- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:
Sharon and the Palestinians
TEL AVIV From the moment the Likud was returned to power in the 2001 elections until the negotiations for setting up his second government began, Ariel Sharon has made a determined effort to be perceived in Israel and abroad as a pragmatic leader for whom terrorism was the only barrier to making peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Two years ago, the prime minister hastened to bring the Labor Party into government, offering it tempting promises in the diplomatic arena and prestigious ministries. Mr. Sharon responded positively to every diplomatic initiative by the United States the Mitchell plan, the Tenet plan and the Bush policy speech. He even declared his willingness to make "painful concessions" and to see a Palestinian state established with temporary borders.
In practice, the 18-month tenure of the unity government was characterized by a complete diplomatic freeze, accompanied by murderous terrorism, an economic crisis and an erosion of Israel's international standing. … Mr. Sharon refused to commit to a timetable for the establishment of a Palestinian state or even to commit in principle to dismantling isolated settlements. …
All the declarations about a Palestinian state are meaningless beside the appointment [this week] of National Religious Party Chairman Effi Eitam as housing and construction minister. In the past, Mr. Eitam has voiced vehement opposition even to evacuating illegal settlement outposts whose dismantlement was ordered by the previous defense minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The NRP and National Union do not merely object to any hint of a willingness to end the occupation …

Bush and the United Nations
LONDON The Bush administration's attitude to the United Nations is extraordinary. We know that its more ideological members, such as Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary, and the curiously invisible Vice President Richard B. Cheney, dislike the United Nations with an unreasoning venom akin to that shown by British Euroskeptics toward the European Union. …
It must be suspected that George Bush himself shares much of this view. Yet he is also a practical politician of some skill and recognized that domestic opinion was allergic to the idea of the United States going into a war on Iraq alone. He realized that the United Nations was a way of mobilizing the "coalition of the willing" against [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein. …
Over the next three weeks … the member countries of the United Nations, and especially those that are members of the Security Council, face a historic duty. They must decide how to respond to President Bush's challenge, issued repeatedly in recent weeks, to make the United Nations "relevant."
They should ignore cheap insults accusing opponents of war of wanting the United Nations to be as ineffective as the League of Nations. … The test of the United Nations' relevance cannot be the extent to which it comes into line with U.S. policy. On the contrary, the test must be the extent to which it encourages U.S. policy to come into line with the concept of international law.
That is why those opponents of the war who accuse the United Nations of simply being a puppet of the United States are as mistaken as Mr. Bush. The United Nations may be imperfect, but it does embody the idea of international law.

Asahi Shimbun
The future of Afghanistan
TOKYO Afghanistan's fate has long been twisted by its powerful neighbors. In 1979, the Soviet Union justified invasion of Afghanistan under the theme of universal solidarity of socialist countries. The United States backed the rebel forces in the name of supporting freedom. After the Soviets withdrew, however, Western nations lost interest in Afghanistan and abandoned it.
Such selfish power games by big nations nurtured the Taliban and turned Afghanistan into a hotbed of terrorist organizations.
International attention is now focused on Iraq .. . But the problems have not been resolved.
If war in Iraq becomes reality, Afghanistan's security and reconstruction may be compromised.
"Violence as a means of compelling the majority to submit to the will of a few isolated individuals must end," Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said.
The international community must respond with support for the president's determination.

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