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From the September 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48, No. 9)

Roundup: Cold War Presidency?

Rapprochement with Russia
After a cold period in Russian-American relations, observers are talking about the beginning of a new chapter and a growing trust between the two countries. Today’s Russian-American relations cannot be called “cloudless.” Today, no one in the Kremlin or White House talks about the two countries’ strategic partnership. Naturally, it would be senseless to talk about the return of the Cold War. Rather, a major point of friction is the fact that the United States does not even consider Russia a rival while, despite its shattered weight, the latter sees the future in terms of its being an equal partner to the United States.

After months of sending messages to each other, [Presdients Bush and Putin] finally had the chance to acquire personal impressions of each other, and despite differences in opinion, both were assured of the other’s pragmatism. Both parties will need this pragmatism and trust, as Washington cannot completely discount the still potent nuclear power, Russia, while it is more beneficial for the latter to find a means of mutual and equal partnership, similar to its new European allies, while maintaining independent policies. The only way this can be achieved is for Moscow—which wants to grow to become an equal partner of G-8—not to consider the United States as belonging to “the other side.”

—Gábor Stier, Magyar Nemzet (independent), Budapest, Hungary, June 18, 2001.

Escaping the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
The United States plans to abrogate terms of the 1972 ABM Treaty in the next several months. Moscow is maintaining an Olympian calm. Washington, by such declarative action, is desperately trying to intensify work on re-evalution of the treaty. Not long ago, President Vladimir Putin signaled a possible “modernization” of the 1972 treaty. But that is where the matter now stands: Russian military leaders will permit only individual technical amendments rather than essential changes. In other words, there is no way that missile defense will be entertained. Any actions by the United States toward developing a missile defense, though critical, are by no means catastrophic. The treaty allows the deployment of up to 15 anti-rocket launchers on the basis of existing and amended testing arrangements. The United States does not intend to exceed this barrier until 2004. Conducting such tests, according to treaty parties, may not, with major stipulations, violate the essence of the treaty. Meanwhile, Russian military and political circles will “try to renew U.S. compliance with the ABM Treaty” by means of negotiations.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta (centrist), Moscow, Russia, July 13, 2001.

The Baltics Feel Inspired
The Baltic states are welcoming U.S. efforts to take an active role in increasing security in Europe. The position of the United States regarding NATO enlargement is counterbalancing pro-Russian and anti-Baltic positions of some influential European politicians. The U.S. president clearly stated that “no nation should have a veto over who is admitted into NATO,” a reference to Russian objections to extending NATO into the territory of the former Soviet Union. “All of Europe’s new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, should have the same chance for security and freedom—and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe—as Europe’s old democracies have,” Bush added.

This position regarding increasing security in Europe is welcomed by the Baltic states. “Lithuania is convinced that the invitation to ‘extend our hands and open our hearts to new members, to build security for all of Europe’ will be realized by inviting Lithuania to join the alliance in autumn 2002 in Prague,” the Lithuanian Foreign Minister [Antanas Valionis] has said. “We are pleased that the U.S. continues its leadership in eliminating all remaining or artificially drawn dividing ‘red lines’ in Europe,” he added. “Latvia feels inspired and will continue preparing for integration into NATO,” Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga stated.

—Giedrius Blagnys, Inter Press Service (international news agency), Rome, Italy, June 21, 2001.

Return of Force
With the advent of Bush we are witnessing the return in force of the national security state. The key posts in the present administration, unlike the previous one, are held by military men and civilian and military strategists. In short, this is a Cold War government with no Cold War to fight. Its acts and its composition reflect a particular vision of a world system governed by power politics and the choice to pursue objectives of wealth and power determined by a very narrow definition of what constitutes the national interest.Who are the adversaries capable of mounting a challenge against the United States in space or in the deep seas, another of the Pentagon’s current obsessions? Russia, which has been reduced to recruiting wealthy tourists to fund its space program? China, which needs 20 years of peace to stabilize the fragile domestic, economic, and social situation within the country? Europe? Who, then? In the meantime, the rest of the world will have to live with the new American nationalism. The Bush administration does not seem to grasp that strategies of domination based on force inevitably generate counterforces.

—Philip S. Golub, Le Monde diplomatique (liberal monthly), Paris, France, July 2001.

America’s Political Ignorance
The Bush administration has made it known that Russia will either have to modify the ABM Treaty or participate in the agreement’s funeral. This position is not, in itself, anything new, but it has never before been stated so baldly. The style it reflects is typically described in Washington as “hardball,” while others call it unilateralism. The philosophy is “eat or die.” The U.S. is exploiting its strengths and demanding that others fall into line. This desire to go it alone is the fruit of years of domestic political ignorance of the demands of foreign policy, resulting from a simplistic worldview and the strong American distaste for compromises and subordination of its needs to other states. It also reflects America’s own assessment of power and leadership. But in fact it will, more than anything else, contribute to American isolationism and cause the deterioration of the machinery that nations use to get along with one another.

—Stefan Kornelius, Süddeutsche Zeitung (centrist), Munich, Germany, July 16, 2001.

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