German opinion fromFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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Agony

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger

Based on what little information Pakistan's emissaries in Kabul brought back with them to Islamabad, it is only natural to speculate about the political meaning of the announcement that Afghanistan's leaders have postponed making a decision on whether to extradite suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Is this an indication that a split is developing in the Taleban regime in Afghanistan? Or are those in power in Kabul just playing for time by laying down conditions for an extradition in order to give the impression that they are ready to be conciliatory? In fact, it is hard to imagine that the Taleban will bow to the U.S. ultimatum. Their spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has said quite clearly that Mr. bin Laden will not be extradited. A military confrontation therefore seems likely.

The form and extent of such a confrontation as well as its timing are uncertain. Neither has the organizational network -- the connections between those who carried out the strikes, those who pulled the strings and those who ordered the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington -- been uncovered. But the Europeans and the German government should adjust to the idea that they will be asked to participate in military operations and commando missions. The expectation that the United States will wish to carry the operation out alone with only British support, because this will allow it to do so untroubled by objections and reservations, could simply be wishful thinking.

Those who caution the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush against a retaliatory strike because it would hit innocent people and lead to solidarity and a rise in fanaticism in the Muslim and Arab worlds are trying to prevent retaliation by means of a peculiar argument: The mass murder was really not very nice, it goes, but Washington should not commit further injustice. As if that were the plan! It does not appear that the U.S. government has limited the war against Islamic terrorism to military means alone. This war will be fought in many places and with many weapons. Those who confine themselves to righteous indignation will have to decide whether they want to help fight this war or whether they -- in intentional or unconscious solidarity with groups like the Taleban -- want to help perpetrators pass themselves off as victims. Sep. 18

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 2001 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited.

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-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 18, 2001

Answers

There is nothing "peculiar" about arguing that a war tactic could have counterproductive results. Objectors to counterproductive tactical decisions don't "confine themselves to righteous indignation." The prime (and unprecedentedly difficult) strategic objective of this long war is abating terrorism and its threat to human civilization.

History is replete with "generals fighting the last war", with disastrous results. The "Maginot Line" has become symbolic of this historical theme. The trouble is, repetition of this error in this war could bring about TEOTWAWKI.

There is now a widespread American popular outcry to retaliate strongly, and "do something" dramatic. Likewise, in the Arab world, anti-American fervor is very strong. These reactions of the masses, if followed by their respective Governments, may well bring about WW III and the end of human civilization. Thus, the masses in both the United States and in certain Arab countries must depend upon the superior judgment and expertise of their leadership to avoid this result. This is an unusual situation indeed, in that the Governments involved must overrule rather than bow to mass opinion --- at least with respect to tactics --- acting responsibly, to avert a worst- case apocalyptic outcome.

-- Robert Riggs (rxr.999@worldnet.att.net), September 19, 2001.


I think some caution might be owing to the relationship of Bin Laden and the CIA. Now after giving a person 6 billion in the form of arms, one might think that would give such person a feeling of enormous power and influence, but no. In this case we are asked to accept the notion that Bin Laden turned down the CIA's offer to be a military general so that he could be a lowly terrorist instead. Maybe caution isn't the right word. Maybe it's time to be a bit suspicious.

-- Ken (n4wind@sonic.net), September 19, 2001.

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