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Western Press Review:A Hard Look At International Arrangements

  • Don Hill

Prague, 24 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Western commentary turns its focus today on international arrangements: tension over NATO expansion, the heavy U.S. hand in the United Nations, and the U.S.-Russia ABM treaty.

NEW YORK TIMES: Clinton has shifted away from relying on the U.N.

In an analysis today, Alison Mitchell writes: "(U.S. President) Bill Clinton came into office talking about a standing U.N. rapid deployment force and with aides preaching a policy in which the United States shared the costs and burdens of collective world leadership. But after nearly four years of facing crises from Somalia to Haiti to Bosnia to Iraq, President Clinton has shifted away from his emphasis on relying on the United Nations for collective security and is increasingly comfortable with acting alone.

"Clinton who has vowed to use his veto power to keep Boutros Boutros-Ghali from a second term as secretary general, will address the General Assembly (today) in what is an annual ritual." Mitchell writes: "In a 1992 campaign speech on foreign policy, Clinton himself even suggested a U.N. rapid deployment force that could be used for purposes beyond peacekeeping," and adds: "But officials say that Somalia and Bosnia changed the administration's assessment of what the United Nations could and could not be expected to do."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Clinton will face a tough crowd at the U.N. today

On the same topic, Terry Atlas writes today in an analysis: "The United States, the world's only superpower, is throwing its weight around the United Nations these days like, well, the world's only superpower. Without apology or diplomatic niceties, the United States is telling the 184 other U.N. members what to do -- dump Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, cut the U.S. bill for dues to the world body and generally fall in line with Washington on issues ranging from shaking up the U.N. bureaucracy to extending economic sanctions on Iraq. It may be good foreign policy, and it certainly is good domestic politics. But it is seen at the United Nations as lousy diplomacy that has contributed to creating perhaps the worst relationship between the United States and the world body in its 51-year history."

Atlas says: "So when President Clinton stands before the annual gathering of world diplomats at the U.N. General Assembly (today), he'll be facing a tough crowd. Although the President will receive a protocol-polite reception, there will be a lot of grumbling in the hallways about the United States' bullying behavior -- and a few profoundly awkward moments when Clinton pays his obligatory courtesy call on Boutros-Ghali."


Russia's attitude toward NATO expansion draws comment and analysis from "The London Daily Telegraph," the German newspaper "Die Welt," and the Danish "Berlingske Tidenede."

THE LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH: Lebed attacks Germany and America for pushing NATO enlargement

Carey Schofield writes from Moscow: "As the struggle to succeed President Yeltsin intensifies, Russia's security chief, (Retired) General Aleksandr Lebed, has launched a stinging attack on Germany and America, blaming them for pushing for the enlargement of NATO close to Russia's borders. General Lebed, who makes no secret of his presidential ambitions, aired his criticisms in two interviews with The Daily Telegraph, in which he asked whether the proposal was the work of a new generation of German policy makers 'building a Fourth Reich.' In a sharp departure from his previous line on NATO expansion, when he said he was 'calm about this issue' and predicted that cost alone would ensure that it never happened, he now vehemently opposed the idea."

BERLINGSKE TIDENDE: Enlargement cannot happen without paying attention to Moscow

The paper commented Sunday: "The second part of the (NATO enlargement) scenario -- how to handle Russia -- is still under consideration. But it is apparent that an enlargement cannot happen without paying attention to Moscow's own interests and to its position as a Great Power, which has had a say in European affairs since the 17th century. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovenia will be in the first round of acceptances, while contacts are strengthened in the meanwhile with all the others. But while Denmark will gladly have the three Baltic Republics join NATO as soon as possible, other Europeans -- especially Germany -- do not want to irritate Russia by taking in former Soviet republics too quickly. The whole plan, however, can collapse in case of unexpected developments in Russia."

DIE WELT: The Russian ambassador advises Austria against joining NATO

Carl Gustaf Stroehm comments in today's edition: "Russia is sending out signals on foreign policy and security matters which are making people prick up their ears. Hardly before he had time to unpack his suitcases, the Russian Federation's new ambassador to Austria has intervened in the debate over Austria's entry into NATO, which has been going on for a few weeks now. In a manner somewhat uncommon in diplomatic dealings between sovereign states, the ambassador has 'advised' Austria against joining the Western alliance, suggesting that it would be better for it to maintain its 'proven' policy of neutrality. He justified the advice with the intriguing statement that 'neutral states' would play a major role in future European security structures."

Stroehm continues: "At almost exactly the same time, Boris Yeltsin's new press secretary and former ambassador to Slovakia, Sergei Yastrshembsky, stirred up unrest by claiming that Estonia, the most northern of the Baltic states, joined the Soviet Union in 1940 quite of its own free will. Estonian President Lennart Meri, however, remembers his country's freedom and independence being robbed by a criminal pact between Hitler and Stalin. What is the point in leading politicians and diplomats making such self-contradictory remarks in the name of the Russian state and its President? Is Russia, with a view to the future architecture of European security, trying to keep a back door open, through which it somehow hopes to win back its lost territory?"

ABM Treaty

NEW YORK TIMES: Progress made towards demarcation of line between strategic and theater missiles

And in an analysis today, Steven Erlanger writes about the ABM Treaty: "The United States and Russia have reached agreement on the first part of an understanding that would allow the United States to proceed with efforts to build defenses against shorter-range missiles, while preserving the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. The announcement was made (yesterday) by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. It was a confirmation of a tentative agreement reached in June, at the end of a meeting that covered contentious topics like Russian opposition to the expansion of NATO, Russian opposition to missile strikes on Iraq and Russian support for U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, whom Washington wants to replace."

Erlanger says: "The United States and Russia will now negotiate the second part, to cover higher-velocity anti-missile systems. Primakov said a final agreement 'would signify the line of demarcation between strategic and theater anti-ballistic missiles' and 'can have a significant and positive effect on the ratification of Start II' in the Russian Parliament. The U.S. Senate has ratified the second treaty to reduce strategic arms, called Start II, but the Russians have balked, fearing an American advantage."