New York Times
Three days of meetings between President Bush and Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, concluded yesterday with evident good will but no agreement on reconciling American missile defense plans with the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty. The remarkably relaxed and friendly atmosphere developing between the two leaders serves both countries and may eventually help resolve the ABM impasse. Meanwhile Washington should continue to defer any missile tests that would violate the treaty in its current form.
Yesterday's informal appearance by the presidents at Crawford High School, near Mr. Bush's Texas ranch, showed how far the two countries have moved beyond the stiff and strained relations of the cold-war era. Even when ties warmed under Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the atmospherics of presidential meetings thawed only partly. Yesterday nothing seemed forced or scripted in the easy bantering between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin or their sometimes like-minded replies to the thoughtful questions posed by the Crawford students. Yet for all the upbeat language, and the barbecue Mr. Bush served up on Wednesday night, there was no agreement on the divisive issue of missile defense.
Washington remains years away from perfecting a defensive system that can reliably shoot down intercontinental missiles. Years of testing are required before such a system can be built, and most of the needed land-based tests are permitted under the current terms of the ABM treaty. The Bush administration wants to expand America's testing program to include now-prohibited tests of sea-, air- and space-based systems and build a new ground installation in Alaska not permitted under treaty language. The Pentagon is moving to plan such tests. It should give diplomacy more time.
Mr. Putin has repeatedly signaled his willingness to consider modifying or reinterpreting the treaty in ways that would allow more ambitious testing, provided some formal agreement between the two countries continues to govern the future development of missile defenses. As Moscow sees it, such an agreement would ensure that only limited defenses against pariah nations or terrorists will be developed, not the kinds of more extensive defensive systems that might one day neutralize Russia's own missile force. Mr. Bush dislikes the ABM treaty and would prefer to be free of its restrictions.
The quality of relations between the United States and Russia is as strong a guarantee of peace as any treaty. That quality is now much improved, and is likely to be further enhanced by the sharp cuts in nuclear warheads announced earlier this week. Yet treaties also play an important role, especially when they have worked well for decades. Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin must continue their efforts to resolve the missile defense impasse.
Iraq continues to be a danger to America, as a recent story in The New York Times demonstrates all too well. Even if the American-led coalition manages to uproot al Qaida and consign Osama bin Laden to the fate he deserves, the war on terrorism will have more work to do.
The story reported that two defectors from Iraqi intelligence worked for several years at a secret terrorist training camp south of Baghdad. In addition to preparing young men to kill innocent people, the camp also included a compound dedicated to producing biological agents, according to the defectors, one of whom was once a lieutenant general and held a senior position in the intelligence service.
What is more, the general said, the camp's work was proceeding with American targets prominently in mind. "We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States," he told the Times. "The Gulf War never ended for Saddam Hussein. He is at war with the United States. We were repeatedly told this."
If the general is accurate, the nation needs to take note. Indeed, it needs at some point to act. The hole in lower Manhattan has taught us the price of inaction.
But action can come in many ways, direct or indirect, by the United States or by another nation that understands the necessity of keeping terrorism at bay. Israel and all Western European countries have a stake in this fight, as well. But with the United States still patrolling no-fly zones over Iraq, it may be in a good position to act when the time comes. If Hussein believes he is still at war with this country, then this country is entitled to respond in kind.
The war against terrorism is bound to be protracted. It will not end in Afghanistan. al Qaida is reported to have cells in nations across the globe, some of whose governments support them, actively or in secret.
The United States, and all nations that now realize they have a stake in this fight, will have to keep at it long after the bullets stop flying, not just in terms of military action, but infiltration, intelligence-gathering and defense at home.
But we should be prepared to take armed action where we must to unnerve those who sponsor terrorism and degrade their ability to carry it out. If a camp has been set up in Iraq with the specific goal of attacking this country, then Iraq will have to be very near the top of the list.
Dallas Morning News
In free-trade circles, Doha, Qatar, will be recalled as the venue where the vast ideological divide between poor nations and their rich counterparts narrowed.
China and Taiwan ascended to the world trade community at Doha. World Trade Organization ministers agreed to open a historic round of trade talks. Ministers also made progress on contentious anti-dumping issues and reached a resolution affirming poor nations' emergency access to essential medicines. Each is a landmark affirmation of free trade as a powerful tool for global prosperity.
The declaration on medicine is particularly noteworthy, for its tone if not its substance. Despite the ravages of AIDS, the world's industrialized nations had ardently opposed any liberalization of the World Trade Organization's intellectual property protections. To ease the rules, they argued, would open the world trading community to rampant piracy and disregard for commercial property rights.
