- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 15, 2001

As Western allies yesterday joined the United States in mourning the victims of this week's attacks in New York and Washington, leaders from Europe to Canada to Australia struggled to determine if and how they would participate in America's "war" against terrorism.
The Bush administration mounted a large diplomatic campaign yesterday to make sure allied governments would accept Washington's requests for assistance as soon as the perpetrators of Tuesday's terrorist strikes are clearly identified and a retaliation strategy is outlined.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell vowed to use "all the tools and weapons at our disposal to fight this campaign and to win this war." But he said the administration will take into account the allies' individual capabilities and domestic political environment when it asks for specific support.
"We are talking with countries that are friendly to us, and we will present requests to them and see what they are able to do within their capacity and within their political circumstances," Mr. Powell told a State Department news briefing.
Because the enemy in what President Bush has called "the first war of the 21st century" is very different and operating in the shadows, Mr. Powell said the United States has to "design a campaign plan that goes after" such an enemy and that "isn't always blunt-force military."
In most allied capitals yesterday, debate over participation in a U.S.-led military operation intensified and different views began to emerge.
Britain, Canada, Norway and Australia appeared ready to commit troops and other military aid, while France and Germany were much more cautious about making promises and warned Washington against hurried decisions.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair called for a determined, global campaign against those responsible for the "hideous and foul" suicide attacks, which are believed to have taken at least 100 British lives.
"Once that judgment is made, the appropriate action can be taken," Mr. Blair told the House of Commons in London. He said the action "will be determined, it will take time, it will continue over time until the menace is properly dealt with and its machinery of terror destroyed."
Canada pledged yesterday to meet any U.S. request for troops and equipment to join military action against terrorism.
Norway, another NATO member, also gave its full support for U.S. military action and said it would provide military assistance if asked.
"We are of course prepared to provide the United States with all possible support," Norwegian Defense Minister Bjoern Tore Godal said in a statement. "If we receive a request for further support, including military support, we will of course respond positively, and in accordance with the obligations of Article 5 of the NATO treaty."
In an unprecedented move Wednesday, NATO declared readiness to apply for the first time in its history Article 5 of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, which holds that an attack against any member "will be considered as directed against all the parties."
Australia yesterday also backed U.S. military action, invoking the 1951 ANZUS treaty, which binds Australia, New Zealand and the United States to assist each other if one is attacked.
But France and Germany were reluctant to offer outright support and called on Washington to weigh its options carefully before making a decision.
In Paris, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said his country will decide alone how it would help in the retaliation for the devastating attacks.
"Our humane, political and functional solidarity doesn't deprive us of our sovereignty and freedom to make up our own minds," Mr. Jospin said during a memorial service for the victims of terrorist acts.
"In France, we must remain very attentive to the safety of our citizens."
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the West's war against terrorism should not be at the expense of civil liberties, particularly those of Muslim citizens.
"This was also an attack on the open society," Mr. Fischer said in a CNN interview. "What we must find is the balance between an efficient fight against terrorism and defending civil liberty, defending our open society."
Russia signaled yesterday that it was willing to back U.S. strikes on suspected terrorist bases in Afghanistan, but it would not take part in a military campaign.
Afghanistan's ruling Taliban is providing a haven for Saudi multimillionaire Osama bin Laden, who has been identified as a leading suspect in the attacks.
Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, head of the Russian General Staff, said it was unlikely that Moscow would participate in "acts of revenge."
"The United States has powerful enough military forces that it can cope with this task on its own," Gen. Kvashnin was quoted by wire reports as saying.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide