- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

VIENNA, Austria Europe and Asia applauded the foreign policy selections made by President-elect George W. Bush yesterday, but cautiously waited for details about missile defense, the Balkans, Taiwan and European defense.

The nominations of retired Gen. Colin Powell as secretary of state and Condoleezza Rice as national security adviser were generally seen as bringing stature and experience to a team whose leader's lack of foreign policy depth has been noted at home and abroad.

"As before with Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush also has no foreign policy experience," Germany's coordinator for U.S. affairs, Karsten Voigt, wrote in the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper. "He has understood the need to surround himself with a highly qualified adviser team."

Moscow's Vremya Novostei newspaper praised Miss Rice, who helped negotiate with the Russians at the end of the Cold War, as "a realist who is capable of gauging the consequences of a careless step."

But positive reactions were tempered by some concerns, including Mr. Powell's strong commitment to a U.S. missile-defense system. Many Europeans and Asians fear such a system would sabotage arms-control agreements with the Russians and trigger an arms race in Asia.

Mr. Bush has said he favors a missile shield because it would protect the United States from attack. In accepting his appointment Saturday, Mr. Powell called missile defense "an essential part of our overall strategic-force posture."

In an editorial titled "Fortress America: Powell's tough new defense plans," the Sydney, Australia, Morning Herald warned that pushing through with a missile-defense system could lead to a crisis with China.

Others feared the plan was a sign that America was placing its own interests ahead of the concerns of a world it aspires to lead.

"Like his boss, General Powell seems to be determined to delimit the U.S. world role, to view international obligations through the prism of narrow national interests," the left-leaning British newspaper, the Guardian, wrote.

Many Europeans are waiting to see how the Bush team will deal with the European Union plan to develop a 60,000-strong rapid reaction force, which would respond when the United States and NATO do not want to get involved.

Both the Clinton administration and that of President George Bush the president-elect's father feared such a force would undermine NATO.

"The team that is returning to the White House today still has the same hostility to European defense," the French newspaper Le Monde said.

Some South Korean officials fear such a hard-nosed, America-first style could complicate their own efforts to use American support in pursuing reconciliation with communist North Korea.

"The Clinton administration was idealistic, whereas the Bush administration is realistic," said Yoon Dong-min of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and National Security. "That would affect South Korea's policy of seeking quick rapprochement with the communist North."

In Asia, one of the greatest concerns is the new administration's position on Taiwan. Considered a renegade province by China, Taiwan has enjoyed de facto independence for decades. Some Asians believe a Republican administration would be more supportive of Taiwan.

China's foreign policy establishment remained uneasy. An administration that backs Taiwan and missile defense which China considers a threat could find itself in crisis with Beijing.

"There are too many people with a military background" said Yan Xuetong, an international security expert at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

The fact that Miss Rice and Mr. Powell are both black did little to assuage African fears that the continent would be overlooked by the Bush administration.

"Even the appointment of Colin Powell, a black American, as secretary of state, is nothing to cheer about," said Stanley Macebuh, an aide to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. He considers Mr. Powell "anti-Africa."

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