International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere
October 12, 2001


Against the overall backdrop of media reaction on the campaign against terrorism, the U

Against the overall backdrop of media reaction on the campaign against terrorism, the U.S. initiative to provide humanitarian relief to Afghanistan emerged as a significant trend in this week's commentary.  This survey reflects only editorials dealing with the theme of humanitarian aid and is based on an analysis of 90 editorials and commentaries from 49 countries from October 7-12.  Worldwide media reaction to the air drops of food and medical supplies was split almost evenly between supporters (40%) and critics (43%), with a minority (18%) registering ambivalence or lukewarm support. The relief effort was well received in East Asia, drew mixed reviews in Europe and Western Hemisphere, but was spurned in the Middle East and South Asia.  Opinions crystallized along the following lines:


SUPPORTERS:  Humanitarian Relief Is Best Way To Show Islam Is Not The Target

While Canadian and Italian writers were among the most unabashed supporters, the initiative also resonated favorably in East Asia, Nepal and in some Latin American countries.  Most proponents regarded the humanitarian component as a pragmatic and "clever," if not "obligatory," course to take.  Many agreed that it sent the "right message" and was the best way to convey that the West was waging a war on terrorism and not on Islam or the Afghani people.  Some hailed the "American tradition" of generosity and regarded the humanitarian component as the best way to lend the overall campaign the legitimacy to sustain international support.   


CYNICS:  A 'Cheap Propaganda Trick;' Military Action And Humanitarian Aid Don't Mix 

Arab and Muslim observers discredited the U.S. action as a "self-trumpeting" show of "largesse."  Refusing to be wooed by the U.S.' "friendly offer," they rejected the humanitarian offensive as a "cruel joke" that exploited the Afghans as pawns.  Critics in Europe--hailing mainly from France, Germany, Belgium and Slovenia--found the combination of military action and humanitarian aid inappropriate, arguing that the relief effort ought to be left to the NGO's.  Naysayers in Asia, Africa and Latin America questioned U.S. motives and joined the media chorus in denouncing the dual tracks of dropping of bombs and food as "ironic,"  "perverse" and "ludicrous," arguing that the relief component was little more than a "gesture" which would do little to save the Afghani people.


EQUIVOCATORS: Food Aid Will Not Be Enough, Success Is Uncertain

Most fence-sitters, found everywhere except in the Arab and Muslim media, were troubled by the "double-strategy" but were reluctant to defend or dismiss outright the concept of humanitarian aid during an ongoing military operation.  Such equivocators suggested that the U.S. brand of assistance would not be enough to address Afghanistan's underlying problems and would only provide temporary relief at best.  Some worried that the "goodwill gesture" might produce unintended consequences in the Islamic world.  Others were concerned that the absence of "precision" in delivering the food would be problematic.


EDITOR: Irene Marr




FRANCE:  "Mixing Military And Humanitarian Operations"


Claire Trean held in left-of-center Le Monde (10/11): "Mixing military action with humanitarian initiatives is causing some discomfort among those who work on the ground....  Humanitarian assistance can in no way be at the service of any power, and particularly not military power. The victims belong to neither side, and that neutrality must be preserved because it allows those who bring assistance to enter every battleground.  This philosophy is suffering from the fact that food packages are being dropped by U.S. military planes and that in addition to food, they contain propaganda."


"Bread And Bombs"


Pierre Georges argued in left-of-center Le Monde (10/11):  "There is a tremendous feeling of malaise surrounding the ambiguity of the double U.S. military operation which the White House itself has named 'Bread and Bombs.'...  It is clear that the food offered by the American people to the people of Afghanistan is also meant as a message. But the message has little chance of being heard because of the mixing of the genres, even if the intention was a good one.  Bombs and bread: the message is by definition a confusing one."


"America's Good Conscience"


Dominique Moller held in right-of-center France Soir (10/10):  "America's launching of food relief is not the right solution.  To each his own job: military forces to make war and eventually to bring logistical assistance once the conflict is over, and the NGOs on the ground to help the local populations, as they have been doing for years. This U.S. initiative is not so much aimed at helping the refugees but at proving to public opinion in general and to Americans in particular that this operation is not meant just to strike but also to help.  But the mechanism sticks out like a sore thumb.  This policy of the carrot, humanitarian aid, and the stick, the bombs, requires finesse, something President Bush has not yet acquired."


GERMANY:  "The Helpless Organizations"


Stefan Kornelius had this to say in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/12):  "Relief organizations often behave like a team of the voluntary firefighters.  Jealously, they are monitoring their mission site according to the motto: This is my fire.  Now the United States is being criticized, because it drops food aid over Afghanistan.  That is why the relief organizations are now preparing for a large-scale mission in Afghanistan where they want to show that they are better [than the United States with its efforts].  But they should use this stage of the preparations to give up part of their self-righteousness and look at the facts.  It will not be reprehensible if a warring nation tries to convey its message by relying on humanitarian assistance.  It is also not illegitimate to drop this assistance from the air, because the Taliban keep borders closed and almost prevent all kind of assistance from the outside....  And we should also recall the fact that the humanitarian disaster already began long before the first bombing.  Only last winter, thousands of Afghans starved and froze to death--after 22 years of war and three years of drought, but mainly because a certain Taliban regime in its religious paranoia took an entire people hostage."


"Crisis Time"


Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/10) noted in an editorial:  "Food has to be brought into the country to reach the poor....  In this context, the air drop of some 40,000 well-meant food rations can provide a bit of relief, but not more.  Whether this initiative will be seen as a gesture of goodwill vis-a-vis the Afghan people depends in part on who gets the U.S. rations in the end.  It is worth a try, but success is uncertain."




Right-of-center Stuttgarter Nachrichten (10/10) stated in an editorial:  "President Bush and his advisors know of course that the few aid packages will not be able to save many Afghans from the threat of famine.  Aid organizations in Afghanistan are even doubting that the exhausted Afghan population can understand this U.S. gesture.  Malicious voices are calling it the final meal before the execution.  Nevertheless, Washington is demonstrating to the Arab world on whose side it stands.  This humanitarian and political aid can help de-escalate the conflict outside of Afghanistan.  It can help reduce the hatred felt vis-a-vis the United States.  And that is why this kind of aid makes sense."


"Throwing Aid Packages Could Have Cynical Effect"


Immo Vogel commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (10/9):  "What is the reason that in the West many people consider mainly the American political style and the American style of living arrogantly?  How long, do you think, will this alliance of Islamic government heads hold if Islamic hearts and empty stomachs speak?  Do you really think that civilian casualties, women and children, can be avoided?  To throw aid packages after them could quickly have a cynical effect."


"Dual Strategy"


Right-of-center Ostsee-Zeitung of Rostock's editorial held (10/10):  "The Americans are following a double-strategy: missiles against rogues, food for citizens.  The message: We are fighting the regime, we are supporting the people.  So far, so good.  But when it comes to war, acting with precision is one of the most important elements.  And there is some doubt now about the necessary precision.  The food packages must be brought closer to those who are starving.  Satellites must track not only terrorist camps, but also the movements of refugees in order for the humanitarian aid to reach its destination."


"Food Aid"


Right-of-center Neue Presse of Hannover judged (10/10):  "Even the dropping of food by military plans turns out to be a cheap propaganda trick.  If hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps even millions of people are threatened by hunger, two aircraft cargoes per night with packages of dehydrated food and peanut butter are almost nothing."


