What U.S. newspapers are saying

Oct. 22, 2001 at 9:53 AM
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New York Times

President Bush came away from the Shanghai summit meeting of Asian and Pacific leaders with broad backing for diplomatic and financial moves against terrorism but shallow support for American military action in Afghanistan. The most important development, though, may have been Mr. Bush's talks with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, which brought the two leaders closer to outlining a new strategic relationship.

The two sides need to keep working on a package deal that would include offensive nuclear weapons cuts, changes in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and more cordial ties between NATO and Russia. Washington should be more realistic about a missile shield. The Pentagon remains far from having perfected a workable defensive system and the most immediate threat to the nation comes from terrorists, not nations with intercontinental ballistic missiles. ...

Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin were clearly not on the same page yesterday when they discussed missile defenses at a joint news conference. Mr. Bush called the ABM treaty "outdated" and "dangerous" while Mr. Putin described it as essential to maintaining nuclear stability. Nevertheless, both men left open the possibility of narrowing their differences, and Mr. Putin seemed hopeful that agreement could be reached on altering the treaty in ways that would permit more ambitious American testing of missile defense systems. Mr. Bush should resist pressure from within his administration to move toward withdrawing from the treaty by the end of the year. Much of the testing needed to develop a workable missile shield can be carried out within the ABM treaty, and surely the treaty can be amended to permit a more expansive testing program in the future.

One of the pleasant surprises of the Bush presidency has been the rapid development of a productive relationship with Russia. It has already paid clear dividends in Moscow's contributions since Sept. 11 to the campaign against terrorism. The next step is to produce a new framework for managing American and Russian nuclear weapons.

Washington Post

The economic jitters following the terrorist attacks are reaching abroad: Japan, Turkey and Brazil, three countries that had been wobbly before, are more so now. Even more affected is Argentina, which flirted with default earlier this year until the International Monetary Fund came to its rescue. A combination of slower world growth, more risk-averse investors and troubled domestic politics again has raised the prospect of default. And this time there may be little that the IMF can do about it.

Argentina is likely to default because investors think it likely to default: Their skepticism has pushed interest rates sky-high, making it hard for the government to meet its service payments. To free up money to pay creditors, the government has resorted to a tough austerity program, which has driven the economy into recession and made the problem nastier. This week an election reduced the chances that Argentina will continue to tighten its belt. The opposition, which has criticized austerity, took control of both chambers of Congress.

Back in the summer, it seemed just possible that a big IMF loan would convince investors that default was not in the cards; interest rates might therefore have fallen, loosening the policy vise around the government. But the IMF package did not work, perhaps because it wasn't big enough to turn confidence around, perhaps because it was delayed by a reluctant U.S. Treasury or perhaps because the shock of Sept. 11 knocked investor confidence down again. It seems unlikely that another IMF rescue would upend investor psychology so soon after the last one failed to do the trick. Argentina is therefore likely to tell its international creditors that they won't be paid. Indeed, it already is doing that with domestic lenders whose arms can be twisted.

What happens next is hard to say -- which is precisely why Argentina has tried so long to avoid defaulting. In the Latin American debt crises of the past, defaulting countries lost access to international capital for some years, then bounced back when a new group of investors appeared with no apparent sense of history. This time around, an Argentine default may be both messier and less serious. It will be messier because the lenders are bondholders not banks, and bondholders are too numerous to gather into one room to negotiate a debt restructuring. It may be less serious, on the other hand, because investors appear to differentiate between emerging markets more than in the past. One Latin American default will not necessarily convince markets that others are imminent. But that's a hope more than a promise.

Washington Times

Four men responsible for killing 224 people in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were sentenced to life imprisonment last week. The jury is to be commended for bringing these men -- disciples of Osama bin Laden who seem to have no regrets for their actions -- to justice. Unfortunately, in the time it has taken to sentence them, their indicted accomplices -- the most prominent of which is bin Laden -- have been free to cause more death.

In May, when the four were convicted, at least a dozen other men indicted in connection with the embassy bombings were at large. Seven of them, including bin Laden, are now on the FBI and State Department's most-wanted lists. Bin Laden took advantage of his time as a fugitive to attend a convention for 200,000 students from Muslim countries in April, when he urged "the young generation to get ready for the holy war, and to prepare for that in Afghanistan because jihad in this time of crisis for Muslims is an obligation of all Muslims."

