November 1, 1999
CTBT VOTE SPAWNS BROADER DEBATE ABOUT U.S. ENGAGEMENT ABROAD, 'NEW ISOLATIONISM'
In the aftermath of last month's U.S. Senate vote against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), overseas observers have continued to voice resentment of Senate Republicans for "sinking" the treaty for "crassly partisan" reasons [see Issue Focus, October 18, 1999]. Citing President Clinton's post-vote press conference in which he warned of a "new isolationism," a significant portion of foreign media underscored their own concerns that U.S. proponents of "isolationism"--some thought the term "unilateralism" more apt--were "gaining influence," with "catastrophic" and far-reaching repercussions for the country's global leadership role. According to a London weekly, the dilemma for the U.S., as exemplified by the CTBT vote, is whether "it should act alone and unhindered on the world stage," or "willingly dilute its power in cooperation with others." Indeed, the treaty rejection has served as a lightning rod for opinionmakers around the globe to question the U.S.' willingness to engage abroad, and spawned a broader discussion about what many perceived as a "dangerous" proclivity on the part of the U.S. to "go its own way" on a range of international issues--with national missile defense (NMD), the landmines treaty, the Kyoto protocol, nonpayment of UN dues, resistance to an international criminal court, and "selective trade protectionism" most often cited--which, in some cases, "leave the U.S. isolated in the distressingly familiar company of Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, China and other ultra-nationalist, isolationist regimes." Key themes follow:
CAN WORLD RELY ON UNCLE SAM?: Arguing that the CTBT vote "goes much deeper" than simply "anti-Clinton pique," a Signapore paper echoed the views of others in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Canada: "Since the end of the Cold War, Washington's political establishment has acted with considerable indifference to global concerns.... Americans are moving away from international agreements and responsibilities.... They seem to see no need to be so encumbered." Many chalked up the "unequivocal demonstrations of unilateralism" to what a Dutch writer described as "an anxious and narrow-minded provincialism: the idea that the U.S., thanks to superior military technology, can manage without international agreements and relationships." The perception in some quarters that a coterie of "shortsighted and self-centered" Republican senators bent on "neo-isolationism" has effectively gained the upper hand in foreign policy decision-making over a "lame duck president" led some to conclude that Washington--"increasingly out of step with the international community on a growing range of issues"--is proving to be an "unpredictable" and "unreliable" leader.
ARMS CONTROL WOES: With "three decades of U.S.-led disarmament policy" already "endangered" by the test ban vote, several editorial writers--including those in France, Italy, Russia and China--derided the Clinton administration for "compounding this irresponsibility by gutting another arms control treaty, the 1972 ABM Treaty." According to Paris's right-of-center Le Figaro, "America, sure of itself, no longer asks anyone's opinion when it is dealing with its own security issues." The U.S.' perceived emphasis on "deployment of defensive and strategic means," said a Rome paper, reflects the "comparative value" that it attaches to treaties. A Seoul daily judged that "having lost its leadership role on nonproliferation," the U.S. is now "hurrying to establish a NMD system," a move which many argued could "upset the balance of deterrence" and "trigger a new nuclear arms race."
EDITOR: Katherine L. Starr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 58 reports from 36 countries, October 15 - 28. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "America's World"
The independent weekly Economist had this lead editorial (10/22): "The United States bestrides the globe like a colossus.... Its economy is the world's most successful, its military might second to none. Yet, for all that, the colossus is uncertain.... Should it act alone and unhindered on the world stage, since it can? Or should it willingly dilute its power in cooperation with others? Last week's vote against...the CTBT showed the dilemma at its height. Leave aside for the moment...the crass partisanship of the Republican leaders in the Senate.... The more reasonable divide over the treaty was whether America should act like a sovereign state, rejecting an agreement that was not watertight as far as its own security was concerned, or whether it should, despite that, satisfy its allies by ratifying it. Those senators who voted against have been condemned, not least by Clinton, as isolationists.... But true isolationism no longer exists in the wired and globalized world of the end of the 20th century. Some of those who voted no were Gingrichian minimalists: believers in the least possible state intervention either at home or abroad. But most are better described as unilateralists: people who believe that one of the prerequisites of power is untrammeled freedom of action on the world scene. And their influence is growing.... Congress has definitively decided that partisanship no longer stops 'at the water's edge.'... Mr. Clinton himself is weakened even more than would be normal at the end of a second term. The American public, eyes fixed on the elections, will not greatly care what happens beyond the seas. But they might consider one thing. If America refuses multilateral entanglements, it may be blissfully free; but it will also be alone. It will be a leader with no one to lead, in a world made unstable by its very isolation. This is sovereignty, all right. But a superpower should be bigger, and wiser, than that."