ITALY:  "The Escape Of The People Of Kabul: 'Send Us Bread From The Sky'"


A report in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/10) from a refugee camp in Panshir held:  "A huge number of Afghan refugees are placing their hopes in U.S. planes, not only to see their enemy defeated but to succeed in placating their hunger.  Operation 'Bombs and Bread.'  So far, they have seen only bombs.  Bread is scarce."


“Those Yellow Packages Coming From The Sky”


Ennio Caretto reported from Washington in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/9): “The packages...carry the Stars and Stripes and say: 'Humanitarian Daily Rations'....  Indeed, it is a drop in a sea of 5 million, half-starving Afghan people that risks becoming 7 million.  A daily drop, however, that will become a river as soon as the Talibans’ defense system is destroyed....  Behind the double-track of the American offensive--bombs and daily rations from the sky--there is a precise political objective--that of  ‘conquering Islam’s hearts and minds.’  Not only does the superpower intend to confirm its generosity.  It also wants to show that this is not a war against the Afghan people and the Muslim faith.  And it wants to delegitimize the Taliban by reminding everyone that they are not able to feed their people.  Its second aim is to bring down the regime once they have destroyed its,  and bin Laden's, military infrastructures.  It was not by chance that, together with the food rations, propaganda leaflets, and radio transmitters to listen to the Voice Of America were also falling from the sky in Afghanistan.  America is trying to end the game rapidly, and to promote the liberation of the country from inside. Then reconstruction will begin soon afterwards, Bush promised. In the American tradition, yellow is the color of hope. The boxes the Americans dropped in Sicily back in 1943 were also yellow.”


Media Treatment (10/9)


All media (10/9) devoted very extensive coverage to the beginning of the U.S.-led strikes in Afghanistan.  Some dailies highlighted that U.S. planes are also dropping humanitarian aid for the civilians.


“Packages Of Food From The American Cargoes”


Alessandro Plateroti reported from New York in leading business-oriented Il Sole 24 Ore (10/9):  “While half of Afghanistan is under the rain of ‘clever’ missiles and bombs, the other half of the country is getting an unprecedented air lift, unseen since WWII.  40 tons of food...were dropped by American and British airplanes in the last 24 hours.  Indeed, resources are not lacking, as the U.S. earmarked $320 million for aid to Afghanistan, and the UN earmarked $600 million....  The Pentagon refused to give precise information about the areas where they dropped food rations, in order to avoid the risk that the Talibans would attack them.  Sources in the Bush Administration, however, informed that the airlift was made possible thanks to the cooperation of Uzbekistan and Pakistan....  Indeed, in order to avoid the risk that the Afghan population escaping from the bombing would go to those areas where humanitarian aid was being dropped the Pentagon gave the air lift the same importance and the same secrecy as the air and missiles attacks....  The ‘machine’ set in motion by Washington to ensure that the aid arrives in Afghanistan, and that it is really distributed among the civilian population will go on for some days.  The White House reaffirmed the importance of humanitarian assistance and Western assistance to the Afghan people many they want to show that Operation ‘Enduring Freedom’ is against terrorism and those governments that protect it--and that is not against Islam or the Afghan people.”


ARMENIA:  "Four USD Worth Of Parcels For Afghans"


Liberal democratic AZG editorialezed (10/10): "There are yellow parcels labeled 'A Gift from Americans' in English, French and Spanish. They comprise beans with tomato sauce, biscuit, a piece of bread, butter, strawberry jam, salt, pepper, napkin, matches andmedicines. The calorie value is 2,200. Those yellow parcels comprise the entire American cynicism. But this is the humanitarian side of American cynicism.... The American air strikes are not retribution for the September 11 terrorism. They are of strategic significance for Washington. The White House reiterates that with military actions, the U.S. does not intend to change the ruling administration of Afghanistan. The bombarding of Afghanistan should be condemned as long as the U.S. continues to support Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and does not seek abolishment of the Taliban regime. Had the U.S. been after theelimination of the Taliban power, the strikes against Afghanistan could have been justified."


AUSTRIA:  "Bombs And Bread"


Senior editor Hans Rauscher commented in liberal Der Standard (10/8):  "Does anyone believe that the fanatics who orchestrated last month's dramatic terrorist acts can actually be pacified by restraint?  The military operation was unavoidable.  The fact that along with the bombs the U.S. is also providing humanitarian aid is a sign that the operation has been well thought out."


BELGIUM:  "Desperately Useless Propaganda?"


Pascal Martin observed in left-of-center Le Soir (10/10):  "Is dropping food at the same time as one drops bombs cynical propaganda, or is it 'clumsy realism,' as French sociologist Dominique Wolton put it?...  Officially, while Afghanistan is being hit by air strikes, food drops are aimed at helping potential refugees.  In Brussels, Dirk Kramers, the UN agency's spokesperson, considers that 'each crumb is welcome in Afghanistan.' These food drops 'are a lesser evil given the current absence of humanitarian organizations. Provided that one knows where the people who need help are and that one does not drop food in minefields.'"


"Food Drop Is A Cynical Action"


Independent, Catholic De Standaard (10/9) cited Doctors Without Borders Director Tine Dusauchoit as saying:  "The food packages do not make much sense.  Afghanistan has been suffering from drought for three years.  The number of people who cannot survive without food aid runs in the millions.  37,500 packages is nothing when compared to that figure.  It does not meet the needs at all.  Do those packages meet the needs of calories of victims of starvation?  In whose hands do they wind up?  Can the Afghans reach those packages?  Does it make sense to drop medicines when people do not know how to use them?...  We plead strongly for keeping humanitarian and military operations separate.  We must be independent to work well.  Won’t people start to believe that a humanitarian operation conceals a military operation?...  It is a cynical action.  The humanitarian catastrophe started long before September 11.  In recent years, we contacted donors for aid for Afghanistan many, many times.  Nobody was willing to listen.  And all off a sudden, something must happen.  This aid is to serve the needs of the U.S., not those of the Afghan people.  The U.S. wants to undermine the regime through this propaganda.  The food packages make a mockery of humanitarian work.  Soon donors of Doctors Without Borders will say: why does it cost so much money in your organization?  Simply drop a few packages from airplanes.”


"This Food Is The Gift Of The USA"


Conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (10/9) reported:  “Two U.S. C-17 cargo aircraft...dropped food over Afghanistan yesterday to make clear that the attacks ‘are directed against terrorists and not against the people,’ Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said.  The first food was dropped on Sunday at the time as the first bombings....  Inside the bags with the food there is a picture of the American flag and the text: ‘This food is a gift of the U.S. of America.’   37,500 bags were dropped on Sunday.  Medicines have already been or will be dropped also.  The Defense Secretary also said that leaflets were dropped.  The message that only terrorists are targeted was also spread over the radio.”


"A PR Stunt of The Americans"


Conservative, Catholic Gazet van Antwerpen (10/9) reported:  “Doctors without Borders express strong criticism about the action and term the food drops a propaganda stunt....  Says spokeswoman Linda Van Weyenberg:  ‘We consider it very dangerous to link humanitarian actions to military operations.  We do not know at all where the food wound up.  It is also strange that the drops of food take place now.  Everybody knew that there was starvation.  So, we think that it is a PR stunt of the Americans.  Moreover, because of the air raids, all aid organizations have to stop their organization of food convoys.’


