- The Washington Times - Friday, August 4, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

Violence in Lebanon

TOKYO — In the early hours of Sunday, an Israeli air strike on the southern Lebanon village of Qana killed about 60 civilians, including at least 37 children.

The civilian death toll in Lebanon continues to rise in the face of the unrelenting Israeli onslaught that began July 12. Even though Hezbollah continues to fire missiles into Israel across the Lebanese border, we are outraged by Israel’s military excesses.

In the wake of Sunday’s fiasco, Israel announced a 48-hour suspension of air strikes. But 48 hours is clearly not enough time. Israel should extend the duration.

The U.N. Security Council has a heavy responsibility to fulfill in guiding this moratorium so that it evolves into a permanent truce.

What defies our comprehension is the attitude of the United States. While we give Washington credit for exerting pressure on Israel into suspending the air strikes, we take strong exception to its refusal to denounce Israel in the United Nations Security Council. Also baffling is Washington’s wariness about calling for an immediate cease-fire. …

Ha’aretz

The Iranian context

TEL AVIV — The war in Lebanon has diverted Israeli attention from the important resolution the U.N. Security Council passed Monday regarding the Iranian nuclear program. Resolution 1696 calls on Iran to stop enriching uranium by the end of the month, or else face sanctions. … Nonetheless, this is the first time the Security Council has made such a resolute demand of the Iranian regime, and called on it to choose between suspending its nuclear plan and clashing with the international community.

The Security Council decision’s timing is significant, coming in the midst of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. …

One can argue over the degree of Iranian influence in Lebanon, in general, and in the current war, in particular. What is important is that Iran itself created the link between Lebanon and the nuclear program when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that the delay in declaring a cease-fire in Lebanon would make it difficult for his government to accept the European-American offer to resolve the nuclear dispute. …

Israel, which sees the Iranian nuclear program as the gravest of threats to its existence and security, must not ignore the connection between the battlefields beyond the Blue Line and the uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz. The defeat of Hezbollah in the current conflict will serve as a stop sign for Iran, which has become stronger over the past year while oil prices have risen …

Times

Cuba’s political flux

LONDON — Both on the island and abroad, people are preparing for change. Few doubt that the communist system will die with Senor Castro. The collapse of the Soviet Union made its continuation ever more precarious — and cautious market reforms a few years ago so quickly began to unravel the entire structure that the frightened government quickly backtracked. For now the economy is in stasis. But entrepreneurs know well the pent-up demand for change, for imports, luxuries and links to the outside world, and are already preparing to seize the moment when the U.S. embargo is lifted.

Some fear that the country could quickly return to 1959, becoming a playground of the American rich, where weak governments are dominated by gambling interests and corrupt businessmen. There is, indeed, a danger of change coming too explosively and of a new mafia taking advantage of a communist collapse, as in much of Eastern Europe. But that is to ignore everything that has happened since the fall of Batista. Cuba is more robust now. For all the repression, religious persecution and assault on human rights, the Cuban people have three advantages on which to build a future: an education system that has given them literacy and qualifications; a credible national health system; and a cultural pride, seen in the flowering of the arts and music. …

Rumors abound and hopes are rising. But nothing should be assumed. Senor Castro has survived past health scares. He could yet stagger on.

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