To the Editor:

In her guest column (“Assault on Afghanistan rash, destructive, and bad foreign policy” 10/22), Homayra Ziad implies that the Taliban regime is better than no regime. Therefore, we should not destroy the Taliban regime because “there is bound to be widespread slaughter and chaos” in the postwar scramble for power.

This presupposes that the United States has not nor will ever devise a plan for a government for Afghanistan. This isn’t a reason against the war; this is a reason to have a carefully planned exit strategy which ensures that the next government of Afghanistan doesn’t sponsor terrorism.

Ziad also complains about the cost of the war. Unfortunately, security isn’t free. Neither are “Western” or, as I like to call them, “universal” values like “freedom” (aka individual self-determination) or political and civil liberties.

Furthermore, Ziad writes that we should petition the United Nations to enforce international law. The United Nations is many things, but a swift enforcer of justice it is not. Did the United Nations apprehend Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes? No, that was NATO and bombs.

Our international system is fundamentally a self-help system. Nations have to provide for their own security.

Finally, what kind of message does not striking back send? That we are weak Americans who are too soft to defend themselves.

The exercise of American power may incite anger against the United States, but the alternative, not acting militarily, would be worse. It would demonstrate to those people already inclined to hate the United States that it is weak and vulnerable to assault.

Ziad wrote, “Every war must be undertaken with a vision of what the postwar peace will look like, and in this case, the picture is bleak indeed.” This is incorrect.

America did not choose to fight this war; it was compelled to do so. Terrorists struck first; they declared war on us. And we didn’t drop bombs immediately. Only after ascertaining the guilty party did we start the military retaliation.

Karl Chang ’03

October 23, 2001