Global media abhors US response to 9-11

[Agence France-Presse]

On the fifth anniversary of Al-Qaeda's assault on New York and Washington, editorials worldwide united Monday in condemning the attacks and expressing revulsion for the Islamic extremists who carried out the atrocity.

While papers said many people were still grappling with the immensity of what happened on that day, nearly all agreed the world had since become a more dangerous and uncertain place.

Much criticism, especially in the Midde East and Europe, was reserved for US President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq under the banner of the "war on terror".

The New York Times acknowledged the United States had lost the feeling of unity and purpose which gripped the nation in the aftermath of the attacks, and lamented a lost opportunity.

"When we measure the possibilities created by 9/11 against what we have actually accomplished, it is clear that we have found one way after another to compound the tragedy," said the paper's editorial.

Summing up the mood in the British press, the Financial Times said: "The way the Bush administration has trampled on the international rule of law and Geneva Conventions, while abrogating civil liberties and expanding executive power at home, has done huge damage not only to America's reputation but, more broadly, to the attractive power of Western values."

German daily Handelsblatt said the war in Iraq had been erroneously started in the name of September 11, while Spain's El Pais said the Bush administration used the attacks to impose a neo-conservative foreign policy.

"The result, five years after, is a more dangerous world," El Pais said.

The criticism, and in particular the condemnation of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was echoed in newspapers across the Middle East and Asia.

Many Arab newspapers said the US campaign and the invasion of Iraq had pushed the world closer to a clash of civilisations between the West and the Muslim world.

"Instead of isolating and wiping out Al-Qaeda, Bush has created a long list of new foes in his ever-broadening war on terror," Lebanon's Daily Star said.

"In doing so, he has bolstered the popular impression that the United States is waging a crusade against Islam -- an impression which Al-Qaeda skillfully exploits in order to gain more support."

Egypt's semi-official Al-Ahram compared Bush to the mastermind of the attacks Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

"Five years ago, the history of the world changed twice, once in the hands of Bin Laden and his gang, and once in the hands of Bin Bush and his administration."

The Al-Ghad daily in Jordan was similarly critical saying: "The administration of George W. Bush used a vengeful mentality in dealing with the 9/11 crime and has turned the entire world into a battleground."

Many newspapers in Iran speculated that Washington staged the attacks so that it could justify attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq, meanwhile, ignored the anniversary altogether with not a single mention of it in the press.

In Pakistan, a key US ally in the battle against Al-Qaeda, The News daily wrote a hard-hitting editorial entitled "Five Years of Nothing".

"Looking back it would be hard to say whether the years have been spent in something meaningful or constructive," it said. "Many would agree the world is a more dangerous place and the United States is nowhere close to winning the war on terror."

The US administration received some support from the media in Australia, where the government has been a staunch supporter of US policy since the 2001 attacks.

The Australian newspaper said terrorist strikes against Western interests since 9-11 in London, Madrid, Indonesia and elsewhere had left no doubt the world faced a concerted attack by extremists.

"Radical Islam is corrupting impressionable minds, encouraging disaffected youth and the newly converted with a poor understanding of faith to offer their lives as suicide bombers in what is essentially a political campaign."

In Thailand, The Nation said the impact of September 11 on Asia was much bigger than people wanted to admit, while in the Philippines the Manila Times said the damage was so great that many were still trying to cope.

"We are still shocked by the number of lives that were lost that day, close to 3,000. And we still remember how dread enveloped the world like a thick black shroud.

"But 9/11 left us with a deeper sense of loss, a loss of innocence. We are still trying to comprehend how hatred could drive people into a senseless act of violence. It is that loss that we find it hardest to get over."

article originally published at http://www.afp.com/english/news/stories/060911082127.vewm2psi.html.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey