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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Should Europe be at war against terrorism?
After last week's tragic events America and its mainly European Nato allies face a dilemma.

If Osama Bin Laden, the main suspect for the attacks on New York and Washington, does not leave Afghanistan voluntarily, how can he be dislodged without risking innocent lives?

And if action must be taken will it not inevitably lead to a violent Islamic extremist counter-action?

A succession of European leaders have been visiting America to offer a hand of comfort.

Should they also try to restrain the United States from carrying any excessive action? What should Europe's role be?

For this Europewide debate, Europe Today's Mark Reid spoke to the British Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw in London, and first to the Dutch Green MEP Alexander de Roo in Brussels.

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

Your reaction

These horrible events should not go unpunished. However, retaliation against innocent people is just as bad as what happened in the first place. Should Europe be concerned? Yes. It's been happening here for a very long time. To this extent? No. The magnitude was unbelievable but who honestly thinks that it couldn't happen in Paris, London, Rome or Berlin? A war against terrorism is not a war against Islam. Berlusconi's ignorant comments are exactly what we should be trying to fight. He dares to praise how advanced Western civilisation is yet he thoroughly embarrassed it through his ridiculous words.
Alex, France

Europe should think and move as a one entity

Bruno, Rome, Italy
Europe should think and move as a one entity and do much more for fighting terrorism. I appreciate what the UK is doing in supporting the USA in military terms. I wish other EU countries did the same because what happened in New York may also happen in London, Paris or Rome.
Bruno, Rome, Italy

Europeans have been calling for an international coalition against these extremists for many years. Yet despite acts of terror against European civilians, especially in Paris and Moscow, Washington never seemed to care. It took a tragedy like this in order for the US to take this seriously. That's really sad.
Southern European, Europe

There are two important things: one, that Europe should help the US; two, that it does so with one voice. That means for instance everyone in Europe thoroughly snubbing Berlusconi (which is being done, thankfully), pooling special forces military units, using combined British/ French/ Belgian etc intelligence and knowledge of Islamic culture and so on.
Hélène Wilkinson, France/UK

Sure Europe should be against terrorism, but NOT at war against terrorism or Osama Bin Laden or Islam/Muslims - it's the exact reason why the attack happened in America and not Europe.
A. French, Australia

The EU should make it clear that there is no place for double standards

Tridiv Borah, Germany/India
One of the urgent tasks for the EU leaders is to rein in Tony Blair. In the past days, he has become a warmonger, even more than Bush. I believe, the EU should support the US in a global fight against terrorism, but at the same time remind the US of its distorted policies which even now seeks coalition with regimes supporting terrorism.

The EU should make it clear that there is no place for double standards in a fight against terrorism. Mr. Blair can choose another time and another context to prove the UK's special relationship with US, and his poor effort at becoming a EU representative
Tridiv Borah, Germany/India

Isn't it funny the way most U.S. citizens on the BBC web seem to think Europe is their lapdog? Of course we should help track down the suspects so that they may be tried in a court of law. But the crime was committed in the U.S.A. - not in Europe.
Northern European, Europe

Fight terrorism but go all the way. It seems the roots are deep and that Bin Laden has his finger in every pie. When Bush said it's going to be a long tough fight I think he was right and that he knows what's really going on. Does Europe have the guts to follow and root out those who aid terrorism?
J. Phips, UK

Why do people become terrorists?

Robin Hassall, Banffshire
Yes of course terrorism has to be countered but to win this war, like any other, you have to be sure of your ground and have an understanding of the enemy. Why do people become terrorists? It is because they believe that their political desires cannot be achieved by any other means.
Robin Hassall, Banffshire

Do not be scared - think and look around. This is exactly the situation we had in Europe before the fall of the Iron Curtain, something like hidden civic war. There is not a single and simple target. There is also no reason to cut off civic rights because big brother is watching.
Dave, USA

