Last update 31 Oct. 2001

Ex-NATO chief says intelligence is the key
Readers Grabbing Books On Terrorism
Yugoslavia Worrying Precedent for U.S. Air Power
A military response is risky but necessary for America
U.S. intelligence links bin Laden to wider plot
Canada's role in war: spycraft
Many Decisions, Many Risks
Coalition of Exceptional Depth Is Forming

Ex-NATO chief says intelligence is the key

19 September, 2001 09:27 BST

Wesley K. Clark

LONDON (Reuters) - Information and intelligence could be the most lethal weapons in the "war against terrorism" following last week's suicide attacks, the former supreme commander of NATO has said.

General Wesley Clark also warned there may be worse to come after the September 11 hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington which left nearly 6,000 people dead and missing.

"It's not primarily a military problem," Clark told BBC radio.

"It's easy enough to launch a strike, but I think we all have to keep in mind that the fundamental method of this war is to use information to go after the terrorist networks.

"This starts by each of the countries in this coalition taking action against the terrorist cells that are on their own territories."

But Clark said it was dangerous to rely solely on intelligence as a defence against future attack.

"The thing about intelligence is you never know what you don't know," he said. "There is more or less an assurance that future instances could be much worse than we've seen thus far.

"So I think it's for that reason that this administration in Washington had been so determined to call this a war and to insist on using the full means of the United States and its allies...to succeed," he said.

The United States has named Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden, who has been given shelter by Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement, as the prime suspect in the attacks.

Photo: REUTERS/Petr Josek

...General Wesley Clark, former commander of the NATO forces in Bosnia, emphasized that "there has to be a much greater degree of cooperation between nations to deal with this.... One resolve that will come out of this from the nations all over the world [is] that more has to be done collectively, together." Later Clark went on to clarify that the need for such international cooperation is a message that "our government will drive … home very strongly in all of the international fora." Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke averred that "to find the people responsible is going to take a unified international effort. No one nation — not even the United States — can do it on its own." Meanwhile, Henry Kissinger recommended that this "integrated attack" be "dealt with in an integrated way."

Local - KSAT - updated 7:39 PM ET Sep 23
KSAT ClickOnSA.com
Thursday September 20 07:22 PM EDT

Readers Grabbing Books On Terrorism

San Antonians are heading to bookstores and libraries in hopes of understanding the enemy, but books and videos on terrorism and Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) are as tough to find as the man himself.

Despite having multiple copies of 20 different books on terrorism at the Central Library, most have been checked out, and a waiting list has been circulating.

"Some of (the books) are very dense, quite full of information," San Antonio Public Library spokeswoman Beth Graham said. "They're checking them out, and they're standing in line to check them out, apparently."

Graham said that many readers are interested in bin Laden, a 44-year-old Saudi Arabian millionaire.

Another popular subject has been Islam, which means submission to God or Allah. Islam is a religion of peace, and it abhors violence unless it is morally justified, according to research.

"The History of Islam" explains more about the second largest religion in the world.

Gen. Wesley Clark's "Waging Modern War" mentions bin Laden.

At Borders Books in the Quarry Market, there isn't much else to find on terrorism or on bin Laden, who is believed to be living in Afghanistan (news - web sites) where he directs a network of Islamic fundamentalists in terrorist operations.

"Terrorism and especially the Osama bin Laden book have been real popular," Borders manager John Santos said.

Like most other bookstores, there hadn't been a demand for books on terrorism until now.

"The bin Laden book, we've had to do special orders left and right. A lot of customers came in right off the bat asking for the book," Santos said.

Interest may remain high for some time as the United States contemplates a war on terrorism.


Politics - Reuters - updated 5:15 PM ET Sep 23
Reuters  |  AP  |  ABCNEWS.com  
Friday September 21 7:34 AM ET

Yugoslavia Worrying Precedent for U.S. Air Power

By Douglas Hamilton

MANAMA (Reuters) - If the 1999 war with Yugoslavia is anything to go by, the United States may launch 1,000 warplanes against Osama Bin Laden's Afghan hideouts without destroying or even crippling his shadowy forces.

Ultimately, troops on the ground backed by a credible threat of invasion might be required for a successful assault.

