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BRAZIL



Published: Mon, September 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



BRAZIL

Folha De Sao Paulo, Sept. 23: He has weapons with massive destruction capacity, threatens neighboring countries and is implacable with domestic opposition. This description is valid for Saddam Hussein, but it is also for Jiang Zemin, China's top leader; Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. So, why is the United States threatening Saddam Hussein with a military attack while other leaders, with a similar background, are treated as allies and enjoy a preferential trade partner status? There are several answers for this question, but it is certain that the wish to "bring justice" cannot be included among President George W. Bush's main motivations.

Hegemonic standing

It is reasonable to think that President Bush is using Saddam as a pretext to reinforce his hegemonic standing. By seeking to topple Saddam Hussein at any cost, Bush seems to try to demonstrate that he can be tough when it fits his needs.

Even if the U.S. stance has some rationality, it is not exempt of risk. Its effect on terror is doubtful, for instance. On the practical side, it could further undermine the Middle East's stability. The impact on oil prices would not be insignificant. It could even strain U.S. relations with key allies in the west.

JORDAN

Jordan Times, Amman, Sept. 24: It is estimated that a war with Iraq would cost no less than $200 billion. This much has been confirmed by White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey. Yet this colossal expense does not seem to ruffle ... key advisers of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Advocates of an armed conflict with Iraq maintain that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would mean an additional three to five million barrels of oil reaching the global economy.

World economy

The argument in favor of war with Iraq therefore rests on the assumption that what is good for the U.S. economy would be good for world economy as well.

This kind of talk must fuel fears that there is more than just security and peace behind the U.S. stance on Iraq.

And, on this basis, no matter how high the price to be incurred by Washington is, returns will be even higher. But can there be a profitable war?

There is a price to be paid by any government entering a war that is not strictly an act of self-defense.

There is also a price to be paid by any people dragged by their decision makers into war.

Mr. Lindsey might find out soon enough, if his president had to take his advice.

BRITAIN

The Independent, London, Sept. 25: The slender victory won by Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's Social Democrat and Green coalition in Germany's general election is a positive turn of events for Germany and for Europe. Whether it is equally positive for the Atlantic alliance depends how quickly and effectively Berlin and Washington can mend their battered fences after the insults that have flown to and fro in recent weeks.

Social solidarity

The majority for the Social Democrats and the Greens shows a country that sets store by social solidarity and the environment. It is a country that hesitated before risking key elements of its social safety-net and which decided, after weighing the arguments, that equality of access to education and health care were values it prized and wanted to preserve. The result may reflect a reluctance to broach very necessary economic reform. But German voters knew full well that both the main parties were committed to change.

That they rejected however narrowly Mr. Stoiber's more radical, more vaguely funded promises may be evidence of retrograde thinking. Equally, however, it may be a healthy response to any promise of a quick fix. Opinion polls showed widespread skepticism towards any party's claim to have the answer to Germany's economic travails. That is not necessarily an unreasonable approach.

ITALY

La Stampa, Turin, Sept 24: Schroeder and Fischer's criticism of Bush's military plans against Iraq is not a sign of anti-Americanism. Instead it indicates a new phase of shared responsibility between leaders of the European Union and the United States, especially concerning the question of the use of military force in international conflicts.

Critics of Schroeder's position on Bush's war must remember that Germany also sent soldiers to Kosovo, participated in military operations in Afghanistan, and expressed sincere condolences for the tragedy of September 11th.

New phase

Schroeder's critique must be seen not as a regression but as a new phase. It is not anti-Americanism to doubt the direct connection between international terror and Iraq and to fear the destabilization of the entire Middle East after a military action disapproved of by all countries in the region. This is merely a new era in which cooperation between Europe and the United States includes criticism.

AUSTRALIA

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sept. 24: Well before George Bush made "regime change" a code for seeing Saddam Hussein off the world stage, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had talked even more frankly about getting rid of Yasser Arafat. In both cases, the suggestion of forcible removal of a political enemy through undefined means has aroused widespread unease in the international community.

Many agree that if Saddam and Mr. Arafat were no longer in power, the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples would be better off. But few, except among the most extreme elements in United States or Israeli policy-making circles, seriously think any political leader should be removed by war, assassination or other force.

Latest assault

What then is to be made of Israel's latest assault on the headquarters of the Palestinian leader in the West Bank town of Ramallah? The Israeli military operation against Mr. Arafat's headquarters began last Thursday after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a Tel Aviv bus, killing himself and six others. The authorities say the siege was undertaken to arrest terrorists. Yet those responsible for last week's terrorist attacks are thought to belong to either Islamic Jihad or Hamas, organizations Mr. Arafat does not control.




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