- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 17, 2001

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Financial Times
After the Taliban
LONDON The U.S. has stepped up the military tempo in Afghanistan and the advances by its proxy fighters, the Northern Alliance, have been striking. Now is the time to accelerate efforts to agree on the makeup of a post-Taliban regime.
The military and political track are closely linked. Afghanistan is a failed state, divided on ethnic lines and vulnerable to meddling from outside powers. In the absence of a political settlement, the country will revert to chaos and civil war.
The United Nations can help to broker such an agreement. … The Alliance should realize that defeat of the Taliban does not signal an outright victory for them. The Pashtuns must be included in numbers if a new regime is to have a chance of survival.
No one should be under any illusions. Any government in Kabul will be notional. Most of the power will remain in the hands of regional warlords. … The U.N. should focus on three priorities. It should prepare to set up protectorates in the major cities. … [and] provide a future peacekeeping force to assure minimum law and order. A Western-led force would offend Muslim sensitivities. Turkey and other "neutral" countries could play a constructive role on the ground.
The third priority is to bridge divisions inside the "six-plus-two" talks involving Afghanistan's six neighbors, plus Russia and the U.S.

Dagens Nyheter
The U.N. and Afghanistan
STOCKHOLM The United Nations must insist on the next constitution in Afghanistan taking into consideration the country's multi-ethnic character and that it also becomes democratic, not only according to the principle one man, one vote. In a country that lacks a working state, the U.N. must take on the central function for a transitional period and assist both the administration and the police. The U.N. must also contribute to the writing of history, cruelty for cruelty. This is a long process, which we know from the breaking up of Yugoslavia. It is possible to see a new dawn for Afghanistan. The hope for a better future is growing. But the Taliban are not disarmed and Osama bin Laden is not arrested. The network has not been crushed. The terrorists are not defeated. The battle against terrorism does not end at the borders of Afghanistan. But of course, it feels as if the first military stage so far is a success.

Le Figaro
The collapse of Kabul
PARIS Some victories can be a hindrance rather than a help. For the Americans, Kabul fell too quickly. Washington tried in vain to hold the Northern Alliance back … long enough to form an interim government. …
The United Nations, backed by Washington, hopes that former king Zahir Shah … could now act as a catalyst. Especially since the maintenance of order would be entrusted to "blue helmets" provided by Muslim countries to prevent … a fresh outburst of fighting.
This reconciliation is far from certain. The retreat of the Taliban could conceal a trap. By entrenching themselves in Kandahar they could be trying to pull the American army into a ground war. …
The only certainty is that the American bombings did not just kill innocent children, as the controlled television cameras showed. Two months after the attacks on New York and Washington, they made the Taliban give way.

Corriere Della Sera
An Asian Switzerland?
MILAN, Italy Why did the Taliban abandon Kabul? If their army is in retreat, and if defections in the next days reduce their numbers, then the winners can quickly take control of a good part of the country. If, on the other hand, they've retreated to reorganize their defenses or, worse, to shift from trench warfare to guerrilla warfare, then the conquest of Kabul will only be an episode, one that is important but not decisive.
The war, initially a battle against Osama bin Laden and his organization, has become the umpteenth episode in an old conflict that has extended for more than a century and a half. Surrounded by some of its region's greatest powers, Afghanistan has an interest in behaving like an Asian Switzerland, proclaiming its neutrality and protecting it against any threat. But a nation can be "Switzerland" only if it is firmly united and this must include the unity of its internal groups by the desire to prevent interference by its neighbors. This unity, unfortunately, is exactly what Afghanistan lacks.


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