Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 8 October, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
America retaliates: What are its options?
Select the link below to watch this edition of Talking Point On Air:

  56k modems

The world holds its breath as the US gears up for possible military strikes in response to attacks in New York and Washington.

Afghanistan is top of the list of targets, as it is known to be harbouring the number one suspect for the attacks, Osama Bin Laden.

Two US aircraft carriers are already in the Persian Gulf and another one is on its way.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts are continuing, aimed at building support for the expected actions over the next weeks and months.

But how far can diplomacy go? How long can this international coalition hold together? What can military action achieve?

Click here to read your previous comments on America's options

Click here to read your previous comments on the threat of biological warfare

  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme
  • Read what you have said since the programme

    This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

    Your reaction

    Your comments since the programme

    The US and its allies should look for a third way

    Ben, Manchester, UK
    I am really scared to see this devastating attack. I am a peace hunter. My love and prayers are for all the victims and their beloved. We hope for a peaceful settlement of such an unacceptable but inhumane act. My country's people don't want war anymore. I believe every terrorist act should be punished. But to punish the villains we don't want loss of common people. A peace lover.
    S. M. Salman, Dhaka, Bangladesh

    The 'Northern Alliance' briefly held power between the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and the Taliban taking power. Their human rights record was little better than the Taliban's. The US and its allies should look for a third way.
    Ben, Manchester, UK

    Maybe Bin Laden is responsible for the terrorist acts in the US, maybe not. However, the fact is that the USA needs a very good excuse to attack Afghanistan and overthrown the Taleban they have created and can no longer control. The country would very much like to establish safe routes for the natural gas and oil pipes coming from the former republics of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. These pipes cannot pass through Soviet soil or Iran (of course) so it has to be through Pakistan and India. What is in the middle?
    Alexander Mililis, Athens, Greece

    Everyone is talking about the military action that will occur. Everyone saw that Russia would co-operate. Apparently no one is concerned about the Chinese silence.
    Petre Stamatescu, Bucharest, Romania

    Those respondents on your website who demand unremitting military action against "craven, hate-filled nations" or against everyone involved, including "direct participants or the citizens of those who are implicated", represent a reactionary segment of public opinion. The problem is that this section enjoys a small, but important presence in American politics and the military. It's an irony that a country that until a month ago was busy reneging on its undertakings to international treaties and multilateral organisations and opting to pull out of them, is now seeking a broad, international coalition to pursue its interests.

    One only hopes that this spirit of multi-lateralism lasts, and that the U.S. sees the U.N. as more than a forum to bully the rest of the world through its veto power in the Security Council and seeks to play a more constructive role as a leading member of the international community of nations. While the American establishment refuses to acknowledge its role in the creation of Frankensteins like Bin Laden during the Cold War, one hopes that sensible public opinion will prevail and this war against terrorism will target all sources of this phenomenon in all parts of the world - including Pakistan, which is the West's new (and shall we say dubious) ally in this scheme of things.
    PR, Mumbai, India

    Intelligence and a cool head should be the first weapons rather than the gun

    JH, Loughborough, UK
    The biggest worry in the present situation is for the Western governments and their allies to commence retaliatory strikes without providing proof that they have the right target. Should the US and friends commence air strikes and other actions without proving that they have the right target for retaliation, they will prove that they are no better than those responsible for September 11th. Intelligence and a cool head should be the first weapons rather than the gun and the bomb. Revenge (to give it its semantic name) should come only when the true target is revealed.
    JH, Loughborough, UK

    I can't understand all of the comments about the USA needed to do more to help these poor people and maybe terrorism wouldn't happen. Do any of you have any idea how much aid we have given to these poor countries? Last year alone the USA gave billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in food and medicine did that stop the attack on us. That figure doesn't even come close to the total amount we have given to the rest of the world in humanitarian aid. Before you start saying that maybe the USA should build schools in Afghanistan, you should tell the Taleban to let the children attend those schools that are already there standing empty because the Taleban won't let the children be educated by anyone. Take a good long look at all of the good, humanitarian things that the USA does around the world everyday before you say that needs to be the first thing that should be tried by the USA.
    Heather, USA

    Why is it politicians in the US and Europe pretend that military action against terrorists could be successful? Why is it these politicians fail to point out that military action is an inappropriate means and will most probably result in more terror? It is a difficult question how the violent death of more than 6,000 people can be justified or even avenged. But an answer cannot be found by creating new battle fields to satisfy the emotionalised US public and to save clueless politicians' faces. Although, the scale of the atrocities of New York and Washington is breathtaking and leaves us speechless, hunting down the terrorists is a police task to be supported by the intelligence services and not soldiers, it was civilians that were killed. Who in Washington is going to carry the responsibility for the loss of innocent civilian lives - this time in another country?
    Mathias Behne, Singapore

    Why do I get the feeling that those now quickly denying the Americans the right to self-defence, and accusing them of being bad listeners and insensitive to others, are themselves not the best listeners or the most sensitive people? I agree with the American saying that regardless of what the USA does, it will still be hated. The two reasons are the power and the democracy of the USA. The USA will always be envied, and will always be the main target for hatred among fundamentalists of all kinds, not just the religious ones. The America-hater's Utopianist, predestinate ideologies - with no room for individual freedom, capitalism etc. - could just as well be preached in the name of Marx as that of Allah or anyone else.

