100 Days: To recap...
On September 11th
the US was attacked by persons (at that time unknown) who hijacked four airliners full of noncombatants - civilians, peaceably going about their business. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon. One was crashed in Pennsylvania when a pickup team of American heroes resisted the hijackers, thwarting what was probably a second attack on Washington and sacrificing their own lives. Over 3000 people were killed, which occasioned dancing in the streets in Egypt and Palestine. Within 24 hours the United States had evidence pointing toward Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization as the attackers. Within 96 hours the FBI had the names of all 19 hijackers and was rounding up people associated with them. Virtually the entire world, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan accepted the investigators' conclusions. President Bush vowed to hunt down and bring to justice those behind the attacks and he stated that the USA would make no distinction between the terror organizations and the countries that supported them.
On the heels of the airliner attacks there followed biowarfare attacks
on the nation. The suspicion is that these were also orchestrated by either al-Qaeda or its sympathizers in the United States, with the objective of causing panic within the nation. We're still not sure who was behind them. Anthrax-infested letters were mailed from Trenton, NJ. Seven people died of inhalation anthrax. Others were treated for skin anthrax, including a toddler. Government buildings were shut down. Millions of dollars were expended in cleanup, prevention and investigation. Maureen Down confessed she was opening her mail wearing long black gloves. Molly Ivins said we should have a Marshall Plan.
pitched in to help. Britain's Tony Blair pledged and gave full military and diplomatic support. Russia's Vladimir Putin did the same. India provided intelligence information, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan provided airbases. NATO aircraft assisted, flying combat patrols in the US. Other states in Europe, the Americas and Asia supported the USA, most of them sincerely, some grudgingly, some first one then the other. Even old enemies such as Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi expressed sympathy. The religious fanatics running Afghanistan refused to give up Osama bin Laden and threatened to teach the USA the same lesson they had purportedly taught the Soviets. Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf, his country torn by large factions who were in sympathy with the Taliban and with a rogue intelligence organization that had given them life -- and still tried to control them -- made his county's airspace and resources available.
The air war
started October 8th, to the approbation of between 90 and 95% of the nation. At the same time, Special Forces and SAS commandos established liaison with the Northern Alliance, who at the time had been pushed by the Taliban into about five percent of the land area of the country. The Northern Alliance was a grouping of fractious, often feuding warlords, representing Afghanistan's ethnic minorities. They were united mainly by their dislike of the Taliban. It takes a lot to be regarded as barbarous in Afghanistan, but the Taliban managed it. It had been the Northern Alliance, under the leadership of Ahmed Shah Masood, who had "taught the Soviets a lesson" while the Taliban were safe in Pakistan. The Taliban had repaid the favor by assassinating Masood two days before the attacks on the US.
For thirty days and thirty nights the US was in a quagmire
in Afghanistan, with no light at the end of the tunnel. During that time the country bombed the Taliban infrastructure, taking out communications and command facilities, and ensured itself of control of the air. During that time American and British troops were fitting themselves into the Northern Alliance command structure, collecting battlefield intelligence, and calling in targets. During that time pundits and intellectuals rolled their collective eyes at the ineptitude on display in Washington, and assured each other that Afghanistan was the graveyard of armies. Thousands of jihadis from Pakistan streamed across the border to help the Taliban slaughter us infidels. There were riots in Pakistan. Abdul Haq left for the Pashtun-controlled areas to raise the resistance against the Taliban; they caught him and hung him on the spot. Hamid Karzai left on the same sort of mission and the Taliban said they killed him, too. Noam Chomsky assured the world the US was committing "silent genocide." People were starving. The US dropped meals, but it was "too little, too late." A lady was killed when a load of groceries landed on her house. Winter was coming and that was our fault, too. If we didn't stop bombing for Ramadan the Arab Street would erupt. The Northern Alliance was stalled outside of Bagram on its push south. The Alliance pushed at Mazar-e-Sharif and was stopped. They didn't have ammunition. They didn't have gasoline. They didn't have socks. Mullah Omar challenged Bush and Blair to fight it out man-to-man, with Kalishnikovs, presumably at 40 paces. It was terrible.
On November 9th, Mazar fell
to the Northern Alliance. It was followed by Herat. It was followed by Pol-e-Khomri. The Taliban announced they would defend Kabul and dared us to attack. The US said for the Alliance to hold off taking the city. The Taliban left in the dead of night for parts unknown. Since no one seemed to be using it, the Alliance took Kabul. The dreaded northerners were greeted as liberators. Konduz fell after extended negotiations. It was rumored the Pakistanis snuck home in the dead of night. All the parties but the Taliban met in Bonn and Hamid Karzai, who wasn't really dead, was named caretaker of a new government. Mullah Omar said the Taliban would defend Kandahar to the last man and the last bullet. Then he changed his mind and said they would surrender. Then they left town in the dead of night for parts unknown. Al-Qaeda was trapped in Tora Bora, the impregnable cave complex where they could hold out for a hundred years. The US bombed the area from the stone ages back to the sand and gravel age. After extended surrender negotiations Osama bin Laden snuck out of town for parts unknown in the dead of night, leaving his men to die glorious deaths. Or to be captured. It didn't matter, as long as he got away.
Today is 100 days after the 9-11 attacks
. I, for one, feel pretty good.