CZECH REPUBLIC:   "Fight Against Terrorism Is Not A War"


Jiri Sedivy, Director of the International Studies Institute, commented in business Hospodarske noviny (10/12):   "The power of our opponent is varied and dispersed. It includes fanatical suicidal resolution, globally spread-out financial sources, horizontally organized and loosely linked local terrorist groups and individuals. It is nourished by senses of injustice and frustration....  Partial victory of the terrorists would occur if we adopted their black-and-white perspective of the world.  So far we have been successful.  Western politicians have avoided drawing parallels between Islam and terrorism.  We talk about the necessity of dialogues with other cultures.  In the military operations we try to avoid civilian targets.  And food parcels are falling on Afghanistan."


 "Tragedy Of Civilians"


The right-center MF Dnes opined in a commentary by it Deputy Editor-in-Chief Viliam Buchert (10/9): "Afghanistan has been experiencing poor harvests for already three years and some parts of the country suffer from famine.  International humanitarian organizations say that four million people there need their help....  It is true, that the government of the U.S. realizes this...but 37,500 food packages dropped by Americans every day to Afghanistan, won't save millions of starving Afghanis."


"Enduring Freedom Or Revenge?"


Center-righ  MF Dnes carried this commentary by its chief commentator Martin Komarek (10/11): "They are doing what has since the very beginning raised doubts and fears even in the countries of U.S. allies--they are flooding Afghani towns with bombs.  Not terrorist seats, but towns....  It is said that the path will eventually be opened up to the revival of Afghanistan, to peace for one of the most destitute countries of the world if the Taliban is toppled. But no one knows as yet how to open it and with whom....  Friendly American aid allegedly comes down for refugees.  But it is merely a gesture, according to experienced humanitarian workers. Humanitarian packages are harder to be aimed accurately than bombs from airplanes flying extremely high.  Perhaps they drop to the feet of terrorist as surprising gifts.  Some may end up in places, where nobody finds them....  The operation in Afghanistan may be unnecessary, it may be part of a necessary defensive strategy against terrorism, it may be considerate as much as possible, it may even open up the path to a safer world.  But as it is led, I don't believe that it can open up the path to a better, more civilized world."


DENMARK:  "Humanitarian Aid"


Center-right Berlingske Tidende asserted (10/10):  "It is difficult to understand the criticisms of international relief organizations in connection with Allied emergency aid drops.  The provision of food and medicine will make it more difficult for those loyal to bin Laden to deceive the people of Afghanistan....  It is crucial that coalition unity remains intact if the war against terrorism is to succeed."


"War And Aid"


Center-left Politiken judged (10/8):  "Over Dkr 5 billion has already been earmarked for humanitarian aid, and other massive relief efforts look certain to be initiated soon....  From a military perspective, it looks like we are facing a long, drawn out campaign.  Nonetheless, a clearer idea of the goals of the ongoing operation should be provided....  The war on terrorism has just started and it will surely impact others than just Afghanistan."  


ESTONIA:  “There Will be a Long War”


Sirje Rank wrote in business-oriented -ripSev (10/9): “The U.S. has emphasized from the very beginning that it is not a war against Islam, it is a war against terrorism.  The fact of the U.S. food assistance to Afghani civilians must show that this is not a blind revenge act.”


“The U.S. Is Bombing Afghanistan With Food As Well”


Marek Laane reports in top serious daily Postimees (10/9): “Already last Thursday President Bush announced 320 million dollars of aid support to the Afghanistan people.”


IRELAND:  "U.S.-Led Coalition Strikes Back"


The liberal Irish Times editorialized (10/8):  "It was striking yesterday to hear the care with which U.S. leaders and officials stressed their commitment to provide food and medicine immediately and to emphasize that the operation is not directed against the Afghan people but rather against the terrorist groups in their midst and the repressive Taliban regime which supported them....  The operation's legitimacy will depend on how effectively it is carried out....  Such terrorism must be tackled comprehensively and thoroughly if civilized values are to be defended.  Those values must continue to inform the conduct of this military operation."


HUNGARY:   "Chocolate And Reality"


Foreign editor Miklos Ujvari wrote in influential, generally pro-U.S. Magyar Hirlap (10/12):  "The United States, it seems, is about to lose the propaganda war.  The international aid organizations claim that the food aid packages are meaningless.  The Arab countries consider the Bush administration's gesture cynical alms."


"The Shortest Command"


The head of the op-ed section Laszlo Szale noted in influential, left-leaning Magyar Hirlap (10/11) that "we have to prepared that there will be more and more human victims on both sides.  The standing logic of a war is that once it has started it can't be stopped ad hoc.  Humanity and inhumanity are both present in every war.  And the phenomenon of them being intersected is especially spectacular in this current war: the airplanes of the enemy jettison food and drugs to the innocent, starving Afghan people.   If the aid organizations and the doctors are not available to help the needy any more then the attackers should at least help." 


“Honey Onto The Fire”


Oszkar Fuzes wrote in top circulation Hungarian Nepszabadsag (10/9):  “A face that can’t be ignored is that the powder kegs of the Middle, Central and Far East can all blow up and the whole honey stock of the world (reference made to the food aid) would not be enough to extinguish them all.  The U.S. has been very careful in preparing the response.“


“Strike Back”


Washington correspondent Gabor Miklos editorialized in top circulation Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag (10/8): “Since a war can’t be fought against a loose network of scattered persons, the Taliban became the practical enemy.  The Taliban and its allies have already declared a holy war against America.   What comes next?   Many assume that the diplomats have already worked out an Afghan solution:  the Tajik and the Uzbek  fighters, together with the opposition Pashtu leaders take over rule.  Even the ousted Afghan king can return. Food aid to the region, and the opening of the country could  be of paramount importance.  But it would not necessarily mean a final ‘pacification’ of the region and it cannot eliminate terrorism."


“What Is the Aid Good for?”


Foreign affairs writer Ferenc Kepecs opined in independent Nepszava (10/8):  “After the air strikes that started on Sunday that are likely to cause huge damage and losses, giving assistance is a moral obligation for the U.S.....  But that is not all.  The governments of the Islamic countries will find themselves in a situation even more difficult than before, as significant masses of their peoples will brand them as traitors of Islam and paid agents of the West.  Consequently, those millions in aid are also needed to pour oil on troubled waters.”


THE NETHERLANDS:  "Powell Doctrine"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant observed (10/9):  "It is very clear that the Bush administration has been operating with great caution so far.  The campaign not only has a military but also a political and humanitarian component in the form of a broad coalition and food aid.  Hopefully this sensible way of working will also include the Powell doctrine.  The success of the campaign depends on that."


"Stick and Carrot"


Centrist Het Parool's columnist (10/8) wrote:  "Meanwhile the contours of the American strategy in the 'War on Terrorism' are much clearer.  It is the old tactic of the 'stick and the carrot', the hard hand and the soft.  Bombs and grenades for the Taliban and al-Qaida; food packets for the population, in order to undermine the government in Kabul and to make it ready for its collapse."  


"An Assistance Plan For Poverty-Stricken Afghanistan"


Centrist Haagsche Courant has this editorial (10/8): "The West, which has excelled in the past weeks in unity against the terror which claimed more than 5,000 innocent lives on September 11, would do well to lend all support to the poverty-stricken Afghan people so that the country can become a mature democracy.  This calls for a plan, following rapidly on military actions.  It would be crippling for the West and the region if there were a war without prospect, in a country that has not known peace for a long time." 


