|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|
At the start of the fourth week of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, overseas commentators have expressed increasing doubts about the "effectiveness" of the U.S. military strategy and a growing concern for Afghan civilian casualties. Many warned that the lack of results could lead to a possible erosion in the international coalition. With the Taliban still untoppled, Usama bin Laden still at large and the Northern Alliance yet to coalesce into a viable alternative Afghan regime--amid reports of civilian casualties and errant missiles strikes--analysts were alarmed and impatient. Many concluded that the U.S. campaign was not "going according to plan." The mostly vitriolic Arab and Muslim media essentially accused the U.S. of wanton" savagery and barbarism" in its quest for "revenge." Some in the European press posited that the air strikes were "counterproductive," producing results not "proportional to the costs, risks" or "expectations." And many others, including observers in Asia, Africa and Latin America questioned whether the U.S. was heeding its message of fighting only a "war on terrorism." Themes follow:
'War Without End,' Or Is U.S. Seeking A New World Order: While most Arab and Muslim media were outright disdainful of U.S.-U.K. military strikes, the complaints were not confined to the Islamic world. A majority of European and Western observers, along with others in Asia, expressed frustration that the objective of the war remained "unclear" and the campaign "unfocused," and complained that the U.S. had failed to achieve its "anticipated goals." Around the world, commentators concluded that the U.S. had "underestimated" the tenacity of the Taliban and pinpointed the lack of a "concrete plan" for a post-Taliban Afghanistan as a major weakness in the U.S.' strategy. Cynics suggested the U.S. was pursuing "imperialistic goals" beyond fighting terrorism. In contrast, a minority of mostly conservative and business outlets in Britain, Germany, Italy and Canada and the Polish press, supported air strikes, warning not to give into "resignation" and to be "patient" despite "a clear breakthrough."
Support For U.S. Military Ops Competes With Sympathy For Afghans: Arab and Muslim media seized upon reports of civilian deaths, attacks on hospitals and mosques, and spurious Taliban accounts as evidence that the U.S. was hitting Afghan civilian targets "on purpose." Many argued that the U.S. was losing broad support because of the rising death toll of civilians--particularly children--"equal in horror" to the thousands of WTC victims. In Pakistan, allegations of "thousands” of Afghan civilians killed by the "reckless “U.S.-UK bombardment” were often juxtaposed with commentary on the “aimless” military campaign's presumed “failure” to hurt the Taliban or al-Qaida. Most rebuffed U.S. apologies and humanitarian gestures, righteously declaring that "massacring human beings and showing mercy for them...do not go hand in hand." Meanwhile the European press, although "wary of the figures" reported by the Taliban, worried that additional civilian casualties would further erode Muslim/Arab support for the campaign. Many shared a conservative Swedish daily's view that "the repulsive policy of the Taliban does not justify a bomb war which exposes the Afghan people to additional suffering."
Bombing During Holy Month Of Ramadan; Most Warn Of 'Backlash': A majority in the Arab and Muslim media argued that failing to halt U.S. bombing during Ramadan will smack of betrayal and "erode the coalition's credibility in Muslim countries." Many warned of "serious repercussions in the Muslim world that will be more dangerous for the U.S. Many in the European and Western media, especially in liberal and left leaning outlets, worried about the message this would send to the Muslim world. Summing up the voice of pessimism, a pro-government, influential Greek paper predicted that continuing the strikes through Ramadan will unleash an Arab-Islamic "revolt" that could risk the possible "collapse" of U.S.-friendly regimes and unleash new terrorist activities. The most stalwart supporters of U.S.-led military strikes, however, remained the conservative British and Canadian press, which suggested that halting the war during Ramadan would demonstrate a lack of “resolve.”
EDITORS: Irene Marr, Gail Hamer Burke, Katherine Starr, Stephen Thibeault
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 121 editorials from 54 countries, October 20-29.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Keeping The Posse Together"
Quentin Peel, senior editor of the independent Financial Times, argued (10/29): "Mr. Powell has been the prime mover in forging the extraordinary international coalition to support the U.S.-led campaign against global terrorism...but that was the easy part. The real challenge for [him] now is to keep together a motley combination of traditional allies and more fair-weather friends, while at the same time heading off strong skeptics within the administration.... A strong conservative lobby in Washington is determined to make Saddam Hussein in Iraq the next target for military action. Yet such a move would instantly alienate many Middle Eastern and European members of the coalition."
"Strains Open Up Divide Across The Atlantic"
Bronwen Maddox, foreign editor of the conservative Times, contended (10/29): "Alarm on both sides of the Atlantic about the slow progress of the war is suddenly audible--and getting louder fast.... Perhaps the most obvious sign of tension, though, is the rhetorical scrap between Britain and the United States over what should properly be said about the length of the war."
"Neither Friend Nor Foe"
The liberal Guardian argued (10/29): "The Bush administration's insistence that the United States and Saudi Arabia are fighting shoulder to shoulder in the 'war on terrorism' is unconvincing. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, a bilateral relationship that is founded on an oil-for-arms protection racket has come under unprecedented strain.... There is no disguising U.S. anger and frustration at Saudi post-September 11 attitudes.... Yet amid all this righteous ire, Americans should reflect that they may themselves be partly to blame. Saudi Arabia is primarily of use to the United States as a source of cheap oil...as an arms buyer...[and] as a diplomatic bulwark...counterbalancing...Iran and Iraq. But this utilitarian U.S. policy has given little thought how best to engage on equal terms with a faith and a culture far removed from its own."
"How The World Has (And Hasn't) Changed"
The independent weekly Economist presented this editorial view (10/27): "So far, it is more striking how little has happened in the war than how much, in one good sense and one potentially worrying one. The good sense is that Usama bin Laden's hope that the war in Afghanistan would radicalize millions of Muslims has not yet been fulfilled. The potential worry, which may be premature or just blinded by this especially foggy war, is that America has not yet shown signs of a willingness to risk casualties among its own soldiers in the case of unseating the Taliban or catching bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorists.... Bin Laden has claimed that the American 'superpower' is really no power at all because it will not bear casualties..... Americans may be about to prove him wrong. He had better not be right."
"A Fog Of Uncertainty"
The liberal Guardian opined (10/26): "If bin Laden is the objective, why has military action so far been focused upon the Taliban whose overthrow is not a stated war aim. It is not disputed that high-altitude bombing and missiles have caused many civilian casualties. But it is not forgotten that precise and proportionate attacks were promised. Three weeks into a supposedly 'new kind of war' is it still appropriate to be using such tactics? What evidence is there that bin Laden possesses either chemical or biological weapons? Who is really calling the shots? Is it
President Bush? Is it the Pentagon, or Dick Cheney, operating from his 'secure location'? What has the bombing achieved so far? What are the military arguments against pausing the bombing while stepping up humanitarian aid? In short, it is becoming more and more difficult for ordinary people to judge whether this conflict is being waged wisely or well, or by the best available means. The fuller the answers to these, and other questions, the better the chances of retaining the necessary trust of the people."
"Deployment of British Troops Will Presage A Welcome Change In Tactics"
The centrist Independent offered this lead editorial (10/26): "We cannot know what information is available to military planners, but we can guess that the damage now being done to the Taliban's military infrastructure does not outweigh the damage being done to the U.S. and its allies in the propaganda war by the daily reports of civilian casualties. President Bush appears to have seriously underestimated the difficulty of selling the concept of U.S. as a victim to a worldwide audience that has 101 different reasons for resenting American wealth and power. Doubts about tactics, however, do not necessarily mean calling the entire strategy into question. In deploying ground troops, the U.S.-led coalition must remember the lessons of the bombing campaign so far--that military aims must always be in harmony with the wider political imperative."
FRANCE: "Choice Of Weapons"
Left-of-center Le Monde's editorial stressed (10/29): Washington's war in Afghanistan is as much a military war as it is a political war. On both of these fronts, it has just registered a number of defeats. The choice of weapons is an important issue. The United States should not have added to Afghanistan's misery by using cluster bombs.... [This method] is morally horrendous and terribly counter-productive...[and] is sure to upset Western public opinion and enrage even more Muslim public opinion."
"The Meaning Of War"
Jean de Belot observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/29): "Relatively ineffective from a military point of view, the air strikes represent...a political handicap. Television images are causing doubts in the West. In central Asia and Arab nations, public opinion is galvanized. Ground operations appear more necessary than ever, but never more delicate.... Yet, the feeling of ambiguity persists.... Washington needs to review its relationship with a number of Arab capitals and to stop giving its support to a number of regimes."
Jacques Amalric opined in left-of-center Liberation (10/29): "These counter-productive [air] strikes could threaten to break the anti-terrorist coalition.... The weakest link is also the most important for the United States--Pakistan.... Musharraf's regime has been weakened because of his forced alliance with Washington.... The Taliban are still in place...and this could lead Saudi Arabia to rethink its alliance.... For George W. Bush, it is all the more important to score some points because American pubic opinion could suddenly wake up and ask its president where this war against terrorism stands."
"First Failures, First Doubts"
Dominique Gerbaud concluded in Catholic La Croix (10/29): "America can still count on international support, yet feelings of doubt are beginning to emerge.... President Bush has set very high expectations: he will not be able to accept a half-victory."
Jacques Amalric insisted in left-of-center Liberation (10/27): "Abdul Haq's assassination was a terrible reversal for the world's number-one military power.... This U.S. failure added to the fact that Washington has been unable to find Bin Laden and his men, could be costly... What is even more serious is that Washington's inability to score decisively could last for many more months."
"The Pentagon's Miscalculations"
Patrick Saint-Paul judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/26): "The U.S. has underestimated the Taliban. This embarrassing confession acknowledged by the Pentagon on Wednesday for the first time raises another question which is even more troubling: As the American-led strikes enter their fourth week, what has the U.S. achieved on the ground?... It is now certain that the fall of the Taliban regime will take longer than planned."
Bernard Guetta opined on government-run France Inter radio (10/26): "As the strikes continue, there is a feeling of malaise and doubt in Washington. But if the strikes are continuing, it is because Washington has no other alternative.... A massive ground intervention would have triggered a guerrilla war, with the risk of the U.S. being called an invader. Another choice would have been a more massive bombing operation. While it was feasible militarily, this would have undermined the allied coalition.... The U.S. is forced to prolong the bombing phase because the post-Taliban scenario is not ready.... There are reasons for the prolonged bombing operation, unfortunately they cannot be heard over the clamor of the strikes."
