Commentary from ...
|July 14, 2000|
NMD: Failed Test Prompts New Criticism; Speculation About Clinton Decision
Last week's failed antimissile test generated a fresh wave of foreign media criticism of the U.S.' proposed national missile defense (NMD) plan, with the vast majority of editorialists from Russia, NATO countries, East/South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America breathing a cautious sigh of relief at the news. "Never has a technological failure been hailed so positively," observed an Italian daily. Several expressed hope that President Clinton would take advantage of the "political cover" afforded by the failure to postpone, at the very least on technical grounds, a deployment decision. Papers in Germany, Denmark and Japan agreed that the failed test allows for a "necessary breather" and urged the president to "listen again to the pros and cons of an NMD system at home and abroad." Nevertheless, some--citing support for missile defense among the U.S. "political-military-industrial establishment"--fretted that this test result will hardly signal the death knell for NMD. In line with strident editorial opposition to NMD over the past few months, several papers took the opportunity to highlight oft-repeated objections to the plan--principally, that the U.S.' pursuit of "its holy grail: an unattainable perfect security" would undermine nuclear deterrence and trigger an arms race. Predictably, skeptics used the test mishap to bolster their case against NMD on technical grounds. Said Moscow's reformist Izvestiya, "It looks as if the Russians were right when they warned that ABM was not going to work." Some European writers maintained that the technical failure ought to make the U.S. work harder on "alternative political means to deal with the threat posed by the spread of long-range missile technology." Overall, criticism was nearly universal, from official publications in China and Russia to mainstream independent and liberal papers in Europe and leading Asian dailies. Voices of support for missile defense were few and far between: Only two papers, from Belgium and Denmark, defended the U.S.' rationale for NMD. Highlights follow:
RUSSIA: Media were quick to offer broadsides against NMD, as did official Rossiyskaya Gazeta, which characterized it as "a slapdash job, done in a hurry, in time for the fall elections." Noting that ABM is a "concern of all mankind," a centrist daily urged Russia to use the upcoming G-8 summit to "make third countries bring more pressure to bear on Washington." Another cautioned, however, against "castigating the Americans publicly" after the failed test, since "any unflattering comment would cause U.S. hawks...to put more pressure on...Clinton."
EUROPE/CANADA: Commentators viewed with growing dismay the infusion of U.S. domestic politics in debate on NMD, as well as the "collateral damage" already done to U.S. "leadership, prestige and credibility" by the "U.S.' unilaterally bullying ahead." As Paris's left-of-center Le Monde intoned, "The American disregard for the reactions of the international community reminds us, as if we needed a reminder, that we are in the middle of an electoral campaign."
CHINA: While denunciations of NMD were widespread, the harshest words came from Beijing, where official dailies protested vehemently against NMD as, in the words of the People's Daily, "a sheer act of selfishness and hegemonism." Papers bluntly accused the U.S. of "going against the will of the world and seeking military supremacy" and "threatening world peace."
EDITOR: Katherine L. Starr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 64 reports from 31 countries, July 3 - 14. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
RUSSIA: "NMD: Global Concern"
Dmitry Gornostayev filed from Japan for centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/14): "It is clear now to all--it certainly is to the G-8 members--that strategic stability and the ABM Treaty, as its basic element, rather than being the subject of a dispute between Russia and the United States alone, is a concern of all mankind.... We hope that Russia will draw even more attention to this issue, including at the summit in Okinawa, and make third countries bring more pressure to bear on Washington."
"NMD: Slapdash Job"
Vladimir Lapsky held in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (7/12): "Alas, the second flop in a row has not cooled heads in the White House and the Pentagon. Bill Clinton could not pick a worse time for his space games, as far as the Democratic Party is concerned. NMD is a slapdash job, done in a hurry, in time for the fall elections. This is clear to all now. This program is one of the most ill-conceived and irresponsible projects ever undertaken by the Washington administration, the Republicans assert. They may be right."
"Decision To Be Delayed"
Dmitry Gornostayev asserted on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/11): "The failure of the third ABM test has robbed NMD enthusiasts of the ammo to defend it. After Saturday's fiasco, all Bill Clinton can say is that a decision on NMD has to be delayed. The president is in a jam. As chief executive, he must be iffy about what verdict to declare eventually.... With NMD deployment aborted, Moscow has gained quite a few strategic possibilities, as well as time. But celebrating officially and castigating the Americans publicly would be wrong.... Any unflattering comment from our side would only cause hawks on Capitol Hill and in the White House to put more pressure on the still hesitant Clinton."
"Failure Doesn't Mean Concept Is Faulty"
Sergei Sokut commented in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (7/11): "The failure does not mean that the Americans picked a faulty technical concept. There is still uncertainty, however, regarding the efficiency of the NMD pilot scheme. Speaking for Russia, it is not so much the results of the test as the general vector of U.S. policy that really matters. It shows that the American elite is determined to upset stability as ensured by a mutual nuclear deterrent."
