New York Times
On April 30, 1945, as Soviet troops closed in on central Berlin, Adolf Hitler bid farewell to the aides gathered in his bunker beneath the Reich Chancellery and killed himself with a bullet to the head. Many Americans grew up with a vision of war as something that ends with that kind of finality. Since then we have become acquainted with more inconclusive finales. As America searches for Osama bin Laden in the mountainous wilderness of eastern Afghanistan, we are learning that even in victory, finding the end point can be frustratingly elusive.
President Bush has been clear-headed about this possibility. Since Sept. 11 he has often said that the fight against terrorism will be difficult and prolonged. Yet no amount of presidential speechmaking can really prepare Americans for the possibility that the fate of Osama bin Laden may remain unclear for some time. The uncertainty seems especially maddening just days after everyone saw the videotape of the terrorist leader chuckling over the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.
He could turn up, dead or alive, at any time -- or not at all. He may be hiding in the inhospitable, snow-capped high country above Tora Bora, the last redoubt of the al Qaida network in Afghanistan. He could be entombed in one of the area's many caverns, if an American bomb happened to hit the right cave during the heavy bombardment of recent days. Or he may have slipped away days ago and melted into the desolate region along the Pakistani border.
The war in Afghanistan, not to mention the war against terrorism, will never seem complete without the capture or confirmed death of Osama bin Laden and his two top surviving deputies, Ayman al Zawahiri and Abu Zubaydah.
Where Mr. Bush plans to take the war after Afghanistan is unclear. There is talk of going after terrorists in Somalia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and a lot of rumbling in Washington about unseating Saddam Hussein in Iraq. These options require much more careful consideration, and national debate before Bush makes any decisions. Right now, a great deal of military and political work remains to be done in Afghanistan. And the hunt for Osama bin Laden must go on. That phase of the war on terrorism may yet have a clear resolution.
With the collapse of the last organized resistance by al Qaida in Afghanistan's White Mountains, the war against terrorism has reached a turning point. The possibilities for conventional military operations against the terrorists and their hosts have been all but exhausted, at least in Afghanistan. Afghan opposition forces have declared victory over both al Qaida and the Taliban regime, and are preparing to install a new government this weekend. Apart from a few isolated pockets of resistance, there are few targets left for U.S. bombing. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that "we've destroyed al Qaida in Afghanistan, and we have ended the role of Afghanistan as a haven for terrorist activity." And yet, Osama bin Laden and Mohammad Omar remain at large, as do the great majority of other al Qaida and Taliban leaders. That means that the war -- even this first phase of the war -- cannot be over; instead, it now may have to be fought by different, and more complicated, means.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rightly stressed Monday that the Afghan campaign remains far from over. "There are still a lot of Taliban" and al Qaida in the country, he said, "and it's going to take time and energy and effort, and people will be killed in the process of trying to find them and capture them or have them surrender." ... The next few weeks may determine whether the al Qaida forces now on the run will be able to re-establish themselves, perhaps clandestinely, as a presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan or somewhere else. Even if it means offending allies both old and new, the United States must act aggressively to prevent that from happening.
In announcing his bold decision last week that the United States would exercise its treaty-sanctioned right to withdraw from the anachronistic 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, President George W. Bush fulfilled one of his most important campaign promises. In a major presidential campaign speech delivered more than two years ago at the Citadel, then-Gov. Bush promised, "If Russia refuses changes (in the ABM Treaty) we propose, we will give prompt notice, under the provisions of the (ABM) treaty, that we can no longer be a party to it." After spending the better part of his first year in office unsuccessfully seeking Russian acquiescence to a robust American anti-missile testing program, Bush demonstrated that one of his most far-reaching campaign commitments was no idle threat. In doing so, Mr. Bush has now removed the principal impediment to the fulfillment of another major commitment he made at the Citadel in September 1999. "At the earliest possible date," Mr. Bush promised then, "my administration will deploy anti-ballistic systems, both theater and national, to guard against attack and blackmail."