America and its NATO (news - web sites) allies had some 900 aircraft flying at the height of Operation Allied Force, completing some 35,000 sorties on Yugoslav targets over 78 days, for a remarkably thin haul in enemy casualties and military destruction.

Following last week's devastating suicide attacks in the United States, for which Washington says bin Laden is a prime suspect, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday U.S. military forces were being deployed to help fight a new "war on terrorism."

He gave no details, but three aircraft carriers and air deployment announced by defense officials could place up to 500 U.S. warplanes in the Mediterranean, Gulf and Indian Ocean areas for what Washington suggested could be a strike against Afghanistan (news - web sites).

In that war-ravaged, impoverished country, military targets for U.S. pilots would be far fewer than in Yugoslavia.

In the 1999 bombing campaign launched over President Slobodan Milosevic (news - web sites)'s brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO said it destroyed 93 Serb tanks. The Serbs said they lost only 13 and military experts said there was very little sign of a shattered army in Kosovo.

In the end, Milosevic's Yugoslavia yielded only when Washington and NATO got serious about a land invasion, setting a mid-September 1999 date for an offensive by some 210,000 troops, according to diplomatic sources.


In one of the acknowledged strategic errors of the Kosovo campaign, a ground offensive against Yugoslavia had originally been ruled out by then-President Bill Clinton.

President Bush (news - web sites) has ruled nothing out in his "war against terrorism" in the wake of the September 11 attacks with hijacked airliners on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon (news - web sites) in Washington.

Rumsfeld has declined to say if elite Special Operations troops might move toward the Afghanistan region, but said army elements were part of his deployment order.

While estimates of the Taliban's antiquated arsenal vary widely, military experts say their fighters could spend years punishing an occupied force from the rugged hills and valleys of the countryside.

While air strikes might have U.S. popular backing, Bush has acknowledged that it doesn't make sense to fire a "$2 million missile into a $10 dollar tent to hit a camel in the butt."

It would most probably be a futile waste of expensive precision-guided munitions, as well as a public failure to strike a decisive blow at the perpetrators.


This reflects the dilemma faced by the United States and allies in Kosovo, when Western public opinion rapidly ran out of patience with NATO's inability to stop, and punish, the so-called "fielded forces"' of the Yugoslav Army.

Western media demanded to know why bombs were being rained on refineries far away from the scene of suspected genocide.

But air force generals "don't like plinking tanks and they don't like bombing mud," said a frustrated former NATO Supreme Commander Europe, General Wesley Clark, at the time.

Clark fought an uphill battle with his Pentagon bosses to deploy a symbolic ground force of 5,000 troops plus Apache attack helicopters and Army tactical missiles in neighboring Albania, as a token of NATO's readiness to invade.

It came late and was never thrown into battle and it was unclear how decisive the move was in bringing about the Yugoslav surrender.

Not a single U.S. or NATO soldier was killed in combat in the Western alliance's first "hot" war, but Clark warned this must not be seen as the ideal model for modern conflict.

"If there's nothing worth fighting for and maybe dying for, then maybe there's nothing worth living for," he said.


Guardian Unlimited

A military response is risky but necessary for America

Preparations for war are pushing Bush into global cooperation

Martin Woollacott
Friday September 21, 2001
The Guardian

There is always a temptation to craft ideal solutions to difficult problems and then to refuse to accept what is actually decided because it does not conform to the ideal. Soon, unless Osama bin Laden is handed over or it becomes clear he has left the country, people in western societies, and indeed people all over the world, will be faced with the reality of military action in Afghanistan. We can say now that it will not conform to the standards which have been set by anxious followers of American policy. This is not so much because the United States government is bent on some spectacular or excessive retaliation, since the evidence for that has, thankfully, been diminishing. It is that no military action could possibly meet the requirements that have been laid down.

A military response that will not anger Muslims, that will not endanger the political balance in Pakistan, that will not have unpredictable consequences in Afghanistan, and that will not be exploited by the jihadists and other extreme Islamist groups, is a chimera. Any military response must do these things to some degree. Then there are the further requirements that the response must be shaped to avoid an actual defeat for American and allied forces, must not inflict heavy casualties on Afghan civilians and must be organised in such a way that a failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden will not be seen as a disaster.

