If people would stop their name-calling and look at the Afghanistan situation objectively, we might actually get somewhere.

Former Senator J. William Fulbright once said, “To criticize one’s country is to do it a service and pay it a compliment. It is a service because it may spur the country to do better than it is doing; it is a compliment because it evidences a belief that the country can do better than it is doing. It is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism, a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals of national adulation.” When people cease to point out our government’s faults, usually because they fear the response from others, they give up control over their government’s actions.

Don’t get me wrong, because I’m all for taking care of radicals that want to blow stuff up and kill innocent people. I know that action had to be taken against the al-Qaeda organization and Osama bin Laden. Unfortunately, I believe that our continued assaults are going to provoke more terrorism, more civilian deaths, and more warfare and misery. This is for the most part preventable, if people stop “returning to normal” and start educating themselves about what the situation is and what can be done.

The UN-run World Food Program said that over five million people in Afghanistan, mostly children, run the risk of starving this winter if there isn’t a pause in the bombings long enough to get food and supplies to them. This doesn’t seem to faze the Pentagon, however, which said bombing will continue through the month of Ramadan. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said we’ve already taken out all al-Qaeda structures. If aid can’t get into Afghanistan before the snow starts falling, the amount of people that are going to die is mind-blowing. This is preventable, yet for some reason we are still firmly against allowing aid to get into Afghanistan, even though the U.S.-sponsored Northern Alliance has taken over Kabul. How is allowing starvation going to prevent terrorism?

Almost every day of the campaign, there have been civilian casualties. CNN has called reporting on these civilian casualties “perverse,” according to CNN Chair Walter Isaacson. Fox News has said that the civilian situation in Afghanistan “is not big news.” The rest of the world’s media isn’t quite as docile, however, and people are learning about the starvation situation and civilian casualties. Because of this exposure, support for our military actions is dwindling in Europe and the rest of the world. When strikes began in early October, most Europeans answered “Yes” when asked if they supported our action. Now the majority answers “Yes, but … ” and mentions things like food aid, Ramadan, and the stupidity of our “smart bombs.” If our media would objectively report the news instead of spoon-feeding us government-approved information, I’m sure constructive criticism of the war would be on the rise here as well.

People who have negative things to say about the war aren’t necessarily “crybaby liberals” who chalk cryptic sayings on the sidewalk. People who support the military strikes aren’t necessarily hatemongers who look with disdain on Muslims and “want to make the bastards pay.” The more people separate themselves from the mainstream press and look at the situation as reasonable people, the better off we will be. It’s horrible when anyone dies, whether they’re from America or overseas. A better way to prevent terrorism can be reached through more education and intelligent discussion.

Drew Atkins is a freshman political science major.