The Doha agreement gives the world's least-developed nations a 10-year extension to 2016 to come into full compliance with pharmaceutical-related patent obligations. The intellectual property protections would not vanish; these would simply be loosened. In essence, the right of nations to protect public health should not be blocked by patents.
It remains unclear whether this agreement will have a tangible effect on abating the Third World's health horrors. In some poor countries, $1 a pill might as well be $5,000 a pill. And it is not clear whether some of the not-quite-so-poor countries with massive AIDS crises would be able to take advantage of the extension. Nevertheless, the essential medicine declaration is a major victory for a world where wide gaps between the rich and poor nations threatened the global economy and the World Trade Organization's credibility.
Developing nations had complained that industrialized nations benefit most from free trade. Antipathy over access to essential drugs, textiles, apparel exports, and the violence-marred Seattle gathering all reflected the rich nation-poor nation schism.
But at the eleventh hour, the United States agreed to a review of anti-dumping rules, and the European Union accepted a compromise on phasing out farm export subsidies, an issue that had threatened to derail a consensus agreement. And there was acquiescence to European Union demands that the new talks include environmental issues.
There is work ahead, namely the tough negotiations to transform broad declarations into policy. But the agenda set at Doha is an important framework for open global trade.
It was every Muslim extremist's dream: First, the world's lone superpower, the United States, was brutally attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11. Then, the president of the United States extended an olive branch to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who has supported the anti-Israel violence committed by Islamic terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
President Bush began the courtship by asking Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and focusing his energy on winning support from the Arab states for his anti-terrorist coalition. Last weekend, he told the world at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York about his vision for "Palestine." The use of this word -- the first time any U.S. president has used it to refer to an independent state controlled by Palestinians -- was not Mr. Bush's finest moment. It is true that many Israelis have indicated a willingness to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state that would stop incitement and terrorism and live in peace with its Jewish neighbor. But Mr. Arafat has thus far refused to do so. In this context, Mr. Bush's support for Palestinian efforts to achieve statehood sends precisely the wrong signal to the Arab world. It tells them that they stand to reap diplomatic benefits even if they undermine peace.
Mr. Bush's reference to "Palestine" was no slip of the tongue. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Mr. Bush's use of the word was deliberate and appropriate. Palestinian officials also said last month that the United States is working toward a peace initiative that would give their state a foothold in Jerusalem. Indeed, the Arab world wasted no time in capitalizing on Mr. Bush's remarks. Palestinian Authority Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters that Mr. Bush's credibility would be on the line if he did not move to turn his vision for "Palestine" into political reality. What was unthinkable before is now being taken for granted by the Palestinians.
But Mr. Arafat has shown that he does not want a genuine peace, because the process of "peace negotiations" gives him power without requiring that he make concessions. When Israel offered him upwards of 95 percent of the West Bank, all of the Gaza Strip and the return of 100,000 Palestinian refugees on a silver platter at Camp David last July, Mr. Arafat flatly rejected it. Two months later, a new Palestinian intifada broke out against Israel. The violence continues today, with Mr. Arafat unable or unwilling to do anything to end it. As Israel's Minister without Portfolio Tzipi Livni said in an interview Tuesday: "If he can't control terrorist organizations, what kind of peace treaty can we negotiate with him? If he can't bring seven days, one day or even one hour of peace, how can we negotiate a permanent peace treaty with him?"
Mr. Bush was right to say that those who are not with us are with the terrorists. Aside from some positive-sounding rhetoric, Mr. Arafat has done very little to prove he is with us. Mr. Arafat's miserable failure to end the violence should not be further rewarded by the Bush administration.
St. Paul Pioneer Planet
After all the banter over barbecue, the substantive talks and a generally amiable three days of meetings between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader heads home with enough to show even his toughest anti-West critics in Moscow that he's a smart cookie.
Putin hasn't given ground on the Antiballistic Missile Treaty and he has a commitment for dramatic decreases in the number of nuclear weapons from the United States, which he agreed to match in Russia's arsenal.
Executive fiat to reduce missiles by about two-thirds over the next decade provides highly dramatic contrast to the old, serpentine treaty negotiations for arms reductions. Bush, who opened the reduction bidding with 1,700 to 2,200 weapons, was certain to get the response he did from Putin. A mutually assured success, at least for now, shows how well Putin has played the opportunities presented by the geopolitical upheaval caused by the terrorist attacks on the United States two months ago.