At that time, while this page predicted bin Laden wasn't finished with his planned attacks, it also concluded that those Muslims who would heed bin Laden's call "stand warned now that there is a price to be paid ... for those who target the United States abroad." Unfortunately, that price was not high enough for those hijackers who had no conscience and no fear of death, and who would not confine their attacks to Americans abroad, as shown by the events of Sept. 11.

While the hijackers' deaths silenced any defense strategy they would advance, the four sentenced Thursday serve as portraits of the shamelessness with which bin Laden's disciples carried out evil: Mohammed Sadeek Odeh, who was the technical adviser for the bombings and a sworn member of al Qaida, used his time in court to attack the United States for its retaliatory strikes against Afghanistan. He also told investigators after his arrest that he would consider carrying out another bombing against Americans in Saudi Arabia or Tanzania if bin Laden asked him to do so.

Mohamed al-Owhali threw stun grenades to distract the guards at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, and was on the truck that carried the bombs there. He was supposed to be a "martyr" in the attack, but escaped.

Khalfan Khamis Mohammed had previously trained in bin Laden's camps, and rented a bomb factory in Dar es Salaam, where he helped make the bomb for the Tanzania attack. He allegedly helped stab a guard in the eye while in a New York jail before he was sentenced. Another bin Laden disciple, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, who was sharing a cell with Mohammed, allegedly made a comb into a knife and plunged it two-and-a-half inches into the guard's skull, causing the loss of his eye, brain damage and partial paralysis. Mohammed is alleged to have assisted in that attack after having killed Americans in Tanzania, and said he would have joined in other attacks on Americans if he could get away with it.

Wadih El-Hage, the only U.S. citizen sentenced, was bin Laden's personal secretary, messenger and fundraiser. His Brooklyn refugee center served as a front for the Kenyan branch of al Qaida, and he used Texas as a base to smuggle weapons for al Qaeda. El-Hage used his time in court to praise the group, and to announce he had nothing to apologize for.

These men, and their accomplices at large, have not been true to their faith, their family or their countrymen. Their lack of remorse highlights the depth to which humanity can fall. Godspeed to those who will bring justice to their accomplices and their godfather, Osama bin Laden.

San Francisco Chronicle

Threats to withdraw business and federal aid from Berkeley to protest the city's stance on the Afghanistan bombing seem to be an odd way to impress upon the world the beauties of democracy.

On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council, worried about the potential loss of innocent lives, passed a resolution asking that the bombing attacks against the Taliban be halted "as soon as possible." The resolution did, we must note, condemn the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and call for swift justice for those responsible.

Yet, of the nearly 1,000 e-mails she's received, Mayor Shirley Dean said most called the city a traitor and pledged a financial jihad of sorts. Some promise to ask Congress to cut the city's federal funding. Others vow never to shop or dine in town again. Still others urge businesses to withdraw all city-related investments.

While Berkeley is often ridiculed for its quirky, offbeat, left-of-leftist politics, there is something about punishing a town for its political expression that seems, well, un-American. Indeed, part of the lure of Berkeley -- from its avant-garde restaurants to shops of hand-crafted, Earth-friendly wares -- is that it's so different than anyplace else. Its politics and tastes are not for everyone, but that does not make them unpatriotic.

Chicago Tribune

So much has changed since Sept. 11. At times, it seems as though the world has turned upside down, seriously discombobulating everyone. Where are the touchstones of the past?

Well, here's one. Good old reliable Berkeley, Calif., has ridden to the rescue to underscore that some things remain as they were. The city council has called for a halt to the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, the first American city to do so.

Berkeley wants the United States to pursue a non-military solution to international terrorism. Bring the perpetrators of terrorist attacks to justice but don't bomb 'em. That's the gist of it.

Berkeley has a long history of opposing U.S. military action; it was a center of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam era. So this shouldn't come as a surprise.

Nonetheless, it was controversial, even for this laid-back San Francisco Bay area college town. The motion barely passed and only after language was added that expressed outrage at the World Trade Center attacks.

Now some Berkeley businesses face threats of an economic boycott. That's unfortunate. The council doesn't speak for local businesses. Moreover, the council members are exercising a right -- in this case, a right to blather utter nonsense -- that this country has protected for a long, long time. This nation rarely advances in lockstep--nor should it, even in war -- and Berkeley has long marched to its own, distinctive drummer.

San Antonio Express-News

With Americans increasingly anxious about biological weapons in their places of business or their mailboxes, an international treaty to control biological weapons may seem distant and irrelevant.

