- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Daily Telegraph

Airport woes

LONDON — The British Airways disaster at Heathrow [Airport] is a sad fall from grace for our national airline, and a black mark for Britain’s reputation around the world.

British Airways (BA) and Britain’s fortunes are closely linked. How we all wanted to use British Airways after September 11 because it was a symbol not only of Britain, but also of our determination to go on flying in the face of the threat of terrorism.

When BA was booming in the 1980s, it was a source of national pride; something that Margaret Thatcher understood so well when she put her hanky over the tail fin of a model BA aircraft to mask the silly new designs. …

It’s going to be particularly difficult to clean up the bolshie reputation of the BA ground staff, who last week threatened to strike over this coming holiday weekend, one of the busiest of the year, even if that threat has now been averted.

Not only is the Heathrow debacle a nightmare for the British wanting to flee the country. It is also a PR tragedy for people from other countries under the misguided impression that Britain is a place that just about works.

For many of them, the first symbol of Britishness they see will be the British Airways check-in desk. For that desk to be swamped with queues or, more likely, just plain closed, is unforgivable.

Asahi Shimbun

U.S. helicopter crash in Okinawa

TOKYO — We are baffled by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s muted reaction to the recent crash of a U.S. Marine transport helicopter in Okinawa prefecture. The manner in which the U.S. military handled the Aug. 13 crash on the campus of a university adjacent to the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma is simply outrageous. …

The U.S. military should have immediately suspended flights of these aircraft to pin down the cause of the problem and taken precautions to ensure there is not a recurrence. … Instead, the U.S. military swiftly resumed flights on the pretext they are needed to dispatch Marines to Iraq. The Japanese government has indeed been treated like an imbecile.

Fortunately, no one was killed or injured in the accident. It could have been a huge tragedy that would have imperiled the alliance between the two countries and shaken the administration to its core.

If Japan and the United States are bound by rigid ties, as Mr. Koizumi is fond of saying, he should insist that the American military put a stop to the helicopter flights until the cause of the accident has been cleared up and made public and the steps taken to prevent similar accidents.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal

FRANKFURT — It has not — yet — been established to a sufficient extent whether there was systematic torture at the Abu Ghraib military prison and whether it was done on orders; whether prisoners were the victims of private sadism on the part of military police who were that way inclined and were overburdened; or whether the events were a combination of both. …

So far, only one thing is clear — there was a breakdown of military discipline and supervision at this notorious prison, and probably not just there.

Another commission is now laying responsibility at the door not of just on any old brigadier or underling but that of the Pentagon’s civilian and military leadership. … Even though the report does not go so far as to draw a direct line from the top of the Pentagon to the abusers, the verdict weighs heavily.

Until the November elections, Defense Secretary [Donald H.] Rumsfeld, who is a “revolutionary” in the Pentagon and no apparatchik, and his closest aides will be able to enjoy a “protection bonus;” but they probably won’t have a place in a second Bush administration.

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