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What U.S. newspapers are saying

Feb. 26, 2002 at 8:59 AM   |   Comments

New York Times

The best hope for Afghanistan's long-term security, the Bush administration says, lies in the establishment of a trained, well-armed multiethnic military under a central government in Kabul. The best contribution the United States can make, it adds, is to help build that force. We agree on both points. The problem is that this will take one to two years. In the meantime, chaos beckons.

Some 4,000 international security troops, led by the British, are in Kabul, where, thanks to their efforts, a semblance of order prevails, with the markets and streets filling again with people. Beyond the capital, however, there are signs that the country is starting to succumb to ethnic rivalry and insecurity. Regional warlords are reasserting themselves, posing challenges to the authority of the interim government. ...

Disorder and a resumption of tribal conflict could recreate the very conditions that led the United States to intervene in Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11. To prevent that possibility, Washington should lead the way in persuading the international community to expand the peacekeeping force beyond the capital. ...

The United States must make clear that a secure Afghanistan is a top priority. It may not wish to offer troops right now for an international force, but it should be willing to help pay for those from poorer countries and leave open the possibility of playing a more direct role later, if necessary. After the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan in 1989, no country came to its aid. Afghan warlords clashed, creating such chaos that many outsiders, including the United States, at first welcomed the Taliban as a pacifying force. The failure to stay engaged in Afghanistan led directly to Sept. 11. It is not an error we should commit again.


Washington Post

The death of one of Africa's most powerful and implacable warlords, Angola's Jonas Savimbi, has created a rare opportunity for progress in a nation that ought to be rich instead of ravaged. Twice the size of Texas, Angola has an abundance of oil and diamonds, but for decades the wealth they generate has been diverted into a grinding and largely senseless civil war between Mr. Savimbi and the government headed by his longtime nemesis, Jose Eduardo dos Santos. At least 500,000 Angolans have died in the fighting, and tens of thousands more have been maimed by land mines; despite more than $8 billion in annual exports, 75 percent of the population is impoverished, and 4 million of its 13 million people have been driven from their homes.

Now Mr. Savimbi is gone, killed by government forces in an ambush last week after 35 years of fighting. His passing should prompt Mr. dos Santos, who is in Washington to meet President Bush today, to take aggressive steps to end the fighting and make a genuine start at reconstructing the country. ...

Mr. dos Santos also should demonstrate to his people and to the world that he is capable of beginning the process of Angola's reconstruction. For years his government has frustrated international financial institutions with its refusal to be accountable for how it spends its oil revenue; in addition to the billions poured into the war effort, billions more may have been diverted to offshore accounts. To succeed, a renewed peace process in Angola must be accompanied by a firm agreement between the government and the International Monetary Fund that ensures that a fair share of Angola's wealth at last begins to reach its own long-suffering people.


Washington Times

In the wake of the killing of UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in Angola over the weekend, the Bush administration is wasting no time putting Africa into sharper focus. Today, President Bush is meeting with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and President Festus Mogae of Botswana to discuss how peace can be established in the region. This summit signals the White House's understanding of the potential impact of Mr. Savimbi's death and the need for quick U.S. engagement in Angola.

As the head of the UNITA rebel group, Mr. Savimbi was one of the main combatants in Angola's 27-year-long civil war. Since Mr. Savimbi wasn't fond of competition, he was the sole driving force in UNITA, and his death has created a power vacuum that could cause the group to splinter. If UNITA degenerates into a disparate group of feudal warlords, a negotiated peace to the ongoing conflict could be elusive and violence could escalate. For this reason, it is critical that the dos Santos government move quickly to demonstrate it will embrace a truly pluralistic democratic process in Angola and will give UNITA leaders a fair opportunity to further their aims through political means. The Bush administration must unequivocally tell Mr. dos Santos that he must negotiate the date for new democratic elections with UNITA. Furthermore, Washington should pledge assistance in helping the democratic process along in Angola. ...