    The way forward, in the long run, is to encourage the democracy, freedom of speech and respect for individual freedom of choice, still all too rare in the world. But in the meantime the terrorist networks and those supporting them have to be fought (which includes overthrowing the Taleban and depriving the Bin Laden network of its safe haven).
    Mårten Lindström, Varberg, Sweden

    The US are right to respond with military action

    Ron, Norwich UK
    How many more innocent lives are to be lost because of the USA's revenge. They threatened the Taleban a month ago with strikes! Why are they not surprised by the response! I do not and will not agree to any military response to all this it will achieve nothing but pain.
    Ron, Norwich UK

    The US are right to respond with military action. If Bin Laden is not handed over, then they must go in and find him. It's time to stop negotiating and start the campaign.
    Wyatt Bellis, Yateley, UK

    People say the way to stop terrorism is to give economic aid to nations like Afghanistan, but that can only be part of the solution. The US gave 134 million to the UN humanitarian effort in Afghanistan and has promised to give more to help with the current refugee crisis (though these facts are generally ignored by the media). This alone will not prevent more terrorist attacks, there needs to be some military action to try to stop these things from happening again.
    B Meyer, Chicago USA

    I don't see what strikes at this stage will achieve

    Kien Pham, London, UK
    Why, oh, why is the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair so bent on supporting the Americans in this military action? I don't see what strikes at this stage will achieve apart from sparking off a wave of anti-US (and UK) sentiment amongst Muslims worldwide. I think our European allies are right to urge caution and the UK should be siding with them. I am doubtful as to what military action could achieve other than inflaming the current situation.
    Kien Pham, London, UK

    Is it not apparent that the US is proceeding with "cooler heads" prevailing? We did not exact a knee-jerk response with massive bombings. Thankfully, Bush and his advisors know that those responsible for 11th September are a sub-group of people imbedded in many nations, including our own and those of our allies. They know that Islam is not the enemy. The majority of the thousands of Muslims in America (as elsewhere in the world) are noble and good people. Unfortunately, this sentiment, which is held by the vast majority of Americans, does not reach the Middle East. It is certainly not our desire to start WWIII. This "war" is not about retaliation, but about prevention - prevention of anything like what happened on 11th September from happening again.

    It is not our desire to start WWIII

    Carol Baker, Alexandria, VA
    I had the opportunity to participate in a prayer service at the Department of Defence on the Friday following the terrorist acts. The room was overflowing with both military and civilian personnel, and the service was led by some of the top brass of the US military. The military that I witnessed was one full of deep mourning¿for all of their brothers and sisters that were lost at the Pentagon, and all of the innocent lives that were lost in NY and Pennsylvania. This was not a group of empty-headed men and women in uniform only looking to exact revenge! This was a group of men and women (of all faiths and cultural backgrounds! ) praying to God to show them, their leaders, all Americans, and all of their Allies, the prudent and correct way to respond. We only wish to do the right thing¿for everyone.
    Carol Baker, Alexandria, VA

    Flatten Afghanistan and any other country that supports Bin Laden. No more diplomacy. It's time for war against the Fundamentalists.
    Frank Kelly, London, UK

    I am upset to see so many Americans so eager for a battle. The justification seems to be to defend their way of life and make sure people never do such a horrific act again as we saw on 11th September. But the US going to war in the middle East again will do the complete opposite - more orphans will grow up hating the US and waiting for the time when they can get involved in terrorism themselves. You cannot bully people into submission while going on about human rights etc at the same time. No one in the Middle East, or the rest of the world believes in the US anymore after all the CIA activity around the world. Why do the US public buy it? Someone should tell the US people the truth!
    Paul, London, UK

    Terrorists don't only target America, they are targeting all countries. If we want to destroy terrorists we need global support. But all countries don't have the full capability to destroy this evil. Hopefully the US has money, arms and intelligence power so it's others duty to assist US to destroy the common evil. It's not a time to challenge US for their other acts it's time to co-operate with them.
    Viji Palaniappan, USA / India

    Those who have died cannot be brought back

    Felix Tan, Singapore
    Those who have died cannot be brought back. Think of the living and the children who will be inheriting this mess from us. All religions preach tolerance and peace - turn the other cheek. It takes a lot of courage not to hit back, especially when you know you have the means to do so. Somewhere, somehow, someone must say "Enough of reprisals - it ends here and it starts with me". Then can the wounds start to heal and trust be restored.
    Felix Tan, Singapore

    The US shouldn't take any military action without proof. The US must show the world the evidence linked to the terrorist attacks and give reasons for military action.
    June, Tokyo,Japan

