- The Washington Times - Friday, January 3, 2003

New York Times

History could hardly have scripted a more highly charged moment for Germany to commence a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council. As Berlin takes its seat this week, the council is moving toward momentous decisions about Iraq. Only a few months ago, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder ran for re-election declaring his firm opposition to war with Iraq. Now, for the good of Germany and the United Nations, he must set aside campaign politics and cast Germany's votes on this critical issue on the merits. …

To earn the international respect it seeks, Berlin must adjust its position to unfolding facts, especially to the report that U.N. weapons inspectors will submit to council members late this month.

Germany is under no obligation to support an American-led war against Iraq simply because Washington demands German assent, but Berlin should devise a policy flexible enough to back a confrontation with Baghdad if Iraqi defiance leaves the world no choice but to disarm Iraq by force. …

Emphasizing diplomacy over force is reasonable, but must be accompanied by a recognition that diplomacy alone doesn't always work. As the facts come in on Iraq, Germany should base its decisions on the record of Iraqi conduct.

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Washington Times

In an extraordinarily rare development, the State Department has charged two major U.S. aerospace companies — Hughes Electronics Corp. (a division of General Motors) and Boeing Satellite Systems Inc. — with 123 violations of export laws relating to the transfer of sensitive, military-related technology to Communist China. These serious accusations involve highly questionable, clearly self-serving actions taken during the 1990s by Hughes Space and Communications, which was then a division of Hughes Electronics but was acquired by Boeing in 2000. The charges could result in civil penalties totaling $60 million and severe restrictions on technology-exporting opportunities.

Hughes repeatedly failed to obtain State Department authorization to transfer technological assessments relating to the causes of the failure of Chinese rocket launches that carried Hughes satellites. The charging documents accuse Hughes of improperly providing Chinese authorities with information about guidance systems, aerodynamics and telemetry in order to prevent future launch failures. This information, the State Department argues in its 32-page "charging letter," could be applied to China's development of its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which carry nuclear warheads targeted on the United States and its allies. …

How desperate was Hughes to crack the Chinese market? "It's time for Hughes to either 'put up or shut up' in regard to meeting their previously stated commitment of transferring technology to China," an internal company memo argued in May 1995, four months after the explosion of a Long March rocket. "If we want to win (a particular contract in China), Hughes must make a real commitment to transferring technology to China." According to the Clinton Pentagon, the Bush State Department and a unanimous, bipartisan House select committee, Hughes, like Loral, went way beyond what the law allowed, jeopardizing U.S. national security in the process.

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Washington Post

There has been a lull recently in Palestinian attacks against Israelis; a shooting attack that killed four in a West Bank settlement last week was the first major incident in a month. But almost every day, Palestinian civilians, including many children, are being killed by the Israeli army and police. …

Israeli explanations of this grinding carnage long ago acquired a routine quality. Youngsters are often accused of having thrown stones at troops; in other cases, soldiers are said to have been responding to sniper fire in the vicinity. Investigations are invariably said to be underway — but rarely are results reported. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, only one Israeli soldier has been convicted of brutality since the latest Palestinian uprising began 15 months ago. During that time, some 2,000 Palestinians have been killed, compared with 700 Israelis. …

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the reoccupation of Palestinian towns and territory, and the destruction of most of the security infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority, after Israeli forces failed to stop waves of suicide bombers from assaulting Israel. Now running for re-election, Mr. Sharon is claiming success: Suicide bombings are less frequent, and beleaguered Palestinian militants are discussing the possibility of declaring an end to attacks inside Israel. Mr. Sharon recently promised that his tactics would lead to "victory" over the Palestinians. But he and his army cannot give Israelis real security in this way, only a relative respite — and at a high cost in Palestinian lives.

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Chicago Tribune

Brazilians' rejoiced over the inauguration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on New Year's Day with all the unwarranted optimism of Cubs fans in spring training.

Indeed, there's probably reason to expect the Cubs will have a better 2003 than South America's largest nation. This is a country in desperate need of economic reform and an expansion of its export markets. It's hard to see how that will come from the new president, a leftist who has crusaded against free trade.

And yet hundreds of thousands in Brasilia gave Lula, as the new president is popularly known, a rousing welcome. Polls indicate that nearly 80 percent of the population believes the new government will be "good to excellent."

There is one reason for Brazil to feel good: Lula's inauguration Wednesday marked the first time in 40 years that one civilian president in Brazil has handed power to another peacefully. …

A Brazilian newspaper called Lula's challenge, to balance populist expectations and fiscally responsible policies, "walking on a knife's edge." The U.S. may be tempted to wait for him to slip off the edge, but the potential economic consequences are too grave. Better to offer a hand and hope that Lula, unlikely as it may be, is open to persuasion.

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Dallas Morning News

North Korea keeps causing trouble. Iraq is in trouble. But what of Iran, that third leg of the axis of evil?

We suggest the Bush administration launch a major diplomatic offensive with Iran in 2003, much like President Richard Nixon did with China in the early 1970s. The move would benefit Americans. A diplomatic overture could increase stability in the Persian Gulf. It could move the Islamic revolution away from extremism. And it could ensure the flow of world oil supplies. As Mideast expert Judith Kipper of the Council on Foreign Relations emphasizes, all three elements directly affect American lives. …

The White House has plenty to worry about with Iraq and North Korea on the prowl. But it should not forget Iran. A skillful diplomatic move could benefit Americans, whose soldiers are stretched thin around the world. Turning around the third member of the axis of evil makes sense.

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Honolulu Star-Bulletin

High winds were cited by Holland-America as the reason for taking Molokai off the itinerary of its Statendam cruise ship last weekend. Another storm awaited passengers at the Kaunakakai Wharf. Many Friendly Isle residents intended to greet the prospective visitors with open arms, but others protested such a huge influx of tourists. The community needs assurance that future visits will benefit the economy without damaging the environment and the island's rural charm. …

Further protests can be expected unless the state provides information before the next Statendam visit that better assures protection of reefs and ocean waters near Molokai. Isle residents can take responsibility for handling the large crowds on shore in a way that reaps the benefits of tourism while protecting their lifestyle.

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(Compiled by United Press International.)





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