- The Washington Times - Friday, December 5, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


Cheap shot at Rummy

LONDON — Donald Rumsfeld can be criticized for a lot of things. But the U.S. defense secretary’s use of English is not one of them. The Plain English Campaign has shot itself in the foot this week by giving Mr. Rumsfeld its annual Foot in Mouth award for this comment, delivered at a press conference earlier in the year:

“Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, “because, as we know, there are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

This is indeed a complex, almost Kantian, thought. It needs a little concentration to follow it. Yet it is anything but foolish. It is also perfectly clear. It is expressed in admirably plain English, with not a word of jargon or gobbledygook in it. A Cambridge literary theorist, U.S. Air Force war gamer or Treasury tax law draftsman would be sacked for producing such a useful thought so simply expressed in good Anglo-Saxon words. So let Rummy be. The Plain English Campaign should find itself a more deserving target for its misplaced mockery.

Khaleej Times

Pakistan-India truce

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — When Pakistan made the cease-fire offer on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr and India responded positively to it, we thought that the developments augured well for peace negotiations. …

However, Wednesday’s rejection of the cease-fire by the rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen is bound to thwart progress toward restoration of normalcy in Kashmir, especially in the tense border areas. …

What is necessary is nothing less than major surgery. The Hizbul says that the situation inside Indian-administered Kashmir is “tense and the struggle will continue with full force.” One reason for the group’s frustration could be the security fence being built by the Indians along the Line of Control, which will separate relatives and friends in an already divided province. …

But no matter how well founded the apprehensions of the fence’s critics, the rebels and their political backers who oppose the cease-fire should give the deal a chance. For, above all, the cease-fire benefits ordinary Kashmiris, who can now more freely venture out of their homes, whether to visit relatives and friends or to pray. In short, it has given them a taste of normal life after years of continual tension and bloodshed.

Hindustan Times

President Bush’s visit to Iraq

DELHI — The American troops were pleasantly surprised, of course, to see their commander in chief suddenly in their midst. There is little doubt that the visit will serve as a morale booster for them in a battlefield where their mission is still far from being accomplished. …

For the Iraqis, however, the visit will carry a mixed message. That the first American president ever to visit their country should have done so under the cover of darkness and left hurriedly to avoid the thugs and assassins to whom he referred in his speech, merely underscored the abnormality of the scene in Iraq.

Arguably, it can be said to have become worse, considering that no such secrecy shrouded the earlier visits of Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Even as Mr. Bush flitted in and out of Iraq, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, was in Afghanistan, another terrorist hot spot, in a well-publicized visit. …

If Mr. Bush’s visit to Britain was meant to show that the U.S. was not without friends in the world, the objective of the Iraq visit, apart from demonstrating his own commitment, was to thank the soldiers — many of whom may be wondering what they are doing in a faraway country. Unless the conditions improve, however, the visit will be no more than a flash in the pan.

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