The United States is in a bind with North Korea. Pyongyang comes closer every day to beginning full-scale production of nuclear weapons, while diplomacy remains stalled. That is not entirely Washington's fault, but the need to begin direct negotiations with the North is increasingly urgent. Talking is a wiser course than standing by and watching the North start producing nuclear bombs at the rate of one a month by this summer. ...
On his trip to Asia last week, Secretary of State Colin Powell heard repeated pleas for Washington to begin direct talks with Pyongyang. Those should begin swiftly. China, South Korea and other countries can help by pressing North Korea to freeze its nuclear programs during the talks. The economic aid and security assurances North Korea seeks should be firmly linked to a permanent and verifiable end to all of its nuclear weapons, long-range missiles and exports of dangerous weapons. The place for insisting that bad North Korean behavior will not be rewarded is at the negotiating table.
Christian Science Monitor
In a major policy speech last week, President Bush went beyond the question of simply ridding Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. He began to define what a postwar Iraq might look like.
"A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," he said.
Indeed it would -- if the United States can somehow pull it off.
Mr. Bush added this idea of setting up Iraq as a model of Arab democracy to his list of reasons for ousting Saddam Hussein late in his preparations for war last year. And yet, to those who otherwise would support this preemptive venture, there's a need for the United States to first make clear how it would deal with the immense challenge of transforming a postwar, post-dictatorship Iraq into a stable, thriving democracy. ...
Even if liberals can be found to run a free Iraq, they may face the same kind of internal dissent other Arab states face: Islamic movements that can challenge their power by feeding off public resentment toward Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
As Bush promised in the same speech, the United States must also work harder to bring both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to a peace settlement soon.
Trade negotiators demonstrated last week that progress in global trade talks will be slowed by one very contentious issue: agricultural reform. In the past few days, talks were supposed to focus on general negotiating principles for dismantling agricultural tariffs and subsidies. But the negotiations on how to frame future negotiations made little headway.
The chief of staff for the World Trade Organization, Stuart Harbinson, was at the center of the agricultural controversy. The negotiating framework he drew up was universally shot down by parties arguing for and against reform. Mr. Harbinson plans to draw up new guiding principles by mid-month, and he entreated officials to come up with "constructive ideas" on how to bridge differences.
The difficulties emerging in this early stage in talks aren't surprising. After all, members of the European Union haven't reached consensus on what their own agricultural policy should be. The European Union, Japan and South Korea have voiced considerable concern over the impact a reduction in tariffs and subsidies would have on their farmers and landscape preservation. ...
The United States could accompany any progress in Europe with a reduction of U.S. farm subsidies. Although the Bush administration has outlined an ambitious plan for global agricultural reform, last year it approved a 10-year, $100-billion-plus farm bill.
The Doha round of trade talks is scheduled to conclude in 2004. Reaching that goal would be a unifying principle for the world at a time of considerable discord. Absent a shift in the positions of Europe, Japan and other countries, this trade round could be headed towards failure.
How much can one arrest advance the war on terrorism? A great deal, according to the emerging accounts of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the al Qaida leader captured Saturday in Pakistan. The Kuwaiti-born extremist is now believed to have been the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, along with numerous other murderous actions before and after. Officials describe him as the operations chief for al Qaida, responsible for nurturing networks and planning operations around the world, including suspected plots aimed at the United States that prompted the recent Code Orange alert. Depending on how quickly and fully Mr. Mohammed can be induced to provide information, and what can be gleaned from the papers and computer disks seized from his hideout, U.S. officials said they may be able to roll up terrorist cells in various parts of the world and perhaps track down Osama bin Laden or other senior al Qaida figures. ...
Americans can hope that the arrest of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and the hoped-for exploitation of it, will block terrorist plots now underway and break down parts of the al Qaida network. It is certainly satisfying to have a prime author of the Sept. 11 crimes in U.S. custody; we hope that, once interrogation is complete, Mr. Mohammed can be brought before a tribunal to answer for his crimes. But it is too much to hope that we will not face such an enemy again.
San Diego Union-Tribune
The capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a joint U.S.-Pakistan operation was nothing short of a spectacular victory in the war against terrorism. Moreover, it couldn't have come at a better time for a Bush administration beleaguered by critics of its counter-terrorism effort.
Mohammed was the number three man in Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist organization. Yet, even that understates his importance. Mohammed was al Qaida's chief of operations. He was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. ...
The argument that the Bush administration cannot mobilize against Saddam Hussein's Iraq while continuing to prosecute the war against al Qaida is plainly wrong. The fight against al Qaida now is mostly a police and intelligence function around the world, not a struggle requiring large numbers of military forces.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's arrest is a major indicator showing that this war in being won.
