- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The New York Times

Europeans sometimes ridicule Tony Blair for his supposed poodle-like obeisance to President Bush, but on closer inspection it's clear that the British prime minister is less docile than he might seem. In recent days he has subtly signaled Washington that he is in no rush to go to war against Iraq. It is a message Mr. Bush should heed.

While Mr. Blair has been the president's most consistent international ally in insisting that Saddam Hussein be disarmed, by military force if necessary, he has also been a consistent advocate of working through the United Nations and giving weapons inspectors time to do their job without the pressure of arbitrary deadlines. …

The American military buildup in the Persian Gulf region should make clear to Mr. Hussein the consequence of failing to cooperate with the U.N. These troop concentrations add a sense of urgency and determination to the inspections. They should not, however, be allowed to pressure Washington into a premature decision on resorting to military force.

That is a point Mr. Blair seems to understand well as he carefully balances the role of public opinion in a democracy and the responsibilities of international leadership. Washington would do well to study his example.

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Boston Globe

At present there is but one candidate to chair the UN Human Rights Commission for the coming year, and that is Libya. If the ramifications for Libyans and the cause of human rights around the world were not as serious as they are, the looming chairmanship of Moammar Khadafy's repressive regime would be a sick joke.

Sad to say, it is characteristic of the failings of the Human Rights Commission that the UN's Africa regional group, whose turn it was to provide the commission with a leader, nominated Libya for the job without proposing other contenders. Too often in the past, the governments chosen to lead the commission have used their position to protect or advance their narrowly conceived national interests.

The willingness of the Africa regional group to overlook Libya's egregious record as a state that abuses the human rights of its citizens is not a unique example of the Human Rights Commission's penchant for failing to enforce demanding standards. …

It should be the responsibility of democracies such as those here and in Europe to improve their own imperfect records on human rights and unite in preventing Khadafy from making the very notion of a UN Human Rights Commission seem a farce.

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin

The arrival in Honolulu of 56 men, 21 women and 25 children aboard the SS Gaelic a century ago was the first significant infusion of Korean immigrants to what is now the United States. Within three years, more than 7,000 others from the peninsula would make the journey. Korean Americans are celebrating the centennial this week and should be recognized for their important role in maintaining the American dream.

The Hawaiian Star noted that the first arrivals were "the first large party of immigrants to ever leave Korea for the Western Hemisphere" and forecast that "Koreans should do well in these islands." A few weeks later, the Evening Bulletin observed, "They appear to be hard workers, yet they are paid the least," toiling in the sugar fields "from dawn to dusk for 69 cents a day." Our ancestral newspapers could recognize when a people had entered the road to success.

"They brought a very, very good work ethic," says Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald Tae Yang Moon, one of eight prominent Korean Americans chosen to ride in a centennial float in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day. In addition, Moon recalls, his family legacy included involvement in the church and community. Such voluntarism is recognized worldwide as an American institution. …

Annual U.S. immigration from Korea reached its peak of 36,000 in 1987 but has dropped drastically because of improved economic and political conditions in South Korea. Today, more than 1.2 million Americans — 23,000 in Hawaii — can trace their ancestry to the Korean peninsula.

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Los Angeles Times

Four years ago, the village of Santo Domingo, Colombia, received the sort of "aid" that has, over the decades, made many people in impoverished nations question the United States' claim to geopolitical righteousness: a thunderous blast that killed 18 civilians, including several children. On Monday, the U.S. State Department gave Colombians a better, if belated, present by announcing it would suspend assistance to the Colombian air force unit accused of negligently dropping what the FBI has identified as an American-made, 20-pound AN-M41 fragmentation bomb while chasing guerrillas near the border with Venezuela.

Polls show that most Colombians want the government to fight the drug-trafficking leftists who have made life miserable in parts of the country for almost 40 years. But by ending the aid the U.S. is telling Colombia's government that the link between receiving help and respecting human rights is real — that anyone who thinks the U.S. will look the other way in such situations is wrong. …

The Bush administration needs to use this week's aid suspension to prod Colombia to straighten out its military across the board, to make it clear throughout the ranks that civilian populations are to be protected, not abused — or bombed. The United States' image is less than glistening in many places at the moment, so the message that aid from the U.S. and human rights go hand in hand will be good for the world to hear.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Political brawls in foreign countries don't ordinarily excite our interest, because most seem fairly parochial. But a political controversy — or scandal, according to some — now under way in Israel is something that Americans and others should watch carefully. Indeed, its resolution could influence the prospects for peace in a region critical to the United States.

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has failed to deliver on his promise to provide security for Israelis. But most Israelis blame the Palestinians for this, not Sharon, who has concealed his blunders by skillfully cultivating an image of trustworthiness and grandfatherly experience and wisdom.

It is this image of integrity that the scandal has tarnished. Citing Justice Ministry sources, an Israeli newspaper reported last week that Sharon was being investigated on suspicion that he conspired with his two sons to conceal a loan from a South African businessman and that he used the money to repay a campaign contribution from a U.S. company. Under Israeli law, foreigners cannot contribute to election campaigns. …

It may be that the emergence of a moderate government in Israel on Jan. 28 would cause the Palestinian rank and file to coalesce behind a leader who would give them more than rhetoric and failure. But thus far, there is no sign of that. And, apart from whatever Sharon may have done, that is the real scandal in the Mideast.

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New York Newsday

Seasoned diplomatic observers say they can always tell when North Korea's leaders are ready to get down to serious negotiations: They turn up the heat on their rhetoric and get ever more shrill in their threats. If that's the case, U.S. and North Korean diplomats should be sitting down soon to discuss ways to defuse the nuclear crisis that has the world on edge.

And discuss it they must. When the saber rattling is over, the Bush administration will not only have to talk to North Korea, but it will have to negotiate in earnest a resolution that won't be all that different in substance from the deal the Clinton administration worked out — badly, in its details — in 1994. …

Secretary of State Colin Powell is right to insist that, unlike the 1994 pact, this agreement must ensure that North Korea loses its ability to make nuclear weapons by mandating the dismantling of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons facilities. Only then can Bush be sure North Korea keeps its word.

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(Compiled by United Press International)


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