New York Times
President Bush, who managed to ram an important free-trade bill through the House by a one-vote margin, now has a chance to get it through the Senate and into law. To do it he will have to throw his weight behind a useful Democratic proposal aimed at softening the impact of trade agreements on workers who lose their jobs.
The bill would give Mr. Bush "fast track" powers to negotiate a broad new international trade agreement that Congress would have to approve or reject without amendment. It has had a Perils of Pauline history, and to get it through the House Mr. Bush made several side deals favoring certain industries important to the lucky representatives who happened to be swing votes.
The Senate version includes a new section giving preferences to imports from struggling countries in South America, an addition the president wants. But the senators are bogged down in a disagreement about how to provide health care benefits to American workers who lose their jobs to foreign competition. ...
Mr. Bush has so far been inclined to let the senators sort things out. But if he wants to do more than cast blame, and if trade is as high a priority as he asserts, he needs to engage himself in the struggle for an acceptable compromise. Then he will have to turn his attention to the House, and find a way to get the new version of free-trade legislation approved, without adding any new dollops of special-interest protectionism to the stew.
President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon focused their latest meeting Tuesday on one subject where they broadly agree: the need for a major reform of the Palestinian Authority. The change, they concurred, must begin with the multiple Palestinian police and security forces reporting to Yasser Arafat, which have proved unwilling or unable to stop the horrific slaughter of Israelis in suicide bomb attacks, such as the one that occurred even as Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon were meeting. Those forces, some of which themselves have been complicit in terrorist attacks, must be unified and placed under a command that is open to outside scrutiny, accountable and committed to ending terrorism; the same principles should guide the reconstruction of other Palestinian ministries and institutions that have been largely destroyed by Israeli military action.
There appears to be a rare consensus among the United States, Europe and moderate Arab states on this agenda. Even some prominent Palestinian voices are calling for it. ...
Israel is entitled to defend itself against the suicide attacks, and reprisals that target terrorist cells rather than Palestinian police and political institutions might bring some respite. But the events of the past few weeks have again demonstrated that military force alone will never end the terrorist attacks, especially when it is directed against Palestinian towns and civilian institutions. The Bush administration is strongly sympathetic to Israel and the suffering it is enduring, as it should be. But to bring an end to this terrible carnage, Mr. Bush cannot focus only on forcing an agenda of reform on the Palestinians. He must also press Mr. Sharon to face the political decisions Israel must make about Palestinian statehood. Avoiding them will not only doom the effort to produce a new Palestinian administration; it will also prolong and worsen the bloodshed.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The news out of Europe is that everyone is breathing a sigh of relief in the wake of the defeat of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the right-wing, anti-immigration candidate for the French presidency who stunned much of Europe when he finished second in an earlier round of elections.
The truth is, though, that Le Pen never really had a chance of beating Jacques Chirac, as Le Pen's 18 percent final vote total indicated. And while beating up on Le Pen was a good and necessary thing to do, the issues he raised -- in particular, crime and immigration -- won't go away just because a fringe candidate was trounced at the polls. American policy-makers and lawmakers would be wise to keep that in mind as they work out relationships with the new Europe that is slowly being molded under a new generation of leaders. ...
The Bush administration is correctly focusing its attention overseas on the war against terrorism and the war in the Middle East. But something's brewing in Europe, and the administration might want to pay a little more attention to what's happening there and to just who is going to lead Europe in the future.
Los Angeles Times
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon broke off his visit to Washington by essentially saying "forget it" to diplomacy after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 Israelis near Tel Aviv. No matter how reprehensible such bombings are -- and they are terrorism -- the Bush administration cannot allow itself Sharon's spiteful luxury. Only a sustained effort by other nations will force Israelis and Palestinians to the conference table.
Bush is at a crossroads. His administration is feuding internally, with the Defense Department and the National Security Council fighting to give Sharon a free hand and the State Department insisting on negotiations. ...
Bush must make it clear that Israel cannot avoid dealing with Arafat and that an international conference is unavoidable. An administration that prides itself on speaking with one voice must start to do so on the Middle East.
Dallas Morning News
The Bush administration made a very serious accusation on Monday. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, John Bolton, the hawkish undersecretary of state for arms control, said that "the United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort."
The accusation was a bombshell because the United States never had accused Cuba of using its extensive biotechnology industry as a cover for biological arms and because, since the Sept. 11 attacks, the administration has become intolerant of countries that both possess weapons of mass destruction and sponsor terrorism. Cuba is on the State Department's official list of countries that sponsor terrorism, though the appropriateness of its placement there is disputed in many quarters.
Carried to its logical extreme, the accusation would appear to leave Cuba open to invasion by the United States.
But Cuba experts in the United States are greeting the accusation with warranted skepticism. ...
The administration should present supporting evidence without compromising intelligence sources. ...
The United States cannot tolerate a biological weapons threat 90 miles from its shores. Neither can it suffer the perception among its foremost Cuba experts that its analyses of possible threats to U.S. security are tainted by domestic politics.
(Compiled by United Press International.)