- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

New York Times

The NATO alliance is facing what may be its greatest crisis in a generation — an unnecessary argument about whether to fortify Turkish defenses in advance of a war in Iraq. Obviously, Turkey should get what it needs. But this has become a charged debate because it is a proxy for another more fundamental argument — whether our allies should be expected merely to accede to American policy. The question of war in Iraq has turned into far too personal a dispute over American leadership. The French, who are leading the rebellion, are showing poor judgment. But the fault lies as well with the Bush administration's destructive "with us or against us'' approach, which is being foolishly applied to some of our most important allies. …

NATO meets again today to consider a more narrowly drawn Turkish request that would allow the alliance to provide Turkey with the help it needs while deferring larger questions of diplomatic strategy on Iraq. That approach deserves unanimous trans-Atlantic support.

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Boston Herald

The New York Post, never given to subtlety, deserves an attaboy for yesterday's front page. It featured a photograph of the cemetery at Normandy where under white crosses and Stars of David more than 10,000 American soldiers are buried - the ones who gave their lives to free France and the rest of Europe from the scourge of Hitler and the Nazis.

We have such very short memories. “The Greatest Generation'' is rapidly passing from the scene on both sides of the Atlantic and with them the shared sense of sacrifice that used to unite us with much of Western Europe. Today the alliance and tempers are frayed over what seems to be an inevitable war with Iraq.

The graves of soldiers — American and European — and the graves of the millions marked and unmarked who died at Hitler's command ought to be a timely reminder that there is no appeasing a tyrant, not then and not now.

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Chicago Tribune

These are busy days for those who do not want to confront Saddam Hussein over his failure to disclose his weapons of mass destruction and disarm his rogue government.

On one front, France, Germany and Russia have asked for still more inspections in Iraq. On another, France, Germany and Belgium have blocked a U.S. request that NATO prepare to protect Turkey from any Iraqi attack. …

The central issue is whether Saddam Hussein will obey the UN Security Council's unanimously adopted Resolution 1441, demanding that he disclose and disarm or face "serious consequences." …

More discussion about how to enforce Resolution 1441 — rather than more scheming about how to stall or stop that enforcement — still could prevent a war. If only the Axis of Appeasement would let solidarity and strength keep the peace.

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Christian Science Monitor

It's a messy business, building a war coalition. In the process, democratic principles can get trampled, and, sadly, Turkey is a prime example of how this can happen. …

It's not too late for improvement. On Feb. 18, Turkey's parliament votes on allowing US troop deployment. That debate should be open, and votes recorded. NATO, meanwhile, was considering Turkey's case as the Monitor went to press. If the vote has not been reversed, there's still time.

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Washington Post

France and Germany have finally responded to Iraq's flagrant violation of United Nations disarmament orders by mounting an offensive. Yet the target of their campaign is not Saddam Hussein but the United States — and the proximate casualties look to be not the power structures of a rogue dictator but the international institutions that have anchored European and global security. Yesterday in Brussels, the two European governments, seconded by tiny Belgium, blocked the NATO alliance from making preparations to defend Turkey in the event of a war, even though the planning was supported by the alliance's 16 other members. The two governments, meanwhile, sought support from Russia for a proposal to substitute an increase in U.N. inspectors, possibly accompanied by peacekeeping forces, for the "serious consequences" the Security Council threatened if Iraq did not voluntarily dismantle its weapons of mass destruction. Berlin and Paris say their purpose is to offer a peaceful way out of the Iraq crisis. But their exclusion of the Bush administration from their planning suggests that the real aim is to obstruct council endorsement of the military intervention that the United States is preparing. …

That their slogans are being mimicked by Baghdad's thugs ought to trouble French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. And perhaps they would be uneasy if their priorities were to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, restore the credibility of NATO and the Security Council, and steer the Bush administration into a multilateral approach to global security. More and more, however, the two leaders behave as if they share the same overriding goal as the Iraqi dictator: thwarting U.S. action even when it is supported by most other NATO and European nations. They have next to no chance of succeeding, but they could poison international relations for years to come.

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Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Peace may yet prevail in Iraq — perhaps thanks, ironically, to President Bush's seemingly relentless push toward war.