Surely, the death of Mr. Savimbi will test the dos Santos government in new ways. Mr. dos Santos had been able to justify his repressive tactics and profligate military spending on the conflict with UNITA. The Bush administration must also look closely at how African conflicts are feeding off each other. Mr. dos Santos has formed an alliance with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent it from harboring Mr. Savimbi's fighters. The Congo, in turn, has joined forces with the governments of other conflict-ridden countries, such as Zimbabwe. Mr. Bush must address these destructive relationships today during the summit meeting. Mr. dos Santos can no longer point to Mr. Savimbi to justify his alliance with these governments, his crackdown on freedom or his spending on his war machine. Mr. Bush must make clear that Mr. dos Santos' commitment to peace will be tested -- and watched.


San Antonio Express-News

When President Bush travels to South America in late March, he will find a region that, despite recent political and economic reforms, is still on shaky ground.

Nowhere has that been more evident the last few weeks than in Argentina and, especially, Venezuela.

In Argentina, massive street protests have become a way of life. Millions of people are fed up with the way the government has handled the nation's economy.

In Venezuela, an even worse crisis seems to be brewing. For three weeks, there has been growing pressure on President Hugo Chávez to resign. ...

Although Chávez won by a landslide -- 80 percent of the vote -- his popularity has sunk since he took office. And no wonder. He approved many populist policies for which his government cannot pay. ...

In the international arena, Chávez has alienated traditional allies, including the United States, while befriending totalitarian regimes, such as Cuba, Iraq and Libya, and embracing leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.

If the Venezuelan leader does not change his authoritarian ways, he could throw his nation into the kind of turmoil not seen since the last dictator, Marcos Pérez Jiménez, was overthrown 44 years ago.

Even with that worsening situation, the United States, while monitoring events in Venezuela, should not become directly involved.

The last thing Washington needs is a nation of 24 million people who, despite being unhappy with Chávez, might resent U.S. meddling even more.


Orlando Sentinel

President Bush's greenhouse-gases proposal is a small step in the right direction.

President George W. Bush's new proposal for limiting greenhouse gases ought to be recognized for what it is: an incremental plan to slow the growth of emissions blamed for global warming, not reduce these pollutants. It's a step in the right direction, but only a small one.

Greenhouse gases are emitted whenever fossil fuels are burned. They act as insulators in the atmosphere, sealing in the Earth's heat. Last year, Mr. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which would require that the United States and other industrialized nations cut greenhouse-gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2012.

The president's action infuriated supporters of the treaty around the world, but it was a nod to political reality at home. The U.S. Senate, which ratifies treaties, voted 95-0 against Kyoto's approach. ...

Mr. Bush has at least acknowledged the threat of global warming by offering his proposal. He has left plenty of room for more action, somewhere between his voluntary measures and Kyoto's mandates.


Orange County Register

We didn't want to believe it would happen and we still don't want to believe it has happened. But too much time was passing and the evidence has mounted tragically. CIA and FBI officials have told news outlets they are in possession of a grisly video showing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl being killed with a knife.

The Journal has issued a public statement expressing profound, "heartbroken" grief over his killing. The barbarism of Daniel Pearl's kidnapping has now been compounded by the barbarism of his cruel killing. Anger, grief, a bit of fear, compassion for his family, determination, confusion, almost astonishment - the emotions tumble over one another in a cacophony of mourning.

What could these people possibly have thought they would accomplish by killing a reporter? By all accounts Mr. Pearl, who had been the Journal's South Asia bureau chief for the last year, was not only a determined and resourceful reporter but a kind and multi-faceted human being. "A musician, a writer, a story-teller and a bridge-builder, he was a walking sunshine of truth, humor, friendship and compassion," is how his family described him in a statement. His wife is seven months pregnant with the couple's first child.

Our hearts go out to her and to all who knew Danny Pearl. We just hope the Pakistani authorities have the real perpetrators and deal with them fairly but without false sentimentality.


Minneapolis Star-Tribune

The death of legendary Angolan rebel Jonas Savimbi cracks a small window of opportunity for peace in the troubled southwest African nation. But to fully open the door, the international community and other African nations must help broker both an end to the civil war and to better government.

During more 27 years of bloody internal fighting, Savimbi repeatedly blocked peace efforts -- either by failing to show up at talks or ignoring cease-fire deals. Once a key general in his nation's liberation struggle against the Portuguese, he always believed he was the heir apparent to the presidency.

