- The Washington Times - Friday, July 25, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

African Union’s plight

TOKYO — It has been a year since the African Union was formed on the model of the European Union, to promote united self-help efforts rather than rely on assistance from advanced nations. But the African Union faces a difficult future. African leaders have discussed an African version of the U.N. Security Council to mediate armed conflict. But because of conflicting interests, the proposal got nowhere.

The will of advanced nations to help Africa is being questioned. American officials are considering sending U.S. troops to restore peace in Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves. But if the United States, which could put 200,000 troops in Iraq, cannot send a mere 2,000 to Liberia, it cannot gain the trust of African nations.

In the four decades since African nations won independence from European colonizers, they have been beset by Cold War. Most have been left out of the information technology revolution and economic globalization.

Japan, which will sponsor the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in September, will have to talk to participating countries … about the importance of assistance to Africa.

Straits Times

WHO in the age of SARS

SINGAPORE — Disease outbreaks have virulent economic and security outcomes the more interconnected the world becomes. This was shown vividly during the SARS epidemic, which might have dealt long-term harm to a number of Asian countries and Canada had the disease lingered. A China with industrial and farm production curtailed, had SARS engulfed it, would have been calamitous in regional terms and probably beyond. Although short-lived, SARS is having a more profound impact on Singapore and Hong Kong than is conveyed in infection and fatality numbers. As a thought, how might the Iraq war have turned out if SARS had cut a path through American invading forces? … Such a developing scenario globally calls for new thinking among international agencies engaged in disease surveillance and control, much like military defense planning.

There is welcome evidence the necessary strategies will emerge with the coming [on July 21] of Dr. Lee Jong Wook as the new director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). … Dr. Lee’s plan to develop a rapid-reaction force of epidemiologists to wade into disease outbreaks of differing natures all over the world will take the WHO to a critical stage beyond being a convener of international expertise. … China’s shortcomings, which surfaced during the SARS outbreak, were as much the WHO’s deficiency. If Dr Lee can swing it, the WHO will no longer be seen as merely a U.N. shop-window, like the cultural agency, Unesco. …

Neue Luzerner Zeitung

Arms expert’s suicide

LUCERNE, Switzerland — Does Tony Blair have “blood on his hands” in the David Kelly case, as the media says? Did the British government sacrifice a blameless scientist in order to wash its hands clean of its Iraq lie? Did it drive him to suicide even? The British prime minister is in the middle of a deep crisis and he has a lot of uncomfortable questions to answer.

Kelly wanted to share his knowledge with everybody who was researching the truth about the Iraq dossier. He wanted to tell them what the state of affairs in Iraq really was before Tony Blair’s and George W. Bush’s unfortunate military expedition.

He acted to the best of his knowledge and conscience — as a scientist. His role was neither that of panic-monger nor that of peace activist.

But Kelly’s correctness did not suit the world-changers in the White House and Downing Street. They wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

But Blair’s argument was not that Saddam was a devil, it was that he possessed weapons of mass destruction. He should not be surprised if his critics are now preparing the gallows for him — he deliberately misstated the danger. …

Blair and his entourage — most of all his spin doctor Alastair Campbell — wanted to clean their record with the help of weapon specialist Kelly. … They wanted the expert — a man of integrity down to his bones — to make the BBC look untrustworthy.

Kelly did as ordered. He “outed” himself as the source of the critical report and said he hardly could recognize his statement. Whether this is true or not, the BBC, too, played a mysterious role in this bloody story. It, too, will have to explain itself.

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