Though Afghanistan has become the first battleground in America's war against terrorism, Pakistan could well be the political epicenter of this unfolding conflict. The United States can win the military confrontation in Afghanistan but lose the war if Pakistan, with its 142 million people and nuclear weapons, falls under the control of Islamic fundamentalists. That is why the latest actions of Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, require the closest attention of the Bush administration, which is dispatching Secretary of State Colin Powell to Islamabad later this week.
By arresting a leading dissident and replacing his top military and intelligence commanders in recent days, General Musharraf has bought short-term support for his decision to cooperate with the United States. With his permission, American and British bombers and cruise missiles have flown through Pakistan's airspace in the last two days on their way to targets in Afghanistan.
But in dismissing powerful aides who helped bring him to power two years ago and managed Pakistan's close ties to the Taliban, he has added kindling to a highly combustible political climate. As President Bush prosecutes his campaign against terrorism and Osama bin Laden, he must be mindful of General Musharraf's fragile position. ...
The United States can help the general by showing the public that supporting the destruction of terrorism under Mr. bin Laden will bring its rewards in the form of American economic and perhaps military aid to Pakistan. General Powell will undoubtedly discuss such possibilities during his visit to Islamabad. He also plans a stop in India.
There are some things that the United States must not do, such as encouraging Pakistan to support the Muslim rebellion in the Indian state of Kashmir or to expand its nuclear weapons program. Washington must still strive for a peaceful resolution of nuclear tensions in the subcontinent, including treaties and agreements to control testing and production of nuclear materials. There must also be a peaceful settlement of Pakistan's dispute with India over the future of Kashmir.
One measure of General Musharraf's obvious anxiety over his new close alliance with the United States came yesterday with his call for limiting the air war in Afghanistan and for the installation of a new government in Kabul that would be friendly to Pakistan. In response, the United States must be sensitive to the Pakistani leader's concerns but not let him dictate the conduct of the war against terrorism.
Now that the U.S. military is in Afghanistan, how do we get out?
In the abstract, the immediate objective of the military assault is clear enough: To capture (or kill) Osama bin Laden and his henchmen, destroy their network of training camps and eliminate the capacity of the ruling Taliban to enable others of their kind. But in concrete terms, how will we know when it's time to declare the military effort a success and bring our people home?
In the case of bin Laden and his deputies, success comes when their persons are in American custody, whether dead or alive; that's easy enough. However, it's likely to be a lot less clear at what point we have rendered Afghanistan a terrorist-free zone.
Even if bin Laden turned himself in and gave our troops a map to his warren of caves, we couldn't very well leave the Taliban's current leadership in power, as the Bush administration no doubt has concluded. The most optimistic scenario is for the Taliban to oblige us by disintegrating under the pressure of American and British air attacks and ground offensives from the Northern Alliance and an array of opportunistic warlords.
Though there likely will be defectors, Americans should be prepared for the equally likely prospect that a sizable portion of the Taliban's force of 45,000 or so fighters will remain active, even after their leaders have been run out of the capital, Kabul.
Here's where the endgame gets awfully fuzzy. President Bush has said that our chief interest was not so much replacing the government of Afghanistan as disabling terrorism. And it is true that it is not up to us to choose the next government of Afghanistan. However, we can hardly meet our military objective if we leave even the possibility that Taliban forces could retake all or most of Afghanistan after we leave. ...
On both moral and public-image grounds, the allies' decision to deliver humanitarian aid along with the air strikes is the correct one. But while dropping 37,500 packets of rations on the first day was a wonderful gesture, it can help only a small portion of the more than 4 million Afghans believed to be facing starvation. Meanwhile, the region's harsh winter soon will play havoc with efforts to deliver relief supplies. It may well be that our most urgent military objective becomes securing supply lines to get aid to desperate Afghans.
Regardless, our humanitarian efforts have to be seen as credible. World public opinion will turn against us if, in the face of millions of Afghans fleeing our bombs, the perception emerges that our promises of aid are a public relations sham. In that eventuality, we could win the military battle and lose the war for hearts and minds that is the critical mission in the campaign against terrorism.
As U.S.-led airstrikes continued against targets in Afghanistan yesterday, another crucial theater of conflict was opening up in cities across the Muslim world. In Pakistan, thousands of supporters of Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's Taliban regime burned buildings and fought with police. In Indonesia, Islamic militants protested in front of the U.S. Embassy and threatened to hunt down and kill Americans if the government did not break relations with the United States. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians fought gun battles against their own security forces following a demonstration by more than 1,000 Islamic students in support of Mr. bin Laden.
