- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

BOSTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) — New York Times

North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program is the most urgent threat facing America today. Yet the administration, intent on dealing with Iraq first, has been reluctant to give diplomacy with North Korea the priority it warrants. Yesterday's reaffirmation by Washington that it recognizes the need for direct talks with North Korea is fine, but not good enough. Those talks will probably never take place unless the administration drops its preconditions.

The North has said it will talk about ending its nuclear ambitions as part of a broader discussion encompassing guarantees of its security and desperately needed economic help. Washington is willing to discuss those issues later, but for now only wants to hear how North Korea intends to end its nuclear projects. …

Unconditional negotiations with Pyongyang do not oblige Washington to hand out any rewards to North Korea before that country agrees to a verifiable plan for permanently ending its nuclear weapons ambitions. Negotiating the precise linkage and sequence of these elements is exactly what the two countries need to talk about. They should start doing so now.

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Washington Times

Is it worth having the federal government spend $16.8 million (President Bush's request for this year) to fund a federal border security program that has kept hundreds of criminals and terrorists from entering this country in the past four-and-a-half months? Given that the atrocities of September 11 were perpetrated by 19 foreigners who had little difficulty entering the United States and roaming the country at will, it makes sense to continue funding such a program as an insurance policy against future terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately, Sens. Edward Kennedy and Russ Feingold believe such a program, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), violates the civil liberties of immigrants, and have been working to kill it. And, thus far, they have been sneakingly successful in getting the Senate to agree. …

It's time for the Bush administration to demand that the Kennedy amendment be stripped from the appropriations bill, and work to ensure that the senators from Massachusetts and Wisconsin don't find another legislative vehicle to work their mischief.

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Washington Post

Even before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's presentation to the United Nations Security Council today, it is clear that Iraq has not complied with Resolution 1441, which offered it a "final opportunity" to voluntarily disarm. Neither the U.N. weapons inspectors nor any permanent member of the council contends that Iraq has "fully" cooperated, as the resolution requires. Barring a dramatic change of behavior by Saddam Hussein in the coming weeks, that means a military intervention to disarm Iraq would be justified, even if the council passed no further resolutions. …

In the end, though, a war in Iraq would not be primarily a humanitarian exercise but an operation essential to American security. President Bush's move toward action on Iraq has not been a bolt from the blue or a departure from past U.S. policy, though the administration's clumsy handling of its arguments and allies has sometimes made it look that way. Nor must it be seen as an exercise in Mr. Bush's new doctrine of preemption, though ideologues on both sides would portray it as such. Rather, it is the completion of a vital mission of international security repeatedly confirmed by the U.N. Security Council, by a Democratic president and by bipartisan majorities of Congress. War is never to be welcomed. But a decade of failed diplomacy and containment has brought the nation and its allies to a point where war may soon be the only credible option for ending the threat of Saddam Hussein.

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Christian Science Monitor

Amazingly, a possible war with Iraq deserves not even an asterisk in President Bush's 13-pound budget for the next fiscal year.

While Mr. Bush's indisputable goal is to disarm Saddam Hussein and beat back terrorists, the Pentagon characterizes the fiscal outline as a "peacetime budget." The budget contains no cost estimate of a war in Iraq, nor a request to pay for a military engagement already over a year old: Afghanistan.

It may be unrealistic to expect a budget document to account for a military conflict of unknown length, a war that might yet be avoided. And the White House promises it will act quickly and submit a supplemental budget should it come to combat. It is also waiting to see whether it should wrap in Afghanistan costs with that "supplemental."

Yet the president should have at least noted in his budget forward that a war with Iraq could significantly worsen the federal budget deficit. Unfortunately, this omission points to a worrisome trend of obfuscation about the long-term burden of an Iraqi war, and especially its complex aftermath. …

The president shouldn't wait until the first bomb drops on Baghdad to lay a fiscal bombshell on taxpayers. And it's still not clear what the president's goal is for this war. Disarmament only? Or a long-term role in democratizing Iraq. (In postwar Japan, the occupation lasted over six years.)

The public deserves what this president is famous for: straight talk.

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Salt Lake Deseret News

Perhaps the most compelling part of the stirring letter signed by eight European leaders last week in defense of President Bush dealt with the need for unity.

"We must remain united in insisting that his (Saddam Hussein's) regime be disarmed," they wrote. "The solidarity, cohesion and determination of the international community are our best hope of achieving this peacefully."

First of all, it was refreshing to hear some reasonable, friendly voices coming out of Europe. The leaders of France and Germany seem to be singing from their own off-key songbook these days, setting aside important principles in favor of other agendas.

But the eight leaders — from Spain, Portugal, Italy, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic — hit upon an important truth. If the civilized world does not present a unified resolve in its approach to Saddam, he isn't likely to disarm peacefully. Only a convincing military buildup in the region will convince Iraq that the threat of war is serious. Those who resist that buildup, and who protest against a war that hasn't begun, weaken that resolve and reduce the chance for peace. …

These European leaders are not warmongers. They want peace, just as do those in the Bush administration. But when dealing with a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, any sign of weakness or lack of resolve becomes a call for aggression and a defeat for freedom and human rights.

The letter was an important, and timely, reminder, and a wonderful gift from important and longtime friends.

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(Compiled by United Press International)




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