Daily Telegraph, London, Sept. 2: To many Labor supporters, by no means only those on the far Left, Mr. Blair's willingness to support a Right-wing American regime in what they see as an aggressive war is almost unforgivable. Labor's opposition to another Iraqi campaign is rooted in some of the most basic instincts that actuate that party's followers: suspicion of the United States in general and of Republicans in particular; support for the underdog; anti-colonialism; concern for Third World civilians; and, not least, a basic dislike of all wars.
It is hard to think of a more provocative issue on which Mr. Blair could challenge his own party. That is why, even now, it is quite possible that the prime minister will tiptoe away from his American allies. Yet if Mr. Blair really does follow through, it will silence many of those critics who have accused him of lacking principles. Mr. Blair's support for America appears to stem from genuine conviction.
He seems to be sincere in his belief that influence in Washington makes Britain stronger in Europe, and vice versa. In backing a renewal of the conflict, Mr. Blair would be putting his principles above his party, perhaps the greatest test of statesmanship. Rarely has Mr. Blair been suspected of excessive integrity. Perhaps he will surprise us all.
Tribune de Geneve, Geneva, Sept. 3: One of the fundamentals of media coverage is that enduring crises are boring crises. Unlike the floods which hit Europe and Asia, with their perfect timetable of devastation followed by the programmed return of the burst rivers to their beds, the Mideast tragedy has finally driven summertime readers to boredom.
This lack of interest is no accident, because the conflict looks stuck solid due a lack of political will to find a solution. And the loss of visibility suits Israeli authorities fine. They have managed to trivialize the systematic repression meted out daily in the occupied Palestinian territories by the Israeli army.
Several "errors" -- like the fact that 30 of the 49 people killed by the army in August were civilians, according to human rights groups -- have caused little more than frowns in the outside world. But they make it all the more clear that Israel's Rambos now have carte blanche from the international community.
Ariel Sharon, his government and his generals needed little more to justify a shift from an anti-terrorist operation to a "decisive" battle against the Palestinians. All Palestinians.
This radicalization of Israeli policy has failed to provoke comment from the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, all of whom are meant to be guiding Palestinian reforms. They have done little more than express concern over the "deterioration of the humanitarian situation facing Palestinians."
The term "disaster" would be better. The occupation, the curfew and the multiple restrictions placed on Palestinians are having devastating effect. Sixty-three percent of the population of Gaza is unemployed, and half live on less than two dollars a day. Even starker is the fact that 22 percent of children aged under five suffer from malnutrition.
Egyptian Gazette, Cairo, Sept. 3: The world's failure to treat the Palestinians and Israelis on an equal footing underlines the long-running conflict, which is threatening a big explosion and uncontrollable chaos in the region. The latest shocking proof was how the world, primarily the U.S., reacted to a series of cold-blooded killings perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian civilians at the weekend.
Not a single voice was raised in the U.S., which has been unsparing about heaping the blame on Palestinians, to censure the Israeli perpetrators, let alone demand they be brought to justice.
This questionable and unethical silence starkly contradicts the typical American response every time Palestinians mount retaliatory bombings against their oppressors. More than once, President George W. Bush came out to condemn the Palestinians, branding them as "killers" and "terrorists." He has eventually bought Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's allegation that what he is doing to the Palestinians is a regional war on terrorism.
If the Israelis are to feel secure, the Palestinians too must feel that their lives are no less valuable. If not, then expect the worst.
Corriere della Sera, Milan, Sept. 4: Although last year's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and recent environmental disasters have slowed down economic growth, modern consumption habits continue to endanger the survival of the earth's different ecosystems and to pollute the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, it appears very difficult to change these habits and to reduce the consumption of electricity and fuel.
Will it be possible in the future to develop a technology which is more compatible with the ecology? How long will it still be possible to produce goods and services at the frenzied rhythm of the last decades?
No easy answers
These are the two main questions that the summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg has been asking the West, but nobody has an answer yet. To provide this answer is as difficult as controlling the birthrate in underdeveloped and overpopulated countries.
Evidently the main problem for our society remains that of unlimited growth in the face of limited resources. For now this contradiction is only being tackled by words rather than deeds, although discussions on the issues involved are still necessary to inform people of what is at stake.
Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sept. 3: It was the usual words when Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe climbed the rostrum in Johannesburg on Monday. The tone against the rest of the world, particularly against England, was harsh. His statement shows how ineffective the efforts of the world around have been.
The EU, the U.S. and other actors have expressed demands, initiated sanctions. But nothing has helped. The proposals in Harare have been met by shrugs, or as in Johannesburg, by arrogant counterattacks. The decay of Zimbabwe is tragic. It's all about a relatively rich country and its way toward the brink of disaster.
The country is plundered, corrupt and mismanaged. There is an extensive poverty, the unemployment is high. Zimbabwe can, after 20 years of misgovernment, best be described as a miserably poor dictatorship. Famine is threatening a country, which could have been an exporter of food.