This nightmare might be further aggravated by the actions the Israelis are taking in Palestine. There have been serious threats coming out of Israel ever since the attack that killed a far-right Israeli minister. The Israelis want to have the killers and their organization arrested and turned over to them, and are using the U.S.' reaction to the WTC disaster as justification for a possible occupation of Palestinian territory. The Palestinians might choose to take action against the people responsible for the assassination, but they won't extradite the criminals to Israel, since it would be seen as a betraying the sovereignty of Palestine. If Israel mounts a serious attack on Palestine, expect huge problems for the U.S.
If the U.S. is going to win this conflict, they have three weeks to do it. Any attacks after that point would fall during the monthlong holiday of Ramadan and would cause great unrest in the Islamic world. The U.S. knows this... and so the gloves have come off.
The Washington Post is reporting this morning that George Bush has given the CIA permission to assassinate Bin Laden and to destroy his al Queda network. This, frankly, is unprecedented. Over $1 billion has been added to the CIA's budget for this covert action.
Can the U.S. overthrow the Taliban? Probably... but any government that tries to replace them would have to fight an underground war against the supporters of the Taliban. Can the U.S. find Bin Laden in the next month? I give them a 50/50 chance. It would be ironic if the U.S. finds themselves drawn into a war with the Taliban only to find out later that Bin Laden escaped to another country. If we do get Bin Laden, will it make a difference, or will a dozen Bin Ladens spring up to take his place? Even those running our country aren't sure.
To quote Dick Cheney: "It is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime."
Shades of 1984... and if that isn't a reason for concern, I don't know what is.