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Western Press Review -- Kosovo, Ukraine, The Third Way

By Lawrence Holland and Grant Podelco

Prague, 28 April 1999 (RFE/RL) -- NATO's handling of the crisis in Kosovo earns both criticism and support on the editorial pages of western newspapers today. Other commentators focus on Ukraine's ties to the West and on the school of western political thought that has come to be known as the 'Third Way'.

GUARDIAN: It is not too late to think again

In an editorial, London's Guardian says that "at the Washington summit, NATO's leaders failed to draw the right lessons from the first month of bombing" against Yugoslavia. The paper argues that "instead of deciding on an early ground intervention in Kosovo, they chose to prolong the mistakes of the unrelenting air war." The paper adds that "by calling for an oil embargo, [NATO leaders] now also risk the stability of the pro-Western government of Montenegro while raising the danger of a maritime confrontation with Russia." The paper says "It is not too late to think again."

The Guardian urges a "narrowing down of the target list," something it says would not be a concession to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, but rather an act of "self restraint to avoid the slippery slope of escalation for its own sake."

The paper calls instead for a serious discussion about sending NATO ground forces into Kosovo, while also exploring any possible diplomatic openings offered by Belgrade.

NEW YORK TIMES: It would be a mistake not to try to limit the flow of oil

The New York Times takes a very different view of NATO imposing an embargo on oil shipments to Yugoslavia. The paper argues that if it is "executed with a healthy regard for Russian sensibilities, it can sap Serbian strength and speed the way for a political settlement."

The Times acknowledges that "the interdiction of oil tankers will not cut off petroleum supplies to Serbia. Smugglers will be eager to collect the premium fees that come from running a blockade, and some overland shipments are likely to continue. But," the paper argues, "after bombing Serbian refineries it would be a mistake not to try to limit the flow of oil through Yugoslav ports."

But the Times says "NATO must work with Moscow to avoid a confrontation with tankers carrying Russian fuel. The alliance cannot afford to provoke military tensions with Russia or drive the Kremlin from the peacemaking role that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on Monday his country is now playing."

INFORMATION: NATO exerts the right to decision making

In Copehnagen, the daily 'Information' in an editorial says that NATO "has turned itself into an aggressive organization calling itself a defense alliance." The paper says NATO has "ignored two important lessons from Bosnia. "First, that the United Nations Security Council was much more involved in Bosnia than it is in Kosovo. And second, that Russia played a significant role in Bosnia as a member of the [international] contact group." The paper continues: "The dangerous thing now is that NATO gives itself [permission] to intervene on an ad hoc basis without having to consult the UN Security Council first. This automatically excludes Russia and China from the decision-making process. In addition, NATO leaves it for itself to decide in which situation it can breach a state's sovereignty 'in the name of humanity', a point that would have belonged to the competence of the UN."

FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG: The West would be ill-advised to fall into the trap of a confused politician

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in an editorial, explores the possible motives of Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic, who has seemed to distance himself in recent days from Milosevic. The paper writes that Draskovic may be "motivated by the view that the war is lost, that the Milosevic regime cannot survive the NATO air strikes.... But it is also possible that Milosevic is just allowing Draskovic to talk to ascertain the West's reaction to negotiations."

The FAZ argues that "either way, the West would be ill-advised to fall into the trap of a confused politician. The best card is still the decisive launching of ground troops in order to achieve western aims in Kosovo."

BALTIMORE SUN: A settlement can only be reached after Mr. Milosevic leaves the scene

That is a view also held by author and free-lance journalist Dusko Doder in a commentary in The Baltimore Sun. Doder says NATO should begin to position troops in Hungary and Albania.

Doder says the movement of such forces should be accompanied by steps to convince Serbs of the need to remove Milosevic from office. He says there are indications that support for the government is superficial and that Serbs should be persuaded it is in their best interests to remove him.

Doder says a pause in the air campaign -- after the positioning of ground troops -- could be used to bring charges against Milosevic before the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. "This might seriously undermine his standing in Serbia," Doder writes, "and make clear to the Serbian establishment that he could not play any role in the eventual settlement of the crisis."

Cruise missiles, he says, are the "wrong instruments for solving the conflict between Serbian and Albanian nationalism." Doder continues: "What is in essence a war for territory can be resolved with a modicum of goodwill on both sides and patient but forceful outside mediation. But that can be done only after Mr. Milosevic leaves the scene."

Doder says the U.S. must resist the temptation to make a face-saving deal with Milosevic, as he said it did in negotiating the Dayton peace accords. To do so again, Doder writes, would amount to a resounding defeat.

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Ukraine is sitting on a fence

In a commentary published today in the International Herald Tribune, Ihor Junyk of the University of Chicago says now is the time for the West to convince Ukraine to come over to its side. Junyk says the Ukrainians have, up until now, "walked a tightrope between East and West, and played one off against the other." Kyiv has welcomed the eastward expansion of NATO, while President Leonid Kuchma has condemned the alliance's "military interference" in Yugoslavia. Kuchma has agreed to host a NATO peacekeeping exercise this summer in Lviv, while also playing host to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who urged a united front of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to oppose NATO.

"This fence-sitting" in Kyiv, Junyk writes, "makes political sense domestically." With national elections approaching, Junyk says Kuchma "knows that he cannot come down on one side or the other." But Junyk says this "juggling act" is increasingly difficult to keep up, especially because of the country's economic problems.

Junyk says public opinion in Ukraine has not yet turned against the West and that now is the time to bring Ukraine into closer contact with NATO and the European Union. Junyk writes: "Ukraine is sitting on a fence. It is up to the West whether it lands in Europe or in the Slavic brotherhood."

WASHINGTON POST: The 'Third Way' combines capitalist dynamism with social solidarity

Columnist E.J. Dionne Junior writes in The Washington Post about the so-called "Third Way" of politics advocated by such political leaders as U.S. President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He calls it a style of politics that combines "capitalist dynamism with social solidarity."

Dionne writes that the Third Way represents a convergence across a broad range of political movements on its approach to social reform. Third Wayers, he writes, accept capitalism but promise to do something about its inequalities. They agree that government can be too bureaucratic but accept that government can help solve problems that can't be solved anywhere else and that the "trial and error" principle is an acceptable way to get results.

Dionne says it is easy to underestimate how much the Third Way has changed politics by moving the political debate away from an outright rejection of government. He says the movement ended the Reagan-Thatcher era and gave liberals and Socialists "presentable new clothes to wear." The challenge now, Dionne says, is for those in power to make their marriage of what Blair calls "enterprise and justice" as happy in practice as he makes it sound in theory.

(Anthony Georgieff and Dora Slaba contributed to today's review.)