"Civilians Under Fire"
An editorial in left-of-center Le Monde held (10/25): "No one spoke of a 'clean war.' On the contrary, the message was very clear concerning the unfortunate probability of civilian casualties.... We must be very wary of the figures given by the Taliban.... But whatever the figures, these will grow...as long as the strikes continue.... Can there be that much more military infrastructure that needs to be bombed in order to make U.S. troops feel safe? The question is all the more legitimate because, while the strikes do weaken bin Laden's organization and the Taliban regime, they also lead to political failures where results count--in the Arab Muslim world."
GERMANY: "This Is Not The Movies"
Matthias Kamann stated in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/29): "It is not surprising that the West is feeling unsure of its course of action seven weeks after the terrorist attacks.... [But] the Western reaction to the first few frustrating experiences can only be renewed effort. One should learn from military and intelligence mistakes, but, above all, one must not give in to resignation."
"Against Short-Sighted Approaches"
Stefan Kornelius observed in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/27): "The critics keep saying how the war should not be led. They say that bombs should only hit military targets and that the attacks should end when Ramadan begins. They say that war can breed additional terror and that, in general, the Western economic system and alliance policy in the Arab world is responsible for injustice. The answer: The critics are right about some things. Nevertheless...[their] arguments...are short-sighted, because they rest on the assumption that the chaos that has grown over 20 years of war can be turned into order overnight.... Honesty in this conflict means not keeping silent about problems of warfare, but also not losing sight of the goal."
"Trouble To Create Peace"
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich stated (10/26): "Europeans must be cautious that their ideas of a post-Afghanistan will not turn into a problematic division of labor between the U.S. and Europe. The Europeans and the Americans should not divide this job according to the view that the U.S. drops bombs and care packages until Osama bin Laden has been captured, while the Europeans, under the [UN] umbrella, safeguard peace and set up new political structures. This suspicion...is based on experience. Thus far, the U.S. has considered its relationship with the UN to be that of a surgeon with a nurse. To show an interest in a region once the involvement was over has never been of great concern for the Americans as repeated attempts to withdraw from Kosovo have demonstrated.... [In Afghanistan] the U.S. will have to cooperate to restore peace. "
"Compassion In Times Of War"
Nikolaus Blome observed in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/25): "The U.S. bombs are not the only reason that human beings are fleeing or that humanitarian aid cannot reach them. The Taliban regime is much more responsible for this situation: It has arrested western aid workers on charges of 'Christian proselytizing,' and it has allowed the country to sink into chaos and poverty. In their misguided fanaticism, the Taliban regime is trying to protect a man who is legitimately being hunted by the entire world. Right now, the air strikes are looking like the only available tool whose effectiveness cannot yet be called into question, even after two weeks without a clear breakthrough."
ITALY: "Emergency Is Wearing Out The Americans And President Bush"
Giampiero Gramaglia judged center-right Il Tempo (10/28): "In the nights that precede Halloween, the ghost of defeat is hanging over America which, for the first time since September 11, is wondering about the outcome of the war against terrorism.... On the domestic front, anthrax is making progress. On the external front, in Afghanistan, the Taliban hold and seem, in fact, to have an intelligence that is more effective than the American one: They capture spies and kill them."
"America Impatient, The War Does Not Make Progress"
Leading strategic expert Carlo Jean pointed out in leading business Il Sole-24 Ore (10/27): "Impatience is growing in the U.S. and international public opinion over the uncertain outcome of military operations against the Taliban.... The moderation of the U.S. response and the gradual use of force certainly add to the confusion.... Does this mean that the strategy is wrong, then? I don't think so. In my opinion, America's strategy is the only possible one.... The main question is whether the Western 'domestic front' and that of the moderate Islamic nations, especially Pakistan, will manage to resist longer than the Taliban.... In any case, the U.S. and the West as a whole cannot afford to change their goals or to be defeated, since that would be a disaster for all."
"Now For Bush, The Doubting Front Appears"
Vittorio Zucconi commented on the front-page of left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/26): "The feeling is growing that almost 3 weeks of bombing and top-secret missions in Afghanistan have not produced any results proportional to the costs, risks and, especially, to the expectations. Bin Laden's capture remains a 'chimera' and the administration's 'official line' has already been slightly changed: 'We don't know where he is, we won't be able to catch him for months,' the secretary of defense admitted in public."
"Rumsfeld: It's Difficult To Catch Bin Laden"
A front-page commentary by Gianni Riotta in centrist, influential La Stampa read (10/26): "There is no clear, straightforward victory looming ahead. Once the Taliban are toppled and the new government in office under UN control, it will be necessary to display evidence of some generous, immediate good will. Any allocation of resources for the development of Afghanistan...is no longer a compassionate project of solidarity...but is simply the path of reason.... If the war is fought and won with this strategic vision, (that is) striking the enemy and helping innocent people, the propaganda that is spreading hatred against democracy is going to fade."
"The Capture Of Bin Laden After The End Of The Regime"
Foreign news editor Alberto Flores d'Arcais commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/25): "The Pentagon knows that the problem of 'collateral damage'...may have a negative effect on the allies in the long run, but it also knows that that can hardly be avoided if the strategy of the Taliban is to mix with the civilian population in residential areas, in mosques, in hospitals. According to U.S. military leaders, the new formula 'more air power' (and more targeted), as well as 'a larger ground intervention' can guarantee significant successes in a relatively short time. What the U.S. administration and Bush, first of all, want to avoid, is being forced to commence a massive use of ground troops by extending the war. Seeking bin Laden and his guerrillas from lair to den, from cave to cave, risking additional losses of human lives, is a prospect that the Pentagon prefers to ignore. That can be done only after a new government has settled-in in Kabul, and when the areas liberated by the Northern Alliance become broader."
RUSSIA: "U.S. Erred About Taliban"
Boris Volkhonskiy remarked in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (10/27): "The Americans have erred about the Talibs' endurance as they bet on figures who have long since lost all influence in Afghanistan. Even now, with most of Taliban's military hardware destroyed, it remains the most powerful force in the country."
"Anti-Taliban Campaign Is Waste Of Time"
Vladimir Petrov asserted in reformist weekly VEK (10/26): "The U.S. campaign against international terrorism is not so much about destroying Bin Laden and his organization as about securing the objectives of the Bush administration--one, fighting a huge surplus of the federal budget...two, keeping up the show of force the U.S. has made since the disintegration of the USSR; and three, staging a massive PR action to ensure Bush a second term.... The administration glories in its image as the chief 'terminator' of international terrorism. But another more or less effective terrorist act against America would be enough for the electorate to realize that the anti-Taliban campaign...is a sheer waste of time."
"Nothing To Show For War Effort"
Mikhail Khodaryonok commented on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/26): "The way things are going in Afghanistan is far from what the White House had expected from its war effort. Over the almost three weeks of air raids and special operations on the ground, no spectacular victories have been won. The main reason is that the act of retribution was prepared in a hurry and that the air strikes have had to be carried out from afar, mostly from the sea."
"Some Precision Strikes"
Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya (10/25) gloated editorially: "The Yankees' precision strikes...have smashed an old folks home in a Gerat suburb...razed to the ground a village near Kandagar, killing refugees...destroyed an asphalt-making plant."
"Operation: Stage One Fails"
According to Arkadiy Dubnov in reformist Vremya Novostey (10/23): "Obviously, the first stage of the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan has fallen short of its objectives, both military and diplomatic. As a result, the Americans have had to change their tactics and turn back to the Northern Alliance. Hence the increased role of those who are behind them, primarily Russia.... The U.S. will have to reckon a great deal more with the political interests of the Afghans in the North and their sponsors."
ALBANIA: "Why Are We At War?"
Top-circulation, center-left Shekulli ran a front-page op-ed piece (10/25): "Pacifist? Bin Laden and his people do not love peace. It is enough to say that while the hijackers were preparing the attacks on NY and Washington, Israel and Palestine were close to an agreement. Respect for kamikaze?... Martyrs do not have any life-taking goals. Nor does religion justify kamikazes.... What should be done? We should take advantage of the fact that terrorism is isolated and occurs in small proportions. It can remain so only if we participate in this war. How? By simply objecting to the false forms of 'Islam,' 'pacifism,' and 'admiration' that were mentioned above. This means being on the side of the U.S. and the values it defends. We, Albanians, have more reasons than others to be on this side."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "New Tactics?"
Frantisek Sulc opined in right-of-center Lidove Noviny (10/29): "Three weeks of the allied campaign in Afghanistan have ended. The outcome has been minimal, but nobody expected that it would be done in a week.... On the other hand the Taliban have succeeded in surviving three weeks of the campaign and in showing that it is stronger than the opposition (The Northern Alliance).... What are they doing in the Pentagon now?... Whatever it is should be quick, because the approaching winter will restrict all military operations."
ESTONIA: "Why Must Bin Laden Be Killed?"
Priit Pullerits wrote in influential, top-circulation Postimees (10/29): "Where are the eyes of the human right protectors? The President of the U.S. has given an order to kill a person on the other side of the world without proving his guilt in court, and Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are not making a sound.... It would be wrong to consider the CIA...a gang of murderers equally brutal to the people who committed the September 11th attacks.... Capturing bin Laden, even though it seems more humane than killing him, would just give impetus to the propaganda machine of Islamic radicals.... History shows that [Islamic radicals] often lose their self-confidence and goals if their leaders are breathlessly lying in the dust."
FINLAND: "A Difficult War"
Leading Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (10/28): "The approaching winter season and...Ramadan are creating difficulties for the bombings and the next phase of the war. Prosecuting the war during Ramadan will erode the coalition's credibility in Muslim countries.... In Western Europe...voices of doubt are beginning to be heard on a growing scale. In the Islamic world, the situation remains quite sensitive and unpredictable."
