Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2001

Allies line behind Bush in war on terrorism

September 22, 2001

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— America's allies on Friday applauded President Bush's carefully worded call to fight terrorism but worried about setting off an uncontrollable cycle of retaliation.

Bush's message to the world during Thursday's address to Congress was clear "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

The speech brought a round of renewed vows from U.S. allies to do what they can to help win the war against terrorism though what exactly that war will entail remains a question mark.

"The most important thing is to demonstrate prudence," Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen told Parliament in a statement that was echoed by leaders worldwide. "The legitimacy of any actions is also important."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, leader of one of America's closest allies, expressed no reservations in declaring that his country stood ready to help the United States against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, believed to have killed more than 6,000 people.

"This is a struggle that concerns us all, the whole of the democratic and civilized and free world," said Blair, who watched the speech from the House gallery in a seat next to first lady Laura Bush. "I give you, on behalf of our country, our solidarity, our sympathy and support."

Bush emphasized that last week's jetliner attacks in New York City and Washington were not just strikes against America, but against the global community.

"This is the world's fight," Bush said.

Czech President Vaclav Havel said he agreed entirely with Bush's call for every nation to join in a war against global terrorism.

This "is not a war against a state, a nation, or a religion," Havel told reporters. "It is a war against terrorists."

But Bush's forceful demands were met with derision or anger in some parts of the world.

In the Middle East, defiant voices were raised mainly in mosques as Islamic clerics called America's newly declared war an attack on Islam.

"By God's will, the Americans will not have an upper hand on us," the Iraqi cleric Bakir Abdul-Razak said. "We call for jihad (holy war), and we defy you, the Americans."

Bush's speech also failed to mention or thank America's northern neighbors, many Canadians complained.

Radio call-in shows were buzzing in Toronto after the front page of the Toronto Sun newspaper blared: "Bush Snubs Us."

Prime Minister Jean Chretien's office shrugged it off. "If it is anything, it is an indication that our support goes without saying," said Francoise Ducros, a spokeswoman for Chretien.

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