The View From Overseas

October 7: U.S. planes strike Afghanistan. In Cairo, tightly controlled anti-U.S. and anti-Israel demonstrations at Cairo and Ayn Shams universities — but not at the American University in Cairo, where all eyes are on the student council elections or something. Widespread scorn of the "drop food with one hand, bombs with the other" policy.

That night, downtown traffic is briefly closed as President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak makes his way to the Opera building for a ceremony commemorating what Egypt considers its victory in the Oct. 6, 1973, war. He makes no immediate comment on the U.S. strike.

Oct. 12: A cloud of humid gray-yellow smog has settled over the city. I'm told it may stay for weeks. My Arabic class has learned the words for "airstrikes" and "anthrax" and "panic" — but not yet "demagoguery" or "radicalization."

On television, Al-Jazeera's tapes of Bin Laden's statements are shown once in full, thereafter edited down to the justice-for-Palestinians and stop-killing-Iraqi-children parts with which no one here disagrees. Close acquaintances are no longer embarrassed to say, as they never would have said a month ago: "You know, Osama has a point."

— Margaret Litvin

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The events that took place on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States unfolded before me live via CNN at approximately 11 p.m. Papua New Guinea (PNG) time.

Shock and sadness immediately filled my heart. Before my current job in PNG, I attended school and worked in New York City for seven years. Both of my parents were born in the Bronx so NYC has always been an important place to me and the skyline with both WTC towers has always been a part of my memory of NYC. Last December I took my fiancée to the top of the WTC towers. It was her first time overseas and she was very distraught about the fact that the huge building she visited is no longer there.

I feel very helpless because I am literally on the other side of the world and can do very little to help the city. Conversations with friends and relatives via telephone and e-mail frighten me. The nation seems jittery and many folks have admitted to me that they believe more attacks are on the way.

The American community in PNG is small. I have had little opportunity to commiserate with fellow Yanks. The expatriate scene here is dominated by Australians and all Aussies I've spoken with are outraged. The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, was in Washington during the attacks. I want to thank him and all Australians for their support. The comments PM Howard made from the Australian Embassy in Washington only hours after the attack were the most supportive and endearing comments any world leader made in response to the attacks.

Papua New Guineans are equally outraged. A memorial service was held in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea has pledged to support the United States in any way possible. Papua New Guineans have not forgotten the thousands of American lives lost during WWII on PNG soil during battles in Rabaul, Bougainville, and the Buna campaign. I thank them for their support.

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