Expressen, Stockholm, Aug. 14: Cuba's revolution may live in the marathon speeches, but in practice it is dead. In order to keep his grip on power, Castro has been forced to accept his main opponent's currency, the dollar, and liberalize sections of the economy. The economic crisis during "the special period" experienced after the collapse of major aid donor the Soviet Union has been deep.
Today Cuba relies on tourist dollars and funds that Cubans abroad send to their relatives. That is how this Marxist dictator has created a class society where the difference between having enough to eat or not depends on if you have dollars or not. Fidel Castro has a lot to thank U.S. President George W. Bush and former presidents for. The U.S. sanction policies have been skillfully used by his propaganda machine.
Counterproductive blow: The United States is blamed for most of what has gone wrong in the centrally planned system. The 40-year-old U.S. trade embargo has failed. It's been one major counterproductive blow in the air. The U.S. sanctions are so historically and emotionally charged that they can hardly be scrapped as long as Castro remains in power. The dictator is old while youths, the grandchildren of the revolution, have one single dream: to leave Cuba.
Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, Aug. 14: The recent U.S. threat to boycott a United Nations gathering on racism slated for later this month in South Africa, though shocking, has come as no surprise to many.
Earlier this month, the White House hinted at its nonattendance at the U.N. Conference Against Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination to punish organizers for planning a debate on a draft resolution that would equate Zionism to racism. The House of Representatives backed the White House's patronizing attitude.
Strings attached: Thus, the U.S. is attaching strings to its presence at the Durban conference. It wants to "Americanize" the agenda and call the shots if the conference is to get its seal of approval.
This bellicosity is the latest manifestation of an American trend set by the Bush administration. America's friends and foes have been sounding alarm bells that Washington risks alienating the world with its unilateral stands, which run counter to global wishes and interests.
Le Monde, Paris, Aug. 15: Since the first Bush-Putin meetings -- in Ljubljana on June 16 and Genoa on July 22 -- Russian-American contacts have intensified.
The Russians know well that in the American advances, there are a great deal of tactics. Mr. Bush wants to impose on the Russians at least three disagreeable decisions: laying aside the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, a new enlargement of NATO in 2002 and a drastic reduction of nuclear arsenals outside of all treaties and checks. Variations on the theme "Russia is no longer our enemy, the Cold War and its treaties are behind us, and a new era of commerce awaits" serve to make these pills less bitter to swallow. But they are only placebos, and the Russians know it.
Political projects: It is likely the Kremlin will try to test the political projects of the United States. Whether the United States acts, as Mr. Bush told The Wall Street Journal, to write "a fabulous page of history" with Putin, which will leave behind the Cold War order, or will simply leave a carte blanche for American hyperpower.
Il Corriere della Sera, Milan, Aug. 12: The deadly attack last Thursday in Jerusalem didn't do anything but confirm the image of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that has already been solidified in the public opinion and Western media -- the image of an unending feud in which both parties are equally to blame.
Just two questions, however, to address two doubts: If tomorrow by some sort of miracle the violence on the part of the Palestinians were to cease, who would doubt that the same thing would not happen on the part of the Israelis? But who, on the other hand, could say with certainty that if Israel stopped its violence, the Arabs would do the same? The attack always originates with the Palestinians, and this is logical, considering that they always resort to violence to get things done rather than letting things run their course.
Blame: Both sides are held equally responsible for the lack of a peace accord, and according which public opinion and the Western media keep hoping for. But are we certain both sides are equally to blame?