heading towards Afghanistan to engage in a massive "holy war" with the "Christian Crusaders and the Jews." This sentiment was expressed by Osama bin Laden in a fax sent to various Muslim countries on September 25, 2001 where he attempted to rouse them to action. Many self-styled "holy warriors" have put their rifles on their shoulders and are indeed heading for battle in Afghanistan. Bin Laden estimates that he can get 300,000 Muslims from all over the world to fight America in Afghanistan. He states they will defeat us.
These "holy warriors" will be an army without generals, heeding no voices but their inner ones, leading each other to die on the barren grounds of a moonscape terrain. It will be a slaughter.
Osama bin Laden's motives for calling holy warriors are either the product of a man so out of touch with reality that he truly thinks this ragtag, leaderless army will destroy the "Great Satan," or, much more likely, it is a diabolically clever way to rouse up all Muslims for a holy war to rid Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries of Western influence once the slaughter of so many of their co-religionists occurs. Either way, bin Laden's plan will backfire as Muslims all over that tormented portion of the world see the destruction leveled upon these vainglorious youths, and toothless Taliban tigers, and learn a valuable lesson: You murder, help or facilitate the murder of American citizens, you murder your own.
As Shakespeare had Macbeth say so prophetically when thinking of the consequences of murdering his king: "This even handed justice commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice to our own lips." Terrorists and their sympathizers are going to drink a bitter brew indeed -- and they are going to drink it to the last dregs.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
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