Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How the World Stands Now

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How the World Stands Now

Article excerpt

DID THE WORLD change on 11th September? Six months after the spectacular horrors inflicted on New York and Washington, the fear of terrorism is at its most acute where it was before that day, in places like Israel and Kashmir. Osama bin Laden thought that his humiliating blow to America's defence and intelligence services would precipitate a collapse of US power. That did not happen.

Firstly, the Pentagon's rapid destruction of his Afghan lair showed the US could hit back. Secondly, other major powers who had reason to envy or fear US military might, like China and Russia, instead saw co-operation with the American counterattack as serving their immediate interests.

Bin Laden's overarching ambitions to spark a global confrontation between Islam and the West simply failed to split the world apart the way he wanted.

Threats to peace remain, notably from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and from the potential for the Palestinian intifada to develop into a war that could destabilise pro-Western states such as Saudi Arabia. But these were threats which were already well established before Bin Laden plotted his first murder.

Now the very speed of America's victory over the Taliban is encouraging the illusion that US military power can resolve many of the world's other conflicts and tensions, most of all in the Middle East. America's unprecedented sense of vulnerability post-9/11 has given President Bush a new domestic political mandate for military action abroad. But a new readiness to commit US troops abroad hardly guarantees America enduring success in its ventures.

Even Afghanistan is far from stable yet. Continued firefights with Taliban and al Qaeda remnants will compound that country's many problems for the foreseeable future. So long as factions employ violence to dispute power, toppling the Taliban will turn out to have been the easy part. …

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