- The Washington Times - Friday, August 29, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

La Stampa

NASA’s shuttle report

TURIN, Italy — The seven astronauts who perished with the shuttle Columbia on Feb. 1 could have been saved. NASA does not do enough for the safety of its men. These are the conclusions reached by a panel of experts charged with determining who was responsible for the accident.

It is a very harsh accusation brought against the American space agency. The defense is as expected: It was impossible to foresee that the small damage to the heat-shield tiles would be fatal.

It will be a long debate. What is certain is that NASA is no longer the organization that made us dream of lunar missions.

In the 1960s, space exploration had similar goals to military research and commanded almost unlimited resources. This is no longer the case.

Paradoxically, as space travel becomes routine, the adventure becomes more dangerous. Of course there’s no such thing as a zero risk, but the real question is one of conscience. Did NASA really do everything that was humanly possible? Isn’t it time for certain lawmakers in Congress to examine their consciences as they suggest patching up old shuttles instead of investing in new development?

Asahi Shimbun

Six-way talks in Beijing

TOKYO — North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability threatens the peace and security of not only the Korean Peninsula but also the whole of Northeast Asia. The meeting in Beijing is the first historic opportunity for all countries with direct interest in the issues, and with influence in their resolution, to be represented.

Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and the United States all have their own agendas for the talks. In general, however, it is considered that it is best to begin with the premise that not much will emerge in the way of tangible results.

But time should not be squandered on talking. If North Korea pursues its nuclear program while the talks are being held, any conclusion will be delayed that much more, and accomplished facts will be made in its nuclear armament. Japan cannot tolerate such a situation, and such a scenario could render the six-way talks themselves meaningless. …

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Rwanda presidential election

MUNICH — [President Paul] Kagame’s victory was certain in advance.

First, many Hutus support him because they can see how he has stabilized the country and boosted the economy.

And second, the man has a security apparatus that made it nearly impossible for any opposition figure to campaign in the election. Opponents were intimidated and locked up.

No one could expect Kagame and his governing party to let themselves in for a dangerous adventure.

In truly fair elections, there would have been a danger that the Hutus would vote out the Tutsi president. That minority rightly considers this a mortal danger — not just because of the 1994 genocide, but also because, in neighboring Burundi, the change of government in 1993 set off a war between Hutus and Tutsis that is still going on today. …

If, as he always says, Kagame really intends to make Rwanda democratic, he must change his style of rule.

As long as there is no freedom of opinion, as long as political opponents are silenced and as long as he rules with a powerful police apparatus, his opponents will grow in number.”

Daily Telegraph

India-Pakistan relations

LONDON — Post-September 11, it is easy for a politician to court favor with his constituents by evoking the specter of Islamic radicalism. That is, predictably, what L.K. Advani, India’s deputy prime minister, did yesterday in Bombay following the deaths of more than 50 people in car bombings.

Mr. Advani, who represents the militant face of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), did not apportion specific blame for the twin atrocities, but said that Pakistan had been waging a “war of terrorism” against the Indians since … 1971.

… Mr. Advani might, instead, reflect on the siege mentality that the aggressive Hindu nationalism of his party has instilled in Muslim Indians.

… Last year … the BJP rode to re-election in Gujarat by playing on the alleged Islamic threat. It will doubtless try the same card in state elections … and in the general election due in 2004. The truth is that the party has not much to show from leading coalition governments at the federal level over the past five years.

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