November 30, 2001 11:00 pm

World will be watching

The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss.:

As the tyrannical Taliban gives up its last gasp in Afghanistan, plans for a new, more representative government are taking an encouraging turn: involving women.

Scenes of women rejoicing and throwing off their head-to-toe coverings as the West liberates the country have become frequent on the nightly news.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell wants to ensure oppressing women does not return.

At the White House last week, Powell said the U.S. position is that whatever government comes to power, the next leader must restore womens rights and give them a voice in government. ...

Tales of incredible oppression and brutality have surfaced in Afghanistan, including beating women for showing their faces in public, denying girls any form of education, and imprisonment, rape, torture and death for breaking the Taliban regimes moral rules. ...

But, with an increased presence of United Nations observers and an allied presence to help keep order, the way should be paved for a greater role for Afghan women in the formation and maintenance of government and society. ...

The world will be watching. A return to the oppression of the Taliban would be intolerable.

Bush should lead from middle

St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press:

President Bushs soaring leadership just after the terrorists set off this war is losing some of its life to partisanship and sweeping secrecy.

The White House would do well to internalize the idea that a wartime president, who enjoys high approval ratings from a patriotic public, is expected to lead from the middle instead of veering into base-coddling politics.

The next few weeks will prove critical in the war on the home front. There is a vast array of decisions to be made and policy to set as the government reorganizes and Congress grapples with far-reaching fiscal decisions. The power of the president, even in wartime, relies on the power to persuade democratic institutions that what he wants done is in the best interest. ...

Despite some excesses of rhetoric about the campaign against evil, Bush had risen to the imperative and was seeking support that transcended party or his pre-attack foreign aloofness.

He needs to regain that focus. Job number one is not helping his party hold on to the House of Representatives or boot the Democrats from their razors-edge control of the Senate. Job number one is to be the president of all the people at a time when bipartisan leadership is the only meaningful mandate. Bush must know when to say no to the specious claims of national security by self-serving supplicants and when to say yes to running as open an administration as is possible.

Dont pursue the impossible

Daily Telegraph, London:

After seven weeks the war in Afghanistan has entered a new phase, with the Americans deploying Marines near Kandahar and delegates from different ethnic groups gathering in Bonn to discuss a broad-based successor to the Taliban regime. These two developments underline the disparity between the military campaign, which has advanced swiftly, and political reconstruction, which appears more and more convoluted, partly because of success on the battlefield.

The prime coalition goals remain the capture or death of bin Laden and the final crushing of the Taliban. Beyond that, there is an allied interest in creating a polity hostile to the re-emergence of terrorism. But it will not be as democratic and cocooned from outside influence as the likes of Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, would have us believe. Washington and its allies should not become bogged down in a search for the impossible in Afghanistan. There are other centers of terrorism in the world urgently requiring their attention.