New York Times
American military cooperation with Jakarta, suspended during the Suharto dictatorship over the Indonesian Army's human rights abuses, should not be resumed without strict conditions and careful controls. Unfortunately, the Bush administration is in a hurry to restore ties with the Indonesian military and seems willing to overlook misconduct in the name of strengthening the war against terrorism. The Senate Appropriations Committee, which is planning to consider the administration's request tomorrow, should block it, as urged by Sen. Patrick Leahy and other critics.
Despite the coming of electoral democracy, the Indonesian military remains a law unto itself. Its past crimes remain almost entirely uninvestigated and unpunished. ... And its extensive business interests make it a major obstacle to needed economic reforms. Nor is it a very promising partner against terror.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is an important battleground in the struggle against terrorism. Traditionally, the variety of Islam practiced there has been moderate and tolerant. In recent years violent extremist groups have emerged, some with foreign connections. For now, these radicals have only a limited following.
The best defense against further radicalization is to encourage the transition to civilian democracy that began with the overthrow of the Suharto regime in 1998. Civic groups such as human rights organizations, local development associations and independent trade unions have played a vital role in building democratic institutions.
The United States needs to strengthen these groups and nudge the government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri away from its current dependence on the armed forces. The administration argues that the proposed training program will also help by teaching young Indonesian officers the importance of democracy and human rights. In the context of real military reform, it might. Resuming military cooperation under present conditions would instead signal that Washington no longer cares much about the human rights performance of Indonesia's armed forces.
American reporter Daniel Pearl died trying to tell the story of Pakistan's Islamic extremist movement. Now some extremists are using the convictions of Mr. Pearl's killers as a rallying cry to continue their violence. This, after the trial had changed locations and two judges had to be removed after prosecutors received death threats. It will take all the power Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf has to keep such militant extremism from threatening his position and his country's security. But the fact that the Pakistani judicial system did not allow threats to infringe on justice provides hope that Gen. Musharraf won't be alone in his efforts. He will certainly need all the help he can get.
"I will see whether (he) who wants to kill me will first kill me or get himself killed," threatened convicted killer Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was sentenced to death. "It is a decisive war between Islam and Kafir (infidels or non-Muslims) and everyone is individually proving on which side he is." ...
The trial of those accused in Pearl's kidnapping and murder has been considered a litmus test for Gen. Musharraf's commitment to fight extremism and assist the United States in its war against terror. Likewise, Islamic militants have viewed the outcome of the trial as the measuring stick for how far Gen. Musharraf has compromised their interests. The Islamic militants are talking loudly. We must hope they are not also carrying a big stick.
The swift conviction and sentencing of four Islamic militants for the abduction and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl offered a conspicuous sign that at its highest levels, the Pakistani government remains committed to collaborating with the United States in the war on terrorism. But like so much in that fragile partnership, the news of the verdicts Monday may have been less significant than it first appeared. Because the actions were taken by a special anti-terrorism court, they are vulnerable to reversal by higher appeals courts, and complications appear likely because of the trial's exclusion of three other suspects who, unlike those convicted, were allegedly present when Mr. Pearl was murdered. What looks like decisive action against a group of terrorists may turn out to be a half-step, and reversible -- even as it deepens popular resentment of the United States and its ally, President Pervez Musharraf. ...
Mr. Musharraf says his actions are necessary to correct the corruption and weaknesses that afflicted past civilian governments. Yet the principal effect of his actions has been to alienate his administration from the very forces in Pakistan most capable of supporting a secular government against religious extremism. Without such allies, he becomes ever more dependent on the military, which, in turn, makes it harder for him to make the concessions in Kashmir needed for peace with India, or even to pursue terrorists inside Pakistan without compromise. The Bush administration has largely overlooked Mr. Musharraf's political maneuvering, but it should be pressing him to seek accommodation with the civilian leadership. The general may have been an important U.S. ally over the past 10 months, but unless he is willing to accept that he cannot rule Pakistan by himself, he will not be able to deliver the results that are needed in his country.
Dallas Morning News
The conviction this week of four Islamic militants for the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and the promise of continuing violence epitomize the nature of U.S.-Pakistani relations.
At the top, where American diplomats usually deal, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been a strong ally in the war on terrorism. His forces -- the president is a general who came to office after ousting the elected government -- have been working hard to hunt down al Qaida members.