    You cannot negotiate with those who attack without warning. You cannot be diplomatic with an enemy you cannot see. The only option, for America and any other country that wants a peaceful future is to attack, attack and attack until the terrorists want to talk. If not then the attacks must not stop, the coalition must hold together and be prepared to stick this out to the end. When facing terrorists the most committed wins, and the US and its allies must be committed. This is not vengeance, it is justice.
    Jonathan, Nottingham, UK

    Many people do not want to believe that a war may be necessary and therefore proclaim that it is unjust

    Steve, Massachusetts, US
    Extremism is the enemy. I have been living a very good life in the US since the mid 90's and I am saddened that this time of relative peace and prosperity may end. I think that many people do not want to believe that a war may be necessary and therefore proclaim that it is unjust. The recent attack on the US has awakened me, in a very abrupt way, that there is a very real threat to western society as a whole.

    Extremism in one form or another has been the bane of humanity since the beginning of recorded history. In the past century our world has seen horrifying human circumstances created by extremism left unchallenged. From the Nazis in Europe to the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia the lesson and the legacy is always the same. By now we should have learned it is unwise to allow extremism to exist at all. Those who believe that the extremists are small in number and are not worthy of military action should think again. Many of us would be surprised to find out how many people would want to see all of western society disappear forever. Some people believe we will invite more attacks by striking back. I believe that more attacks are coming simply because of who we are regardless of our actions.
    Steve, Massachusetts, US

    Hit the Taleban and terrorists hard, but at the same time drop food supplies to the Afghan people. Hearts and minds will win this war, not wholesale destruction.
    Rob Burton, Lincolnshire, UK

    Any military action that helps to set up a democratic system is ultimately a good thing

    Robin Southgate, Oxford, UK
    It is entirely understandable that every American now feels the need for counter-attacks in an effort to stop any more attacks from occurring. I go along with their attitude that terrorism can be reduced with the use of serious military action. In opposition to many I see military action in Afghanistan as being a real advantage to the Afghan people whom for years have had to listen to a leadership that does not have their best interests in mind and has not been chosen by them. Any military action that helps to set up a democratic system is ultimately a good thing.

    At the same time I worry that the American people are not looking at military action from this point of view but instead see it as a chance to reassert their global dominance. It would be a better world for us all if rather than using a military response for revenge the US combined it with a shift in foreign policy that would mean they actually listened to other cultures and civilisations. Terrorism needs to be wiped out but maybe it only exists because people haven't been listening.
    Robin Southgate, Oxford, UK

    The rest of the world has had to deal with terrorism for 30 years or more. The US experiences it and now the whole world is expected to go to war. Wake up people! The time is now to set about resolving our differences and looking at alternatives to sanctions that can only provoke suffering innocents to take such extreme actions. Waste Bin Laden but not more innocents.
    MD, Perth, West Australia

    Military action does not discriminate between those who support a regime and those who are forced to live under it

    Jo Clayton, London, UK
    An attack on Afghanistan would be totally immoral. Thousands of men, women and children have been suffering under Taleban rule for years. Military action does not discriminate between those who support a regime and those who are forced to live under it against their will. Wars are waged between nation states and not between the biggest military power in the world and a handful of extremists. In my mind US military action against Afghanistan would be the same as the British government taking military action against Ireland for IRA atrocities on the mainland. What has happened is terrible. If our leaders made the wrong decisions at this point it could be catastrophic.
    Jo Clayton, London, UK

    The only way to get the Taleban's cooperation is to bomb their forces fighting in the north, and supply their enemies with weapons and ammunition. This will have a two-pronged effect. Firstly, no allied forces will have to go in on the ground and secondly it will threaten the only thing they value - staying in power.
    Nick, Bermuda

    The USA has absolutely nothing in common with what these maniacs think or perpetrate on the free world, other than feeding leftist rhetoric against the USA and all freedom loving people everywhere. I am sickened and disgusted by the usual anti-American crowd who think that the USA should revise its foreign policy to accommodate these criminals. Without American leadership and military and intelligence capabilities there is no hope for the free world. This must include the unqualified support of all who believe in freedom and democracy. As Bush says, "those who are not with us are against us". God Bless America!
    John, Thousand Oaks, USA

    If we're going to have a war, then I hope America gets this evil out of Afghanistan and wipes out the Taleban and their partners in crime. Thousands of innocent lives will be lost because of this terrorist regime. America and its allies must realize that they need the intelligence guidance of the northern alliance to prevent another Vietnam.
    Mariam Jamash, USA

    I think the role of diplomacy is now limited

    Matthew Wilde, Britain
    I think the role of diplomacy is now limited, as the most immediate objective should be very clear. The Taleban harboured and gave succour to Osama Bin Laden, his terrorists and their training camps. These terrorists have declared war on the States in a manner dwarfing that of the attack on Pearl Harbour. I believe the 7000 or so massacred in America will be enough to hold the international coalition together for as long as required. Military action can be effective in taking this war direct to the terrorists and their supporters. However, it will only be effective if air power is in direct support of ground troops, rather than hitting vague targets in towns and cities.
    Matthew Wilde, Britain