"U.S. Administration Shocked"
Reformist Izvestiya (7/10) ran a report by Yevgeny Bai in Washington: "The test...fell on its face.... Critics have nothing to add: Everything happened as predicted--the system does not work. Obviously, Bill Clinton must be hurt the most. He did his best to help Al Gore, as he, contrary to common sense, pressed ahead with the project so that nobody could accuse the Democratic candidate of being soft on national defense. Things could not have turned out worse than they did. It looks as if the Russians were right when they warned that ABM was not going to work.... For many months, the Clinton team tried to talk Russia into accepting a modification of the ABM Treaty. That was blackmail of sorts.
"Accept what we offer or lose everything.... Now Clinton is going to have to follow Congress' advice...and leave things as they are until the next administration comes along."
"It May Be The End Of NMD"
Valeriya Sycheva commented in reformist Segodnya (7/10): "As the ABM test failed, it might be the end of the program.... [But] the head of Russia's Politika Foundation, Vyacheslav Nikonov, is sure that the Americans will not quit, even though the outgoing Administration is not expected to make any irreversible decisions now. So the Russians will have to deal with the next masters of the White House. Experts are pessimistic, though. It seems that the Americans, particularly the Republicans, are not going to talk about arms control any more, and that the United States does not want parity talks with Russia at all."
"U.S. Lacks Technology"
Zoya Kanka asserted in reformist, business-oriented Vedomosti (7/10): "The test showed that the Americans lack the most important thing--technology.... Clinton will certainly not rush with a decision on NMD deployment now, offering Russia a respite in its campaign to defend the 1972 treaty."
BRITAIN: "Missile Impossible"
The liberal Guardian had this review (7/12) of last week's test firing: "It has been a difficult few days for Lieutenant-General Ronald Kadish, director of America's Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation. At the weekend he invited friends over to show them his new intercontinental missile defense shield, and isn't it always the way; the bloody thing didn't work.... Of course, when it comes to military spending the cash is always available.... If the smart bombs were that smart they would decommission themselves and redirect the much-needed funding towards health, education and overseas aid. It wasn't the missile that missed the target this week. It was all that money that went up in smoke with it."
"Lucky Miss for U.S. Missile Shield"
The independent Financial Times had this lead editorial (7/10): "The failure of the latest U.S. test of its planned NMD system is opportune. In all logic, the test failure ought to enable Mr. Clinton to postpone, at the very least on technical grounds, a deployment decision that was always too serious for a lame-duck president to take. Some right-wing strategists have welcomed the test failure as underlining the need to commit far more resources to NMD than the Clinton administration has been ready to do. Failure can be a goad to eventual success. Technical failure, however, ought to make the United States work harder on alternative political means of dealing with the threat posed by the spread of long-range missile technology."
"Coming Down To Earth"
In its lead editorial, the liberal Guardian stated (7/10): "America's [NMD] system is a bad idea whose time has passed.... But will this latest embarrassment kill off NMD? When this question is raised, logic and America's political-military-industrial establishment appear to part company. Even if Mr. Clinton ducks a deployment decision, the men most likely to follow him are both currently in favor of it. Mr. Bush's position is no surprise; his strategic thinking appears stuck in the Reagan era from whence hail many of his top advisors. But Mr. Gore has a duty to think again, fast."
The independent Financial Times editorialized (7/3): "There is a growing gap between U.S. plans for a NMD and the threat it is supposed to counter--in the first instance, from North Korea.... Now, if the United States really believes North Korea has indeed frozen missile experimentation for almost the past two years, then one would expect it to downgrade its assessment of the North Korean threat, or at least relax its timetable for NMD. As for Mr. Clinton, his paramount desire is not to leave Al Gore looking softer on defense than George W. Bush. To achieve this, the White House lawyers have apparently been telling the president he could award contracts to prepare NMD construction in Alaska without incurring the formal breach of the ABM treaty with the Russians that actual construction would bring. Mr. Clinton should reject such a weaselly compromise. His only honest and prudent course of action is to admit that NMD still has too many technical and diplomatic uncertainties and risks, for judgment to be rushed this year."
FRANCE: "Anti-Missile Defense Is A Lemon"
Yves Cornu declared in right-of-center weekly Le Point (7/13): "Clinton, six months from the end of his term, should leave his successor the decision of whether or not to cut off financing [the NMD]. There can be no question of cutting off funds to the program right before the elections because of the risk of giving Gore the image of being uninterested in defense issues."
"Future Of American Anti-Missile Shield"
Patrice de Beer opined in left-of-center Le Monde (7/13): "The debate is more than anything a political one. The American disregard for the reactions of the international community reminds us, as if we needed a reminder, that we are in the middle of an electoral campaign. This is a time when foreign policy means little, since it does not win votes. One might think that Clinton would take advantage of the situation to postpone making a definitive decision about the NMD. Once again, the most daredevil president in American history could easily wash his hands of a project which has never really interested him, while saying that even his opponents would have done the same thing in his place. But no matter what he decides to do, the decision will not last beyond the elections. Bush would not be held by a meek decision and Gore would at last be his own master."
