Daily Update

In Brief

Shifting their attacks to Taliban troops, US airstrikes targeted barracks, garrisons, and encampments in Kabul, Kandahar, and Jalalabad. The propaganda battle between President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden intensified. Americans struggle to find normalcy one month after Sept. 11, an anniversary Washington and New York are using to honor the heroes and victims of the terrorist attacks.

"Conditioning the environment"

Striking targets deep in Taliban territory, US fighter planes blasted targets near Kabul, in what The New York Times says is the biggest attack yet on the Afghan capital. In what a British official described as "conditioning the environment," US forces, which the Los Angeles Times reports are deploying troops to Pakistan, struck military academy and artillery units in an efforts to weaken Taliban troop strength. The campaign, which also hit Jalalabad and Kandahar, claimed 115 lives, according to Taliban figures, including two relatives of leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, profiled in The Christian Science Monitor Wednesday.

MSNBC reports that refugees fled the bombing, but the Monitor says they're finding little hospitality in Pakistan. According to The Washington Post Mr. bin Laden may "own" the Taliban, so he's not persona non grata yet. But Afghans, facing the prospect of a humanitarian crisis are beginning to question their own legendary culture of hospitality, the Monitor reports.

US ground troops, for their part, aren't expecting a welcome mat. Teaming up with the anti-Taliban forces of the Northern Alliance could be tricky business, the Monitor reports. But as CNN's military desk briefing puts it, "You've got to get boots on the ground."

Are the Russians coming? DebkaFile, an Israeli site, claims military informants say three Russian armored brigades "are now poised on the outskirts of Kabul, planning to enter the Afghan capital ahead of US forces." This report echoes reports from Kavkaz-Center a Chechen rebel site, which says, the "basic target of the military presence of Russian soldiers in Afghanistan is participation in post war formation of the government, which must happen after removal of Taliban and planned occupation of Kabul." The post-Taliban era is something the US must also consider, the Monitor's Helena Cobban writes.

It's just war

Is war just? The Monitor explores the concept of "just-war" doctrines within different faiths. Even though only a minority of Americans are calling for peace, National Public Radio's Scott Simon argues in the Wall Street Journal that even pacifists must support this war. "It is better to sacrifice our ideals than to expect others to die for them," Mr. Simon writes. Share your thoughts in our MonitorTalk forum.

Getting out the message

Bin Laden may be hiding in caves, but experts are marvelling at his sophisticated command of propaganda techniques, The Washington Post reports. But even experts aren't sure what to make of pro-bin Laden posters that incorporate an image of an evil-faced Bert, the popular Sesame Street character, FoxNews reports. But to guard against communicating secret bin Laden codes to his supporters, the White House and five major news networks agreed to edit his broadcasts. Slate's William Saletan says the White House, which struck a compromise over classified briefings to Congress, should concentrate on answering the obvious falsehoods bin Laden did communicate. Bush, in fact, USAToday reports, may grant an interview with the controversial Al-Jazeera network, which reaches an estimated 35 million Arabs. Islamic leaders are also struggling to fine-tune their message. At an emergency meeting in Qatar, 56 Islamic foreign ministers offered a qualified condemnation of the terrorist attacks, but warned the US against "targeting any Islamic or Arab state under the pretext of fighting terrorism." According to the Monitor, the declaration was a clear nod to the Palestinians and countries like Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. A Washington Post editorial accuses moderate Arab leaders of trying to have it both ways by "backing both the military action of the US alliance and the political position of Osama bin Laden." That political position could find strength in new poll numbers reported by The Jerusalem Post. Eight-nine percent of Palestinians, the Post says, oppose American strikes against Afghanistan, saying they're "unjustified."

The media have also wrestled with their message. After the initial debate over the proper use of phrase "terrorist," the media are examining their coverage of the Muslim community. Amitai Etzioni, writing in the Monitor says the media deserve credit for helping suppress anger directed toward Muslims. The Detroit Free Press has produced a journalist's guide that features answers to 100 questions about Arab Americans. Robert Malley, writing in The Washington Post tackles the question issue of faith and terror. "There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism," Mr. Malley sates. "There are Muslims who happen to be angry and terrorists who happen to be Muslim. That is a distinction that makes all the difference." Religion expert Charles Kimball answered questions about Islamic fundamentalism for the Monitor's online edition.

Returning to normal

Sept. 11 ushered in a changed world, the Monitor asserted soon after the attacks. Now the Monitor explores how Americans are seeking normalacy in their lives. For one thing, Americans' love affair with reality TV may be ending. But New York may prove to be the real survivor, despite rebuilding costs up to $105 billion. The New York Times's William Safire pays homage to the attitudes that will serve Americans well in the coming months. "A way to deal with the present jitters," he writes, "is to recognize that great good can grow out of combat with evil." Some of those jitters, the Monitor's lead editorial argues, can be reduced if the Bush Administration provides more examples of what Americans can actually do to help create a "national neighborhood watch."

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