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web posted July 26, 1999

Papua New Guinea abandons Taiwan recognition, backs 'One China' policy

Papua New Guinea said on on July 21 it would abandon its controversial deal to establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan and that it would restore relations with Beijing under a "One China" policy.

The South Pacific nation's new prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, said his predecessor's decision early this month to recognize Taiwan had been flawed.

"Normal procedures for opening diplomatic relations with other countries, which have applied since independence, were not properly followed in the case of Taiwan," Morauta told reporters, referring to the deal struck by his predecessor, Bill Skate.

"Papua New Guinea's long-standing One China policy of maintaining state-to-state relations with the People's Republic of China therefore remains intact," Morauta added.

Cash-strapped Papua New Guinea on July 5 signed a deal in Taipei to recognise Taiwan, reportedly in return for US$2.35 billion, sparking a regional diplomatic dispute with Beijing.

Skate, who resigned on July 7 ahead of an expected no-confidence vote in parliament, denied that Taiwan had bought diplomatic recognition.

Taiwan officials have also denied pledging cash or other aid in exchange for Papua New Guinea's decision to become Taipei's 29th diplomatic partner.

But, according to a confidential government paper obtained by Reuters, Skate had asked for US$2.35 billion in aid in return for diplomatic recognition of Taiwan. The Papua New Guinea foreign ministry document was dated June 29 and was submitted to cabinet.

The deal outraged China, which regards Taiwan as an insubordinate province and incapable of sovereign ties.

Beijing, which routinely shuns those who recognise Taiwan, demanded that the mountainous country of 4.5 million people "correct its erroneous decision."

Australia, which granted Papua New Guinea independence in 1975, opposed the Taiwan deal, warning its poor neighbour that it risked not only angering China but causing diplomatic upheavals through the Asia Pacific.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei are especially tense after Taiwan's decision to scrap its "one China" policy and put relations with China on a "state to state" basis.

China has accused Taiwan of taking a step toward independence -- a prospect Beijing says it would resist by force of arms if necessary.

25 raise $100 000 each for Gore

Al Gore has a small army of foot soldiers out raising big money at last $100 000 for his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The chief policy counsel for telecommunications company MCI, an entertainment executive who made a fortune on the Power Rangers phenomena and the governor of Puerto Rico were among 25 names released by the vice president's campaign office on July 21 of people who each have raised $100 000.

The fund-raisers have helped Gore take in $17.5 million during the first six months of the year, plus an additional $2 million for legal and accounting costs. The vice president has $9.4 million in the bank, giving him just $2 million more than Democratic contender Bill Bradley, who has $7.5 million.

The GOP front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, has far outstripped the rest of the field, raising $37 million in the first six months of his campaign. Bush's campaign reported that 115 people who earned the title "Pioneers" had brought in $100,000 for the governor's campaign, compared with 25 on Gore's roster.

Still, Gore's $100 000-plus solicitors said they had little trouble finding donors to support his campaign.

"The thing that resonated the most is that people felt he was extremely competent to lead the country," said Chicago lawyer Joe Cari. On specific issues, donors were impressed with the way Gore has spoken about his family and with the vice president's experience with foreign affairs, Cari added. "He's not somebody who is going to have to learn on the job."

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosello and New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak were among the political officials helping the effort.

Washington insiders include Jonathan Sallet, MCI's policy counsel, and Ernst & Young executive Jeff Hischberg. A number of media executives also have been soliciting for Gore. They include Haim Saban, chairman of Saban Entertainment, which produces live-action children's entertainment such as the Power Rangers; Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom Inc.; and Black Entertainment Television executive Robert Johnson.

The list also includes several fund-raisers from Gore's home state of Tennessee.

Chris Korge, a Miami lawyer and businessman, said even though Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, is the brother of the GOP front-runner, he has managed to raise $900 000 in the area south of Palm Beach.

"You can't argue with the machinery the Republican Party, and particularly George W. Bush, has for raising money," Korge said. Nonetheless, he said he was "ecstatic about the kind of response we've gotten in south Florida."

Quayle says he's top candidate on Leno joke list

Dan Quayle is beating out his fellow GOP presidential contenders by at least one measure: being the butt of Jay Leno jokes.

"In the Leno poll, I'm number one," the former vice president declared proudly on July 22 on NBC's "The Tonight Show."

And Quayle should know. He's been keeping track. So far this year, the he's been the target of 52 jokes by the late night talk show host, outpacing all of his Republican competitors, Quayle said.

"Oh, I love those jokes," Quayle. "It makes my day."

Quayle explained his special distinction as regular fodder for late night comedy with an anecdote. Soon after Quayle became vice president, former president Richard Nixon shared this piece of wisdom: vice presidents bear the brunt of the jokes when there is a popular president in office.

"That's why I've said that Al Gore has got to be luckiest vice president in the history of America," said Quayle. "He's had Bill Clinton there all these years."

House Republicans push through $792 billion tax cut plan

Republicans used their slim majority and some careful negotiating on July 22 to pass a $792 billion tax reduction package in the House.

The measure was approved on a 223-208 vote. Four Republicans broke ranks and voted against the measure, while six Democrats supported the GOP plan, which calls for a 10-percent tax cut, rolls back the so-called marriage penalty tax and the capital gains rate, and eliminates the inheritance tax.

The tax debate now moves to the Senate, where the GOP leadership has its own tax cut legislation of about the same size but structured much differently than the House approved package. Action on the Senate bill could happen as early as this week.

Even if the House and Senate leaderships resolve their differences, President Bill Clinton reiterated he would veto a tax cut of that size, saying he will only sign a target tax cut package of up to $300 billion.

But the veto threat didn't stop Republicans from celebrating.