Putin, knowing full well the risks in the Russian neighborhood of throwing in with the United States quickly and robustly after Sept. 11, has kept his word. Russia has been vitally helpful in the unfolding conflict with the terrorists and their sponsors. Putin has earned respect, if certainly not agreement yet, from the United States for his position -- that to test the missile shield is to violate the 1972 ABM Treaty.
Bush, keen on his Son of Star Wars scheme, is looking for a way to fudge the arms control treaty that will appease Putin while forging ahead with research on the shield. It remains to be seen whether the nuclear weapons reduction pledges made this week lay enough common ground for resolving the two nations' profound disagreement over Bush's grand missile-defense-shield scheme.
If Bush were less stubborn about the missile-defense project, he would take the opportunity presented by the vastly different security needs post-Sept. 11 to postpone this techno-development gimmick.
That could reassure the Russians, avert picking an unnecessary fight and let the United States use fiscal resources for the apparent threat from terrorism instead of as a public works project for the weapons industry.
Commendable proposals for deep cuts in the strategic nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia need to be written down, signed and ratified by each nation.
Otherwise, any deal between President George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin is only a statement of good intentions that can be changed or reversed when they leave office.
Bush is proposing to cut long-range weapons by two-thirds over the next 10 years. A nuclear inventory that stands at 7,206, by some counts, would be pared to 1,700-2,200.
Putin suggests the Russian stockpile of 5,826 warheads could go as low as 1,500. He hinted broadly at a White House news conference that all agreements from his side would be in treaty form.
Bush is hoping to barter sharp arms reductions for Russia's permission to conduct tests on a missile-defense system not allowed by the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty. A smaller U.S. arsenal helps sell the point a new missile defense is for protection against rogue states, and not its old Cold War adversary.
What makes this all the more topsy-turvy is Bush's contention he is satisfied with a handshake to seal the cuts. Putin sounds more attuned to Ronald Reagan's dictum about trust, but verify.
Neither leader should be excused from having to sell an agreement to skeptical legislators, and their respective military establishments.
Bush is talking about reducing the number of deployable warheads. That appears to exclude those out of service for repair and such. The particulars are no small matter to U.S. military planners worried about having enough nukes on hand for a credible air-sea-land nuclear triad.
A signed treaty also leaves no doubts about inspections and destruction schedules. Put it all down on paper, and sell it to Congress and the American people.
Bush and Putin are halfway to making history.
Calculated. That's one way to describe President Bush's announcement that the United States will cuts its nuclear arsenal by two-thirds over the next decade.
American willingness to reduce its number of warheads from about 7,000 to between 1,700 and 2,200 underscores the fact the U.S. has no offensive intentions and wants, as Bush said, to open a new era of friendship with democratic Russia.
In addition, reducing nuclear weapons should soften Russian opposition to scrapping the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which blocks development of an American missile defense system.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin, who met with Bush this week in Texas, wouldn't say Russia is ready to move beyond the treaty, there is sufficient room for discussion even as the Bush administration remains committed to missile defense.
Bush continues to baffle arms control experts with his disdain for the intricate craft of negotiations that yield agreements although not necessarily tangible progress in fostering world peace.
In effect, Bush's proposal hop scotches over previous, unimplemented agreements to reduce nuclear weapons and fits with his consistent aim to relegate the ABM Treaty to history's dustbin.
With Putin looking on at a White House news conference, Bush said, "A new relationship based upon trust and cooperation is one that doesn't need endless hours of arms control discussions. ... I looked the man in the eye and shook his hand. And if we need to write it down on a piece of paper, I'll be glad to do that. But that's what our government's going to do over the next 10 years.
"Let me say this," Bush added, "we don't need arms control negotiations to reduce our weaponry in a significant way."
Bush's course isn't without concern. Some defense experts think 2,200 warheads, at the top end of the range announced by the president, is too low. The Russians want to cut their stockpile from 5,800 weapons to 1,500 or so because they can't afford to maintain any more than that. If the U.S. arsenal is cut back, the administration must ensure the remaining weapons are a safe and reliable deterrent to those who might threaten America.
Meanwhile, there was no immediate indication Putin would agree to junk the ABM Treaty, clearing the way for development of a missile defense system.
Bush can afford some patience. He occupied the high ground in this week's announcement without backing off his commitment to building a missile shield. He should maintain that stance and see where it leads.
Indeed, if the intent is to bring the Russians along slowly while making it easier for them to trust America, Bush continues to make important progress.