    Suicide terrorists can't be stopped in the type of world we live in. The G8 economies are based on freedom of movement both monetarily and physically. Simply eliminating a scapegoat (like Bin Laden or McVeigh) makes them symbolic martyrs. Revenge for their deaths will be exponentially worse with each strike. It's obvious that the world will only learn to clamp down on terrorism by adopting police state qualities. The unfortunate question we must ask ourselves is, what is freedom worth? so that more innocent people don't become targets? Should we sacrifice economies in order to maintain peace? Only the future is malleable.
    J.Bellchamber, London, Canada

    It's OK all these do-gooder people saying don't fight fire with fire, let's hear an alternative then - bearing in mind that these people are brought up from day 1 to hate democracy and the US. OK, so we don't retaliate, do these do-gooders honestly believe that these evil terrorists will stop and say, OK looks like we've won? I doubt it, they are more likely to say, we got away with that one, let's do it again.
    Malcolm, UK

    Retaliation, although it seems like the right thing to do, would not solve anything

    Andrei, Canada/Russia
    Retaliation, although seems like the right thing to do, would not solve anything. One cannot defeat an enemy that is not afraid to die. American foreign policies are to blame. Some say that the purpose of these attacks was to disrupt the American way of life. It wasn't the American way of life that was being attacked, but their actions on the international arena. Retaliation would solve nothing, there are by far too many people in the world who oppose American aggression.

    Ordinary Afghans are quite sympathetic to the American cause as they have helped them during the 1979 Soviet invasion. Further massacring the Afghan people will solve nothing. The only way Americans can win their so called "war on terrorism" is to change, stop the aggression and the cowardly policies. Palestinians should not have to use rocks to defend themselves against their occupants, while being shot at with American weapons. Just one of the many injustices caused by Americans all over the world.
    Andrei, Canada/Russia

    Wars against Afghanistan are illegal. The US has NO RIGHT to attack Afghanistan.
    Wu Yuan, Singapore (China Citizen)

    If America and the civilised world does not respond to the attack on the WTC, it will be seen as the green light for anybody to have a go at them. There has to be a line drawn somewhere and that line was crossed on that Tuesday.
    Also do not tar the Muslim faith by the actions of a very, very small minority of extremists.
    Nige C, England

    I only hope that after going into Afghanistan, that some kind of support and help is given to the country to rebuild an infrastructure, not leaving the Afghans to struggle alone as happened after the war with the USSR communist regime.
    Julian, Sussex, UK

    Yes, people should understand that Americans have a right to defend themselves for these barbaric acts. People should not rush and pick on America and alleging that USA has bad foreign policy. USA has been generously is most of the international issues that I can remember so far. So people in this world should rally behind USA to defeat these people.
    Leonard, Trondheim, Norway

    America is suffering from Premature Retaliation

    John McLean, Zurich, Switzerland
    America is suffering from Premature Retaliation.
    - A definitive and MEANINGFUL link to bin Laden has not been established.
    - He may or may not be in Afghanistan
    Any attempt to associate bin Laden with WTC/Pentagon is only circumstantial.
    Despite all this, America wants to attack Afghanistan and such an attack, without proof of either of the above, can only be regarded as a terrorist assault.
    John McLean, Zurich, Switzerland

    Those saying the US should look at what it has done to deserve this might as well just come out and say you support the terrorists. The people in those buildings did not do anything to deserve this, the US has certainly made mistakes in the past but no more than your own countries, and I can assure you the US does more to help all countries than any one of yours a look at YOUR own country's history.
    Holly, NYC

    Diplomacy will continue but it can only go so far. Bin Laden needs to be brought to justice. But what are we supposed to do - send him an engraved invitation. If Afghanistan's neighbours spent less time burning President Bush in effigy and supporting a government that not only treats women as some sort of sub-species and puts aid workers on death row, and instead worked towards turning this murderer over, maybe diplomacy would work.
    Regina Feeney, A New Yorker

    Look at all the American "democratic" adventures in the Middle-East and Asia in the last, say 40 years. Nothing even borders on the word "humane". Numerous killings of innocent people.. Political overthrows, assassinations, cruise missiles? All in the name of peace? Let America do some conscience cleansing and put an end to the meaningless rhetoric. Terrorism is not a finite thing to destroy. Its a terrible psychology. No one has the right to play God.
    Indian, Madras, India

    Your comments during the programme

    The US gets blasted no matter what it does: Bin Laden is upset because we helped in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War...the Afghan Northern Alliance is upset because we DIDN'T help them in their struggle against the Taleban.
    The strikes that are likely coming in Afghanistan are not to retaliate...they are to destroy the terrorist forces so they cannot terrorise again! Why is that so hard for people to understand?

    Quote from Ghandi:
    " I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary and the evil it does is permanent."
    Azad, UK

    Do not answer injustice with more injustice! Do not answer crime with more crime!

