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BRITAIN



Published: Mon, September 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Independent, London, Aug. 28: The death of the 22-year-old sapper Ian Collins, killed when Macedonian youths hurled a lump of concrete through the windscreen of his armored vehicle ... is tragic. But this killing, for all its awfulness, must not be allowed to influence international policy in the region. Especially if more British soldiers die and that possibility is all too real, we are likely to hear voices raised in opposition, saying that we cannot allow lives to be risked in an area where British interests can scarcely be said to be at risk.

Explosions: Should our soldiers be there? The answer must be an emphatic yes. The Macedonian conflict is much less clear-cut than was often the case in the Balkans in the Milosevic era. But that is no reason to seek to stand clear of the explosions, with a Chamberlain-style insouciance about small faraway countries of which we know little. One thing that the Macedonian conflict has in common with the Bosnian and the Kosovo conflict is that ignoring the problems now would only store up worse problems to come, not just in Macedonia but across the region.

With luck, the death of a British soldier will not imperil the will to bring stability in what remains a deeply unstable region. Peacekeeping, as Ian Collins ugly murder reminds us, is dangerous. The presence of British and other soldiers in Macedonia is, however, not just worthwhile. Their courage is as essential as it has ever been.

JAPAN

Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, Aug. 26: The current woes of the emerging Asian tigers can be traced solely to the economic slowdowns in the United States and Japan, both major trading partners for the troubled economies. Among other onslaughts, the emerging Asian markets have been hit squarely by the end of the U.S. information technology business boom.

According to some estimates, Asia's exports of IT-related products account for about 40 percent of the region's recent economic growth. Given that Singapore and Taiwan are leading exporters in that category, the slowdown in these economies seems a given.

Export drive: The dollar's continued decline has adversely affected these economies' export drive. Chances are slim that the situation will take a turn for the better.

The ongoing development in the emerging Asian markets have demonstrated anew the defects inherent in their excessively heavy reliance on exports. The lesson drawn from this, bitter as it is, must be taken to heart.

Asian economies must further diversify their industries so as to encourage each economy to focus on an industrial area in which it excels.

SWITZERLAND

Le Temps, Geneva, Aug. 29: The point of no return in the Mideast is never a certainty. But one thing is for sure -- there is barely an option for stopping the rush to war that doesn't require outside pressure.

The United Nations is nonexistent. Paralyzed by the U.S. refusal to let it play any kind of role in the region, the organization can do little more than call for dialogue. No one takes any notice. The European Union has tried to impose its -- light -- weight. Javier Solana, the EU "foreign minister" is expected to travel to the region soon. Israel will listen politely -- but that's all.

World role: Only U.S. involvement is worth anything. But George W. Bush does not have the same vision of the U.S. world role as did his predecessor. Only the direct interests of the empire motivate policy. No U.S. envoy has got properly involved in the Mideast. Neither has there been a single initiative to stop the carnage.

The Israelis see the American waiting game as a green light. For the Arabs it's a U.S. carte blanche for Israel's desire to smash the Palestinian revolt without offering any option but surrender.

EGYPT

Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, Aug. 28: The U.S. is keeping the rest of the world guessing on whether it will show up for a conference against racism. American detractors have made no bones about what irks them. They are accusing the conference organizers of seeking to undermine the gathering for daring to discuss Israel's racist practices and decades of slavery. The Arab countries are set to present a motion equalizing Zionism with racism. Once news of the proposal reached American ears, all hell broke loose in the U.S., the self-styled advocate of world liberty and democracy.

Paradox: The great paradox is that while the U.S. is taking swipes at the Durban meeting, Israel is engaged in one of the most abhorrent acts of bigotry and racism against the Palestinians.

By keeping the organizers of the Durban conference in the dark about its attendance, the U.S. is clearly imparting the message that its presence will not be without a price -- "concessions" may be the correct word. Washington is laboring under the illusion that staying away from the forum will seal its fate.

But to make sense of the gathering, the organizers should under no circumstances succumb to American blackmail and ignore Israel's appalling racism.




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