NORWAY:  "The War Against Terrorism"


Independent Dagbladet (10/9) commented:  "It is not happiness, peace and wealth that is his (bin Laden's) goal, but a world in ruins.  This is no conflict between Islam and the West because almost the whole world is against terrorism.  That it can not be broken by bombs alone fortunately President Bush also knows.  That is why he emphasized the need for humanitarian aid to the Afghan people.  In the long term a financial rebuilding of the country is the best weapon against terrorism."


SLOVENIA:  “Terrorism And Humanism”


Left of center Vecer (10/9) opined:  “Instead of a surgical cut, Bush has chosen butchery called an all-encompassing military, political, and--how perverse--humanitarian operation.  Food, clothes, and radios...are said to be also falling on Afghanistan among bombs.  The American Administration has not questioned the [effect] of such humanism....  Trying to improve conditions in the world in which the rich are getting richer, while the poor and neglected are in an increasingly bad situation, seems too complicated for American minds....  Bush said that he had no choice.  It is awful if there is no choice.  But Bush himself has put himself in this situation with...having bombarded the world with propaganda-militaristic speech and demands for unconditional the anti-terrorist campaign."


PORTUGAL:  "Enduring Commitment"


Francisco Azevedo e Silva declared in respected, moderate-left Diário de Notfcias (10/9):  "The success of the war against terrorism will depend in large part on a continued international recognition of the legitimacy of the actions taking place and those that will later be taken.  This has been a preoccupation of the U.S. in its emphasis on the diplomatic component of the current operation, namely in the prior consultations with various governments, the invocation of Article 5, the presentation of evidence against the terrorists, the manifest concern for Palestine (despite the negative reactions by Sharon) and the sending of a letter of explanation to the UN of the military action in Afghanistan.   Humanitarian aid is decisive on the ground."


SWITZERLAND:  "America And The Rest Of Us"


In the center-left Tages-Anzeiger, a leading German-language daily, Philipp Löpfe commented (10/12):  "[In response to the current air campaign,] those who try to set up a Vietnam-era definition of the U.S. as an aggressive military power quickly get tangled up in contradictions.  True, once again a superpower is bombing an extremely poor country.  Nevertheless, the analogy is flawed.  The Taliban are not heroic freedom fighters struggling against capitalist exploitation and dictatorial oppression.  They have a habit of throwing acid in the faces of women without veils and stage public executions in Kabul's soccer stadium of women who commit adultery.  They argue among themselves whether homosexuals should be thrown from tall buildings or buried alive.  Not exactly the stuff that revolutionary dreams are made of....  We Europeans are not obligated to accept uncritically the American point of view.  However, anti-Americanism in the style of the Vietnam era is not justified, neither factually nor morally."


TURKEY:  "Burning American Aid"


Intellectual/opinion maker Radikal (10/11) highlighted on its front page that Pakistan and Iran who already have 2 million refugees are taking measures against further refugees. Winter will arrive in a month and 7.5 million are expected to be at the point of death due to starvation.  The paper says UN officials find dropping food packages to Afghans is "ineffective."  Mass appeal Hurriyet added that the Taliban have asked people to burn American humanitarian supplies....  Papers also report that a crisis desk was set up in the Turkish border city of Hakkari to handle a likely influx of refugees.  Issues such as the treatment of refugees, searches to be made along the border for those in distress, and humanitarian aid were taken up in the meeting led by the Hakkari governor."


TURKMENISTAN:  "Transit Corridor For Humanitarian Aid Works Well"


Government-owned Neytralniy Turkmenistan and Turkmenistan published an article (10/12) and the Turkmen TV news program "Watan" ran a report (10/11) on more shipments of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through Turkmenistan:  "As was said previously, transportation of cargoes by air and land corridors of our country was organized in accordance with Turkmenistan's position directed at peaceful settlement of conflict situations on the territory of the neighboring state. The government of Turkmenistan provided an opportunity for international organizations to deliver and place humanitarian cargoes in warehouses of Ashgabat and Turkmenabat, from which food and medical supplies are sent to Afghan cities.  Since the tragic events in the U.S., the World Food Program has sent from Turkmenabat to Anhoy (Afghan city) 1,800 kg of American food wheat, which will be distributed among the peaceful population of the neighboring country."


UZBEKISTAN:  "This fight Is Not Against Civilians"


Uzbekiston Ovozi opined in a front page article (10/9):  "The fact that the United States and the United Kingdom have not only bombed the Afghan territory, but have also allocated 320 million dollars for humanitarian assistance for the Afghan refugees and delivered some of this assistance--food and clothing--indicate that this fight is not intended against the civilians." 


YUGOSLAVIA:  "America From War To War"


Kosovo's leading magazine, independent Zeri ran an editorial by its editor in chief Halil Matoshi (10/12): "This concept of the limited war is a further, military extension of the political concept about human rights.  Human rights are above all, not only in politics but also in the war.  These values are being built by America not only in the cold books of the international law but also in the hot fields of war.  In Afghanistan are being dropped the food for the innocent, for men and women of an old nation that is suffering under the religious totalitarianism; the bombs are being dropped on the criminals and terrorists. This is the operational concept of the wars that America is waging in the postmodern epoch.  The objective remains the eradication of terrorism (which in essence remains the most anti-humane and anti-moral form of war. In Kosovo, the American airplanes hit deadly the Serbian institutional terrorism, in Afghanistan the same planes are striking at the institutional terrorism of Taleban that has become a powerful source for the extra-institutional terrorism of Bin Laden (whose rhetoric is similar to that one of Milosevic's Serbian state that employs the religion to justify and moralize the crimes). Bin Laden calls his terrorism the Jihad, namely a war for the protection of Islam and its values. But Islam can't be protected by terrorism for it may hit back as a boomerang. In its legal, moral and social values, Islam must find the force to save its identity as to compete with the global liberalism."




EGYPT:  Media Treatment


Leading pro-government moderate Al Ahram (10/7) bannered that Bush had warned the Taliban that they were running out of time and that Pakistan has finished its mediating role.  An American draft law to present 300 million dollars in aid to the Afghani opposition was presented to Congress.


JORDAN:  "The Third Option"


Satirical columnist Mohammad Tummaleih wrote in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (10/11): “I am against what is happening, and tempted to say: ‘Let them sort it out.’  The war…is strange, dirty, obscure, and no concern of ours.  American is not fighting terrorism, it is disciplining its renegade agents, like an over-violent mother does with her wayward children.  The meals that the United States is dropping along with bombs, may be the best evidence that this is a family affair that may cease at any moment if the two sides resume their alliance and agree to attack one of their neighbors instead.  And when Bin Laden shouts from his cave in Afghanistan that ‘the winds of change are blowing,’ we say to him: ‘Thank you very much, but your kind of change is not acceptable.'  We need change, but we do not want not to be led by the blind, nor to escape from the frying pan into the fire.”


SAUDI ARABIA:   "War With Unknown Goals"


Riyadh-based, conservative, Al-Riyadh editorialized (10/9): "Humanitarian aid and destructive missiles from all directions, this is the American-Afghan war which only those who planned it know how it will proceed and when it will stop....  War is a human invention that combines good and evil, justice and injustice.  With such an unequal war, the real victims are the Afghan people who shed their blood simply because they are the weakest faction impacted by this war."


