- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

President Bush yesterday gave the word that a tense nation and world had awaited.
In announcing that America had begun using lethal force to strike back at the evil of Sept. 11, he was both tough and reassuring, in words and demeanor.
He spoke as the determined avenger for thousands of murdered innocents Americans and foreign nationals and as the peacemaker.
He told the world that he had begun the shooting phase of the war on terrorism but said it was not a war against any religion or against civilians in countries whose regimes harbor and nurture terrorism.
"His words were measured, he was both decisive and compassionate," Florida Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas said in an interview minutes after watching the president's speech on television. "It's important to let the Arabic and Muslim worlds know this war is against terrorism, not against them. The president did that yesterday."
Initial reaction indicated the president succeeded in maintaining bipartisan support.
"His words told me that he and the national security team are choosing exactly the right combination of military action and humanitarian aid, and I stand behind the president," said Bill Owen, a Democratic National Committee member from Tennessee.
Clearly, the White House thought the setting of the speech was as important as the words themselves. So instead of making the announcement from the Oval Office, the president spoke from the White House's Treaty Room "a place," he noted, "where American presidents have worked for peace."
But the choice had another, more subtle message.
Through the large windows behind him, television viewers could see the Lincoln Memorial and the normal Sunday traffic on the streets of Washington.
"It showed that life is going on as normal in the shadow of a great conflict," said Alex Castellanos, a campaign adviser.
Despite repeated statements to the contrary by Mr. Bush over the past three weeks, skeptics here and abroad had worried that he would wreak indiscriminate carnage on foreign nations and their civilian populations.
Some politicians in both parties had, in fact, even urged him to do that to indiscriminately bomb Afghanistan and not worry about civilian casualties.
Instead, Mr. Bush made clear yesterday that the U.S. strikes were not designed as vengeance but only to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base and to attack the Taliban's military capability.
"In that respect, his speech was as well-orchestrated as the coalition of governments he had assembled," said Pennsylvania Republican Chairman Alan Novak, who watched the speech at a shopping mall.
"The other people [at the mall] watching on television were not celebrating but serious, their jaws set in determination," he said. "This is what they wanted a well-thought-out military response, not against the people of Afghanistan but against a government that supports terrorism."
Mr. Bush also made clear that the U.S. military response was not a sneak attack like the events of Sept. 11. He emphasized that two weeks ago, he had told the Taliban it had to close terrorist camps, hand over leaders of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terror network and "return all foreign nationals, including American citizens unjustly detained in their country" or pay the price.
Nor did the president overstate the situation. Instead of claiming that yesterday's raids would lead to quick victory, he said the strikes "will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans."
Instead of having press secretary Ari Fleischer make the initial announcement of the attacks, Mr. Bush sent his spokesman out only to announce the president's speech. All the gravity and drama thus were reserved for the commander in chief, who began with authority, saying the strikes were initiated "on my orders."
Timing and coordination were essential, and extended across the Atlantic, where British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address from London was timed to begin after Mr. Bush spoke. In turn, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's Pentagon news conference was timed to begin after Mr. Blair's remarks.
"The easy, expedient thing to do was to drop some 'show me' bombs early on," said Indiana Republican Party Chairman Michael McDaniel, "but what came through yesterday was these guys Bush, Rumsfeld, [Secretary of State Colin L.] Powell and their team have done it right."

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