As these events vividly demonstrated, the terrorist enemy that the United States and its allies are facing includes not just networks of fighters and their leaders but an extremist ideology that has gained a substantial following. Its tenets were encapsulated in the chilling statement from Osama bin Laden released Sunday and repeatedly broadcast on both Middle East and Western television. The world, says the al Qaida leader, is divided into Muslims and non-believers; the "head of the international infidels" is President Bush, who, in league with Arab governments and Israel, is inflicting injury on Iraqis, Palestinians and other Muslims. "Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion," Osama bin Laden said -- a task he says will not be fulfilled until Israel is destroyed, the Saudi monarchy overthrown and U.S. forces driven out of the Arabian peninsula. ...
The war against terrorism will be won only if this extremist ideology is defeated and discredited, just as the ideology of communism was during the Cold War. President Bush and his Cabinet, along with some other leaders such as Britain's Tony Blair, clearly understand this challenge; that is why they have placed so much emphasis on separating the terrorist enemy from the community of Muslims. But yesterday's events suggested how hard the struggle will be -- and also how far many of the Muslim governments are from being prepared for it. ...
The Bush administration has focused so far on winning the help of friendly Arab governments in shutting down al Qaida's networks, and in forcing others to choose. But soon it must move to the harder task of inducing Muslim governments to answer Osama bin Laden. They, and their state-supported clerics, can do so in part by broadcasting the truth about Islam. But ultimately message alone cannot win the war, just as one-sided concessions to the Palestinians and Iraq would not. Instead, Muslim countries will have to offer policies that promise economic progress and political liberty. Only that can trump the extremists' program of hate.
On Sunday, the United States formally notified the United Nations Security Council that its counterterrorism military attacks may not be limited to Afghanistan. The legal document the United States sent to the U.N. Security Council asserted that the United States reserved its right to attack terrorist cells beyond Afghanistan, a senior administration official told the Associated Press. Clearly, one leading candidate for later attack is Syria, which has sponsored terrorism and harbored and protected terrorists for decades, including several groups operating in Lebanon, which Syria considers a province. Yesterday, the U.N. General Assembly elected Syria to one of the 10 rotating seats on the Security Council, a development that Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos rightly decried as a "mockery of the council's recent counterterrorism resolution."
Syria has remained a fixture on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism since it became a charter member of the list in 1979. Demonstrating yet again that Orwellian doublespeak is an integral part of all totalitarian regimes, including Syria's, earlier this month Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa announced that Syria was "determined to help the international effort to combat terrorism." Syria's "help," however, was conditional. Alluding to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mr. Sharaa declared that terrorism could not be eliminated until its "roots and causes" were addressed, notably the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, which Mr. Sharaa called "the highest level of terrorism." ...
Indeed, the Syrians have rarely disguised their long-term objective of obliterating Israel. Terrorism and war are merely the means. For years Syria has provided a safe haven for some of the most extreme members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. It strongly supports Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In short, Syria deserves to be in the crosshairs of the anti-terrorism campaign, not on the U.N. Security Council.
The nation stands on high alert for terrorism, but Osama bin Laden's boast on videotape that Americans are ``full of fear'' is only his wishful thinking.
Gov. Jeb Bush, continuing with his daily routine of public appearances, set an example widely emulated. It was bin Laden who is hiding and has sent look- alikes parading along the rough roads of Afghanistan in an attempt to confuse the pursuit.
Heavy U.S. air attacks on military posts of the cruel Taliban rulers of Afghanistan do raise the chances of murder of more U.S. civilians. Monday, the FBI was investigating a biological mystery at a newspaper in Boca Raton. In a country where two cases a year of anthrax bacteria in humans would be unusual, two exposures have happened at about the same time in the same building, which is unusual in the extreme.
Whether this is terrorism or not, a new level of watchfulness is essential.
Tom Ridge, who on Monday became the first director of the Office of Homeland Security, called for a spirit of cooperation that has in fact been apparent since Sept. 11.
While all the petty disagreements that are the hallmark of a free people continue, Americans appreciate anew how insignificant these differences are when measured against our shared belief in freedom, peace and justice. That realization has strengthened and unified the country at a time when unity and strength are essential, and it is sure to give terrorists pause.
In less fortunate parts of the world, the military mission was condemned by a variety of hypocrites. Iraq -- the dictatorship that illegally invaded, raped and plundered Kuwait -- called the bombings unlawful. Actually, hitting the Taliban is self-defense as provided for in the United Nations charter.
Sudan grumbled that it is against all forms of violence. What an odd statement from a government that bombs schools and hospitals in areas of its own country rebelling against its oppressive rule. The top leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused the United States of a hidden agenda of ``domination and expansionism,'' and bin Laden called every man of Islam to ``rush to make his religion victorious.''
Where were the Ayatollah and bin Laden when Muslims were getting the worst of it in Kosovo? U.S. troops are still there, keeping the peace, in a mission that has little to do with U.S. security or U.S. interests. Operation Enduring Freedom is necessary to protect both.
