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Editorial: Negotiate before starting a war

This week, talk of war and retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has escalated. President George W. Bush has been contacting several nations seeking resources and space to house troops and equipment for an attack on Afghanistan, where suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden lives.

Before Bush launches a long, potentially impossible mission, he should attempt negotiation with the leaders of that country and even the Taliban itself before involving U.S. troops in a dangerous situation that may have no clear, attainable objective.

The government of Afghanistan has agreed to cooperate with the United States in apprehending anyone involved with the terrorist attacks should they be in the country?s borders. However, the Taliban, a militant Islamic faction, has posed opposition and threatened any country in the area that offers assistance to the United States. The Taliban is led by bin Laden, the prime suspect for the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

With a struggle going on in Afghanistan itself, any military action by the United States would be even more confusing and perhaps misguided. Bush should continue rallying support from neighboring countries, but he should also not eliminate negotiation too soon.

Many Americans do want swift justice, but finding bin Laden will not prove an easy task, especially if the country in which he is hiding offers him assistance because the United States moved too quickly or inappropriately in their eyes. A war on Afghanistan will only hurt innocent civilians whose lives have already been torn apart by civil wars.

The nation will not forget Sept 11., and while we all want action, we must not confuse justice with revenge by making a hasty judgement to go to war.