The War Begins

Article excerpt

A message of support

CZECH REPUBLIC--Dear Fellow Citizens,

I believe that all of us, you as well as myself, are shattered by the events in the United States of America today. On behalf of our country, on behalf of all of our citizens, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to all victims and to their surviving families, and I would like to assure the American people that we are on their side and that we are ready to assist them in any way within our power. I understand this as an attack against human freedom, as an attack against democracy, and I consider this to be a tremendous warning to civilization which challenges us to mobilize, supremely, our sense of responsibility for this world. Fanatics and madmen cannot be allowed to hold all of us as their hostage.

--President Vaclav Havel

September 11, 2001

The war's purpose

UNITED STATES--America's campaign against terrorism began in earnest [October 7], appropriately with strikes against al Qaeda terror camps and their Taliban sponsors in Afghanistan. The task now is to see this fight through to the finish, both militarily and politically.

President Bush seemed to frame the mission in precisely those terms in his speech to the nation. He described the military plan as "sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations" against the terrorists. "But the battle is broader," he added, and will extend to "any government" that "sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents." This means more than killing Osama bin Laden or even deposing the Taliban but also ridding the world of all governments that shelter terrorists.

The complex political nature of the task is clear from the early bombing targets. They are carefully chosen military targets, intended to cripple command and control and air defenses but also to minimize Afghan civilian casualties. This is in direct moral contrast to the terrorist method, which

seeks to kill as many civilians as possible as at the World Trade Center.

Mr. Bush pointed out the extraordinary fact that the U.S. is airlifting food and medicine to the Afghan people at the same time it is bombing its Taliban rulers. The humanitarian effort also underscores that these strikes are not aimed at Islam but against bin Laden's perversion of that religion.

--Wall Street Journal

October 8, 2001

Unavoidable fight on a pivotal battleground

UNITED STATES--The long-awaited response to the terrorist atrocities of September 11 began much as advertised [October 7]. With the one hand, the U.S. unleashed a military assault aimed at uprooting Afghanistan's terrorist network and its Taliban protectors. With the other, it launched a high-profile humanitarian assault to aid millions of fleeing refugees.

It was a smart and carefully crafted beginning--not so much a calibration of U.S. power, which has invited failure so often before, as a decision to apply that power aggressively in an unconventional way. What is less clear as the battle of Afghanistan begins is just what victory will look like.

President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were purposely cautious, sticking to general objectives. Bush promised that the Taliban "will pay a price," that the terrorists would eventually be driven out of their caves and brought to justice, and that Afghans "will know the generosity of America and our allies." ...

Most Muslim countries face an internal conflict, which is why the outcome in Afghanistan will be so critically important. The shape of victory will help define the wider war for millions.

Success surely requires eradicating any terrorist threat from Afghan soil. But it also demands doing so in a way that separates Osama bin Laden from Islam.


October 8, 2001

Taking the war to the terrorists

UNITED STATES--United States and British soldiers, sailors and airmen opened the military phase of the fight against global terrorism [October 7], launching retaliatory raids against terrorist training camps belonging to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and Taliban military installations across Afghanistan. …