Americans are not pleased by what now must be done, but they aren't afraid to do it.
As wave after wave of air strikes hit terrorist training camps in Afghanistan yesterday, Tom Ridge arrived at the White House to lead the new Office of Homeland Security.
The sharp contrast between the available tools and vision for the military campaign, and Ridge's frontline assignment in this strange new war could not be more jarring.
Credit the Bush administration and the American people with the patience to wait out the opening attack of the al Qaida terrorist network. The United States did not lash out in anger or alone immediately after the horror of Sept. 11.
International unity and a sense of purpose defined preparation for the military response. Great Britain, friend and ally, was part of Sunday's initial assault. Canada, Australia and Germany are waiting for a call.
No one went wobbly. The European Union said the Taliban suffered the consequences of its own actions. NATO has offered surveillance planes. Even prickly France supported the air strikes.
Overlooked, under-appreciated allies such as Turkey made their staunch support clear. Russia stepped forward to support its Cold-War enemy.
President Bush bound diplomatic and military efforts into a wholly appropriate response to the attack on American civilians.
Dropping food packets on Afghanistan is designed to win American hearts and minds as well as foreign opinion, but it also punctuates a fundamental message: This is a war on terrorism, not the Afghan people or Islam.
Bush is not flinching from protecting American lives or the pursuit of those who would inflict more harm. He rightfully and properly affirmed support for democratic Israel. Osama bin Laden's hatred of Israel is an all-consuming motivation.
America was attacked because of whom it calls a friend, and the freedom, equality and liberty that define our nation.
The job of organizing to protect ourselves falls to Ridge, who comes to Washington as the former governor of Pennsylvania and a six-term congressman. His task seems futile from the outset.
He will never pull 40 disparate agencies together without unstinting help from Bush and bipartisan assistance of Congress.
Ridge needs the power, authority and Cabinet stature to force others to work cooperatively. The visibility and importance of the job would be enhanced by Senate confirmation, and the early involvement of Congress.
He ought to lead a clearinghouse for plans and ideas that are completed by others, instead of re- inventing a brand new stand-alone agency. Ridge must be the referee who helps existing agencies fill the resource gaps in the plans, and forces different groups to share information and talent.
Ridge and the president have a valuable ally on their side, the American people. The words homeland security clank on the ears, but not the tasks of making transportation, utilities, buildings and public-gathering places safer.
For all the high-powered arsenal being unleashed, America is not fighting a classic hardware war.
Terrorists prey on the sense of security and innocent lives. In uncertain times, against an enemy capable of unspeakable evil, Ridge is responsible for ensuring normality.
Give him the tools to do the job.
San Diego Union
The initial allied assault against terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan appears to have been a success. But no one should fall under the illusion that yesterday's military strikes, dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom, were in any way decisive in what promises to be a protracted and far-reaching conflict against terrorism and the governments that support it.
Rather, the continuing attacks by U.S. and British forces are only a start -- a first phase against an evil that lurks in multiple networks spanning several countries.
When Americans witness their military engaged in battle -- with sophisticated cruise missiles and stealth bombers illuminating the night sky -- they are conditioned to expect victory in short order. In the unfolding campaign against terror, however, there is no instant solution. Ridding the globe of this menace demands a broad, sustained effort, one that must be waged on a variety of fronts for years to come.
That is why President Bush, in his televised address yesterday, was right to counsel patience by Americans as a key strength in the international drive to overcome terrorism. We must have patience not only with the military operations, which are likely to entail grave risks and sacrifices for some time to come, but also with every other aspect of this war. That includes tighter security measures at home -- a point driven home by bin Laden's chilling pre-taped response to the strikes in which he defiantly vowed that Americans "will never dream of security or see it before we live it and see it in Palestine."
Nor should Americans view Osama bin Laden's al Qaida re-
doubts in the remote mountains of Afghanistan, and the Taliban regime which harbors them, as the central target in this conflict. "Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader," President Bush declared. "If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents, they have become outlaws and murderers themselves."
Those words ought to serve as an unambiguous warning to Iraq and other sponsors of terrorism that the United States and its allies will not rest until this threat to civilization is extinguished -- even if that means expanding the war to other countries in the months ahead. The hard truth is that international terrorism takes the form of many tentacles in disparate corners of the world. The operations in Afghanistan, which may involve a limited number of U.S. ground forces, may be only the prelude to a wider military engagement.
Encouragingly, the Bush administration has marshaled the backing of the civilized world, including at least the tenuous endorsement of crucial Islamic governments, for a broad assault on terrorism. While the British participated directly in yesterday's raids on Afghanistan, the forces of Germany, France, Australia and Canada pledged support as needed. Even Pakistan, once the Taliban's staunchest supporter, allowed U.S. carrier-based aircraft to fly over its territory on their way to targets in Afghanistan.