Yet in the nature of these things, none of these objectives can be guaranteed. Those making the decisions in Washington have had, it would be fair to say, an impossible task, and what they come up with is bound to be imperfect. It has been right for Britain and America's other allies to argue for restraint, as perhaps Tony Blair is still doing. How much they were needed is not clear. The debate among the American policy makers, hidden but fierce, seems to have ended in victory for the relatively moderate side represented by Colin Powell and, in this instance, by Condoleezza Rice. It might have done so without European and other representations. But while being glad of this "moderate" outcome, it is obvious it could still lead to a military effort that could go very wrong.

Although it was absolutely right to make these representations, the moment is near when the time for consultation and playing some part in the decision making will be over. An operation or a series of operations will be going forward. They will be politically and militarily risky and they will play into the hands of the extremists, at least to some extent.

This may well be just what Osama bin Laden wants. But those who have serious doubts about the value of military action will have to ask themselves some hard questions. The first is whether it was remotely realistic to argue that there should be no military response at all at this stage. It is hyper-logical to argue that the people of the United States should completely still the natural impulse to move against those who caused such suffering. America is a country which tends to believe there is an answer to everything, a country which spends billions on its military forces, and a country which has been grievously hurt.

Even if, in an ideal world, the smartest thing to do might be to avoid military action at this juncture, we have to accept that a military response of some kind is necessary for America. In showing solidarity you cannot easily pick and choose, and if support of military action is at this moment what the Americans want, you cannot fend it off by saying you will introduce identity cards.

The second hard question is whether doubts about military action should be swallowed in the interest of promoting the long-lived American re-engagement with the world that now seems possible. There is in prospect an international programme which, with luck and good management, will attend not just to the immediate security of western countries, but to some of the world's fundamental ills. Many Americans, including some soldiers, are already aware of how limited a part conventional military force has to play. General Wesley Clark, the former Nato commander, recently spoke of the myriad forms of cooperation he believed will be necessary as having priority over strike operations.

The mass of arrangements with many countries which America has had to put together to make military action possible has been an exercise in multilateralism that is its own lesson for the Bush administration. That is equally true of the longer term cooperative action on security and other matters that is envisaged. Beyond that the realisation may be dawning that political problems left to fester are problems that get worse, and that no country can protect itself completely from the consequences. A government which had begun to think it would do everything important on its own discovered that the things that were most important to it could only be done with others. The United States, and other countries as well, may be moving to a re-ordering of priorities that has been long delayed but is all the more necessary for that reason.

It is true that some of the dangers of military action are really only aspects of dangers that already exist. It was already the case that the Taliban was driving its own battered population into even deeper despair and that the continued existence of this government had become a huge problem for the world, if only in terms of refugees. It was already true that Pakistan had bankrupted itself in vain pursuit of strategic leverage against India and had allowed its own extremists to grow in power to the point where the auguries for the next stage in its political life are not good.

We are left with the paradox that something very constructive may possibly come out of tragedy. But that possibility is unavoidably connected with a military operation that will throw up problems even if it is brief and successful, as we must hope it will be.



U.S. intelligence links bin Laden to wider plot

22 September, 2001 19:29 BST

By Jim Wolf

Osama Bin Laden

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leader of Afghan rebels fighting the ruling Taliban probably was slain by Osama bin Laden's associates as part of a plot that ended with the Sept. 11 blitz on the United States, U.S. intelligence officials have said.

Ahmad Shah Masood, 48, chief of the so-called Northern Alliance, was mortally wounded in his mountain camp in northern Afghanistan on Sept. 9 by suicide bombers posing as Arab cameramen.

The assassination probably was aimed at "disrupting the Northern Alliance at a time when they might be, among others, expected to be going after bin Laden and Taliban forces," one intelligence official said on Saturday.

Masood was a guerrilla commander who received covert aid from the CIA while fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989. He would have been a natural ally in any U.S. military retaliation against bin Laden, a Saudi exile who is the prime suspect in the attacks on the United States and is sheltered by the Taliban.

Removing Masood -- an almost legendary figure known to his followers as the "Lion of Panjsher" -- could have been an attempt to protect bin Laden's flank somewhat by weakening a foe that Washington could turn to for help on the ground if U.S. forces enter Afghanistan.

