- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 8, 2003

New York Times

More than 200,000 North Koreans have fled into northeastern China in recent years trying to save themselves and their families from famine. Now they are trapped there, hunted down by Chinese police and blocked from traveling to South Korea, which says it would willingly receive them. Though less threatening than nuclear weapons programs, this is a dimension of the Korean crisis Washington cannot afford to ignore.

Today’s refugee emergency is a foretaste of what might happen if the North Korean regime collapsed. Fearing the consequences of such an implosion, China and South Korea have been reluctant to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear moves.

No one can be sure exactly how many of North Korea’s 22 million people have starved to death over the past decade, but some estimates are as high as one million. Even more would have died without the generous food provided by America, Japan and South Korea. …

In recent months Beijing has begun deporting groups of North Koreans back home, where they face almost certain imprisonment. …

This year American food donations have plunged, reflecting deteriorating relations with North Korea. Pressuring the North’s leaders and military programs is sound policy. But withholding food from starving people is shameful and likely to make the refugee problem still worse.

China’s behavior toward the North Koreans is inexcusable. A more humane and orderly approach to absorbing current and future refugees from North Korea must be found without delay.


Washington Post

The Saudi government waxes indignant that anyone would question its commitment to fighting terrorism. Yet it’s hard to understand its extraordinary solicitude for the plight of Maha Marri, the wife of a man facing charges in this country for lying to the FBI about his links to an al Qaeda operative. Ms. Marri was a subpoenaed witness in the government’s investigation of her husband, Ali S. Marri, yet the Saudi Embassy provided her an apartment, a lawyer, money to live on and high-level intervention to try to get her out of the country. When that failed, America’s ally in the war on terrorism took a step that looks like a conscious effort to thwart a lawful federal investigation: It spirited her home to Saudi Arabia, beyond the grand jury’s reach. …

This is not the behavior of an ally. If Ms. Marri was, indeed, an innocent bystander to her husband’s alleged activities, her plight — and that of her five children — is lamentable, and perhaps her situation could have been resolved more quickly. But the solution is not to make her disappear. Nor is an interview in a country in which U.S. authorities have no jurisdiction any substitute for a grand jury appearance here. The Saudis in this instance faced a simple choice between aiding American law enforcement and taking care of the family of a possible terrorist. Their decision is worth remembering.


San Jose Mercury News

There isn’t much doubt. The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein not only is in clear violation of United Nations orders to disarm, but is intent on expanding its array of weapons of mass destruction.

Secretary of State Colin Powell reinforced that point in a methodical case he presented to the UN Security Council Wednesday. He did so without resorting to exaggeration, a rhetorical tool he didn’t need. Denials by the Iraqi delegation were, on their face, ludicrous.

The question now becomes: What next? …

Surely there is another approach short of full-fledged war. Surely a policy of containing and minimizing the threat can be undertaken. …

A clear message can be sent to Saddam Hussein that if he or his surrogates so much as breathe an intent to unleash his dangerous weapons on other nations, he won’t just be attacked; he will be destroyed.

A full-fledged pre-emptive invasion will only feed the cause of international terrorists. It could be enormously destabilizing to the entire Middle East. It would take a huge human and economic toll.

Those are the reasons pre-emptive, full-scale military actions to remove even despised regimes have never been part of American policy. They shouldn’t become so now.


Chicago Tribune

Judging from the signs emanating from Baghdad, it seems highly unlikely that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has the slightest interest in avoiding war.

Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei plan to make a last-ditch visit to Baghdad this weekend before Blix delivers a report to the Security Council on Feb. 14. Britain is said to be readying a resolution to authorize military force against Iraq shortly thereafter. …

The world should accept no more denials, evasions or deceptions from Hussein.

There are indications that many European nations are now reaching the same conclusion as Powell that Iraq is in “material breach” of the resolution. The Security Council will soon be called upon to back up its demands with action. It must, as it did in November, deliver its message in a single unified voice. The world must fully support the U.S. in disarming Iraq, as it must in rebuilding that country if it comes to war. There should be no confusion. Time has run out.


Houston Chronicle

The bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The precipice of war with Iraq. The terrorist roots of radical Islam. Hezbollah leaders celebrating the death of U.S. and Israeli astronauts.

There are, of course, other stories besides these headline-grabbers in the Middle East. Americans, and their government, would be wise to pay more attention to them. In the long term, it may be an important way to avoid the blood-and-guts headlines so prevalent in the region and the need to think about making war.

One of those other stories paid an intriguing visit to Houston this week when a high-level delegation of Egyptian diplomats visited the Baker Institute at Rice University. …

The various crises in the region and Egypt’s role as a U.S. ally and interlocutor with the Arab world were topics in a pre-conference discussion between the delegation and the Chronicle’s Editorial Board.

What seemed most on the Egyptians’ mind, however, was their country’s economic picture and the push for a free-trade agreement with the United States. …

The merits and complex politics of any free-trade accord might seem like eye-glazing stuff.

But whether the Arab world makes the transition is one of the pivotal questions of our times — one upon which U.S. troops and lives are staked at this very moment.


(Compiled by United Press International)

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