In his televised remarks, President Bush projected a confident, reassuring presence. His determination to prevail over terrorism was palpable. Americans and every other people of goodwill must be resolute in their support of this vital endeavor.
San Antonio Express-News
The shooting war that this nation launched on Sunday is only the latest phase of a protracted struggle against the forces of international terrorism wherever they may operate.
As President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have repeatedly emphasized, it is a struggle that will be waged on many fronts, likely over many years. It requires our best minds and our many resources.
The shooting phase of the war came after nearly a month of careful planning. It was a legitimate act of self-defense against perpetrators of the bloodiest attack ever launched against the American homeland.
While, in many ways, this war treads new ground, in other ways, it is reminiscent of the struggle of the last half-century.
In February 1946, the U.S. State Department received a long telegram from Moscow that, in essence, laid out the parameters of the coming "cold war."
Written by George Kennan, the U.S. charge d'affaires in Moscow, the telegram warned that in the Soviet Union, "we have a political force committed fanatically to the belief that with the United States there can be no permanent modus vivendi, that it is desirable and necessary that the internal harmony of our society be disrupted, our traditional way of life be destroyed, the international authority of our state be broken, if Soviet power is to be secure."
The parallels between Kennan's description of the threat this nation faced a half-century ago and the one it faces today can only go so far, despite language that could apply to the aims of Osama bin Laden. Yet the basic parallel is apt.
In the late 1940s, as the Cold War began to take shape, Kennan believed that the Soviet Union posed a political, not a military threat. He argued that the United States should employ "a long-term patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies."
Obviously, neither bin Laden nor his craven hosts in Afghanistan are amenable to "vigilant containment."
In the eloquent words of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, "There is no compromise with such people, no meeting of minds, no point of understanding with such terror."
And yet the United States must be engaged -- diplomatically, politically and economically -- with those moderate Arab and Muslim governments that either have allowed terrorist activity to take root in their soil or were powerless to stop it.
The Bush administration, in its meticulous planning, painstaking construction of coalitions and decision to provide humanitarian aid to the long-suffering Afghan people, has shown skill and foresight.
Those qualities will be needed in abundance in the coming weeks and months -- indeed, in the coming years.
President Bush has carried out his threat to punish the terrorist network held responsible for the devastating attacks on this country four weeks ago. In doing so, the president has raised the stakes in the struggle with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that has harbored him.
Whatever doubt remained before Sunday's U.S. and British missile strikes that an armed Western response was impending is gone. Now, the protracted conflict predicted by U.S. officials since Sept. 11 has been joined.
Predictably, bin Laden, in a speech obviously videotaped before the allied attacks, accused the United States of waging "war on Islam." He warned that "America will never dream of security or see it ... before the infidels' armies leave the land of Muhammad," a reference to Saudi Arabia and the presence there of U.S. troops, and "until every Israeli leaves Palestine."
Bin Laden's attempt to wrap his actions in the holy language of Islam cannot hide the plain truth.
This is not a war on Islam. It is a response to the horrifying suicide attacks that killed upward of 5,000 people in this country. And it is a response to bin Laden's repeated threats and apparent involvement in earlier terrorist attacks going back several years.
Against that backdrop, the nature of the actions begun Sunday are clear: They are a justified response aimed at depriving bin Laden of a base for staging new attacks.
The U.S. counterattack creates major challenges for the administration. To be successful, the administration must first inflict decisive damage on both terrorist groups and the Taliban, thus justifying the risk of inflaming Muslims in countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose governments' support for anti-terrorist action is crucial. ...
No doubt, many Americans are shaken this morning by the potentially deadly consequences here of Sunday's assaults. And everyone should be clear: There is danger ahead for this country and its citizens.
Yet surely most also understand, thanks in part to Bush's persuasive argument, that we face a clear and present threat to our security and that the terrorists left us no alternative but to carry the fight back against them.
The same can be said of the Taliban. It had every opportunity to turn over bin Laden. It chose instead to provoke a justified U.S. armed response.
Add that to the long list of the wrongs the Taliban has inflicted on its own people.
America's worst-kept secret is a secret no longer. Ever since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, President Bush has made it clear that this nation, with its allies, was likely to respond with military force directed at terrorists and their protectors. Now, in a measured, tactical offensive, the fiery response has begun. It will continue, the president indicates, for some time to come.
Taliban military targets and the training camps of Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist organization in Afghanistan are rightly at center scope, and initial reports thankfully are of successful missions. The Bush administration also has run a humanitarian aid effort parallel to the military one. The message is a good one: We mean no harm to civilians, certainly not to those of a certain religious faith -- but those who have attacked us are at peril.
