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What U.S. newspapers are saying

Feb. 18, 2003 at 11:26 AM   |   Comments

New York Times

The most hawkish figures in the Bush administration never wanted to bring the Iraq issue before the United Nations. With last Friday's show of resistance in the Security Council to early military action against Baghdad, it's easy to imagine some of them saying "I told you so," and urging President Bush to bypass the Council and prepare for an invasion joined only by Britain and a narrow coalition of smaller nations. That would be a damaging mistake.

Walking away from the U.N. and important European allies over this issue is not in America's long-term interests. Iraq's unconventional weapons aren't a uniquely American problem, but an international one. And while the United States does not need broad international support to prevail on the battlefields of Iraq, it will need plenty of help from Europe and the Arab world in managing the consequences of military action, including rebuilding Iraq. ...

It would be a mistake not to recognize that French, German and other diplomats opposing an immediate resort to force are acting not simply out of personal pique and resentment of American power. Antiwar demonstrations across the world last weekend revealed widespread public misgivings. Many people who don't dispute that Saddam Hussein is a brutal tyrant and acknowledge his record of building fearsome weapons and deceiving U.N. inspectors still feel that the case for urgent military action has not yet been persuasively made. Significantly, Europe's biggest demonstrations were in Britain, Spain and Italy, the three countries whose leaders have shown the most inclination to join Washington in military action. Large majorities in America as well as Europe say they want military action against Iraq to proceed only with Security Council endorsement.

Mr. Bush should heed these views and work with the Security Council to win support for a new resolution. The potential consequences of war with Iraq are far too serious to take on without broad international and domestic support.


Christian Science Monitor

A CIA report that North Korea may have a long-range rocket that can strike the US West Coast provides yet another reason for China to rein in its troublesome ally.

Chinese leaders have openly rebuffed President Bush's request that they exercise their clout over economically ailing North Korea, which receives nearly half of its foreign aid from its giant (and fellow communist) neighbor.

Russia, which has residual post-Soviet ties with Pyongyang, appears willing to help the US in dealing with the wily Kim Jong Il. Why not China?

Perhaps Chinese leaders know Mr. Kim won't take his threats against the US too far. Any serious provocation by North Korea against Americans would likely lead to quick annihilation of Kim's regime.

Kim has trapped himself by creating new weapons for diplomatic clout, only to face a Bush policy of preempting such threats. Kim's survival tactics now threaten his own survival. ...

China may see North Korea as a containable nuisance, as France and Germany see Iraq.

But Beijing should beware of losing its cordial ties with the United States if Washington's frustrations build over Beijing's lack of cooperation on North Korea. That frustration is already evident in Washington's reported development of a sanctions plan against North Korea.


Cleveland Plain Dealer

Days after the attacks of Sept. 11, Congress rushed into law a vast expansion of governmental investigative powers called the "Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001," known by its laboriously formed acronym -- the Patriot Act.

Lawmakers have had 16 months to consider some of the follies they committed in so hastily approving that reactionary legislation, especially the infringements -- all in the name of national security -- it effects on individuals' Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.

Now comes word that the Justice Department has drafted the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. No stirring acronym here. Just more potentially dangerous intrusions on liberty in the name of security. ...

Fear of the unknown drove passage of the Patriot Act. Fear of losing basic constitutional freedoms should rein in its sequel before further damage is done.


Daily Oklahoman

Hispanics have become so much a part of everyday U.S. culture that the signs of their influence are everywhere.

Marketers are promoting their products en español or in "Spanglish," a combination of English and Spanish. Hollywood is doing the same in movies. Latino singers like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias and Christina Aguilera are considered mainstream.

Adults are lining up to take Spanish conversational classes; the language is the second most spoken in the United States. Sesame Street's new format includes a Spanish word of the day. A popular animated program among preschoolers, "Dora the Explorer," stars a bilingual Latina girl who speaks English but frequently uses Spanish words and phrases on her quests.

The Hispanic, or Latino, influence surfaced years ago in the culture. Now population statistics are showing us por qué, or why. ...

Should the U.S. grant amnesty to all illegal aliens living here now, as it did in 1986? Or will doing so create an additional drain on public services as growing numbers sneak across the border to join their families already in the country?

Is the U.S. responsible for educating illegal aliens? Providing health insurance to them? Giving their children who grew up here but aren't recognized as legal residents the opportunity to go to college?

Do Spanish-speaking students fare better in bilingual or in English-only classes?

This country will continue to grapple with these and other questions as the Hispanic population grows. A mixture of compassion and common sense is needed to resolve them.


Dallas Morning News

Venezuela's two-month general strike hasn't so much ended as fizzled. Some merchants, trade unionists and petroleum workers are bravely keeping up the fight. Nonetheless, in practical terms, the issue is decided. President Hugo Chávez, the erratic leftist and bosom friend of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, has won. He has successfully stiff-armed the opposition's demand that he quit or call an early election.

But what has Mr. Chávez won? Petroleum exports, the lifeblood of Venezuela's economy, are one-third of their normal volume, which accounts to a large degree for the recent upward spike in Texas gasoline prices. Motorists in "the Saudi Arabia of South America" are waiting in line to buy gasoline. Mr. Chávez's backward controls of prices and foreign currency are stoking inflation and black-market trading and helping to push the economy - once Latin America's richest - to the edge of collapse. His unpopularity rating is consistently in the dismal 70 percent range. Civil war threatens. ...

Given his victory and the depth of his megalomania, he may be less inclined than ever to bargain.