And yet, the 1972 U.N. Biological Weapons Convention can be a vital component in a comprehensive effort to combat worldwide biological terrorism.

Although the treaty is nearly 30 years old, it never has been strong enough to stop the proliferation of bioweapons.

Earlier this year, however, U.N. negotiators announced that after five years of talks, they had reached a tentative agreement on stronger terms.

The beefed-up treaty included unannounced inspections of suspected biological weapon sites.

The United States, one of 142 nations that ratified the original treaty, killed the newly strengthened agreement.

A trade official maintained that the treaty might threaten U.S. national interests and commercial secrets by allowing foreign inspectors into pharmaceutical plants.

In the midst of a burgeoning crisis, the Bush administration has an opportunity to undo this exercise in shortsightedness.

At a biological weapons conference in Switzerland next month, administration officials will offer new ideas for strengthening the treaty.

Reportedly, they will include proposals that nations pass stricter laws criminalizing the use and import and export of biological weapons; fund more research into illnesses caused by biological weapons; and share information and expertise.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said recently that the Bush administration still opposes the proposed inspection regimen, contending that it would not have prevented terrorists from using biological weapons.

She may be right, and yet a treaty with strong compliance measures would make it more difficult for countries in violation of the agreement to escape detection.

It may well be that those who have fomented the current anthrax scare have some kind of state connection. A treaty sets a baseline for standards of human and state behavior.

President Bush has emphasized repeatedly that the war against terrorism requires a worldwide coalition.

U.S. support for a strong and effective biological weapons treaty not only helps this nation's credibility with its allies but also has the potential to do some real good.

Salt Lake Deseret News

Let the Games begin.

That needs to be the mind-set of the state, nation and world regarding the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Despite the war against terrorism, the Games, like life, need to go on. As to the question posed by the headline in Tuesday's Deseret News, "If no Games, who pays?" the answer is, everybody. And everybody but the terrorists would lose were the Games to be canceled.

Of course security is a major concern -- as it has been for past Olympics. But tight security shouldn't diminish the enjoyment of the Games. The only thing that would do that is to not hold them at all. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee in conjunction with numerous local and national security and law enforcement agencies are laying out plans to ensure the safety of both the Olympic participants and the spectators.

Olympic security has always been a top priority and will be even more emphasized now. Competent and informed authorities have been working with SLOC and the state the past four years to ensure that the Games will be about competition, not violent, disruptive acts. Congress and the administration are helping by finding ways to provide up to $40 million in additional funds for this purpose, as well.

The heightened awareness resulting from the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11 will make it much more difficult for anybody to cause mayhem here in February. With the extra precautions and the presence of soldiers, terrorists and any others who desire to leave their heinous marks on the Games will face formidable challenges. They may very well conclude that targeting the Olympics simply isn't worth the trouble.

As Gov. Mike Leavitt noted during a televised address to Utahns, "Terrorists depend on surprise and complacency, and neither of those will be present during the Olympic Games."

What will be present will be the top winter sports athletes from around the world -- skiers, skaters, hockey players, bobsled and luge racers etc. They will be accompanied by journalists and spectators from around the world.

Next February is when all the hard work of the many Olympic officials and volunteers comes to fruition. The 2002 Winter Olympic Games need to go forward.

Portland Press Herald

It is a symbol of liberty and justice, of course, but also of human rights, democracy and economic opportunity. As such, all who believe in the grand experiment known as the United States of America should be proud to fly its flag.

The groundswell of patriotic spirit following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has led to a minor and disturbing backlash. Some say all these flags remind them not of the words to a song, but of a legacy of racism, economic hegemony abroad and militarism.

It's a view that assumes that people and nations have to be perfect, that ideals matter little and that the past holds more for us than the future.

America is on a 225-year-old journey, and along the way not all its citizens have known liberty or justice. The flag isn't a symbol of our failures, however. It's a symbol of our success. It proclaims us as a nation founded on principles, even if we've yet to live up to every one in perfect measure.

Americans fly the flag today as a reminder that this nation stands for something great. It is the ideal that all are created equal and each has the right to a life of liberty and happiness free from fear. This ideal will prevail so long as the Stars and Stripes can be seen flowing in a breeze.

Orlando Sentinel

The Bush administration should change who delivers the nation's global message.

The Pentagon properly has retained a high-profile Washington public-relations firm to help deliver the Bush administration's message internationally about fighting terrorism. A key challenge in the war against terrorism is convincing people in other countries of U.S. intentions and goals.