FRANCE: "The Senate's Disastrous Vote"
Thierry de Montbrial observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/21): "In a normal country, when the institutions lead to a blatant contradiction between domestic policy and foreign interests, these institutions are changed. But not in the United States.... American society does not have what we have here in France, which is the overlap between the intelligentsia and the world of politics. Americans feel comfortable with the death penalty, with refusing to sign the land mine treaty or create the International Court of Justice.... Like Trent Lott, they are sure to know the 'Truth.'... America's imperialism is spontaneous; it is a corollary to its economic and cultural domination... And its imperialism and isolationism are not contradictory, in spite of appearances."
Pierre Rousselin remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/22): "France and China, which are both nuclear powers, cannot remain indifferent to the concerns raised by the changes in the world's strategic balance.... In Paris, as in Beijing and Moscow, real concern is emerging over American plans that could upset the balance of deterrence.... There is only one superpower left in the world.... In these times of American isolationism, there is a big temptation for Washington to unilaterally protect itself against rogue states.... The fight against proliferation...is on the way to being lost.... The Senate's rejection of the CTBT is one more example of this.... Clinton must decide whether to give his go ahead to the national missile defense project. This would trigger a new nuclear arms race."
"A Dangerous Step Back"
Jacques Amalric judged in left-of-center Liberation (10/19): "The United States is taking on the appearance of an irresponsible hyperpower.... The Senate's rejection of the CTBT is the sign of a disaster that was predictable, since the inglorious end to the Lewinsky affair.... Clinton is not only the lame duck president every president becomes at the end of his second term. For his adversaries, he remains a president to be humiliated and discredited.... The result of the Senate's 'success' is catastrophic: Until January 2001, the United States will be led by a man whose signature carries no weight.... America's dangerous step back (on the nuclear treaty) will not go unnoticed in developing nuclear nations, who will interpret it as the opening of a Pandora's box.... It will also have major consequences on other international issues in the Middle East, China and Russia, and on the trade negotiations scheduled to open next month. America's word has lost some of its weight."
"Powerful America Stands On Its Own"
Dominique Bromberger told listeners on government-funded France Inter radio (10/19): "A lame duck president is bad enough.... What is happening is that the most radical elements in the Republican majority care very little, if anything, about what happens elsewhere. America believes it is powerful enough to make its own decisions without consulting its allies or its rivals."
"The Eclipse Of The American Empire"
Patrick Sabatier contended in left-of-center Liberation (10/19): "In the post-Cold War era, Americans, comforted by their economic, military and technological supremacy, are convinced that their country can and must act as it wishes, unilaterally, without regard for its rivals or its allies.... This attitude explains the Congress's position on paying UN dues and the administration's refusal to commit to several international agreements, such as the land mine agreement or the International Court of Justice."
"America No Longer Asks Anyone's Opinion"
Jean-Jacques Mevel judged in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/18): "The U.S. offer (to Moscow) to accept a change in the status quo and renegotiate the ABM Treaty...confirms that the world's only superpower is determined to change the rules of the game.... Whatever the answer from Moscow, the U.S. project for a shield is a major change.... Abroad, the project will add to the resentment already felt last week after the Senate's refusal to ratify the CTBT.... America, sure of itself, no longer asks anyone's opinion when it is dealing with its own security issues."
GERMANY: "Superpower Without Leadership"
In Berlin's right-of-center Die Welt (10/23), Michael Stuermer opined: "It was an unusual intervention, without precedent, when the French prime minister, the British premier, and the German chancellor appealed to the U.S. senators...to ratify the CTBT. It did not help and only proved that the political weight of the Europeans is small.... Instead of adding the final piece of work to the treaty, the only remaining superpower opened a Pandora's box.... The situation is a disaster and the shock waves go around the world. The superpower...lacks moral and political responsibility and leadership when it comes to creating and defending an order based on treaties."
"Goodbye, America: You Cannot Rely On U.S. Anymore"
In an editorial in the left-of-center weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (10/21) Theo Sommer asserted: "How does Washington justify preaching reasons to those who are reluctant to stop testing, if it leaves itself a loophole for new tests? This is not about a single disturbing decision, but about a trend: replacing engagement in international organizations with careless great-power-policy, and insisting on virtue and weapons instead of reasonable partnership. Are examples needed? Washington watered down the Chemical Weapons Convention [and] tries to cancel the ABM Treaty.... Year by year Washington cuts the foreign affairs budget and foreign aid. Its debts at the UN amount to one billion dollars, it says no to an international criminal court, is reluctant to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and allows itself to be [pressured] by protectionists lobbies at the next WTO talks.... This is why the 'only remaining superpower' is no longer a model. The shortsightedness and self-centeredness of senators like Jesse Helms and Trent Lott could bring America into 'rogue' status--a heavy, but unpredictable elephant on whose actions you cannot rely."