"A Flop For Anti-Missiles"
Patrick Saint-Paul observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (7/10): "Embarrassment threatens to kill off 'Star Wars.'... On one side, Clinton must address protests from China and Russia, who fear that the NMD will neutralize their nuclear power. The unspoken fear of his European allies concerns a new arms race. The installation of the NMD will violate the 1972 ABM Treaty on which rests the fragile balance of today. On the other side, Congress is pressing the President to launch the NMD. A few months before the presidential elections, the NMD has become a domestic politics issue."
"A Very Dented Shield"
Francois Ernenwein opined in Catholic La Croix (7/10): "It is impossible not to notice that in addition to the technical difficulties of implementing the tests...they are also meeting growing hostility from the rest of the world.... The U.S.' Western allies, among them France, fear above all that this new antimissile defense might contribute to a new isolationist movement in the United States.... Clinton will be leaving his successor a hot potato."
GERMANY: "Thank You, Pentagon!"
Sabine Rosenbladt wrote in an editorial in centrist weekly Die Woche of Hamburg (7/13): "Maybe even President Clinton found reason to smile; all of Washington believes that he supports NMD only to keep the Democrats from appearing as softies in security matters during the presidential campaign. But Clinton has already caused plenty of foreign policy damage to reach this domestic goal.... Now, Clinton at least has the chance of handing the entire project over to the next administration--with the hope that it will bury NMD. He should use his chance."
"America's Global View"
Dieter Opitz opined in right-of-center Berliner Morgenpost (7/12): "Missed opportunities for discussions about NMD should now be taken. The failed test over the Pacific offers the necessary breather.... The danger that an America, paralyzed by deterrence, can no longer provide its multi-faceted protective functions all over the world, requires a careful discussion. Remarks referring to the arrogance of the superpower or the military-industrial complex as the initiator of expensive armament programs do not do justice to the significance of the problem. There is, however, a different question--and it is also being discussed among U.S. experts--whether a system where a bullet must hit another bullet in flight can ever be made functionable. And every development of a new weapon was soon followed by the development of a counter-weapon."
Udo Ulfkotte maintained in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/10): A [NMD] system is designed to serve not just military ends, but first and foremost American domestic politics. President Clinton and Vice President Gore...must prove--by November's election--that they are not hopeless doves. George W. Bush...is making a campaign issue out of [NMD].... So the failed test may well be a technical embarrassment, but it does not spell the end of the project...yet. That is not likely to happen until the man who takes over the White House in January 2001...publicly admits what is already quite clear: In addition to targeting problems, the system cannot even distinguish between a cheap decoy and a real nuclear missile. Who, after the election, would still be willing to spend 60 billion dollars on that?... Apart from anything else, a potential aggressor's use of easy-to-manufacture biological or chemical weapons is a far more likely scenario than a nuclear attack by one of the 'states of concern.' So just like 'Star Wars' before it, [NMD] could end up in the back of a drawer at the White House--after the first Tuesday in November."
Centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich judged (7/10): "Within a few months, the Clinton administration has turned its foreign diplomacy into a field of rubble. Russia will not, as had been hoped, consent to a new ABM Treaty. The European allies are openly irritated, even hostile. U.S. diplomacy has pushed far ahead of reality and is now being ridiculed. At the same time, the Korean summit and the opening up of Iran raise increasing doubts about the appropriateness of a missile defense system aimed against these two states. It is more and more obvious that the missile defense system is meant for another, potentially great opponent of the United States: China. The United States is losing influence and power in the Pacific region, and only a missile defense system can help maintain the status quo."
Michael Stuermer suggested in right-of-center Die Welt of Hamburg (7/10): "The European are going to breathe a sigh of relief, in part for the wrong reasons, in part for the right ones. For the wrong reasons, because it has always been an absurd argument that increased security for the United States threatened Europe and meant a parting of ways.... If expanded deterrence helped against the Soviet superpower, then it is likely to also help against individual dark regimes.... But there are also right reasons for relief. Several arms treaties exist with the successors of the Soviet Union, and these require maintenance. The ABM Treaty of 1972...should not be dropped, even if changes are being negotiated. The damage to world politics would far outweigh any military gain. It is equally important to regulate relations with China with the help of a treaty, instead of allowing another arms race--NMD against Chinese nuclear missiles."
Centrist General-Anzeiger of Bonn (7/10) wrote in an editorial: "The American test missile has missed its target, and 100 million dollars have evaporated in deep space. But whoever believes that this marks the end of the American dream of invincibility in the air is wrong. The glitch over the Pacific is a setback for NMD, but nothing more.... Whatever serves American security, is technologically feasible, and can be financed will be done. That is the simple logic in Washington."
