- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 13, 2001

In the first prime-time press conference of his presidency Thursday night, President Bush did a masterful job of outlining what is at stake in America's new war against international terrorism. The president emphasized that this military campaign, now one month old, was could well last "a year or two," if not longer. The president said he would give Afghanistan's ruling Taliban dictatorship one final opportunity to "cough up" al Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the grisly Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in which more than 5,000 people were murdered. "I will say it again: If you cough him up and his people today, that we'll reconsider what we're doing to your country," Mr. Bush said, referring to the U.S.-British led bombardment of Taliban military bases and al Qaeda terrorist training sites throughout Afghanistan.
"You have a second chance," Mr. Bush, in one of his more upbeat moments, pointedly told the Taliban. "Just bring him in, and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals in with him." But the president's somber yet extraordinarily forceful tone left little doubt that he understands current realities very well: that these brutal gangsters who rule Afghanistan today have no intention whatsoever of doing anything to comply with international law.
"I made it clear to them, in no uncertain terms, that in order to avoid punishment, they should turn over the parasites that hide in their country," the president said. "They obviously refused to do so, and now they're paying a price."
Mr. Bush highlighted some of the progress made thus far. The U.S. government has seized upwards of $24 million in al Qaeda and Taliban assets. Several hundred members of al Qaeda cells have been apprehended in various locations around the world. Also, U.S. and British forces continue to pound Taliban forces throughout Afghanistan. Pentagon officials said that allied forces had gained full control of the air space over that country, and showed pictures of Taliban fighter aircraft that had been destroyed by U.S. bombing, and a surface-to-air missile sight near Kandahar which had been hit.
Still Mr. Bush rightly warned against overconfidence, pointing to America's experience in Vietnam. "We learned some very important lessons in Vietnam. Perhaps the most important lesson that I learned is that you cannot fight a guerrilla war with conventional forces," Mr. Bush said. The current war against the Taliban, Mr. Bush emphasized, will not be "the kind of war we're used to in America.The greatest generation was used to storming beachheads. Baby boomers such as myself [were] used to getting caught in the quaqmire of Vietnam, where politics made decisions more than military [factors]. Generation X was able to watch technology, right in front of their TV screens," being used against Iraq.
This war, as Mr. Bush has noted many times and did so again Thursday night, is going to require a sustained campaign utilizing both conventional and nonconventional forces to defeat the terrorist enemy. America is in good hands.

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