- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

New York Times

In his budget this year, President Bush is proposing to both increase and overhaul foreign aid spending. While the proposal begins too slowly, Mr. Bush is reinvigorating one of the most necessary and unjustly reviled federal programs.

America ranks dead last among wealthy countries in foreign aid as a percentage of the economy. The new program helps, but the ranking remains unchanged. Foreign aid is less than 1 percent of the budget, and most of it goes to military or economic support for strategically important, but not particularly needy, friends — mainly Israel, Egypt, Colombia and Jordan. This furthers American interests but should not be confused with development aid.

The additional funds will start slowly, with only $1.3 billion budgeted for next year — less than promised. The program is designed to provide aid only to countries well-governed enough to use it correctly and to induce others to institute reforms. … Washington must be careful not to let the new program become a substitute for helping the most miserable. …

Mr. Bush has also found part of the money for his AIDS programs by cutting nearly $500 million from child health, including vaccine programs. Child survival is the biggest loser in the foreign aid budget — a scandalous way to finance AIDS initiatives. With the budget dominated by defense spending and huge tax cuts for the wealthy, the White House should not be forcing the babies of Africa to pay for their parents' AIDS drugs.


Washington Times

So now, it seems, China will commit troops to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Congo. While not a grand scale — just 175 engineers and 43 medics will be deployed — the contribution marks China's biggest overseas operation since the U.N. effort in Cambodia a decade ago.

According to press reports, senior Chinese military officials involved in the deployment believe the country's participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions will boost the mainland's reputation and bring international recognition. That assertion was not lost among the soldiers who will be deployed. "This mission is for the peace of the world and for people who care about peace," said one soldier, adding that "it is a great opportunity for China" and that he is "very honored to be part of this." The Congo may be the better for China's involvement, but we'd much prefer if Beijing would demonstrate its commitment to world peace by taking a more constructive role in cleaning up its own backyard.

We're talking, of course, about North Korea. Indeed, the more provocative and dangerous Pyongyang becomes, the more Beijing seems determined not to play a role. Just this week, for example, China rebuffed a plea by Secretary of State Colin Powell to exert its considerable leverage in the spiraling problem and insisted that a nuclear North is merely a concern of the United States'.

This is to say nothing about China's involvement regarding Iraq. There, Beijing remains opposed to U.S. military action and has acted only to dilute the influence and relevance of the U.N. While we're pleased to see that China is taking steps to become a more responsible member of the international community, maintaining world peace is best obtained by opposing — and not dodging — those who threaten it.


Honolulu Star-Bulletin

President Bush has put forth a strong case for disarming Iraq but his argument for urgency has not been persuasive. Most of the United Nations Security Council's 15 members favor giving weapons inspectors more time to do their job. Polls show that a majority of Americans agree, and believe that any military action should include U.N. involvement. At any rate, such action should await the international support needed to assure long-term stability in Iraq and the Middle East after the fighting ends.

Fundamental differences between the United States and traditional allies have prevented formation of such a coalition. France and Germany have joined Russia and China in urging continued weapons inspections. The United States insists that inspections are useless in exposing weapons of mass destruction that Iraq is known to have possessed but whose whereabouts it refuses to account for.

U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's report to the Security Council on Friday did not change any minds. He told the council that a matter "of great significance is that many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for. One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded." …

The Bush administration and Britain have been drafting a second resolution to present to the Security Council saying that Saddam faces "serious consequences" for having violated Resolution 1441. …

At this point, such a proposal would face almost certain rejection in the council. Meanwhile, the continued presence of inspectors in Iraq provides containment of Saddam's banned weapons, giving Powell time to bolster his case before the council. That could take weeks or even months.


Chicago Tribune

Saddam Hussein's state media showered lavish coverage Sunday on anti-war demonstrations in cities around the world. But the most intriguing story of the day broke too late to make the evening news in Baghdad.

Meeting in Brussels, 18 NATO members agreed that a deal is a deal: The alliance will begin preparing to defend Turkey if it is attacked by Iraq in any subsequent hostilities. Those 18 nations include Germany and Belgium, which for a month had sided with France in opposing NATO moves to offer more protection to Turkey, the only NATO state that abuts Iraq.

The 19th NATO member, France, spent Sunday defiant but on the sidelines. Because the aloof French removed themselves from NATO's integrated military structure in 1966, they don't sit on the Defense Planning Committee, where most of Sunday's action took place. …

By refusing to be pawns in France's little game, Germany and Belgium have not suddenly warmed to war. Quite the contrary. But with the hysterical French out of the room, those nations on Sunday remembered what the NATO alliance is all about: Friends protect their friends.


Boston Herald

For those who view with envy the Canadian system of universal health care (and this being Massachusetts, there are a number of such benighted souls here), there was sobering news in a recent government study by our neighbors to the north.

The Canadian study, as reported by and elaborated on in a New York Times article last week, found that 18 percent of the 4.3 million Canadians served in 2001 had difficulty seeing a doctor or scheduling a test or surgery in a timely fashion. Of course, that's the figure of those who opt into the system. The Times cited other private studies that showed another 3 million Canadians can't even find a primary care physician in the public health system.

And yet another study found that some 30 percent of the medical imaging devices used in the public system were obsolete.

The Fraser Institute, which admittedly has a free-market bent, found that as of 2001 it took more than 30 weeks to schedule orthopedic surgery, nearly 20 weeks for neurosurgery and nearly 10 weeks for post-cancer surgery radiation (actually the Times found one woman who was forced to wait nearly three months after the removal of a cancerous breast tumor before she could begin radiation therapy).

It's no wonder that anyone with the money and the time simply crosses the border and checks into a U.S. hospital.

It's true that our own nation's health-care system is fraught with problems — the high cost of prescription drugs, the high cost of medical malpractice insurance, too many still uninsured and overburdened emergency rooms to name just a few. But knowing what we know now about the Canadian system, would anyone want to trade? Well, maybe only a handful of politicians who would never have to use it anyway.


(Compiled by United Press International)

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