Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Europe too weak

The European Union must build its “military muscle” if it wants to assert its influence in the world and decrease the necessity for the United States to act alone in international crises, an influential think tank says.

“The EU needs to become a stronger player because the world has become more dangerous in the past four years,” said Jon Greenwald of the International Crisis Group.

“It is the only serious partner in sight that can significantly help the U.S. deal with a wide range of security problems, and it is the only actor with the potential strength to cause Washington to take notice from time to time of constructive criticism and alternative policies.”

Mr. Greenwald, the think tank’s vice president, said the group’s study of the European Union’s ability to respond rapidly to crises found that the 25 member nations have made little progress toward that goal since the crisis group’s last review in 2001. The study was released this week.

Nicholas Whyte, director of the group’s European program, was more blunt in his assessment.

“A few modest Balkan missions and one initiative in Africa do not yet add up to a powerful presence on the world stage,” he said. “If the EU fails to improve its crisis-response capabilities, that would only strengthen the unfortunate argument of some in the U.S. that America should do it alone.”

The United States spends more than 3 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, while the average for European nations is less than 2 percent with a significant portion devoted to personnel costs instead of weapons.

New Eurasia daily

Russia is extending its influence in Japan and China, sending mixed signals about fighting terrorism, bullying a European human rights group and improving ties with Turkey.

That was the top news yesterday on the Jamestown Foundation’s revamped Web site for its Eurasia Daily Monitor (www.eurasiadaily.org).

The site offers “complete archives, enhanced search features and additional resources for our readers,” the foundation said yesterday in announcing the upgraded Web page.

The foundation, one of the leading anti-communist resources in the 1980s, has extended its interests to include news on countries that are “strategically and tactically important to the United States” and frequently restrict access to news about their domestic and foreign-policy developments.

In yesterday’s edition, the Daily Monitor reported on talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to Japan. It also noted that Russia intends to sell China “advanced strategic weapons,” including Tu-22M3 bombers.

The Web page reported that Russia is stalling on plans to join NATO’s Active Endeavor counterterrorist operation. Moscow also is applying pressure on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to force Latvia and Estonia to confer citizenship on Russians who lived there before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It also reported on the Moscow visit last week of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which signaled a “dramatically increased level of Russian-Turkish economic and political relations.”

‘Moral courage’

The White House yesterday praised the late Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang as a “man of moral courage” for supporting the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations.

Mr. Zhao, who died Monday, was removed from power and confined to house arrest for 15 years for sympathizing with the protesters.

“He was a man of moral courage who suffered great personal sacrifices for standing by his convictions during difficult times,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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