Financial Times, London, Sept. 19: The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington marked a serious failure of intelligence, not least in the United States After the Cold War, the intelligence agencies' main task was supposed to be combating terrorism and organized crime. Many are asking how the world's best-funded intelligence services could have failed to uncover a meticulously planned operation carried out on United States soil.
One explanation is that the United States has given up on old-fashioned spying. In order to combat small, loosely organized terrorist groups operating in America and abroad they must be infiltrated. ... But before the United States leads a general Western rush back to Cold War espionage, it is worth pausing to consider the implications.
Intelligence activities: First, one of the reasons the United States has scaled back its human intelligence activities is public opposition to the human rights abuses sanctioned abroad by the CIA during the 1970s and 1980s. As the Iran-Contra affair demonstrated, there is always a temptation to break the law in order to pursue national interests.
Second, there needs to be much more sharing of information between governments and closer judicial cooperation if the extra intelligence is to be of use.
Third, the United States will inevitably have to do more spying at home if it is to infiltrate terrorist groups operating there. Such a step requires appropriate legal safeguards, introduced after proper debate. Filling the gaps in anti-terrorist intelligence is essential; but it must be done with care and thought.
Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, Sept. 18: America's uncontrollable urge to avenge the Sept. 11 attacks is understandable, albeit ill-advised. Never before in its history has the United States experienced terrorism on such a scale. The unidentified perpetrators chose to strike the United States, the world's unchallenged superpower, where it hurt most.
Prime suspect: Tuesday's attacks were the most ruthless so far in terms of casualties and diabolical sophistication. Accordingly, striking hard at terrorism must be a global task. But is war the proper way? Doubts abound. In this case, United States President George W. Bush has singled out Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect, although investigators have yet to bring conclusive proof. Livid with anger and smarting from being humiliated at home, the American military and political machine is on a war footing.
In spearheading the battle against terrorism, the United States should show rationality, attentively listen to others' views and think of means other than military.
Le Figaro, Paris, Sept. 18: Yesterday, America attempted an initial counter-attack. Wall Street had to reopen in an orderly fashion unless it was to plunge the financial world, riveted by its reaction, further into confusion.
Technically, the operation was a success. Market mechanisms have started up again. The drop in the Dow Jones, though it was severe, did not turn into a financial crash. The worst was avoided.
It was a perilous exercise. If America wanted to convince the world of its ability to fight back, it could not fail in this one.
Symbolic power: The counter-attack at least has the merit, in its symbolic power, of confirming Western solidarity against the forces that tried to seize up the heart of the world financial engine. Now, time will tell.
On a more fundamental level, the signals sent out yesterday by the New York Stock Exchange are worrisome. Wall Street reflects investors' anticipation of the future economic situation. The drop in indexes at the close yesterday is an ominous sign.
The market regained the upper hand yesterday. But it would be presumptuous to say that America has reassured us.
Die Welt, Berlin: A coalition is currently being forged which is supposed to put the fight against terror on a broad basis.
China is in the boat. Russia is going along with it too. The countries of the Mideast and the Indian subcontinent are in shock and, for now, are playing along.
This colorful coalition will soon be tested. The Taliban has threatened all its neighbors with retaliation.
Who knows what they have in their hands? Russian weapons of mass destruction? It can't be ruled out.
Connections with Western Chinese Muslims? Certainly. Allies in Pakistan? Of course.
Which is to say: This war isn't a second Somalia -- this is about more, much more.
Oil suppliers: The longer America's campaign lasts, the more certain it is that Osama bin Laden will try to represent it as a war against Islam. Attacks against America's oil suppliers will follow.
This isn't an argument against Bush's strategy. It's an argument for setting out clearly what might happen now.
Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sept. 12: Pakistan cannot really be relied on when there is a storm brewing. Democracy has been put aside by Gen. Pervez Musharraf who seized power in a coup two years ago. The country has been subject to United States sanctions since its successful nuclear test some years ago. It has fought wars with neighboring India. Futhermore it is, to say the least, politically unstable. That Musharraf has taken a side must be welcomed.
Military coup: The choice cannot have been given, the risks were far too great. These include the Afghan Taliban's indirect threat to attack Pakistan; there is also concern that if Pakistan turns its back on Afghanistan it would be left without any friendly neighbors. In the short-term there are few who believe that Musharraf's power is threatened. In the long term his position is more uncertain. There are even rumors of a new military coup if the president doesn't get his fellow generals to toe the line. The long-term perspective is further turbulence in an already turbulent region.
However, the United States has right to make demands. In the struggle between democracy and dictatorship, between decency and tyranny, between openness and oppression, there is no room for indifference and neutrality. The threat of terror affects us all, and it is everybody's responsibility to eliminate it.