|You are in: Talking Point|
Friday, 14 September, 2001, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
US tragedy: How should the world react?
US President George W Bush has vowed to hunt down and punish those responsible for Tuesday's atrocities against his country.
The outrage against America has been condemned by leaders throughout the world and in an unprecedented move, Nato has declared that the attack can be considered to be an attack on the entire 19-nation alliance.
But finding and punishing the right people will be a daunting task and many in the alliance have urged caution, making it clear that they do not want to enter into a war of vengence on behalf of the US.
What should the reaction of the democratic nations be to the terrorists? What deterrents can there be against those who are prepared to die for their cause? Can, and should, there be military retaliation?
We'll be discussing the attacks in the US in a specially extended edition of Talking Point ON AIR, the phone-in programme of the BBC World Service and BBC News Online, this Sunday at 1400 GMT. If you want to take part, send us your phone number with your comments.
Rajiv Mohanraj, Glasgow, UK
It is important to realise that we cannot afford to risk more innocent lives in retaliation. An innocent life is an innocent life regardless of its country of origin. I urge Americans to refrain from making others their scapegoat. Why add more hatred to the pot? It is a comfort to hear and feel the world's sympathy for the people who have died and have lost loved ones.
I have been critical of Europe in the past but the recent events have made me rethink. I am deeply moved by the way our American - European alliance has come together in a moment of real crisis.
Kostas, Athens, Greece
I am very worried about reports of scapegoating and attacks on Muslim and Arab Americans. Sixty years ago, out of fear and anger, my family and other Americans and Canadians of Japanese decent were removed from their homes and sent to camps. I urge the people of the US, Canada, UK and other countries, please do not make your fellow citizens the target of your anger and frustration. They are not your enemies. They are your friends and neighbours and they are hurting like the rest of us. Peace.
At this time it amazes me that the reaction of so many people and Governments throughout the world is to instantly talk of retaliation. Grief is not removed by retribution, merely delayed. Applying an "eye for an eye" attitude towards this horror - an attitude associated with fundamentalists such as these bombers that the "free world" has rejected in favour of democracy.
It is indeed a moment of grief for the US and the democratic world as a whole. Much as America has the right to be angry over the terrorist attacks, caution should be taken to avoid any unwanted retaliatory actions. America should avoid taking any hasty or harsh stands in order not to aggravate the already tense situation.
If we hastily attack with insatiable rage we ourselves have become what we are fighting. As far as reacting to nations that have harboured these terrorists as guilty parties themselves, we need to be most careful. As we are learning, the USA had inadvertently trained some of the terrorists. We had no knowledge that we were doing so. This may be the case with other nations with terrorists on their soil. A militant reaction is necessary, but it must come in the name of justice, not from the heart of revenge.
We will not be frightened into submission. Those who seek to intimidate should realize that it is futile. God Bless America and all of our wonderful international allies!
This is a ridiculous and barbaric act of terrorists. All countries should join hands to fight against terrorism. All terrorist outfits should be banned immediately and cross border terrorism should be stopped at any cost. I feel America should punish those culprits and those who supported them in a very hard way without affecting innocent civilians.
Lindsey Boylan, Fairfax, United States
The fact that Bush's reaction appears as though it will not be hasty does not preclude it from being ill considered. Maybe such horrors as the events of yesterday should make the CIA think twice before adding to a list of their former allies which already includes Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega.
There is no question as to the inhumanness and barbarism of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. that killed innocent civilians. But why target the U.S.? American leaders must evaluate their policy and stance in the Middle East crisis. They say they are a powerful nation, then use this power to restore peace in the region, a peace that will reverberate throughout the world.
Joseph Mathew, Grafton, WI. USA
First and foremost we offer our support and prayers to all those innocent people caught in this cruel tragedy. Now the policy makers in the US are forced to know what terrorism means when countries like India, Israel have long been crying for counter measures. It's the time to make a network of anti-terrorism and wipe it out from its roots.
