War & the common good

Events move so quickly and unpredictably in Afghanistan that the concerns of today’s headlines are often rendered superfluous by tomorrow’s. This has made life difficult for journalists and commentators. Just as criticism about the ineffectuality of the U.S. bombing campaign was mounting, the assault on the Taliban by the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance swept Osama bin Laden’s protectors from Kabul and other strongholds. The Taliban’s ability to resist now appears to be greatly diminished and U.S. strategy to be vindicated. But those "facts" could prove mere fancy next week. As we write, bin Laden’s whereabouts remain unknown, or at least undisclosed. Reestablishing order and a functioning government in a post-Taliban Afghanistan, now divided up among rival ethnic warlords, poses daunting, if not insoluble problems. The Bush administration is apparently prosecuting this war with an estimable concern for avoiding civilian casualties and with a commitment to addressing the humanitarian crisis of the Afghan people. The U.S. has also voiced strong support for a UN presence to help build a new government. Doubtless there are things the American people do not yet know about this war, and the demand by some Bush advisers to widen the conflict is to be resisted absent convincing evidence that Iraq or other nations were involved in the September 11 attacks. But so far U.S. actions appear to be morally justified.


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