MARTIN WALKER: ...was that the death toll is raging in both places. They're dying in Afghanistan and they're dying in Washington.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The deaths in Washington seem to be exaggerated compared to those in Afghanistan.
MARTIN WALKER: Very much so, and I think it - I think this was simply a newspaper's way of trying to conflate the true stories, because there is growing concern around Europe a--about the effect of on-civilian casualties and the way in which what was already a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan is, is now being made very much more serious.
The-- in l-- in France Liberation is saying today the Gulf War and the air strikes against Serbia taught us that civilians are killed in such operations and this will come back like a boomerang.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:I find it interesting that the European press seems to conflate the bombing campaign and the anthrax here. Although President Bush tends to associate the anthrax with foreign terrorists there's been a lot of rumblings in the press that perhaps this was a homegrown terrorism showing its face.
Does anybody mull over that possibility in the European press?
MARTIN WALKER:Yes. In Denmark the, the newspaper Information was, was saying that we simply don't know the origin of, of the anthrax. We don't know if it was weapons-grade, if it was manufactured in some dark state dungeon of some dreadful malevolent power. They say the point is that it doesn't really matter. The three envelopes of anthrax spores have simply moved the focus back again. No more was needed. We're now aware of the very real greater dangers of bio-warfare.
I think I also detect a--among the Europeans a growing sense of unease that what ought to be an international coalition is looking more and more like a purely Anglo-Saxon one.
The French paper Le Monde was, was noting at the end of last week: So much for NATO. It looks like the Anglo-Saxons are going to war alone again. And after all the various offers of military assistance to President Bush from the French, from the Germans and from the Italians and Spaniards have been politely turned down for the moment.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And so the united front that we seemed to be perceiving at the beginning of all of this has already begun to crumble in places.
MARTIN WALKER:Well, indeed, Le Ton [sp?] of Switzerland has been warning that the military action had better get a move on. I quote: If successes don't come quickly and bin Laden is afowed [sic]--allowed to thumb his nose at his enemies, the risk of the Muslim world seeing him as a hero and martyr increases. There is no doubt that some of the regimes currently allied to the West could collapse if the conflict is drawn out.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:What about what the military calls "collateral damage." That is, the civilians -- and we don't know how many there are who have been killed during the recent bombing missions. Is this seen as the unavoidable cost of defeating Al Qaeda or is it cause for serious dissension and concern?
MARTIN WALKER: It's becoming a problem. I noted that Germany's Handlesblatt [sp?] which is their financial paper -- their sort of Wall Street Journal -- is noting rather glumly that, I quote, President Bush is reacting with the--the old reflexes of a superpower. Destruction alone will not bring Washington long-term stability in the region.
And they're saying that it's time for kind of a Marshall Plan for Asia under UN auspices.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Martin, astoundingly thorough as usual. Thank you very much!
MARTIN WALKER: Thank you.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Martin Walker is the chief international correspondent for UPI International. [MUSIC]