    Samir Saikali, Minnesota, USA
    Do not answer injustice with more injustice! Do not answer crime with more crime! The Afghan people are already suffering from lack of food and medicine. And now the last of the humanitarian organisations have abandoned them. Even if you kill only one innocent Afghan, you will have joined the ranks of criminals!
    Samir Saikali, Minnesota, USA

    Modern governments have never been ruled by morality or feelings of compassion and this situation will not be an exception. If morality were the issue, the Americans and the world leaders now crying for vengeance would have at least acknowledged that the inequalities that they have either actively cultivated or simply ignored have served as fuel for the passion of the terrorists they now hound. Make no mistake, I abhor all acts of terrorism in all ramifications, but I also believe that true justice is never going to be achieved in this present world. True justice, like Shylock's pound of flesh exacts the exact penalty, not more nor less. Now, who in this world is capable of that?
    Dr. Oyedele, Nigerian in South Africa

    Where the hell is James Bond? To label Osama Bin Laden as a terrorist is generous. He is in fact the head of an international criminal organisation. Why is there even the possibility of this international crisis? There are few Muslim nations who are willing to claim ownership of Osama but somehow an international effort to retrieve him will probably be viewed as an attack on Islam generally.
    John Vandenberg, Deep River, Candada

    Terrorism must be dealt with in the only way they understand - WAR. These fanatics keep blaming the Americans for something but I have not heard exactly what this may be. Perhaps somebody could explain the problem with the Muslim fanatics.
    Terry Hart, UK

    The United States was under attack pure and simple. Who cares what the radical Muslims reasons were for doing this. If they have a problem with the United States policies then they should have taken it up with the UN peacefully and not commit murder of totally innocent people. The United States needs to return fire in the harshest way. President Bush is a fine man and will seek total justice for those who have died for no reason on Sept. 11.
    William, San Francisco

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    Terrorism can't be eliminated, it can only be discouraged

    Connie Junghans, Bristol, UK
    Martin Amis pointed out in the Guardian recently that we need to feel "species consciousness" and place it over nationalism and religion. Those people who died on the 11th will not only have died unnecessarily but in vain if we don't take this opportunity to start a dialogue between our countries. Terrorism can't be eliminated, it can only be discouraged. Terrorism networks are not confined by national borders, they require collaboration, commitment and cool heads.
    Connie Junghans, Bristol, UK

    This coalition won't last 2 minutes if it is another game of "round up the usual suspects". I want to see absolute proof that Iraq is involved before the Iraqi people are subject to more bombing. I support the search for the real culprits and I'm not too fussy if they get due process. I am absolutely opposed to condemning whole nations. Dropping bombs onto a city from a military aircraft is no different than what the terrorists did. Innocent people die in either case.
    Marcus Johnston, Tillsonburg, Canada

    I feel sympathy for the families and loved ones of those who died, as I feel blind retaliation would be yet another disaster for the world to deal with. The point is being repeated over and over that there is no proof leading to one particular figure or organisation. At this point in time, I can imagine the hurt that world criticism must cause for the people of America. Try to realise though, that from this point on, the difference between another world war and effective resolution is in controlling this desire for retaliation. What would it achieve against an unknown enemy? America - please look before you leap.
    Adam, Paris, France

    If the US balances its policies in the Middle East then there may be hope

    Nasser, Abu Dhabi, UAE
    Hate and destruction will only breed more of the same. The loss of the few thousands innocent lives in last weeks attacks is very saddening, and unacceptable. But so is the loss of thousands on thousands of Iraqi and Palestinian children. If the US balances its policies in the Middle East, and helps reverse the injustices of 1948, then there may be hope.
    Nasser, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

    I'm frightened by many of the things that I hear some other Americans saying. I hoped that this might be an opportunity for compassion to rise above political interests in the world, but there seem to be too many people who are ruled by their anger. I believe that those who are responsible in any way for the attacks should be tried as war criminals, but we certainly shouldn't be destroying a nation of impoverished people who will never know the conveniences that so many of us have, just to accomplish that goal.
    Brant, Boston, MA USA

    America needs to look at its policies and try to understand the problem. It needs to understand why did this happen, why is there so much hatred against America, why do certain people feel like this. The answer is not to bomb defenceless countries, the answer is to find the root of cause and bring to justice those people who are responsible.
    Raja, Australia

    I hope that the tragic events in New York last week, and the tragic events that will surely follow as America takes her revenge, will lead the USA and Britain to consider the effects of its foreign policy in greater depth. In particular their policy towards Iraq, which the UN estimates has lead to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children since the end of the Gulf War. Policies the like of which inspire the hatred that leads people to commit acts of gross violence against the USA and her allies.
    Paul Kimber, London, England

    Military action isn't going to solve anything

    Kortnii, Dubbo,Australia
    I think we have to realise that this is just a small inside look to what people in third world countries have been experiencing for years. Military action isn't actually going to solve anything - only continue this war that everyone seems to want to take part in. Why would anyone be excited for war. It isn't a game; this is people's lives. As a 16 year old student I'm horrified to realise what the world really has come to.
    Kortnii, Dubbo,Australia

