President George W. Bush gave the Taliban a second chance Thursday night during a news conference, saying he would consider stopping military strikes if leaders turned over Osama bin Laden and all his cohorts.
“If you cough him up and his people today, we’ll reconsider what we’re doing to your country,” Bush said.
Bush said, however, that bin Laden is just one of 22 terrorists that the U.S. wants to bring to justice.
“Mr. bin Laden is one of the worst,” Bush said. “He’s just one person. He’s part of a network.”
J. Edwin Benton, a USF political science professor, said the second-chance offering to the Taliban could be an attempt by the president to save American lives.
“If we were to comply, it may be less treacherous and dangerous, and maybe even save American military lives,” Benton said. “These terrorists are gonna booby-trap everything they come across.”
Benton said Bush’s offer to the Taliban could have also been a way to draw more support from the American people at a time when the raids in Afghanistan are supposed to become more intense.
“When the body bags begin to come home, the American people may be rethinking what we’re doing,” he said.
Bush’s news conference from the East Room in the White House, came just hours after the FBI issued a warning to the American public that there could be more terrorist acts taken out on U.S. soil or at U.S. interests abroad in the next few days.Bush called U.S. military action in Afghanistan the “the first battle in the war of the 21st century,” and said that it isn’t a conventional war. He said the government is using unconventional tactics, such as freezing funds that help terrorists perform violent acts. He said he welcomes other countries to help in the effort, but said though diplomatic talk is great, he would much rather see action.
“I am interested in action and results,” Bush said. “If you want to join us to cut off the money, then show us the money.”Bush urged Americans to go about daily life but to be on the lookout for suspicious action and report such action to authorities.
“People need to be logical,” Bush said, after saying jokingly that if an American were to witness an individual getting into a crop duster that wasn’t theirs, to report it. “But I urge you not to use this as an opportunity to pick on someone who doesn’t look like you or share your religion.”
Bush ended his speech on an emotional note, asking every American child to donate a dollar for the children in Afghanistan.Bush said half the children in Afghanistan are hungry and one out of three Afghan children are orphans.
“The winter’s coming,” the president said. “By acting today, we can help these children survive.”
Susan MacManus, a USF professor and political expert, said Bush’s reaching out to America’s children was important.
She said it reminds her of stories her mother told her about World War II in which the government asked the people to donate leftover rubber and metal scraps for the war effort. She said that doing so “bonded that generation.”
MacManus said it was important for children to participate in this manner, because while most don’t really understand what’s going on now, they will be able to reflect on it in the future. She made her niece, who experienced a similar situation, an example.
“My niece drew a picture after the Oklahoma City bombing and it was published in a book that was given to the victims,” she said.
“And that had a major impact on her.”