In the left-of-center weekly Stern of Hamburg (10/21), Mario Dederichs commented: "This is, to the detriment of all, the way history is being made: A powerful, but small-minded senator hates the president and gives him a blow by kicking the whole world.... The United States is now signaling to everyone that it is not disarmament that is important, but sky-high superiority of weapons of mass destruction. Isn't this how Saddam Hussein is also thinking?... The success of three decades of U.S.-led disarmament policy is being endangered. We almost succeeded in getting the genie of nuclear weapons back in the bottle until Mr. Helms threw away the cork.... The only way to get the cork back in the bottle is if the Democrats win the White House and Congress in 2000. If not, the tragedy of Versailles could be repeated: An isolationist president, like Wilson's Republican successor, turns the other way as the world tumbles towards disaster."
"Senate Unilateralism Sign Of Unrestricted Power Politics"
Right-of-center Der Tagespost of Wuerzburg argued (10/19): "The Senate's unilateralism is a sign of unrestricted power politics. Nowhere is this policy more apparent than in Washington's constant refusal to pay its dues to the UN.... It seems that Washington no longer pursues a policy that aims at securing world peace."
ITALY: "U.S. Emphasis On Deterrence, Not Treaties"
A front page analysis from Washington in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio maintained (10/19): "The United States is willing to fund Russia's completion of its new radar station in Irkutsk...in return for Russia's willingness to reconsider the ABM Treaty that, since 1972, obliges Moscow and Washington to limit their production of ABM weapons. According to The New York Times, Clinton's initiative...dates back a month...well before the Senate rejected the CTBT.... That should be enough to determine what the Pentagon's priority is regarding strategic defense.... Its perception of the comparative value of treaties has for quite sometime led the United States to adopt a strategic doctrine that, in recognizing the threat of nuclear proliferation, provides for the deployment of defensive and deterrent means.... But the development of an integrated national defense system...risks compromising the ABM Treaty, which until now has been the basis of deterrence."
RUSSIA: "Russian-U.S. Consultations: No Results"
Dmitry Gornostayev said on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (10/23): "The second round of Russian-American consultations on strategic stability has brought no results. The way Washington talks, using ultimatums, leaves Moscow little choice. We certainly can't withdraw from the talks, since this would play into the hands of the most radical advocates of a revised ABM Treaty. But we won't share the responsibility for pulling down the system of strategic stability either."
"What Is Nuclear Umbrella For?"
Andrei Kabannikov filed from Washington for reformist, youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (10/22): "Congress and the administration may disagree on the CTBT, but they see eye to eye on the ABM. Madeleine Albright recently expressed serious concern over missile and nuclear programs in rogue states, pointing out that they posed a danger to both America and Russia. But the Americans' concern is really about their global leadership, not about international security. Their logic is as follows: The CTBT won't stop nuclear research. In five to ten years Iran, North Korea and other countries will have nuclear bomb carriers capable of reaching the United States. Nobody in his right mind would think of attacking America. But the very possibility of such an attack would be enough to deter the Americans from sending their troops to Taiwan, the Persian Gulf or other 'hot spots,' seriously damaging their status as the only surviving superpower."
BULGARIA: "A Slap For Clinton And A Kick In The Rear For World"
Left-leaning Monitor averred (10/28): "It turns out that at the end of the third millennium any brainless Taliban, any drunk Russian revenge-seeker or Mafia boss could bring on apocalypse on the world with the blessing of the U.S. Senate. Its vote against the ratification of the CTBT unleashed the nuclear passions in anyone who holds a grudge against the world. With its unwillingness to ratify the treaty the American rightwing slapped Bill Clinton in the face.... President Clinton was the one who, at the heyday of his presidency, pledged...horizons without sinister nuclear mushroom clouds. Now these horizons are once again a chimera as the other nuclear giants like Russia and China have not ratified the treaty yet, waiting hypocritically for the United States' 'good example.'"
DENMARK: "Ominous Future"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten concluded (10/25): "The fact that Clinton is despised by the Republicans has come to light during the last few weeks. It has manifested itself most clearly regarding the voting down of the nuclear test ban treaty. The world faces an ominous future if the decisions made by the world's last remaining superpower are not the product of a level-headed evaluation of the situation, but rather blind hatred of the sitting president."
GREECE: "Nuclear Dilemmas"
Writing in pro-government, mass-circulation Ta Nea (10/20), regular contributor George Sekeris wrote that the defeat of the CTBT "reflects substantial disagreements within the U.S. establishment about the role of nuclear weapons in the next millennium.... Treaty supporters put priority on the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons, which, combined with modern technologies, could protect the Americans' nuclear advantage.... On the other side...are [those] applauding the Senate's rejection, because of the risk that U.S. nuclear advantage could have been undermined."
THE NETHERLANDS: "A Disaster Of World Historical Proportions?"
Influential, liberal De Volkskrant maintained (10/26): "The situation isn't all that serious, [contrary to what] commentators think. President Clinton immediately declared that the United States will still observe...the treaty.... Russia and China said that they would ratify the treaty.... Rogue nations such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq...would never have signed the treaty anyway, even if hundreds of senators had voted for ratification. In short, it's business as usual."
