- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Mainichi Shimbun

Should Japan go nuclear?

TOKYO — Foreign Minister Taro Aso on Wednesday underscored the importance of discussing whether Japan should possess nuclear weapons, while stressing that the government will maintain its three non-nuclear principles.

“The government’s position to maintain its three non-nuclear principles remains unchanged,” Aso said in the Diet. “People may think we shouldn’t even consider or exchange views [on whether Japan should go nuclear] even if a neighboring country possesses such arms. But it’s important to have discussions on the matter.”

… His remarks are expected to add fuel to the controversy that ruling Liberal Democratic Party chief policymaker Shoichi Nakagawa stirred by suggesting in a TV program on Sunday that Japan should discuss whether to go nuclear. [Also] Sunday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe categorically denied that the government will even consider possessing nuclear arms.

Observer

The war in Iraq

LONDON — Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt claims to be surprised that comments he made last week about the war in Iraq started “a hoo-ha.” He shouldn’t be.

It is an important moment when the chief of the general staff publicly undermines the authority of the prime minister, which, in essence, is what Gen. Dannatt has done. He said in a newspaper interview that Britain should aim to withdraw troops from Iraq soon, and that their presence in the country was, in some areas, a cause of violence not its remedy.

Downing Street and the general subsequently claimed that there is no difference of opinion. “What he is saying … is precisely the same as we’re all saying,” Tony Blair insisted.

But the prime minister cannot gloss over the fact that the head of the military has questioned the strategy laid down by his political bosses. The general thinks his forces should have more modest ambitions than those that were outlined in 2003. The task then was installation of a liberal democracy in Iraq that would be a beacon lighting the way for pro-Western reform in the region.

If the country’s most senior soldier says that mission was not accomplished and it is time to revise our goals, it is plainly an attack on government policy. Mr. Blair’s denial of a rift is a sign of weakness. …

Hindu

The EU-India summit

MADRAS, India — The agreement reached between the world’s largest trading bloc and Asia’s second fastest-growing economy at the seventh annual EU-India summit in Helsinki to launch formal talks on a broad-based bilateral trade and investment agreement is an expression of economic as much as political will.

Despite some reservations on the EU side on the implications of the decision for the future trajectory of the World Trade Organization, this attempt to convert the failure of the Doha Development Agenda into what Commerce Minister Kamal Nath characterizes, arguably, as a “WTO-plus” opportunity is well conceived.

… The new arrangement, to be in place within two years, promises to be wider in scope than a free trade agreement. Aside from seeking to eliminate import duties on 90 percent of tariff lines and trade volumes within a seven-year period, it will encompass investment, trade facilitation, transparency in regulatory frameworks, and the investment-related movement of persons.

Of course, such a broad-based bilateral agreement should address India’s concerns over EU’s farm subsidies and non-tariff barriers on Indian goods as well as European concerns over openness, regulatory mechanisms, and tariffs in India.

… However, India will need to back up its advocacy of a multipolar world order based on well-defined rules and effective institutions with a much better demonstration of independence in international affairs than the Manmohan Singh government has shown thus far.


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