KENT Think before acting, speaker urges

Certain military responses would be detrimental to the U.S. cause, an expert said.
KENT -- The United States should proceed with caution in its response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and should not count on its allies to provide assistance, international policy scholars and experts say.
Kent State University's Lemnitzer Center for NATO and European Union Studies is sponsoring a conference discussing development in Eurasia -- the area that goes from Turkey and the Black Sea, eastward and beyond the Caspian Sea, including the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan and Iran. The two-day conference concludes today.
Region's importance: That part of the world is important for three reasons, said James Sperling, a University of Akron professor, because it is an important geographic position for European and Asian interests, a potential buffer between the Islamic Mideast and Christian Europe, and it serves as a market for European goods.
Member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that includes the United States' European allies will support this country's counterterrorism plans, but would probably go no further, said Sean Kay, professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University.
"European leaders already have cautioned Washington against certain military actions, which, should they result in widespread civilian casualties or seem disproportionate in their lethality, could play into the hands of those who committed the original atrocities," Kay wrote in a paper about NATO's response.
"For many European leaders, even the concept of 'war' is not the appropriate response to the recent attacks on the United States."
Potential problems: The United States' response and active involvement in Eurasia could lead to resentment from China and Russia, which flank the region, said David Calleo, professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.
"China has been uneasy of NATO's role in world affairs and if the U.S. goes into Afghanistan and Eurasia, China's feeling will become even more uneasy," Calleo said. "It could also bring China and Russia closer together. Continued tension with the United States and China would help Russia."
This country can remain a superpower, but must adopt a less bombastic style of diplomacy, Calleo said.
He was critical of how the Clinton administration handled various crises, including those in Kosovo and Somalia, calling it "low-grade imperialism. We were meddling everywhere to avoid local horrors, but without much conviction."
How President Bush responds to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will be key to this country's relationship with Eurasian nations, he said.
"Divisiveness over the wisdom of military tactics or the overall strategy could have profoundly adverse effects on the alliance," Kay wrote. "The United States might proceed unilaterally in these complex operations, but should realize that it does so only at its peril."

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