BAHRAIN:  "America Is Not My Hero"


Semi-official Al-Ayam had this comment (10/10) by Ms. Sawsan Al-Sha’er:  "Why have the people of Afghanistan suddenly gained first call on our concern and sympathy?  Where were we when 2.2 million of them died of hunger, starvation, displacement and illness?...  Nothing has changed. They were oppressed Muslims and still are.  Why only now do we raise the slogan ‘we all Afghanis?’...  America is not my preferred hero and I know that in its calculations we are all no more than an oil well and a strategic location."


"Humanitarian Aid Will Not Win Our Hearts"


Semi-independent Arabic-language Akhbar Al-Khalij commented (10/10) by Sayed Zahrah:  "It would be really astonishing if the American administration believed it would gain our hearts and minds by simply dropping some food to the Afghan refugees and that by its doing so we would close our eyes to the attack against the people of Afghanistan and cheer America's gesture....  Our hearts and minds are with the people of Afghanistan. Our hearts and minds, as Arabs and Muslims, are with (protecting) our identity, which is targeted now by Western attacks. Yes, America can gain our hearts and minds but only if it treats us fairly and respects our religion and identity. And this is where America is lacking."


THE WEST BANK:  "Strange And Doubtful Humanity"


Independent, moderate Al-Quds editorialized (10/11): “Magnifying the ‘humanity’ of the West and trying to show itself as a ‘friend’ to the Afghani people is a clear distortion of facts, especially as the results of the major destruction caused by the missiles of the ‘free world’ are starting to seen in Afghanistan. The suffering of the peoples of Africa and the majority of the Third World countries is due to Western policies in their old colonialism and new form of domination. The attempts of the West to be portrayed as a friendly party that provides assistance to the developing and poor countries can be characterized in the scene of the missile and wheat falling together.  Those who really want to fight terrorism and support a free world, which will defend the principles of justice and human rights, must be a role model…for those who have been and will remain the victims of Western colonization. Those who are launching the war, now, must realize that the missiles falling on the poorest country in the world will only breed more oppression and hatred and that the wheat of the whole world will not be enough to wipe out the traces of this war.”


MOROCCO:   "Humanitarian Aid"


Independent, French-language, business-oriented L'Economiste held (10/9):  "'Enemy of the Taliban and friend of the Afghans', Bush reversed the U.S. policy while announcing the strikes.  It is America that created directly or through Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, the Taliban.  Bush said that he is a friend of Islam.  He knows that he has to deal with the Muslim peoples and cannot count on the support of their governments.  Bush openly stated he favored the constitution of a Palestinian people. It is high time and we are waiting for him to send an ambassador to the Palestinian state.  The Taliban will receive missiles and the Afghans food and medicine. The Arab world can send its doctors, nurses and engineers to re-build the country before some U.S. uncontrolled actions take place."


OMAN:  "Al Watan's Opinion"       


Semi-independent Al-Watan argued (10/8):  "Humanitarian aid in Afghanistan is taking place in conjunction with military actions as if they are throwing food [as bait] to rabbits while hunting them.  Rockets do not differentiate between the criminal and innocent.  They may come looking for aid only to find it carried to them by rockets."


TUNISIA:  "A New War"


Editor Majid Haouachi noted in independent French-language le Quotidien  (10/9):  "The first military operations took place before elucidating the question of tangible proof, or at least without daring to divulge them to the public. This is likely to affect the values of justice and democracy that are founded on the principles of transparency between the state and society.  This principle must prevail during crucial moments such as the declaration of war…This war called to attention the wretchedness of the Afghans caught between the terrorism of the Taliban and Ben Laden on one side and the American war machine on the other.  So it is not humanitarian aid that will appease the sadness of these people.”  




AUSTRALIA:  “U.S. Action Hits The Right Note”


An editorial in the business-focused Australian Financial Review (10/9) had this assessment:  “With food drops alongside yesterday’s bombs, the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition has made a good start.”


CHINA:  "U.S. Military Strikes Spark Different Reactions"


He Hongze commented in offical Global Times (10/12): "The U.S. military strikes during the last several days indicate that America does want to show its humanitarian considerations.  First, the military strikes are not targeted at civilians.  Second, the U.S. has airdropped 37 thousand daily rations as humanitarian assistance to the Afghan refugees.  This is an unprecedented move in its previous military operations.  These moves will help the U.S. get more positive international reactions."


HONG KONG SAR:  "Afghan Aid Must Be Impartial"


Kimberly Ho remarked in the independent English-language Hong Kong iMail (10/12):  "But the first installment of the airdrops of food rations, at the same time as the U.S. and Britain were launching a massive military operation against Afghanistan, was an ineffective and even unproductive means of spending such aid monies....  For the best chance of getting humanitarian aid to where it is needed most, to those who are starving, relief must be seen as being neutral and distinct from military action.  Moreover, if aid is seen to be tied to military action, those delivering it are also put at risk.  If Mr. Bush's sincere aim is to help the Afghan people, he must recognize that the priority is to get large amounts of food into Afghanistan before the winter begins next month in the most efficient way possible.  The best way to do that is to get the truck convoys going again, with military escorts if need be....  The U.S. government should focus more on the significant and real needs of the Afghans.  The best way for the U.S. to show its commitment to helping the Afghan people is to funnel its aid dollars through impartial third-party aid agencies."


HONG KONG SAR "Bombing Is Just The first step"


The independent Hong Kong Economic Journal had this editorial (10/9): "Bombing Afghanistan is just the first step the U.S. has adopted in its anti-terrorism war.  Can the U.S. win the war?  It will depend on how the U.S. handles the military actions and humanitarian assistance.  If the U.S. wants to settle the fundamental issues of terrorism, it has to handle the Afghanistan issue properly.  In addition, the U.S. also has to deal with the issues of the rich and the poor in the process of globalization.  The road will be long."


"Don't Hurt The Innocent In The Anti-Terrorism War"


The pro-PRC Ta Kung Pao wrote in its editorial (10/9):  "After the U.S. was attacked by the terrorists, it immediately claimed that it would launch retaliatory military attacks against the troublemakers.  The U.S. claim has aroused concern in the international community.  Terrorist attacks will hurt innocent civilians; military attacks will also bring disaster to civilians. Afghanistan has experienced many years of war, and its people have been struggling with unrest and a poor environment.  Yesterday's war will certainly give a further blow to Afghanistan's people.  The U.S. should be responsible for the safety of civilians.  It has to really practice a humanitarian view and respect human rights.  This is what the Chinese government and the international community are especially concerned about."


JAPAN:  "Eradication of Terrorism is World Consensus"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (10/9):  "Although the world must be united to fight terrorism, the current war on terrorism is not intended to antagonize either Muslims or the people of Afghanistan.  The U.S. began airdrops of food, medicine and other supplies for Afghans who have been forced below the subsistence level.  Great care must be taken to minimize the harm to those who have nothing to do with terrorism."  


