- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Is Cheney wrong?

A European leader yesterday challenged Vice President Dick Cheney’s comment about Europeans hoping to avoid terrorist attacks by keeping “their heads down.”

“The statement does not reflect reality,” said Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, deputy secretary-general of the Council of Europe.

“Europe has faced terrorism for a long, long time. Terrorism is not a novelty in Europe.”

Mrs. de Boer-Buquicchio, speaking at the National Press Club, cited the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland, the Red Brigade in Italy and Basque ETA terrorists in Spain. She agreed that those groups are political terrorists and that Europe, like other parts of the world, is facing a new type of enemy in Islamic extremism.

Mr. Cheney, speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa on Monday, said the assault on a school in Beslan, Russia, “demonstrated conclusively that everyone is a target.”

“I think some [Europeans] hoped that if they kept their heads down and stayed out of the line of fire that they wouldn’t get hit,” he said.

Mrs. de Boer-Buquicchio said terrorism was among the issues she discussed yesterday with World Bank President James Wolfensohn.

She explained Europe’s desire to “keep a proper balance between fighting terrorism and protecting civil rights.”

“What is important is to fight the root causes of terrorism,” she said, adding that Osama bin Laden and those inspired by his message have “abused” Islam. “The terrorists are organized and so should we be.”

They also discussed efforts to combat money laundering and corruption and to promote civil rights, good government and the development of democracy at the local level in the 45 nations that belong to the council. The United States has observer status in the council, Europe’s oldest political organization.

Mrs. de Boer-Buquicchio said the council is working with the World Bank on many projects to improve democracy and human rights in Central and Eastern European countries that were once dominated by the Soviet Union.

“We are working for the establishment of a lasting democratic state, which is sometimes difficult in that part of the world,” she said.

Falling short

The Bush administration deserves credit for labeling Sudan’s campaign of terror in Darfur as “genocide,” but the actions taken by the international community are likely to fall far short of the rhetoric, said one of the top U.S. analysts on the crisis.

John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s official designation last week of genocide puts new political pressure on Sudan, accused of arming Arab militias to attack black African civilians.

However, Mr. Prendergast complained that the “milquetoast” U.S. resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Darfur presented last week undercut the tough stand.

Mr. Prendergast, whose trips to the western region of Sudan helped spotlight the humanitarian crisis there, spoke with our correspondent David R. Sands before returning to the Sudan-Chad border region over the weekend.

The original U.S. draft called for a commission of inquiry into the genocide and held out the prospect of sanctions of Sudan’s vital oil exports.

But Mr. Prendergast said tougher measures were needed, including a freeze on Sudan’s assets in foreign banks, an arms embargo and travel bans for top Sudanese officials. He also predicted that skeptics on the Security Council, led by China and Pakistan, would seek to water down the already modest U.S. resolution.

That’s just what appears to be happening: U.S. diplomats in New York submitted a revised draft yesterday that praised Sudan’s recent cooperation and criticized rebel groups fighting Khartoum and its Arab militia allies.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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