"Arrogance And Self-Interest"
Ko Colijn and Paul Rusman told readers in liberal weekly Vrij Nederland (10/23): "The voting down of the CTBT is a clarion call of arrogance and self-interest which makes one fear the worst for the 21st century. A superpower needs to show some disinterestedness, but the Republicans of Jesse Helms feel differently. The world is there for America, but America will no longer be there for the world. The Chemical Weapons Convention was only ratified...with twenty-five exceptions, the landmine treaty was not ratified, the United States did not want to take part in an international criminal court, and in Kyoto the United States requested 'special treatment' for reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
"No Mitigating Circumstances"
Centrist Het Parool (10/23) offered this view: "The majority of the Senate demonstrated with [the CTBT vote] that they see no reason to observe the international obligations which the United States has pledged to. In practice this may not have much significance, but symbolically this is a major event.... The isolationism which is exhibited by the rejection of the treaty...is of an anxious and narrow-minded provincialism: The idea that the United States, thanks to superior military technology, can manage without international agreements and relationships."
POLAND: "Uncle Sam Wants It On His Own"
Tomasz Zalewski wrote in center-left weekly Polityka (10/27): "The CTBT fell victim to infighting within the United States: a fierce conflict between Bill Clinton and the Republican-dominated Congress.... Among those who voted against the treaty were also 'internationalists' like Dick Lugar and John Warner who continue the traditions of U.S. active engagement in the world.... The Republican 'internationalism,' however, differs much from that of the Clinton administration and congressional Democrats. The Republicans trust the power of the armed forces and nuclear arsenal rather than international disarmament treaties. They agree on foreign interventions, but only in the name of defending U.S. national interests and not abstract values like protecting human rights or democracy in countries which are strategically insignificant to America."
EGYPT: "Clinton At A 'Lame Duck' Stage"
Salama Ahmed Salama argued in pro-government Al Ahram (10/27): "President Clinton has reached the so-called 'lame duck' stage.... The Congressional refusal to pass the CTBT was a harsh blow against the Clinton administration, where the Republican majority stepped out of line an effort to take revenge against him.... However, what is more worrisome is that the CTBT rejection...threatens U.S. credibility. It confirms that the United States cannot place the world's interests over its internal considerations, and will encourage countries...to refrain from signing the NPT. This may not be the first time the United States' internal affairs supersede world peace and security principles. There are many other examples in the Middle East of how U.S. domestic considerations and pressure groups can direct American foreign policy against world peace. But Clinton's signs of weakness may not stop at the CTBT issue.
"Some observers have high expectations for his role in the MEPP.... This is certainly doubtful...[and] means that Arab calculations, which depend on Clinton to make a peace deal in the Middle East, need a radical revision."
"Rejection Of CTBT And Effect On Peace Process"
Mohamed Sid Ahmed wrote in opposition weekly Al Ahali (10/20): "The blow Clinton received from the CTBT [defeat] will encourage him to insist on...success in achieving peace in the Middle East before he leaves the White House.... With the CTBT card lost to Clinton, the Arab-Israeli dispute is the only card left.... Naturally then, Barak will be coercive to the maximum...since he knows that the U.S. president needs to declare peace."
ISRAEL: "Global Strategic Stability In Jeopardy"
Analyst Reuven Pedatzur wrote in independent Haaretz (10/22): "If a superpower like the United States embarks on a project that could cost billions of dollars and is even ready to forego the strategically crucial ABM, only to protect its citizens from a small number of missiles that may or may not be in the hands of North Korea at some future time, something is seriously wrong with the decision-making process in Washington. For it amounts to an embarrassing admission that U.S. deterrence is no longer effective against one of the Third World's weakest nations.... This kind of thinking makes no strategic sense.... The collapse of the Russian-American strategic framework will affect strategic balances in other regions as well, including the Middle East. The abrogation of the ABM Treaty could hurt potential strategic balance arrangements between Israel and its neighbors. The result could be an accelerated ballistic arms race in the Middle East."
"The Missile Defense Imperative"
The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (10/19): "Since the United States is the only possible engine behind a crash program to develop minimal, global missile defenses, U.S. ambivalence regarding missile defense jeopardizes not only its own security but Israel's as well.... A comprehensive program, if launched with sufficient audacity, would have a powerful deterrent effect on rogue nations contemplating expensive new missile programs."
BAHRAIN: "Not A Defeat For Clinton"
Semi-independent Al-Ayam (10/26) had this comment by Al-Shura member Ahmed Kamal: "The Republican congressional vote against the CTBT did not make President Clinton a 'lame duck,' as some political circles in Washington called him. Voting against the treaty was not a defeat for the president, who...sponsored the peace talks and achieved peace agreements between Israel and Jordan and the Palestinians, and who wanted to protect humanity from nuclear destruction. It is a real defeat for those who, for personal reasons, voted against the treaty."
