What U.S. newspapers are saying

Oct. 17, 2002 at 10:47 AM
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New York Times

In discussing what Congress must do to help the economy, President Bush invariably mentions the need to create a federal program to provide "terrorism insurance" that would indemnify insurance companies against some of the huge costs of another terrorist attack. If Mr. Bush truly believes this to be a vital priority, he should press House Republican leaders to make a deal with Senate Democrats before everyone heads home to hit the campaign trail. ...

Congress must not delay any further. Private insurers faced more than $40 billion in claims from the Sept. 11 attacks, and the industry is not in a position to sustain another catastrophe of that magnitude. Many insurers no longer offer terrorism coverage, once routine in general property policies, and others are charging astronomical rates for very limited coverage. This has stalled new commercial projects worth billions of dollars across the country, and left other businesses with inadequate coverage.

Lawmakers will be making a terrible mistake if they fail to compromise.

Baltimore Sun

Gen. Douglas MacArthur oversaw the postwar occupation of Japan from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. An ideal spot, in the heart of the city, overlooking the Imperial Palace. The proximity to the palace proved fortuitous to the general's mission, for his success in reforming Japan after its surrender in 1945 could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of the reigning emperor, Hirohito.

General MacArthur recognized the cultural and historical significance of the emperor in Japanese society. And rather than put the emperor on trial for war crimes, the Allied supreme commander engineered Hirohito's support for the democratization of Japan. As the emperor went, so went the nation.

That is but one of the dynamics of the Allies' success in postwar Japan for which there is no comparable element in a postwar occupation of Iraq. In the past week, the Bush administration has invoked the Japanese model in proposing an American-led occupation of Iraq. While it's encouraging to know that the president and his war hawks may actually have a plan for Iraq after Saddam Hussein's fall, Iraq presents more problems than prospects for success. ...

The American experience in Japan was unique. General MacArthur accomplished a great deal during his stewardship of the country -- including demilitarizing the nation, implementing a bill of rights, establishing free elections, reforming land policy and empowering the economy. It took him five years.

Is the Bush administration prepared for a commitment that could take twice as long?

Baltimore Sun

These are fateful days in South Africa. Eight years after white minority rule was abolished, Nelson Mandela's anti-apartheid alliance is under serious stress. The reason: Its dreams have collided with reality.

On one side is President Thabo Mbeki's government, which is trying to erase the apartheid era's legacy of wrongs. On the other are the government's historic allies, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the country's Communist Party. They have been demonstrating against Mr. Mbeki's regime, charging it has sold out to global capitalists.

This is more serious than mere class struggle rhetoric. If the alliance falls apart, polarization and racial hostility could destroy the noble idealism that has guided the ruling African National Congress for nearly 50 years, and destabilize South Africa. ...

The rising tensions have not worried Mr. Mbeki, who prefers dealing with foreign affairs. But this is shortsighted. If he allows the anti-apartheid alliance to collapse, the Freedom Charter's nonracial dream may be discarded. That would unleash all kinds of pent-up hatreds and destructive enmities.

President Mbeki only needs to look at neighboring Zimbabwe to see where that would lead.

Washington Times

U.S. servicemen stationed abroad face threats that are difficult to anticipate, even when not engaged in combat, as evidenced by the fatal attack in Kuwait last Tuesday. Troops were ambushed while training outside their base. But according to terrorist experts, military personnel face their most glaring threat within their base -- while eating their meals, or relaxing after a day's training. This specific risk can't be rectified through more bricks and mortar.

Foreign nationals working in U.S. bases who are not natives of the host country pose the largest threat, since information on their background is usually scarce. But many bases, particularly in sensitive areas such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have many of these third-country nationals working inside them, serving food, cleaning floors, etc. ...

An attack within a U.S. base would deal a dramatic blow to morale at a critical moment for U.S. interests. Surely, Pentagon officials are aware of the threat. Now is the time to take action on that awareness.