But lest Americans think the counterstrike to terrorism is sure to remain neat and tidy, they must be prepared to accept some unfortunate consequences: Allied troops may well take casualties, and some civilians inevitably will die in the literal and figurative crossfire. This will not be Desert Storm revisited. Terrorists are in Afghan caves and other hiding places and they won't be easy to eliminate. Chances are that they also are among us, on our soil, ready and eager to do us harm. They may retaliate for the attacks by American and British forces over the last couple of days, and for those carried out in the weeks and months ahead.
The American response feels right at this point, and President Bush has appropriately framed a broad effort. This offensive is not a military one alone; U.S. forces have geared up an intelligence campaign that will attempt to gather as much information on the whereabouts and activities of terrorists as possible. Our allies in Europe (not just England), including Germany and France, are prepared to do their part. And we will not fight from above exclusively -- ground forces to some degree will play a role. ...
America and its allies must strike down terrorism not only to protect this generation and those to come from naked threat, but also to help maintain the stability of a world chronically torn by a multitude of historic ethnic, cultural and religious differences. Osama bin Laden, for example, is not driven by geopolitics or a desire for territorial empire. His is a self-proclaimed holy war fueled by the conflict between his extreme brand of Islamic fundamentalism and American culture and values.
America's initial military response sends the message that this nation, supported by many others, is ready for a long fight, is militarily and spiritually strong and united, and will not surrender in defense of its freedoms. That ought to be an ominous message in the caves of Afghanistan.
Until Sunday, terror mastermind Osama bin Laden had virtually everything his way.
As long the United States was restrained in its response to his attacks -- the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and of the USS Cole last year -- he could crow about his victories over the impotent giant, burnish his image as the self-proclaimed sword of Islam and intimidate anyone in the Muslim world who might dare to speak for peace and tolerance.
Absent a serious response from the United States, there was no downside for bin Laden. He appeared to be scripting the war and his victories seemed cost-free.
But as the United States and its allies launched an attack on bin Laden and his Taliban protectors in Afghanistan over the weekend, all that changed. For the first time, the United States is exacting a significant price for the violence that it has endured. The struggle no longer is bin Laden's exclusively to shape and control. For the first time, he faces genuine threats: The Taliban may lose control of Afghanistan and he may be captured or killed by special-forces troops.
The allied strike also eliminates the safe middle ground, where much of the world has sat until now.
Those who have cheered bin Laden and the Taliban from the sidelines because there was no cost in doing so, face some sober rethinking as the cost of being a terrorist or a terrorist sponsor becomes evident.
Those who have been intimidated and silenced by bin Laden's violence and claims of religious authority may be emboldened to stand up against him now that they no longer feel alone.
As these choices are made, the true depth of support for bin Laden will be revealed. It may be just as firm as bin Laden and his apologists have claimed. But it also may turn out to be largely a fiction.
Either way, the United States and its allies have no choice. The attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon made clear what the United States and other nations can expect as long as bin Laden is permitted to operate unopposed.
The United States cannot allow its foreign policy to be dictated by terrorists, nor can it allow its citizens to be slaughtered by the thousands.
But even in its active military phase, this still very much is a war of ideas. Bin Laden's only hope is to convince the Muslim world that his is a holy cause and that the United States is bent on destroying Islam. This is a lie, but a potent one. If the United States cannot defeat this lie, whether bin Laden is destroyed will not matter. If he dies but his lie survives, then 100 extremists will step up to take his place and the war will go on. ...
In a way, this battle is for the soul of Islam. If bin Laden wins, so does the idea of Islam as a religion of slaughter and brutality and its magnificent history as a religion of peace and tolerance will have come to an end.
Because the stakes are so high, the United States and its allies must not lose heart or declare victory too soon.
This long struggle will be less like a conventional war and more akin to the efforts to wipe out the international slave trade or piracy in the 19th century. Those campaigns required sustained will and effort, year after year until every root and branch of evil was eradicated.
America's enemies don't believe the nation has that kind of will. They must be proved wrong.
Dallas Morning News
Along with flushing out Osama bin Laden and closing down al Qaida camps in Afghanistan, the most immediate challenge the Bush administration faces is maintaining the coalition against terrorism. With more than 40 nations participating, fissures inevitably will erupt along the fault lines created by longstanding animosities. And unlike the temporary Persian Gulf War alliance that President Bush's father assembled, the new international coalition must last for an extended period to stem the pernicious spread of global terrorism.
The pressure points include these challenges:
On Wednesday, an important Islamic conference convenes in Qatar. The more radical Muslim members of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference almost surely will stoke mischief and push for resolutions that condemn the United States and/or Israel. Some speculate the foreign ministers assembled there will try to define terrorism in a way that ignores terrorist cells in their back yard but includes Israel as a sponsor of terrorism.
