Take 2 on Ground Zero

Take 2 on Ground Zero

Take 2 on Ground Zero

What the foreign papers are saying.
Sept. 13 2001 2:15 AM

Take 2 on Ground Zero

London's Guardian warns that a harsh response to the terror could be innefective and, worse, create "enemies not just among governments but their citizens as well. ... Right now America needs a statesman, but wants a cowboy. Bush must steel himself to lead, not allow himself to follow."

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The British press also sees profound changes imminent in American policy and the American way of life. The Guardian says we should "expect the US to be even less critical of Israeli security policies in the future—and possibly, even more hostile to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian cause. The fact that many Palestinians were shown on US television celebrating the carnage in America will hardly help their case." And the Independent foresees a shift in our national character. One essay reminds us that,

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

the spirit of the Blitz is not something Americans have experienced collectively, even in a previous generation. They are not used to collective insecurity, except personal insecurity on dangerous city streets. And as a people, they are not accustomed to having their authority—or their innate goodness or rightness—challenged. When that challenge is as devastating and as comprehensive as it was yesterday, optimism will give way to angst.

A second column claims that "[n]ever again will Americans feel safe on their own land. ... [T]he experience of those nations that have had to live with the threat of the terrorist for many decades is—however bitter it may be to state this—that the bomber will often, if not always, get through. As the IRA once said after the attempted murder of the British Cabinet: 'We only have to be lucky once.' "

The Guardian suggests that the enemy here was not any single entity but rather anti-Americanism in general, and the Jordan Times agrees:

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American leaders might also pause and use this time of national grief to do some soul-searching that could help their country become even stronger and stand more steadfast in the face of tragedies and adversities. Anti-American feelings are growing worldwide because of the new US-led world order after the collapse of Soviet power. Denying rising anti-Americanism would not serve any purpose.

In Lebanon, the Daily Star finds sympathy and admiration for America: "It can be difficult for Arabs to see past US policy and appreciate America's qualities. But on Tuesday they were the centerpiece of a sad but proud display. Apart from measures taken to ensure the security of the country's senior leadership, the tragedy was handled with admirable openness and surprisingly little venom."

In noting several U.S. officials' references to Pearl Harbor, the Japan Times writes:

Despite the imperative for firmness and clarity, however, it is to be hoped that cool heads, not warmongers, will prevail. For in fact the Pearl Harbor analogy is off the mark. In that case, the perpetrator and its goals—specific military goals—were known; in this case, nothing comparable is known. There are only suspects and speculation. It is hardly feasible to declare war on a "possible enemy." ... The U.S. will have the support of a majority of nations if, as expected, it redoubles its efforts to seek out those who are responsible for Tuesday's atrocity. It will not enjoy such support if it engages in bellicose and unfocused acts of revenge.

Likewise eschewing Pearl Harbor comparisons, Israel's Ha'aretz instead compares the attack to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait because it is "another opportunity for Israel, if it is wise enough to participate in an alliance that is both combative and peace-seeking, to be seen as a member of the Club of The Good vs. the Club of Evil that includes Yasser Arafat and the fanatical terror groups, Hamas and Hezbollah, with a nuclear-arming Iran backing them." In pondering which governments might be behind the strike, Ha'aretz lists Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya but says it "is difficult to view Iran, a Shi'ite Muslim state, cooperating to that degree with the Sunni Muslim Bin Laden."

Finally, the Tehran Times quotes an Iranian who thinks "the attacks were quite possibly masterminded from within the U.S. System" and says, "The U.S. should have understood the protests of the American people in Seattle in 1999, when thousands of protesters demonstrated against the wrong policies of the White House and U.S. Officials." The paper also notes that "elsewhere, Fernando de la Rua, the Argentinean President said 'We are sure that the recent terrorist attacks have been done with the perpetration of internal American elements.' "