Still, the United States should prod him to accept the good escape afforded by law - a plebiscite in August, the midway point of his six-year term, on whether he should remain in power. ...

The odds are very great that Mr. Chávez would lose a plebiscite, in which case the armed forces probably would make absolutely sure that he leaves. Six months is not too long to wait for that desirable outcome.


Denver Post

Last weekend's massive European protests against a possible U.S.-led war on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's rogue regime shouldn't make President Bush back down from doing the right thing.

Foreign policy and the best interests of the United States shouldn't be a popularity contest. At the same time, however, the White House obviously needs to do a better job of salesmanship to get Europeans to understand the threat to world peace that Hussein poses and to marshal the resolve to strip him of his horrible arsenal of weapons. ...

We need to remind Europeans that the laws of physics haven't been repealed: Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and the limited range of his missiles pose more of a threat to them than to the U.S.

Washington should go the extra mile to increase the number of U.N. inspectors, but with the caveat that a firm deadline be set (in weeks, not months) in hopes that such an ultimatum can force Hussein to disarm without war.

But Europe must realize that, if all else fails, war may be necessary to rid the world of Hussein's dreadful weapons.


Washington Times

Country by country, Latin America is boiling over. From the fatal police-military clash last week in Bolivia, to the ongoing social upheaval in Venezuela and economic calamity in Argentina, the region is showing signs of distress. Paraguay, Ecuador and Uruguay are tottering financially.

While the Bush administration has wisely made its pursuit of terrorists its first priority, the problems in Latin America have grown severe enough to merit the attention of the White House. ...

The Bush administration is certainly on the right track in adopting measures that will allow Latin America to develop economically in the long-term. But it also should consider granting the region more immediate tariff relief, given the scale of current economic.

While Latin America's current economic crises are certainly troublesome, the Bush administration must steer clear of such quick fixes as bailouts, which certainly could cause more problems in the long term. Those troubled nations would best be served with foreign aid that focuses on micro and small businesses -- rather than large-scale public works projects, for example. The United States clearly has a stake in Latin America's present and future, as Mr. Bush seemingly is aware.


Salt Lake Tribune

Homeland Security officials put the nation on "orange" alert last week, signifying that the risk of terrorist attacks is "high." But what, exactly, does that mean to Americans in their daily lives?

Apparently, it means that we're all supposed to run to the hardware store to buy duct tape and plastic sheeting. Other than that, there was no discernable effect on civilian preparedness or behavior.

And that, we submit, is a problem.

If the purpose of this alert system is to put the American people into action, then the American people need to know what action they are supposed to take.

Otherwise, the whole exercise is pointless.

In fact, it may be worse than pointless. It may be counterproductive, because if Americans go on alert often enough, with no guidance from their government about what to do, and no apparent consequence, they will learn to ignore the alerts. ...

Rather than issuing meaningless, color-coded alerts, Homeland Security officials should brief the American people on what the comparative risks of various kinds of attacks are (chemical, biological, nuclear and conventional), what specific actions people should take in the event of each, and what basic supplies and plans they should prepare at home.

Be specific. And leave the color schemes to home decorators.


Raleigh News-Observer

News coverage of weekend demonstrations in capitals from Rome to Raleigh produced close-up pictures that gave the opposition to looming war a human face. In doing so, the marchers -- who must have numbered in the millions, all told -- performed a valuable service. Those who would forge ahead into battle with Iraq need to have the face of noncombatants in sharp focus. ...

President Bush and his supporters surely have heard the calls to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. They hold to their conviction that Saddam poses a threat warranting the use of force. In that regard it was heartening to hear Bush's hawkish national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, defending people's right to protest. ...

The worst mistake the insulated, brutal dictator could make would be to conclude, on the basis of the weekend's outpouring of antiwar fervor, that the world is on his side. That's not it at all. But many the world over are hungry for peace.


Providence Journal

One of the poignant aspects of the war in Bosnia, which produced more atrocities than Europe had seen since Stalin's and Hitler's time, was that the country itself is stunningly beautiful. The backdrop to mass graves closely resembles the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Slovenia, next to Austria, contains the surpassingly beautiful Julian Alps. The Dalmatian coast of Croatia has been a resort since Roman times.

The name Yugoslavia, which means "South Slavia," dates to 1929, when the autocratic King Alexander abolished the constitution and renamed what had been quaintly called the "Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes."

For the next 74 years, Yugoslavia's history was frequently horrific. ...

The recent news that the rump of Yugoslavia that remained after Bosnian, Croatian, Macedonian and Slovenian independence will now call itself the "Republic of Serbia and Montenegro" gives the term "former Yugoslavia" a permanent meaning.

One hopes that it signals a new day. Given the sorry history, the old name will not be missed.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It has become a journalistic cliche to speculate how U.S. policy in the Middle East is viewed by the "Arab street," a reference to public opinion in that part of the world. Last weekend's demonstrations in Europe against a war in Iraq are a reminder for President Bush that the "Europe street" opposes what it sees as an American rush to war.

Mr. Bush and his advisers might be tempted to dismiss the demonstrations in Britain, Germany and Italy as Euro-wimpery or a manifestation of the same spinelessness that administration officials impute to French and German diplomats who have tried to slow the bandwagon on its way to Baghdad. ...

No doubt some of those who took to the streets in Europe on Saturday would oppose military action even if inspectors uncovered a "smoking gun" proving that Iraq was not just uncooperative but also deceitful and dangerous. But the dominant theme of the protests seemed to be not "peace at any price" but "give peace a chance." It's advice the United States should heed.


(Compiled by United Press International)

© 2003 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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