"Many Bombs, Few Successes"
Liberal Hufvudstadsbladet's editorial read (10/24): "The question comes easily to mind whether the accomplishments that the U.S. is pursuing...are important enough to warrant displacing hundreds of thousands of new refugees. So far, the international community has answered yes. At the same time, large demonstrations indicate that criticism of the U.S. way of fighting terrorism is increasing.... A U.S.-brokered settlement in the Middle East conflict would immediately change the entire Moslem world's attitude towards the fight against fanatic Moslem terrorists. If the U.S. could contribute to the creation of a functioning Palestinian state, many prospective terrorists would lose much of their motivation and the U.S.'s Arab friends could conclude that the U.S. does not automatically always support Israel. "
GREECE: "The New Vietnam"
Yiannis Kartalis, managing editor of top-circulation, pro-government, influential To Vima, held (10/28): "Three weeks of bombardments against Afghanistan have proved ineffective. Bin Laden's assassination and Taliban's overthrow have not been achieved.... The American failure makes us seriously wonder whether the scourge of terrorism can be effectively combatted without coping, at the same time, with the issues that offer terrorists the pretext to act. Instead of surgical operations, as we were promised by the Americans, we see residential areas, hospitals, and Red Cross storehouses be bombarded. Washington's expression of regret...is just not enough.... The Americans have engaged in an operation that brings to mind Vietnam. Unless results are achieved soon, the Arab-Islamic world will revolt, particularly if bombardments continue during Ramadan. If that happens, regimes friendly to the U.S. will run the risk of collapsing, and general instability will prevail. So, the whole operation against Afghanistan will cause new terrorist activities, instead of suppressing terrorism."
"Thucydides And The Worst"
The lead editorial of influential, pro-government, anti-American Eleftherotypia insisted (10/28): "U.S. military operations have not brought about the desired result.... Greek historian Thucydides is once again vindicated. There is no war without unpredictable consequences, which are worse than what can be predicted. So, before the whole world, which is already terrorized, is faced with the worse, we should seek for a way back to logic, as those who had opposed the no-way-out war right from its beginning said."
ICELAND: "The War is going badly"
Populist, liberal DV editorialized (10/25): "Two weeks of attacks has not brought the U.S. military any closer to their goals, although that might change in the next few days.... The U.S. spin doctors in Afghanistan have not been able to hide this serious fact. The U.S. and its allies have lost the battle of the truth. Their information on the results and effects of the air raids has turned out to be false, and the Taliban information correct, as has been confirmed by NGO staff and the United Nations.... The danger is ever more present that Western support for the war will diminish fast. The biggest casualty in the war has been the official line that this is a war against terrorism. On the contrary; the U.S. has made a pact with terrorists in Afghanistan and terrorist governments in the vicinity of Afghanistan to murder innocent people. Soon the Western societies will realize that the U.S. government has reached a dead end in their attempts to avenge the terrorist attacks of September 11."
IRELAND: "Campaign Against Terrorism; Civilian Casualties"
The centrist Irish Examiner observed (10/23): "Afghanistan's Taliban turned its verbal artillery against the U.S. yesterday, accusing U.S. forces of killing more than 100 people in a hospital in western Herat and of using chemical and biological weapons.... 'We have absolutely no evidence at all that would suggest that that allegation is correct. I'm sure that it's not,' Mr.
Rumsfeld told reporters at a media briefing. ... 'It is now clear that American planes are intentionally targeting the Afghan people,' Abdul Salam Zaeef, the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan, told a news conference. 'The goal is to punish the Afghan people for having chosen an Islamic system.'"
HUNGARY: "The Balkans Of Eurasia"
Foreign editor Gabor Stier noted in conservative Magyar Nemzet (10/27): "The goal of the current war is not only to punish Osama bin Laden and to crush the Taliban but, as usual, to redistribute the spheres of influence and restore the balance of power. The winners of this game, as it seems at the moment, are the U.S. and Russia. The biggest losers of it seem to be Turkey and Iran.... The presence of the strong rival [China] is a challenge primarily to the Kremlin, because the U.S. will, most likely, manage to maintain the influence that is building up in the Eurasia region."
THE NETHERLANDS: "Evaluation"
Centrist Algemeen Dagblad argued (10/29): "One could...conclude that the battle going on is reaching its own limits. The fall of the Taliban is far from near, and there is also no reason to believe that Usama bin Laden will soon be captured. Sooner or later the current strategy will have to be reviewed. Countries now fully supporting the U.S. should utilize their alliance status also by pointing out the enormous risks of further escalation. That moment might even be here already."
Influential liberal De Volkskrant said in its editorial (10/23): "The Bush administration realizes very well that it has a tough propaganda war to fight.... In the interest of maintaining the coalition, the U.S. is keeping a very close eye on the proportionality of the military operations.... So far, the American approach worked: the heterogeneous coalition still stands... However, the biggest risk for the U.S. is the prospect of a hopeless war. That might be the reason why Secretary of State Powell says he hopes the job will be done before winter sets in. That was not very wise of him, because if that expectation cannot be met, we will have doubt prevailing; a doubt which from the point of view of media relations will not be easy to remove."
NORWAY: “Bombs Astray”
Social democratic Dagsavisen (10/26) declared: “Stray bombs in Afghanistan and increasing reports of civilian loss are undermining the support for the war that the U.S. with endorsement from a broad alliance is waging against terrorism.... For the U.S., the time is coming for a thorough reevaluation of the bombing strategy.... The Taliban’s cynical strategy uses civilians as shields. Soldiers, weapons and military equipment are hidden in mosques and among women and children in the villages. If the U.S. still bombs, and says that civilian losses are the Taliban’s responsibility, one plays right into the Taliban’s hands. Then the struggle for world opinion and with it the campaign against terrorism will be lost.... The generals also must take their own losses into account, and not be satisfied with registering Afghan civilian losses as ‘collateral damage.’ If one is not willing to do this, there soon will come a strong demand from a broad opinion group that ‘enough is enough,’ and the war must stop.”
POLAND: "Painful But Necessary"
Zygmunt Slomkowski opined in leftist Trybuna (10/29): "The Pentagon's asking for patience is justified, even though we don't know what the politicians and generals have up their sleeve. The point is that there is no other way but to continue the ongoing operation-both in the military and political sense. This is a painful necessity, especially as the bombardments affect also civilians. This chapter can be closed only if the Taliban are overthrown and the Afghan terrorism cells liquidated. Otherwise, Usama bin Laden and his allies will triumph, which will mean a defeat not only to the U.S., but to the entire anti-terrorist coalition--with possibly fearsome consequences."
"May It End Before Ramadan"
Krystyna Szelestowska wrote in leftist Trybuna (10/25): "There is nothing to indicate that the Afghan operation will end soon. Colin Powell, the usually judicious U.S. secretary of state, announced...that the military operations would continue even through Ramadan because the objectives of the anti-terrorist campaign were more important than this Islamic holiday...which means that...the Americans...[don't] understand the Muslims' mentality.... A continuation of war actions during this time will be received very negatively by all Islamic countries, and it will turn against the U.S."
PORTUGAL: "Odor Of Petroleum"
Euro-deputy and former Portuguese President Mário Soares observed in top-circulation, center-left weekly Expresso (10/27): "Apparently, what we are dealing with is a confusing war in the shadows, beween good and evil, in which the true enemy (the absolute evil, Bin Laden and his partisans) is hiding.... And again, as during the Gulf War, there is a certain suspect odor of petroleum in the air... It is important to know how to intelligently sort through the information that is provided to us and not to lose sight of the values we need to safeguard. Otherwise we provide ammunition to our adversary and weaken our own camp."
ROMANIA: "A Fight For Global Hegemony"
Political analyst Florin Diaconu maintained in pro-government Jurnalul National (10/27): "At the end of the war against terrorism, the U.S. will obtain not only the exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks, but also unprecedented...position of uncontested global hegemony.... The war in Afghanistan is therefore the furnace, where the instruments (are being hardened) with which America will dominate the world for at least for ten more years, without anyone daring to say anything against it."
SPAIN: “Three Fronts Of The International Conflict”
Independent El Mundo observed (10/26): “Doubt remains whether Rumsfeld is only recognizing the reality of the difficulty in capturing Bin Laden, or whether the U.S. is getting ready to try to physically eliminate the head of Al Qaeda without letting the public know in order to avoid making the Saudi millionaire into a martyr.”
“The Afghan Equation”
Centrist La Vanguardia noted (10/25): “Time is of the essence, and not only because Ramadan and the winter both approach. The longer the conflict lasts, the more likely that more mistakes will be made, which would increase the tensions among Muslims.”
"Washington And Taliban, Between Propaganda And Disinformation"
Independent El Mundo wrote (10/23): "The Taliban, which prohibits television on its own soil...can't be considered the most reliable source of information, to say the least.... But if the Americans come to us cloaked in this necessary silence in order to wiggle out of answering questions that they could have known the answers to--for example, that supposed hospital destroyed in Herat, which now they say 'they don't have any information on and have no comment'--it would be creating a much more serious loss of credibility than that of the Taliban."
SWEDEN: "Bombs Without Targets"
Social Democratic tabloid Aftonbladet contended (10/28): "The fight against hyper-terrorism that is carried out by diplomacy, information gathering, and economic warfare is worth all support. The bombing campaign, which mainly should be seen as the need of the U.S. administration to answer demands from domestic opinion, is not.... Supposedly, bombs should, to the greatest possible extent, spare civilians.... [Yet civilian] casualties are growing by the day, relief organizations and hospitals fall to pieces...and there is a risk that the heterogeneous coalition against terrorism will break up.... The bombardment is not only just inhuman, it will also likely result in a political defeat for the U.S.-led alliance."
"The Country Beyond Assistance"
The independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter (10/25) ran this editorial: "The American bombs are not what caused the present destitution in Afghanistan.... The pressure from relief organizations (to halt the bombing) is growing.... Their frustration that they no longer can go on with their mission is understandable. But less comprehensible is that they do not realize the risk of being politically exploited; that their demands for a halt in the bombing will play into the hands of the Taliban--a regime that is interested in presenting suffering civilians, and nothing else."
SWITZERLAND: "A War Against Whom?"
Marcel Huber, foreign editor of leading German-language, center-left Berner Zeitung, commented (10/27): "The pictures of destroyed houses [in Afghanistan] and people fleeing sets us to thinking and we can't help asking whether this aerial warfare is reasonable.... The goal of the U.S. is to capture Osama bin Laden, to destroy his strongholds in Afghanistan and to deprive the Taliban of its power. The interim balance is sobering: Bin Laden cannot be found.... Some military bases have been destroyed, but bin Landen and his followers still have numerous inaccessible hiding places in the mountains. As for the Taliban, they are still in power; they are not cowed by the massive air strikes."
