"Let's bomb them to the stone age and let God sort them out."
However, I think that the midbrain solution is unlikely to preserve the freedom and security of U.S. citizens. Osama bin Laden's forces are diffuse and highly independent. Bombing raids sufficient to kill a significant number of those connected with the attacks are also likely to kill many more who have no more connection to the WTC/Pentagon attack than you or I do. To do so would be, in my opinion, no morally different than the attack on the WTC.
It's important to keep in mind that the U.S. has far more to lose than the Afghani's. Consider these facts:
- Less than half the population is literate; only 15% of females can read or write.
- The GDP is approximately $21 billion. The GDP/capita is $800.
- Life expectancy at birth is approximately 46 years.
- On average, women bear 5 - 6 children.
- About 70% of the economy involves agriculture.
- Most infrastructure (schools, roads, communication lines) was destroyed during the 10 year war with the U.S.S.R. (1979 - 1989). Ongoing civil strife has prevented much rebuilding.
Afghanistan is the largest producer of opium poppies (1999), and narcotics trafficking is a major source of revenue.
We could bomb them to the stone age, but it wouldn't make difference--they already live in near stone age conditions. Also, keep in mind that the U.S.S.R. attempted to subdue Afghanistan for over ten years--and lost. Our own war with Vietnam also doesn't bode well for a full blown attack. Militant ideologue's fighting on their home territory, historically, seem to be very difficult to subdue.
In my opinion, direct attack upon the Afghani's will only drive more Afghani's into the arms of militant groups like the Taliban. After all, if your life is short and hard already, and you believe you will live in paradise in the afterlife, why not?
The Congress just approved a $40 billion "down payment" on fighting terrorism. Half of that will go toward recovery efforts at the WTC and the Pentagon. Half will go toward building the U.S.'s military readiness.
In other words, just to prepare for attack, the U.S. has already spent almost enough money to pay the average annual income of every Afghani. You can bet that if this becomes a full-blown conflict, the U.S. will spend much more.
Allow me to suggest some alternatives to military conflict, that may be more cost effective.
First, decriminalize currently illegal drugs. This will cause the price of opium derivatives to fall dramatically, and shift production to U.S. friendly countries, thereby undercutting one of the main sources of income to terrorist organizations in Afghanistan.
Second, offer a amnesty and a year's wages to any Afghani willing to leave Afghanistan. Offer to provide emergency airlifts. Set up relocation camps spread throughout remote areas of the United States--Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada. No single camp should be larger than 15,000 people. Provide food, clothing, and shelter for the first year. Allow them to establish farms on federally owned land. Set up schools to teach English, reading, writing, and trades. As pointed out above, even if every Afghani leaves, this will likely cost less than a full-blown attack, with the attendant risk of a Vietnam-like conflict.
Awash in American culture (MTV, CNN, Hollywood, NPR) the children of these Afghani's will likely come to adopt, despite their parents best efforts, western values (freedom of the press, secular government, entrepreneurism). However, many immigrants will still have friends and family in Afghanistan. As with Mexican immigrants, the relocated Afghani's will begin to seed Afghanistan with capital, training, and a better value system.
Opening our doors to Afghanis will also undercut tacit support for the Taliban and other terrorists--after all, how can the U.S. be the great Satan, if we're willing to welcome them in, and feed, clothe, and shelter them?
Third, in addition to posting armed guards, allow concealed carry permit holders to carry their guns onto planes. This would dramatically reduce the attactiveness of hijacking a plane, as a hijacker would have to expect a significant number of passengers to be carrying weapons.
Fourth, allow airlines to set up some sort of third party reputation system. Individuals who have undergone a thorough background check by this reputation system get "quickpass" cards. They can check bags at the curb, go through fewer security checkpoints, etc. Others must go through greater security precautions at the airport.
Fifth, not all attacks are completely unjustified. From what I've read, the U.S. has largely turned a blind eye to Israeli persecution of Palestinians. The U.S. should continue support for Israel, but should pressure them to treat Palestinians more fairly.