Stand by America

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Series Details Vol.7, No.33, 13.9.01, p11 (editorial)
Publication Date 13/09/2001
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Date: 13/09/01

AS President Bush and the people of America try to come to terms with the horrific terrorist attack on their biggest city and capital, the unamimous expressions of support they have received from all over Europe may be of some small comfort to them at this terrible time.

For though there are issues that may divide the two great continents, they are trifling compared to what binds us together: our shared conviction in the fundamental values of freedom and democracy - and a common determination to defeat the evil of terrorism.

As we offer our prayers and deepest sympathy to the relatives of those who perished, we can only echo the Churchillian words of European Commission President Romano Prodi: "In the darkest hours of European history America stood close by us. Today we stand by America."

The shock and grief felt by many Americans is already turning to anger. That is entirely understandable. But we earnestly hope that any retaliation is targeted only at those proved to be responsible for Tuesday's outrage - or anyone harbouring them.

An attack on a member of NATO is an attack on every member of the Alliance. As European Voice went to press, Secretary-General Lord Robertson underlined this. We expect every NATO ally to help America hunt down those responsible and leave no stone unturned. When found, they should receive no mercy.

We support the call by Elmar Brok, the chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, for an immediate action plan using foreign aid, trade sanctions and military means against any countries which encourage terrorism.

But he is right to condemn the spectacle of western nations competing to woo rogue states in the hope of reaping the benefits of restored trade. And those who argue that Tuesday's attacks were a case of chickens finally coming home to roost in a country that has led the way in glamourising violence may have a point.

We prefer not to dwell on that now. Today, as America counts the enormous human cost of the attack on New York and Washington, Europe is right to stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in their darkest hour.

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