    Americans will find that they have a good friend in the United Kingdom but we will level criticism where it is due. America is a very powerful and successful country and has become very complacent in the way it deals with other nations. Although nothing can justify what happened in NY, this should serve as a wakeup call to take a fresh look at foreign policy.
    Tim, San Jose, USA (British)

    I don't want a war but unfortunately we've been forced into a position where we have to do something. Great thought is going into this and the US has demonstrated our desire to prevent loss of life - even in battle. Face the ugly reality; a gruesome heartless attack has been committed. These perpetrators are evil and must be stopped.
    Jeff Maslin, Moorpark, California USA

    I don't know why everybody assumes that the only US response is going to be military

    Brian, Urbana, USA
    I don't know why everybody assumes that the only US response to the terror acts is going to be military. If the strikes are effective or if countries in question are cooperative, then I would not be surprised if the US provided massive amounts of aid to these areas.
    Brian, Urbana, USA

    The long term solution should be modernizing Afganishtan. To do that the Taliban must be removed. Air strikes cannot do that. So the solution should be to create a massive ground based army and overwhelm the Taliban and remove them with few causalities on either side.
    Saikat, San Jose, USA

    I recently attended the funeral for the pilot of one of the hijacked planes that hit the WTC. (He's from my town.) It made a bigger impression on me than hearing of 6,000 people dead. A thousand dead is beyond comprehension, but one person dead, with a grieving widow and daughters is very, very real. Multiply that feeling by 6,000 and all you can feel is sadness. Not revenge, not anger, but pure and utter despair for how many lives have been shattered by this. I'm not sure exactly what should be done, but clearly this is something we can't just "let go".
    Chris, Massachusetts, USA

    It is imperative that a "campaign" is handled with care

    Sharon, USA
    Many countries have reached out to the USA, but of course each country worries about their own safety and security since the attacks. This is very understandable due to the nature of the possible risks. The stakes are high in this day and age, with weapons that can cause many more deaths that what we saw on September 11. We all pray not, but the worry is still very real.

    This "war" is different than the Civil War, WWI and WWII in the US, because if actions are not handled correctly, some fanatic could hurt even more innocent people, but on a larger scale. It's difficult...if you wait there are risks...if you run into an attack there are risks. Even with my fears, I believe in calm, "focused", determined motions in the coming months, with tough action and intelligent reason. In this day and age, it is imperative that a "campaign" is handled with care. The risks are too high.
    Sharon , USA

    I find myself dismayed, appalled, and repulsed

    Keith M Ellis, Texas, USA
    My partner, the woman I have lived with and loved for the last several years, lost her brother in the attack last week. I would dearly love to see those responsible brought to justice and such crimes prevented in the future. I also am not averse to military actions, and I supported every one of the US military intervention of the last decade. I supported each of these because I believed that, in one way or another, they each prevented a much greater loss of human life.

    However, what little we know about what the US has planned, and the rhetoric both from our President and US commentators here - well, all of this seems more about anger and retribution and bloodthirstiness than reason and necessity. I find myself dismayed, appalled, and repulsed.
    Keith M Ellis, Austin, TX, USA

    I can't help but thinking that the principle aim behind this act of terrorism was to draw the US and its allies into an action that would cause longer lasting harm than the original act of terrorism. Should the US mount an all-out-offensive, it will polarize otherwise neutral players into choosing sides. With all of the alliances that are quickly forming around the world, I can't help but draw some parallels to the early days before World War One. These are perilous times, and I'm afraid America's thirst for vengeance will draw it down the very road its attackers were hoping for.
    Yarry Gonzalez, Santa Cruz, CA, USA

    In this time we need to come closer together as peoples of the world

    Adam Floyd, Georgia, USA
    Nine days ago America was savagely attacked by madmen. Everything that the United States has done has not been perfect, but no one is perfect. Jesus said, "Let the one who has not sinned, cast the first stone". In this time we need to come closer together as peoples of the world. We need to turn back to God and America needs to turn back to its Christian foundation. I for one, am proud to be an American. Let Europe not forget that we stood by them in their time of need, why now do they seem to want to turn their backs on us?
    Adam Floyd, Valdosta, Georgia, USA

    The overwhelming desire of most Americans is peace. However, no nation can ignore a challenge such as this terrorist attack.
    William Branning, Pittsburgh, PA USA

    This war on terrorism must be fought on all levels, monetary, media and, if enough evidence is uncovered, even military. The world will never be safe against terror unless we all stand together. If you don't want freedom just sit back and let the evil take over. The free world is at a crossroads.....Choose a direction.
    Bob Lombardo, USA

    I am sincerely concerned about the narrowness of the definition of "terrorist"

    Hugh MacCamley Langer, Brunei Darussalam
    I am sincerely concerned about the narrowness of the definition of "terrorist". If we are genuinely intending to eliminate this phenomenon from "the face of the Earth", as Tony Blair has proclaimed, then surely there must be a profoundly radical strategy implemented to deal with the Mafia, the Colombian drug cartels, the fanatical quasi- religious and political groups which are terrorising various parts of rural Africa, the Real IRA, the triad gangs, as well as those in Mindanao, Kashmir, southern Sudan and other parts of the planet.