But there are some very fundamental things which we need to count on, such as people's feelings and their religious belief. There are people from the US and other parts of the world contributing economically to the Terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan. We need to figure out the root cause and change the attitude of such people, and it means a long way to go.
Violence causes violence. Every action causes a reaction.
Now, US leaders have to maintain calm and not give in to
the people's anger and pain. It's incredible to know so few terrorist acts happen in a place like the United States, but perhaps this is the high price to be paid for the luxury and "isolated" way of life of the American people. I really hope they focus on changing US policy (reason of attack) rather than focusing on just punishing the terrorists. As long as there will be life on Earth, there will be terrorists and an attack to innocent people will only justify not only this but future attacks.
Most merciful at war and most gracious in peace, the United States will respond with fair power to all those who mistook its benevolence as weakness. Those who created a culture of death around them will pay for their actions. The US will not yield till the gullible idiots who commit suicide missions will no longer find anyone to incite and finance them. This dark day will mark our lives forever. Let us use this lesson and act to make the world a better place.
Terrorism has not, so far, been treated as a serious enough concern for the affected countries in the world to mount a joint offence against it. Instead, it has always been considered a domestic problem. It is essential from now on that countries like the US, Israel and India pool their forces to combat terrorist organizations and the nations that harbour them.
We are often accused of being naive, which may be true. We are blamed for the world's ills, and sometimes agree. We wish for others to prosper, and are saddened when they don't. We often are quick to react, but slow to truly anger. We are now angry. A cold fury that hasn't existed here for generations. We don't intend to rely on friends. We will accept diplomacy backed up with actions (actively rooting out those responsible), but are resigned to a protracted reckoning.
Aryph Beyg, MD, Pakistan
Airplane cockpits, controls and pilots should be in a secure inaccessible vault-like area in future, (food, beverages and toilets within such area). By adopting these simple alterations on commercial planes we would effectively disallow takeover of flight controls and limit the damage of these kamikaze style hijackings, regardless of any damage that could be inflicted on passengers or cabin crew.
Perhaps it is time to reconsider our foreign policy towards the Middle East and the Third World. Not everyone shares our vision of the world. We and the US like to dominate the world, now the worm has turned, and maybe we should not think about revenge, but reconsider the results of our policies and support of Israel, and be afraid.
My spirits, even just as a UK citizen who last December stood on top of the WTC, have been raised by the idea that the twin towers may be rebuilt. In the years that it takes to do this (if given the go ahead), the US, Britain and other democracies of the world can search out those behind Tuesday's events. Then, as an opening ceremony, I suggest the vermin responsible are taken to the top of the new WTC and thrown off.
Adam Rizza, USA
Jason Latif, London, UK
It is time America's allies stand by her side. Australia and Australians will give our close friends and allies whatever assistance she may ask for. Otherwise which target will be next, The Sydney Opera House, Big Ben?
First of all, I want to send my condolences to the American people. We, in Israel, know what it's like living in the fear of terror. We know what the Arab-Islamic hate is capable of, and we are so sorry to see these terrible sights of so many people murdered on their way to work, in their offices, and on the streets of NYC.
In reply to Shane below, I am also ashamed at his parochial attitude that clearly indicates that he does not consider this Britain's problem. If this tragedy had happened here, we would have expected help from our allies, including America, this is the meaning of being an ally. Or perhaps we should we just wait until a similar tragedy happens here before we become involved. This problem requires global co-operation to defeat it.
Shane Woodhouse, UK
I'm 15 and I think the people who did this to America should pay for what they have done! I hope Britain and America pull together and find these people who did this to innocent American people
Why is it so simple to get from the cabin of a passenger aircraft to the cockpit. Travelling on a suburban train into London this morning it would have been almost impossible for me to get to the driver and the controls of the train.
