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Week of December 2, 2003, Program 0348

Global Trade - Cancun Update Transcript MP3 Related Links
Kashmir Conflict Transcript MP3 Related Links
Kashmir Peace Talks Transcript MP3 Related Links
Editor of the Year Transcript MP3 Related Links
Transatlantic Update Transcript MP3 Related Links
Rebuilding Liberia Transcript MP3 Related Links
Bach Academy Transcript MP3 Related Links

 


December 2, 2003
Program 0348

(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

NEW ZEALAND'S TRADE MINISTER JIM SUTTON: Times have changed. There are some big burly new kids on the block and their needs and desires have to be taken into account by the rest.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, developing countries challenge the world's largest trade partners.

KEITH PORTER: Plus, improved relations between India and Pakistan hinge on Kashmir.

INDIAN MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS YASHWANT SINHA: Pakistan we hope will be persuaded to give up the path of confrontation and come to the negotiating table.

PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER KHURSHEED MEHMOOD KASURI: Pakistan has already reached that conclusion, that war is not a viable option.

PORTER: And meet the Chinese journalist who isn't afraid to expose corruption in her own country.

HU SHULI: More and more newspapers, magazines and television news programs are embracing investigative journalism in China.

MCHUGH: These stories—coming up next.

[Musical interlude]

Top of Page


Global Trade - Cancun Update

Listen to This Segment
      MP3

Related Links
World Trade Organization
http://www.wto.org/
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick
http://www.ustr.gov/about-ustr/ambassador/zoellick.html

Tell Us What You Think

 

MCHUGH: Common Ground is radio's weekly program on world affairs. I'm Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I'm Keith Porter. There's a new force on the international scene—or at least that's what its leaders maintain. When World Trade Organization talks collapsed in Cancun, Mexico earlier this year, a new coalition of developing countries and agricultural producers pledged they'll continue to press the US, Europe, and Japan for a fairer deal on access to world markets. The new grouping doesn't even have a name, but as Common Ground's Simon Marks reports, it does seem to have considerable potential.

[The sound of a news conference]

SIMON MARKS: When the World Trade Organization talks collapsed in Cancun this past September, at least five people were smiling broadly. Government ministers from Brazil, South Africa, Argentina, Ecuador, and Egypt had their photographs taken at a closing news conference. They proclaimed themselves members of a new group of more than 20 countries that the developed world accuses of deliberately derailing the WTO meeting.

BRAZILIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CELSO AMORIM: We think that we have achieved some important things.

MARKS: Celso Amorim is the Brazilian foreign minister. He says the new group, which unites developing countries with many of the world's agricultural producers, wants to send a clear message to the US, Europe and Japan.

AMORIM: I think we were able to show that with unity, a group of developing countries, united not on any political banner but on concrete issues, were able to present a platform of reform in agriculture which is the most important unfinished business, and I would say even un-begun business, to a large extent in the WTO.

[The sound of lowing cattle]

MARKS: The new group's prime target are agricultural subsidies that mean every cow on every farm in Europe earns its owner more than $2.50 per day in government handouts, while more than half the world's human population lives on less than $2 per day. The US, Europe, and Japan are accused of distorting the global trading system by unfairly propping up their agricultural sectors. The Japanese, for example, eat a lot of rice, and protect their own rice producers by imposing a 1,000 percent tariff on imports. The developed world spends six times its foreign aid budget on agricultural subsidies. Were the playing field truly level, many American and European farms would be uneconomic and would face closure.

[The sound of Brazilian Foreign Minister Amorim reading the names of countries in the new WTO grouping: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Ecuador...]

MARKS: As the names of the countries backing the coalition were read in Cancun, it became clear that emotions over agriculture run so high that they've produced some unlikely bedfellows—poor countries like Cuba, alongside developed countries like New Zealand. Jim Sutton is New Zealand's trade minister.

NEW ZEALAND'S TRADE MINISTER JIM SUTTON: Every previous round, the deal has been done by the United States and the Europeans getting together, putting, stitching up a deal and then persuading everyone else to accept it. That just won't wash any more. Times have changed. There are some big burly new kids on the block and their needs and desires have to be taken into account by the rest.

MARKS: At Cancun, the new coalition effectively decided that its needs and desires were not being sufficiently taken into account. The collapse of the talks occurred when the Europeans tried to force the developing world to agree to new rules on international investment, competition and government procurement—issues the coalition argues will only further benefit big western business. The talks' demise left the US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick fuming.