Washington Post

President Bush promised the United Nations last month that in the event of military action to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein, the United States would work to create a postwar regime "based on respect for human rights, economic liberty and internationally supervised elections." Since then, despite prodding from Congress, he and his administration have offered virtually no public elaboration of how that would be accomplished -- feeding concern in Washington and abroad that no coherent plan exists. Now, via press leaks, White House officials are floating the idea that post-Saddam Hussein Iraq would be ruled by a U.S. military administration that would take responsibility for finding and destroying weapons of mass destruction, managing oil production, purging the military and political elite, and supervising the civilian bureaucracy. Eventually, as in Japan and Germany after World War II, power would be turned over to a new Iraqi administration. The elaboration of this scheme, which has yet to win Mr. Bush's full approval, is a welcome sign that the administration at least is contemplating a major U.S. commitment to Iraqi nation-building. But it also suggests a narrow and unilateralist approach that could make an already-big postwar challenge harder than it needs to be. ...

The United States cannot afford to repeat its minimalist postwar commitment to Afghanistan in Iraq. But to insist on an American military administration -- as opposed to a United Nations or other multinational regime -- would be to invite a military, financial and political burden that would be difficult to bear when the war on terrorism demands U.S. attention and resources on many other fronts. Managing Iraq after Saddam Hussein will require both a strong U.S. commitment and a strong coalition. That's why the Bush administration must continue its effort to build U.N. and allied support now, before any conflict begins.

Des Moines Register

Some Iraqis cast their votes for leader Saddam Hussein in blood. They used pins, paper clips and anything sharp to draw a drop from a finger to redden the "yes" box on the ballot.

According to the New York Times, one Iraqi man grabbed a reporter's notebook and wrote, "Every yes vote is a bullet in the chest of Bush the father and Bush the son."

In some places, people gathered to chant refrains of support. When Saddam's victory was announced, Iraqis fired guns into the air and celebrated in the streets.

Clearly, some Iraqis are eager to do anything their dictator wants. And it's evident Saddam wanted to send a message to the United States.

But imagine this: The Iraqi government reports that every single one of the 11,445,638 eligible voters cast their ballots. And every single one voted for Saddam Hussein. ...

Dissent will not even be acknowledged. In fact, it's simply not possible, because, according to one Iraqi official, "We don't have opposition in Iraq."

The entire display, played up for the world, would be comic if it weren't so tragic.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Security precautions have created a slowdown in the issuing of all kinds of American visas to foreigners. However, federal labor requirements -- more than terror-related concerns -- threaten to make it difficult for Hawaii's fishing industry to hire foreign fishermen. The government should find a way to protect the practice of hiring foreign fishermen without creating security risks.

Foreign employees of Hawaii-based fishing companies should be subjected to the visa process for security reasons. The Immigration and Naturalization Service could satisfy the labor rules by recognizing the need for foreign workers in Hawaii's longline fishing industry and applying such a blanket recognition to their visa applications.

About 300 foreigners, mostly from the Philippines, comprise about 60 percent of Hawaii's longline fishing industry. Immigration law allows foreigners to obtain permission -- called a "transit without visa" privilege -- to pass through the United States on their way to foreign destinations. Foreigners, including crew members on other than U.S.-based fishing boats, may obtain such permission from American consulates.

The INS has decided that foreign fishermen working for Hawaii-based companies, who routinely have been granted transit-without-visa privileges, must instead obtain temporary work visas. That requires that they gain permission from both the INS and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The INS normally takes about 100 days to clear visas, which are issued by the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, the CIA and FBI have compared all visa applications against lists of criminals or terrorism suspects, delaying applications from all over the world.

All visas should undergo such checks because they allow foreigners entry to the United States. Allowing any entry without such checks would create a dangerous opportunity for terrorists. As the home of the Muslim insurgent group Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to al-Qaida, the Philippines are a potential source of terrorism. ...

(Compiled by United Press International)

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