- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2001

President Bushs trip to Europe has earned him high marks from both Republicans and Democrats, who say he exceeded expectations and achieved most of his goals.
The trip represents a major political victory for Mr. Bush, who again has defied his critics.
"I think he did well. And I think that, much like hecklers at a political rally in America usually help the person behind the podium, critics overseas usually cause a circling of the wagons in America. … There will be a rallying of forces behind the president," Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat and a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said yesterday on CNNs "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."
Mr. Bush got plenty of criticism for his positions on issues such as missile defense, global warming and the death penalty this weekend from allies like France, Germany and Sweden at the European Union summit in Goteborg, Sweden.
In contrast, Mr. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoyed warm relations in their first-ever meeting, held Saturday at a castle in Slovenia.
Commenting on the meeting between Mr. Bush and the Russian president, Mr. Durbin said, "A foundation was laid, a relationship was begun, that is critically important for these two leaders … to connect."
On CBS "Face the Nation" and CNNs "Late Edition," Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, called it a "strong performance" by Mr. Bush in Europe, "a tour de force."
The presidents five-day, five-nation trip even received back-handed praise from some in the liberal media, who tend to portray him as dim-witted and ill-informed in matters of foreign policy.
Time magazine, in this weeks edition that reaches newsstands today, says European expectations for Mr. Bush were so low that "merely by showing up and speaking English … he would have been judged a resounding success.
"He sailed over that low bar," the newsmagazine said.
On NBCs "Meet the Press," Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, praised the Bush trip for having demonstrated the United States is "still engaged in Europe."
"By his engaging Europe the way he did and engaging Putin the way he did, it made it clear to Europe that we are going to remain a European power as well," Mr. Biden said.
Senior Bush administration officials who appeared on yesterdays morning news talk shows portrayed the presidents trip — especially his meeting with Mr. Putin — as a huge success.
"It was a great first start. These two men have formed a relationship. … They took out tape measures and measured each other and liked what they saw," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on ABCs "This Week."
He added: "There are tough issues ahead, but more important than that, there are many areas of cooperation. We want Russia to keep looking to the West. We believe Russias future lies as part of an enlarged Europe."
However, he stressed that, in the short-term, Russias pro-European future does not include membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"I think its premature to even suggest something like that," Mr. Powell said.
He also said that the Kyoto global warming treaty was dead, but insisted the United States would take the lead to develop a better way to address the issues of global warming and the emission of greenhouse gases.
"The Kyoto Protocol, as far as the United States is concerned, is a dead letter. The Kyoto process is not a dead letter," Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday."
He added that the president "understands there is a global warming problem … and he also said he wants to be part of a process. He just believes that the process produced a bad product in the 1997 protocol."
On "Meet the Press," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice portrayed the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as being outdated and essentially useless in todays world. "It kept the Soviet Union and the United States from blowing each other to smithereens in what was a very hostile relationship. That is not the relationship now," she said.
The proposed national missile defense system, which would abrogate the ABM Treaty, is designed to protect the United States against nuclear attacks by so-called "rogue" terrorist nations, such as Iran, Iraq and Libya. But Russia and many of Americas European allies oppose the plan, fearing it will start a new arms race.
Yet Mr. Powell yesterday made it clear the administration will likely break with the ABM Treaty as soon as it becomes an obstacle to building a missile defense shield.
Mr. Powell gave no indication when the United States would break with the treaty, but said that would occur when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld decided it was necessary in order to develop the missile shield.
"The exact timing and how we would actually get out of the constraints of that treaty remains to be determined," Mr. Powell said on Fox.
"And Secretary Rumsfeld is hard at work with the technology, and at some point he will come forward to the president and say, 'I cant go forward unless certain constraints in the treaty are removed. And at that point, well have a decision to make," he said.
However, Mr. Bushs display of warmth and trust toward Mr. Putin in their meeting Saturday has angered some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. On NBC, Mr. Biden said he does not fully accept Mr. Bushs assertion that he can trust Mr. Putin after having looked into the Russian leaders eyes.
Mr. Biden criticized the Russian president for the "repression thats going on with the media" and for his "cracking down in the most undemocratic way in Russia."
He said he believes Mr. Putin is "trying to strike a Faustian bargain" in which Moscow scales back its anti-American rhetoric "as we go light" on complaints about human rights violations in Russia.
"I dont think the president will buy it. … I dont believe hes that naive," Mr. Biden said.
At the same time, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman said he recognizes Russia could some day emerge as a "catalyst to bring Europe together on very tough issues."
Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN he believes some Republicans may be unhappy with the presidents glowing praise of Mr. Putin, who is a former KGB agent and communist apparatchik. But Mr. Hagel says he believes it was a "wise course of action to take," given the "immense impact" Russia will have "on the future of the world."
Miss Rice said on NBC that Mr. Bush is "someone who takes people at their word, takes them at face value unless proven else wise."
Asked if that might not be gullible, given Mr. Putins background in the KGB, she said, "We will see what Mr. Putin does over time."



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