TURKEY: Media Treatment
Headlines read (10/25): "Dying by 'mistake'" (Cumhuriyet, intellectual/ opinion-maker); "Civilians cornered" (Radikal, intellectual/opinion maker); "Afghan people human shields" (Hurriyet, mass-appeal); "Thousands of Afghans looking for sanctuary" (Yeni Safak, Islamic/ intellectual). Newspaper reports focused on Afghan civilian deaths due to poor targeting by the U.S. as well as the Taliban's use of civilians as shields against air strikes, what Hurriyet termed as 'Saddam's tactic.' Hurriyet quotes refugees coming into the Northern Alliance area as saying that the Taliban soldiers are lying low in schools, mosques and universities. The refugees say that many Afghanis secretly support the U.S. and the air strikes, but if it is suspected that they are opposed to the Taliban, they disappear in the night. Cumhuriyet says there are even stories that the Taliban are firing into Afghan villages themselves. Whether they are doing this because the villages are believed to hold people who are anti-Taliban, or if they are trying to make it appear that the U.S. is indiscriminately attacking civilians is not known.
“Double Mission For Turkey”
Sami Kohen wrote in mass-appeal Milliyet (10/25): “Turkey can assume two main functions in the upcoming period in Afghanistan. Turkey can take part in the international peacekeeping role, which might be one led by Muslim states.... Turkey can also play a role in efforts toward shaping Afghanistan’s political structure in a post-Taliban period. There is no consensus how exactly to fill the political vacuum in Afghanistan after the Taliban. Turkey can play a facilitative role in reaching a consensus...[and] even host a meeting for that purpose.”
"U.S. And Dorian Gray”
Fehmi Koru argued in Islamic/intellectual Yeni Safak (10/25): “The U.S. has the capacity and technology to continue the Afghan war for years. As the war drags on, its ugliness will also make the U.S. image uglier. It will become like the picture of Dorian Gray in Oscar Wilde’s famous story.”
EGYPT: "Roots Of Terrorism Not Easily Plucked Out"
Moderate pro-government Al Gomhouriya said in Editor-in-Chief Samir Ragab's back page column (10/29), “The Taliban is still in control and not imprisoned in their caves as the U.S. says.... We do not understand how the coalition strikes simple people who own nothing, do not know what is going on around them, and then the Pentagon apologizes. What is the use of this apology?... When the international community announced its support for a U.S. campaign against terror, it was confident the U.S. could pluck out the roots of terrorism but the question now is: Are these countries going to be patient--as well as the U.S.--or will they look for another solution?"
"Looking For Innovative Ideas"
Columnist Nabil Zaki wrote in liberal opposition Al Wafd (10/29): "The U.S. has accomplished neither absolute justice nor permanent freedom; rather what it wrought was death and destruction everywhere in Afghanistan. It increased the toll of the dead. It seemed that the U.S. remembered an Indian tribe it had neglected to slay and so decided to do that now. This war with its savageness and barbarity says we are not living in a civilized world. Anyone who reads the Charter of the UN would learn that was the lesson to the world came to know after World War II. Force is not the only criterion by which a country proves its strength; values and ethics count too. Revenge does not bring about justice and punishment does not guarantee protection and security. There is today an evil sperm growing inside the womb of the U.S.."
Senior columnist Samir Ragab writing in the moderate pro-government Al Gomhouriya remarked (10/29): "The U.S. is now losing the support of the international community thanks to its 'naive' and provocative killing operations because, up till now, the only victims are children, the elderly and women.”
KUWAIT: "This Statement Is Worthless"
Liberal Ibrahim Rashed Al-Duaij wrote in independent Al-Seyassa (10/27): “Some Islamist MPs have issued a statement denouncing the American military campaign against terrorism. These MPs are exploiting Islam.... Such acts are an offense to Kuwait because these MPs are jeopardizing Kuwait’s relationship with its American ally. If it were not for God and the U.S. who hurried to Kuwait’s rescue in 1990, our people would have been refugees. I tell the authors of this ‘cheap’ statement that it is worthless because the people of Kuwait are not stupid as to be deceived by their attempt."
"A Dagger And Charity"
Islamist Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al-Shaibani wrote in independent Al-Qabas (10/25): “Massacring human beings and showing mercy for them are two actions that do not go hand in hand. How could (America) send the Afghans food aid after scorching the earth and destroying everything that lives on it. The food aid is just as harmful as it contains pork products prohibited by Islam and the flour is mixed with drugs.... America is murdering innocent women and children...only to satisfy its revenge seeking, blood thirsty people.”
SAUDIA ARABIA: "The Absurdity of War!"
Jeddah-based moderate Al-Bilad maintained (10/29): "The air attacks on Afghanistan have taken on very dangerous and destructive dimensions, and have reached the level of mass destruction of civilians. After almost a month, thousands of U.S. missiles and tons of bombs are still falling on Afghan cities, destroying their villages and burying their families. In spite of the world's efforts to keep this war concentrated on its desired targets, the Taliban and al-Qaida, which are responsible for this tragic situation in Afghanistan. The world still does not know how Washington characterizes the military errors that harm only innocents. The American eagle has become ignoble by continuing its campaign after losing track of its targets. Is the U.S. administration relying on its military strength to win results for its own people and for the world, without considering how long the war will go on, and the implication of killing civilians?"
The Jeddah-based, English-language Saudi Gazette held (10/29): "In three weeks of airstrikes in Afghanistan, the U.S. has gained little militarily or politically. The war, it is believed, is not to destroy an impoverished and war-ravaged country, but to stem terrorism.... The war against terrorism is a global affair and everyone understands that terrorists, being a faceless enemy, cannot be defeated through conventional warfare alone.... Terrorism is a symptom, not the disease...if the world is determined to root out this scourge, it must concentrate on remedying its causes. One of the main causes of world terrorism is Israeli policy.... The world should also prepare to resolve other 'disputes' as well by ending the denial of peoples' rights and killing of innocent non-combatant civilians...on a daily basis.... By ending the crisis in Afghanistan, the U.S. intends to help major American oil companies to bag prized projects and strengthen the U.S. economy."
"Tread With Care"
The moderate, English-language Riyadh Daily opined (10/29): "While none would seek to dispute the wisdom of the war on terrorism, reckless moves to hasten up the process could only prove detrimental to the campaign.... Along with this debacle (Abul Haq's execution) comes frequent reports of bombs going astray and the deaths of civilians.... These strikes on civilians cannot be merely dismissed as conditions of war.... When neighboring countries offered airspace and other facilities for strikes on Afghanistan, there was no clue at that time of the possibility of the colossal loss to civilian lives and properties. The war on terrorism has the support of all peace-loving quarters of the world. Yet rash moves could easily rebound on the coalition, even threatening to fragment it. The Western forces need to tread with care, especially as the campaign promises to be a long, enduring conflict."
SYRIA: "Unknown Destiny"
Riad Zein commented in government-owned, English-language Syria Times (10/28): "Repercussions of the U.S.-led military offensive against Afghanistan are apparently grave. It has raised deep concern among members of the international community...which is really pre-occupied with the current tragic conditions and human sufferings in Afghanistan.... The U.S.-led anti-terror coalition is becoming more fragile and the feverish political attempts being made to form a new Afghani broad-based government for the post-war era are not only vague but problematic as well. The continuation of the American attacks without legal and moralistic controls, without evidently justifiable reasons and without full sponsorship of the UN organization, will make the entire campaign futile. It might lose its final objective of combating
terrorism worldwide and wherever it is and can produce consequences of evil nature having adverse impacts on the entire globe including Americans."
TUNISIA: "What War, And What Truth?"
Editor-in-Chief Mustapha Khammari in independent French-language Le Temps (10/28): "Three weeks of bombing on Afghanistan, do not seem to have had concrete results, or at least the results hoped for by the American administration. Could we add to that that the real tangible results are those of collateral damage, 'in Americanese' called errors, and which destroyed houses, hospitals and Red Cross warehouses.... There were hundreds of civilian victims, if not more. The images shown on TV of dead or injured children are unbearable and equal in horror to the thousands of the WTC victims, with the only difference that the Afghan victims, are killed in a war that is supposedly legal!."
"Firing Errors, Simply Errors"
Editor-in-chief Mustapha Khammari wrote in independent French-language Le Temps (10/23): "What happens in Afghanistan honors neither the U.S. nor the international community: Here is the first world power punishing a country simply because it is being run by an archaic and obscurantist regime sheltering presumed terrorists. The U.S. decided to fight this regime... . The result was a deluge of bombs and missiles shot from long distances with the evident risk that they would miss the assumed military targets and hit residential areas.... These supposed errors caused a tragedy for this population. Hundreds of civilians died. A hospital was hit head-on as well as UN buildings.... In the meantime, the Taliban authorities and the Al-Qaida troops run free from American attacks and taunt the U.S. military forces.... The result is a fresh upsurge of bombings with the increasing risk of 'collateral damage,' i.e. civilian victims. This situation has become intolerable. Americans must be asked to put an end to bombing without waiting for Ramadan.... The international community must no longer accept these bombings: The silence of the UN makes it a consenting accomplice.... The solidarity expressed by the whole world after the September 11 attack vis-a-vis the U.S. does not legitimize the right to bury the Afghan population under bombs."
PAKISTAN: "Growing Frustration Over U.S. Air Strikes"
Islamabad's rightist English language Pakistan Observer stated (10/29): "A growing frustration is, of course, emerging in the international community, which had lent full support to Washington to fight terrorism in the hope that the U.S. military operations will be targeted, precise and short.... We strongly feel that the U.S. should review and attune its plans in Afghanistan to the ground realities. It is necessary to avoid further human losses as also to save the neighboring countries, especially Pakistan from the social and economic turmoil due to the refugee influx. Understandably, President Bush's declaration of war against Usama and Taliban was designed more to satisfy the enraged American people. A covert CIA operation would have, otherwise, achieved the objective with far less cost in human and financial terms."
