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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
World press on terror strikes
The New York Times online
Analysis in the American press of the horrific attacks on New York and Washington is dominated by the fear that the US Government is battling a new, faceless enemy. The European media note that the strikes sound the death knell for US national confidence but warn against hasty reprisals.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post stress that while Tuesday's surprise attacks are reminiscent of the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, this time the threat is made all the more overwhelming by the anonymity of the perpetrators.

The Washington Post notes that while the Pearl Harbor offensive was greeted with panic, this time the response must be "decisive".

The paper says that "the nation must prepare itself to fight its first war of the new century", beginning with finding and punishing the perpetrators, and not ending until the network of support for the terrorists has been eliminated and the country's defences against this "unconventional warfare" strengthened.

But the International Herald Tribune notes that the bombing of the World Trade Center and The Pentagon also bore an important similarity to the Pearl Harbor attack.

"Just as the Japanese wartime strike ultimately aroused US fury and led to Tokyo's defeat, Tuesday's stunning blow may trigger a national outrage that escalates US counter terrorist warfare to new international ferocity," it says.

The strike, which The New York Times says was immediately termed the "worst and most audacious terror attack in American history" would mean that "the sense of security and self-confidence that Americans take as their birthright suffered a grievous blow, from which recovery will be slow".

The paper's editorial goes on to question how President George W Bush will handle the crisis.

"Will he prove to be a Jimmy Carter, whose presidency was poisoned by his inability to resolve the Iranian hostage crisis? Or will he enhance his reputation, as Ronald Reagan did after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and as Bill Clinton did after the Oklahoma City bombing?," the paper asks.

A new world order?

In Russia the nationalist Nezavisimaya Gazeta points out that the "only surviving superpower has suffered a blow of unprecedented force" and that "Washington's military department, which is called upon to reliably protect the whole country could not even protect itself".

But the tabloid Moskovskiy Komsomolets reminds readers that "the tragedy in New York could happen in Moscow". It quotes sources in the Russian Defence Ministry as saying that "in a few years time Russia's air frontiers will be absolutely undefended".

The paper even suggests that the event could have positive consequences, writing that if the tragedy unites the peoples of the Old and New World, it will be "the best anti-aircraft defence against the forces of evil".

Today's European press headlines speak for themselves: "Terror in New York", "The world is afraid", "America attacked: Maximum worldwide alert", "Terrorism: The worst has arrived" and "Terrorist slaughter in the USA" are just some examples.

Mourning a global patriarch

The French Le Nouvel Observateur mourns the passing of America as the world knows it, saying that "after Tuesday's tragedy we shall feel like orphans".

"Any debates on anti-Americanism will become a frivolous exercise, and a great many of those who demonstrated in Genoa will live to regret the passing of the international institutions."

As it withdraws into its shell, America "could leave a vacuum worse than the ill it may ever have done", the paper believes.

In an editorial entitled, "Solidarity with America", Stockholm's Svenska Dagbladet says it is time for the Western world to come together to fight the forces of evil, as happened in World War II.

"For a while the terrorists will be able to celebrate the damage they have done to the world, but in good time they will find that it is more difficult to kill the ideas of freedom which constitute American society and which most Swedes today also have cause to think about," the paper says.

London's The Independent interprets the strike in global terms, saying: "It was also an attack on the civilised values of the whole world... The people who organised and executed these outrages were utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life."

"Never again will Americans feel safe on their own land," the paper points out. "In the days and weeks to come, as we begin to fully comprehend the full enormity of this evil, it will become clear that life in America, even the world, will never be the same again."

From terrorism to hyper-terrorism

"What happened on Tuesday in New York and Washington was a nightmare that became a terrible reality," says the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"After this Tuesday, nothing will ever be the same again. The United States' vulnerability to terrorism is now plain for all to see.

"Only one thing is certain," it believes. "High-tech terrorism is not a subject reserved for criminologists or thriller writers. It really exists as a weapon of war in the 21st century."

What use is a missile shield?

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau says the attacks cruelly demonstrate that the United States cannot isolate itself from the world.

"You cannot withdraw from it politically and let things drift in the Middle East, as has happened this year," the paper says.

"No missile defence shield would have safeguarded Bush against such effective, all-encompassing and misanthropic violence," says Copenhagen's Information.

Spain's El Mundo agrees. "The destruction of the twin towers makes clear that the threat to the USA and the western world doesn't come from intercontinental missiles installed thousands of kilometres a way as much as from the daring and lack of scruples of a handful of terrorists capable of dodging security systems".

Retaliation?

The Spanish daily El Pais says that "we must be prepared for a firm response" but warns that "haste at naming the perpetrators is ill-advised and could also cause greater injustices".

The paper calls for "calm" and trusts in "the capacity of the world's leading power and the allied defence system to respond to this indiscriminate attack" with "methods that reflect the values" of democracy.

London's The Independent strikes a similar note, arguing that "even in the face of such grievous provocation, restraint has to be the watchword" because "the terrorists can only truly be said to have won if civilised nations abandon civilised values and themselves use indiscriminate violence against the innocent".

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