ITALY: "Space Shield, The Flop That Everybody Likes"
An analysis by Aldo Rizzo in centrist, influential La Stampa held (7/10): "Never had a technological failure been hailed so positively. Everybody, or almost everybody, rejoices because the third, crucial space shield test has failed. The Russians and the Chinese are happy, NATO European members are happy. And also several Americans are happy, puzzled as they are about the costs and the prospects of the NMD.... One can even imagine that Clinton himself...may finally feel somewhat relieved in the wake of the 'flop' in the Pacific. Having said all that, however, it would be a mistake to believe that the matter is over for good.... To begin with, the technical failure, albeit sensational, was partial. Important parts of the system have already been tested at this point, and only an unpredictable, 'minor' accident has caused the fiasco.... In any case, the pressure continues not only from the big military-industrial complex and the U.S. political right, but also on the part of the U.S. technological-scientific community which, in general, is very reluctant to give up on a goal or a 'bet.'... The real problem is whether it is convenient to bet on systems of this kind--i.e., 'local' systems--and to temporarily leave aside the big 'strategic'--i.e., international--challenge.... And at this point the issue becomes 'strategic,' i.e., it involves very delicate general balances."
"Postponement Party Is Strengthened"
Stefano Silvestri commented in leading, business Il Sole-24 Ore (7/9): "At this point, a decision one way or the other becomes very unlikely, as the party of postponement is strengthened. After all, even the Republican majority in Congress, or at least George W. Bush, do not mind a postponement.... From an international political point, the latest development is undoubtedly positive.... Europe is satisfied for two reasons: a possible confrontation with Russia is postponed, and the risk is diminishing that America's choice to deploy the shield may force the European allies to also invest considerable amounts in a field that is fairly distant from their most immediate needs.... No decision does not mean a good decision, but it doesn't mean a bad decision either. NMD remains a possibility, but technical difficulties have lowered its political urgency. Perhaps it will be forgotten or perhaps not.
"But, in the meantime, it will be possible to focus on other, more urgent problems, such as how to handle crises or the beginning of real cooperation between the two Koreas. The world changes, sometimes more rapidly than technology. Reagan's shield collapsed along with the Berlin Wall. What will be the fate of the mini-shield? Perhaps we will be able to read it in a bowl of rice."
BELGIUM: "Insensible Arguments Against NMD"
Mia Doornaert commented in independent Catholic De Standaard (7/10): "Russia says that the NMD is a violation of the ABM Treaty.... It is true that, to the letter, the NMD system violates the treaty. But, the spirit is something different. Both parties said in 1972 that they must remain vulnerable to each other's nuclear weapons. Does that mean that they must also remain vulnerable to anybody who can threaten them with missiles? The one hundred missiles which the United States wants to deploy in Alaska cannot deter a Russian nuclear attack, therefore, mutually assured destruction continues to exist.... China has more reason to say that the NMD makes its own nuclear arsenal toothless. However, China's indignation over the observance of treaties is selective. We know that China has helped countries like Pakistan and North Korea with nuclear arms technology--a violation of the NPT. The European allies have also protested--fearing, inter alia, a decoupling of America's security from Europe's. That argument does not make much sense. The United States would certainly not be a more reliable ally if it could be blackmailed by unpredictable regimes with arms of mass destruction."
"Preferring The Nuclear Disarmament Option"
Sabine Verhest editorialized in independent La Libre Belgique (7/10): "If Bill Clinton did not want to remain in history books as the president who opened a Pandora's box with consequences on the world scene still unknown, he was probably somehow relieved by the failure of the test of Saturday. It is indeed increasingly likely that [he] will leave to his successor the privilege of making the decision whether or not to deploy [NMD].... In the current global context, it would not be superfluous for the world greatest power to set an example. One can understand the United States' desire to protect itself, but less the method. It would be better to prefer total nuclear disarmament and to establish relations with the unpredictable countries, rather than to build a system...whose likely consequences would be opposite to the NPT's fundamental objectives."
"New Arms Race Is Possible Because Of Missile Shield"
Foreign editor Carl Pansaerts opined in business-oriented De Financieel-Economische Tijd (7/7): "The construction of the system will lead to a new nuclear arms race. If it is not built, the road to further nuclear disarmament will be open.... Its development requires a modification of [the ABM Treaty], which Russia, for understandable reasons, refuses.... Putin...does not rule out that Moscow will renounce all U.S.-Russian disarmament accords...if Washington decides to build the NMD.... A new nuclear arms race may be in the offing, Beijing warns. And, if China expands its nuclear arsenal, arch-enemy India will undoubtedly do the same. India's hereditary enemy Pakistan will then join the party, too.... Europe, including America's European partners in NATO, also criticizes the U.S. plans.... Clinton is confronted with a difficult choice. Canceling the anti-missile shield may make him enter history as the man who neglected U.S. national security.... Deciding to build [NMD] will trigger a new nuclear arms race, which will saddle Clinton with the image that he made the world a more dangerous place.... A failure of today's test, will offer Clinton a way out.... He can shove the decision into the hands of his successor."
BULGARIA: "Widespread Disappoval Means Nothing"
Socialist opposition Duma held (7/12): "'The failure of the NMD test, while disappointing, certainly does not mean that the Clinton administration will abandon its goal of deployment by 2005,' William Cohen told reporters.... Neither the concerns of the NATO Allies, nor the objections of Russia and China, nor the tested missiles' flaws have any bearing on the matter. What matters is demonstrating--on all cylinders--the might of the United States. Against a backdrop of widespread disapproval, it seems all the more striking."