"Stop This Carnage"
The centrist, national News editorialized (10/29): "While their protests against the almost fruitless and increasingly meaningless bombing in Afghanistan are not being heard, either in Islamabad or in Washington, it is clear that extremists and radicals are not going to give up without using every dirty trick to avenge what they believe are senseless deaths in Afghanistan. The irony is that their act of blind revenge against innocent, peaceful Christians living in Pakistan, falls in the same category--of irrational mass murders--which they accuse the U.S. and the West of committing in Afghanistan. This is absolutely not a case of an eye for an eye.... Without doubt the problems of General Musharraf and his military colleagues have
multiplied with this new dimension of terrorism. But their reactions would determine the direction in which the country moves on from this point. They have to work on many tracks. Foremost is to stop terrorists from killing innocent people, be they Muslims of any sect, Christians or any other minority. More important would be to work even faster on rooting out the causes of the current wave of desperation, and its resultant fury among Muslims feeling the pain and grief of their victimized Afghan brothers."
Karachi-based, independent, national Dawn argued (10/29): "The addition of cluster bombs to the deadly weapons raining down on Afghanistan will invite greater international criticism and only make matters worse, not just for the Afghan people, but also for the anti-terrorism coalition. A country already ravaged by the presence of hundreds of thousands of unexploded land mines could do without any more instruments of death."
"Efforts To Wake Up The Sleeping Tiger"
Sensationalist Ummat editorialized (10/25): "There has been an increase in the frustration of the U.S. after having failed to kill or nab the terrorists. As a result, both America and its ally the U.K. have intensified their barbaric air strikes on civilian targets in Afghanistan. The continuation of Taliban power after the killing of U.S. commandos is a matter of great shame for the U.S. One thing that is pretty clear is that after eighteen days of war, the U.S. has not been able to achieve any success worth mentioning during this period."
"U.S. Acceptance Of Its Crimes"
Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Jasarat (10/25): "Three weeks of intensified bombardment by the U.S. has killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, which it does not admit and calls it Afghan propaganda.... It is amazing that hospitals, mosques and food markets are being targeted and the U.S. is not aware of it. It is not the first time that the U.S. has termed civilian casualties as the price for eradicating terrorism. When it dropped atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands of people, it called it the cost of ending the Second World War. Now the U.S. will kill thousands of Afghan Muslims and call it the minimal cost to save the entire world."
"Civilian Casualties In Afghanistan"
Aziz-ud-Din argued in the center-right, national Nation (10/25): "When the U.S. decided to attack Afghanistan which provides no prestige targets, it was a foregone conclusion that what was going to be hit were innocent citizens. When bombs and missiles are directed from high altitude airplanes, it is not possible to maintain 100 percent precision. General Meyers admitted this at the start of hostilities. Western countries, including the U.S., have harbored terrorists wanted by other countries and have refused to hand them over despite repeated demands. Will these countries be justified if they attack possible locations of the criminals and kill hundreds of U.S. or British citizens in the process, maintaining that civilian casualties are inevitable in such a situation?"
"Thank You Al-Jazeera TV"
Khalid Mahmood Rasool wrote in the center-right, national Nation (10/25): "In these moments of terror, horror, hypocrisy and brutality, thanks are due to al-Jazeera to let us have real pictures in virtual time. The ground situation is terrible and is obvious from fleeing refugees and the collapse of the already scarce infrastructure in Afghanistan. Though the world is terribly busy in numbering the days of Taliban government, we the helpless viewers have at least one screen open to see the reality that is so frightening to see. The only worry is how long this window will be allowed to remain open, as U.S. investors are too eager to purchase the product
of 'good value'."
INDIA: "No Picnic This"
The centrist Indian Express editorialized (10/29): "It would be an exercise in self-deception to regard the brutal execution of Afghan opposition commander, Abdul Haq, as just another death in a barbaric war.... His execution means that the Taliban, even after 20-odd days of unremitting pounding by the U.S. with the help of the most sophisticated arms and ammunition in the world, are not about to give up the ghost.... Already, there are signs of the U.S. administration getting more realistic about its objectives.... These are useful reality checks and will hopefully moderate the blind 'bomb 'em back to the stone age' rhetoric of many Washington hawks.... The Pentagon...doesn't have many options before it but the few it has will have to be pursued with sense and sensitivity."
"Do They Deserve To Die?"
Bureau chief Seema Mustafa declared in Asian Age (10/27): "A war without an end in sight is the worst act of vengeance against a nation. Thousands of people have been killed in New York and Washington. But this war is not about them. It is a war to establish the hegemony of the U.S. It is a war to legitimize inequality. The military build-up in the region is not required for Laden. It is necessary for the years of strife and domination that George W. Bush has promised. The U.S. is promising a new just world order. A global phenomenon where there will be no 'evil'. In this world order Americans will not be allowed to die at the hands of others. And if they do, the children of the 'others' will have to pay the price."
BANGLADESH: "The U.S. Is Conducting Genocide In Afghanistan"
Anti-West Bangla language newspaper Inqilab (10/29): "The hard reality in Afghanistan is that the U.S. has been killing hundreds of innocent people, including women and children, destroying schools, mosques and even Red Cross food storage depots and turning the entire country into a dangerous mine field so that those who will survive the present conflict are killed by these unexploded bombs. In fact, the goal of the U.S. campaign is to eliminate the entire Afghan nation. The U.S. has failed to apprehend or kill Osama Bin Laden even after launching an all-out attack on a poor nation like Afghanistan.... Not only the people of the Muslim world, but also all peace-loving people of the world condemn the genocide, which is being conducted by the U.S."
"Stop Bombing Afghanistan: Talk To Muslim Countries"
The conservative English language New Nation maintained on page one (10/29): "The Muslim countries have from the beginning extended support for action against terrorism. But the killing of innocent men, women and children is quite a different matter. If the objective is to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice for his alleged crimes--which are yet to be definitively proved or established--bombing for so many days is doing anything but achieving this objective. The indiscriminate bombing and killing of helpless people is creating a backlash not helpful to America's cause of punishing terrorists. The question is being asked if America can justify the killing of innocent people then why can't others?"
"U.S. Achieves Little in Three Weeks"
Independent Bangla language Prothom Alo Special Correspondent's report from Islamabad (10/25): "The U.S. air campaign in its third week faces unexpected obstacles. As a result, the hope to end the campaign soon has gone astray. Osama Bin Laden is still out of the reach of the Americans. The Taliban is still in place and there is no sign that Mazar-e-Sharif or Kandahar will fall soon. Political and military experts in Islamabad agree that the Taliban's ability to sustain continued U.S. airstrikes has surprised many of them.... The Taliban has no formal
administrative framework. The regime is run by Mollah Omar's wishes and personal decisions. The U.S. thinks that if he is killed or apprehended, the regime will crumble down soon. However, the main U.S. objectives--arresting Bin Laden and defeating terrorism--remain beyond their reach."
NEPAL: "Rethink Afghan War"
In the view of an editorial in centrist Space Time Today (E/D, 10/29): "While no sane person will object to the need to fight concertedly against international terrorism, the U.S., its allies and governments playing supportive roles in the U.S.-led war against terrorism have to come to terms with the reality that the more the war drags on in Afghanistan, the more likelihood there is that international opinion favoring the fight against terrorism will wane.... Simply continuing to bombard Afghanistan is not likely to solve the problem. Even sending ground combat soldiers into Afghanistan is no guarantee that Osama bin Laden can be hunted down, especially since many suspect he may not even be living in that country anymore. Therefore, to go on punishing a whole society just on the pretext that the regime in Afghanistan has been harboring bin Laden and others like him becomes doubly more difficult to justify."
SRI LANKA: "West Will Have To Learn Like We Did"
An op-ed Farah Mihlar Ahamed in the independent, popular Daily Mirror observed (10/29): "America and Britain will soon have to realize that they cannot defeat terrorism by bombing Afghanistan. They will come to realize that the innocent people who get killed by the bombs they drop will only whip up support for the terrorists' cause. They need to realize the root causes and they need to find solutions for the grievances that create terrorists. For long it was the West that decided who is a freedom fighter and who is a terrorist--now they may have to redefine that, beyond their selfish concerns in a way that is justifiable to the world."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Oh! For A Warrior Of Wisdom In Time Of War"
La Trobe University academic David Day cautioned in the national, conservative Australian (10/29): "Instead of simply supporting a campaign to discover and bring to justice the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocities, the Australian Government has signed up for a war that, like the one against drugs, may have no end. The objective of this war remains unclear.... John Howard has declared Australia's national interest is involved in wholeheartedly supporting the U.S., arguing the attack was as much against Australia as the U.S. This is nonsense. It was a targeted attack against two potent symbols of US economic and military power. And the U.S. response is not really a war on terrorism per se. It is a war against only those groups and individuals who use terror against the U.S. As much as Americans protest it is not a war against the Muslim world, this is how it will increasingly be seen as various lukewarm supporters of the U.S. position drop away as the war drags on and civilian casualties mount."
"U.S. Strategy In Afghanistan May Have Missed Its Target"
Commentator Brian Toohey had this critique in the weekend's business-oriented Australian Financial Review (10/27-8): "Initially deposing the Taliban was supposed to be a secondary objective to the capture, or death, of bin Laden and his associates. It now appears to have become the de facto primary goal, with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, acknowledging that bin Laden may never be caught.... The US is now heavily bombing the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters defending the approaches to Kabul. In due course the bombing may well assist the Northern Alliance to take Kabul. But little will be achieved by this. The Northern Alliance is a brutal, drug-dealing bunch, little better than the Taliban.... On the other hand the bombing may work. The Taliban may fade away. The U.S. may betray the Northern Alliance and a peaceful, broad-based government may be installed in Afghanistan... For the moment
however the main outcome of the bombings seems to be a renewed flow of refugees and little diminution of the Taliban's hold on power."
"Beware Mission Creep"
National affairs editor Peter Charlton wrote in the conservative Brisbane Courier Mail (10/27): "Disturbing signs are beginning to emerge from Washington that the hawks in the Pentagon...want to extend the war into a second phase.... Already we are seeing disturbing signs of [mission creep] phenomenon: the possible need for additional troops; the clear intention of some influential players in Washington to extend the operation; and the composition of the Australian contingent.... On Thursday the Prime Minister specifically ruled out conscription. But increasing the size of the Australian force...will require more troops than the army has at the moment or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.... If, as the defense bureaucrats would have us believe, national security is threatened, we are entitled to an explanation of why, from whom and how."