MALAYSIA:  "U.S. Must Fight To Gain Support From Muslim Countries"


Government-influenced, Chinese-language Sin Chew Jit Poh maintained (10/10):  "U.S. sent both missiles and food drops to Afghanistan, this signifies the duel strategy U.S. deploys. This strategy spells out Bush's directive, that the U.S.'s aim is to attack the terrorists and their supporters and not the Muslims or Muslim countries. From the result after the first two days of war, we can say that the U.S.'s strategy works. In addition, we can observethat the White House and Department of State officials are using diplomatic channels to re-enforce its  going to war message and to gain support from the international community especially the Muslim countries.  Though many Muslim countries have protested, it's only those cities from Pakistan  that created drastic reaction towards the strikes. Other Muslim countries in the Middle East, South Asia, Indonesia, and Malaysia, thoughprotesting the strikes, remain quite cool emotionally.  As there are no strong and drastic reactions against the strikes from most of the Muslim countries and that Russia, NATO, and China have shown support for the cause, Bush's war against terrorism can be carried on.  As PM said, using weapon to fight terrorism is not enough. We need new method, inclusive of intelligence gathering and smart strategy. From our point of view, most important of all, the international community must act collectively, must find out the root of such terrorism, why and how these were formed, in order to eliminate them."


PHILIPPINES:  "Towards World War 3"


Columnist Bernardo V. Lopez wrote in the leading financial Business World (10/11):  "Irony of ironies.  The U.S. dropped food and bombs at the same time, 37,500 packets of food, 50 cruise missiles, and bombs from 25 fighter jets and 15 bombers in a six-hour offensive which killed 20 people in Kabul, according to initial unverified reports.  Such a mix of bread and bullets is a bizarre and sinister foreign policy.  Irony of ironies.  The U.S. said they were not waging war against the Afghan people while they kill Afghans with their indiscriminate bombing....  Day Two of the attacks had far less bomb tonnage, hinting that perhaps Day One was only for drama, to quench the anger of Americans and to save lost pride.  The Pentagon says the targets will now shift to ground troops.  With the inhospitable mountains and numerous caves, this may take two decades, as in the case of the Russian invasion.  The U.S. is going deep into another Vietnam it may later regret....   If the U.S. succeeds in destroying the Talibans, they will trigger a power vacuum that will induce a second  20-year civil war.  The Northern Alliance is too puny to take over....  The coalition against terrorism is fragile because it has been achieved artificially by force, through threats of sanctions against small nations.  It may break down once we see more atrocities against innocent people, a sign that it may be terrorism fighting terrorism."


"How Do You Keep Relief Out Of Taliban's Hands?"


Publisher Max Soliven noted in the third leading Philippine star (10/8):  "The U.S. government is programming the emergency delivery of food and other essential supplies to the Afghan people to the tune of $300 million, including I'm sure the two million Afghan refugees in Pakistan....  The United Nations has weighed in with pledges of food amounting to another $300 million.  But how will these supplies get to the Afghans without falling into the hand of their dictators, the Taliban?"


"I Am Glad The U.S. Will Send Humanitarian Aid"


Michael Tan wrote in the widely-read Philippine Daily Inquirer (10/9):  "I am glad the U.S. government has decided to send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.  I am glad Bush is declaring that the enemy is the Taliban and not the Afghan people.  But when the bombs fall, we will see that war is still war.  The danger is that as we rationalize about a 'just war,' we might end up shrugging our shoulders accepting that 'It's just a war.'"    


SINGAPORE:  "Necessary First Step"


The pro-government Straits Times underscored (10/9):  "If the United States can keep the campaign focused, avoiding civilian casualties even as it attacks military assets and terrorist facilities, that will go a long way to keeping the coalition intact. The airdrop of food, medicine and supplies, which, despite the risks, took place simultaneously with the bombing, will also help in this effort by winning local hearts and minds. If the allies can persuade the Afghan people that it is the Taleban and Al-Qaeda, not they, who are the targets, the battle for Afghanistan will be won more easily."


SOUTH KOREA: "First War In The 21st Century"


The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (10/9): "The U.S. strikes on Afghanistan are justifiable, given that terror is an intolerable savagery that cannot be justified by any logic or rationalization....  It is highly commendable that the U.S. airdropped food and medicine to the Afghan people as soon as it launched the attacks.  We hope the U.S. will continue to provide humanitarian relief for the refugees, whose numbers will surely increase."


THAILAND:  "The New World Order?”


Kilane Pralongcherng commented in top-circulation Thai Rath (10/11): “Helping a friend who is shipping war weaponry and equipment to crush Afghanistan is a thing one should think twice about.  It is all rightif the load were food, clothes and medicines to help out destitute (Afghan) people....  Since we are in no way a U.S.’s colony, whenever possible we must negotiate.  We must not allow the use of our airbase unconditionally.Otherwise, we would be like what our Thai Muslims say, ‘inviting enemies to our door.’”


“Thailand Bound By UN Commitments”


The lead editorial of the independent, English language Nation commented (10/9):  “Thailand, which, along with other members of the international community, stands to gain from the international campaign against terrorism, may well consider complementing its policy on terrorism with a contribution to the humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.  As much as it is impossible to stay neutral in terms of political resolve against terrorism, Thailand, as a food-surplus country, cannot remain apathetic to the plight of Afghan civilians caught in the crossfire.”




PAKISTAN:  "Starvation In Afghanistan"


Islamabad's rightist, English-language Pakistan Observer (10/11):  "The United States wants to give an impression to the world that Washington is equally concerned about the well-being of the Afghan people, while being engaged in destroying terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan.  We do not, however, deem it advisable on Washington's part to trumpet its 'humanitarian facet', while death stares the Afghan people in the face due to the fast approaching winter.  It is unfortunate that the United States is trying to exploit the miseries of the Afghan people for its media gimmick, rather than making genuine efforts to mitigate their sufferings.  The United States should not ignore that its self-trumpeting tendency may backfire, as the air-droppings are practically having no salutary effect on the Afghan people.  Washington should better join the international community's effort to provide food, shelter and medicines to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and displaced persons within Afghanistan."


"U.S. Attack On Afghanistan"


Sensationalist Ummat editorialized (10/9):  "It is a cruel joke on humanity that in the darkness of night, the cities of a country are bombarded and destroyed, and in the light of the day food stuffs are air dropped for the hapless people of those cities." 


"The Attack Begins"


The Peshawar-based, independent Frontier Post editorialized (10/9):  "Following the bombs came airdrops of food and other relief supplies, intended to soften up the hunger-stricken Afghan people not to resist the U.S.-led forces in defense of the Taliban regime or Usama bin Laden.  Humanitarian aid organizations have cast doubts on the efficacy of this kind of 'blind' largesse.   It remains to be seen whether this dumping of manna from heaven will reach the affected, and what, if any, impact it will have on their perceptions concerning the attacks on their country."


INDIA:  "Air Strikes On Afghanistan"


Mumbai-based, centrist Navshakti observed (10/9):  "The U.S. has delivered food supplies for the Afghans while bombing their cities.  Is there any guarantee that the beleaguered Taliban would not use this to its advantage to extend its staying power?"


"Afghans In Real Trouble"


The Telugu daily Eenadu declared (10/11):   "Afghanistan is heading towards destruction in the same old Iraqi way.  The U. S. has been dumping bombs as well as food packets into Afghanistan.  The Afghanis are scared to pick up the food packets fearing that they could be deadly weapons."   