The United States has stepped up its contacts with Masood's guerrillas -- who control about 5 percent of Afghan territory -- since hijacked airliners levelled the World Trade Centre towers, damaged the Pentagon and crashed in Pennsylvania, leaving more than 6,800 people missing or dead.

"We are talking to various people within the U.S. government," the alliance's U.S. spokesman, Harun Amin, said in a telephone interview with Reuters on Friday. "Our meetings are very productive and there seems to be a crescendo building."


In addition to fighting the Soviets, the alliance has fought a rear-guard action against the Taliban since the hard-line Islamic militia took Kabul, the capital, in 1996.

But experts said it remained unclear how effective the Northern Alliance, which claims 30,000 troops, would be without Masood.

Even before Masood's death, the alliance "wasn't terribly cohesive," said Kenneth Katzman, an expert on Afghanistan at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. "It's going to become less so now."

The alliance's military council named Gen. Mohammad Fahim, Masood's intelligence chief, to take over command after Masood's assassination.

If in fact it was a prelude to the hijack attacks on the United States, Masood's assassination underlined what may have been years of careful plotting involving forces in Afghanistan, Europe, North Africa and the United States.

In Brussels, Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Malherbe said on Sept. 15 the passports used by Masood's killers had been stolen in 1999 in break-ins at Belgium's consulate in Strasbourg, France, and its embassy in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Last week, Pakistan's official APP news agency identified the assassins as Moroccans Kacem Bokuli and Karim Sujani. It said they had been living in Belgium.

Tajik Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Satarov said they had concealed explosives in a video camera that blew up, mortally wounding Masood.

Whatever the Northern Alliance is capable of doing "gives the Taliban something else to worry about," Wesley Clark, a retired U.S. Army general who was the NATO supreme commander, told CNN. "We'd like them to take strong measures as much as they can" against the Taliban.


September 24, 2001

Canada's role in war: spycraft
Insiders say Chrétien is not on President's 'radar screen' - but family friend Mulroney is

By Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief
National Post

WASHINGTON - George W. Bush is expected to ask Canada for help with intelligence gathering and make only limited requests for military assistance when he meets with Jean Chrétien at the White House today, senior officials say.

The Prime Minister will pledge unwavering co-operation in the fight against terrorism, and the U.S. President intends to praise Canadians for "being marvellously supportive" in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

But insiders say Mr. Bush is unlikely to ask for a significant military contribution, given that Canada's Armed Forces are underfunded and burdened by ageing equipment.

The Americans are expected to ask for whatever assistance CSIS, the RCMP and the Communications Security Establishment, Canada's electronic spy agency, can offer in tracking the movements of suspected terrorists.

"Chrétien will say if you need anything, we will help you, but it is unlikely that they will be looking to Canada for military might. What they will be looking to Canada for is more intelligence gathering although there is a possibility, as they did in the Balkans, that they will be looking at some of our CF-18s or elite forces," a senior official said. "There is also going to be a huge humanitarian aspect to this and that is where Canada will come in too."

In today's talks, Mr. Bush is expected to explain the strategic and tactical measures the United States is planning.

Mr. Chrétien, who has already been briefed by Britain's Tony Blair and France's Jacques Chirac on their talks with the President last week, will tell Mr. Bush that Canada will do what it can to help and will review measures to tighten border controls.

A senior White House official said the United States wants Mr. Chrétien to co-operate in creating a North American perimeter to keep out terrorists. This would involve harmonizing domestic laws, but the official stressed it does not mean Canada has to adopt immigration and refugee policies identical to those of the United States.

"It's not really a question of trying to force on each other our respective immigration standards. We are never going to tell Canada how you should define an asylum seeker or who really should get refugee status," the official said. "That approach really isn't going to work but what we are doing is looking for commonalities to give our societies a higher level of assurance that they need."

Today's meeting comes as many Canadians are upset because Mr. Bush did not mention our country in his epic speech to Congress last week. The Prime Minister's Office has attempted to deflect criticism on this front by noting that Canada was not mentioned in two keynote addresses that Mr. Bush's father, former president George Bush Sr., gave to Congress during the Gulf War.

