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FRANCE



Published: Mon, November 5, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



FRANCE

Liberation, Paris, Oct. 31: The United States is going to be forced to modify its air operations in Afghanistan significantly. Too many blunders costing the lives of too many civilians, too much damage to public opinion, too little effectiveness, if we keep in mind the aim of this campaign -- to render bin Laden and his networks harmless.

The United States seems to have decided to get closer to Afghan soil, to lead the chase with the help of special forces and other commandos probably the only solution that has a chance of obtaining tangible results and reducing the collateral damage of the bombing by identifying targets more precisely.

Strategy: We can but wish for such a change of strategy, hoping that priority will continue to be given to the struggle against terrorism and prevent the priority from becoming the struggle against the bombing.

That risk does exist. It does not lie in anti-Americanism alone. To convince oneself of this, it is enough to note the evolution of the polls, especially in Britain, and even in the United States.

ITALY

Corriere della Sera, Milan, Oct. 31: The leaders of the military and political campaign against Afghanistan are facing a new dilemma -- how much longer can victory be delayed?

In the last few days the major American news organizations have started reflecting an increasingly divided opinion on the campaign.

Some evoke the rise of the ghost of Vietnam, others remember that the war in Kosovo also risked being bogged down. But these comparisons are inadequate -- never before has American public opinion experienced fear at home.

Understandable error: Fear? We would be fools not to have it. Compassion for the innocent victims? Impossible to not harbor it, because the war against terrorism must remain an expression and not a negation of our values. Desire for victory, impatience at the lack of results in the field of war? This is an understandable error.

Understandable because we all want to put behind us the horrific image of Sept. 11. But we have erred in our haste, as have the Americans, because without composed awareness and courage the defensive war against terrorism cannot gain results and may not even be won. Liberal democracies need to allow criticism and doubt to emerge yet we mustn't allow fear or impatience to concede victory to Osama bin Laden.

ISRAEL

Ha'aretz, Tel Aviv, Oct. 31: The information that led to the Israel Defense Forces to announce that three of its kidnapped soldiers are no longer alive speaks volumes about the character of Hezbollah.

Its inhumane ruthlessness confirms the view that it is nothing more than a terrorist organization that uses religious and human values to conceal its interests.

It believed that it could extract a higher price from Israel if it did not provide any information about the hostages.

Murderous strategies: There is no reason to expect Hezbollah to turn its back on the murderous strategies that have so far characterized its fighting. But the U.N., the U.S. and European countries should take every possible measure against a state that allows a murderous terror organization to operate undisturbed from inside its borders.

The Lebanese government and its citizenry must understand that Hezbollah's well-being will come at the expense of the country's growth. They must be made to pay a heavy price for Hezbollah's brutality."

BRAZIL

O Estado de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Oct. 29: U.S. authorities investigating the atrocities of September 11 have disclosed that 15 of the 19 kidnappers of the four planes used as bombs were Saudi citizens. It is an additional embarrassing factor in the already complicated relations between Washington and Riyadh. It simply confirms that the biggest U.S. ally in the Arab world is also its biggest problem in the region.

While the monarchy stripped Osama bin Laden of Saudi citizenship in 1994, this attitude did not represent a decision to turn the country into an anti-extremism stronghold. Both the royal family and the commercial plutocracy did not stop irrigating with generous contributions the 1,600 foreign religious centers where Islamic fanaticism is taught, even knowing that it is there that terror recruits many of its cadres for the jihad. Financing the Teleban was part of a power-keeping survival strategy followed by the descendants of King Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia.

Energy: The world's biggest oil producing country, Saudi Arabia grants the U.S. a treatment marked by hypocrisy and ambiguity. It supplies the U.S. with energy in exchange for military protection. Besides equipping and training the Saudi army since the 1991 Gulf War, the United States maintains 7,000 soldiers in that country. They constitute one of the U.S's most modern foreign military bases -- which Riyadh does not permit to be used in the campaign against Afghanistan.

Saudi Arabia is becoming the U.S.'s most uncertain friend. While it helped identifying the September 11 kidnappers, it does not admit, not even as a hypothesis, that the attacks could have been planned in Saudi Arabia.

Given the American dependency on Saudi oil, it is unlikely the White House will take any initiative that would hurt the Saudis sensibilities. President George W. Bush's position on Saudi Arabia consists of "asking little, expecting little.




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