- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

New Zealand Herald

Post-tsunami tourist role

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — It is easy to criticize the tourists at Phuket and other Indian Ocean resorts who went back to the beach a few days after the tsunami and lay in the sun within sight of the devastation. Did they not know that the dead were still being discovered among the debris and the survivors still sifting through the ruins of their lives? What possesses people that they can lie back and sun themselves instead of lending a hand? If they cannot make themselves useful, at least they could have the sensitivity to stay away, couldn’t they?

Those who ask these questions are themselves a comfortable distance from the disaster. The same sentiments are not being heard from residents of the damaged resorts or their governments. Quite the contrary, the Thai authorities, for example, are anxious to ensure that tourists are not discouraged from returning wherever it is practicable. …

It is not uncommon for sensitive people to maintain a respectful distance from death for much longer than the bereaved would wish. That is true of personal grief and it is probably true of communities, too. Phuket, Sri Lanka and the other places are probably relieved to see signs of tourism returning.


Reforming the United Nations

LONDON — Kofi Annan may not have intended to echo the queen when he said that 2004 had been an “annus horribilis.” But the U.N. secretary-general has certainly been facing problems on a royal scale. He has now signaled a new start with the appointment of Mark Malloch Brown, a highly regarded British official, as his chief of staff. But the difficulties have not gone away. With the Asian tsunami disaster requiring the full and urgent attention of the world body, and its many critics sensing weakness, he cannot afford any more damaging distractions.

Mr. Annan was hailed as an experienced U.N. insider when he took over from Boutros Boutros-Ghali seven years ago, despite a patchy record as head of peacekeeping during the Bosnian and Rwandan crises. But in recent months the U.N. has faced damaging allegations of corruption in the Iraqi food-for-oil program (though this was largely the responsibility of the member states) — worsened by the fact that Mr. Annan’s son, Kojo, took payments from a firm involved. Then came staff complaints of sexual harassment and a prostitution scandal involving U.N. personnel in the Congo. …

Supporters of the U.N., like this newspaper, are often accused of being too reverential. That is to misrepresent the reality of an organization that can only be as good as its members. The U.N. is far from perfect, but the only world body we have, still dominated by the victors of the second world war, and [it] needs reform, not marginalization.

Jerusalem Post

Violence in closing settlements

JERUSALEM — On Monday, during the scuffle over the demolition of an illegal outpost near Yitzhar, a soldier felt the need to fire shots in the air when a settler tried to take away his rifle. An off-duty soldier who lives in Yitzhar joined the resisting settlers and was arrested.

Stones were thrown at soldiers, military vehicles were vandalized, and soldiers were called “Nazis.” The writing is on the wall. But what does it say, and in whose interest is it to put it there?

The settlers involved in this muddy fracas are among the most radical, and they probably do not reflect the mind-set of most residents of communities slated to be dismantled. But their behavior was clearly meant as both a signal and a call to arms. And the fact that it was meant to scare us does not mean that it shouldn’t, even though the government must remain undeterred by violent intimidation. …

The irony is that, as the prospect of violent resistance grows, the settler leaders and the radicals they won’t stand up to are driving all of us, the people of Israel, into a corner. They are forcing a choice between anarchy and democracy.

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