Raleigh News Observer
It was just the sort of dramatic and triumphant moment America's war on terrorism needed. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was rudely awakened early Saturday morning in a villa in Rawalpindi, Pakistan by inrushing Pakistani commandos. The reputed master terrorist is now in the custody of U.S. authorities, location undisclosed. Mohammed is said to be a major al Qaida leader and perhaps the chief strategist behind the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. ...
The capture of Mohammed demonstrates that the search for terrorists' leaders has been ongoing, determined, and rightly focused. It could be crucial in frustrating the deadly plots of al Qaida, as it continues to try to organize attacks against us. ...
Terrorists would like Americans to believe they are not safe, that they cannot protect themselves, that panic is justified. To a large degree, Americans have followed the advice of their leaders, in particular President Bush, who have urged them to go about their daily lives, to show those who would do them harm that they will not be frozen by fear, lest terrorists think they have won some sort of victory over the spirit of freedom. They haven't.
And in the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed there's welcome new evidence that the terrorists have Code Red worries of their own.
Turkey's lack of enthusiasm for deployment of 62,000 American troops to open a second, northern front to supplement the U.S. invasion of Iraq from Kuwait is understandable: An overwhelming majority of Turks oppose war with Saddam Hussein's regime, and the Turkish government finds itself caught between public opinion and pressure from Washington. ...
However unseemly, purchasing Turkey's acquiescence for troop deployment might be unavoidable: Turkey, a NATO ally, is strategically placed for a second front against Saddam Hussein, a front that could permit America to oust him much more swiftly and with much less bloodshed.
But giving Turkey the slightest encouragement to take its war against the Kurds inside Iraq could be disastrous. The Bush administration should make it clear to Turkey, war or no war, that Iraq's borders are not to be moved, and the Ottoman Empire is not to be revived.
How significant is Saturday's arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in Pakistan? "This arrest is as big or bigger than bin Laden, because this man was the brain. This is the guy who's been behind everything."
That's not a Bush administration flack talking or some Capitol Hill Republican spinning. Those are the words of Sen. John D. Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat and member of the Intelligence Committee, and the words reflect a rare bit of bipartisan consensus in Washington, D.C. ...
Beyond all this, the bust is a huge psychological boost for the United States. It's a piece of good news, which is in rare supply these days. It also gives the lie to the lame can't-walk-and-chew-gum claim that our focus on Iraq is distracting the United States from its war on al Qaida. Actually, they're just two very different fronts in the same global conflict.
Right about now, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is no doubt wishing Iraq were an American distraction.
Though he looks awfully mean in the morning -- when rousted from bed, as pictured in his arrest photo -- Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is even more fearsome when he's wide awake.
That's when, according to U.S. officials, he has been functioning as the operations chief for al Qaida, mastermind of some of its bloodiest deeds.
So his arrest over the weekend by the U.S. and foreign agents in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, ranks as a major coup for the U.S. and its allies in the war on terrorism. ...
Never before has the government enjoyed greater domestic surveillance powers. And Attorney General John D. Ashcroft is crafting a proposal to expand Patriot Act powers, to include secret arrests, widespread spying by police, and powers to strip citizenship from supporters of radical groups.
Those, to put it bluntly, are terrible ideas.
The nation won't achieve more security by surrendering to further secrecy or by accepting greater infringements upon American citizens' civil liberties.
Turkey was supposed to have been bought and paid for. The Bush administration asked the Turkish government how much it was going to take to secure Turkey's cooperation in a war on Iraq, and after some protracted bargaining that no one made any effort to disguise, a price of $15 billion was arrived at. The deal was cut. It was realpolitik, à la Bush.
Only it turned out the Turkish parliament, in a country where indirection is prized, didn't like the idea of being quite so brazenly for sale. It also turned out the Turkish government, which is new on the job, wasn't so good at counting votes -- or, maybe, considering how unenthusiastic it is about war, it simply couldn't bring itself to start strong-arming legislators.
In any case, the parliament followed public opinion -- now there's a concept for the rest of the Middle East -- and turned down Uncle Sam's money. ...
Washington says one of its goals, in launching a war in a region where no one wants one, is to create a democratic Iraq. There's just one little problem with democracies, as Turkey has shown: They don't stay bought.
The United States government almost caught Khalid Sheik Mohammed once before. In 1996, he was staying near Doha with a member of Qatar's ruling family, and the FBI proposed to go after him. Instead, Washington asked Qatar to arrest him and turn him over -- but before that could occur, he vanished.
How important was the capture of Mohammed over the weekend in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi? You can measure it by considering how many people might be alive today had he been grabbed back then. ...
American and Pakistani authorities deserve high praise for their diligence and courage in finally bringing Mohammed to ground. Uncounted lives will doubtless be saved as a result. The war on terrorism is a long way from being over, but this was a big step toward winning it.
(Compiled by United Press International.)