World Wide Web Review: What They're Saying About the War : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Friday, Oct. 26, 2001 World Wide Web Review: What They're Saying About the War Europeans blanch, Arabs wince, Russia wants a race and China wants Taiwan BY TONY KARON

The U.S. media may be all Anthrax all the time, but many European papers are giving more front page space to the war in Afghanistan. The Europeans have been all over comments by U.S. officials about the tenacity of the Taliban and dim prospects for snaring Bin Laden. Dublin's Irish Independent suggests the media missed the real story in last weekend's special forces raid at Kandahar, which the paper suggests encountered far heavier resistance than had been expected. "There was blanket and mainly adulatory media coverage on both sides of the Atlantic with the prognosis that the ground war had begun," the Independent writes. "But, instead, what happened last weekend made US and British planners at central command in Tampa, Florida, reappraise the military campaign, and continue with air strikes rather than carry out any more missions on the ground."

Britain: Diana's Ghost?

But if there is a dominant motif in European coverage, it appears to be the looming humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. London's Times gave prominence to a call by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund for the U.S. and Britain to stop using cluster bombs in Afghanistan, because of the "serious long-term threat to civilians." The bombs, being used against Taliban defensive lines, scatter 200 smaller "bomblets" designed to maximize their kill-ratio. But the bombs sometimes go astray, and also leave dangerous unexploded bomblets that kill civilians days or years later. Diana spent the last years of her life campaigning to ban land mines for the same reason.

Russia: Race ya to Kabul!

President Bush may think he's as thick as thieves with his pal Vladimir Putin, but hopefully someone at the White House is reading the English edition of Pravda. The erstwhile communist mouthpiece reports that Russia's generals want to send troops back into Afghanistan, in the hope of backing up their Tajik allies against U.S.-backed Uzbeks in the battle for supremacy among rival factions of the Northern Alliance. Russia wants to restore the Tajik-led government overthrown by the Taliban in 1996. "Pakistan is against such development of the events, as well the U.S.A., due to the efforts of which the split within the anti-Taliban coalition started," Pravda reports. "The United States promised its support to General Rashid Dostum (originates from Uzbekistan). The situation was very intense — on the edge of the armed conflict between the Tajik and Uzbek wings of the alliance." Moscow may want its own troops to reinforce the Tajiks — something it believes the U.S. won't match for the Uzbeks. "Therefore, we have a race," warns Pravda. "Who is going to be the first to support 'its own' wing of the anti-Taliban alliance." The last time the Russian military sensed such a "race" it embarrassed NATO by being first into Kosovo's capital.

Turkey: You want us to do what?

The U.S. has no plans to send peacekeeping troops to Kabul, of course, having apparently tapped Turkey for the job. And that appears to have created intense interest there in the political infighting among the Taliban's would-be successors. Ankara's Turkish Daily News carries a lively account of the sit-down in Pakistan among mostly Pashtun mujahedeen leaders hoping to forge a "southern alliance" against the Taliban (and the Northern Alliance, whom many Pashtuns distrust). The delegates urged the U.S. to halt its bombing campaign on the grounds that this was supposedly consolidating Pashtun support for the Taliban. They'd prefer to bring down the Taliban by coaxing its supporters away. And they want a Muslim force to keep the peace (Turkey being the prime candidate). And from the paper's discussion of the struggle for power between rival anti-Taliban factions, the peacekeepers may be kept busy.

Jordan: America is losing the propaganda war

Jordan's intelligence community has provided invaluable help against Al Qaeda in the past, but an editorial in The Star suggests the U.S. is losing the propaganda war there because of concerns over the humanitarian effects of the bombing. "While the general feeling in this part of the world is that they condemn terrorism, and many have repeated such a statement to the point it has become defensive, the regional states are wary to point out they are also against war, that a better solution must be found to end terrorism. Regardless of Bin Laden or the Taliban, it's an unequal one-way war that is only causing the misery and the flight of innocent civilians... And in this respect neither the United States nor Britain are handling the 'propaganda war' very well. It is being perceived as a war against the defenseless, and the poor. Perhaps because that is what it is."

China: The more things change…

News coverage in China's communist party organ The People's Daily carries a note of neutrality. CNN stories compete for attention in the lineup with dispatches from the Afghan Islamic Press, while the main story concerns China's own humanitarian relief efforts on behalf of Afghan refugees in Pakistan. But a commentaryon how recent events have changed U.S.-China relations is decidedly sanguine about backing Washington. The piece enthuses that last weekend's APEC summit in Shanghai showed that "the U.S.-China relationship has acquired a more extensive and stable foundation and will step into a new stage notably different from what it was in the past… China is earnestly sharing woe with the United States." Let's not even mention that unpleasantness over the spy plane — the paper waxes lyrical on China cooperation with U.S. efforts against Al Qaeda. But after pledging unswerving solidarity in the struggles against both terrorism and economic recession, the comrades in Beijing thoughtfully warn that "the most sensitive problem between the United States and China, or the biggest obstacle, is the 'Taiwan' issue, without a correct solution of this issue, it will be impossible to fundamentally improve the U.S.-China relations," etc. In other words, not everything changed on September 11.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 26, 2001


Shore are a lot a mixed opinions, aint't there?

-- Buck (, October 26, 2001.

After reading this all I can say is Ye Gods! How are we ever going to build a coalition with this mish-mash, self-interest mess.

Doesn't anybody, beside us and the British, think terrorism, in all forms, must be crushed, at any cost?

-- RogerT (, October 26, 2001.

It would be hard to say that you lived in a civilized society if, every time you opened your mail you had to worry about coming down with bubonic plague, worry daily about a crop duster taking care of the lettuce with a deadly chemical that you were about to eat as a dinner salad, or going to your job in a hi-rise office building fearing a jumbo jet might slam into it at any time. And, how about the bridge you drive over on your way to work? Need I say more?

-- Billiver (, October 26, 2001.

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