Stymied warmakers turn to Russia for support

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Sep 27 05:49:38 MDT 2001

NY Times, September 27, 2001

U.S. Says Military Strikes Are Just a Part of Big Plan
BRUSSELS, Sept. 26 — Facing some skepticism from NATO allies over going to
war to eradicate terrorism, the Bush administration said today that
military operations would not be the "primary piece" of its campaign.

At a meeting of NATO defense ministers that offered the administration a
first opportunity to convey detailed plans to the alliance, some European
states pressed for, but did not get, a detailed showing of evidence that
would justify any attack on Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network in Afghanistan.

Rudolf Scharping, the German defense minister, said he had expected Paul D.
Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, to arrive with a "white paper"
spelling out the evidence connecting terrorist acts to Al Qaeda.

But administration officials are still debating how much information to
make public since much of it rests on secret communications intercepts. The
allies had been led to expect more by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's
statement last Sunday that the government would "put before the world, the
American people, a persuasive case." 

After the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, NATO
invoked for the first time an article of its founding treaty that says an
attack on one member will be considered an attack on all. A sustained
alliance military campaign against terrorism seemed possible, but today Mr.
Wolfowitz said: "If we need collective action, we will ask for it. We don't
anticipate that for the moment." 

Before the NATO meeting, a senior Pentagon official told reporters that the
United States would ask the alliance for logistical, intelligence and other
support, but "the military piece is not the primary piece." 

Some American military planners expressed private frustration today about
the unattractive array of military options in war-torn Afghanistan, where
destitute refugees were reported to be in flight toward the sealed borders
of Iran and Pakistan. 

As a result, the Bush administration was being forced to broaden the scope
of its planning for a possible humanitarian disaster while also lowering
somewhat expectations for a major military campaign, officials said.
Expectations had been raised by a steady buildup of American troops and
aircraft in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.

"The people of Afghanistan are already beginning to suffer the humanitarian
consequences from this — just in anticipation of events," a senior Pentagon
official said, referring to possible military strikes against Mr. bin
Laden's network.

Russia has helped decisively in preparations for any military action in
Afghanistan and today it was rewarded. The United States, in a clear shift,
stated for the first time that the Al Qaeda network played a role in
inciting the bloody rebellion in the Russian territory of Chechnya, where
the Russian Army has been accused of using indiscriminate force against
civilians and committing numerous human rights abuses in putting down the

Mr. Wolfowitz provided an overview of the administration's case against Mr.
bin Laden, but did not go into detail, officials said. 

In public remarks, Mr. Wolfowitz said the "evidence is there for the whole
world to see."

"Many of the people in this room watched it live on television," he said,
referring the images of aircraft crashing into the World Trade Center.
"There is no question that the Al Qaeda organization has been convicted in
courts of law for acts of terrorism, including the bombing of our embassies
in East Africa." 

The desire of some ministers for more evidence caused tension, but in the
end there was at least public backing from the allies for the
administration's antiterror campaign.

Still, as Mr. Wolfowitz explained that the United States would seek
different kinds of help from NATO states, some worried that the American
approach could lead to a wider war. "Most people in Europe would like to
see that only the ones who are found guilty are hunted down and penalized,"
one NATO official said.

The NATO secretary general, Lord Robertson, questioned whether it was even
necessary for "an ally to produce evidence." 

Even as administration officials voiced confidence that Mr. bin Laden was
guilty, they seemed less sure that he could be brought to justice simply by
military strikes. 

"The diplomatic instrument with the intelligence instrument with the
military instrument," a senior administration official said, "are much more
effective than any one of them individually." It is important to
understand, the official emphasized, "that if we take military action, one
of the major objectives of that action will be to get more information;
there is nothing more important in this war than information." 

Administration officials said today that they were urgently trying to
marshal food aid for the Afghan people.Just a week ago, White House
officials were opposed to efforts to send more aid, saying it would fall
into the hands of Taliban fighters.

The International Monetary Fund today approved a $135 million loan
installment for Pakistan in a sign that economic policy was being used to
shore up critical allies. 

The shift in the administration's Russia policy was first announced at the
White House, when Mr. Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, delivered a strong
expression of gratitude and support to the Russian president, Vladimir V.
Putin, for aligning Russia with the United States against terrorism. In
doing so, another senior Bush administration official said, "We know that
Al Qaeda has exploited the war in Chechnya, may have even helped to provoke

These remarks showed how much importance the Bush administration attached
to Mr. Putin's identification with the Western cause. Russia agreed to open
air corridors and played a decisive role in persuading Central Asian states
to open bases for military and relief operations on Afghanistan's northern

Mr. Fleischer's remarks were a sharp reversal of Mr. Bush's tone on
Chechnya. During the presidential campaign, Mr. Bush said that
international financing for Russia should be cut off because of Mr. Putin's
crackdown in Chechnya. "This guy, Putin, who is now the temporary
president, has come to power as a result of Chechnya," Mr. Bush said in a
television interview in February 2000. Mr. Putin dealt with Chechnya in a
way "that's not acceptable to peaceful nations," he said. 

At a meeting with Muslim leaders today, Mr. Bush stopped short of Mr.
Fleischer's comments, saying that Mr. Putin should "deal with the Chechnya
minority in his country with respect" for human rights. 

"I would hope that the Russian president while dealing with the Al Qaeda
organization also respects minority rights within his country."



Louis Proyect
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