"Reasons For War"
The leading Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (10/26): "It is far from certain that [the aims of the coalition] can be achieved at an acceptable price, in terms of civilian and military casualties, or in a reasonable time. If they cannot, the support for the U.S.-led campaign--in Australia and elsewhere, and particularly among moderate Islamic states--is likely to dissipate. That likelihood will be all the greater if President Bush, decides on military strikes in other countries, such as Iraq, in pursuit of his declared intention to stamp out terrorists wherever they operate."
CHINA: "The U.S. Worries About Its Battle As Ramadan Approaches"
An Guozhang wrote in the official Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao), (10/29): "As Ramadan approaches, the U.S. is becoming increasingly worried about whether to continue the fight.... In fact, the problem now is not whether the U.S. can win the war, but how to win the war and at the same time prevent the Afghan resistance from becoming a jihad against the West."
"U.S. Anti-Terror War Faces Rough Going"
Official English-language China Daily observed (10/29): "The U.S. says its war against terrorism is proceeding as planned, but nearly three weeks into its military offensive in Afghanistan it is running up against tough problems on all fronts.... With Kabul's ruling Taliban putting up unexpectedly stiff resistance....Washington's hopes for a major breakthrough before winter are fading. On the diplomatic level, the support coalition forged by Washington is creaking under pressure from restive Islamic states. Nerves are also frayed on the U.S. domestic front, beset by the world's first campaign of bio-terrorism."
HONG KONG & MACAU SARs: "No Victory Without Political Plan"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (10/28): "The admission last week that the Taleban were proving to be a tough nut to crack set off alarm bells that all was not going according to plan. The problem in essence is that the results of the military action are proving to be too slow in coming. Worse than this there are signs--still faint, but nevertheless detectable--that the U.S. campaign is in danger of stalling. The fundamental reason for this is that there is no concrete plan for a post Taleban Afghanistan. Furthermore, it is certainly now clear that a great deal more than air power will be needed to topple the Taleban. Indeed, it seems that the U.S. bombing so far has only served to strengthen Taleban resolve and--as civilian casualties mount--its support within Afghanistan.... Most importantly, the U.S. and its allies cannot push ahead with all force until it is decided what elements are capable of setting up an acceptable post-Taleban government.... This crucial issue must be addressed before the next phase of the campaign. If not, impatience and frustration at a
protracted, apparently unfocused, military campaign is certain to grow."
"Military Actions Advance Slowly"
The independent Hong Kong Economic Journal noted in its editorial (10/26): "The Peshawar meeting yielded no specific results. Although the meeting did denounce the September 11 terrorist attacks, it also asked the U.S. to stop bombing Afghanistan.... The U.S. faces the arduous task of moderating the anti-Taleban forces in Afghanistan. In the meantime, it has to deal with differences within the international anti-terrorism coalition. Russia, Iran and India have always supported the Northern Alliance, but Pakistan has never wanted the Northern Alliance to become too powerful. The Peshawar meeting was obviously held under the shield of Pakistan. Although the U.S. can use its military force to overcome the Taleban, post-Taleban Afghanistan will still be a complicated problem. Will the U.S. government and the American people have enough patience to deal with this problem?"
"After The Taliban, Who Will Dominate Afghanistan?"
The Pro-PRC Macau Daily News wrote in its editorial (10/25): "In order to avoid losing political balance in Afghanistan and to safeguard the geographical interests of peripheral countries, setting up a widely representative Afghani government is the only choice for the U.S. This has become the consensus of the international community. The only questions are: Which political powers will make up the government and how to balance their power and interests? The U.S. already said that a place should be reserved for 'the enlightened group' among the Taleban. However, this suggestion is opposed by the Northern Alliance and Russia.... If the Taleban fall from power and the new government is slow in coming, how will the situation be handled? How to fill the vacuum? People begin to think of the UN. The UN can send in peacekeeping troops."
JAPAN: Media Treatment
Lead stories (10/29) in conservative Sankei gave top play to a shift in the U.S.'s strategy to a "war of attrition" because of unexpectedly fierce Taliban resistance. Most papers front-paged the shooting death of 18 Christian worshippers in Pakistan and the bombing death of 11 persons in the Philippines. In Japan, the proposed "anti-terrorist" legislation cleared the Upper House plenary session, finally enabling JSDF troops to give rear-area support for the on-going U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.
"Time To Consider Peace In Afghanistan"
The liberal Asahi editorialized (10/25): "The U.S. military has been intensifying air strikes against Taliban strongholds in support of the opposition Northern Alliance and to weaken the Taliban leadership. The Taliban's expected withdrawal from Kabul would create a power vacuum, throwing the civil war-scarred nation into further confusion and chaos. The UN is mediating the formation of a post-Taliban government. It has been about half a month since the U.S.-led air military campaignstarted. Although the U.S. continues to search for Osama bin Laden and captureal-Qaeda terrorists, it is now time for the world organization to discussways to restore peace to Afghanistan. As long as Afghan people from different ethnic origins cannot live in peace and harmony, hotbeds of injustice and terrorism in the poverty-stricken nation will not be eliminated. If the on-going military campaign should aggravate the on-going civil war, the reconstruction of Afghanistan would become even more distant and difficult."
INDONESIA: "Terrorism: Question And Solution"
Legal observer H.M. Tahir Azhary commented in independent Gatra news weekly, dated (11/3): "Should the U.S. continue the strikes on Afghanistan, even while turning a blind eye to the Muslims' forthcoming significant period, Ramadhan, there might be a global polarization to
come shortly, that is, the pro vs. the anti-U.S. groups. It is worrisome that escalation of the anti-U.S. groups would increase, which could end with political jolts and risk the monetary crises of such countries like Indonesia. To deal with terrorism, therefore, war is not the common sense way. Advanced countries, especially the U.S., should be able to look at the questions of terrorism with clearer, broader, and wiser insights. Negotiation, therefore, would be more effective than military strikes
'The Useless War"
Independent Media Indonesia editorialized (10/29): "The U.S. has repeatedly stated that it is not attacking Islam. What is being hit is terrorism. But, the increase in missing targets have prodded fellow Muslim countries to bolster solidarity. And, if in the holy month of Ramadhan the war still is still going on, those who would get angered are truly the Muslims of the entire world. It is time, therefore, for the U.S. to use its conscience and common sense, not its weapon and power sophistications.
"Opening The U.S. Eyes"
Independent Media Indonesia commented (10/26): "The world truthfully mourns over the 5,000 lives, lost in vain when the World Trade Center twin towers were destroyed by terrorists. But, the U.S. retaliation, which has been conducted in a conscious manner under a federal government policy, has caused the world's sympathies to start declining. How come terrorism, which is against the world's accord, has got to be responded with a military campaign, tailored by a sane administration? That is the biggest mistake of the U.S. Why didn't it conduct an intelligence operation to get Osama bin Laden? For, this could have been an elegant kind of way that would deter other countries, especially those with Muslim majorities, from joining in the flare-ups, now that they only waste energy staging demonstrations. War is not a method capable of stopping terrorism. War would only make terrorism thrive even more. Terrorism would exist eternally. And, this is precisely what should open the U.S. leaders' eyes."
"Eradicating Terrorism, Taliban Or Islam?"
M. Nasir commented in leading, independent Kompas (10/26): "U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan have been going on three weeks.... If the attacks continue until Ramadan, it is feared that Muslim communities will react unusually strong.... In the U.S.-Afghan war, like it or not, U.S. President George W. Bush is confronted with the matter of Islam because the society he attacks are devout Muslims.... Long before the military strikes against the Taliban-led Afghanistan, Bush already stated that the attacks mounted against Afghanistan would not be a war against Islam, but a fight against terrorism.... World opinions are divided. They have not reached an agreement on the targets of U.S.-led coalition attacks. Problem: the U.S. has not got sufficient evidence to accuse Osama bin Ladin as the mastermind of the attacks.... As a result, there are the pros and cons. The anti-U.S. stance appears to be more demonstrative: staging demonstrations and even threatening Americans and their businesses. While those who are pro-U.S. chose to keep quiet. Perhaps, U.S. supporters do not need to speak up because they are already represented by bombs and missiles which are showered on the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.... Osama is simply being made an intermediate target in its attempt to control the economy of Central and South Asia by way of overthrowing the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan."
MALAYSIA: "UN Not wavering In Support Of U.S."
Government-influenced Berita Harian declared (10/27): "Since the beginning of the attacks on Afghanistan, the White House has continuously come up with denials that civilians have been killed, even when television station al-Jazeera has shown clips of bodies, ruins of hospitals, mosques and even buildings occupied by the UN and the Red Cross. Now, despite appeals from Muslim countries, the U.S. appears to not want to cease the bombings during the holy
month of Ramadan. So it leads to the question of how truthful the U.S. was being when it said this was not a war against Islam, or will its denial be an admission of truth?... The UN has not been unable to make any moves and seems to have allowed situations like the Israeli violence and the Afghanistan attacks to run its course, without any strong warnings from the world body. An unusual situation but it seems the UN does not waver from its support of the U.S. regardless of whether these actions have brought more harm than good."
PHILIPPINES: "Why We Must Support The War On Terror"
P. Barredo, a contributor from the southern Philippines Davao City, wrote in the third leading Philippine Star (10/29): "The suggestion...that the U.S.-led strikes against Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda is equivalent to, if not worse than, the Sept. 11 attack is malicious, irresponsible, and simply foolish.... We as a civilized society must guard against liberal-humanist sentimentalities, political fantasies, and religious nonsense from blurring a glaring distinction between the war on terrorism and the messianic mission to establish a worldwide state under a psychotic vision of Islam. It is reckless and potentially murderous to distort these fundamental differences.... First, there are major philosophical differences in the unavoidable deaths of civilians during wartime and their deliberate murder during peacetime. The former is the byproduct; the latter is the primary objective. Second, the victims of 9/11 did not have a split second to escape their deaths, the Afghans had weeks. Third, the U.S.-led coalition emphatically attempts to limit unintended loss of civilian lives in contrast to the terrorists and their supporters celebrating like lotto winners as body parts of thousands of formerly humans flew into the air along with dust.... In addition, it is unacceptable to suggest that 9/11 was a revolutionary blow against oppressive U.S. policies.... No matter what reason fuels anti-U.S. sentiments, there is just something profoundly chilling about religious certitude getting lost in paranoia and false heroism for it. As a matter of faith, (it) is hopelessly beyond worldly reason."
"When Body Bags Begin Coming Home"
Columnist Ricardo Puno said in the independent Manila Times (10/25): "The international antiterrorism coalition is holding, but it is now clear that the Muslim nations in the alliance won't just follow wherever the U.S. and Britain lead them. Non-Muslim nations in the coalition are increasingly concerned about the escalating anti-U.S., anti-UK and anti-Israel rhetoric. Fortunately, the Bush administration has shown resiliency in not pushing its allies to any action that may further endanger their domestic stability.... The more serious concern has to be what lies beyond. Where does this all end? Should the U.S. just damn the torpedoes and press on, whatever danger lurk for a greater polarization of the world and, hence, a truly cataclysmic global conflagration? Or should America, too, pause and, after a few more sorties, pick up its missiles and take comfort in the conviction that it has made its point and that international terrorism has been irrevocably put on notice? But has it really done that? Or will memories of the first George Bush and his unfinished business with Iraq return to remind us of the folly of the weak resolve?... It is high time the international coalition led by the U.S. lay out clearly what we expect to happen once Afghanistan is brought to its knees and Osama bin Laden is captured."
SOUTH KOREA: "U.S. Hawks' Dangerous Theory Of Expanded War"
Managing Editor Chung Woo-ryang wrote in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/29): "Even with the U.S. air strikes on Afghanistan into more than 20 days, and most of the military facilities in the country destroyed, the Taliban regime's morale is still showing no signs of faltering.... In addition, international concern is mounting over rising civilian casualties, and there are calls for an immediate halt to the strikes.... Against this backdrop, U.S. hardliners are arguing for expanding the war to Iraq, on the grounds that the country was behind the terror attacks in the U.S. Among them, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is the most aggressive, and they are called the 'Wolfowitz conspiracy band.'... At the present, there is no direct evidence linking
Iraq to the terror attacks.... Given that Turkey is the only Islamic country that would support an attack on Iraq, if the U.S. really strikes Iraq, the international community will definitely turn away from the U.S., and anti-American sentiments across the Islamic world will get worse.... Such ideas of expanding the war sound like striking matches in front of explosives."
THAILAND: “America’s Very Dear Lesson”
Trairat Soontornprapat commented in mass-appeal, Thai language Daily News (10/24): “In this war, America is not fighting Afghanistan and bin Laden’s group alone, it also has to win the hearts and minds of many Arab nations.... It is not easy that the U.S.’ propaganda, in addition to its military firepower and diplomatic, economic and social efforts, will be able win over the Arab world which has long harbored deep-seated animosity against America.... The seemingly incessant unleashing of lethal forces against Afghanistan, in particular, will be viewed by most Arab nations as a hideous big bullies’ harassment of a mere defenseless child.”
“Afghanistan War: Technology And Spiritualism”
Sensationalist Khao Sot commented (10/24), “The sight of almost a hundred thousand southern Thai Muslims methodically praying for peace recently is in stark contrast to the awful sight of the U.S. and its allies’ plane and missile attacks against Afghanistan.... Afghanistan is not at all isolated in its struggle for survival. It has the spiritual support from the world over, Thailand included.”
CANADA: "No Holiday In The War On terrorism"
The conservative National Post opined (10/24): "The sooner the Taliban rulers are deposed and the al-Qaeda terrorist organization exterminated, the safer the entire world will be. Military history suggests that winter weather favours defenders over attackers. And a short war will bring salvation to the Afghan people in a more timely fashion. One wholly spurious reason for a quick campaign, however, is the argument that the U.S. must avoid fighting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. A politically correct war is a doomed war.... Halting the war in Afghanistan for a month would demonstrate a similar lack of resolve, not to mention give the enemy time to regroup. Further, the claim that war cannot be waged during Ramadan lacks support in religious texts and historical evidence.... Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, has rightly dismissed calls for a Ramadan ceasefire. Any nation or group that professes outrage over this either does not fully appreciate the need to win total victory against terrorism, or is perhaps searching for a reason to abandon the coalition. Neither will be useful allies in a war we must win."
"Putting All Our Eggs In One Basket"
Editor Lorrie Goldstein wrote in the conservative Ottawa Sun (10/24): "The point is that this alone is a huge battle which George Bush himself has acknowledged will be long and difficult, with no quick or easy victories. Playing bin Laden's game by then promising to solve the issues which he and those of his ilk claim are driving terrorism, such as creating a Palestinian homeland...is foolish and counter-productive. More disturbingly, it sends out a message to the Islamic world, which Bush is trying to conscript into his war against terror, that terrorism works. That if you want to put Mideast peace on the front burner, blow something big up--just do it in the U.S... This is why the so-called 'linkage' of so many other international controversies to the events of Sept. 11 is a fool's game."... Bush, Blair et al. should stick to what they promised at the outset--a long, messy, dirty and difficult war on terrorism, which, if successful, will make the world a much safer and saner place and one in which dealing with all these other issues can be attempted rationally."
ARGENTINA: "The U.S. Will Find It Hard To Capture Bin Laden"
Maria O'Donnell, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (10/26): "The search for Osama bin Laden is becoming so frustrating for the U.S. that, in an interview with USA Today, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even suggested... that perhaps the U.S. will never find him. To moderate his pessimism, he then said that he still trusts that (the coalition) will be able to kill him or arrest him.... The Bush administration's public stance is that the objective of the attack on Afghanistan is to end the Taliban regime and dismantle Al-Qaeda... 'The success of our mission will be to prevent terrorists from frightening the world and prevent certain countries from protecting then,' insisted Rumsfeld.... The problem for the Pentagon is that it has not caused a substantial number of casualties in the rows of Al-Qaeda or among the Taliban yet. Intelligence reports indicate that the members of the Afghan structure of power took refuge in residential neighborhoods or densely populated areas that the U.S. cannot bomb."
"The US Admits That Perhaps It Will Never Capture Bin Laden"
Ana Baron, leading Clarin's Washington-based correspondent, held (10/26) "While it is true that in order to lower expectations, the White House now avoids saying that Bin Laden is one of its targets.... Rumsfeld is the first one who mentions the possibility that...Bin Laden could escape.... An opinion poll by Time magazine indicates that 81 per cent of Americans consider that Bin Laden's capture or death of is one of the necessary objectives of the campaign on Afghanistan. This is why...one of the Pentagon's spokespersons denied the U.S. Secretary Defense was trying to lower expectations on Bin Laden's capture... The Secretary of Defense compared the search of Bin Laden with the search of a needle in a haystack. And he said that overthrowing the Taliban regime is easier than capturing Bin Laden. The truth is that everything indicates that the U.S. does not find it easier to put an end to the Taliban threat. After 18 days of harsh bombing, the anti-Taliban forces have not even reached Kabul.... During the interview with USA Today Rumsfeld warned that the overthrow of the Taliban will not mean that from then on there will be a stable government in Afghanistan. But, according to Rumsfeld, if the new Afghanistan does not harbor terrorists, its political future will have little impact on the U.S.... His statements go against the effort made by Bush to convince that the war Washington wages is not against the Afghan people but against terrorism."
BRAZIL: "Three Weeks Ago"
Lead editorial in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo (10/28) commented: "As time goes by, the so far frustrating results from the military action, news of civilian casualties, more disagreements that threaten the international coalition, and the climate of virtual panic in the U.S. from bio-terrorism are some factors that are beginning to undermine the continuing the military action.... It is expected that the support that transformed George W. Bush into an unquestionable leader may not stand the test of time.... Terrorism has no homeland, and is not confined to a specific territory. It is capable of causing damage that cannot be stopped by conventional military action.... The lack of more visible results so far, i.e., Osama bin Laden's capture and the Taliban's defeat, brings to question the effectiveness of the U.S.-UK armed forces strikes. The progressive victimization of the civilian population questions the legitimacy of prolonging massive bombings."
"A Tortured Conscience"
Luiz Garcia wrote in conservative O Globo (10/25): "During the Gulf War the Pentagon brilliantly orchestrated the media coverage that piously believed in the intelligent bombs that didn't kill civilians, and spent years to find out a bunch of not-so-exemplary stories on the behavior of the American armed forces.... In short, wars are dirty and as there are no atheists in trenches there are no saints in general-staffs; of any country, at any time.... That's why the U.S. supposedly takes over the villain's role in this story. It's in democracies, after all, that
censorship is seen with the naked eye.... How to talk about censorship in Baghdad, for example, where only one truth exists?... It's a complicated situation. Also because military chiefs censor or try to censor two types of information: those that would give strategic, tactical and moral support to enemy troops, and those that would expose errors, abuses and all sort of sins committed on this side."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo political columnist Janio de Freitas held (10/24) "Ten days ago the USG said that all Taliban military targets had been destroyed by the bombings.... Everything was ready for ground action. But the air strikes continued over the heads of the civilian population. The media censorship that should be only to protect military actions now shows its purpose. With the recent bombing of a hospital, we now see a repetition of what has happened several times: both the USG and the military deny a bombing incident that is unacceptable according to war crime laws and, much worse for them, capable of affecting the U.S. public opinion.... The war being waged by the U.S. and British military has been conducted against the Afghan people. So far there has been no success against bin Laden and terrorism. The facts have shown that the purpose of the censorship in the U.S., which is extended to the world, is to cheat public opinion and protect lies.... It happens all the time: censorship always hides something repulsive."
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo political columnist Clovis Rossi questioned (10/23): "How can we describe the death of Afghan children shown yesterday in a photo published on Folha's front page? Can it be called anything except terrorism? Unless, of course, we are all such brutes that we accept the military euphemism 'collateral damage' to explain the death of children hit by U.S. bombs. When innocent people die as a result of an attack against the U.S., it is terrorism. When innocent Afghans die, it is 'collateral damage.'... Ignoring the death of children in Afghanistan is the same as giving the U.S. military a license to kill.... Not even the many foreign policy mistakes committed by the U.S. since its founding can justify the September 11 attacks. But those attacks do not justify the death of Afghan children either."
