After an uncertain start, President George W. Bush has assumed the mantle of national leader more effectively following last week's terrible attacks in Washington and New York. But Mr Bush and his aides need to realise that he is more than the President of an angry United States; he also leads a superpower that must have willing friends and allies to make its anti-terror campaign succeed. Thus the President could find it helpful to be more judicious in his choice of words. Two recent examples come to mind. Speaking informally at the Pentagon on Monday, Mr Bush seemed to revert to the world of cowboy movies when he said, referring to Osama bin Laden, that 'there's an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, 'wanted: dead or alive' '. That gives an unwanted image of frontier justice at work, of a quest for revenge untroubled by much need for evidence. The President's remark probably went down well at the battered Pentagon and across a nation which understandably seeks retribution. But Mr Bush is not a Western gunslinger, and must avoid appearing so. The other Bush remark was his pledge to lead a 'crusade' against the terrorists. For the average American, that word may be interchangeable with 'campaign' or other sustained effort. But in the Middle East, where Mr Bush in particular needs support, the word has a different and terrible connotation - it refers to eight invasions of Muslim lands over two centuries by Christian Europe that created a long-lasting rift between the two religions. As modern historians note, the Crusades for the most part were bloody disasters for all concerned, inspired as much by greed as spirituality. Mr Bush probably could not have used a worse term when describing his plans to the Muslim world. Actions remain stronger than words, and US actions will largely determine who offers aid. But more careful phrasing could help.