No matter what changes America's new foreign policy on terrorism brings, the approach adopted by President George W. Bush will be influenced by pressure for a swift and concrete response. Politically, Mr Bush needs to respond in a way that is seen and heard by the American people. Given that his style of leadership in a time of crisis, especially when compared with that of New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, might not be perceived as strong or comforting, Mr Bush will be tempted to try to reassure the American people by responding with short-term and forceful objectives. The first step will be to establish crucial links with the prime suspect Osama bin Laden, and then, once the case is laid out, respond through the use of covert operations or diplomatic negotiations with different governments. If this doesn't produce the desired result, will Mr Bush yield to internal political pressure and use military force to launch a strike against non-complying nations harbouring terrorists and thereby potentially harm another country's innocent civilians in the course of a war? Although the world might support a short-term response, it might not be as keen to support other military measures. My fear is that if it is proved that bin Laden was responsible for this crime against humanity, he might not be solely responsible. And if the United States is too hasty, it might miss the chance to bring to justice all the perpetrators. To use a medical analogy, if you do not surgically remove all of a cancerous tumour, the disease might return. Many people already know this and recognise that terrorism is the hidden enemy. We will have to look for a long-term response rather than think of short-term solutions. In this new world, we will have difficulty finding this enemy. JOHN S. YEUNG Happy Valley The evil that men do comes in many guises. The terrorists who murdered thousands in America were patently evil, as are those who encouraged, financed and supported them. Evil, too, are those who upon hearing of the murders, danced joyfully in the streets, danced on the graves of innocents. But the most insidious form of evil is that which emanates from those who would excuse, mitigate or condone the acts of the murderers, whether or not accompanied by protestations of regret for the loss of innocent lives. Those who express sympathy for the murderers' loathsome causes, those who claim the murderers were driven to kill through desperation or some such facile rationalisation, those who seek to give the murderers an air of respectability, to cloak foul deeds with a veneer of superficial logic, they too are evil people. They seek to ameliorate the horror, to deflect the blame, by elevating the murderers from terrorists to 'militants' or 'activists' with a legitimate cause. By calling for sympathetic understanding for these murderers, they give comfort and encouragement to like-minded evil-doers. CLIVE GROSSMAN Pokfulam The United States has displayed its military power by calling up its reservist soldiers and threatening to declare war on countries aiding and abetting terrorists. I doubt if such tactics are the best way to exterminate terrorism. The simple solution is for the US Government to get to the core of the matter. It must ascertain exactly why terrorists target America. Some of these killers talk about 'ugly Americans', even though most Americans are actually kind, big-hearted and helpful. The killing of more innocent people in a retaliatory war is both senseless and cold-blooded. Retaliation begets more retaliation. Furthermore, how can you effectively exterminate an 'invisible' enemy? By understanding what makes some people so hostile to the US that they are willing to commit acts of terrorism, the administration in Washington can help to improve the image of the nation by implementing changes in policy. LIU YUNG Kowloon I read with distress the story on the front page of Monday's South China Morning Post (headlined 'HK terror link as 5 held in Macau') that five Pakistanis had been arrested 'for their suspected involvement with groups that could be connected with last week's terrorist attacks'. As a result of this prominently positioned story, the small Pakistani community has been subjected to instances of unnecessary hostility by otherwise friendly and polite Hong Kong people. This story was completely refuted by a report in yesterday's edition of the Post, which states the arrests were routine in nature and had nothing to do with terrorism. Given the unintended pain you might have caused, I would at least expect you to unreservedly apologise to the Pakistani community. SYED JAVED HASSAN Mid-levels The Editor replies: We regret any distress that was caused by Monday's report, which was based on accounts from normally reliable sources in Macau. However, we trust our subsequent reports have clarified the matter.