KUWAIT: "World Should Not Pay Price For Washington's Partisan Fighting"
Independent Al-Watan (10/23) offered this view by Abdullah Al-Shayji: "The recent Senate vote rejecting...one of the most important treaties of our time distinctly shows that the political environment in Washington remains poisonously suffocating. Clinton's impeachment trial continues to throw a black shadow, leaving many issues hostage to bipartisan conflict . We, as nations, should not pay the price of bipartisan politics. The stability and security of the world must not be victim to conflict between the elephant and the donkey."
LEBANON: "U.S. Elections In Parallel With Peace Process"
Muhammad Mashmushi observed in Arab nationalist As-Safir (10/20): "There is no doubt that the U.S. presidential campaign started with...the Senate's...rejecting [both] the CTBT and Clinton's program for foreign assistance, as stipulated in the Wye River accord.... Even though we are one year away from the election, the course of the presidential battle seems to be clear. President Clinton may have some trump cards up his sleeve, but his ability to maneuver with such a hostile Senate will be very limited. The funds committed to the Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians...will suffer the consequences of the election battle. Consequently, the destiny of the peace process will be questionable."
CHINA: "Dangerous Attempt"
The official English-language China Daily offered this view (10/29): "The U.S. attempt to establish a national missile defense system is detrimental to its own security as well world peace in the long run.... Any unilateral arms expansion will pose a threat to other countries, and may result in an arms race.... In a hazardous world, it is impossible for the United States to enjoy exclusive safety. Only by voluntarily reducing its armaments can the United States help maintain world peace."
"It's Better To Reduce Offensive Arms Than To Enhance Defense"
Huang Qing said in official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 10/27): "The U.S.' national missile defense system is not a purely defensive plan. Once the system goes into operation, the United States will be able to launch missile attacks on other nations capriciously. Moreover, the plan will possibly prompt other countries to strengthen defense, thereby inciting a new arms race and poisoning the current atmosphere of international security. The U.S. move is unwise.... People believe that it is much wiser to reduce the weapons of mass destruction than to enhance defense capabilities against them."
"What Made The U.S. Tear Up The CTBT?"
Wang Baoqing and Wang Xiaobin said in official Beijing municipal Beijing Daily (Beijing Ribao, 10/21): "The high-sounding reasons given by the U.S. Senate for rejecting the CTBT are nothing more than a camouflage of the complicated bipartisan struggle.... The United States has set a bad precedent."
SINGAPORE: "Starting A Nuclear Race?"
The pro-government Straits Times (10/25) ran this editorial: "Ten days ago, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the CTBT. The Clinton administration is now proposing to compound this irresponsibility by gutting another arms control treaty, the 1972 ABM Treaty.... The irresponsibility of this move is a sign of what lengths Bill Clinton will go in order to assuage right-wing pressures to establish a national missile defense system. As yet, it is not even clear if the shield will work.... Russia and China, however, will have no choice but to react as though the shield will work. Since neither can compete with the United States on missile defense technology, they will have to pursue the only other option available to them, which is to increase their offensive capacity.... Taken together with the refusal to ratify CTBT, the U.S. desire to gut the ABM signals a dangerous new trend in its foreign policy. Mr. Clinton was wrong to describe this trend as the 'new isolationism.' A more accurate term would be 'unilateralism'--the belief that the United States can act independently of other nations, [and] a total indifference to the effects its policies have on friends and potential foes alike. During the Cold War, fear and a strong domestic peace movement forced the United States to negotiate with the Soviets.
"Now that the Cold War has ended, U.S. arrogance is no longer restrained, and it is plunging the world, headlong, into another nuclear arms race."
"U.S. Goes Its Own Way"
The pro-government Business Times' editorial held (10/19): "It was not only the partisan politics of Washington that sank the treaty. The Republican-dominated Senate may have been determined to humiliate Mr. Clinton. But anti-Clinton pique does not tell the whole story of the treaty's fate. The reason goes much deeper: It is America's perception of its place in the world that made the treaty unacceptable. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington's political establishment has acted with considerable indifference to global concerns.... The fact is, Americans are moving away from international agreements and responsibilities; as the world's sole remaining superpower, they seem to see no need to be so encumbered. Some disarmament experts suggest that the Senate's rejection will now cause wholesale unravelling.... Certainly, those nations which agreed to the permanent extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 should feel they have been freed from their commitment.... The era of mutually assured destruction (MAD) seems to be coming back."
SOUTH KOREA: "Are The Reins Of Control About To Be Loosened?"
Lee Hoon-bum mused in business-oriented Joong-Ang Ilbo (10/19): "Now that the U.S. Senate has rejected the CTBT, fears of a nuclear domino effect have sharply increased.... It may have been a mere coincidence, but Russia has just made a significant remark, hinting that it will adopt a new policy of launching a nuclear pre-emptive strike in the face of a threat--regardless of whether the threat is a nuclear one. Amid this, India and Pakistan remain ready to continue nuclear testing, and North Korea and Iran are still desperate to join the club of nuclear-capable nations. For its part, the United States is now hurrying to establish the national missile defense system, having lost its leadership role on nuclear nonproliferation. This move by the United States certainly poses the danger of touching off an arms race."