J Handley, US
Our action should first be to declare ourselves free from terror. We should not let those who perpetrated this cowardly act see us on our knees. We must stand tall.
We must also take action. We must band together and attack terrorism at its rotten core, not just these perpetrators, but all. If they are on the run forever, they can't committ any terrorist attacks. We owe action and resolve to the fallen, not just as citizens of the civilized world, but as human beings in general. If we don't demonstrate resolve and our might, it may be London, or Brussels or any other city in any country.
This is an easy one. How should the US react? Once we know for sure who did this, hit them as hard as we can. How should the rest of the world (who we saved during WWI AND WWII, and who we rebuilt during the late 1940's and 50's, and who now want to turn their collective backs on us) react? Just sit down and shut up. In case you don't know, in this instance most of us don't really care what the rest of the world has to say. Just don't get in the way. That's all you have to do.
The US nation and its leaders need to think very long and hard on what reaction to take, and against whom. I only hope that what was done in response to the bombing here in Tanzania, and in Kenya is not done again. It accomplished very little, if anything at all. The US has to rethink its foreign policies in areas such as the Mid-East. With such hatred growing against the United States there must be some reasons. I think the US has blindly backed Israel and so put itself against the predominantly Muslim Arab neighbors. I want to let your American readers know that I am completely and utterly shocked with, and absolutely cannot fathom the evil that went into this attack. But the US has finally got to realize that its foreign policies make other nations and people angry. I am just so sorry that innocent civilians had to pay the price.
Mikko, Helsinki Finland
It still seems like the worst nightmare ever to us! Whoever is responsible for this cowardly attack has to be found and punished for each and every victim and its suffering relatives and friends! Don't let them put the world's peace in danger! Our thoughts are with everybody affected by this tragedy.
The American disaster is so hard to describe, apart from atrocious. I would hope that the world reacts in an objective manner. As for America they should also try and retaliate in an objective manner although this will be very hard. America does have a history of jumping in feet first and the last thing I think the world wants is World War III.
How should the world react? War. Hit the terrorists and their base countries hard. Political and economic targets. An international effort.
What those people did was pure evil there is no other way of putting it.The people behind it should be punished at all costs,to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
Nobody of sound mind could possibly fail to be totally outraged and disgusted by the occurances in the US yesterday. If, as early investigations suggest, Middle Eastern factions are involved,then the more moderate Muslim nations should show their support for humanity, rout out the perpetrators of these crimes and their allies and work with the west to bring them to justice. Hell will surely engulf the earth, should this not be so.The thoughts and sympathies of all decent humankind is with the victims and their families at this difficult time.
A terrible tragedy, a huge loss of life... Let's hope that the Bush administration does not turn this tragedy into an unnecessary war. As shocking as the destruction of the World Trade Centre was - and I'm still struggling to believe it - if America wants to prove itself as the 'good' in the world that it so confidently boasts about, then life should continue as normal to show that the country has not been affected. What Bush seems to be planning is not justice - it is revenge.
My first initial reactions to the tragedy that unfolded yeasterday was first disbelief and then great sadness and anger, my thoughts and prayers are with our fellow citizens. The perpetrators must be brought to justice and be dealt with accordingly. Whatever it takes!!
John Lagnese, Maine, USA
It's hard to believe so many people root for retaliation. What would that solve? As in the horrible tragedy here, more innocent civilians will die. How will that make anyone feel better? It's better to stay calm, find the people responsible for this reprehensible act and prosecute them.
While it is undeniable that the events of yesterday were both horrendous and indefensible we must transform this crisis into something positive and create a legacy that in no way encourages acts like those witnessed by the world yesterday. To retaliate with barbarism and violence would only serve to escalate antagonisms, make more innocent civillians suffer and encourage more attacks from terrorist groups on the 'free' world. It is undeniable that terrorist attacks perpetrated against the US are largely the product of the US' own making. Inconsistent, selfish and bullish, US foreign policy inescapably creates a legacy of bitterness and injustice. Rather than seeking retribution, the US should take a long hard look at their own policies and seek understanding and self-enlightenment rather than scapegoats.
