Sept. 11 Anniversary: Sorrow and Anger Around the World
"It was not supposed to turn out this way," says the Daily Inquirer in the Philippines.
"Five years after the attacks of September 11, 2001," says Le Figaro (in French), "America has more enemies in the world than it had on any front. Who would have predicted that in the rush of solidarity which followed the nightmare of carnage?"
Sorrow and anger dominate the commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks in the international online media. As the New Straits Times in Malaysia reports, "newspapers across the world have strongly criticised the US response to September 11, accusing the Bush administration of bungling its 'war on terror' and squandering global goodwill by invading Iraq."
Only in the United Kingdom, Israel and Australia does post-Sept. 11 U.S. foreign policy find significant editorial support. Take for example this editorial from The Australian: "False security is the biggest danger" -- "The West is involved in a long and deadly struggle, a war on terror that cannot be wished away. Naysayers in Australia who play down the threat of terrorism against this country's citizens are ignoring the facts. Al-Qa'ida was already reaching into the region to target Australians as the planes slammed into the World Trade Centre."
Among other countries allied with the United States, disenchantment is pervasive.
"Looking back it would be hard to say whether the years have been spent in something meaningful or constructive," said the national daily. "Many would agree the world is a more dangerous place and the United States is nowhere close to winning the war on terror."
In European commentary, disenchantment with the United States is common. Germany's solidarity with U.S. has waned since Sept. 11, says Deutsche Welle.
"After the attacks on the USA in 2001, Germany's readiness to help knew no limits," says the the German broadcast network. "Five years later, this is no longer the case,"
The global ambitions of the Bush administration are especially lamented. For Spiegel Online, Sept. 11 is "The Endless Day" -- "Nine-Eleven" has entered the English language as a metaphor, an abbreviation even bigger than a millennial milestone: 9/11 broke through Fortress America, turning it into another country. George W. Bush has tried to turn the planet into another world. And failed."
"America's aims and ideals have been noble," says the Times of London, "but they have often been poorly articulated, and the execution of policy, particularly in Iraq, has been shamefully inept at times, at a huge cost to the reputation of the United States and its capacity to pursue worthy goals in the global arena. ... But it is wrong to conclude that this is what September 11, 2001, is all about."
"It allows us to avoid core issues that are uncomfortable to contemplate. How liberal can liberal societies afford to be? How "multi" a multiculturalism is wise? Is a clash of civilisations emerging?"
In the Arab online media, the tone is harsher. Five years after the attacks, the United States is feared more than al Qaeda and President Bush's call for a "crusade" in the aftermath of 9/11 still echoes.
Bush's "hasty retraction and weak explanation never really succeeded in explaining the expression away," say the editors of the Gulf News. "Nor have subsequent actions taken by the US government or its collaborators proved to be anything less than what was originally feared: a Christian Evangelist attack upon Muslims."
For the Arab News in Saudi Arabia, President Bush's war on terrorism "is simply an imperial war to subjugate whatever part of the world is in the 'against-America camp' -- and a sizeable portion of this anti-US population is in the Middle East. Today, exactly five years on, there is still international turmoil, but this turbulence must not be blamed solely on the murderous perpetrators of 9/11."
The editors of the Iran Daily say solidarity with the United States in the wake of the attacks now coexists with indignation.
"People who identify closely with western values and have also unequivocally condemned the killing of nearly 3,000 innocent people on 9/11, want to ask the American people two questions. How many more civilians outside the US must be killed because of the actions of your government and its false claims to make America safer? What makes your life more precious than that of Arabs and Afghans, hundreds of whom are being killed everyday with US bombs and missiles because they have different value systems and do not want to think like you?"
Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, columnist for the Saudi Arabian-based Asharq Alawsat, says that both the West and the Arab world have developed simplistic views of where terrorism originates: Westerners see "a problem linked to the loss of the means of expression" in autocratic Arab countries," while "the region's governments say it is the offspring of the missing justice in the Middle East, such as the Palestinian cause."
"The truth is that all of them are avoiding their direct responsibility by blaming the political climate, which is true as a whole but is not the core of the problem," concludes Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya television. "There is a contagious and dangerous disease in the region called extremism and it cannot be blamed on the lack of democracy or the Palestine cause alone."
In Israel, Jerusalem Post columnist Anshel Feffer says the United States needs to reorganize to combat militant Islam: "To be able to battle such a diverse and widespread enemy, the West has to set up a new NATO-like framework that will pool the necessary intelligence and resources and act as a true alliance, not merely as group of countries each helping the US in its own way, with varying degrees of reluctance," he writes.
Now is the time for the United Sates to change direction, says the Daily Star in Beruit: "A good start would be to draw a distinction between terrorists such as Al-Qaeda and legitimate resistance groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, whose aims are largely political and nationalist. Unlike Al-Qaeda, resistance groups have a territorial base and legitimate political grievances that can be resolved. Addressing these grievances through an even-handed peace process would go a long way toward making America safer."
In Asia, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of the U.S. response. In China, the government-controlled People's Daily asks "How has US anti-terror strategy lead to more terrorism?"
How 9/11 Hit Home in Other Countries:
The Hindu in India: "The Three 9/11's" -- "There were three 9/11s in history. The New York one of 2001. The neo-liberal one of Chile 1973 [when President Salvatore Allende was overthrown], and the non-violent one of 1906 -- Gandhiji's satyagraha in South Africa. The authors of all three tried to change the world. Two brought bloodshed, destruction, misery, and chaos. But the Mahatma's WMD -- Weapon of Mass Disobedience -- helped change the world for the better."
El Universal (in Spanish): For Mexico, "highly harmful" consequences -- "The change in the priorities of the American government relegated to us to a lower position, the increased rigor of the border monitoring caused serious incidents and our economic and commercial relation, already affected by loss of competitiveness with other nations, suffered the burden of big military expenses."
Radio Free Europe: "Crackdowns Loom Behind Central Asia's War On Terror" -- "The region's governments are cracking down on domestic dissent under the pretext of fighting terror."
Radio Netherlands: Dutch novelist Lydia Rood tells how 9/11 ended her marriage.
In Vietnam, the 5th anniversary of September 11 was noted on page 8 of the country's newspapers according to the Vietnam News Agency.
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