Monterrey's leading El Norte carried a commentary by Lucrecia Santibañez (10/24): "I am concerned about the U.S. government's use of apocalyptic rhetoric every second on the air to remind us about its superiority, its imminent project to eliminate the 'evil ones', no matter the cost. Flags everywhere heat up the patriotic spirit that outlines fanaticism. I am concerned to think what would happen if we find out that Iraq is behind the anthrax attacks. The son will probably want to repeat his father's triumphs. And Sadam will probably keeps his old desire for revenge."
"Absent Peace, The Twin Towers and Afghanistan"
Luis Diaz Muller asserts in left-of-center La Jornada (10/23): "The condemnable terrorist actions of September 11 aimed against the civilian population violate international law.... However, should a nation like Afghanistan pay for the actions of a fundamentalist group?.... The International Penal Court should be the most viable means for the international community to solve global issues. The detention of a terrorist requires the appropriate working mechanisms to establish the terririst's responsibility and sentence. Such a court would be the best guarantor for peace in the world.... The great losers in the current world scenario are the civilian populations of the U.S. and Aghanistan--they have nothing to gain from the current conflict. The developments of September 11th and the attacks against Afghanistan have changed the world. U.S. foreign policy is now concentrated in the fight against terrorism. Developed nations are questioning the legitimacy--not the legality--of self defense. The
outcome is likely to deepen poverty and underdevelopment in the world."
CHILE: "Generic Goal Of Fighting Terrorism"
Conservative, Catholic University Television, Channel 13 (10/22) featured in its prime-time newscast edition a comment by international commentator Karin Ebensperger: "The war is starting to wear because the U.S.'s objective is not at all clear except for the very valid, although generic goal of fighting terrorism. Therefore, at this very uncertain time for humanity-- [threatened by] biological and religious terrorism--one expects a new vision with a historic perspective. One misses a 'philosopher' for head of state seeking for answers to a historic moment. George Bush has done a notable effort in creating coalitions against terrorism. That is fine, the fire must be put out, bin Laden must be stopped. There is no opposition to that. The war against terrorism must be won, otherwise the world would be unbearable. But in the long run that war will be won based on ideas, with a vision. The time has come for thinking about a [comprehensive] response. Philosopher Heads of State, with a general vision of the enormous challenges faced at the beginning of this century, are needed."
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: "The Afghanistan Trap"
Economist Miguel Ceara Hatton wrote in conservative El Caribe (10/23): "In this present conflict, what does a military victory over Afghanistan mean? First, the capture of Bin Laden, a failed objective until now.... Another victory could be to overthrow the Taliban government...but ...who will replace it? A second option could be the North Alliance, which would have the support of Afghanistan's bordering countries.... A third option can be the occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S., which would leave the U.S. with the gigantic task of reconciling ethnic groups, in addition to spending many millions of dollars and putting at risk many U.S. citizens lives. In the face of this perspective, if Bin Laden is not captured soon, and if it is necessary to occupy the country [Afghanistan] Brzezinski's expressions about the 'Afghanistan trap' could be prophetic, and more so would be the idea that 'victory can be the beginning of political defeat.'"
ECUADOR: "Are There Desirable And Undesirable Deaths?"
Jose Moncada declared in in Guayaquil's conservative El Telegrafo (10/24): "The tragic events the world experienced on September 11 allow much room for reflection and analysis. One subject, for example, refers to the tolerance and even joy with which many people accept the death of other human beings, because they consider it an act of justice.... This is precisely the case of the death of children, women, old men, and especially the Taliban caused by the coalition bombings.... For those who want national problems and those of the world solved in an environment of peace, of understanding, of reason, there cannot be desirable or undesirable deaths. We cannot agree with the terrorist practices of bin Laden, nor with the bombings ordered by Bush, which, in the end are aimed at reaffirming U.S. hegemony, compromising seriously world peace."
GUATEMALA: "Ground Commandos"
Highest-circulation Nuestro Diario's lead editorial reflected (10/21): "We hope ultimately that the Lord will enlighten the rulers of the Taliban so they understand that their time is up, that the American infantry troops are at the point of...flattening them. The fault for the victims (in Afghanistan) will be the fault of the Taliban fanatics, godfathers of the most wanted terrorists on the planet for the attacks (on the U.S.).... Let us be clear again that the civilized world is not against the Afghan people as such. No, the fight is aimed at exterminating the groups and individuals who have gone crazy with extremism. No one wanted another war, but the deaths of thousands of innocent people because of the suicide attacks in the U.S. was the sentence of bin Laden and his people. Fortunately, there are not many of them. Fortunately, the majority of Muslims do not share the radical ideas nor the violence of these fanatics. Thus we are following step by step the campaign 'Enduring Freedom,' which we consider the beginning of
the worldwide fight against those who are dedicated to sowing terror in humanity."
NICARAGUA: "A Journey to Darkness"
Mario Vargas Llosa stated in leftist El Nuevo Diario (10/20): "Hopefully from the bombs and bullets falling over Afghanistan, which do not distinguish in its deadly harvest, the innocent from the guilty, a society that started to leave behind the brutality to which the mullah Omar's followers and Osama Ben Laden's terrorists is reinitiated.... The destruction of the Taliban regimen and the replacement for an open system, where different ethnic groups and Afghan ways are represented, helped by the Western countries under the condition of abolition of all discriminatory laws against women...that is infinitely more important that the sole destruction of a terrorist gang, horror which can endlessly reproduce as cancerous tumors."
PARAGUAY: "To Define The Enemy"
Columnist Luis Carmona remarked in left-leaning, influential Ultima Hora (10/22): "Before the military action, the prolonged bombing campaign, the North American government appeared moderate and reasonable and succeeded in gaining support and sympathy from those who traditionally opposed [U.S.] policies.... Now nothing is very clear.... A terrorist is someone who utilizes indiscriminate violence as a pressure or power tool, whether he be powerful or weak, part of the government or against it, a friend or enemy, a sympathetic or unsympathetic adversary, in favor or against our own interests. The definition [of terrorism] has to be firm and a law for all, otherwise the fight against terrorism gives justification, a more powerful weapon than any bomb: the capacity to justify the disparity of force with an adversary and to wrap oneself in the right to rebellion against injustice."
KENYA: "America's Outdated Solutions And The New War"
The centrist, pro-business Standard opined (10/29): "Many times (relief) workers have appealed to the (American and British) governments to please stop the bombing to create room for relief operations. These calls, needless to say, have gone unheeded as the American forces have intensified their attacks and are ready to send in ground troops to capture Usama and topple the Taliban regime. It will be remembered that at the beginning of the 'war on terrorism,' President George W. Bush, had promised that the missiles would not target civilian populations. Needless to say, the war on terrorism was an opportunity for America, Britain and their NATO allies to prove to the world that they were fighting from a high moral ground. The reality, however, is far from convincing. In its zeal to vanquish the Taliban, America is jeopardising the very cause it set out to fight for. In its declared mission to quell terrorism, it is turning out to be a terror agent not just in the Arabian Peninsula, but now in the Horn of Africa--if it makes good its intention to bomb Somalia or use the carrot and big stick to flush out al-Qaida cells there."
MALAWI: "Making Friends In Afghanistan"
Jika Nkolokosa wrote in the independent weekly Weekend Nation (10/28-29): "The U.S. wants to show the world that it is not at war with ordinary Afghan men, women and children and wants to show that it has the bigness of heart to extend a helping hand to some of the world's most destitute people, whose leaders are not exactly the flavor of the month. The war, goes on the thinking, is not against ordinary Afghans but their leaders; ordinary Afghans are America's friends. And so, while by night American bombers drop their payloads on Afghan targets--ranging from clear military targets to suspected terrorist camps and hideouts--by day American transport planes shower the Afghans with tonnes of what have been described as 'neutral rations.' One must give the planners credit for thinking of 'neutral rations'--food that is at once 'Kosher', 'halaal' clean from religious or cultural perspective, which even finicky Afghan
Muslims would find acceptable.... The only problem, though, is that when the bombing is finally over and it is time for reckoning, few will remember that the Americans tried to cushion the vulnerable Afghan songbird (reference to the freezing bird in Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina) against the worst effects of its military might. On the other hand, nearly everyone will remember America trapping the Afghans on the dung-heap of 'neutral rations.' This, sadly, might gain that great nation a few more bin Ladin-type enemies."
NIGERIA: "Avoid Civilian Casualties"
The Lagos-based independent Post Express opined (10/23): "So far, the action has been limited to air strikes and reconnaissance patrols. Foreign relief workers and other credible witnesses have corroborated news agency reports about civilian casualties.... Mounting civilian casualties will only alienate people from the justified war against international terrorism and win sympathy instead for the evil tendency personified in Osama bin Laden. This must be prevented."
SOUTH AFRICA: "U.S. Has A Special Duty Beyond War"
Ken Owen wrote in the independent Business Day (10/29): "The question is whether anything will be solved by this latest attempt to apply military pressure to political problems.... The West has little comprehension of the terrible, destructive impact of European, and later American, expansion.... So they do things, like dropping bombs from invisible B-52s, which exacerbates the sense of impotence, the humiliation, and the rage.... Afghanistan will create more bin Ladens than it kills.... The lines that divides 'the West' from 'the Rest' runs also through this country. Whites identify instinctively with Zimbabwe's farmers, blacks with Robert Mugabe, whites with Israel and blacks with Arafat and Muammar Qadhafi and Fidel Castro.... If Americans want to end terror they will have to overcome the impotence of the nations of Islam.... The global village demands a new mindset, a sense that mankind is a single community, and that a special duty rests on the rich and the powerful to ensure that 'the Rest' are neither trampled nor left behind."
"Shameful 'War' On Children Must End"
In the pro-government, afro-centric Sowetan (10/29), Aggrey Klaaste remarked: "The phantom 'war' that is being fought against the peasants of that part of the world, even if its focus is to stop terrorism in the world, is becoming as bad as Vietnam.... Even more distressing is that the children of the world are the main casualties.... When terrorist unleash their next assault...children will die. The children of both Afghanistan and America and the children of the world will suffer.... We also believe the Middle East problem is the cause of the unceasing bombing in Afghanistan.... What is taking place in this bombing, against those who don't even lift stones against their attackers, is shameful and deeply distressing."