New York Times
Brent Scowcroft is a cautious, deliberate man accustomed to sharing his foreign policy views with Republican presidents in private, as he did as national security adviser to Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush. That Mr. Scowcroft would publicly question the current president on a matter as sensitive as Iraq is an extraordinary challenge to the Bush administration as it weighs whether to go to war to oust Saddam Hussein from power. Mr. Scowcroft's concerns about attacking Iraq, aired yesterday in an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, were the equivalent of a cannon shot across the White House lawn. The piece should erase any doubt about the need for a national debate on Iraq.
Mr. Scowcroft is the third prominent Republican in recent days to question the wisdom of a campaign against Iraq. Dick Armey, the House Republican leader, said last week that using force without clearer provocation was unjustified, and Senator Chuck Hagel noted that President Bush had failed so far to make the case for military action. But it was Mr. Scowcroft who caught everyone's attention, not only because of his strong words but because of his long and loyal service to Mr. Bush's father. Mr. Scowcroft said in The Journal that military action to remove Mr. Hussein would "seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken." ...
Since Sept. 11 President Bush has demonstrated strong leadership in his role as commander in chief. He must now resist the temptation to see Mr. Scowcroft's comments and other questioning as carping from the sidelines. Mr. Bush and his aides may yet be able to make a solid case for military action in one of the most volatile parts of the world. But Americans have learned the hard way that presidents can stumble if, from the very beginning, they do not take the country into their confidence.
Mexican President Vicente Fox's decision to abruptly cancel his scheduled visit at the Crawford Ranch with President Bush requires a firm, if measured, State Department response. Mr. Fox canceled the visit in protest of this week's Texas execution of a cop killer of Mexican ancestry. The Mexican government had been complaining that the killer was born in Mexico and, thus, had a right to assistance from the Mexican consulate at the time of his arrest in 1988. Texas officials said the killer had claimed he was born in Texas. It was not contested that the killer lived most of his life in America and spoke English. Before his execution on Wednesday, he admitted his crime.
But the decision by Mr. Fox to insult our president is already being seen as yet one more act of worldwide condemnation of the use of capital punishment here in America. It is in that context that our government's first response -- that this event would not "dent" U.S.-Mexican relations -- must be seen as inadequate. We have every right to continue the use of capital punishment. And we should put other countries on notice that future calculated diplomatic snubs of our president or other high U.S. officials will have a price.
Obviously, we should not smash our relations with Mexico over this affair. However, what is needed is, precisely, a "dent" in U.S.-Mexican relations. Secretary of State Colin Powell should recall our ambassador in Mexico City back to Washington for consultations. After a decent interval, the ambassador may return to his station. Such a carefully modulated disruption in diplomatic relations will adequately constitute a point made.
Last month U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed a suit brought by the families of 12 Kuwaiti detainees held by the military at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The Constitution, the judge wrote, does not protect noncitizens held outside the United States, so no U.S. court has jurisdiction to consider the detainees' claims that they are being illegally held without charge and without access to counsel and to their families. The judge's opinion was, in our view, persuasive. But resolving the legal question that the detentions present should be only the beginning of the discussion of what to do about the detainees. For if they have a weak claim on U.S. courts, some of them may nonetheless have a strong claim on American values and basic fairness. ...
There must be some oversight mechanism by which to make sure that those being held are really who the military believes they are. Disclosure of basic information about who is being held would be a place to start. The military needs to rigorously check the stories detainees are telling to exculpate themselves. A critical role belongs to the governments of the countries from which the prisoners hail. And Congress could certainly play a constructive role. The American penchant for legalizing all things important may create a sense that Judge Kollar-Kotelly's opinion -- assuming it is upheld on appeal -- resolves the issue. But it doesn't. It just means that as this country confronts the question it will not be able to fall back on the courts as the only protector of basic rights.
North Korea -- surviving on international aid, facing growing political pressures and fearing possible ascendancy of hard-liners in South Korea -- has been reaching out this summer. As always, divining the dangerous regime's motives is more art than science. But in recent weeks, the signals have been such that the Bush administration should risk renewed meetings with the North.
Yesterday in Seoul, more than 100 representatives from the communist anachronism joined their Southern counterparts in an official celebration of the peninsula's liberation from Japanese occupation 57 years ago. This immediately followed a round of resumed reconciliation talks between the half-century combatants -- talks that are to result this fall in more cross-border reunions of Korean families. ...
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell informally met his North Korean counterpart July 31 in Brunei, the two sides' first high-level contact in two years. Right after, Mr. Powell said avoiding talks with North Korea could be a costly U.S. mistake. He's right, and the administration should follow suit.
Los Angeles Times
The president of India plays a largely ceremonial role, subordinate to the prime minister, but a smart politician can create power from symbolism. The new occupant of the office, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, displayed that skill in picking a state torn by religious rioting for his first official visit, signaling his concern for the nation's Muslim minority.
More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in riots in the western state of Gujarat in February and March. The state government did little to stop days of carnage that began as revenge after Muslims burned a train carrying Hindus back from a holy site claimed as sacred by both faiths. ...
Kalam, who was installed as president last month, visited the sites of the worst rioting. He did not stay long in most places, but he listened, asked questions and showed his concern. Fundamentalist Hindu groups that were happy to have the national hero known as the Missile Man as president complained loudly about the itinerary. ...
India's Muslims constitute about 14% of the nation's more than 1 billion people. After his visit, Kalam urged an end to religious clashes and adherence to tolerance. He is well positioned to deliver that message and should take every advantage of the platform given him.
(Compiled by United Press International)