- The Washington Times - Friday, March 31, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan’s military command

TOKYO — The ground, air and maritime self-defense forces will be placed under an integrated chain of command on Monday, abolishing the current system under which these three arms of the Self-Defense Forces have each had their own respective command channels.

The United States has maintained a joint command structure since the beginning of the Cold War. During the 1990s, many major powers around the world established joint headquarters for their military forces. Given this, the Defense Agency’s decision to place the three SDF arms under a joint chain of command represents an effort to meet needs of the changing times.

The United States also intends to set up a new headquarters responsible for commanding elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps … at Camp Zama in Kanagawa prefecture as part of its realignment of its forces in Japan. The plan is aimed at reacting flexibly to emergencies in the Far East and neighboring areas. The SDF’s new chain of command will likely make it possible for the SDF to cooperate more smoothly with the U.S. forces.

The importance of civilian control by the prime minister and the Defense Agency director general will remain unchanged even under the SDF’s new chain of command. It will also be necessary to fully discuss how political leaders should be involved in making final decisions about SDF operations.

Svenska Dagbladet

Germany’s decisiveness

STOCKHOLM — Europe needs leadership. At the same time, the political landscape is dominated by politicians whose “best-by” date has passed.

Tony Blair was like a beacon, nowadays one that is seldom lit. Mr. Blair has done his job and his leadership is winding up.

Silvio Berlusconi had a face-lift, while his politics have not. Mr. Berlusconi made an effort, but left Italy as the sick man of Europe.

France could enter the race. But instead of being firm on reforms, President Jacques Chirac shies away whenever the “parliament of the street” marches against Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

The exception in this dreary group is Christian Democrat Angela Merkel, who, since becoming Germany’s chancellor last year, has shown that processes and structures are not everything in politics, but that people play a decisive role.

[Mrs.] Merkel’s image may be gray, but she has shaken life into Germany. Belief in the future has returned. Of course, the chancellor has been helped along by an improved outlook for exports. But she has also taken charge.


Ukraine’s elections

COPENHAGEN — [Ukrainian President Viktor] Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party was punished with a third place because of a chaotic situation following the Orange Revolution with unfulfilled promises of better living conditions and a battle against corruption.

And he was punished by the split in the Orange flank after firing Yulia Tymoshenko as government leader last year.

The bitter election campaign between the two Orange parties, as well as mutual accusations of corruption and power abuse, gave [pro-Russian opposition leader] Viktor Yanukovych’s camp a great advantage.

However, the electorate didn’t turn their backs on the revolution but rather forced the Orange parties back together. The election result still points toward a pro-Western course, with visions of European Union and NATO memberships. The election also showed that Ukraine remains deeply divided on which course to choose: toward the West or toward the East, back to Moscow’s arms.

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