The problem is the populace. They consider their president too closely allied with American interests. They are not sure they like either him or America -- critics taunt him as "Busharraf." With little room for open debate, Islamic militancy -- a perversion of peaceful Islam -- is a way to communicate dissent.
In response, Mr. Musharraf has beefed up security forces, has detained more identified militants and continues the search for the others responsible for Mr. Pearl's slaying. Those are all necessary actions. However, longer-term issues of how to deal with Pakistani militancy and discontent will persist. ...
With America's presence in Pakistan limited due to widespread hostility toward this country, the United States can have the most impact by persuading Mr. Musharraf to work on his own public diplomacy efforts and lead his country forward. For stability, that means controlling militancy in Kashmir and Pakistan. But it also means promoting a civil society, fostering education and building institutions that protect the rights of 145 million Pakistanis -- including everyone from female villagers to Daniel Pearl's killers. These are some precursors of representative government that can allow legitimate avenues for dissent.
Given Mr. Musharraf's unopposed "re-election" to the presidency and his proposed constitutional changes to institutionalize military oversight, the general may need convincing.
Los Angeles Times
This just in: Morocco has invaded Europe. Of all this planet's potential conflicts, Morocco snatching a piece of Spain was not widely expected. But in recent days a crack team of 11 armed Moroccans with tents and a flag claimed a rocklet in the Strait of Gibraltar. Spain says it's Spanish. eforeQue si! eforeQue no!
Spain calls the stadium-size outcropping Isla de Perejil, which means Parsley Island, and Morocco calls it Leila, which means Leila.
Spain hadn't done much with the rock. Nonetheless, backed by the European Union, it dispatched gunboats. Morocco, backed by the Arab League, says it needs the island to combat terrorism and illegal immigration. Now, except for lizards, insects and, of course, wild parsley and a few armed Moroccans, Parsley Island is uninhabited. So its prominence as a target for terrorists or fleeing masses had been overlooked. The world is spotted with such minor geographic and political anomalies, often military prizes, outposts and fueling stations from long-ago conflicts and their ensuing treaties. The United States got Guam from Spain and kept it; recall "Guam-based B-52s" from Vietnam War reports? Britain and Portugal ceded Hong Kong and Macao back to China. France still owns St. Pierre and Miquelon just off Canada's Newfoundland. And, of course, right by Spain there's a large Mediterranean rock called Gibraltar, which is not owned by Prudential Insurance and has as much to do with its British owners geographically as salsa. These places make intriguing travel pieces for Sunday newspapers and those E! Entertainment segments -- "Wild on Parsley Island!"
This thankfully nonviolent face-off also provides a summer diversion to tide us over till next month's spate of shark-attack stories.
Spain and Morocco have long-standing territorial grudges but had made real progress talking, especially recently as the population of Moroccan immigrant workers in Spain reached a quarter-million. Maybe former President Carter needs a break from not solving the troubles of other nations to squeeze in some down-home mediation over Leila-Parsley Island. If Morocco and Spain are lucky, Carter will get there before Al Sharpton.
Despite President Bush's early pledges, hopes that the United States would become a closer partner with Latin America haven't panned out. Blame the war against terror and corporate scandals. But blame Mr. Bush, too.
However understandable, the president's inattentiveness has exacted a heavy cost. The bounty of that neglect is evident among our neighbors to the south. An anti-American tide is spreading, as Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer documented in a commentary on Sunday. Meanwhile, several countries face economic crises, civil war, narco-drug trafficking and social unrest.
The administration can't afford to be blind to the fallout. Latin America is at our doorstep. Security and prosperity in the region promise benefits for the United States just as its instability, poverty and corruption threaten us. ...
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress hasn't approved trade-promotion authority for the president. Moreover, Mr. Bush hurt himself by signing the farm bill and ordering protectionist steel tariffs -- both of which threaten Latin American countries that depend on exports.
Without TPA, the centerpiece of the president's regional policy -- the Free Trade Area of the Americas -- is a pipe dream. Nor has Congress reauthorized the Andean Trade Preferences Act, which would help Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia find other cash crops for coca farmers.
Good intentions and rhetoric won't create the ''hemisphere that is both free and prosperous'' that President Bush envisioned last year.
Latin America demands a stronger commitment.
(Compiled by United Press International)