US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE ROBERT ZOELLICK: We tried to caution that too many were spending too much time pontificating, not negotiating. Whether developed or developing, there were can-do countries here and there were won't-do countries. The harsh rhetoric of the won't do overwhelmed the concerted efforts of the can-do.

MARKS: That's a claim roundly rejected by South Africa's Trade Minister Alec Erwin, one of the architects of the new coalition.

SOUTH AFRICAN TRADE MINISTER ALEC ERWIN: There is absolutely no possibility that we merely pontificated or made political statements. The hallmark of this new group is its professional competence, the amount of capacity that it has, and the fact that we focused on the issues in some very detailed proposals.

MARKS: By the end of the year, negotiators will meet in Geneva for talks about how to salvage the trade round. New global trade agreements were scheduled to be reached by January 2005, though there is very little optimism now that the target can be met. And going forward, there are enormous questions for both sides: will the US and Europe ever be willing to face the political consequences of phasing out subsidies completely, and thereby consigning many farms to closure? And will the new coalition that's taking on the US and Europe hold together in the months and years ahead?

JOHN AUDLEY: Opposition to the United States and Europe is based on larger or other foreign policy issues.

MARKS: John Audley specializes in global trade issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He believes the new coalition will hold and give the US, Europe, and Japan a run for their money.

AUDLEY: As the world grows increasingly frustrated with particularly US unilateral foreign policy, it provides the glue that helps developing countries overcome their own differences of opinion on trade.

MARKS: If that proves to be the case, several bruising chapters could lie ahead for a trade round that began two years ago, and whose outcome will affect every farmer, fisherman, and textile manufacturer on the planet. For Common Ground, I'm Simon Marks in Cancun, Mexico.

PORTER: We'd like to know what you think. This new coalition of developing countries believes a truly free global market cannot happen until the United States and Europe phase out agricultural subsidies. But this could mean family and small farmers in rich countries could be forced out of business. Do you think the United States and Europe

[Musical interlude]

MCHUGH: Trying to restart India-Pakistan talks, next on Common Ground.

[Musical interlude]

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Kashmir Conflict

Listen to This Segment
      MP3

Related Links
Asia Society
http://www.asiasociety.org/
India From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/India.cfm
Pakistan From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/Pakistan.cfm

Tell Us What You Think

 

MCHUGH: It's been five months since Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood on a stage in, the capital of Indian-occupied Kashmir, and offered his hand of friendship to Pakistan. Relations between the nuclear rivals completely melted down two years ago, after the attack on India's parliament, which India blamed on Pakistani-trained militants. But several weeks ago, the Indian government announced a dozen new steps in an attempt to break the logjam with Pakistan. The proposals avoid mention of the most divisive issue, the disputed territory of Kashmir. In recent months, violence between Indian security forces and Pakistani-backed militants has returned with a new ferocity to Kashmir. Miranda Kennedy reports.

MIRANDA KENNEDY: India's new proposals were aimed straight at the heart of Pakistan's political establishment. They follow a month when violence drastically escalated in Kashmir, and Pakistan raised eyebrows by testing three of its nuclear capable missiles. India announced that it hopes to increase people to people contact between the two countries, by opening bus routes and offering free medical treatment to Pakistani children. Yashwant Sinha is India's minister of external affairs.

INDIAN MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS YASHWANT SINHA: We are hoping that as a result of the steps we have announced today, and conveyed to Pakistan, Pakistan we hope will be persuaded to give up the path of confrontation, the path of violence, the path of cross border terrorism, and come to the negotiating table.

KENNEDY: Pakistan welcomes the proposals, but it says it wants high level Indo-Pak talks first. But the government in New Delhi refuse to initiate another peace dialogue until Pakistan stops supporting terrorism across its borders in Kashmir, a charge that Pakistan denies.

PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER KHURSHEED MEHMOOD KASURI: Pakistan has already reached that conclusion, that war is not a viable option. So we've fought three wars, nothing has happened.

KENNEDY: Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri is Pakistan's foreign minister.

PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER KASURI: So what are the options? One option is to do nothing, which is no war/no peace. That also we've had very frequently in our history. But the trouble there is, as we've experienced in the past, that no war/no peace can easily degenerate into war or near war. Even if it doesn't degenerate into war or near war, it leads to permanent instability. Which means that the basic requirement for economic development is absent.