CROATIA: "If The 'Fig Leaf' Were Gone"
Tomislav Butorac commented in Vjesnik (7/5): "A genuine reconciliation between Pyongyang and Seoul would cause enormous changes for the American military and policies--it would be harmful to the Pentagon's current demands for a substantial increase of military expenditures, but it would also make it hard to justify the creation of an anti-missile defense shield.... North Korea has been an excellent alibi for the U.S. military presence in that part of the world. If that 'fig leaf' is gone, a new excuse will have to be found."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Which Will Win: World Opinion Or Companies Producing Shield?"
Kveta Buschova commented in economic Hospodarske noviny (7/10): "It is no secret that the U.S. Army is to pay $30 to $60 billion for the system.... Boeing, the coordinator of the work...and Raytheon, the supplier of the missiles, should share that amount. Neither the companies nor the generals would like to see such a deal disappear.... At the same time, they would not even like seeing the project being postponed."
DENMARK: "Clinton Should Reconsider NMD"
Center-left Aktuelt maintained (7/10): "President Clinton should reconsider NMD--not in order to appear soft vis-a-vis notoriously criminal countries like Iran and North Korea, but because there are in fact alternatives to the NMD.... Instead of a missile defense, the United States' European allies recommend an intensification of international arms control."
"Clinton Should Consider International Consequences"
Center-left Politiken opined (7/7): "Regardless of how the missile test goes tomorrow, President Clinton ought to consider the international consequences of implementing a watered down version of Reagan's Star Wars program. The political consequences of the program could well outweigh the security advantages. But, as usual, in an election year, domestic politics have become mixed up in the issue. Clinton...would do his country a service if he refrained from making any definitive decision regarding NMD. In addition, the Republican majority in Congress looks like it could disappear--something that the [NMD]-skeptic NATO-countries can hope for. A postponement of any decision on missile defense would certainly improve history's evaluation of the Clinton presidency."
Center-right Berlingske Tidende opined (7/5): "The debate concerning NMD has become so confused...that it is easy to forget the original motivation [for the program].... The threat that the missile shield aims to protect [the United States] against is quite real.... In the course of this decade anti-American countries such as Iraq and Iran will be able to develop [long-range] ballistic missiles. Therefore, the U.S. reaction is quite understandable. The ABM Treaty, which is often treated as though it was holy scripture... has been overtaken by developments.
"The balance of power is no longer the main problem, since it is [states other than Russia] who are threats [to Western security]. The political value of the missile shield is exploited by the Russians in order to bolster the country's fragile status as a major power.... In reality, the Russians are on thin ice. The limited nature of the missile shield would not protect [the United States] against long-range Russian nuclear weapons. Therefore, the strategic balance between the two countries would remain unaltered. Russian pressure ought to be rejected as a classic attempt to split NATO. If the Danish government is approached [regarding Greenland] it should look positively [at U.S. proposals] based on an evaluation of who our friends are and where our interests lie. Europeans have expressed opposition to the [U.S. plans] as they fear that [NMD] could result in differing levels of security [within the Alliance]. This fear can be overcome if Europe participates in the development and financing of the system. This global problem can be solved if we cooperate internationally. To a large extent, European opposition has been caused by the fact that the United States has not been careful enough to include its allies in its plans. Russia also needs time to accept the fact that the ABM Treaty will have to be revised.... Therefore, it would be sensible to give the issue more time for discussion.... By passing the [final] decision on [NMD] on to his successor, Clinton will be able to ensure that the strategic consequences can be thoroughly discussed in an atmosphere of cooperation rather than confrontation."
FINLAND: "The Real Alternatives"
Leading, independent Helsingin Sanomat's editorial read (7/11): "The United States'...missile test failed on Saturday but that did not change in any way the unpleasant political reasons that gave rise to the project. From the American security strategy point of view, it is simple. International threats of missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction may arise.... It is not just paranoia when Americans feel that there are many who harbor evil intentions against [them]. Russia, China and the NATO Allies have different reasons for criticizing the NMD and many in the United States doubt its functionality and costs.... Nevertheless, dropping NMD seems impossible, at least before new field tests."
GREECE: "International Law Is A 'Useful' Tool"
Writing in mainstream financial Imerisia (7/8-9), Zacharias Mihas averred: "The Americans want to develop an anti-missle shield, but the [ABM Treaty] prevents them? No problem. The treaty will just have to be 'renegotiated!'… The conclusion is that the United States...uses international law, treaties and institutions only when they coincide with [its] national interests."
HUNGARY: "A High Risk Decision"
Gabor Zord opined in conservative Magyar Nemzet (7/12): "A 'no' to NMD by Clinton could push his vice president to change his position too.... But Clinton's decision could hit back as well allowing Bush to portray the Democrats as a party that does not care about America's security. This is a very high risk decision that seems to be impelling Clinton to stay with the NMD."
NORWAY: "A Successful Nuclear Miss"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten held (7/10): "Many...were very relieved when a defense missile missed an attack missile over the Pacific.... The resistance to NMD has been especially strong in Russia and China.... What started as an American desire to protect the United States against countries such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq may lead again to an uncontrolled nuclear arms race. This fear does also exist among the European allies.... The unsuccessful test...may lead to NMD plans being postponed."