Mark, Coventry, England
This is devastating for America and the whole world. I don't like war or hearing people getting killed. But some action needs to take place on people who commit these kinds of violent terrorist crimes - it is just uncalled for. As the bibles say there's a time for everything under heaven - there's a time to cry, time to mourn, time for war, time for peace and so on.... Please pray for God to rain his love down on the people who lost loved ones.
Robin Hunter-Coddington, London, UK
It was a British statesman who said...
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke.
Malik, London, UK
I am shocked by some of the comments on this site. Many people seem to think that it is okay to attack "the country that these terrorists belong to", whatever that means. However, I am sure this would not be the sentiment if said country were the UK, or Norway, or Australia. Lurking beneath these calls for retaliation is a notion that civilians in some countries in the world are expendable, whilst inhabitants of other countries are possessed of a more worthy existence. A group of people committed these terrible acts, not an entire population, so how can the value of innocent civilians' lives be brushed aside just because the US does not attach as much value to the lives of some countries' peoples as it does to others?
I personally sympathise with the Americans for the unbelievable and barbaric acts incurred upon them. But I think the time has come for America to incorporate we Africans to help in battling against terrorism and supporters of terrorist acts.
My heart is going out to all of the American People. I wish President Bush the best there is. May Peace come back for the Amercan people. I feel with you all.
Suraj Janardhanan, Bangalore, India
Those of you in the UK calling for a retaliation - just remember this - if the USA strikes their enemy then one of the first targets in response will be Menwith Hill, 3 miles out of Harrogate. How many innocent British citizens will die as a result of the US imposing their military bases in our country? Yesterday we sat in terror wondering if we would be the next target, how much worse will this fear be if the USA start bombing suspected countries?
People who supply the Terrorists with the means to wage their vendettas must also be targeted. There is no doubt now that Terrorism is a huge threat to society and people's lives. It could possibly lead to war at the minute, this needs to be averted at all costs or it will be disastrous for the world.
I express my heartfelt sympathy to the people, who had lost their near and dear ones in this barbaric and cowardly attack.
But, if you go through the credentials of these terrorists, many of them were groomed by leaders of countries, who were not far-sighted enough to perceive that these terrorists may one day turn against them.
I don't know when will the leaders start opposing terrorism honestly than just extending lip service.
The question that should be asked and is not is: "Why does this happen only to the US? Why not to Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Holland, Italy or others? The other nations should be urging the U.S. to change their anti-Islamic foreign policies which are giving us unneeded enemies.
There is no doubt that this senseless murdering of innocent civilians cannot be justified under any terms, save those of barbarism. But once again the flawed argument of security through military might has been put into question.
When America finds out who are responsible for this cowardly disgusting attack they should use whatever actions they deem necessary to make sure that future terrorists and countries that support them pay dearly for their actions. The feeling in Australia is of shock and disbelief and one of support for the American people.
We have to retaliate and put a stop to whoever is responsible. We have to make them an example to all the rest of the terrorists out there who want to cause destruction.
This is a tragedy of enormous proportions! My heart goes out to all those families who have lost loved ones. America must react fast to show the terrorists that they will not tolerate the death of innocent people! They can't get away with this carnage! These people are brainwashed into thinking they will die as martyrs, and there will be plenty more of them willing to give up their lives for the cause!
This is a big loss of, and for, human lives. This should be
countered throughout the world. so that nobody else ever dare to
commit such an act. How unsecure we are even at our own places? and
we claim to live in 21st Century.
I offer my sincere condolences to the American people but please realise that these actions were cleverly designed to encourage a poorly thought-out response. Don't allow the terrorists a further victory by playing into their hands.