NEPAL:  "America Strikes Back"


An editorial in the centrist Space Time Today observed (10/9):  "The American action enjoys the solid support of the world community since it is perhaps the first ever concerted initiative aimed at rooting out terrorism....  It is indeed good news that Americans are also dropping food supplies in the form of humanitarian aid for the refugee population created due to the Afghan crisis.…  Once the objective of capturing or killing bin Laden or eliminating terrorist organizations operating from there [Afghanistan] or replacing the Taliban regime is achieved, the Americans must make way for an international presence, which will oversee the reconstruction of Afghanistan and the distribution of humanitarian assistance.




CANADA:  "The Softer Side Of War"


The conservative National Post observed (10/12): "It is an unusual war that sees planes dropping bombs and meals at the same time.  But as U.S. President George W. Bush has stated several times, his fight is not with the Afghan people, it is with their Taliban rulers and the al-Qaeda terrorists they shelter....  Given the high political stakes, however, generosity may be the best weapon the allies have at their command....  As for the contention that the beans and potatoes are a propaganda tool, the United States is guilty as charged. Though the primary goal of the food drop is to provide humanitarian assistance, the United States is also anxious to dispel any suspicion that it seeks to exterminate ordinary civilians. But so what? The benighted residents of Afghanistan know only what the Taliban government lets them know....  It is impossible, therefore, for the Afghans to understand Mr. Bush's pledge that this war is not directed against them. Dropping food along with bombs is the only practical way to get this message across. Outrage from aid groups over the U.S. Air Force's food program distracts from the vast amount of other forms of aid the United States and other Western countries have already committed to the area....  Like the current military operation, the humanitarian portion of the Afghani campaign must be developed in stages. The bright yellow food packets dropped by the U.S. Air Force address the immediate problem of providing a meal to starving Afghans in a time of war. In the coming weeks and months, the allies must focus on securing the countryside militarily so food can be trucked in and mass starvation averted. And finally, when the shooting ends, all refugees should be persuaded to return home."


"Set The Stage For Rebuilding Afghanistan"


Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (10/11): "This fraught with far greater danger, militarily and politically. The anti-terrorist coalition is far more brittle than the allied partnership ever was in Kosovo....  One can foresee the coalition cracking for any number of reasons: Too much use of force by the world's biggest power on the most powerless; too many civilian casualties; further flaring of the Arab-Israeli dispute; any retaliatory terrorist acts, anywhere, but especially in any Arab/Muslim country.... The antenna of the Bush administration has picked up all these strong signals. Hence the promised $320 million humanitarian aid and the air-dropped food packages and pamphlets announcing that America is after criminals, not ordinary Afghans. Even the slightest deviation from the script could spell big trouble."


"Americans Waging A Clever War"


Columnist Richard Gwyn stated in the liberal Toronto Star (10/10): "The Americans aren't at all waging this war in the way many expected them to. They're boxing clever, as the phrase goes, rather than swinging wildly....   None of the initial expectations about American policy once expressed by critics have proven to be correct. They haven't invaded Afghanistan.... They haven't hurled a cascade of bombs and missiles at Afghan cities. They have stayed firmly on the narrow, critical line that this is a war against terrorism, not a war against Islam. And they really are boxing clever. Dropping food and medical supplies to starving Afghans while at the same time dropping bombs on Taliban military installations may be political public relations but it is also real politics....  Just how clever American policy has been was confirmed this week when Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat cracked down on anti-American demonstrations in conspicuous contrast to his policy during the Gulf War. Arafat, indeed, is for once being clever himself. He's got a declaration of American support for a Palestinian state (something that Osama bin Laden cannot offer).  As a bonus, he's got Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon quarrelling with Washington.  Of course there'll be mistakes and miscalculations. In the 'fog of war' things always go wrong. So far, though, there hasn't been as smartly waged and, as is the ultimate unAmericanism, as subtly waged a war in a long time. Which is as well because it's been a long, long time since we've faced as difficult a foe."


"Must We Turn The Other Cheek"


Columnist Lysiane Gagnon commented in centrist French-language La Presse (10/9):   "A no-win situation. That is the expression that comes to mind whenever I hear the flow of complaints against the U.S. in our media.  For example: the U.S. air force drops food and medicine on Afghanistan.  Propaganda!  Inefficient!  Dangerous! says the spokesperson of MTdecins sans frontiFres who believes this will hurt the neutrality needed by humanitarian organizations.  But what would we have heard if the U.S. had not showed any humanitarian concern?  That they don't care about women and children, that they worsen the lot of Afghan refugees?  Whatever it does, the U.S. will be blamed."



"U.S. Using Brains As Well As Brawn"


Columnist Matthew Fisher observed in the conservative Ottawa Sun (10/7):  "Washington...has said it may use airdrops to deliver some of its massive aid package to starving Afghans. The proposal has infuriated some aid workers here. They hate seeing armies directly involved in what they regard as their bailiwick. But doing this would obviously help the U.S. present a more benign face than dropping lots of bombs would....  The U.S. has been playing it by ear, maintaining lots of flexibility to deal in a dozen different ways with whatever comes up. Patience, above all, will continue to be required."


BRAZIL: "The U.S. Retaliation"


Lead editorial in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo stated (10/8): "A response to the hateful attacks that left 6,000 innocent people dead was necessary to make clear that terrorism is not tolerated under any circumstance...but the current bombing of Afghanistan still needs to be made legitimate. The fact that Washington avoided an intemperate military response to the attacks was positive.  Rather than listen to advisors clamoring for an immediate retaliation, President Bush opted intelligently for an enormous diplomatic effort.  The result is a network of international support without precedent. To make itself legitimate in the network of international support it has created, Washington should convince its allies that it has been fighting against terrorist groups implicated in the attacks, take further political actions in the Middle East and Asia, and avoid killing civilians. On the first point, the U.S. showed the alleged evidence implicating al Qaeda only to allied countries.  On the second point, U.S. foreign policy has shown some flexibility in trying to pacify the Israel-Palestine conflict and in sending humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees. But the need for the U.S. to avoid civilian casualties will have to pass international muster.  It's too soon to tell if yesterday's attacks affected only military targets.  And the characteristics of this conflict mean it will be at least as hard to get reliable information as it was during the Gulf War. It's time, therefore, for the UN to take an active role.  It is the international organization best able to give legitimacy to the U.S. and allied actions and to censure any eventual abusive acts."


"Bombs And Beans"


Rio's conservative O Globo's editorial noted(10/9):  "The gesture [of providing food to] to the civilian population creates perspective.  Who knows if the packs with lentils and beans won't be the first step towards the construction of an Afghanistan with religious and political freedom, protected by the UN from neighboring ambitions?  It was possible in East Timor.  It's infinitely more difficult in this new challenge, but why not  try?"


BOLIVIA: "Let It Not Be A Religious War"


La Paz's centrist La Razon's editorial stressed (10/8):  "The (U.S.) attack was expected and is intended to have the least possible consequences for the civilian population.  We have been assured humanitarian aid is accompanying the missiles.  Almost the entire world sides with the Alliance."


