They may be brutes, but they're our brutes
By Paul Daley, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 October 2001
Nations throughout the world, many of them old and former foes of the United States, were quick to back President George Bush's war on global terror.

Some promised little more than moral support. Others agreed to let the US military operate within their borders or to help track Osama bin Laden's financial backers. Others were ready to open their intelligence vaults on the al-Qaeda network.

Following the apparently genuine public outrage so many world leaders expressed, it now emerges that their support for the US has been rewarded.

While a propaganda war has coincided with US military attacks on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the US, and now, it seems, Britain, have been locked in negotiations over the price of support from some of their new so-called allies.

A senior European diplomat said: "There are some serious concerns emerging here about the things the US, with British support, appear to have promised some of its partners in the coalition.

"While the means might sometimes justify the short-term ends in emergency diplomacy, you can also make pledges that can come back to haunt you as if suddenly there was a whole new set of rules after September 11 and now it's acceptable to make deals with anyone. The bad boys suddenly become good guys who you'll trust with your secrets and your guns."

Those countries include some about which the US, Britain and most European Union members have expressed human rights concerns. In recent years Britain's leaders have expressed dismay at apparently state-sanctioned human rights abuses against suspected Chechen rebels and civilians.

But in recent weeks sources say that Britain has privately told Russia's President Vladimir Putin it will crack down on Chechen exiles in Britain and stop moves by British Muslims to join the fight in Chechnya.

Although Iran severely criticised the bombing of Afghanistan, it then agreed to help rescue US personnel if they were shot down near its borders.

Diplomatic sources say the US and Britain are carefully considering Iran's views on the shape of a future Afghan government, and Britain has promised Tehran military equipment, including vehicles and night vision equipment.

Syria, previously classified as a terrorist state by the CIA because it produces biological weapons, has given in-principle support to the war against terrorism. This coincided with the US's decision not to use its veto to stop Syria becoming a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Just as the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, arrived in Oman a fortnight ago to discuss the deployment of US troops there, Washington announced it had approved the sale of military equipment, including fighter jets and navigation and missile targeting equipment.

Pakistan's decision to support the US is a threat to government stability there, but the country's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, was given some concrete reassurances, including the promise of emergency US military help to combat terrorism, or perhaps dissent.

The US and the European Union have agreed to more aid for Pakistan, and it is believed the US and Britain have agreed to reconsider the disputed Kashmir border.

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