A source close to Mr. Bush said the President is focused on the big picture of developing an international coalition against terrorism and he is "very grateful" that Canadians "have been marvellously supportive" of the United States in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Still, the perceived slight has led to calls for Mr. Chrétien to establish the kind of special relationship with the new Republican President that Brian Mulroney, the former prime minister, had with Ronald Reagan and with Mr. Bush's father.

George Bush Sr., the former president, spent this weekend at an undisclosed location in Quebec with Mr. Mulroney and his family, U.S. officials say.

Mr. Mulroney, who vacationed at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Me., on Labour Day weekend, also spoke to President Bush after his congressional address, in which he laid out U.S. plans to wage war against terrorism.

Sources say Mr. Chrétien is not on the "radar screen" with the Bush administration, which noticed, for example, that the Prime Minister was not as effusively supportive of the United States as was Mr. Blair.

Unlike Mr. Blair, the Prime Minister will not visit New York after the White House tête-à-tête but is flying to Toronto for a big Liberal fundraiser tonight. Mr. Chrétien's representatives have said he does not want to get in the way of the New York rescue effort.

Thomas D'Aquino, the president of the Business Council on National Issues, which represents 150 big Canadian corporations that account for 75% of Canada-U.S. trade, is urging Ottawa to move quickly on continental co-operation on border issues, and is also imploring Mr. Chrétien to improve relations with Washington.

Mr. D'Aquino called for the creation of a special Cabinet committee to deal solely with U.S. issues that should be chaired by the Prime Minister. He said Ottawa must get serious about harmonizing its immigration and security laws to ensure the free flow of commerce valued at US$1.4-billion a day.

"We had better do it because if we don't, the Americans are going to shut us down," he said.

"The truth of the matter is that Americans will pay more attention to us and we can be more effective players in North America. That means we need to have a more effective military, a more effective police force and more effective domestic laws that are not going to be interpreted by some of them as threats to their [U.S.] own security."

Some senior Canadian Cabinet ministers, such as Brian Tobin, the Minister of Industry, want Canada to harmonize its policies so the United States does not unilaterally tighten border controls, but Mr. Chrétien is taking a more cautious approach, fearing it could lead to a backlash from Canadian nationalists and left-leaning Liberals.

"People underestimate the debate that is going to take place in this country on that [harmonization]," an official said.

"Yes, we want to do everything we can. Yes, we want to assure security but we are still Canadians, so we are going to have to come to some sort of accommodation [with the United States] between sovereignty and security," the official said.

Joe Clark, the Progressive Conservative leader, yesterday also called on Mr. Chrétien to spend whatever it costs to improve law enforcement and border security in the fight against terrorism.

"The world changed with those attacks. That means the response to terror has to change. There will be a need for new arrangements, new co-ordination, harmonization," he said.

In an interview on Global television yesterday, retired general Wesley Clark , the U.S. soldier who was supreme commander of NATO during the Kosovo war, praised Canada's CF-18 fighter pilots as "top rated" but noted the war jets are too old.

The retired general said he expects the United States might want Canada to offer some CF-18 fighter planes in any military strike, but he also noted the RCMP and Canada's intelligence community provide a valuable resource to the United States.

"In addition, Canada has to look at its own borders and at the [terrorist] activities in Canada in the context what we are calling in America, homeland security," he said.

Mr. Chrétien arrived in Washington last night. He will meet for an hour with the President in the Oval Office and then have a working luncheon in the White House's splendid Old Family Dining Room.


The Washington Post

Many Decisions, Many Risks
Maintaining Global Coalition, Public Support Poses Big Challenge for Bush

By Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 25, 2001; Page A03

President Bush enjoys the support of a broad international coalition and an extraordinarily united country as he launches a war against terrorism. But as the campaign unfolds, almost every decision he makes could risk unraveling that coalition and eroding his political support at home.

As he moves from rhetoric to action, Bush faces an enormously difficult job managing the multiple aspects of the crisis, according to diplomatic, military and political analysts. They said he must balance the need to show progress in pursuing the terrorists with the patience required to preserve a coalition of countries with competing interests and their own internal pressures.

The risks ahead include possible new terrorist attacks here at home, public reaction to U.S. casualties once military strikes begin and worldwide reaction to possible civilian deaths inflicted by U.S. forces as they attempt to root out the terrorists. Bush has warned that this war will be long, often invisible and may not have a clear end. That means the public will have only a fragmentary sense of whether the war is being won, requiring creativity on Bush's part in keeping the country rallied.

