- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

New York Times

The divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, long contorted by tensions between Turkey and Greece, can look forward to a more promising future if the Turkish Cypriot leadership accepts a United Nations peace plan. Under the plan, already welcomed by the Greek side, a united Cyprus could join the European Union next year. That would benefit Cypriots from both communities and open the way for early Turkish admission to the union. If the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, succeeds in blocking the agreement, the pain and unfairness of Cyprus's armed partition could be locked in for years to come. …

Glafcos Clerides, now running for re-election as president of the Greek sector, has accepted this plan as the basis for a negotiated compromise. But Mr. Denktash remains opposed. The U.N. has a deadline of Feb. 28 for both sides to reach agreement. Mr. (Secretary-General Kofi) Annan's plan may not be perfect, but rejecting it would be a worse alternative for both Cypriot communities.

One important new element is the changed position of Ankara. For years Turkey's political and military establishment unswervingly supported Mr. Denktash. In a welcome change, the leader of Turkey's new ruling party, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, forcefully criticized Mr. Denktash last week for ignoring his constituents' desire for a negotiated peace. This enlightened stand demonstrates how far Mr. Erdogan has moved from the narrowly Islamist politics he emphasized earlier in his career. When Ankara speaks, Mr. Denktash needs to listen. Only a few weeks remain to help him recognize this truth.

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Honolulu Advertiser

As one of the most isolated places on the planet, the Hawaiian Islands have more than their share of biological distinctions.

We have species found nowhere else in the world. The evolutionary history of the islands is one that Darwin would have given his eye teeth to study.

But we also have distinctions of a less positive nature. More than a third of all the birds and plants on the U.S. endangered or threatened species list are found in Hawaii. Since human habitation began, scientists say, at least 1,000 creatures have vanished.

Part of this might be explained by the natural march of time or shortsightedness and greed.

But part of the loss of our natural biodiversity is explained by competition by aliens — plants as well as animals. The delicate natural ecosystem that develops in isolation is particularly vulnerable to aggressive outsiders. …

Prevention includes close monitoring of what comes into the Islands and constant education so the public understands the gravity of the threat to our environment.

When you travel or ship goods into the state, follow the rules. Leave alien species behind, make sure that what you bring in is not contaminated with unwanted guests and report plants or animals that do not belong to the state.

The place to call is the Department of Agriculture pest hotline at 586-7378. This is a battle we all have a part in.

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San Diego Union-Tribune

More horrible bombings in Israel, this time in Tel Aviv, with scores of civilians killed and wounded, many of them poor migrant workers. It was the worst since Nov. 21, when a bomb killed 11 Israelis on a Jerusalem bus.

Between the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv bombings, 75 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian figures, including 17 civilians, nine women and two children.

Words are inadequate to express either the individual grief or collective failure represented by these acts. And they continue week after week, month after month, with no end in sight.

The end will come — and this has been our position for years — only with a political settlement fair to both sides. Until then, the militants will control the action, and the militants on both sides believe only in the gun and the bomb.

They are wrong, but like scorpions in a bottle they will fight each other to the death. Only when a path to mutual survival is shown will the violence end. …

The longer a solution is delayed, the harder it becomes. The Israel-Palestinian conflict belongs on the front burner.

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San Jose Mercury News

As President Bush keeps America focused on Iraq, Israelis and Palestinians are plunging deeper and deeper into a horrific stalemate.

The attack that murdered 23 people in Tel Aviv on Sunday, and the Israeli response, exposed the sad truths about the conflict: Palestinian militants will stop at nothing to kill as many Israelis as they can. Their suicide missions will bring only more misery to their own people. Israel's harsh and sustained military response may only slow the attacks; it cannot assure the Jewish state's security. …

In the conflict that is perhaps the most serious long term threat to American security, a renewed U.S. engagement is overdue.

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San Antonio Express-News

As life returns to normal after the holiday season, this nation, indeed the world, lives under the cloud of an impending war that appears more and more inevitable.

The United States is amassing troops in the vicinity of Iraq, making no pretense about its resolve to remove Saddam Hussein from power there.

While no intelligent human being wants war, some are convinced of its necessity in this instance while others are not.

Is there any way in which war reasonably can be avoided?

The only way appears to be through pressure from within the Arab world. The only hope that Saddam might step down would be for Arab leaders to convince him to do so and offer him asylum.

