Friday, February 13, 2004

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Jamaica Observer

The uprising in Haiti

KINGSTON — The Haitian opposition must be told, and be made to understand, that it will not be rewarded for violence and for any antidemocratic or unconstitutional seizure of power. Which is what it seems that events in Haiti are leading to.

Whatever any one of us, including the government of the United States, may think of Haiti’s president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, and even with the flaws in the Haitian electoral system, there is no doubt that Mr. Aristide’s election in 2000 was legitimate. It, by and large, reflected the will of the Haitian people. …

Now, armed thugs have taken over several Haitian towns seeking what was not achieved via the ballot box — the departure of Mr. Aristide two years ahead of the completion of his term.

It seems to us that the stage is being set, with the tacit if not overt support of the Haitian official opposition, for a coup against Mr. Aristide, which would be a repeat of what happened in the early 1990s. And in the shadows lurk the same types who backed the previous anti-Aristide putsch and who have backed the more recent dictatorships in Haiti.

All this is not to suggest that we approve of Mr. Aristide and everything that he has done. Not by any means. Indeed, we believe that he has moved far too slowly and has been too inflexible. …

Cape Times

Upcoming national elections

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa goes to the polls on April 14 for an election that will be of considerable political significance, but also laden with symbolism.

Most obviously, it will take place amid celebrations of the country’s 10th anniversary of democracy.

Given the bleak prognoses that abounded in the days before April 27, 1994 — the date of the first democratic election — it is a remarkable achievement.

The confidence generated by the achievement will hopefully give rise to the beginnings of a shift in the way we conduct our political life. It will be heartening were this election to see politicians and the electorate genuinely grappling with issues, rather than clubbing one another over the head with the divisions of the past.

Another sign of that maturity would be the softening of the rhetoric that has inflamed emotions in the past — most particularly in Kwa Zulu Natal — and an end to unrealistic promises. As the South African Council of Churches has pointed out, such promises give rise to unhealthy expectations.

Hindustan Times

The intelligence on Iraq

DELHI, India — After David Kay, it was CIA director George Tenet’s turn to say that Iraq did not pose a clear and present danger to the U.S.

Between the two of them, the chief weapons inspector and the chief spymaster have blown a hole in George W. Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive war. A pre-emptive strike implies that the enemy is on the verge of committing aggression. But since Iraq is now shown to have presented no such threat, the entire case for an invasion which Mr. Bush and his faithful ally, Tony Blair, had built stands demolished.

They were clearly overstating their case, either deliberately, as when U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice didn’t want to wait till Saddam Hussein’s “smoking gun turned into a mushroom cloud.” Or inadvertently, as Mr. Blair’s confession that he didn’t know the 45-minute threat referred to battlefield weapons.

Now that the main argument for the war has been nullified, the Bush administration has started moving the goal posts. The focus, as a recent observation of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested, is now on an adversary’s intent and capability. Mr. Tenet, too, referred to the intent and capability of a brutal despot like Mr. Hussein. …

Arguably, it may be possible to justify a pre-emptive strike if the threat seems imminent. But what if the enemy only harbors, or is suspected to harbor, an intention? Can the Iraq war be justified on this count?

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