Bush also faces likely resistance from other countries, particularly in the Muslim world, as the campaign expands beyond its initial targets -- the al Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The question of whether to target Iraq, which has been the subject of debate inside the administration, has major consequences for Bush. Attacking Iraq could alienate much of the coalition Bush is assembling, but ignoring Iraq while concentrating on the bin Laden network could leave Saddam Hussein freer to cause trouble down the road.

The president's task is complicated by deepening economic problems at home, as the aftershocks of the attacks ripple through an already weak economy. The government has acted to financially assist the domestic airline industry. Bush will have to decide how aggressively to move to inject more money into the economy to restore consumer and business confidence.

If there has been a weakness in the president's team in the wake of the attacks, according to these analysts, it has been on the economic side. Rhetorical efforts by administration officials to boost economic confidence last week were trampled by reports of additional layoffs and the worst week on Wall Street since the 1930s. Bush used his radio address on Saturday to try to reassure Americans about the future of the economy, but so far he lacks a clear policy for dealing with this aspect of the crisis.

Public opinion experts said that, for the foreseeable future, Bush enjoys a free hand to lead wherever he wants to go. Eight in 10 Americans watched or listened to the president's speech before a joint session of Congress last Thursday, according to a Washington Post-ABC News Poll, and roughly nine in 10 surveyed said they approve of how he is handling the crisis.

That is a level of public support that his father did not reach until the end of the Persian Gulf War a decade ago. "We're dealing with some deep, deep scars from what happened" on Sept. 11, said pollster Ed Goeas. "People will be patient much longer than anyone assumes right now."

Bush hinted that military strikes could begin soon, but aides said he has concluded that the overwhelmingly positive reaction to his speech last week gives him the support he needs to chart the military campaign carefully and deliberately.

In the assessment of many European allies, Bush has passed a first critical test. The Europeans were nervous in the first days after the terrorist attacks that public outrage would force Bush to launch a quick and massive retaliatory strike. That, they feared, would fracture support for a prolonged and complex war against terrorism.

"The United States has to be smart in how it deals with allies," said retired general Wesley Clark, who commanded NATO forces in the war against Kosovo. "That's why there is talk of patience, why it's unfolding slowly, why you're not seeing immediate strikes."

As the military campaign begins, the immediate risks for Bush involve how he defines the initial target. Bush's speech suggested that he will limit the strikes to the bin Laden network and the Taliban leadership, but there was enough ambiguity in the speech to leave questions about how he intends to do that. How exposed will U.S. ground forces be, for example? And does the plan call for replacing the Taliban leadership?

The administration has been debating how large the overall military campaign should be, but by suggesting in his speech that the war will be carried out in phases, Bush appeared to signal a go-slow approach in an effort to maintain international unity. "If we overextend the target, we'll just have no support," said one former government official.

But even the goal of eliminating the al Qaeda network and perhaps the Taliban leadership carries significant military risks. Military experts say that while there are plenty of potential targets in Afghanistan, they are of relatively low value. A massive military strike in Afghanistan could satisfy public demands for retaliation, but it might rattle nervous allies without flushing bin Laden and his network.

"The risk is, how does he shape the first scene of this 20-act play," the former government official said. "My sense is he's preparing the public, that there is going to be a big first scene, but there is real risk in that."

Military experts said massive retaliation aimed at Afghanistan could result in sizable civilian casualties. "That's an important risk because we're not terrorists," Clark said. "We don't want to hurt the people of Afghanistan. They've suffered enough."

Bush has warned Americans to expect U.S. casualties in the coming conflict, and while there is evidence of a shift in public opinion on this question, it is far from clear how long it will last. One of Bush's challenges will be to persuade the country that the costs of the war on terrorism, both in terms of military casualties and future terrorist attacks at home, are worth sustaining.

Pollster Robert Teeter, who was a political adviser to Bush's father, said there is no way to predict how long public opinion will remain firmly on the president's side. "Let's say that over the next two or three years we have a number of military actions, maybe we have some casualties, maybe we have another terrorist attack or two," he said. "How does the public respond to that? This is really uncharted territory."