TAIWAN: "The Profound Impact Of The Senate's Rejection"
The centrist/pro-status quo China Times offered this view (10/17): "An immediate impact of the rejection of CTBT would be that it would harm the U.S.' ability to convince India and Pakistan to ratify the test ban, and it would be more difficult to tame North Korea.... As for the long run, it would jeopardize the restriction on the number of countries that could join the nuclear club.... It is very foolish to endanger a nation's long-term foreign policy and international security just for the contests between the two parties and domestic elections. It would be very difficult if Clinton wants to promote any major foreign policies before next year's presidential elections. Would some ambitious countries deliberately use this 'lame duck' defect to create chaos? Would this affect the current situation across the Taiwan Strait? These are something that Taiwan should pay attention to."
VIETNAM: "Disputes Over Foreign Operations Bill; 'New Isolationism'"
Anh Viet commented in Tuoi Tre (Youth, an agency of Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Youth League, 10/21): "The words 'new isolationism' are something to think about. It is possible...that the Republican Party's attitudes reflect more exactly the true U.S. views on international issues--that is, simply deciding on issues based on benefits for the United States. The end of the Cold War has brought about the illusion of a ruling role for the United States as a fighter for the common benefit of the international community, even including efforts to bypass the UN. Seen this way, what President Clinton now calls isolationism is in fact a return to the true face of the United States."
INDIA: "The Indian Agenda In Washington"
The right-of-center Indian Express (10/20) had this analysis by Oxford W.P. Sidhu: "While it may be instinctive for New Delhi to gloat, it would be worthwhile to recognize that the debacle of the CTBT in the Senate provides a rare opportunity to both the Clinton and Vajpayee governments to think beyond the nonproliferation arena and broaden the scope of their estranged bilateral relationship."
PAKISTAN: "Burying The CTBT"
An op-ed column by Rifaat Hussain in the centrist, national News held (10/24): "By failing to endorse the CTBT...the U.S. Senate has grievously undermined the American leadership role in nuclear arms control.... Clinton's inability to garner sufficient bipartisan support...for the CTBT will be interpreted as a sure sign of a hamstrung presidency. This negative perception could easily render American power totally ineffective...[and] create doubts about U.S. willingness to delegitimize the reliance on nuclear weapons as instruments of national security in an uncertain and turbulent world."
BANGLADESH: "At The Mercy Of Madmen"
The independent Bangladesh Observer editorially commented (10/21): "Even the urging of the Western allies could not persuade hawkish Republicans, and the treaty was thrown out last week. But cynics might find the whole debate about disarmament nothing more than a mock drama, signifying nothing. Treaties keep being written...but the reality on the ground remains the same. The build-up of arsenals continues worldwide. For the population of the world at large, what does it matter that the United States failed to ratify CTBT? It may affect future disarmament talks--and many super egos--but the world's underlings will go on being forever at the mercy of the mad leaders, with MAD (mutually assured destruction) hanging over them."
NEPAL: "Senate Rejection A Setback For Nonproliferation"
The government-owned Rising Nepal (10/27) ran this piece by M.R. Josse: "With the rejection of the CTBT]...the moral authority of the United States to set the norms of the international system has been seriously compromised."
SRI LANKA: "Uncle Sam's Nukes"
An editorial in the government-owned and controlled Observer asserted (10/19): "When the U.S. Congress refused to ratify the CTBT, and many U.S. politicians openly declared their intention to further strengthen the U.S.' already awesome nuclear destructive capability, it did not surprise the rest of the world community.... If there is to be even the slightest progress in the freeing of planet Earth from the threat of nuclear devastation, surely the initiative to de-nuclearize must be taken by those powers possessing the real destructive capability."
NAMIBIA: "America's Politics Of Ideology"
Tee Ngugi offered this view in the independent Namibian (10/28): "The Senate rejection of the CTBT was a major setback to the campaign against nuclear arms.... The action by the Senate is certain to trigger ominous developments. Russia too will refuse to ratify the treaty.... India and Pakistan might interpret the Senate action to mean a relaxation of the tough U.S. stance on nuclear testing.
