A few weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, I traveled to Australia on a book tour. Quite understandably, people there had more interest in discussing anthrax and the war in Afghanistan than in discussing my book. Although Australians support U.S. policy, and have lent ground troops, ships, and planes to our efforts, they have many questions about the origin of terrorism and our response. Listening to them, I discovered that I have many questions as well.
Let me make clear that I support wholeheartedly the attempt to bring to justice the perpetrators of that evil deed, and to rid the world of terrorism (some of my reflections are found online at www.christianitytoday.com/go/yancey911/). Even so, these questions continue to nag me:
- Would a doctrinaire pacifist have participated in the attempt to retake the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 by force, in order to save the lives targeted by the hijackers?
- How much would it have cost to reconstruct Afghanistan after their war with the Soviet Union, which the United States helped the Afghans fight? How much will it cost to reconstruct it after we finish with it?
- Why is the United States so much better at destroying buildings and then rebuilding them—as in Germany, Japan, Korea, Kosovo—than in keeping them from being destroyed in the first place?
- Can you bomb a country back into the Stone Age if it already lives in the Stone Age?
- How much did the CIA spend training Osama bin Laden and his associates during the war with the Soviet Union?
- How much are we now spending to hunt him down?
- How do you demolish an ideology of fanaticism when, by killing those who preach it, you attract even more converts to their fanaticism?
- During the war with the Soviet Union, Afghans lost one-third of their dwelling places. Yet, thanks to their tradition of hospitality, not a single person went homeless. Why does the richest nation in the world have so many homeless people while one of the poorest nations has none?