- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Straits Times

The truce in Aceh

SINGAPORE On Monday in Geneva, a peace agreement arranged by Swiss intermediaries was signed between the Indonesian government and Aceh separatists to end the rebellion in the northern Sumatra province.

A prime [factor for conciliation] surely not lost on the Free Aceh Movement is the poor record of contemporary Asian insurgencies. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka are down to working out the mechanics of limited self-rule, not independence, after bearing the cost of 60,000 lives. The Moro liberation movement in the Philippines did a deal with Manila that fell short of its ambitions.

As for the lessons of East Timor, its very success in manipulating an eventual breakaway taught the Jakarta central authorities to never again underrate the dangers of a festering rebellion. Aceh's independence hopes were as good as doomed after East Timor got away, as President Megawati Sukarnoputri has rightly staked the honor of her father's memory on keeping the republic whole, the way it was when he achieved independence in 1947.

Asahi Shimbun

Japan-North Korea ties

TOKYO If North Korea were to be thrown into chaos, the effects would be felt all over the Korean Peninsula and in Japan as well. The military might feel compelled to launch its missiles. Tidal waves of refugees could be expected.

With these possibilities, our options are necessarily limited to one: to encourage reform and opening [by] North Korea [using] both moderate and hard-line policies that seek to prevent military adventure.

We believe that the process of negotiation toward normal diplomatic relations, which would involve Japan providing economic assistance to North Korea, should be used to encourage reforms. That negotiation should also be used as leverage to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear-weapons program.


Likud's candidate list

TEL AVIV The result is glaringly evident in the Knesset list proposed by the Likud: Of the 40 top candidates, 19 are new faces, and many of them are men and women without an appropriate record of public service and without the necessary qualifications to be counted as members of the Israeli parliament.

There's a lot of pretension and a considerable amount of cynicism in the claims of a young man whose only known qualification for the Knesset is that he is the son of the prime minister, and in the claims of a former secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, a former chauffeur for a minister, a waitress who studied law and personal aides to ministers, that they are all worthy of being part of the national leadership that shapes the laws of the state and its image.

The fact the Likud is a major party, and apparently will be the largest in the next Knesset, requires its leaders to urgently make changes in the methods by which it conducts its internal elections. The most critical of those changes is handing over the internal election process to the general membership of the party, with the requirement that only those who have been in the party at least one year have the right to vote.

Helsingin Sanomat

Iraq and the global economy

HELSINKI On [Dec. 5] the European Central Bank finally succumbed to pressure and lowered its interest rate by 0.5 percent. On [Dec. 6], George W. Bush fired the Treasury secretary and his top aide.

The motivation behind the ECB's interest rate cut is primarily the difficulties Germany and France are having to spur economic growth. The trend is particularly gloomy in Germany, which has received the hardest blows from the U.S. recession, and where the sentiments of structural problems within the economy are spreading more widely.

The U.S. dismissal of top-level finance policy-makers is not so much a sign of a sudden change in the Bush administration as it is of dissatisfaction with how Paul O'Neill and the Treasury handled international economic relations.

The discrepancy between the economic policy and the security policy of the world's only superpower has grown intolerable.

So far, both the Clinton and the Bush administrations have stressed they will not meddle with the exchange rate. Now it seems possible that the temptation to weaken the dollar may become overwhelming.

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