Those lucky enough not to be vaporized by the battering tell their stories with wide eyes and flapping tongues.
They describe the roiling of the earth, as if some subterranean war of angry gods had caused a rumbling quake. They speak of an overwhelming wave of explosions as dozens of bombs from a single airplane carpet a so-called kill box that's typically a half-mile square. They tell of a sustained low roar--not from the bombers themselves, which are too high to hear, but from their massive loads of ordnance. They talk of the hits, first a few bombs, then many more, as plumes of dirt and black smoke rise from a moonscape of craters 25 feet wide. And they murmur less about the soldiers who are obliterated than about those who survive, blood streaming from noses and eardrums torn by the concussions, so dazed and frightened that they often refuse to leave their foxholes -- sometimes for days on end.
There are many reasons why, during the last week, warriors of the Northern Alliance have rapidly overrun the bulk of Afghanistan. But what primarily triggered the unraveling of the alliance's Taliban opponents appears to have been the introduction in late October of swept-wing B-52 Stratofortress bombers, legendary warhorses older than the U.S. Air Force pilots who fly them.
Before the arrival of lumbering B-52s, much of the U.S. offensive came from newer Navy jets making small-scale strikes -- often one or two bombs at a time -- to hit buildings, tanks or antiaircraft sites. One Pentagon official dismissed the early strikes as "piddling," hopelessly incapable of punching a hole in Taliban lines so troops of the Northern Alliance could advance.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's deployment of B-52s, flying 13-hour missions from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, changed all that. Thunderous bomb drops along combat fronts destroyed or intimidated Taliban fighters, allowing the Northern Alliance to take the city of Mazar-i-Sharif after a ground assault not supported by massive air power failed.
The story was the same a decade ago in the Gulf War. Iraqi soldiers had never seen such a powerful airplane. After one punishing B-52 raid, terrified Iraqis frantically tried to surrender to an unmanned and unarmed U.S. reconnaissance aircraft no bigger than a desk.
Psychological devastation is a big part of the B-52's repertoire. The bombs themselves disrupt only some 3 percent of the surface of the kill box. But the aggregate impact of the ground tremors, the awful din and the destruction create bedlam. As retired Air Force Gen. Perry Smith told a reporter in early November, "If you don't get hit directly by the (B-52) bombs, you know what it's like -- and you know they're coming back."
The Air Force doesn't like to admit it, but the planes by themselves rarely win battles. Instead they best synchronize with ground troops in a concept that University of Chicago air strategy expert Robert Pape calls "hammer and anvil." B-52s are the hammer; ground troops waiting to overrun the enemy are the anvil.
"The B-52s create a choice for the opponent's ground forces," Pape says. "They can mass for battle and get hit by the bombers -- or they can run away." The planes alone can't kill enough soldiers to wipe out a fighting force, he adds. But as in Iraq and Kosovo, B-52 runs in Afghanistan caused enough damage and distraction to give allied ground forces a huge advantage.
The planes have had a diplomatic impact as well. Remember all those October news stories about Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, nervously seeking an early end to the bombing campaign? Diplomatic sources reported early this month that when he learned that U.S. bombing would instead be intensified, with B-52s set to assault Taliban lines, Musharraf didn't object. Rather, he figured that the stronger effort would achieve his goal of encouraging Taliban defections and ending the war as quickly as possible. In a subsequent interview, he confidently lectured that, "One has to achieve the objective of a military operation" before halting it.
That said, B-52s haven't always won clear victories. They were last built in 1962 -- and so often modernized with structural, electronic and weapons capabilities that pilots joke they don't have an original bolt. They were first used against the North Vietnamese, who eventually learned to live with years of constant raids: Ground fighters spread out, dug deep bunkers to protect them, and found an ingenious way to down many B-52s with surface-to-air missiles.
The planes are also dogged by controversy. U.S. antiwar groups vilify B-52s as weapons so awesome that it's unfair to use them against primitive opponents such as the Taliban.
But if fairness is the issue, weighing the costs thus far should start with the 5,000 victims of Sept. 11. What's more, the purpose of using B-52s isn't to make precision hits in civilian areas; it's to smash enemy forces poised on the battlefield.
The aging B-52s are the air power that has mattered most in Afghanistan. Yes, perhaps the war is a long way from over. And what Pape calls a sniper approach is now more useful: precision-guided airpower aimed at caves, structures or other Taliban or Al Qaeda hideouts.
Still, in the weeks before B-52s rewrote this war's script, the Taliban resistance looked formidable. Then came the rumbling of the earth.