SPAIN: "A Timely Failure"
Center-left El Pais commented (7/12): "The colossal failure of the anti-missile test could not possibly have been more opportune. It demonstrates that the technology is not yet ready to produce the protective shield.... Clinton can seize upon this failure to do what he has already thought of: delay the decision to develop and deploy a system that alters the strategic equilibrium in many ways.... The United States continues to seek its holy grail: an unattainable perfect security."
CHINA: "What On Earth Do NMD And TMD Mean?"
Xi Laiwang said in official Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao, 7/13): "NMD/TMD research is incompatible with the universal trends after the Cold War. NMD/TMD is more than legitimate self-defense. NMD, especially TMD, will hinder China from realization of reunification. The development of NMD/TMD is likely to trigger a new round of arms race."
"U.S. A Threat To World Peace"
A story in the official, English-language China Daily asserted (7/13): "The United States should be blamed for the escalating global arms race. The country is going against the will of the world and seeking military supremacy. The only way to ensure security is everyone working together, and setting up a mechanism of mutual constraints to guarantee mutual security.... If the United States goes on with its policy of wanting to be dominant, the world will be plunged into turmoil and the United States itself will suffer from a global arms race."
"NMD Unable To Make The United States Safer"
Xu Fukang wrote in intellectually-oriented Guangming Daily (Guangming Ribao, 7/11): "The U.S. government claimed that the NMD system is designed to deal with the missiles of some countries like DPRK. Such a theory of 'using a sledge hammer to crack a nut' is unbelievable even to the Americans themselves. Obviously, the NMD system is aimed at building up an overwhelming military superiority for the United States and permanently maintaining its status as the only superpower in the world. Deployment of the NMD system will definitely affect the security environment of some major powers like Russia and China, forcing them into developing new weapons in response to the program. As a result, a vicious circle begins, and a worldwide arms race will be triggered."
"Egoism And Hegemonic Mindset"
Zheng Yuan commented in the official Communist Party People's Daily Overseas Edition (Renmin Ribao Haiwaiban, 7/7): "Absolutely, the United States is held responsible for the deteriorating situation of international disarmament and arms control. U.S. deployment of the NMD system, a plan aimed at strengthening its own offensive and defensive capacity while blunting other countries' offensive weapons, is a sheer act of selfishness and hegemonism. Going against the main trend of the times, the United States will inevitably end up self-injured. The entire world, including the United States will never be at peace."
"Worrying Prospect Of The ABM Treaty"
Deng Hao wrote in the official Communist Party People's Daily Overseas Edition (Renmin Ribao Haiwaiban, 7/7): "By attempting to revise the ABM Treaty and develop the NMD system, the United States is trying to ensure its own safety at the expense of other countries. Using the NMD as an excuse, some 'nuclear threshold' states and those with nuclear ambitions may refuse to sign or ratify the NPT and the CTBT. Some may even go back on their promises, which could ruin all the achievements the international community has made on nuclear disarmament for years."
HONG KONG: "Race With No Winner"
The independent South China Morning Post editorialized (7/9): "The lesson that should have been learned [from the Cold War] is that being in possession of a weapon, either offensive or defensive, only acts as encouragement to potential enemies to design something better.... This is what is so worrying about the U.S. plan to deploy an inter-continental missile intercept system."
"U.S. Missile Defense Benefits Oneself While Hurting The Others"
Independent Sing Pao Daily News had this observation (7/9): "When the United States develops the [NMD] system, it should take into account the consequences. First of all, Russia may forsake the agreement to control strategic nuclear weapons. Secondly, China may increase nuclear weapons production. This may trigger an arms race between India and Pakistan. In addition, the United States is inclined to include Taiwan in its [TMD] system. This move is equal to interference in China's internal affairs. Sino-U.S. relations therefore will be difficult to improve."
MACAU: "NMD Will Force China To Adjust Its Nuclear Strategy"
The Pro-PRC Macau Daily News remarked in its editorial (7/13): "China claims that the United States' advanced anti-missile system will hinder global stability and the strategic balance. This will force China to adopt a more cautious attitude towards the reduction of armaments.... The U.S. NMD plan will cause U.S.-Russian nuclear disarmament to fall back. It may also trigger a new round in the nuclear arms race. Facing the threat from the United States, China and Russia will be forced to adopt countermeasures and adjust their military strategies.... If such a situation happens, it will be a human misfortune. The United States has to shoulder the responsibility."
JAPAN: "Unsuccessful NMD Testing"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai opined (7/11): "As a result of the unsuccessful testing, it will probably not be President Clinton, but the next president who will formally decide on NMD deployment. However, the U.S. government is unlikely to scrap NMD because Gore and Bush...have expressed support for NMD. The United States should coordinate views on NMD development with 'opposing' nations, while taking time to fix the antimissile system's technological problems. Japan is developing a [TMD] system with the United States and we can hardly be indifferent to the failed NMD testing."