The world should react by sending their thoughts and prayers to the American people. If any good can come of this immense tragedy, it can be the realisation that people of all nations, all races and religions were in the World Trade Center. What we all share is a common humanity - this act was not terrorism, but murder on a mass scale. Let us pray no more innocents die as a result of this, and that the perpetrators are bought to swift justice.
Bush has been seen to make more enemies than friends in his short term in office. America should not only look for who is responsible but what has driven these people to commit such a horrific act.
I fear though that we have learnt little from many years of wars and conflicts and that America along with other western countries believe that more aggression will some how resolve the situation.
Badar Zoud, Sydney, Australia
What concerns me is that the President and other officials will jump to conclusions about who was responsible for this attack. This is a tragedy, but let's not compound this tragedy by acting in the heat of the moment. A violent reaction isn't always the best way to deal with this type of tragedy.
My heart felt sympathy to the American people for the untold tragedy that has befallen them. Nonetheless, President Bush ought to review his expressed policy on the so-called missile defence shield. The money for such a project can be better spent on internal security of the American people. Rogue nations can strike with or without missile defence shield.
Those who committed these acts using innocent plane passengers as unwilling weapons - and any who are found to be duplicitous in planning and funding these acts - should be brought before The Hague to stand trial for crimes against humanity. Any country found to be harbouring those responsible should also receive the severest international sanctions until the fugitives are brought to justice. It's as simple as that. My prayers go out to the victims and their families.
My country should react with reason and caution. However, when the responsible parties are identified, retaliation should occur on as large a scale as is necessary. If you disagree, please explain your logic. I will listen, but for the life of me, I see no other action any more reasonable or compassionate.
Ralph, USA (California)
People in the U.S. are comparing this event to Pearl Harbor. If the number of killed and wounded gets above 10,000, most Americans will call for all out war. At this point, retaliation is inevitable. The terrorists should be identified and turned over for trial.
I do hope that my interpretation of Tony Blair's speech is wrong. surely by declaring that "we the democracies will come together to fight to rid the world of this evil" he is already signing a verbal declaration of war. I hope that this isn't the case because it would be an even bigger tragedy to start the process that lead to the deaths of so many back in WW1 & WW2 yet again. We all thought that we had learnt from our ancestors' mistakes, but a retaliation would only prove that to be wrong.
Were terrorists from some other nation responsible or are they from our own shores? When the Oklahoma bombing occurred many people, in a rush to judgement, were blaming all Arabs - sometimes those in our own Arabic communities. But I do not believe that the Palestinians rejoicing about today's tragedy are representative of all Arabs any more than I believe that Timothy McVeigh represents all Americans. Let us urge our government intelligence communities - worldwide - to assist us in naming and finding those responsible. Only then, should we retaliate.
With all due respect to Mr Shah of Pakistan, Israel is the Middle Eastern country that has shown constant support for the United States. Why on earth should this cowardly deed encourage the U.S. to abandon our ally, and support the factions that are constantly denouncing the United States and have repeatedly engaged in terrorist attacks against our citizens?
We are shocked but I think the USA should leave its undue sport of Israel.
Yes there will be retaliation and so there should be. However it must be done in a measured way after due deliberation. This will help ensure that the will of the whole domocratic world will be behind the action.
Mauro Hernandez, Netherlands
Don't kid yourself that this terrorist act is a response to any specific political event(s) or situation. It is a direct and vicious attack on core Western values of freedom, human dignity, and the sanctity of life. If Israel didn't exist, the terrorism would not abate one iota. The perpetrators and their collaborators must be brought to justice.
Mahmoud A. Mahgoub, M.D., USA
As an American, I'm suddenly found weaker than I was just a day ago. Today not just us Americans, but the world was shown that terror has many faces. Now is the time to bring all of our resources together to bring peace and security to people around the world. When will the countries of the world understand that violent acts never resound. Today America was darkened, tomorrow we will shine again and move forward. Today I ask that the world take a moment and pray for the thousands of people alive and dead who have been touched and changed forever in history by what has happened today. The human race will go on....for if we give in now, we'll never reach our goals of greater existence in life.