"These developments, singly or collectively, will mean the defeat of the nuclear-free world campaign. But why would the Senate choose such a curious option. The answer can be found in the nature of modern American politics.... The defeat of Clinton's treaty in a Republican-controlled Senate is...a reflection of the politics of right-wing ideology. Unable to recognize or function in changed circumstances, conservatives keep the Cold War mentality alive.... How can America lead the world when its politics become increasingly adversarial and inflexible? It requires a politics based on a philosophy of democratic pragmatism not one based on dogmatic ideology."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Stance On Foreign Policy Haunts Bill"
The liberal, independent Cape Times argued (10/18): "For the first time in 80 years, the Senate voted down a key international security treaty, leaving the key arms control pact of our time dead in the water. The vote was a lot more than simply a devastating humiliation for President Clinton.... It was a sign of the unravelling of Washington's foreign policy in the wake of its Cold War victory.... Moreover, the shift in power from the presidency to an often-shockingly unsophisticated legislature has made for some almost surreal foreign policy choices. Thus the United States consistently fails to pay its dues to the UN because a handful of zealots tie the legislation to their crusade against abortion. Or the United States ratifies a treaty banning chemical weapons only after it tacks on (at the insistence of some of the more fevered paranoiacs on the Republicans' right flank)...goofy provisions.... The devolution of presidential power over foreign policy has also left Washington increasingly out of step with the international community on a growing range of issues. Even before the test ban treaty debacle, the United States found itself isolated alongside China, Libya, North Korea and others in rejecting the move to set up a permanent international criminal court.... While Clinton railed against the 'new isolationism' in the Republican party...his supporters had to concede that the president had himself is in substantial part to blame for failing to invest much of his own political capital and effort in...the treaty and other foreign policy initiatives. Foreign policy, remember, is out of fashion in Clinton's America. That, after all, is partly how he became president."
ARGENTINA: "Clinton Confronts Congress"
Ana Baron, leading Clarin's Washington-based correspondent, observed (10/19): "After the U.S. Senate's refusal to ratify CTBT, yesterday president Bill Clinton showed, through two specific gestures, that he is determined to fight the present isolationist trend in Congress. Yesterday, Clinton authorized the blast of the third nuclear silo in North Dakota.... With the explosion...Clinton wants to make it clear that, in spite of the drawback in the Senate, the United States will continue with its commitment to the disarmament treaties which it signed in the past, (such as SALT).... But this is not all. Yesterday, Clinton also vetoed foreign aid legislation passed by the Republican majority in Congress. He explained that he did this because he thought that it was the next chapter in (the story) of new U.S. isolationism, right after the refusal to ratify the nuclear treaty."
BRAZIL: "U.S. Unilateralism"
An op-ed page byliner in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo argued (10/26): "Obviously the Republican majority in the Senate rejected the treaty to harm President Bill Clinton politically. But to do this, it...used an issue that would have been above partisan interest if it weren't for the growing trend of some U.S. political sectors toward unilateralism. The Senate's decision does not isolate the United States from the rest of the world. On the contrary. It tells the world that the United States does not have to do what it advocates because it has the power and the force, and it by no means intends to give them up. U.S. demonstrations of unilateralism are increasing and unequivocal.
"Congress wants the UN to become an extension of the Department of State, but refuses to approve payments of dues.... The United States is a member of the WTO and supports free trade, yet continues to adopt selective trade protectionism.... The United States boasts about being the champion of democracy and human rights, but sets itself apart from almost all nations when they decide to create the international criminal court.... Multilateralism, either to control nuclear weapons or regulate trade, does not interest certain sectors of U.S. politics.... This type of unilateralism may cost the U.S. another superiority, the one that really counts: the leadership of the Western world."
"The Most Recent Example Of U.S. Neo-Isolationism"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo's Luiz Fernando Verissimo commented (10/19): "The Senate's rejection of the CTBT is just the most recent example of U.S. neo-isolationism.... The Republican majority voted against the will of the whole world and against U.S. diplomatic interests. The United States can no longer ask for the end of the nuclear race without seeming more hypocritical than it already is. The Senate has voted for a morally self-sufficient America that does not have to give explanation to anyone, not even for its attacks against common sense.... There are comments on the contradiction between the U.S. sermons urging the internationalization of trade without barriers, and the U.S.' desire to become isolated in all other areas. There is no contradiction because the sermons are not unanimous...and because it is not sincere. Significant sectors of the U.S. economy oppose globalization and some Democrats want a type of isolationism that is also economic. The U.S. economy is subsidized under several disguises, and with regards to the arms industry...no disguise at all. But, after all, for many years U.S. hegemony depended on its telling us to do what it orders, not what it does."
CANADA: "Misguided Missile Plan"
The conservative National Post maintained (10/19): "[T]he U.S. plan for a missile defense system (which could be extended to cover Russia) is intended to intercept a few tens...of jerry-built missiles from rogue states, not the thousands in Russia's arsenal. It would thus preserve, not undermine, strategic stability. And Russia's security is as threatened as that of the United States by a rogue North Korean or Middle Eastern (or Caucasian) government. Propping up the obsolete ABM would be a short-sighted expedient. If the United States builds radar installations in Russia, it should be for long-term cooperation against mutual foes, not bribing Russia to look the other way."