"Clinton Should Again Listen To The Pros And Cons Of NMD Development"
Liberal Mainichi opined (7/9): "The NMD issue is not simply limited to a U.S. option to demonstrate its military technology. Indeed, U.S. development and deployment of an NMD system will also have an immeasurable political impact on global security, arms control, disarmament and overall international relationships. Now that the missile-intercept test has failed, the president should again listen intently to the pros and cons of an NMD system at home and abroad, and refrain from making a 'hasty' decision."
SINGAPORE: "Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha"
The pro-government Straits Times opined (7/14): "Despite all the billions of dollars already spent on 'Star Wars' research...the truth is, the technology has no clothes. What now? First, President Clinton is in no position to make a decision in a matter of months on whether the United States should proceed with a limited NMD system.... Not a single NMD proponent has explained why Pyongyang would lob a missile at Los Angeles when the United States, in retaliation, can incinerate it with 6,000-odd warheads. The main reason why Mr. Clinton developed a late enthusiasm for missile defenses was to protect his heir apparent, Al Gore, from Republican charges of being 'soft' on defense. For this, the United States has risked arms-control negotiations with Russia, upset China, and riled its European allies. Now that it is clear that the shield's technical feasibility is by no means assured, he should let his successor decide whether to proceed with its construction. In the meantime, he should...explore the Russian president's suggestion of a Europe-wide booster-phase missile defense system.... Also, the United States should undertake strategic talks with China. If the United States installs a national missile shield as well as a theater missile shield in Asia, China is bound to respond.... Surely, all this is too high a price to pay for an election ploy, no?"
SOUTH KOREA: "NMD And Our Views"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo commented (7/11): "The threats that the United States is citing in order to justify its NMD deployment do not appear very convincing to many of us. The true motive behind it, we believe, is protection of its own power and influence in the Asia/Pacific region. Given that it is a U.S. election year, the Clinton administration most likely wants to find a compromise that will keep the NMD debate alive, especially when Saturday's failed test dealt a critical blow to the feasibility of the construction of the missile system."
"U.S. NMD Test And North Korean Missiles"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (7/10) editorialized: "Regardless of the outcome of the test, we still believe that the United States ought to reconsider its position on the project. The United States has thus far sought to justify the system by citing possible missile threats by the 'states of concern.' To many, however, the United States appears to have exaggerated the seriousness of those threats.... We hope that the North has no intention of developing long-range missiles and gives the United States no excuse to go forth with the NMD system."
"The NMD Failure"
Washington correspondent Choe Chul-hoe wrote in the government-owned Daehan Maeil (7/10): "The NMD test has failed due to an embarrassing glitch, a technical malfunction. As a result, skepticism about the viability of such a missile shield system, which had been there all along, is taking on new audacity. That's partly because the failed test proved that everything, from justification for the missile shield system to required technology to administrating skills, has utterly failed.
"The current calendar on how to proceed with the missile system faces an inevitable alternation.... It was not only the future of the NMD system but the United States' sense of superiority that shattered and fell into the Pacific."
THAILAND: "U.S. Builds Massive Missile Project: How Can It Cite Self-Defense?"
"Cafe Dam" commented in elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij (7/10): "Last Friday, the United States once again showed off its pre-eminence as world superpower with the test of its so-called 'missile killer,' prompting worldwide criticisms over the weekend.... If today's oblique equilibrium of lethal weaponry is further aggravated by such a thing as the 'missile killer,' things would go from bad to worse. It's much like a bully buying an M-16 assault rifle and citing 'self-defense' as a reason."
INDIA: "Rockets' Glare"
The centrist Telegraph had this editorial (7/12): "The implications for India are obvious. The less faith the United States has in the [nonproliferation] regime, the more likely it will press ahead with missile defense. If such a system is even halfway successful, it is sure to trigger a massive missile-building program by China. Some of these missiles could spill over into Pakistan.... If China does start a massive arms buildup, India will have to give up any talk of a cheap nuclear deterrence."
"Pie In The Sky"
An editorial in the centrist Pioneer said (7/11): "A new arms race will be triggered in Asia. Also, it will result in increased transfer of technology to Pakistan destabilizing the South Asian region. NMD and TMD could help expand U.S.-led security arrangements and the United States may even try to bring India within its ambit. However, missile defense also carry major drawbacks. The biggest casualty will be the arms control regime."
The centrist Hindu had this editorial (7/11): "The U.S. shooting of a 'hit-to-kill' weapon has been rightly seen as a provocation by Russia and China.... The latest U.S. move could only be attributed to the Pentagon's susceptibility to pressures from its missile industry bent upon remaining indefinitely in business with a continuous upgrading of its technology at a huge cost, which is sheer squandering. The close relationships the United States has built up, not only with Russia but also with China, should have completely set at rest all fears.... If, in spite of this, the United States feels that it has to remain very much ahead with a continuous upgrading of its missile technology, it could only be a manifestation of a craze to remain invulnerable against wholly non-existent hazards."