Europeans have been subjected to terrorist attacks for decades yet no solutions have been found in the conflicts involving ETA or the IRA. Perhaps we should be fighting this "war" on the home front too. I agree with those correspondents who say that Europe needs to persuade the US that military action against the Afghan people as a whole is as immoral as the crimes that occurred in New York and Washington. If we take that stance then the UK might as well declare war with the Republic of Ireland.
Mike Parker, England

Europe needs to be just as concerned and involved as the US

Mike, USA
Europe needs to be just as concerned and involved as the U.S. Do not think for a minute that Europe is not on some terrorists hit list. I for one would like to know why these Muslim countries have such a double standard. When the U.S. helps a Muslim country they do not seem to care much, but so much as give an Islamic regime a dirty look and they are calling for a Jihad. Why?
Mike, USA

An act of war has been committed against the USA. We will respond accordingly. Sadly, we Americans are ignorant of terrorism. It has always been something that happened somewhere else. Now it has happened here. We will do whatever it takes to rid the world of terrorist organizations, and if necessary, the governments that support them. Now is the time for our "friends" to come to our aid. Every nation must decide if it supports the fight against terrorism or the evil of terrorism itself. There is no middle ground.
Mark Shaffer, USA

As our politicians carelessly spew out bellicose rhetoric and consign another generation to a foreign land as cannon fodder, the more clear-headed members of this wounded nation look to Europe as the voice of sanity in this mess. With intelligence and patience the EU members have humanely stifled the threats to peace in Macedonia and Northern Ireland. Now, more than ever, the world needs your persistence and leadership to negotiate this steadily gathering nightmare being constructed from mindless American hysteria.
Kevin B., USA

A coherent foreign policy should be a prime aim of the European Union. This does not mean being treated as a flock of sheep by the USA, with Tony Blair as sheepdog. It means clearly stating a policy and sticking to it. A greater effort to defend the human rights of Palestinians would be a start.
Andrew, UK

Whether you like it or not Europe is at war against terrorism

Ike, USA
Whether you like it or not Europe is at war against terrorism. If anyone thinks for a second that by not helping the USA out it makes them safe from or "friendly" in the terrorists' eyes then they should pull their heads out of their ostrich hole. These people have pulled off plenty of attacks.
Ike, USA

What right has America got to go on full-scale military action against Afghanistan? The country, renown for its justice and democracy, is no better than the terrorists if innocent people in Afghanistan are killed as a result of the military attack. America needs evidence before giving out a sentence.
Andrew, England

European, Russian, US, Middle East and Far East politicians need to agree on one approach and stick to it firmly in the fight against terrorism. And this is the hardest thing to do. Remember the Balkan civil war. How many different opinions and approaches were applied by Nato and with what result? Bin Laden and his followers count on this fact. It works for them perfectly that it takes too much time and effort for the world politicians to unite on anything.
Dana K, USA

How can we Europeans expect this thing to pass us by?

Peter, Europe
How can we Europeans expect this thing to pass us by? These extremists have no greater love for Europe than for the United States. This means that we should also be prepared for counter-reprisals. There is no sense in hiding that simple truth from ourselves. Of course we should join in on the American side. The question is what to do next. Retaliation should not be motivated by the desire to slake the American public's thirst for vengeance but by the need to prevent repeat performances. The targets should be carefully chosen. European governments can help the American government prepare public opinion by encouraging restraint. Non-military efforts, such as international coalition building and controlling money flow, can and should be co-ordinated by the American and European governments.
Peter, Europe

Great. So we can sit here and be attacked ourselves. I'm a little concerned at how large a role the UK is playing in all this. I don't see many other foreign leaders running around in the same fashion as Tony Blair. I can quite easily see this turning into a full-scale Muslim war and I for one want no part of it. Instead of all out attacks and talks of 'war' cannot we positively identify those responsible first? There has been little or no evidence shown to the masses to even prove Osama Bin Laden was directly responsible.
Paul, UK

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate
See also:

20 Sep 01 | Europe
EU gears up to fight terrorism
20 Sep 01 | Europe
Spain allows US to use bases
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