Gunned down by government troops on Friday, he will be remembered more for his stubborn, desperate quest for power than for his early promise. Back in the 1960s, Savimbi was a bright, charismatic young medical student who completed training in Switzerland, France and China. He studied military strategy under Mao Zedong, then returned to Angola to help free his homeland from Portugal. ...

Today (Tuesday), President Bush is scheduled to meet with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos in Washington. Bush should use the opportunity to offer additional U.S. help in peace talks. Secondly, Bush must pressure Santos for more honesty and transparency from government and businesses. Angola is the second largest oil-producing nation in Africa, generating 800 million barrels per year. But oil giants such as Chevron, Texaco and Exxon-Mobil refuse to disclose their financial dealings with Angola. It is widely believed that much of the oil income ends up in the pockets of government leaders.

Savimbi's death removes one of the obstacles to a peaceful and more stable Angola. Now the country needs good statesmen, diplomats and international help to handle the others.


Baltimore Sun

For the sake of argument, let's forget for a moment about achieving justice. From a strictly practical point of view, will the war-crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic make things worse in the Balkans?

Plenty of Serbs think so. And, with the trial barely two weeks old, so do a growing number of those who worry that reconciliation may never gain a foothold in the former Yugoslavia.

Their reasoning goes like this: Mr. Milosevic is doing a surprisingly effective job of defending himself, skillfully playing into Serbs' resentments and fears that the whole world is against them. Rather than summoning up feelings of shame or regret toward his former victims -- Croats, Bosnian Muslims, Kosovar Albanians he's whipping up the old Serbian hatreds and grievances instead. ...

Yesterday (Monday), Mr. Milosevic told the court, "I see somebody who is not guilty must prove he's not guilty here." That came after a prosecution witness testified that Serb fighters had burned a paralyzed woman alive in Kosovo in 1999, had murdered a baby and had razed nearly the entire village of Landovica.

The worriers fear that the trial will inflame passions. And so it may, and not just among Serbs. But progress and reconciliation in the Balkans will not come from forgetting. They will come from justice -- and that, after all, is what this trial is really about.


Boston Herald

The major suspect in Pakistani custody in the kidnapping of journalist Daniel Pearl had been secretly indicted in the United States and his arrest and extradition requested even before the kidnapping. This gives the United States good grounds for taking over the prosecution of the man believed to have masterminded the kidnapping.

There is no U.S.-Pakistani extradition treaty, but U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin said she will discuss the possible handover of the suspect, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (Tuesday).

Saeed should be indicted again in the Pearl case. But the earlier indictment, on charges arising from an attempted kidnapping of an American and three other tourists in India in 1994, could be the handle to grab Saeed quickly. ...

A U.S. trial could be very useful for Musharraf. U.S. custody of Saeed and his accused helpers could be fruitful for U.S. intelligence. This should be our ambassador's goal.


Christian Science Monitor

President Bush's trip to Asia last week was designed to patch up a few ripped relationships. Now he needs to look across the Atlantic, where Europe's post-Sept. 11 solidarity with the United States is fraying fast.

The threat of terrorism is proving not to have the same diplomatic glue as Soviet missiles. Instead, Europe suddenly feels bullied, ignored, and inferior.

Mr. Bush's massive budget for the Pentagon has reinforced a feeling among NATO's European members that they are military ants, whose armies aren't worthy of participating in wars alongside the United States, even like those against the Taliban. Far behind in weapons technology, Europe fears it is becoming irrelevant in U.S.-led global diplomacy.

Bush's speech labeling Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" has upset Europe's leftist leaders, who prefer to appease those nations with diplomatic and economic carrots rather than threaten them with the stick of preemptive military strikes.

Europe also sees imperial hubris in Bush's dismissal of the Kyoto Protocol, Antiballistic Missile Treaty, and part of the Geneva Conventions. ...

The cries of anti-U.S. resentment heard from Europe are partly emotional, but also partly a concern that the United States is molding a new world too much in its own interests, noble as they may be. Treating Europe as an equal can help refresh an old alliance.


(Compiled by United Press International.)

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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