[EDITORIALS]Get It Over With Quickly

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[EDITORIALS]Get It Over With Quickly

Wednesday will mark the one-month anniversary of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan. America's decision to retaliate for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington was made after 26 days of deep consideration. As it began the air raids, Washington made it clear that the attack is not against Islam and Islamic civilization; the target is the terrorist groups and administrations protecting them. The entire world, both Islamic and non-Islamic countries, supported the U.S. retaliation against the terrorists and instigators. The only exception was Iraq, which openly criticized the move.

During the last month, the United States employed all possible measures such as Tomahawk cruise missiles, B-52 bombers and special forces to attack Afghanistan, but it has failed to strike a fatal blow to the Taliban regime and Qaida. Instead, anthrax was unleashed in the United States. As the war expanded, nonmilitary facilities such as food storage buildings of the Red Cross in Afghanistan were destroyed by accidental bombings and civilian losses, including children, are rising. The U.S. administration is being criticized by anti-war activists inside and outside the country.

Amid such difficulties, Al Jazeera aired a videotaped speech by Osama bin Laden on Saturday. He severely criticized Arab leaders who supported the United Nations and the United States. He called this war a religious war between Christianity and Islam, and urged Muslims to join the holy war.

Because Ramadan, the Islamic fasting month, is approaching, Mr. bin Laden seemed to want to stimulate anti-American sentiment of Muslims in order to turn the war into a religious one. Fortunately, most of the Arab nations are unlikely to withdraw their support for the United States, but a prolonged war will trigger anti-American and anti-war sentiment in Islamic regions. If the United States fails to understand public opinion in Islamic countries during Ramadan, an unexpected stir may arise.

The United States should make its best efforts to prevent the war from becoming a collision between civilizations and a religious war. It should end the war as soon as possible.
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