KENNEDY: Both countries agree that living in a state of near war is not ideal, yet they continue to indulge in warlike rhetoric. A senior Indian official recently declared this was the last time India would make a peace offer to Pakistan. The Pakistani foreign ministry called his remarks the work of psychopaths and warmongers. According to Indian defense analyst Raja Menon, the no war/no peace option is looking better and better to India.

RAJA MENON: The greatest probability is that nothing's going to be done in the near term, so the question arises as to whose side is time on. And we have no doubt that time is on our side. I don't think there's a record of any large territorial dispute ever having been resolved. In many cases the dispute has disappeared. But in a large dispute of this nature there has never been a resolution.

KENNEDY: In the beautiful valley of Kashmir, that option sounds a lot sadder. Since the insurgency against India began 13 years ago, Kashmiris have been caught between India and Pakistan. Kashmiri civilians are regularly killed in militant crossfire or grenade attacks. And human rights activists blame the Indian security forces for violations, such as the disappearance of more than 8,000 Kashmiris.

[The sound of a Kashmiri family in mourning]

KENNEDY: This family lost their son, Javed Akbar, to the Indian security forces in Srinigar, Kashmir's capital. They say he was an innocent student who was pulled out of the house late at night and shot. The army claimed he was a militant. But off the record, Kashmiri police admitted that the boy was probably innocent.

MIR WAIZ UMAR FAROOQ: We can say as people, you know, who have been living under Indian occupation, we have seen the dark side of Indian democracy.

KENNEDY: Mir Waiz Umar Farooq is a leading religious figure in Kashmir, who wants Kashmir to be separate from both India and Pakistan.

MIR WAIZ UMAR FAROOQ: We have seen violations of every kind against children, women. And every family, every individual has suffered. People have this feeling, you know, that we have suffered for a cause, for a reason. And I don't think that anybody is prepared to accept the status quo. There has to be a change, there has to be an honorable way out.

KENNEDY: India's deputy prime minister recently offered to begin a dialogue with Kashmiri separatists for the first time. But that doesn't change India's position. Like Pakistan, it is unwilling to relinquish its claim on Kashmir. Mehbooba Mufti is the most popular pro-India politician in Kashmir, the head of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.

MEHBOOBA MUFTI: People of Kashmir they want peace with dignity and honor, and we have promised them that, that we are going to work for the restoration of peace with dignity and honor, not through surrender. Now the government of India will have to do something about it, will have to channelize this good feeling. It's our job. The Indian establishment, all the time we say that Kashmir is an integral part of our country. So I think it's their duty first, then we can look to Pakistan.

KENNEDY: Mehbooba's party has been calling for a ceasefire, but the violence has only worsened. The Srinigar house she lives in with her father, who is the Chief Minister of Kashmir, was recently attacked by militants. Cynics say that such attacks fan the Kashmir flame, which both countries need to keep alive in order to score political points at home.

[The sound of a Kashmiri family in mourning]

KENNEDY: That pushes the prospect of real peace in South Asia even further into the future. For Common Ground, I'm Miranda Kennedy, in Srinigar and New Delhi.

[Musical interlude]

Top of Page


Kashmir Peace Talks

Listen to This Segment
      MP3

Related Links
Human Rights Watch - Kashmir
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/kashmir/
Pakistan From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/Pakistan.cfm
India From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/India.cfm

Tell Us What You Think

 

MCHUGH: In recent days, Pakistan declared a unilateral ceasefire in the disputed region of Kashmir. India has responded cautiously to the move, once again thrusting the dispute back onto the global stage.

PORTER: Since India and Pakistan first tested atomic weapons in May of 1998, the ongoing crisis over the disputed regions of Kashmir and Jammu has moved from being mostly a regional issue to a global one. As the world's first nuclear power, the United States has been asked to bring its influence and ideas into resolving the situation, which some fear could provoke the unthinkable—the world's first nuclear war. From Washington's perspective, the main challenge appears to be getting both sides, India and Pakistan, to reduce the rhetoric and increase the consideration of possible solutions. Priscilla Huff has more.

TERESITA SCHAFFER: The Kashmir dispute has been marked by terrorism, but it isn't, in my judgment, simply a terrorism problem. It is at once a domestic, regional, and international issue.

PRISCILLA HUFF: Former US Ambassador Teresita Schaffer has been posted both to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and to New Delhi, the capital of India, during her 30 years with the Foreign Service. Now, Ambassador Schaffer thinks there are some ideas which could resolve the Kashmir issue.