The centrist Times of India featured this editorial (7/10): "The practical Chinese reaction to the NMD is likely to be a sharp boost in the numbers of missiles targeting the United States and Taiwan.... Their logical response would be to dramatically increase these numbers so as to overwhelm any anti-missile system.... India will also be affected by the breakdown of the world consensus on arms control. China is bound to use the opportunity to more openly cheat on its arms control. Future historians...will wonder just what impelled the most powerful country in the world to behave as though it was the most insecure."
SYRIA: "Good Coming Out Of Harm"
Adham Al-Tawil opined in government-owned Tishreen (7/9): "Once again, the Pentagon failed to achieve a defensive missile system. Now, the question is: Can such a system provide protection from missile attacks?... [And] is this a doctrine dating back to the Cold War era? Political agreements that reduce destructive weapons, eliminate spots of international tension [and] halt wars...are the only guarantee for global security and peace. More arms would only lead to global destruction."
CANADA: "Misguided Missiles"
The liberal Toronto Star judged (7/10): "Missile defense is producing collateral damage as far as the eye can see. Inside the United States, it's a divisive subject in a campaign year.... Abroad, the fallout is worse. Americans are being accused of unilaterally bulling ahead, irrespective of what other countries think. They no longer seem to stand for serious arms control, having refused to ratify the [CTBT] and having proposed to rewrite the [ABM] Treaty.... They are making the Russians, Chinese and others jittery. That jeopardizes U.S.-Russian efforts to cut their nuclear arsenals. Worse, it raises fears that nuclear-armed countries will build up their arsenals, trying to counter any U.S. shield. For the first time in a long time, a nuclear arms race seems possible.... This erosion of American leadership, prestige and credibility can only accelerate with the failure of the Pentagon's latest effort to shoot down an incoming missile. Certainly, it gives Clinton more than enough political cover to refuse to give a green light to this self-destructive program before he leaves office.... Clinton could do Gore a favor by slamming the brakes on this program. Whatever the long-range technical feasibility, it is clearly doing more harm than good to U.S. political and security interests.... This program is more trouble than it's worth."
ARGENTINA: "A Setback To The Anti-Missile Shield"
An editorial in leading Clarin read (7/14): "The failure of the U.S. anti-missile test...has generated criticism and well-grounded fears...on the basis of the great investment involved as well the possibility that it will create a new international arms race. It is known that the United States, the main world power, is engaged in a redesigning its defense scheme and its powerful military-industrial complex vis-a-vis geo-political changes.... The Clinton administration refloated the plans designed during the Reagan administration related to the 'Star Wars' and he adapted them to the new context. The anti-missile shield became the spearhead of the project.... The project raised domestic and foreign criticism. First, because its development implies a review of the nuclear disarmament agreements with Russia, and, it is, therefore, an apparent setback. To China, also, a U.S. armament undertaking means an invitation to its own enrolling (in the arms race).... But also the European countries questioned the anti-missile 'umbrella' which would cover the U.S. territory and it would imply, therefore, an isolating trend on behalf of Washington in terms of international security."
CHILE: "U.S. NMD Would Force Offensive Competition"
Conservative Catholic Television Station Channel 13 carried a commentary on its prime-time news program by Karin Ebensperger (7/7): "The United States already has superior strength in any military area and has been left with almost no adversaries.
"Russia and China are not at the same level, but they would be forced to begin competing and improve the quality of their offensive missiles."
COSTA RICA: "NMD: A Missed Opportunity For Moral Leadership"
The English-language weekly Tico-Times (7/7) published an article written by Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Laureate in 1987 and former President of Costa Rica: "Instead of arming itself against imagined military threats, [the United States] should be doing more to support multilateral efforts to bring peace to conflict-torn regions. Instead of spending huge amounts of money to fuel an arms race, it should be contributing to the construction of a more peaceful world by helping poor countries on the road to development."
CUBA: "Distress In Pentagon, White House Over Missile Failure"
Excerpts from the following "Prensa Latina" (Cuba's official government-controlled news agency) dispatch (7/9) were carried and commented on in the weekly Communist Labor Party Trabajadores (7/10) and in daily Communist Party Granma (7/10): "President William Clinton is confronting pressure from China, Russia, and other, allied countries in Europe, who are afraid that a new arms race is being encouraged. The United States is losing the stature it needs to demand that third countries not carry out nuclear tests."
MEXICO: "U.S. Should Reconsider Threat"
Nationalist Milenio carried this column by Mireya Olivas (7/10): "The United States should reconsider what is the real threat that several Third World countries pose for its security. North Korea...has entered into a moratorium to test such missile. The coming U.S. administration will have to accept that the NMD is basically designed to give a multi-billion contract to the military industry and to give a false sense of security to the American people."
VENEZUELA: "Clinton In The Galaxies"
Leading, liberal El Nacional published this editorial (7/11): "One argument for [NMD] is the long-range missile project under development by North Korea. It seems incredible that such a country could cause strategic concern to the superpower.… Beyond its outrageous cost and its minimal utility, this project, based on Ronald Reagan's Star Wars idea, lacks sound foundations. It could trigger another nuclear race with China and Russia.... The reasons advanced to deploy this missile shield are unfounded."