President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell need to push U.S. allies in the Muslim world to head off such an inflammatory response. Geoff Kemp of the Nixon Center in Washington, says that Egypt particularly must play tough here to muscle out the more aggressive members of the Islamic gathering.
Indeed, after years of receiving foreign aid from the United States, Egypt should realize that the moment has arrived to stand firm. The effort to destroy the murderous al Qaida network must not be distorted into a war of West vs. Islam. That's not what the coalition intends, nor should the coalition allow radical Muslims to define the mission that way. ...
Colin Powell rightly will visit Pakistan and India this week. The United States and its partners will need to continue paying special attention to this government, however. As Gen. Chuck Boyd of the Council on Foreign Relations notes, "At the moment, Pakistan is more critical than all."
Saudi diplomats say their government can withstand the backlash against the coalition's attacks against the Taliban. But as the long campaign against terrorism continues, and it must, the Saudi government will experience greater strain. That will test the tenuous royal family's hold, because of the government's heavy-handed tactics against dissenters, the declining economy and the nation's large population of radical Islamic fundamentalists.
At the moment, the United States and its coalition partners cannot push Saudi Arabia too much for public support. But relations with this nation will require great diplomatic skill. Like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is one of the more uncertain members of the 40-plus members of the coalition against terrorism.
Many remember Theodore Roosevelt as a swashbuckler. But he also was a consummate diplomat. He signed treaties. He made friends. He twisted arms. We close with his legacy in mind, emphasizing that the United States and its coalition partners must apply equal doses of military strength and diplomatic touch. The world after Sept. 11 will require all of the above.
Des Moines Register
On day two of air strikes in Afghanistan, it became clear that the campaign will likely be a drawn-out affair. What is not clear is what comes next, after we have destroyed whatever meager military and terrorist infrastructure that exists in that desolate and war-ravaged country.
The presumption is that the goal is to get the ruling Taliban to cave in to demands that they turn over suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. What happens if they don't cave? The administration is not saying what, precisely, the next step might be. Bush spokesmen say their intent is not to bring down the Taliban, yet it is hard to see the air war having any other objective than weakening the Taliban so much that they can be driven from power by an uprising or by opposition groups waiting on the sidelines.
This administration can't very well say it will help build a new Afghan government. After all, Republicans condemned attempts at such "nation-building" by the Clinton administration. The White House said the United States would be willing to work with any peace-loving rulers who take over. Suppose, however, that something other than a peace-loving government were to take the place of the Taliban?
Meanwhile, what is the strategy for confronting terrorist networks beyond bin Laden, and for making sure the Afghan offensive does not cause a backlash among Islamic nations in the Middle East?
The administration deserves the benefit of the doubt that it has thought these problems through and knows where it is going next. Meanwhile, the public will have to assume the administration is being intentionally fuzzy about these details for strategic purposes.
After all, it's only two days since the military campaign began. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday this effort will take "years, not months." Still, while patience is in order, the Bush administration and its allies must soon explain in greater detail their objectives in Afghanistan and how they plan to reach them.
President Bush's conditional endorsement of Palestinian statehood last week provoked Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to utter improvident remarks. He suggested that Mr. Bush, in trying to put together a broad-based anti-terrorism coalition, was appeasing Arab states in the same way that "the enlightened democracies in Europe" decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler "for a comfortable, temporary solution" before World War II began. Israel refuses to be Czechoslovakia, Mr. Sharon said.
The White House said the prime minister's remarks were "unacceptable," which they were. Mr. Bush was sacrificing nothing. He was only laying out a position that he should have made clear much earlier in his young administration.
Unfortunately, this squabble between two friendly states - put on hold since the allied attack on the terrorist network in Afghanistan began Sunday - has been exploited by terrorist puppet-master Osama bin Laden. In a tape broadcast on Sunday, bin Laden swore that "neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad."
His emphasis on Palestine was unusual. The architect of the ghoulish Sept. 11 attacks against American targets had not made that much of his concern for the Palestinians until his taped remarks. The Palestinians' aspirations for a homeland had ranked below the top of bin Laden's list of grievances. Other Muslim, Arab and Third World leaders have been much more steadfast in their solidarity with the Palestinians.
But put aside bin Laden's phoniness and Mr. Sharon's unhelpful grousing. There was nothing wrong with what the American president said. These were his words: "The idea of a Palestinian state has always been part of a vision, so long as the right of Israel to exist is respected."
This is not a new concept. President Bill Clinton had expressed similar thoughts, as had Israeli leaders. A majority of Israelis have long thought that Palestinian statehood would, as a practical matter, have to be part of a permanent settlement. That can happen only if the two parties negotiate seriously.
It's true that immediate progress toward a just solution for both the Palestinians and Israel would help in building and maintaining an anti-terror coalition that includes Arab states. That would be a good thing.