Holding the international coalition together poses other tests for the administration, with the danger of the United States overloading the circuits of moderate Arab states. Bush has said the coalition he is building here will not resemble that of the Persian Gulf War, and there are good reasons for that statement.

That coalition had a clear objective -- to eject the Iraqi army from Kuwait -- and other countries provided either military resources to help in the war effort or financial assistance to underwrite the cost. Here Bush will be asking for something more complex and over a longer duration, from sharing intelligence to closing borders to help in squeezing off the financial pipeline that sustains the terrorist networks.

For now partisanship has disappeared on Capitol Hill and around the country, but the debate over the economy or other matters could bring about clear divisions between Democrats and Republicans. Bush's leadership here will be as crucial as it is on the issue of how to fight the war on terrorism.

"He has a set of challenges like no president in this country has faced since the Second World War," said an official from a previous administration. "He does it from a spectacular base of support."

But the official said there is no predicting how the country will respond to an effort that has no quick beginning, long periods of invisible or no action and no obvious ending. "Sustaining that," he said, "is a very difficult job."

© 2001 The Washington Post Company


Los Angeles Times

September 30, 2001 NEWS ANALYSIS

Coalition of Exceptional Depth Is Forming
Allies: Bloc's strength may be its unique structure. But its scope makes it vulnerable to disintegration.


WASHINGTON -- Britain contributed crack commandos for advance reconnaissance. Tajikistan opened its military bases, while New Zealand offered naval patrol vessels. The Czech Republic increased security at nuclear power plants, while St. Croix heightened protection of its giant oil refinery.

Mexico tracked hotel registrations for "unusual" visitors. Cambodia ordered banks to freeze accounts of suspected terrorists. And little Grenada introduced parcel checks at St. George's University to protect its students from the U.S.

Almost every nation is doing something in response to America's call for a war on terrorism--in some cases, even if it hasn't been asked. But unlike the Persian Gulf War coalition that united 38 nations to liberate Kuwait, the new global alliance is bringing together more than 100 countries in what amounts to four coalitions with distinct but overlapping missions. And for all the rhetoric about retaliation, the smallest part of the coalition's activities may well involve military action. If all goes as planned, the military's role in the war against terrorism could be as little as 10% to 15% of the campaign, administration officials contend.

What happens outside Afghanistan's borders also will be more important than whatever the United States does inside the war-ravaged country to track down Osama bin Laden and his allies in Al Qaeda. The new coalition's long-term cohesion in pursuing a wide array of other assignments will, in the end, be more important than the magnitude of short-term military action, according to military analysts, counter-terrorism experts and diplomats.

"We've used cruise missiles before, said retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, the former supreme commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. "They're effective in hitting targets and they might disrupt ongoing planning and activities of terrorists. But a military strike or two will not resolve the problem. The key to winning this war is maintaining strong coalition support, strong enough that countries can take action inside their own borders to help us. And that's going to be harder than military action."

The alliance behind Operation Enduring Freedom starts out large and diverse--and the sign-up isn't over. But the scope of its ambition and membership makes it highly vulnerable to defections and eventual disintegration.

The alliance's strength may be its unique structure. In essence, it consists of four circles within its larger circle. And while the Persian Gulf War coalition had a single grand military strategy to evict Iraq, the new coalition has four strategies.

At the center of the coalition is a small circle of countries around Afghanistan that are central to most aspects of the war on terrorism--such as providing intelligence in tracking extremists and their plots, military and legal assistance in nabbing them and bringing them to justice, locating and cutting off financial assets and unraveling the wide network of cells that has penetrated an estimated 60 to 70 countries. And that's the agenda just for phase one of the war: dealing with Bin Laden's Al Qaeda, a deadly and widespread terrorist organization.

The critical countries in the first circle are Pakistan, Russia and most of the Central Asian "stans"--Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan--on the Afghan border. Pakistan has the most influence on the Taliban government and, in turn, on Bin Laden and his operatives in Afghanistan; Russia and the other "stans" have military and air bases, intelligence and access routes for military operations.

But the participation of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Russian President Vladimir V. Putin offer microcosms of the coalition's vulnerabilities, for each has his own agenda.