We're delighted and relieved by the rapid rescue of eight aid workers from Afghanistan by U.S. Special Forces helicopter troops, with help from the International Red Cross and others on the ground.
The workers -- Americans Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, four Germans and two Australians -- had risked their lives to distribute food, medicine and other supplies in the war-torn nation.
But they became three-month captives of the Taliban, who accused them of proselytizing Christianity. Under the fundamentalist Islamic regime, that crime is punishable by death.
The Taliban recently tried to use the relief workers as a bargaining chip with President Bush, who rightly rejected that overture as he and the military plotted how to rescue the workers from the Kabul prison they were in.
Mercer's father offered to trade places with his daughter, but the Taliban rejected that plea.
Then the Taliban agreed to turn over the aid workers through the International Committee of the Red Cross. But before that could happen, Northern Alliance rebels pushed the Taliban out of Kabul. The enemy took the workers along.
As the Taliban were pushed farther south, they locked the aid workers in a freezing metal container overnight in Ghazni, about 50 miles southwest of Kabul.
Tuesday morning, the prisoners were moved to a Ghazni jail, "the worst place," one relief worker said. Later that morning, the Northern Alliance opened the jail, and residents of Ghazni applauded and cheered the freed workers, Reuters reports.
They spent another night in Ghazni before the helicopters landed in a nearby field to pluck them from the war-torn country.
The workers, who had been in Afghanistan for Shelter Now, a German-based relief agency, had been on trial since last month for their alleged crimes. The risk to their lives increased dramatically after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the start of U.S. retaliation against the Taliban.
The release and rescue of these humanitarian workers marks a rare cause for celebration as the war momentum mounts.
Detroit Free Press
Using U.S.-funded planes to dump herbicides on coca plants to wipe out South American cocaine supplies has been nearly futile and has drawn fire from environmental and human rights groups.
Now Congress is questioning the wisdom of spending $1.3 billion on the anti-drug Plan Colombia program, without doing more to combat the billions of dollars U.S. cocaine users spend a year on the illegal drug and its cheaper form, crack.
Herbicide spraying has been used for more than a decade without reducing the cultivation of coca. It has merely bumped supply sources around Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Why? Because there's a serious market for the stuff in the United States.
Spraying has also killed the subsistence crops of indigenous farmers and damaged the region's rain forests and environment.
So the Senate version of a new Colombian aid package, headed for conference committee as part of a foreign operations bill, makes more sense than its House counterpart. It supports alternative development for farmers. It would delay funds for aerial fumigation until studies are completed on its health effects, and until farmers whose legal crops are killed can get compensation.
In reducing aid to Colombia and surrounding countries to $567 million -- the Bush administration requested $731 million -- senators also raised reasonable questions about aiding the Colombian military, which has a history of human rights abuses. Given that history and a losing game plan of fighting illegal drug use by attacking the supply side, the Senate plan offers hope that the U.S. war on drugs will become more effective, more humane and, in the end, more winnable.
President Bush called the rescue Thursday of eight humanitarian aid workers, including two Americans, "incredibly good news."
More than incredible, the rescue was miraculous. This chapter in the war in Afghanistan ended as well as anyone had a right to hope. The eight prisoners were delivered through a combination of good luck, good will and the competence of the U.S. military.
Mr. Bush, who rightly rebuffed several earlier attempts by the Taliban to use the aid workers as bargaining chips to stop the bombing, was especially thankful.
The two Americans -- Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer - two Australians and four Germans worked in Afghanistan for a German-based aid group called Shelter Now International. In August, they were arrested in Kabul, the capital, by Taliban authorities who charged them with trying to convert Afghan Muslims to Christianity -- an offense that could have resulted in the death penalty under Taliban rule. Sixteen Afghans were arrested at the same time.
When the Taliban were routed from Kabul earlier this week, they took the eight foreign prisoners as far as the city of Ghazni, 80 miles southwest of the capital, where they lost control of them to the opposition Northern Alliance. Through the good offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the U.S. military was alerted and came to the rescue. The eight were transported by helicopter on a risky trip of 100 miles over mountainous terrain to Pakistan -- and freedom.
It should be noted that the 16 Afghans were released from prison when the Taliban fled Kabul. The radical Islamic faction also apparently did not mistreat the foreign workers when they were in captivity. But in the chaos of the past few days, a very different outcome was possible.
Instead, the aid workers' nightmare turned into a dream come true.