We need to take our time, run down every lead, and then, and only then, strike. Rash acts tend to create catastrophes. Time is on our side, and when we are sure of who is responsible (including those who gave the required support) strike with all of the power and fury that the American people are capable of.
I think America should now reform by changing its aggressive foreign policy which is an opening call to people it is repressing.
Retaliation should be forthcoming. But it will not change the victim mentality of many nations who blame the US for all of their woes. After all, blaming the US is a lot easier than creating a better life for themselves.
Michael Mazzarella, U S of A
What has happened is tragic and inhuman, but using this as a means of attacking people we hate because they do not believe in our ways is equally inhuman and unjust. what the powerful nations should do to prevent such horrific events is to promote equal rights and justice, people go to such extremes when they are oppressed, ask yourself why is America always the target.
Jonathan, California, USA
There will be retaliation, I'm sure. We can just pray that it won't be in the shape of all-out war against a country suspected of protecting those responsible. We are on the verge of World War III here, and we must be careful.
Air strikes should be proposed by Nato. These airstrikes should be done on the country where these terrorist groups belong to, if it is not possible to neutralise them. No mercy should be shown.
If America is not showing off, as usual, and if they are a bit clever, they should tie up Pakistan, which provides logistic and assistance to Islamic terrorist groups and which supposedly has the nuclear bomb. In order to do so, they will probably need a "little" help from other superpowers, India and China. That means the USA should start talking with them on fair basis.
Yes, the developed world leaders should:
Retaliate by working effectively to solve major crises in Africa, Palestine, Sri Lanka etc. Retaliate by bringing in some of the isolated countries into the mainstream. Retaliate by not selling small arms and landmines to countries or firms that channel them to areas of conflict.
Retaliate by cancelling debt to the world's poorest countries.
Retaliate they should. It is better to avoid a fire than fight it.
Should there be retaliation or will that lead to greater conflict throughout the world? Very premature. If I were asked now, I would say yes, massive retaliation. But when things come down... Lets be patient, find who's responsible and bring them to proper justice. A full trial, unlike these "people" we are human beings, we are better than they are.
I am very angry about the evil that has been done to my nation on this day. Today will be remembered, as is Dec 7th. While I want revenge with all my heart, I do not want the US to lash out and kill innocent people. However, once the ones responsible are found our retribution should be horrendous and without mercy. Yes, we got lax, but today marks a new day in the way we will view the world. The ones who did this cannot understand that this has not frightened us, it has enraged us!
Should be retaliation????????
God! Haven't we learnt anything? Retaliation against who? The Palestinian civilians back in the Middle East or every one that has an Arabic surname?
Eventual retaliation is a given, justice only a possibility. Wider and protracted conflict is likely, the only real question being the extent to which all free and open societies will join together in facing that conflict. Mr Blair's remarks in that regard will find a receptive audience here.
I was shocked to watch George Bush speaking at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. I saw the speech he made on television and he claimed that he would "hunt down and punish" the people responsible for the attacks. I understand that this could mean bringing them to justice, i.e. life imprisonment or in the US, capital punishment, but the way Mr Bush spoke all the people I was watching the story unfold with immediately thought by his tone that he meant to take military action against the country whose citizens had carried out this attack. This would be an extremely foolish path to take, although I would not put such stupidity past Bush.
As an American citizen, I am horrified and outraged at the assault on my country. My gut reaction is frankly to destroy whoever did this terrible thing. This having been said, as a citizen of the world and as a Catholic Christian, I desperately hope that the administration will think long and hard before it takes any retaliatory action which will add to number of innocent people who are dead. Furthermore, if our reaction is rash, we will only add to the anti-American sentiments that are so prevalent in many parts of the world.
Disclaimer: The BBC will use as many of your questions as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy