- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Yomiuri Shimbun

North Korea’s nukes

TOKYO — Will the agreement at the six-party talks pave the way for the scrapping of North Korea’s nuclear programs? A big question mark hangs over the agreement. …

The most important thing to bear in mind is that the latest agreement does not mean that Pyongyang’s nuclear development has stopped. Neither has North Korea promised to halt nuclear tests. If North Korea succeeds in downscaling nuclear weapons and developing a ballistic missile with nuclear warheads, Japan, which is within the reach of a Rodong missile, would face an even more serious threat.

The United Nations and Japan on its own have imposed sanctions on North Korea as it carried out a nuclear test despite international warnings not to do so. As long as the process for the scrapping of nuclear programs remains vague, the continuation of such sanctions is natural.

Star

America tarnished

JOHANNESBURG — This week’s devastating explosions in Baghdad in which up to 100 people were killed are a grim reminder that the war in Iraq is a historic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions. It is undermining America’s global legitimacy and its collateral civilian casualties, as well as some abuses, are tarnishing America’s moral credentials around the world.

Yet major strategic decisions in the Bush administration continue to be made within a very narrow circle of individuals — perhaps not more than the fingers of one hand. With the exception of the new defense secretary, Robert Gates, these are the same individuals who have been involved from the start of this misadventure, who made the original decision to go to war in Iraq, and who used the original false justifications for going to war. It is human nature to be reluctant to undertake actions that would imply a significant reversal of policy.

From the standpoint of U.S. national interest, this is particularly ominous. If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted, bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and much of the Islamic world. …

A public declaration that the U.S. intends to leave is needed to allay fears in the Middle East of a new and enduring American imperial hegemony.

Eesti Paevaleht

Putin’s speech in Munich

TALLINN, Estonia — So what did [Russian President Vladimir] Putin say? He said that the United States has exceeded the bounds in all spheres: military, economic and even cultural. While the United States has justified crossing these borders by doing a good deed for the world, in reality Mr. Putin sees this as causing only bad things.

This hardly surprises anyone. The United States has also received similar criticism from other European nations and left-wing intellectuals around the world. But it is important to ask why did he [Mr. Putin] come out with such a statement now, and why a speech given by the same Mr. Putin in September 2001 contradicts it.

It would be naive to think that Mr. Putin wants to reduce the supremacy of the United States in order to bolster democracy and common understanding in the world. … Russia wants to retake its position as a great power, and this is precisely how Mr. Putin’s speech should be understood.

Daily Telegraph

Six-power pact in Beijing

LONDON — [This week’s] six-power agreement in Beijing commits North Korea to halt and ultimately abandon its nuclear program. In exchange, this impoverished communist throwback will receive an initial 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, to be followed by a further 950,000 tons when it disables its reactor. At the same time, its international isolation will end. …

Kim Jong-il may sometimes give the impression of being from another planet, but it is now clear he wants his country to become a fully paid-up member of this one. …

It prompts the obvious question — can this success for patient yet firm diplomacy provide a template for that other putative nuclear power, Iran?

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