- The Washington Times - Friday, October 15, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


The Bush-Kerry debates

CANBERRA — The U.S. presidential election campaign has 18 days to run, but [Wednesday’s] third debate was the last chance President George W. Bush or Democrat challenger John Kerry will get to address the American people as a national polity.

…Senator Kerry has grasped the opportunity such debates offer the challenger to square off against an incumbent on equal terms, and look like a serious alternative. After beating Mr. Bush — who seemed out of sorts — in the first debate, Senator Kerry has held his own in the remaining two, which have been even. …

Anybody who likes to flatter themselves that we focus on issues, while U.S. politics is all about personalities, would have been brought up short by three debates in which two articulate spokesmen for their respective causes distinguished themselves carefully on myriad issues, domestic and foreign.

Moscow Times

Russia’s oil-for-food scandal

MOSCOW — A U.S. report that lays out how much money specific government ministries, political parties, companies and individuals are estimated to have made under the [U.N.] oil-for-food program in Iraq raises serious questions about Russia’s often-stated commitment to the United Nations. …

Where it gets nasty is in late 2000, when Saddam Hussein’s regime imposed a 10 percent surcharge on every barrel [of oil sold]. The money, from all appearances an illegal kickback, had to be deposited in Hussein-controlled bank accounts or delivered to Iraqi embassies. According to calculations based on the report, 27 Russian entities paid the Hussein regime $29.4 million and pocketed an estimated $129.8 million for themselves from December 2000 to April 2003.

Russia can take some steps to repair the damage. It can open an investigation into Russians’ involvement in the oil-for-food program, support the U.N.’s own investigation by providing full information, and take punitive measures against those who are found to have violated the sanctions.

But it probably will not. The administration of [President Vladimir] Putin has made a practice, and not just in the Yukos case, of using the judicial system as a political tool against its enemies.

Kenya Times

A native Nobelist

NAIROBI — For a country that has suffered incessant negative publicity at the international level for most of the year, the naming of Professor Wangari Maathai as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner was simultaneously a dizzying and humbling development.

The ecstatic reaction by Kenyans from the head of state to the common [man] told it all. Apart from the ritual gold medal Kenyan runners win in steeplechase at the Olympic Games, our country has never experienced a finer moment at the global level. If before [the announcement] a Kenyan was hesitant to pin his nationality on his or her forehead, today we are bubbling in pride as we savor the professor’s historic achievement. …

In a country where inspirational leaders come few and far between, Prof. Maathai’s Nobel Peace Prize must surely fire up national imagination and set Kenyans adjusting their aims higher, especially our girls and women.

Taipei Times

New constitution needed

Any democratic country abiding by the rule of law has a basic national law. Even totalitarian China has a constitution it uses to show off its civilized behavior. Taiwan, however, still uses the constitution of a non-existent country — the Republic of China — and because it is inappropriate, it is repeatedly amended.

A sound democracy must have an appropriate constitution. The meaning of that constitution can then change with the times. The text of the U.S. Constitution, for example, is simple, and, as times change, interpretations by the Supreme Court serve to further consolidate its spirit. …

A new constitution is now Taiwan’s only choice.

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