That's particularly necessary in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and South Asia -- and in other places that have substantial Muslim populations.

To get key ideas across, the Bush administration had been using such high-profile figures as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to discuss U.S. policy on the popular al-Jazeera television network.

But they may not be the best spokespeople to reach viewers of that network and others in selected regions. A better approach would feature spokespeople who know the language and/or hail from a targeted country or culture.

There's no shortage of such folks within the ranks of the U.S. Department of State and other government agencies, including several senior officials. Some have worked with local news media in their assigned countries.

Giving certain staffers temporary assignments as regular, high-profile spokespeople could make a world of difference in getting audiences in other countries to understand and find credible what the United States is undertaking. The public-relations firm just hired should use a similar approach.

It's necessary to use every U.S. tool as creatively as possible against terrorism.

Boston Globe

The last thing Washington needs is to have an already complex war against terrorism become enmeshed with the long, lethal conflict between India and Pakistan over Indian-administered Kashmir, commonly described as the most dangerous place on earth. Yet that is exactly what has been happening.

During visits last week to Pakistan and India, where he sought to solidify support for the Bush administration's pursuit of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, Secretary of State Colin Powell heard from his hosts about the Kashmir conflict and what they wanted the United States to do -- or not do -- to resolve it on Indian or Pakistani terms.

The Powell visit was preceded by two violent incidents highlighting the peril of a new war over Kashmir. On Oct. 1, Muslim militants known as ''jehadis'' staged a suicide bombing at the Legislature in the Kashmiri capital of Srinigar. More than 40 people perished in the blast and an ensuing gun battle.

This past Monday, in retaliation, Indian forces launched heavy mortar fire at Pakistani military posts across what is called the Line of Control separating Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistani territory. India said its purpose was to ''stop cross-border infiltration'' by militants under Pakistani tutelage. Another obvious aim was to place Kashmir on the agenda of Powell's discussion Wednesday with India's Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh.

The Kashmir conflict is dangerous not solely because India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, but also because this territorial dispute, rooted in the dissolution of British colonialism on the subcontinent in 1947, has become a measure of religious and patriotic ardor in both countries.

Against this background, political leaders in India and Pakistan find it hard to compromise on longstanding positions. They find it equally hard to resist the temptation to use the Kashmir issue to prove their fitness to govern.

The United States has a great stake in seeking a resolution to the Kashmir conflict - an interest that predates the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Not only would a war over Kashmir risk the horrors of a nuclear exchange, but it could also lead to disastrous instability on the subcontinent and in a large arc encompassing the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, and other areas of Asia.

Since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has properly abandoned its penchant for avoiding most foreign entanglements. Powell tried to deliver a delicate message about Washington's good intentions during his visit to India and Pakistan. It is a message that should be followed up with offers of economic rewards and international acceptance for both countries if they resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Ideally, any mechanism for such a resolution would include a free and fair referendum for the people of Kashmir, with an option to vote for independence as well as inclusion in either India or Pakistan.

Dallas Morning News

For most Americans, the six weeks since Sept. 11 have been no picnic. Yet, even as mailroom phrases like "handle with care" take on new meaning following the detection of anthrax in letters to Congress and a number of media companies, it is worth bearing in mind that the plight of Arab-Americans and other American Muslims also has been difficult.

Singled out by neighbors, targeted by hate crimes, detained by law enforcement, and even evicted from airplanes before lift-off, law-abiding Arab-Americans who have had to put up with such indignities could hardly be blamed for resenting their adopted country. And it is easy to imagine how, in such a climate, others may be ambivalent, even embarrassed, about their own ethnicity and reluctant to draw attention to their culture.

Let's hope neither is the case. If these acts of terrorism, and our reaction to them, result in any one of the ethnic groups that make up the rich mosaic of American culture growing resentful of America, or, at the other extreme, being so eager to blend with the mainstream that they hide who they are, then the bad guys will have succeeded in damaging a country whose greatness derives in part from the rich diversity of its people.

There is encouraging news that some Arab-Americans, and other American Muslims, appear to be resisting both impulses. Rather than assume an adversarial relationship with America and its institutions, Arab-Americans in cities around the country are answering the call put out by the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency for translators who speak Farsi and Arabic. The FBI has fielded more than 15,000 applications for 200 translator jobs, and it already is conducting background checks on applicants.