Los Angeles Times
One day Kabul was silent, lifeless: women gliding in their shroud-like burkas, men in look-alike beards, streets devoid of bustle. The next day, so swiftly, long-banned radios and televisions were dug up and plugged in, shrouds pushed aside, hair and faces of women shyly emerging, men crowding the barbershops.
The speed of the Taliban's fall in Afghanistan thrusts the need to build a civil society to the foreground. Success will require a longer struggle than the military campaign has, with bitter quarrels among ethnic groups unavoidable. But there is a model, imperfect yet still valuable: Afghanistan before the pro-Moscow coups and subsequent Soviet invasion nearly a quarter-century ago.
In the 1970s, before and after a cousin overthrew King Mohammad Zaher Shah, Kabul was a capital city of sturdy buildings, good restaurants and a university that educated doctors, scientists and teachers. Women worked in government offices; some covered their heads and some did not. Other cities were more conservative, and remote villages were more traditional still. It was not a paradise or a democracy on the Western, liberal model. Illiteracy was the rule, and heavy-handed security kept dissidents in check. Still, it was a functioning state. The population was Muslim, but magnificent Buddhist statues at Bamian spoke of earlier times and different cultures. Ten years of war against Soviet invaders united ethnic groups in opposition but ravaged the countryside. After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989 and the end of communist rule in 1992, four years of brutal, contested rule by the Northern Alliance turned Kabul to rubble. The fanatical Taliban took over and barred women from working and girls from schools. It destroyed the Bamian statues. It sheltered Osama bin Laden. Fortunately, the Taliban is on the run. Unfortunately, the Northern Alliance is back in Kabul. Their promise to be temporary caretakers must be enforced.
The most urgent need is preventing starvation. A multilateral peacekeeping force, with United Nations authorization, must ensure that food from foreign donors gets to the hungry, not to merchants or soldiers.
Politically, there is no substitute for a broad-based government that includes ethnic Pushtuns, who make up more than 40% of the country, and Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks, the main components of the Northern Alliance. Multiethnic governments existed in the past and can again now.
The chief immediate obstacle is the self-proclaimed post-Taliban president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who plans to return to Kabul from exile. He is a strict Islamist who supported Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War. Rabbani also has kept the Northern Alliance from meeting with other ethnic groups to discuss a post-Taliban government. He must be shoved aside before he consolidates power.
The United States and the wealthier nations in the anti-terror coalition will have to foot the bills for rebuilding Afghanistan. With that aid comes leverage. If enough money is available, rival ethnic groups can be persuaded to set aside their quarrels. If peace takes hold, educated Afghans who fled the Soviets, then the Northern Alliance, then the Taliban, may be coaxed to return from exile to help staff the ministries and start businesses.
The United States and most other nations turned away when the Afghans drove the Soviets out 12 years ago. Repression, starvation, terror and Osama bin Laden were the result. This time, a less bitter history of earlier years beckons for revival.
New York Newsday
The successful outcome early Wednesday of a meeting in Doha, Qatar, of trade ministers from 142 nations should not be as overlooked as the meeting itself was. The agreement to start a new round of global trade talks restores momentum toward freer international commerce that was lost in the collapse of the last such meeting, in Seattle in 1999.
With many countries' economies stumbling, the prospect of invigorated trade is a hopeful one for the U.S. economy. The agenda also holds new promise for economic growth of less-developed nations, a need made all the more evident by the unrest in poor Mideastern nations.
The delegates agreed on rules to waive some patent protection for medicines desperately needed by poor countries, a change that should boost the global fight against AIDS. But Washington resisted demands to ease restraints on textile imports, which would have undercut U.S. political support for the deal.
Now when President George W. Bush goes to Congress to win formal approval to enter negotiations, he'll have something tangible to offer - more export opportunities for U.S. farm products, manufactured goods, financial and telecommunications services; new avenues for investment abroad; and not just generalities, however accurate, about the benefits of trade.
U.S. trade-negotiating authority expired in 1994. Once it's renewed, nations can negotiate secure in the knowledge that Congress won't alter the terms of the resulting agreement.
But winning that authority won't be easy: Because of the need to bring developing nations on board, the session agreed to moderate anti- dumping rules against "underpriced" imports - a device the steel industry relies on to limit competition. Those rules have no economic justification and are increasingly being used by other countries against U.S. goods. But steel companies and unions will fiercely resist trade authority.
Trade creates more and generally better jobs than it destroys, but for those displaced, that's not much solace. So Congress must get on with reauthorizing - and improving on - trade assistance programs designed to offset the modest job losses trade causes.
(Compiled by United Press International.)