MUSLIM NATIONS - Want Bush to finish jobgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Published Monday, October 8, 2001
Muslim nations want Bush to `finish the job'
BY JOHN WALCOTT Herald Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Oman and other Muslim nations agreed to support the U.S.-led war against terrorism only after President Bush and his top aides assured them that the United States would not quit until Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network are destroyed.
Two senior administration officials who spoke only on condition of anonymity said that while Arab and Muslim leaders publicly warned of the dangers of U.S. attacks on another Islamic nation, privately they wanted promises that Bush would not stop the war the way his father, President George Bush, ended the campaign against Iraq a decade ago -- with the enemy still standing.
``While they were complaining in public about the West attacking other Muslims, in private they wanted to know if this time we were going to finish the job,'' said one senior official involved in assembling the coalition. ``They did not want to cooperate with us and then have bin Laden coming after them. Basically, they told us they want bin Laden dead.''
One of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's missions during his trip to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Uzbekistan late last week was reassuring leaders in those nations that this time, the United States isn't ``short of breath,'' one top official said.
Some Arab and other alliance leaders worried that because Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior officials in the current administration played prominent roles in the Persian Gulf War, the outcome could be the same.
The first President Bush assembled an international coalition that succeeded in liberating Kuwait from an invasion by Iraq. But Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, was allowed to remain in power, even though Western intelligence agencies believe he has been manufacturing weapons of mass destruction and remains a threat to his Arab neighbors.
Arab and Muslim leaders who were asked to join George W. Bush's coalition also were worried because they think the war against terrorism will be long and difficult, and they saw America retreat from Lebanon and Somalia after suffering only limited casualties.
Bush seemed to be answering those concerns Sunday when he said in his address to the nation, ``Our military action is also designed to clear the way for sustained, comprehensive and relentless operations to drive them [the terrorists] out and bring them to justice.''
The senior administration officials said that after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed more than 5,600 Americans, neither the president nor any of his advisors even considered a limited military strike like the one President Bill Clinton launched after the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa.
``From the start, this was clearly a completely different situation than the one the previous administration faced,'' said one senior official. ``This was war, and the president felt all along that there was only one way it could end. It took some convincing, though, to get some of our friends to believe we meant what we said.''
Despite the administration's assurances, Muslim leaders offered only limited support for military action, and all of them declined to permit the use of their bases for offensive airstrikes. Mindful of the anti-Western sentiments in their streets, they asked U.S. officials to confine the attacks to military and terrorist targets, urged the administration to take steps to aid the Afghan people and pressed Washington to push for an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Both the roles and the reservations of the Muslim nations, especially Pakistan, helped shape the American strategy for attacking bin Laden and his allies, the senior officials said.
Sunday's airstrikes were launched exclusively from British and American territory or warships, although some bombers refueled from aerial tankers based elsewhere, and Air Force search-and-rescue teams are deployed in Uzbekistan and other places.
In addition, the first airstrikes were followed almost immediately by air drops of food, intended as a signal that America's war is not against the Afghan people. Similarly, even before the attacks began, senior officials said the United States would push for a multibillion-dollar, United Nations-led effort to rebuild postwar Afghanistan.
The need to recruit Muslim nations to provide intelligence on bin Laden's terrorists, seize his associates and freeze his bank accounts also helped torpedo suggestions for now that the war against terrorism should immediately be broadened to include Iraq and some Syrian-backed international terrorist organizations.
In fact, the strategy that emerged from the administration's coalition building is far broader, subtler, more patient and more complex than previous American campaigns against terrorism.
``We're taking a page from the book of Middle Eastern politics,'' said one senior official.
Rather than using overwhelming air power to blast every cave, camp and tunnel in Afghanistan where bin Laden and his inner circle might be hiding, the multi-day air campaign is intended to encourage defections and desertions among the Taliban, who are protecting the fugitive Saudi Arabian, the senior officials said.
The deliveries of food and other humanitarian aid by air and over land -- which are going to areas not controlled by the Taliban and to groups that defect from the regime -- also are intended in part to split the Taliban. So is the global campaign to freeze the bank accounts and seize the assets of bin Laden's supporters.
-- Anonymous, October 08, 2001