- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

New York Times

Nothing would make it easier for President Bush to overcome the nation's doubts about going to war with Iraq than proof that Saddam Hussein is in league with Osama bin Laden. Talk about an axis of evil! In truth, however, there is little hard evidence of such a connection, and the administration should stop peddling that line to the American people. There are legitimate reasons to confront Iraq. Imagining a full-blown Baghdad chapter of Al Qaeda is not one of them. …

Every day brings mounting evidence that Baghdad is refusing to cooperate in its own disarmament and concealing vital information about its illegal development of biological and chemical weapons and prohibited missiles. That is behavior that even reluctant members of the United Nations Security Council acknowledge could justify military action. There is no need for the administration to jeopardize its own credibility with unproved claims about an alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda.

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Cleveland Plain Dealer

The final showdown over Iraq begins today, but not on a battlefield. This high- stakes battle is being waged at the United Nations, with U.S. officials warning that they may march to war no matter what the nations of the world decide. Indeed, the United States can make and win such a war, whether the United Nations agrees or not.

Still, America will have trouble securing the peace in Iraq without the financial, political and moral assistance conferred by broad international backing. That is why U.N. Security Council discussions that begin today are so crucial, and why French and German officials would be wise to stop their posturing and play a constructive role in framing this important debate. …

Unfortunately, France and Germany have just underlined the major concern driving the United States to war: that Saddam will be able to blunt the weapons inspections by driving a wedge through the Security Council. A debate free of foolish political sniping is the best recipe for a diplomatic solution short of war.

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Dallas Morning News

The proposal to remove U.S. forces from Germany by the new U.S. commander in Europe, Marine Gen. James Jones, may seem as if it's motivated by spite given Germany's excretions of anti-Americanism and strong opposition to U.S. war aims in Iraq. But there are sound strategic and economic reasons for repatriating at least some of the forces or finding new homes for them elsewhere in Europe or in Asia.

During the Cold War, the United States needed large and heavily armored forces in Germany to defend against invasion by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. Today, that threat no longer exists. If the United States still needs such forces to blunt aggression in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula, it makes more sense to position them closer to those theaters - in southeastern Europe, the western Pacific, or near ports on the east and west coasts of the United States. It also makes sense to position them in such a country as Bosnia, where their mere presence could reduce tensions and spark local economies. …

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has halved its troop presence in Germany to about 100,000. Further cuts in the context of an overall reorientation of forces could improve military readiness and save money. Quite apart from whatever Germans feel about Americans and U.S. foreign policy, the idea deserves a good and respectful hearing.

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Kansas City Star

Official confirmation that North Korea has an untested three-stage missile, perhaps capable of reaching California, underscores the seriousness of the challenge posed by Pyongyang.

It also serves as a reminder of the importance of timely and effective disarmament programs. The North Korean situation is particularly dangerous because the Pyongyang regime is believed to already have what Iraq's Saddam Hussein wants: nuclear weapons.

Effective disarmament programs require more than international inspectors; they need governments that are serious about cooperating with them.

Spewing demagoguery and reckless threats, Pyongyang insists the dispute is solely between it and the United States.

The Bush administration has rightly resisted being drawn into a process that would give credence to that view, which ignores North Korea's treaty obligations to the international community and South Korea in particular.

Washington should not allow itself to be drawn into the extortion games North Korea pursued in the 1990s. …

China and Russia share the U.S. view that a nuclear-armed North Korea brandishing multistage rockets represents a major threat to stability in East Asia and beyond. And it's worth noting that once again, Pyongyang's aggressive behavior makes a compelling case for an effective missile-defense program.

Washington may occasionally disagree with Russia, China and other regional powers on the details of how to proceed. But there's little disagreement that this threat must be quelled. Through firm but nonbelligerent diplomatic means, Washington should continue pressuring Pyongyang to meet its international obligations.

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Los Angeles Times

With Osama bin Laden yammering again on audiotape and intercepted intelligence chatter pushing the nation to the Code Orange level of alert, no one is in a mood to go soft on terrorists. That doesn't mean it's OK for the Bush administration to hammer away at constitutional freedoms. …

The United States is as much a set of ideals as it is a piece of geography. To defend it, Congress and the American people must be as vigilant about protecting individual rights from overzealous patriots as they are about foiling anti-American fanatics.

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Washington Times

There's no doubt that the misgivings over Iraq expressed by the French and German governments are irking lawmakers on Capitol Hill. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said as much on Tuesday. The two countries "are losing credibility by the day, and they are losing … status in the world," he warned. "They are walking a fine line that is very dangerous." …

We'd much prefer if Republican lawmakers would turn their energies to trimming the larded diet of the federal government and leave diplomacy to the president.

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Washington Post

Russia, China and several European governments have been insisting that the United States cannot take action against Iraq without the full involvement of the United Nations. So it's curious to hear those same countries argue that in the case of North Korea, another rogue state that threatens its neighbors with weapons of mass destruction, the only solution is unilateral steps by the Bush administration. …

Talks between the United States and North Korea, and perhaps bilateral agreements of some kind, will need to be part of any solution to this problem, given Pyongyang's long-standing obsession with wresting recognition and security guarantees from Washington. But such deals will never be effective or even possible unless the nations around North Korea — including South Korea and Japan as well as Russia and China — are willing to join in credibly demonstrating to the North that the pursuit of nuclear weapons will only bring about isolation and ruin. Unless those states are willing to take on the risks of standing up to Mr. Kim, they will almost certainly incur the risk of living with a renegade nuclear power.

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(Compiled by United Press International)




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