Allies Express Support for U.S. War on Terror: Nations Offer Assistance for Both Military and Humanitarian Operations. (News Analysis)

Article excerpt

Nations with limited resources, largely ignored by the American media, have stepped up to help in the war on terror.

The leading ally has been the United Kingdom, which has participated in both air strikes and ground operations. But other nations also have provided less visible support.

In interviews with National Defense, officials from Argentina, Canada, Italy, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Qatar discuss specific contributions they could bring to the campaign. These nations have small military forces, so their pledges of support to the United States, in many ways, show that the attacks of Sept. 11 were taken by these and other nations as "attacks on freedom and democracy." During the past two months, nations from every continent have contacted the United States to volunteer military, logistical, humanitarian and diplomatic services.

Canada is credited as having been the first nation to offer hospitality to airborne passengers aboard planes bound for U.S. destinations, when U.S. airspace closed abruptly, for the first time ever, on Sept. 11. Diverted planes landed at small airports all over the country.

"Canada has never been a nation to sit on the sidelines. We did not pick this fight. But we will finish it. Because on the side of justice ... in a just cause, there can be only one outcome--victory," said Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Chretien made the statement after witnessing the deployment of Her Majesty's Canadian Ships Preserver, Iroquois and Charlortetown, bound for the war zone.

Canada also offered assistance for the United States with homeland defense efforts. According to officials at the Canadian Embassy, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police "has been working with its American counterparts to provide whatever technical, logistical and other support is necessary to assist them in their investigation." Also, customs officers are maintaining a high state of alert, and have increased the questioning of people and the examination of goods entering the country.

Canadian nationals also provided specialized equipment to the rescue effort in New York. A little-known Canadian company called Muttluks donated over 800 pairs of specially designed boots for dogs, which would withstand the heat of the rubble of the World Trade Center. These boots are not produced in the United States, and are made of breathable, waterproof Hydroflex coated fabric.

For the campaign in Afghanistan, Canada recently dispatched several vessels, aircraft and 2,000 support troops.

In South America, meanwhile, Argentina's political and military leaders have expressed support for the United States. President Fernando de la Rua, in a speech following the attacks, said: "We do not doubt for a minute that we will be together with the United States and its government, because in this scenario, no country can be neutral or unarmed," he said. Argentina, under an agreement made during the Clinton Administration, is the United States' only South American "non-NATO ally."

Both nations "have common enemies, who don't share our values of liberty, freedom and democracy," said Argentina's defense attache to the United States, Maj. Gen. Daniel Reimundes. He noted that his nation was hit by terrorist attacks in 1992 and 1994 and that the perpetrators are thought to have been connected to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization. "Many say that terrorism happened because we took the position of the U.S. during the Gulf War," Reimundes said.

He added that Argentina's leaders have offered the United States assistance in the fight against terrorism. "My government, my army, is open to any request for expertise or manpower." He said that Argentine troops are prepared to serve, either in Afghanistan or in Kosovo, to replace American peacekeeping forces. He noted that Argentine forces are particularly well prepared to work in mountainous regions. Since the Argentine border with Chile physically resembles the mountains of Afghanistan, Argentine forces would perform well in Afghanistan. …