With the ABM Treaty, rightly regarded by Bush as a "relic of the Cold War," no longer impeding America's efforts to defend itself against a ballistic-missile attack, a major step has been taken toward the realization of President Ronald Reagan's dream that American lives can one day be saved rather than avenged.
Los Angeles Times
The U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan is going well, but between next-door Pakistan and neighboring India, combat fever has flared once again. A bloody terrorist attack last week on the symbolic heart of India's democracy, its Parliament building, has outraged Indians, who assume that the assailants came from Pakistan. The neighbors have already fought three wars, and the stakes between them have never been higher.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited India and Pakistan only two months ago to ease tensions after an attack on the legislature in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed more than 30 people. In last week's attack in New Delhi all five gunmen were killed by security forces before they could get into the Parliament building itself; eight Indians died.
New Delhi blamed two Pakistan-based groups that the United States this month designated "supporters of terrorism." One is Lashkar-e-Taiba, the other, Jaish-e-Mohammed, which claimed responsibility for the Kashmir attack and then, finding itself condemned rather than cheered, withdrew the claim. Washington again is urging restraint by both nations.
India will have to talk eventually with Kashmiris about their grievances and with Pakistan about the many issues dividing the two nations. The terror attacks delay the day of negotiation and threaten to provoke another all-out war, this time perhaps with the nuclear weapons that both sides now possess.
The South African government, its reputation already tattered by President Thabo Mbeki's misguided AIDS policy, seems set to make matters worse. Instead of getting with the program, government officials are wasting time debating whether to appeal a judge's order to provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women.
South African pediatricians and AIDS activists sued the government after it confined distribution of the anti-retroviral nevirapine to 18 pilot sites, citing cost and drug-safety concerns, even though nationwide distribution is expected to save the lives of about 50,000 babies. A single dose each to mother and child, costing less than a dollar per dose, has been shown to reduce HIV transmission to the infant by up to 50 percent; a German company has even offered the drug at no charge to South Africa.
Yet the South African government is balking, following a president determined to discredit the drug. As a result, a country expected to take a leadership role on a continent plagued by the AIDS epidemic instead appears the buffoon.
Mbeki declared anti-retrovirals to be as toxic as AIDS; before that, of course, he questioned whether HIV causes AIDS. The leader of the country with the world's highest HIV infection rate even thumbed his nose at his country's crisis by ignoring all World AIDS Day functions on Dec. 1.
A South African judge has ordered the government to begin distribution of nevirapine in the nation's public hospitals, and to establish a nationwide comprehensive program to reduce mother-to-child transmission. Every day that the government delays implementing the court order brings another 200 HIV-positive babies into the world.
How can a hunted man escape hundreds of miles through barren desert with no place above ground to hide? Easily, it seems.
The combat phase in Afghanistan is ending with the war on terrorism uncompleted. While international peacekeepers hold Kabul so the provisional government will be safe from its Northern Alliance protectors, forces loyal to that government must ensure that the Taliban does not regroup in the Hindu Kush Mountains.
The search must go on for identified leaders of the Taliban and al Qaida, many of whom appear to have vanished from the face of the earth. Are they in secret bunkers under Kandahar, in the mountain town of Baghran, unexplored caves of Tora Bora, mingling in the streams of refugees to Pakistan?
Finding them is becoming more of a police than a military matter. But there are reasons to pursue it. The compound built by Marines near Kandahar is meant for prisoners who the United States wants to interrogate, a larger number than it may prosecute.
Justice for Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders, should they be caught alive, can be left to legitimate Afghan authorities, when those are created.
But squaring accounts with al Qaida leaders who directed atrocities in the United States is a war aim announced by President Bush that cannot be forgotten. Given the possibility of secret death and burial, eliminating all trace, the search will go on long after Afghanistan's reconstruction has begun.
The Taliban must never be allowed to regain control of Afghanistan. That is comparatively easy.
The al Qaida must be prevented from committing another act of terrorism and must be made to account for those accomplished. That is going to be harder.