A spokesman for the Dallas office said that there has been similar interest locally but that, fortunately, its needs are not as great. The office, which services an area of the country with a significant Middle Eastern population, has three Arabic translators, and it has since before Sept. 11. So it has been processing applications for openings elsewhere.

And, as for ethnic identity, it seems alive and well even in this sensitive environment. At the annual convention of the American Muslim Alliance, a group that seeks to teach U.S. Muslims the ropes of the American political system, participants identified themselves as Americans. Yet many also showed considerable pride in their ethnic background. Of the nation's 7 million Muslims, about 3 million are of Arab descent.

One will not find anything resembling this level of diversity in Osama bin Laden's band of terrorists. Nor among Mr. bin Laden's harborers in the Taliban who, it seems, despise women, Jews, Christians, Westerners, and anyone who doesn't look and think exactly like them. Having never experienced true diversity, our enemies don't understand its strength. But they will.

Des Moines Register

Osama bin Laden has vowed to destroy the American way of life. And if we're not careful, the public fear of terrorist attacks will have that effect. People are worried. And now some are getting nervous about Halloween. Parents are uncomfortable sending their kids out to collect candy. Some malls are dropping plans to distribute treats to kids.

General Growth, a company owning or managing 145 malls across the country, has canceled its activities. Two of these are in Iowa. Both Council Bluffs and Coralville received e-mail threats stating "Stay out of the malls 10/31," but they said that's not the cause for calling off the festivities. Mall officials said they simply find Halloween events "inappropriate" in light of recent acts of terrorism.

Is it that Halloween conjures images of witches and demons? Is this simply too creepy for the American people right now?

Not all of them, apparently. Many are excited for Halloween, and intend to make it a patriotic expression this year. It's become an opportunity to dress up as the Statue of Liberty or a flag or President Bush. HAZMAT suits will probably be popular. Costumes and parties might raise the spirits of the American people. And it's hard to tell children that a favorite holiday is canceled because airplanes ran into buildings in New York City more than a month ago.

A 6-year-old in Des Moines simply doesn't understand this. He doesn't understand the minuscule threats of anthrax. And, really, there is no reason to believe the activities of Halloween pose any additional risk to children. Parents who want to be cautious can restrict trick-or-treating to houses of people they know, and they can arrange supervised parties (apple bobbing, anyone?) where safety is no concern.

President Bush has asked the American people to return to their normal activities. Our society has a responsibility to continue with our lives, particularly when it comes to the kids. They're expecting to dress up and prance around with friends. They want treats. Even if the parents and businesses don't feel like partaking in the festivities. Kids are expecting Halloween, and it should be delivered.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Pakistan plays an essential role in the U.S.-led campaign against Osama bin Laden and his Taliban protectors in Afghanistan. Chiefly for this reason, the United States needs to protect the stability of Pakistan and the security of its government, at least for as long as the campaign in Afghanistan continues.

But threatening that stability and security is the ongoing struggle between Pakistan and its longtime adversary, India, which also has pledged its unconditional support for the U.S.-led campaign against bin Laden and the Taliban.

Last week, Indian forces fired mortar shells and rockets across a ceasefire line at Pakistani forces in Kashmir, a mostly Muslim territory that is hotly contested by Islamic Pakistan and secular but mainly Hindu India. Pakistan returned fire. Because the Kashmir dispute is both religious and political, it is extraordinarily intense; India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, and a third cannot be ruled out.

India acted in response to an Oct. 1 car bombing in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-held Kashmir. Even if it could be proved that Pakistan was directly responsible for the bombing, India's muscular reprisal will only perpetuate the cycle of violence and revenge and make a political solution to the Kashmir dispute more difficult to negotiate.

Both India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals, and while their imminent use is unlikely, their existence writes an ominous subtext to the wrangling over Kashmir and makes it even more distracting.

It distracts, of course, from the war effort in Afghanistan and erodes the unity and effectiveness of the U.S.-led coalition. For this reason, Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a visit to the region, urged both countries to show restraint.

India has put Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on the spot. He already is under criticism at home for his courageous support for the U.S. war effort. He will come under even heavier fire, and his political position will become even more precarious, if he heeds the U.S. advice and decides not to respond to India's provocation in Kashmir.

Until now, the Indian-Pakistani dispute has not demanded a lot of Powell's time or attention. But keeping peace between the two nations that claim Kashmir is so important that he may be required to play a more active role. That, too, would be a distraction. But it is one that he may not be able to avoid.

(Compiled by United Press International.)

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