- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 15, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:
El Pais
The U.S.-Europe rift
MADRID We stand before a confrontation not only on a war in Iraq, but on power in the world. The Bush administration's message these past few days has been vehement: The Security Council and NATO either obey and follow along, or these organizations will cease to be "relevant," that is to say, useful for the United States, which considers impertinent the blockage thrown up in the North Atlantic Council by what the Pentagon chief calls "old Europe." But even more impertinent for these allies are Rumsfeld's political manners when he compares Germany to Libya or Cuba. This is out of place among allies and friends.

The Independent
Vintage Rumsfeld
LONDON Oh, what a divisive war. Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, seemed pleased with the swashbuckling performance he gave at a conference in Munich over the weekend. France, Germany and Belgium were ticked off for their "inexcusable" undermining of NATO unity. … His very abrasiveness makes Mr. Rumsfeld the best ambassador for the anti-war case. … Just to make it clear that we are not prejudiced against Mr. Rumsfeld because he is a right-wing Republican, let us concede parts of his case. Certainly, the French and Germans have behaved badly. It is no use making alternative policies in secret. When challenged by Mr. Rumsfeld about the plan for more U.N. inspectors backed up by troops, Peter Struck, the German defense minister, should not have behaved like a guilty schoolboy found out by the school sneak. … But does the threat to international unity come from a U.S. administration that barely conceals its contempt for the U.N., and that has made it quite clear that it will go to war in Iraq whatever the U.N. does; or from France, Germany, Russia and Hans Blix, the arms inspector still looking for alternatives to war? What the U.S. defense secretary's finger-wagging in Munich made clear was that Secretary of State Powell's slide show at the U.N. was a failure. It did not change many hearts and minds, except possibly in America.

Straits Times
Singapore's birth rate
SINGAPORE … Singapore had 40,800 births last year, the lowest number in 14 years, while the total fertility rate was 1.4, a chasm away from the 2.1 figure at which a population regenerates to stay constant. Demographers confronted with the decline can look at it in two ways.
One response is to console themselves that a period of economic uncertainty deflates numbers. Evolving lifestyle choices of career-minded and cash-strapped Singaporeans over two decades have also run parallel with developed-country profiles of slower births. Of the former, confirmation comes in the dips to 1.43 and 1.5 respectively during the 1986 and 1998 business slump, against the average of 1.7 for the period.
The implication in the current context is not bringing any cheer. Omnipresent terrorism worries and the aftermath of an Iraq war, which could spark a recession and job losses everywhere, are going to depress already low birth numbers for an indefinite period. The other scenario for planners to ponder is to concede that the clutch of monetary incentives and tax concessions granted over the past 15 years have not worked as well as intended. The gains have been marginal. There is even anecdotal evidence of mis-targeting, in that a lot of the money flowed to women who planned to have more babies, regardless.

La Repubblica
Impact of bin Laden's message
ROME [Osama] Bin Laden's message came with the timing of a precision bomb and his voice, being bodiless and incomprehensible, appears even more repugnant. It proves what Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld and the CIA couldn't, that bin Laden if the voice was his considers the Iraqi people as "brothers" of war against a common enemy, the U.S. "devil."…
The images and thoughts evoked by this messages were the most powerful since the September 11 attack, which now seems far away in time. He's the death apostle that Bush had promised to catch "dead or alive," but he's still well, alive and hidden. He still pulls kids, soldiers, diplomats and inspectors into a vortex that turns faster and faster, clearly leading us where he wants to go, war.

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