Still to be determined is to what extent the United States' unilateral actions in recent months Ð not just its perceived snubbing of long-time allies but its abrogation of treaties, its reckless rhetoric Ð will cause a blowback, not just in Arabic countries but from those in Europe as well. Is the way to deal with a terror menace to attack it aggressively, or to form alliances with governments and create a new paradigm that features a strong but humble America whose foreign policy becomes less of a perceived humiliation of countries where terrorism festers? Bush has been bold. Our nation, and the world, prays he has been wise.
san francisco EXAMINER
It is hard to view the recent images of American POWs being paraded in front of television cameras by the Iraqi military. But as disturbing as that is, it is also hard to listen to the president and defense secretary denounce the pictures as a violation of the Geneva Convention. George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld need to look in the mirror before they start waving the 1949 Convention around crying foul. It is they who relegated this exceptional body of international law to the status of a paper airplane.
We are holding more than 600 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, some of whom even the commander of the detention mission says should be released, yet we refuse to give them access to the individual hearings guaranteed by the Convention.
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
The Bush Administration had envisioned a different kind of invasion in Iraq, one that would flood the Arab world with pictures of American soldiers feeding hungry people. Instead, billions around the globe are seeing reports that women and children were gunned down yesterday while riding in a civilian van. The authorities said the van had ignored all the soldiers' attempts to bring it to a halt. They promised to investigate. Those reassurances are important to Americans but will mean very little in the Arab world, particularly if such scenes become routine. If that happens, the political war for Iraq could be lost even before the military one is won.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
The message from Washington is Trust Us. The plan, some Management-By-Objectives document, is both secret and flexible enough to claim success no matter what happens in Iraq. We'd actually prefer to hear something like, ÒWell, yes, things aren't going quite exactly as we expected, but we're making adjustments.Ó Every day that this siege continues is a portent for catastrophe. When the battle is over, the United States will not be judged on how we matched our battle plan with its execution. We will be judged on the cost of this war in human terms Ð on how well we limited the number of people who die. We need to prevent tragedy.
The slow burn that civilian commandos in the Bush administration are doing in response to complaints from senior officers leading the Iraqi invasion is misplaced. The thrust of the military's discordant observations seems correct, and the White House and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are silly to suggest otherwise. The war in Iraq has barely finished its second week, but the fight underlying the less than friendly fire ricocheting between allied units in the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon and the State Department is much more long-lived. The roots of the dispute are wrapped sinuously around the conduct of the war in Vietnam.
At this moment, Air Force A-10 Warthogs are probably strafing Iraqi tanks with ammunition made of depleted uranium. For every minute a pilot holds down the trigger of a 30-millimeter Gatling gun, up to 3,900 bullets tear into enemy lines. Each fragment adds minutely to the 320 tons of radioactive ordnance that allied forces blasted into the soil of Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. When the dust settles at war's end, the military must stop dodging legitimate concerns about the long-term environmental and health hazards posed by depleted uranium.
LOS ANGELES TIMES
To lose the war to Saddam Hussein, of course, would be unthinkable; but victory inevitably will be twisted by Muslim radicals Ð hardcore fundamentalists or ultra-conservative revivalists, not to mention venomous terrorist groups Ð to make the case that colonialism has returned to their neighborhood.
The unwanted consequence of that propaganda line could be to vault Islam's worst elements into positions of power and influence, leaving the vast middle ground of moderate and reformist Islam behind in the dust. Such Islamic reverberations... could set off corresponding tremors in the United States, where Islam is perhaps the country's fastest-growing religion.... The Islamic community has been cooperating responsibly with the FBI in fighting the domestic war on terrorism and reaching out to Christian religions. Even so, it is continually the target of ethnic profiling and hate crimes, now more than ever as emotions over the war heat up.
san francisco chronicle