We aren't in this alone

BEFORE TUESDAY'S terror attack, the Bush administration had offended allies and others with unilateralist gestures over an array of issues. The message was that the United States is the world's only superpower, get used to it.

Since Tuesday, the administration's hawks have been turning to Secretary of State Colin Powell to line up help and solidarity. He has been immediately successful.

On a human and political level, the solidarity was there.

A day of mourning in Ireland, statements that "Today, we are all Americans" in several languages, a revised changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace -- all went out to Americans after the carnage.

And not just to Americans. Thousands of foreign nationals worked in New York's World Trade Center, and many are lost. Mourning in Japan and Australia, Ireland and Britain, China and Germany, is also for their own.

Prayer vigils will fill the Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy days this weekend, not only in the United States but worldwide. Donations of blood were made around the globe.

NATO has called the attack, if found to be foreign-originated, an attack against all its members. The Group of Seven economic leadership countries offered a meeting to shore up the world economy, which Washington found unnecessary at this time.

Pakistan's military-Islamic government is the leading sponsor of Afghanistan's revolutionary ruling Taliban. But Pakistan's strongman, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, promised his government's "fullest cooperation in the fight against terrorism."

No specifics were mentioned, but the likelihood of a request to use its air space in the event of a raid on Afghanistan is widely understood. Pakistan refused this in 1998, after the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. So the noose around the Taliban to extradite Osama bin Laden is tighter.

The Taliban's success last weekend in a suicide-bombing elimination or incapacitation of the anti-Taliban alliance leader, Ahmad Shah Masood, backfired. That coup, which some observers credited to bin Laden, led to a meeting in Dushanbe, capital of neighboring Tajikistan, yesterday. Russia, India, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan promised aid to the anti-Taliban alliance. The Taliban's problems increased.

A major threat to the West of the World Trade Center bombing is financial. World interdependence is palpable.

With the possibility that New York banks will be paralyzed until lower Manhattan returns to normal, the Federal Reserve Board made $50 billion available to European banks. This availability creates confidence, making the need less likely.

People with the means can, similarly, make a confidence-building gesture, when the stock market reopens, of buying, not selling.

This was an attack on humanity. It brought the world into sympathy and solidarity with the United States. To mobilize this against the forces of terrorism is the opportunity given to the Bush administration. It is an opportunity not to be squandered.

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