The Chart du Jour

The Realistically Horrific Fight to Come

September 19, 2001

By, Barclay T. Leib

Not to sound un-patriotic, but every time I hear President Bush say: "Make no doubt about it... We are going to smoke out, put on the run, and then round up Usama bin Ladin's forces until they no longer exist on the face of this Earth," I wish the task at hand could be that simple and that fast.

A reader of recently sent us a copy of a July/August 2001 Atlantic Monthly article entitled "The Counterterrorist Myth" by a former CIA operative. It makes for a fascinating perspective on just how difficult our past efforts to corral Usama bin Ladin have been, and why. The city of Peshawar in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier is the article's focused locale. Anyone who has traveled to that part of the world (as I have a bit, but not recently) knows how different it is from the world we know in Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Rules, laws, and perspectives there have little to do with those imbedded in our Western psyche. The average life expectancy due to disease and other hardships is in the 40's not the 80's. And in the words of this article: multiple-year CIA counter-intelligence operations "that include diarrhea as a way of life [just] don't happen."

Make no doubt about it: This isn't going be a quick surgical strike, much to the chagrin of the American taste for immediacy. Indeed, we may actually need to find an Iraqi named Mughniyeh, not the more well known bin Ladin. This Jane's Defense Weekly article is well worth reading on this topic. The article describes how Mughniyeh has been running around as a major terrorist-at-large for the better part of twenty years.

As the crisis continues to unfold, we'd watch not only the pages of Atlantic Monthly and Jane's Defense Weekly for truthful perspectives on the mission at hand, but we'd also watch the writings of a good friend of ours, Neil MacFarquhar, Bureau Chief for the New York Times in Cairo. MacFarquhar (who grew up as an oil-brat in Libya, but attended Stanford University, and later covered the Gulf War unscathed for AP from Dahran, only to subsequently and ironically suffer a tragic accident where he was flattened on his bike by an out-of-control NYC Fifth Avenue bus) was both eloquent and sensitively attuned to the Arab world when he appeared on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour Tuesday evening. We think readers of will be well served to keep an eye on his articles in the days and weeks to come. MacFarquhar will undoubtably deliver first rate reporting to help us all understand what is actually transpiring in the Muslim world.

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