    There seems to be an unhealthy and unconvincing preoccupation with one person in one location. While he may be partly responsible, along with those next to him, this is but a minute part of the whole problem. This is why we need a truly international response to the question, involving Arabs, Africans and Asians, not just Europeans and Americans. In this way, it will no longer resemble a personal vendetta which is what it looks like to me, at present.
    Hugh MacCamley Langer, Brunei Darussalam

    Isn't it clear yet that retaliation does not work? Hasn't the Israeli/Palestinian conflict taught us anything? If we bomb Afghanistan, what will we gain? Osama bin Laden certainly has the means to get out before getting killed, leaving behind only the poorest Afghans, those who have gone through years of war and drought and hunger already.

    Yes, find the terrorists and bring them to justice. But bombing countries that may harbour terrorists is simply going to create even more desperate people, eager to follow any path that might lead them out of their darkness. We should use all of the means at hand to find the terrorists responsible (with all of our money and technology, how difficult could it be?), but responding with bombs is, as an earlier writer so aptly said, like burning the house down to catch the rat.
    Andrea Coombes, San Francisco, CA, USA

    Our way of life was attacked on September 11th

    Brooks, Columbia, SC, USA
    A military strike by the US and her allies is not only necessary but obviously imminent. And I myself being an American who has lost someone in the attack am prepared to serve my country in any way it deems fit. Our way of life was attacked on September 11th. If we don't take immediate action and terminate the threat then not only Americans but other peace loving countries might suffer at the hands of terrorists.
    Brooks, Columbia, SC, USA

    Our neighbours to the south have been engaged in unofficial wars against many poorer nations and organisations for quite some time. It is no surprise that such unconventional warfare has been brought to America's soil in retribution for its imperialist foreign policies. A shift in foreign policy coupled with military restraint in the upcoming weeks will go far to eliminate anti-US terrorism in the future.
    K. Maher, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

    I feel very sorry for the people who died on September 11 and their families because I come from a country that was bombed while dealing with terrorism within its own borders. Even then we were warning the rest of the world about the growing threat of Muslim extremists and their favourite weapon - terror on innocent civilians. Somebody will call those people " freedom fighters" just as the US called them that during the Nato operation in my country. Now those freedom fighters are showing their real face.
    Aleksandar, Belgrade, Yugoslavia

    Fighting fire with fire is not the solution

    RK, Chicago, USA
    Fighting fire with fire is not the solution. Only through a better understanding of each other, along with open dialogue, can issues truly be resolved. It is understandable how some people will speak out for war and retaliation but let us not forget that people are still venting their frustrations in response to this terrible tragedy. It will take a very long time to solve this global problem, so in this American's opinion, keeping a level-head and working together is the only viable solution to terrorism.
    RK, Chicago, USA

    As an American, I feel that my government must - and will - bring these terrorists to justice. However, I believe that the US also has a responsibility to re-examine its policies in the Middle East and not repeat its self-serving actions of the past. If we want to punish nations and individuals for their aggression, then it only stands to reason that we should, under no circumstances, support other acts of aggression that benefit us. I love my country dearly but I pray that my government responds wisely to these sickening acts of terror.
    Aaron Smith, Joplin, MO, USA

    There is a false premise here. "Retaliation" is not possible, because the perpetrators are dead and the alleged conspirators are mostly detained already. Issues of evidence are vital before anything even qualifies as "retaliation".
    Cedric Knight, London, UK

    You can't beat terrorism without looking to its roots. In this case, American foreign policy has a lot to answer for. Thousands have already died and we need to put an end to the loss of life. Military action and bringing instability to a region which has nuclear power, will achieve the complete opposite.
    Tania, UK

    A lot of the mess the world is in now is the result of our dependence on oil

    Anu Srinivasan, San Diego, CA, USA
    A lot of the mess the world is in now is the result of our dependence on oil and our consequent penchant to let oil resources dictate our foreign policy. Spend money on switching to non-oil, renewable sources of energy ASAP. If the world ceases to be oil-dependent, we can all get out of the Middle East and Islamic nations and let them deal with their own problems! We will no longer have any "interests" there to justify our excesses! And they won't have any oil money to fund their extremists!
    Anu Srinivasan, San Diego, CA, USA

    I am rather surprised and disgusted at the amount of anti-US sentiment shared by Europeans on the internet. How come we are the only ones who have to play by the rules? I am not in favour of an invasion or a massive bombing campaign as this would only create more terrorists. However we also need to send a clear message that America will not sit idly by and allow its citizens (as well hundreds of Britons and other Europeans) to be destroyed by such cowardly acts.
    ML Staff, Nashville, USA

    We can clearly feel the emotions behind a few of the above comments. I grief with them. But let me add that many children in Indonesia have lost parents, brothers, sisters and their homes in attacks not meant for them. Later they participated in ethnic clashes (Maluku), guerilla (Aceh) or even terrorism. It is up to us whether we let hate govern or not.
    S. P. Sudarmo, Tangerang, Indonesia

    What about America's responsibility to its own?