"This is just a great day for the American people. This is a great win for the American people," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-Illinois), who labored intensively to unify the GOP rank and file behind the bill. The day before, Hastert told a group of wavering Republican House moderates that his speakership was on the line pending the outcome of the vote.

"It is our mission in this city to ship power, money and influence back to the people," said Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-Ohio). "The more money we have in our pockets, the more power we have."

Democrats continued to attack the measure. "This is risky, it doesn't take care of Medicare and Social Security and the only people you've really insured will get a huge tax cut are the wealthiest of the wealthy," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (R-Missouri).

"This bill is a backloaded, budget-busting, billionaire bonanza," said Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts).

Before voting on the GOP tax cut plan, the House voted down, 258-173, a much smaller Democratic tax cut.

The Democratic alternative would have provided about $250 billion in tax cuts through marriage-penalty relief, tax breaks for education and health care and the permanent extension of a research and development tax credit sought by high-tech industries.

Democrats are concerned about the size of the 10-year reduction. Clinton has proposed a $250 billion package and the administration has indicated it is unwilling to go above $295 billion in reductions.

NATO admits air campaign failed

NATO's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia had almost no military effect on the regime of President Milosevic, which gave in only after Russia withdrew its diplomatic backing.
This is the gloomy assessment of a private, preliminary review by NATO experts of the alliance's 78-day Operation Allied Force bombing campaign against Yugoslavia over Kosovo.

At the same time, British diplomats have concluded that Milosevic had no intention of honouring any diplomatic agreement which reduced his hold on Kosovo - despite his vaunted willingness to enter the negotiations at Rambouillet and the peace talks in Paris which preceded the bombing campaign. The experts nevertheless judge that, diplomatically and politically, the operation was a success because the 19-member alliance remained united throughout and left Belgrade so isolated that it was forced to submit to NATO's terms.

Despite the outcome, preliminary inquiries into the war are revealing some uncomfortable truths for soldiers and politicians seeking lessons from the Kosovo operation. Their findings will shape new military and diplomatic approaches as to how the West deals with maverick leaders and rogue states which confront them in future.

The main finding of the NATO inquiry is that despite the thousands of bombing sorties, they failed to damage the Yugoslav field army tactically in Kosovo while the strategic bombing of targets such as bridges and factories was poorly planned and executed. Changes are being considered within NATO, including the radical overhaul of how strategic targets are identified and considered for attack.

Any future operation by NATO is likely to involve heavier, more ruthless attacks on civilian targets such as power stations and water treatment plants at an earlier stage of the campaign. There is also an urgent operational requirement for more sophisticated surveillance equipment including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to find small hidden tactical targets such as tanks and artillery pieces. As it was, by parking a tank, for example, in the ruins of an old house, the Serbs made it invisible from the air.

A team of NATO bomb damage experts is yet to complete its work on the ground, but so far the assessment is that only a handful of tanks, guns and armoured personnel carriers were damaged. Military sources said that it was likely that the damage would have been greater had the Serb forces been actively engaged on the ground by the Kosovo Liberation Army and forced into the open.

Without adequate surveillance assets, including low-level UAVs such as the British Phoenix system which only arrived in the Balkans in June, NATO was simply unable to spot well-hidden Serb military units in Kosovo. A wave of new air-launched missiles, including the RAF's Brimstone, will give NATO jets a more sophisticated missile for destroying targets on the ground.

The second part of the campaign was the strategic bombing of military targets, including air defence systems, as well as the civilian infrastructure of Yugoslavia and the Milosevic regime. Military experts now concede that by breaking down this part of the campaign into phases, the alliance made a serious error.

The political leaders of NATO wanted to threaten Belgrade with bombing and believed that a series of steps would be most effective, because it would gradually increase the pressure on Milosevic to negotiate. The Yugoslav leader was told at the outset of the bombing that Phase I targets such as command bunkers would be hit and that, if he did not comply, he could expect Phases II and III - which would be wider bombing.

NATO sources now concede that this was an error as Phase I did not cause any significant military pain to the regime - all the main military assets and personnel had long been evacuated from obvious targets. Furthermore, Milosevic was able to use the state-controlled media to prepare the wider Yugoslav public for a long campaign, kindling a sort of Blitz spirit that reduced public opposition to his rule.

NATO believes that the bombing in the latter weeks of Operation Allied Force against bridges, factories and other civilian targets was more effective but it could have been much more so had it been done earlier.

On the diplomatic front, Foreign Office officials have concluded that Milosevic never had any intention of co-operating with the outside world to find a solution to the Kosovo problem that would reduce Serb control of the province. The undertakings he gave to the American special envoy Richard Holbrooke last autumn which averted an earlier threat of NATO punishment were worthless.

They now accept that the numerous ultimatums issued to Milosevic during the course of the Kosovo crisis should have been backed up with the credible threat of force. Like NATO, they judge that Russia's withdrawal of support played a significant part in Milosevic's capitulation, along with other factors including the realization that invasion was a real possibility if he remained defiant.

NATO plans for ground war options which included a full-scale occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia were drawn up a year ago and updated throughout the crisis. Diplomats now say that with NATO's credibility at stake, a ground war was inevitable if Milosevic had not caved in. They believe that pressure from his cronies in the demi-monde that controls Serbia's disintegrating economy also played a part in his decision.

British officials concede that the Kosovo problem should have been dealt with at the 1995 Dayton talks which ended the Bosnian war. One said: "Unfortunately, it got put in the 'Too Difficult and Not Absolutely Pressing' in-tray." They are now hoping that the alliance's ultimate willingness to go to war in Kosovo will convince future troublemakers that it does not pay to defy international opinion.

But despite the talk of the need for urgent pre-emptive action in future crises, they conclude that the innate reluctance of democracies to project power means that history is likely to repeat itself.

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