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Western Press Review: Heads Should Roll In Iraq And Have Rolled In Russia

Prague, 6 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Thomas L. Friedman writes in the New York Times today that the United States should call Iraq's strongman Saddam Hussein's bluff in the stand-off over UN weapon's inspectors and if push comes to shove, to aim for the head.


"When you think about how the United States should respond to Saddam Hussein's latest attempt to evade United Nations sanctions, just keep this in mind: Saddam Hussein is the reason God created cruise missiles. Cruise missiles are simply the only way to deal with him" Friedman writes, adding, "Saddam is up to something serious this time. Whatever he does, the United States intends to find a way to keep the U.N. sanctions noose around his neck until one of his generals or one of his relatives terminates him with extreme prejudice."

Friedman continues, "if the United States does take military action against Iraq again it cannot be just to obliterate those sites where he is still hiding weapons - although that's important. The United States has to try to destroy him too. Because the worst of all worlds would be if we destroy his weapons but he survives and throws out the U.N. inspectors. He would then be able to rearm without anyone watching inside Iraq. And he will try to rearm."

The New York Times commentator concludes, "Given the nature of world politics today, and given America's feckless allies, the United States will get only one good military shot at Saddam before everyone at the United Nations starts tut-tutting and rushing to his defense. So if and when Saddam pushes beyond the brink, and we get that one good shot, let's make sure it's a head shot."


The Afghan Taliban militia's treatment of women came in for a drubbing in a New York Times editorial yesterday:

"Since the Taliban took power a year ago, their decrees have narrowed the world for women..... Western governments must make it clear that continued oppression will cost the Taliban aid and harm its bid to win Afghanistan's seat at the United Nations, currently held by the previous government."

The New York Times editorial says "since the rise of the Taliban, the humanitarian organizations that provide almost all the health care and social services in Afghanistan have been wrestling with whether to follow Taliban rules or pull out. Most, realizing that the Taliban may well sacrifice all health care if any of it violates their views, have stayed when they could and tried to press the Taliban for change. They have lobbied particularly hard to reverse the health-care ban. This was undoubtedly the best choice - until now. But the harm created by the ban has divided the humanitarian community The situation in Afghanistan is not as extreme as in Bosnia, Rwanda or Liberia, where groups departed because their aid actively helped belligerents keep shooting. But pulling out of health care may be the right thing to do if the discriminatory and deadly ban stays" the New York Times concludes.

Boris Yeltsin's dismissal yesterday of the deputy secretary of Russia's Security Council is food for comment in several dailies today.


David Hoffman, writing in the Washington Post comments "Berezovsky's ouster was significant for what it says about the tug of war over the shape of Russia's emerging market economy.

Yeltsin's two reformist first deputy prime ministers, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, have vowed to break the grip of a coterie of well-connected business magnates, often referred to as Russia's new oligarchs."

Hoffman says "Chubais and Nemtsov have insisted they no longer will tolerate the old rules of back-room deals and insider privatization of state companies in which the oligarchs often gained lucrative state-owned businesses for a small price. The reformers say they want to create a more competitive and liberal market economy.... Berezovsky was an un-apologetic and outspoken exponent for the tycoons, claiming at one point that they controlled half the Russian economy, which experts say was an exaggeration. Berezovsky often has argued that the government should heed the call of its powerful new capitalists, not the other way around."


An editorial today in Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung says, "in contrast to the view whereby a handful of powerful bankers are pulling the strings in the Kremlin, in Russia politics still takes first place. Above all, the president sets the rules of the game and, to a lesser extent, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and his First Deputy Anatoly Chubais. But it is Yeltsin who regularly plays off the other political and economic actors against each other."

The Swiss daily continues, that Yeltsin "recently stressed the need for the state to play a strong role in economic life and leave the big enterprises to the Levites (financial moguls), whose public power struggles are increasingly running up against criticism. Here, Berezovsky is an ideal scapegoat. Chubais and those around him in their feud with Berezovsky have apparently walked off with the victory laurels, but as in the past these will soon wither in the Kremlin 's corridors."


The Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung comments, "the decision to resolve the internal power struggle can not have been easy for Yeltsin. After all, it was Berezovsky who with six other bankers in 1996 financially backed his election campaign."


An editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments, "two days before the eightieth anniversary of the October revolution, President Yeltsin has given the Communists, by their own reckoning, a 'gift'. With the dismissal from the security council of the billionaire economic oligarch Berezovsky, Russia's arch capitalist has vanished without a doubt from the political stage until further notice. Berezovsky, who last year with other financiers successfully ran Yeltsin's reelection campaign for which he was paid off with a post in the Kremlin ... now must go through the same experience as the similarly power hungry general Lebed. His open conflict with the two first deputy prime ministers (Anatoly) Chubais and (Boris) Nemtsov whom Yeltsin considers to be his star pupils, proved to be the undoing of the apparently richest man in Russia."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung continues: " That too may change one day since when it comes to personnel policy, the Russian president has never been squeamish. Berezovsky's banishment need not be forever. After all, he is not only an influential businessman,. He is above all a media czar."