Who knows whether such a man ever would leave power, but, in any case, the Arab world no longer should remain silent.

A group of Arab intellectuals and academics have begun the call, and political leaders should pick it up. … the group has signed a petition calling for Saddam to step down to avoid a catastrophe in the Middle East. …

The petition circulating among Arab nations says it most eloquently:

"The immediate resignation of Saddam Hussein, whose rule for over three decades has been a nightmare for Iraq and the Arab world, is the only way to avoid more violence.

"We call upon public opinion in the Arab world to exercise pressure for the dismissal of Saddam Hussein and his close aides in Iraq in order to avoid a war that threatens a catastrophe among the peoples of the region, foremost among whom are the Iraqi people."

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Rocky Mountain News

The Bush administration is wisely letting some other nations take up the burden of negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. The United States is a key player in resolving that dilemma, but it shouldn't be the only player.

South Korean diplomats are in Washington this week to present some proposed initiatives to U.S. and Japanese officials.

One initiative is that the United States sign a non-aggression treaty with North Korea in exchange for giving up its nuclear program. That should be no problem for the Bush administration, which has repeatedly said it has no intention of attacking North Korea, but it leaves open the question of how to ensure North Korean compliance.

Both South Korea and Japan say they have approached Russia, one of North Korea's few friends, to intercede with Pyongyang, and they say Russia has responded positively.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has said he will take up the issue personally next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Chinese, in a position to exert the most leverage, have been party to the discussions, too.

The U.S. opposes negotiations in response to threats, which is fine in principle; however, as a practical matter, some day the U.S. will have to negotiate with North Korea. First, let's see how well South Korea, Japan, Russia and China fare.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On a cold snowy day full of threats and accusations from Iraq and from the Bush administration, Americans could be forgiven for feeling they are on a sled headed downhill toward an intersection full of cars, with no way to stop the sled.

Saddam Hussein tells Iraqis that his country is ready for war. America continues to build up its forces around Iraq and leaks its plans for ruling the country after victory in combat. It would be foolish to make war inevitable through bluster. …

The race to war is currently going much too fast. The idea that a war with Iraq would be easy to win and the aftermath easily manageable is dead wrong, in any case. The gravity of such a war and the wisdom of a careful approach to it, with the inspectors having completed their work and Congress and the U.N. Security Council fully on board, dictates that the milestones along the way be strictly respected.

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Chicago Tribune

The U.S. confrontation with North Korea brings to mind what hitting guru Charlie Lau said about hitting a knuckleball: There are two theories on how to do it — but neither works.

The Bush administration came into office determined to be firmer than its predecessor in dealing with the rulers of North Korea, who have no peers in the art of brinkmanship. But it's learning that a hard-line approach doesn't necessarily yield any better results than the Clinton administration's policy of negotiation and engagement. It is also rediscovering the urgency of finding a policy that does work, which will not be easy but may be possible. …

There is no guarantee of success. North Korea may be determined to become a nuclear power no matter what. But its neighbors should be working with Washington to make clear that it will pay a high price in economic and political isolation if it takes that road. The Bush administration should convey through third parties that if North Korea abides by its commitments, it has nothing to fear—and if it insists on going nuclear, it has nothing to gain.

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Los Angeles Times

United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq continue to broaden their hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. The inspectors are being properly aggressive, precisely enforcing a Security Council mandate. Iraq's protests against them are hollow and can only mean the inspectors are being effective. What Iraq's elites should be worrying about is not what inspectors are doing but what comes next. …

The man in charge of the hunt for biological and chemical weapons, Sweden's Hans Blix, and his counterpart in the search for nuclear weapons, Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the 12,000-page declaration Iraq submitted Dec. 7 was full of holes and padded with worthless information. Washington was more specific, charging that Iraq did not admit trying to procure uranium from Niger or account for botulinum toxin it was known to have obtained. Rather than update the declaration, Saddam Hussein on Monday claimed inspectors were spying on military facilities. His recalcitrance gives ammunition to hawks wanting a war to oust him.

Blix and ElBaradei are due to report to the Security Council about the inspections Jan. 27. Hussein is unlikely to satisfy the two men before then. At that point the council will decide whether to authorize military action, knowing the Bush administration may decide to form its own coalition against Iraq.

Arab nations could aid Iraq best by urging Hussein to step down or, failing that, by encouraging high-ranking Iraqis to force him into exile before he pulls Iraq into war.

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(Compiled by United Press International.)




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