As U.S. Carpet Bombs Afghanistan and Civilian Deaths Climb, a Debate: Is It Possible for The U.S. to Wage a Just War?

November 01, 2001

US bombers launched new strikes on Taliban front line positions in the north of Afghanistan today, a day after the Pentagon confirmed it was using B-52 aircraft to carpet-bomb Taliban forces.

The policy of carpet-bombing appears to mark a change to US strategy, with attacks now covering wide areas instead ofindividual targets and civilian deaths likely to soar as a result.

One British military historian critical of US and British policy compared the bombing campaign to trying to"eradicate cancer cells with a blow torch." Revulsion continues to spread in the Muslim world at the sight of the USonce again sending B-52’s to bomb one of the poorest countries on earth at a time when millions of Afghans facestarvation in the coming months.

And people here in the US continue to debate whether this war–or any war–can be justified, much less wagedjustly. If not, what are the practical alternatives that might bring the perpetrators to justice, prevent futureattacks, and deal with the root causes of terror?


  • Richard Falk, Professor of International Law at Princeton University and author of a recent article in the_Nation Magazine_ entitled "Ends and Means: Defining a Just War."
  • Michael Ratner, human rights and civil liberties lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

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