- The Washington Times - Friday, February 11, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Sueddeutsche Zeitung

Russo-American relations

MUNICH — There is plenty to suggest that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov must be longing to have Colin Powell back after last weekend.



The Russian met in Ankara with his new colleague from Washington, Condoleezza Rice, and — despite the “open and friendly atmosphere” that Mr. Lavrov routinely speaks of — she brought up a whole series of unpleasant points: the Yukos affair, press freedom and the dubious state of Russian democracy in general.

If there were any doubts, they have now been dispelled — President George W. Bush is not sparing Russia in the missionary campaign for democracy that he is determined to conduct in his second term.

Mr. Bush’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava [Slovakia] Feb. 24 … promises to be interesting.

The two presidents will have to clarify how much or little remains of their alliance within the anti-terror alliance.

In Ankara, Miss Rice set the tone: The United States is not prepared to be silent about things it doesn’t like in the interests of a “strategic partnership” that is in any case vague. …

Mr. Bush and Miss Rice distrust Mr. Putin, and they are now making little secret of it.

Asahi Shimbun

State of the Union address

TOKYO — All [President Bush’s] goals hinge on the outcome of the war in Iraq. To ensure his place in history, he should take a long hard look at reality.

Second-term U.S. presidents are said to want to make sure their names go down in history. We believe this partly explains Mr. Bush’s stated resolve to bring “democracy” to the Middle East.

Fixing Social Security is another major task. Mr. Bush’s proposal to introduce “voluntary personal retirement accounts” to this 1930s system suggested his eagerness to stick to the neoconservative philosophy of small government.

But no matter how much he may stress domestic reforms, their future will be affected by developments in Iraq.

The longer U.S. troops remain, the more military expenditures will bloat, which in turn will effectively nullify Mr. Bush’s pledge to slash the federal deficit by half during his presidency.

Guardian

Death of a tyrant

LAGOS, Nigeria — For almost four decades, President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo was like a permanent political fixture on the African continent. Last Saturday, Mr. Eyadema, 69, died of a heart attack. He had been in power since 1967 and was second only to Fidel Castro as the world’s longest surviving president. Infamous for leading the coup against independence President Sylvanus Olympio in 1963, the first such forceful and unconstitutional takeover of power in Africa, Mr. Eyadema seized full powers four years later and then led one of the worst tyrannical regimes comparable to Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko.

Mr. Eyadema privatized the state, squelched dissent and bludgeoned the opposition, some of whose members were assassinated while others fled abroad. Though he legalized political parties in 1991, the elections that were held in 1993, 1998 and 2003 were marred by irregularities and lack of integrity, all of which aided his continued stay in office. Mr. Eyadema’s demise is one more lesson for the remaining pockets of despotism on the continent. Tyrants will never live forever. When they die, history will judiciously record their deeds.

It is a tragic but fitting epitaph to his long years of sustained misrule that, with his departure, Togo is now embroiled in a succession crisis. Hours after Mr. Eyadema’s death, the top brass of the military, who are his cronies, blockaded the country by closing its borders and airspace. Citing the need to avoid “a total power vacuum” … Gen. Zakari Nandja, led other acquiescent brass hats to install Faure, Mr. Eyadema’s 39-year-old son, as the new president. The officers promptly pledged their allegiance to and briskly saluted the new president.

The charade was nothing but a coup, which the world has seen through.

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