"Be Careful About Washington"
Frederick Wagniere of centrist, French-language La Presse remarked (10/18): "The rejection of the CTBT takes place not long after Clinton's refusal to sign the treaty prohibiting anti-personnel land mines, and to participate in the creation of an international criminal court. In both cases, President Clinton put forth arguments as fallacious as those used by the Republican majority in the Senate.... Ottawa can only be horrified by the light-handedness with which Americans are ready to sacrifice certain causes that, normally, would fit so well with their habit of lecturing the world on the respect for rights, laws and human life. Here we see isolationism and the deplorable habit of staying away from participating in the development of international law."
BOLIVIA: "U.S. Neo-Isolationism"
La Paz's centrist La Prensa (10/21) carried a commentary by Alberto Zelada: "Bill Clinton believes the Senate is leading the country to a kind of 'new isolationism.'... However valid the senators' reasons...the fact is that they are responsible for their country's sending a bad signal, not only to its close allies and its main opponents but to all the nations of the international community.
"In such a crucial matter as the prohibition of nuclear tests, U.S. cooperation...is essential.... By not accepting an end to nuclear testing, it sends the message that the United States prefers to have its hands free to continue developing weapons of mass destruction...rather than to use the dissuasive power of cooperation with the international community."
Popular, independent La Hora asserted (10/15): "The United States has once again renounced becoming a world leader.... Over the past decades, its foreign policy has gone from isolationism to interventionism.... This time it chose autism, by allowing dictators throughout the world, such as the Pakistani general, to test their nuclear bombs just as a child is allowed to play with a machine gun."
COLOMBIA: "Treaty Mistreated"
Leading El Tiempo opined (10/16): "A fight for votes between Republicans and Democrats sometimes has catastrophic consequences in the far corners of the earth.... The U.S. Senate has refused to ratify the CTBT.... For the leading democratic and principal nuclear power country on earth, it's provincial and disgraceful. The immaturity of a few U.S. politicians is disgraceful, like the rightist Senator Helms, who gives certain important international issues election-year status and treatment on his agenda. Colombia has already suffered from this situation when he used the struggle against drugs as a stick during elections. Obviously Clinton has some responsibility for mishandling the ratifying process of the CTBT, but the truth is that the world is a less safe place today due to this domestic political trip."
ECUADOR: "A Dangerous Political Decision"
Leading, center-right El Universo's (10/16) main editorial lamented: "Regrettably, the U.S. Senate--with a Republican majority that is orthodox about security and vindictive in the field of domestic politics--rejected the treaty. This is a dangerous political decision. It is probable that the Senate has achieved the purpose of humiliating Clinton; however, it is necessary to point out that it caused disappointment in the rest of the world."
MEXICO: "Hegemony Will Continue"
Miguel Angel Padilla maintained in nationalist El Universal (10/18): "The signal that the Senate is sending to the world is not of a defeat of the Clinton administration but an unequivocal signal that U.S. world hegemony will continue to prevail.... It is a catastrophe for the international community that the greatest power brutally rejected a treaty that had been signed by 154 nations.... Most nations, including Mexico, that tried to further the treaty through diplomatic channels and on the basis of international law have been...humiliated."
"The Republicans' New Isolationist Doctrine"
Business-oriented El Financiero (10/18) carried an op-ed piece by Alfredo Jalife-Rahme: "Not since 1920...has the U.S. Senate blocked a foreign policy and/or national security treaty. The Republican-majority in the Senate under the aegis of right-winger Jesse Helms has given a hard blow to the outgoing Clinton administration.... The Republican Party, certain of a victory by Texas Governor Bush in the presidential elections is furthering a new isolationist doctrine that is the prelude of a new nuclear arms race.... Further, it seems that the present is the most timely moment for the United States to achieve an edge in the nuclear technology race, and to reactivate the U.S. industrial military complex."
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: "Isolationism, Supremacy Or What?"
The mass-circulation Trinidad Express told readers (10/20): "The Senate's vote was disturbingly typical of recent U.S. (or at least congressional) attitudes toward foreign engagements. The global warming treaty...is unlikely to make it through the Senate either, and Congress still refuses to pay the back dues owed to the UN. Clinton himself has rejected recent international initiatives like the treaty creating an international criminal court and the land-mines ban, leaving the United States isolated in the distressingly familiar company of Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, and other ultra-nationalist, isolationist regimes.... It's easy to put all this down to resurgent U.S. isolationism.... However, what they reveal is not isolationism, but what you might call supremacy: a naive belief that U.S. wealth and technological prowess alone can make the country invulnerable, with no need to make deals and compromises with the rest of the world. This go-it-alone mentality would be disastrous for a world that depends on U.S. leadership in nuclear arms control, but all right for the U.S. itself, if it were true. In fact, it is mere wishful thinking combined with traditional pork-barrel politics.... The United States is a 600-pound gorilla, and the rest of the world has always felt unhappy, in varying degrees, about the fact that it tends to sit where it wants. But it will be much worse for everybody (including, in the long run, the United States itself) if it decides that it doesn't even need to come to the meetings."
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