While it may be impossible to identify the perfect turn of events in Iraq, two conditions are easily the least appealing: 1) leaving Saddam Hussein free to create and stockpile weapons of mass destruction and 2) going to all-out war to stop him, especially if the United States must go it alone.

But the unlikely combination of European leaders' reluctance to use military force and Bush's urgency to do so may be forging alchemy of peace.

There was news along those lines yesterday. France, Germany and Belgium voted to block NATO from defending Turkey if it is attacked as a result of its support of a U.S. attack on Iraq. Then Russia joined France and Germany in calling for beefed-up arms inspections inside Iraq as an alternative to immediate war. …

It has been said that war is merely the continuation of policy by other means. Even so, it should not be employed unless all other means fail.

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San Francisco Chronicle

If the Iraqi leadership is at all rational, it can still head off a devastating U.S. military attack by demonstrating conclusively to the world that it has disarmed, or is doing so without another moment's delay.

Such a credible showing of Baghdad's acceptable behavior can be achieved with the aid of newly agreed-to U-2 surveillance flights, and greatly augmented U.N. inspection teams prying unimpeded into every suspected trove of illegal weaponry. Gone would be the deception and delaying tactics long practiced by Saddam Hussein and condemned by U.N. inspectors as well as President Bush. …

In its seeming haste for war, the Bush administration is engaged in a potentially damaging dispute with some of its most important NATO allies, and with Russia, over how to proceed in disarming Hussein. …

This is a moment for the United States to be persuading its allies, not alienating them.

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Sacramento Bee

France, Germany and Belgium have temporarily blocked a U.S. proposal that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization act now to help protect Turkey, a NATO member that borders Iraq, against a possible Iraqi attack in the event of war. Although Turkey is likely to get the help it needs, one way or another, this nominally procedural dispute is aggravating frictions with two of America's most important allies. …

The squabble over Turkey seems likely to be resolved very soon, but another heated debate is looming over how to confront Iraq in light of its sudden agreement to help facilitate the U.N. inspectors' job. That debate must not be allowed to further embitter the partners to a trans-Atlantic alliance that won the Cold War and, with its liberation of the Serbian province of Kosovo, showed that NATO can deal successfully with post-Cold War crises when the situation warrants. Too much is at stake, in Iraq and far beyond, to let this nasty spat lead to harmful consequences that everyone will have reason to regret later.

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Daily Oklahoman

As much as we hate spoiling street celebrations that were sure to break out in Paris, Berlin and Moscow, it looks like encouraging signs coming out of Iraq over the weekend were more of the same from Saddam Hussein.

United Nations weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei reported progress in talks with senior Iraqi officials, but later it became clear Saddam used their visit to Baghdad to buy more time, dribbling out just enough information and cooperation to exploit the French, German and Russian break with the United States over Iraq. …

It's the fundamental reality in the world today that begs the Security Council to act — and compels a U.S.-led coalition of the willing to do so if the council won't.

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Los Angeles Times

On the wall outside Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's office hangs a framed copy of the June 5, 1947, speech of George C. Marshall announcing the economic and political plan that rebuilt a Europe devastated by years of war. If the United States launches military action against Iraq, the American people need to be told what plans the Bush administration has for that country after Saddam Hussein's ouster. …

Marching off to war without a clear understanding of the possible consequences is a mistake; it deepens the worries of Americans and increases the chances of a quick withdrawal from Iraq that would leave the country and the region in worse shape.

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Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Twice in the last few weeks, President Bush has touted the potential of hydrogen for reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil. In his State of the Union address and again last week, Bush put the administration's support — and, more important, taxpayer money to the tune of $1.2 billion — behind the development of vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

While some in the auto industry and even a few environmentalists have praised this particular commitment to achieving energy independence, Bush's efforts have for the most part garnered him a sound beating about the head and shoulders from both the right and the left. While the critics make some good points, Bush deserves better. …

Fuel-cell technology still holds promise, as the money spent by private industry attests. And if it ever does become a reality, the benefits would be enormous. No more reliance on Saudi princes or Iraqi dictators or Iranian ayatollahs. Air pollution would be drastically reduced.

It would seem that such gains are worth a little risk, and even a little tax money.

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(Compiled by United Press International)




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