It's true that peace between Israel and the Palestinians could reduce the terrorists' hate-driven appetite for attacking the United States, Israel's friend. But think of the good a just settlement would do for Israelis and Palestinians.
The alternative is the crippling, hopeless cycle of violence that has paralyzed life in Israel and the occupied territories for the past year. Let Mr. Bush's vision flower.
The wrath of an angry America was loosed yesterday on the terrorist Osama bin Laden, his al-Qaida gang of thugs and the Taliban regime that has given them and other terrorists haven in Afghanistan. They are but the latest aggressors who have miscalculated the consequences of what President Eisenhower called "the fury of an aroused democracy."
Yet the strike ordered by President Bush was a calibrated measure of force and far from the full might of American power. Only 15 bombers, 25 attack planes from aircraft carriers and 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck military targets. It was just a sample of things to come unless the terrorists capitulate to U.S. demands.
The message to the terrorists in Afghanistan and everywhere else was clear: Give it up or suffer a similar fate.
The attack was coupled with the beginnings of a humanitarian plan to help the long-oppressed and suffering Afghans. The contrast with the merciless murder of 6,000 innocent civilians by the suicidal hijackers of commercial jetliners on Sept. 11 could not have been more distinct.
Moreover, the military action was part of a comprehensive political, diplomatic, economic and psychological campaign, some overt and other covert, intended to crush the terrorist networks, their financiers and those who harbor them. There were hints in official briefings yesterday that the campaign would not be limited to terrorists in Afghanistan.
The saddened families of those lost in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, of every nationality, could take a small amount of satisfaction that the victims have been avenged, although nothing can bring them back or fill the yawning holes they have left behind.
President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have skillfully assembled a coalition of allies and supporters, to whom Americans should feel grateful -- Britain, Canada, Germany, France and other European nations. In Asia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Australia and India have offered support in one form or another.
A special word of thanks should go to President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, where the terrorists and the Taliban have many supporters. In agreeing to help the United States, Musharraf has risked the survival of his government and, indeed, his own life in a land where political assassination has been commonplace.
Finally, a quiet word of gratitude to all Americans who had a hand in planning and executing this strike, military and civilian, men and women, generals and privates. Your compatriots are proud of you.
Kansas City Star
Even as the United States presses its military campaign against the Taliban regime, America and its allies need to be laying the groundwork for a stable, representative government in Afghanistan.
While the Bush administration says it is wary of "nation-building," it would be irresponsible for our country to simply leave Afghanistan in shambles once our military objectives have been met. Such a selfish and short-sighted policy could harm America's image abroad for many years to come.
The United Nations also could play an important role in developing plans for an effective, broad-based government in Afghanistan that can begin to repair the damage done by decades of turmoil and the last few years of chaos and oppression under the Taliban.
While there is no shortage of pessimism about the prospects for democracy in Afghanistan, the country has had at least some experience with elections and representative government.
The former Afghan king, Mohammad Zahir Shah, might be able to play a helpful if largely symbolic role in the new government. He could provide a unifying figure, able to rally different ethnic groups to support a new government. ...
In the long run, the spread of democracy around the world is one of the best defenses against international terrorism. Despotic regimes foster the economic and social stagnation in which terrorist organizations flourish, and some governments actively support and direct these groups.
The Taliban rulers have brought nothing but misery to the people of Afghanistan. The Taliban's harboring of Osama bin Laden and other international terrorists has left the country isolated and despised by its neighbors.
These other countries have urged the United States -- privately if not always publicly -- to pursue its war on terrorism until Afghanistan's terrorist network has been destroyed.
Because the Taliban has continued to protect terrorists who have been strongly linked to the devastating attacks on the United States, our country now has ample reason to seek the Taliban's demise.
As the conflict with the Taliban unfolds, however, the United States needs to show it has learned a valuable lesson from its previous experience with Afghanistan.
More than 20 years ago, America helped supply military equipment to Afghan groups that repelled the Soviet invasion of their country. But the militant Taliban eventually took control of Afghan society, including the government.
Once the United States achieves its initial objectives this time, it should not walk away from its responsibility to help the people of Afghanistan develop a stable and productive society.
As bombs fell Sunday on Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden released a strange and chilling videotape that gave some insight into his bizarre view of the world.
It amounted to his declaration of war, a holy war against "infidels" and their modern "paganism" that reaches to the Crusades and the dawn of Islam to rally the Muslim faithful to his cause.
The great majority of the Muslim world has rejected his rant. But it has fallen on some sympathetic ears, and for that reason it has to be carefully considered for its potency.
Bin Laden has set up a religious tripwire for President Bush's war on terrorism that the United States and its allies must be careful not to trigger. At stake is not just America's security, but the stability of moderate Arab allies whose states could be at risk.
