- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2007

Asahi Shimbun

A-bomb talk

TOKYO — More than 200,000 people perished in the atomic bomb attacks against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Many people are still suffering from the aftereffects of radiation.

In a shocking display of insensitivity, Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said [last week] that the use of the atomic bombs “could not be helped.”

Accepting the past use of nuclear weapons as something inevitable means tolerating the use of nuclear arms in the future if necessary. Such a view makes a total mockery of Japan’s postwar campaign to push the world toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Japan’s diplomatic attempt to make the atrocities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki known to the rest of the world has often been criticized by the United States and other Asian nations. These countries say Japan had it coming because Japan started the war. They also argue that the atomic bombs finally brought an end to the brutal war.

There is no easy solution to this dispute. But Japan’s position should be that the indiscriminate killings of innocent and defenseless Japanese civilians are still unpardonable, even though Japan started the war and caused huge damage to many other countries.

Corriere della Sera

Afghan casualties

MILAN — When it comes to war, it is impossible to completely avoid what is called “collateral damage,” and a conflict without civilian victims has never existed. But if the rhythm of the “accidents” keeps accelerating, as is happening in Afghanistan, and if the number of deaths goes beyond humanitarian and politically acceptable boundaries, the problem changes.

An alliance of democracies that wants to bring order and democracy cannot calmly accept hundreds of innocent deaths. Its own nature, the credibility of its values … and the effectiveness of a mission that asks the population to distance itself from the Taliban are at stake. Therefore, the strategy of some of the NATO contingents (firstly, the U.S. Air Force) is in need of change.

It is perfectly believable that guerrilla groups methodically use civilians as “shields” against air incursions. To neutralize this tactic in the restive provinces of the south, one would need to increase ground forces, so as to make the imprecise … air raids less necessary. Would it be possible to do so? The answer is no — and NATO knows it well. The alliance has already struggled to obtain the minimum amount of ground troops it needed, but in [NATO headquarters in] Brussels, everyone knows that it will be nearly impossible to get more.


Trick or treaty?

LONDON — Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps the grimness of their fortress building. At all events, most European Union leaders seemed grumpy about the new treaty that they cobbled together in Brussels in the small hours [last month]. …

The EU is likely to function a little better with the new treaty than without it. But should it be put to a [popular] referendum? This treaty is shorter than the one French and Dutch voters rejected in 2005 and it ditches the pompous statelike trappings, such as an anthem and a flag, proposed in the original.

But most of the substantive changes the French and Dutch electorates rejected are still in it. EU leaders are now so terrified of further “No” votes that only Ireland’s is ready to risk one. But, in all, 10 governments promised referendums on the constitutional treaty. …

If, as seems likely, the new treaty is ratified without popular votes, the politicians will be able to congratulate themselves on having smuggled through the back door what they failed to bring in through the front. It is a sorry end to a decadelong efforts to warm up Europeans’ tepid enthusiasm for the EU.

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