In a recent speech to his nation, Musharraf justified aiding the United States not on grounds of fighting terrorism, but for reasons involving Pakistan's economy and the country's "national survival" in its rivalry with India, with which Washington increasingly had been siding. And Putin's biggest internal threat is the Chechen war, which Russia views as terrorism but which the U.S. has seen as a struggle for autonomy, to the point of criticizing Moscow for serious human rights violations in the conflict.

To keep both on board, the Bush administration now is paying more attention to Pakistan's military regime, while President Bush last week for the first time criticized aspects of the Chechen rebellion as extremist and said some rebels had links to Al Qaeda.

"We know that countries will not play unless they feel it's also in their national interests," conceded a senior administration official who asked to remain anonymous. "As time passes, some of the costs are going to be hard to justify to keep leaders on board. The president and secretary of State have their work cut out for them."

Efforts to strengthen ties with Russia in the anti-terrorism effort proceeded Saturday on two fronts in Moscow. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton met with Russian Foreign Ministry officials, while a delegation from the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov.

The alliance's second circle is made up of U.S. allies in NATO, the European Union, Australia and Japan. Some countries have offered elite troops for commando operations, according to European envoys and U.S. officials. Most have promised landing rights for military planes, overflight rights and logistical support.

But the more important contribution in each country will come at home. While the Persian Gulf War coalition drew a single "line in the sand" against one visible army in the distant Arabian desert, the new coalition has no front line--and the Hydra-headed enemy lives in the shadows, a few maybe even down the street. So the primary mission for the nations in the second circle will be providing intelligence about Al Qaeda and extremists in Europe and unraveling the financial networks.

"The Arabs all say the Bin Laden network is much stronger in Britain or France than anywhere in the Arab world, because no Arab state will tolerate them," the senior administration official said.

In this context, the European Union's move to create a common arrest warrant for terrorist suspects and commit new manpower to probe everything from money laundering to cyber-terrorism may be more useful than military assistance, U.S. officials say. Even the historically neutral Swiss have imposed financial regulations on companies associated with the Taliban.

The coalition's third circle consists of Islamic and Arab countries, which are more pivotal to the United States than they were during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Their stamp of approval is critical in showing that this war is not against Islam and does not herald a "clash of civilizations" that once again could divide the world into camps.

Support from Islamic and Arab countries is not just a matter of providing political cover, as was the case in 1990-91. "During the Gulf War no one ever really thought that anyone but the Americans, Brits and French would do the heavy lifting," said Milt Bearden, a former intelligence specialist who spent years in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. "This time, many Muslims and Muslim states will be important operationally."

For the war's first phase, several countries--including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman along the Persian Gulf--have promised access to ports for U.S. warships or military bases for warplanes. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the only two countries besides Pakistan to have had diplomatic relations with the Taliban, have cut off relations and quietly have exerted pressure on the Afghan government.

Yet the Islamic bloc is the most fragile part of the coalition because of the high potential for domestic backlash. Virtually every Muslim country has an Islamist movement, and many have militant wings. With support already precarious, pictures of civilian deaths from U.S. strikes could ignite the streets of the Islamic world.

To aid Jordan's ability to stay on board, the White House finally won congressional approval of the long-delayed U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.

The third circle's role down the road will be even more important when the United States tackles the broader issue of other terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and other state sponsors, such as Libya, Syria and Iran.

The alliance's final circle is the vast array of countries with disparate secondary roles. They range from the Philippines reopening old naval bases for U.S. warships to Cyprus monitoring traffic at airports and seaports for extremists in transit.

Many are crucial to tracing the terrorists' financial assets. The Cayman Islands is probing its offshore banks; Brazil and Venezuela are checking onshore accounts. Guatemala put a money-laundering bill with tools to track terrorist funds on a legislative fast track; Hong Kong is drafting laws to seize assets linked to Al Qaeda.

For now, commitment within the four circles remains high. But the longer the war goes on, the greater the danger that they gradually will unravel, U.S. officials admit.

In a mere six weeks, the Persian Gulf War coalition swiftly achieved its limited objective and then began to disintegrate because of differences concerning postwar policy. In contrast, the new coalition may take years to make a serious dent in its sweeping goal--and is much more vulnerable to disintegration or defections long before it gets there.


Times staff writer Maura Reynolds in Moscow and researcher Robin Cochran in Washington contributed to this report.