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Nations mark Sept. 11 with mixed feelings

Much support, but some fault US policy course

By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff, 9/12/2002

LONDON - The world paused yesterday to remember 9/11.

At St. Paul's Cathedral in London, 3,025 white rose pedals floated down from the dome of the historic church to commemorate each of the attack victims, 67 of whom were British citizens.

In Australia, thousands of people gathered in red, white, and blue t-shirts to form a huge US flag on Surfers' Paradise beach. Choirs from New Zealand to Moscow to American Samoa performed Mozart's ''Requiem'' in a rolling concert across 20 time zones to mark the moment the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

But compared with the warm embrace that so many countries wrapped around America one year ago, a shift could be felt in many corners of the globe, especially Western Europe.

It is a shift from raw sorrow and sympathy to a more complex sense of caution and concern. One year after the day the world changed, people want America to know they are worried about the way the only superpower is projecting itself in the post 9/11 era, especially its rhetoric of possibly going it alone in a war against Iraq.

Voices as diverse as South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, asked Americans to use the anniversary not only to mourn and stiffen their resolve in the war on terror, but also to take a long, hard look at themselves.

Schroeder, who has vociferously opposed the US hard-line policy on Iraq and ruled out German forces taking part if there is a war, said in a speech yesterday that the two countries had ''a deeply rooted friendship that endures despite current differences of opinion.''

He added, ''We will continue to do everything we can to be successful in the international fight against terrorism, without surrendering our own values.''

Protesters outside the US Consulate in Cape Town carried placards, one of which read, ''9-11: Self-inflicted because of US greed.''

A Soweto newspaper said in an editorial, ''An attack on Baghdad could revive anti-US sentiment and inspire further attacks on America or its friends - like Israel. That would be an insult to the victims of 9-11.''

Newspaper editorials across Europe reflected the shift.

The Paris daily Le Monde, which the day after the 9/11 attacks printed the headline ''We are all Americans,'' was filled with critical columns yesterday, one of which warned of a ''new American imperialism.''

Other editorials cautioned that if the United States goes it alone in Iraq it will risk unraveling the international coalition against terrorism that President Bush so carefully assembled in the aftermath of the attacks.

The liberal British newspaper, The Guardian, carried an editorial that took up the entire front page. It tried to spell out the unease with US foreign policy that has developed in Europe in the months since 9/11 as the Bush administration increasingly defined the world in simple terms of good and evil:

''The European press began to squirm uneasily at talk of evil, as if a wine and cheese party had suddenly turned into a Pentecostal revival meeting, and looked nervously round for the exit sign.''

Religious leaders offered prayers and theological views about how the world can move forward by looking inward at what lies behind the hatred that prompted these attacks.

At the Vatican, Pope John Paul II said that nothing can justify the ''barbarous and cruel'' attacks of 9/11, but he urged wealthy countries like the United States to put an end to world injustice that leads to ''explosions of revenge.'' The pope requested prayers of ''mercy and pardon'' for those who carried out the attacks.

The worldwide memorial services were a reminder that not only Americans died. Victims hailed from some 90 other countries.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the UN staff in New York: ''Today we come together as a world community because we were attacked as a world community.''

Regional differences influenced the commemorations. The rising anti-US sentiment in Western Europe is less prevalent in the former Communist countries, where both politicians and the public appear to be more receptive to White House arguments for regime change in Iraq.

In Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest, analysts say, Bush's call to oppose an ''axis of evil'' reminds people of former President Reagan calling the Soviet Union an ''evil empire'' - a statement derided in Western Europe, but which gave inspiration to those living behind the Iron Curtain.

''A lot of people here see the position of the United States as principled and correct,'' Jiri Pehe, a Prague-based political analyst who advises President Vaclav Havel, said in an interview.

In Japan, which lost 24 citizens in the attacks, public support of the United States was evident at a ceremony outside the US Embassy in Tokyo.

Last fall, Japan swiftly adopted temporary legislation that circumvented its pacifist constitution and allowed the country's Self Defense Force to provide overseas, non-combat aid to the US war on terrorism.

But Japanese public opinion is increasingly vocal against attacking Iraq. In a poll published last week by the leading Asahi Shimbun newspaper, 77 percent opposed military action against Iraq. The Daily Yomiuri newspaper yesterday also opposed an attack, saying, ''there is no guarantee that such an action will ensure global peace and stability.''

America's staunchest ally, with whom it shares bonds of history, language, and culture - is still Great Britain. That closeness was apparent yesterday in a ceremony at the historic Grosvenor Square in central London.

The square - where John Adams lived as the first US Minister to the Court of St. James and General Dwight Eisenhower had his headquarters as commander of the Allied forces - was the place where people piled bouquets, notes of sympathy, and makeshift shrines after 9/11.

New York Police Lieutenant Frank Dwyer presented British Home Secretary David Blunkett with a British flag found at ground zero. The flag was tattered and blackened in patches but intact.

US Ambassador William Farish told a crowd of several thousand: ''We gather here today to say thank you, again, to all those who rushed to our aid in America's darkest hour, and to all those who stood firmly by our side ever since.''

James Anderson, 67, a retired Royal Marine who was wearing his trademark green beret, seemed close to tears as he listened to the US Air Force band. He remembered seeing American soldiers in the square when he was a boy. ''World War II cemented a relationship between us,'' he said, ''and what happened on September 11th just made that bond stronger.''

At London's Heathrow International Airport, the world's largest air traffic hub, some British travelers worried that Washington is playing off the emotion of 9/11 to pursue a hawkish foreign policy.

Stephanie Morrell, 20, waiting for a friend to arrive from Madrid, said, ''It is going to be a very emotional day. ... But emotions can be dangerous.''

She said she is worried about US intentions in Iraq: ''After a year, we have to think about what is happening and where the emotions are leading us.''

Some saw signs that the United States is hearing the warnings.

''So many, many voices in the US are being raised to say, `America, let us engage in serious introspection. This is an opportunity for a hard look at ourselves.' That way lies the way to true greatness,'' said South Africa's Tutu, who delivered the main sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington.

Globe correspondents Brian Whitemore in Prague and Peggy Hernandez in Tokyo contributed to this story.

This story ran on page A24 of the Boston Globe on 9/12/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.





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