    Shannon E, NC, USA
    I'm tired of hearing comments like why don't we help these poor nations solve their problems or why don't we just try to find out why they hate us? What about America's responsibility to its own? What about its right to pursue a cowardly thief who stole thousands of innocent American lives and bring him/them to justice? Those of you who want to ignore this attack without a retaliatory response better find your backbone because hiding under the covers will not make monsters like Bin Laden go away. It will only give them free reign to show us what a nightmare really is.
    Shannon E, NC, USA

    I was shocked to hear that a Sikh and an Egyptian Christian were killed in the US, after the recent violent attack on the country. I do not think this is the way forward- neither are ANY attacks on Afghanistan or other Muslim nations. If we do get our hands on the person(s) responsible for this vile deed, then they need to be killed.
    Willers, London, UK

    The radical elements that exist in Afghanistan hate the US and other western countries for our open. It seems they are going to hate us anyway, maybe we should give them a real reason to. If it's going to be us or them... I say finish them now.
    Jason Getz, Lexington, KY

    Attacking Afghanistan would leave many innocent Afghans dead, and Muslims around the world humiliated

    Pradeep Nair, Satara, India
    Attacking Afghanistan would leave many impoverished and innocent Afghans dead, and Muslims around the world hurt and feeling more humiliated and insecure than before. Setting the whole house on fire to destroy a rat inside isn't the solution. Terrorism is an affliction of the mind. It is endemic to the weak, the oppressed, the ignorant and the insecure. The problem is in the minds of a section of people. If America can help, educate and win hearts in these times of pain and loss for them, they'd do much better than retaliating in a fit of anger.
    Pradeep Nair, Satara, India

    Peace and Freedom are not free, just ask the people of Afghanistan who are oppressed and exploited (specifically women!) while the rich terrorists of their nation plan cold blooded attacks on other countries "to fight their cause". Why isn't Osama Bin Ladin spending his millions on the poor in Afghanistan, instead of declaring war on innocent people? There is no "Western" policy "bad" enough that justifies them being irresponsible and neglecting their own, ... and declaring war on others! I'm sure the people that have lost their lives in America last week would want justice, and action to keep this from happening to others.
    Diana, Georgia, USA

    The demand by the Taleban for proof of Bin Laden's involvement in the WTC attack is fair, by any right-minded person. The ramifications of the US attacking Afghanistan are enormous. There are signs that Pakistan's people will revolt against their government over supporting a US raid, and this could lead to nuclear weapons being made available. The US must decide whether it wants to start world war three for the sake of getting hold of one person (Bin Laden). I certainly hope they don't.
    Dr J Barnard, England

    Dr Barnard's comments outline the real threat of this situation; if South Asia is destabilised, there is a very very real danger of nuclear weapons being used in anger by terrorists. If that happens, the deaths last week, which were appalling and totally wrong, will be but a tiny drop against the forthcoming overall death toll. For all our sakes, please tread carefully.
    Richard, Cambridge UK

    Let's act, but let's not make it worse

    A. Robinson, UK
    Let's hope Mr Bush and his ever-growing coalition play this one intelligently. Let's hope that Pakistan does not become destabilised with rebel maniacs, finger poised on nuclear trigger. Let's hope we don't end up fighting another unwinnable war against an invisible enemy like in Vietnam. What happened in New York last week left the world in a state of shock and disbelief. Let's act, but let's not make it worse.
    A. Robinson, UK

    Is any American proud of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I don't want to offend anyone, but may I dare to ask again, as everyone seems to be calling upon a new Pearl Harbour, is a new Hiroshima what you want? And what do you expect bombs to achieve? Do you really think that Bin Laden will sit in Afghanistan waiting to die? The crater in New York is on every TV, newspaper, website.. It's horrible; each time I see it I feel in pain. But please, get out a history book and look at the craters after WW2 and then think again whether you want New York to become a second Pearl Harbour.
    Lizzie Inglessi, London, UK (Italian)

    Peter Kohler, USA
    "Military action has already begun. It began on 11 September 2001."
    Rob Dunic, USA
    "It doesn't have to be a warm front type of response."
    Lubna Hussain, Saudi Arabia
    "The US needs to look at its foreign policy, especially towards the Middle East"
    Stuart Katsoff, Israel
    "You don't need a sledgehammer to kill a fly."
    Ashraf Mohammed, Australia
    "We have to be sure we are pinpointing the right place."
    Awais Qureshi, Hong Kong
    "There should be diplomatic efforts."
    Hiroki Negishi, Japan
    "For this new kind of war - there are no rules."

    Links to more Talking Point stories