In a fastidiously prepared speech Sunday, Yasser Arafat said most of the things that the Bush administration, the European Union, and the Israeli government have been telling him he must say. Speaking in Arabic to his own people, the president of the Palestinian Authority ordered ''the complete and immediate cessation of all military activities ... especially suicide attacks.'' Arafat vowed to ''punish all planners and executors'' of such attacks and to ''hunt down the violators.''
Arafat has earned a reputation for not always doing what he says he will do, so he must now match deeds to words -- not because that is what the government of Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is demanding but because an immediate cease-fire corresponds to the deepest needs of his people and his own interest in remaining their leader.
It is a positive sign that Arafat did show he is willing to court a very public humiliation. Taking to the Palestinian Authority's official television, he addressed Palestinian families gathered Sunday for the Eid al Fitr holiday meal, saying that he wants all Palestinians to observe the cease-fire he is ordering, even if Sharon's government does not. ...
On one side he is confronted by his old nemesis, Sharon, who appears quite willing to preside over Arafat's demise as the president of a Palestinian Authority that seems unable either to make peace or win the resistance struggle Arafat continued to laud in his Sunday speech. From the other side, Arafat is under assault from militants in Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and some armed groups in his own secular nationalist camp.
Riding the wave of armed struggle, those militants do not seem to worry that their tactics are leading the Palestinian people down a blind alley. The tactical error they are making today is the same one Arafat made in the 1960s and '70s during his own terrorist phase. When he told his people Sunday that there could be only ''one authority on this land,'' Arafat was speaking the plain truth. If he loses control of the Palestinian national movement to the opportunists of armed struggle, his people will be doomed to many more years of stateless suffering.
Dallas Morning News
It was about time. Yasser Arafat's televised address Sunday took a tougher line. Palestinian groups must cease their attacks against Israelis, he said for the first time since Palestinians killed 10 Israelis Thursday.
Reviewers rightly applaud the move, but they also correctly place an addendum: Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat must match his words with deeds. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said specifically that Mr. Arafat and his Palestinian Authority must dismantle "all the terrorist networks, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations."
Those who want peace in the Middle East always should make room for a large number of people around the bargaining table. But they have a right to say that those who want to destroy their opponents do not belong there, at least not until they abandon that goal.
A shift will not occur overnight. And the more Sharon looks beyond Arafat or insists on settlements in Palestinian areas, the more even Palestinian moderates will clam up.
Still, more voices are needed. Those Palestinians who understand that an armed solution will never work for either side must stand up. Their own future is at stake.
Portland, Maine, Press Herald
The conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors has seldom been at such a tipping point.
As Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday, it's not enough anymore for the Palestinian Authority or its leader, Yasser Arafat, to promise to stop terrorist groups from launching attacks on Israeli citizens. Arafat must do it.
Powell said the Bush administration still supports a Palestinian state in the region and wants Israel to stop the construction of settlements and give up territory for peace.
However, as long as terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad operate with impunity from areas controlled by Arafat's forces, that goal cannot be reached. ...
If a lasting peace is ever to come to this troubled region, Palestinian terrorist groups must be brought under control. Controlling them is Arafat's problem - and his opportunity.
Despite the Bush administration's insistent defense of its order authorizing military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, the Justice Department has wisely decided to prosecute the first defendant charged in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in federal court.
The decision means American constitutional safeguards of individual rights will be observed, at least in this instance.
The defendant, Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, was first arrested in August on immigration charges after arousing suspicions at a Minnesota flight school. Prosecutors believe he was intended to be the fifth hijacker aboard the United flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Although Moussaoui was arrested and indicted in the United States, he was subject to a military tribunal, under President Bush's sweeping and carelessly drafted order, simply because he is a foreigner. ...
Some opponents of tribunals believe anyone involved in the September attacks, including Osama bin Laden, should be tried in ordinary American courts. We are not prepared to go that far. Civil libertarians should be open to the argument that there may be grounds, involving terrorists apprehended abroad, to seek alternatives.
But exceptions should be rare, painstakingly reasoned and limited to trials outside the United States.
On American soil, even for someone charged with crimes as heinous as those levied against Mr. Moussaoui, the nation's traditions of due process and fairness must prevail.
(Compiled by United Press International)