CHILE:  "Parties Underscore Need To Increase Humanitarian Efforts"


Conservative, influential Santiago newspaper-of-record El Mercurio reported on the reactions of party leaders (10/9):  "The president of the Christian Democratic Party, Patricio Aylwin, said the country understands the U.S. reaction because it has a very strong position against terrorism... The president of the Socialist Party, Camilo Escalon, stressed that his party supports the U.S. military retaliation against the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, but underscored the need to increase humanitarian efforts for the refugees... 'We are in a completely different world than the one that existed, for example, during the Vietnam War, in which socialists... condemned the U.S. intervention.  What we face today has no relations to that international situation.  Yesterday it hit the U.S., tomorrow it could be any other nation.  Therefore, we support the U.S. military retaliation against terrorist organizations because we condemn terrorism wherever it originates,' said Escalona. The president of the PPD, deputy Guido Girardi... underlined that on the issue of terrorism 'we won't be neutral.'"


CUBA: "The Distinct War"


Official Communist Party Granma carried an Op/Ed piece by journalist Orlando Orama Le=n (10/10): "Maybe the 'distinct' note of this war, already used before, was the use of two C-17 transport planes that dropped 37,500 bundles of vegetarian food, including peanut butter and medicine onto Afghanistan.  The paradox of this 'humanitarian' bombing was that it was followed with the real attack by B-1 and B-2 bombers, as well as B-52 super fortresses, pursuit jets, surface ships, and U.S. and British nuclear submarines.  The most logical thing is that the victims of the Tomahawk and Cruise missiles would not in fact be the beneficiaries of the generosity coming from the sky.  This 'distinct' war is just as unfair as the others started by the United States.  To stop it on time is not only urgent, but would also support peace and be a real and international fight against terrorism."


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:  "Some Generosity!"


RadhamTs G=mez Pepfn, editor-in-chief of the left-of-center, leading El Nacional, stressed (10/8):  "It seems that the number of civilian victims is more than 20, and no sooner had the macabre task of picking up the bodies been completed when from the skies fell 37 thousand packets of food and medicine, these packages coming from the same persons who were throwing bombs.  !Some generosity!…What worries me, and there’s no reason for me to hide this, is the tremendous power which is now in the hands of President Bush and his allies, because I cannot put aside my fear that we could be on the brink of an uncontrollable situation, as was the discredited struggle against communism. This is in relation to this past Thursday’s meeting between Francisco Aguirre, the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The former links the Sandinistas with the governments of Iraq and Lybia…The Sandinistas, who were once called communists, are now placed next to the terrorists.  Will they suffer the abuse stemming from this odious denomination?" 


ECUADOR: "The Diplomacy Of Death"


Miguel Angel Albizurez writes in influential El Periodico (10/11): "Either the world has gone mad, or those who defend human rights have, because we cannot accept that the response to an act of terrorism is terror and death...  The  U.S. attacks, supported and hailed by more than forty heads of state, make us think mankind is losing its humanity, that we are sinking into a culture of violence, and that there are fewer voicesto speak up for a peaceful solution to conflicts..."How is it possible to launch missiles that cause death and at the same time, try to cover up the crime with tons of food?...  Despite the  advances in technology, in these types of attacks the majority of victims will always be innocent civilians, who will not reach the crumbs ofleftover food, but rather be reached by gunfire or a missile.  A country cannot pay for the criminal acts of a few.  In this case, (the U.S.) is not looking for those responsible for the attacks of September 11, butrather someone on whom to take out its anger....  Let's not be fooled; nowhere on earth is there good terrorism or bad terrorism - all forms of terrorism are wrong...  I speak up against the war whose origins we know, but not how it will end, nor how many lives of Muslims or Americans it will cost."


"And After Bin Laden?"


An opinion column by Diego Araujo Sanchez in center-left, influential Hoy (10/10): "Is any other political process in store for Afghanistan after the military phase?  And what about the situation of the majority of the population?  Is there a chance that food dropped by air resolves the drama of millions of refugees and the poverty of a society that has suffered, for a long time, the consequences of the violence of its own regime and so many years of war and devastation? The issue goes beyond what happens today and in the next days in Afghanistan.  The Middle East and, above all, the response given to the Israeli-Palestinian issue is on the agenda....  The possible punishment of Bin Laden or the Taliban regime will not end terror.  The latter also has its roots in the present absurd world 'order.' Beyond the capture of Osama bin Laden, we have to know if in reality we can create another order to fight against the deepest causes of terrorism in the world."


"Uncertain Actions"


An editorial in Quito's center-left influential Hoy asserted (10/10):  "Although the scope and intensity of the war against global terrorism has not yet been defined, an action against another nation is unlikely to gather the same support that the international coalition has offered to the military action against the terrorist network of Usama bin Laden and the Taliban regime...if the attacks are extended to other states, it is easy to foresee divisions in the coalition and rejection by the Arab countries....  After the unavoidable collateral damage produced by the destruction of military objectives in a country devastated by decades of cruel confrontations, not only will a massive humanitarian relief effort be needed for refugees and a population in a state of misery, but also a reconstruction program.  After defeating the present regime, there is not yet a clear political formula for a government that would respond to the needs and expectations of the Afghan people."


"The Other Afghan War"


An "Analysi" column in center-left influential Hoy (10/10):  "The U.S. must assimilate the fact that dropping food from a helicopter is not the same as directing a missile with precision. Therefore, it will have to find other ways of helping a population that is not guilty of having bin Laden as a refugee amongst them.


"The Complex Anti-Terrorist War"


An editorial in leading centrist El Comercio stressed (10/10): "The war declared by the U.S. against terrorism, with the support ofso many countries, is complex and singular.  Not only is it necessary to drop food from the air while other aircraft carry missiles.  It is urgent and unavoidable to underscore as effectively as possible, that this is not awar against Islam....  A war against the kind of terrorism that was capable of killing thousand of civilians in cold blood deserves the support of the great majority of countries....  In summary, this is an unpleasant war that the U.S. considers unavoidable. How can one not act after the bloody episode of the Twin Towers? There are risks and possible consequences that --just as the attack --affect everyone, including Ecuador.  The problems of the world have been globalized, and will be even more so if there is a war of this type."




CAMEROON:  "Ration"


Yaounde-based opposition, French-language tri-weekly Mutations opined (10/10), "So, America has struck back....  For this occasion, surgical strikes have been sidelined, certainly because the authentic surgical strikes were those that we saw on September 11.  But the innovation with this season's strikes don't lie in the collateral damages, but rather in those food kits--collateral ammunitions--that are thrown on Afghanistan in addition to the bombs' fire and hot iron.  We clearly see from here segments of arms pulled away, firmly holding food kits that the mouth will never eat.  As far as those food kits are concerned, there is a small problem.  U.S. Air Force admits that it dropped 37,000 kits the other day.  When we know that columns of poor Afghan devils trek in the hundreds of thousands, we think that America has made a simple calculation:  If the Afghan is not killed by a bomb, he will certainly pass away because of wounds sustained in the bloody fight to get one foodkit."


NIGERIA:  "Benevolent Terrorism"


The Lagos-based independent This Day (10/11) published an op-ed by its most-influential columnist, Olusegun Adeniyi, saying:  "How do they reconcile themselves to a situation where the British and American military forces that are dropping manna by way of grains and drugs at the day time are the ones raining bombs on [the Afghan people] at night.  But no one can really begrudge the Yankees for fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan but the idea of dropping food in the afternoon to people you may kill at night is a bit ludicrous.  Perhaps as a cynical friend said yesterday, dropping food first was to allow the hungry Afghans to congregate in an open space to receive the bombs.  May God save the poor people of this world."



This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home