The US military action in Afghanistan is failing. Many innocent Afghans are being killed, and the US is no closer to finding or defeating the terrorists responsible for perpetrating the September 11th crimes against humanity. The United Nations and other relief organizations are warning that millions of Afghans could die of starvation this winter unless the bombing is halted soon. In other words, the bombing of Afghanistan is leading to a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions. We, therefore, call on the US and British forces to halt the bombing to allow relief organizations to do their job of getting food to the Afghan people.
Terrorism is a global problem that can only be solved globally. Every country on Earth, every person on the planet, has a stake in ending the threat of terrorism. This matter must go back to the United Nations Security Council and must be handled by the United Nations as a matter of priority. If the US and UK continue their bombing, killing more innocent people, they will simply be adding fuel to the fire of terrorism. Some have suggested that they are providing the spark to ignite a global conflagration.
On the other hand, if the international community joins together in a serious effort to combat terrorism, it could lead to unprecedented cooperation between national police and intelligence services. Such efforts could leave terrorists with no place to hide, and are essential to preventing terrorism.
A global action through the United Nations will also demonstrate that this is not simply retaliation or vengeance on the part of the United States. To make a United Nations effort effective will require leadership and support by the United States, but it must be an effort that is truly directed by the Security Council of the United Nations.
The United Nations should also set up a special International Tribunal for terrorists until the International Criminal Court is established, which will probably be next year. A trial before an impartial International Tribunal will help educate the world on the need to put an end to all terrorism. Such a trial will also be acceptable to virtually all countries throughout the world, whereas a trial of terrorists in the US would be viewed as biased in many countries.
In sum, step one on the path to ending terrorism is to stop the bombing of Afghanistan now; step two is to turn over to the United Nations Security Council the job of preventing terrorism and bringing terrorists to justice.
Military force is deepening the crisis without producing significant results. The vulnerability of civilization to determined and suicidal terrorists makes prevention the key to victory. Our future security, and that of the rest of the world, will be dependent on multilateral and cooperative efforts under an internationally accepted legal framework.
*David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.