The New York Times
The United Nations Security Council's compromise
choice of Hans Blix as the new chief weapons inspector for Iraq is a disturbing sign
that the international community lacks the determination to rebuild an effective
arms inspection system in Iraq. Mr. Blix is a man of unquestioned integrity and tact.
But he seems unlikely to provide the forceful leadership needed to keep Saddam Hussein
from cheating on his arms control obligations and building fearsome unconventional
The further the world gets from the gulf
war, the more it seems willing to let Mr. Hussein revive his deadly weapons projects.
Now, after approving a new inspection program that offers a minimally acceptable
level of monitoring, the Security Council is turning the inspection work over to
a man of uncertain resolve. Mr. Blix compiled a mixed record in his previous job
as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, including a decade-long failure
to detect Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program before the gulf war. That embarrassing
lapse was not entirely his fault, since I.A.E.A. inspectors at the time had authority
to inspect only installations acknowledged by the Iraqi government. Mr. Blix later
sought and won strengthened investigative powers. But his tendency to credit official
assurances from rulers like Mr. Hussein is not encouraging.
In 1997 Mr. Blix suggested easing the standard
for judging when Iraq has met its obligations to eliminate all biological, chemical
and nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. He called for winding up inspections
once U.N. investigators feel they have uncovered all the prohibited weapons they
are likely to find, even if highly dangerous materials remain unaccounted for. That
virtually invites Iraq, which has not yet agreed to admit new U.N. inspectors, to
continue concealing its illegal programs. We hope Mr. Blix will reconsider his position
now that he will lead the inspection effort.
The two men who previously ran the Iraq
inspection program, Rolf Ekeus and Richard Butler, rightly insisted that Baghdad
would have to provide complete answers to all significant questions about missing
weapons, ingredients and records before it could be considered in compliance. Washington
should apply a similar standard before approving any move in the Security Council
to end international sanctions on Iraq.
With the Clinton administration unwilling
to fight for a stronger nominee, even after the U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan,
boldly proposed bringing back Mr. Ekeus, Mr. Blix may be an unavoidable choice. But
the problem of Iraqi weapons development is not going to go away. The United States
and its European allies may later regret that they were not more energetic in enforcing
Iraq's disarmament obligations.
Honolulu Star Bulletin
Turmoil in Myanmar, formerly Burma, has
spilled over into Thailand with the seizure of a hospital by Myanmar rebels. Thai
security forces yesterday stormed the building, killed 10 insurgents and freed patients,
visitors and staff who had been held hostage. The gunmen were identified by Thai
officials as members of God's Army, a rebel group from the Karen minority. Like many
Karens, the followers of God's
Army are fundamentalist Christians; Myanmar
is predominantly Buddhist. Adding a bizarre touch, the group is led by twin 12-year-old
boys who claim to have mystical powers rendering them invincible.
The rebels came under attack inside Myanmar
by government forces last week and the fighting drove 1,000 refugees into Thailand.
Thai forces shelled rebel positions to deter rebels from coming across the border.
The insurgents demanded that Thailand grant
refuge to civilians and combatants and stop shelling their positions in Myanmar.
But the government responded with force to the hospital seizure -- as it had not
in an earlier confrontation.
In October, five men from an anti-government
group called the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors took over the Myanmar embassy
in Bangkok for 26 hours.
The embassy captors were allowed safe passage
in exchange for the release of dozens of hos-tages. They were flown by Thai police
helicopters to the border with Myanmar, where they sought shelter with God's Army.
The Myanmar regime of Gen. Khin Nyunt was
outraged when Thailand allowed the embassy captors to go free. In retaliation, Myanmar
closed the border for two months.
The disaffection of the Karens from the
national government goes back to 1948, when Myanmar gained its independence from
Britain. Promises of autonomy for the Shan and Karen states were not fulfilled, leading
to armed separatist movements.
In 1962 a military coup overthrew the democratic
government in Yangon (Rangoon) and established a one-party state. Since then the
country has experienced international isolation, political repression and economic
In 1988 the military killed about 3,000
pro-democracy demonstrators. Free elections were held in 1990 but the results were
nullified by the regime and leaders of the elected government, including Aung San
Suu Kyi, placed under house arrest.
The following year she was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize, which focused international attention on Myanmar's problems but did
not result in enough pressure on the military regime to force it to end its repression.
Thailand, which has had its own experiences
with military rule, is now finding itself involuntarily involved in Myanmar's conflicts.
The latest incident indicates that the Bangkok
government has decided it cannot tolerate further incursions by the rebels. But more
border incidents can be expected until Myanmar comes to terms with the insurgents.
Myanmar's fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations should exert
pressure on Myanmar to make peace and end its repression.
Dallas Morning News
The recent failure of a prototype missile
interceptor to hit its target underscores President Clinton's need to leave to his
successor any decision about whether to deploy a national anti-missile defense.
The United States still should develop a
defense to guard against launches by rogue states, such as North Korea or Iran, or
accidental launches by established nuclear powers Russia and China. But the Pentagon
hasn't proved that it can hit an incoming missile reliably and
consistently, and there is no way that it
can do that before July, which is when Mr. Clinton has said that he will decide whether
The presidential race makes it essential
that Mr. Clinton wait so as to avoid confusing the interests of Vice President Al
Gore with those of the nation. If Mr. Clinton were to order a deployment before the
system is feasible, he might invite suspicions that he did so to avoid Republican
accusations that Mr. Gore is soft on defense.
The U.S.-Russia talks on amending the anti-ballistic
missile treaty also militate against rushing to deploy. So far, the Russians aren't
budging from their view that amending the treaty to permit deployment of a limited
missile defense would stoke a new arms race. If the Russians stick to their position,
the United States may have no choice but to abrogate the treaty. But such a decision
should be left to the next president, not to one who is already planning his retirement.
With Russia's presidential and parliamentary
elections scheduled for two months hence, Mr. Clinton should consider an immediate
postponement. By postponing deployment before the Russian elections, Mr. Clinton
would disarm Russian politicians who are trying to win votes by wrongly accusing
the United States of trying to gain a strategic advantage over Russia.
Postponing deployment does not mean slowing
or halting anti-missile research or tests. It simply means waiting to deploy until
the technology is "technologically feasible," as a bipartisan majority
in Congress insisted in May when it voted to enshrine the concept of a limited anti-missile
defense in the nation's defense policy.
The prototype hit its target the first time.
It missed on the second test. A third test - the last before Mr. Clinton's self-imposed
deadline - is scheduled for June. Even if that one succeeds, the Pentagon will not
have adequately demonstrated that the defense is reliable.
A commission headed by former Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld says that North Korea and Iran could have missiles capable of striking
the United States by 2002. Therefore, haste is imperative. But nothing is gained
by deploying an unreliable defense and wasting billions of dollars. Until the technology
is perfected, the United States can preserve its security with its ultimate deterrent:
the threat of nuclear retaliation.
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