Indeed, in Pakistan, violent anti-American demonstrations erupted Monday in several cities near the border with Afghanistan. Angry mobs burned United Nations offices, foreign charities, movie theaters and police stations to protest the Western attacks.
Responding in a pre-recorded video to U.S. and British attacks on his strongholds in Afghanistan, bin Laden promised the West no peace and security until their armed forces--"a display of vanity with their men and horses"--are thrown like the Crusaders from the Holy Land of Islam. He said the world was now divided into two camps, the "faithful" and the "infidels." He portrayed the Unite States as an "evil" to be destroyed.
The United States is home to some 6 million Muslims who enjoy its freedom and religious tolerance. Most American Muslims feel Islam is also at war with terrorists. "America has given us more than we have paid it back," Moin Moon Khan, president of American Muslims for Peaceful Reconciliation, wrote in a recent letter to the Tribune. "America belongs to us and to our children."
As has often been said by this nation's leaders, this is not a fight with Islam. It is a struggle of religious fundamentalism against the rapid change, freedoms and culture of Western modernity. Bin Laden sees himself as the Dutch boy with a finger in the dike, claiming he fights on behalf of one culture that believes it is superior to another.
But don't assume his message has been universally repudiated save by a handful of zealots.
For a decade, bin Laden has been building and training an extensive network of terrorists to execute his orders. His network has cells and safe houses that reach across the globe. His complex, global web of financial support is only beginning to be unraveled.
For that reason, the war of words will be as important as the war with cruise missiles. The distinctions between Islamic teaching and bin Laden's brand of fundamentalism must be clearly and constantly drawn.
Words and pledges will not be enough unless the U.S. coalition mobilizes Muslim clerics, scholars and leaders across the globe to reject bin Laden's perversion of Islam.
A jihad to expel Crusaders? Hardly. America's founders were careful to reject the fundamentalism of a Europe torn by religious wars when they enshrined the separation of church and state in the Constitution. America's civil peace depends on a state that doesn't dictate the people's religion, but preserves universal principles of freedom of religion, pluralism and tolerance.
It will not be enough, though, to assume the world recognizes the distinction. It's a distinction that must be drawn, again and again.
New York Post
Why do they hate us? That's what all the so-called deep thinkers are asking about America's Islamic enemies.
Or, as they might put it, America's enemies who happen to be Islamic.
Even as Western ordnance lit up the Afghan sky for the second night in a row, the talking heads were again busy yesterday searching for "root causes."
How they so miss the point.
And at America's peril.
Indeed, their very line of inquiry prompts a better question: Has there ever been a culture more burdened with well-paid preachers of self-doubt and defeatism than America's?
It's one thing when reflexively anti-American loons like "Hanoi Jane" Fonda urge folks to "try to understand the underlying cause of the crime."
Or when pretentious cranks like Susan Sontag write off the World Trade Center casualties "as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions."
But when broad swaths of the mainstream press go out in search of deeper meaning and root causes, beware.
Look at this week's newsweeklies.
"Can Bush's strategy . . . get bin Laden without inflaming the Muslim world?" asks Time. Newsweek touts a special feature on "the roots of Islamic rage."
Imagine where this country would be if Americans had paused to consider the "underlying causes" of the massive sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy?
Back then, of course, judgmentalism wasn't a sin.
They attacked us.
We attacked back.
No questions asked.
Indeed, the right response when someone asks why bloody-handed killers like Osama bin Laden hate America is:
Osama ordered the deaths of some 6,000 innocent people, mostly Americans, on American soil.
What difference does it make why?
There's no justification for such evil.
There's no excuse.
And the only question that matters is how can they be eradicated most quickly?
Let's be clear: Those who search for root causes and underlying motives have underlying motives of their own.
They mean to suggest that America brought Sept. 11 on itself. People who wouldn't dream of blaming the victim in other circumstances suddenly start searching for reasons to let Osama off the hook.
America is too supportive of Israel, they claim.
Or disrespectful of Islam.
Americans by their very presence, it's said, defile holy land in places like Saudi Arabia.
The "deepest" of thinkers accuse America of failing to understand Islam, its culture, history, pride - and pain.
Little of this, of course, is true.
But even if it were, it still wouldn't be relevant.
Again, there's no explanation needed - or possible - as to why "holy warriors" are out to destroy Western civilization.
Suffice to know that they are.
And that they must be stopped.
Rather than ask - corrosively - "why they hate us," it might be better to think about how they came to believe they could get away with their acts of savagery.
Part of that answer, at least, lies in the very self-doubt and hesitating nature of the West that is so exposed by searches for "understanding."
Osama must be laughing at us for that.
It is to be hoped that, in the end, Americans will provide the only answer that matters: not "understanding," and certainly not handwringing.
The world needs bin Laden dead.
Time enough later to fret about "root causes."
(Compiled by United Press International)
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