SCHAFFER: In order for the issue to be settled, there must be an arrangement that the governments of India and Pakistan and a critical mass of the Kashmiri people are prepared to live with in peace. With the experience of the past half century, and especially with the experience of the past five years since India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, some other elements of a settlement have come to seem almost inevitable. I see three key elements. First, the map is unlikely to change significantly. Second, Kashmir needs some kind of special status. And third, a settlement must address the chronic insecurity that has plagued Pakistan and, and the irredentist Pakistani behavior that has been such a burden for India.

HUFF: These ideas emerged from the Kashmir Study Group, a panel of Indians and Pakistanis, mediated by American officials and others. Their goal is to come up with some workable ideas to resolve the 50-plus year conflict. Even so, the leaders of India and Pakistan remain far apart on the issue, such as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, who visited Washington in early October 2003. Pakistan Prime Minister Zarafullah Khan Jamali.

PAKISTAN PRIME MINSITER ZARAFULLAH KHAN JAMALI: You try to change, certain issues, we have tried to negotiate with India, of course, within decent limits and with the respect we can be count on. We know how to defend ourselves and that's what happens. Of course on the terrorism side, we have stuck our neck out, when Per Musharraf took this decision on, after 9/11, I think Pakistan was the only country who came out openly, and we stick to that. We have made a commitment, we are going ahead with it, we will go ahead with it.

HUFF: When there is violence in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Pakistan often accuse each other of cross-border terrorism. The problem is, after three major wars, while there is a geographic cease-fire along the Line of Control, the actual border has not been defined. Critics of Pakistan argue, the leadership has been using the issue to achieve their own means. Surjeet Man Singh is originally from India.

SURJEET MAN SINGH: May I suggest—in fact, I would assert—that the chronic insecurity of Pakistan is the result of this prime contradiction between military rule and the civil society of South Asians who are familiar with other democratic norms. The external threats have been blown out of all proportion than they ever existed so that the army of Pakistan can own Pakistan.

HUFF: However, since Pervez Musharraf took over as President in a military coup, ironically, he has been slowly inching Pakistan in the direction of democracy, a point underlined by the country's first Prime Minister, Zarafullah Khan Jamali.

PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER JAMALI: First and foremost, it is important that continuity and consistency of policies must be maintained, and we are doing that. Reforms must remain on course. The credibility of this process must not be compromised and I surely predict will not be compromised. In this respect the democratic government is pledged fully to stay the course. Second, the lot of the common man has to improve and poverty be brought under control. We would need to invest adequate resources in providing education—that's my priority—health, and even drinking water. Our growth must trickle down to the lower income groups. Third, good governance should never be lost sight of. It must be the order of the day. The economic progress achieved so far could easily be erased if we lose sight of the need to govern ourselves well.

HUFF: And diplomats like Ambassador Har Swarup Singh, who has represented India at the World Bank confirm, that it will take more than a new political system, like Western democracy, to resolve both the Kashmir and terrorism issues.

AMBASSADOR HAR SWARUP SINGH: The jihadis, I think it's easy to recruit them that don't have much to lose. So I think economic development would help, Democratization, starting with Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on, in the long run, that would help. We would draw support from the leaders and others. And hopefully the moderate leaders would come there and do something to check this menace.

HUFF: While diplomats and academics, such as the Kashmir Study Group, continue to work on alternatives to resolve this issue between India and Pakistan, the official positions of the two sides remain far apart. However, Ambassador Teresita Schaffer has seen some indications that India and Pakistan might be willing to consider proposals:

SCHAFFER: The interest ultimately was greater eventually in Pakistan, although the proposal is very different from the Pakistan government's formal position and the word plebiscite does not appear there nor does the word UN. But, no less a figure than President Musharraf has said that this is something that is worth thinking about. On the Indian side, the reaction has been a great deal more skeptical, and I mean, there are lots of comments that have come up, mostly from non-official sources—the government has not chosen to discuss it in an official way and there was no reason why they needed to.

HUFF: What is needed is a way for India and Pakistan to forge peace, designate a border, and improve the lives of those most directly affected—the diverse minorities of Kashmir and Jammu. To do that, the governments in Islamabad and New Delhi may have to start by extending a new hand of friendship while keeping terrorism at bay with the other hand. For Common Ground, I'm Priscilla Huff

[Musical interlude]

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Editor of the Year

Listen to This Segment
      MP3

Related Links
World Press Review Editor of the Year Award
http://www.worldpress.org/award.htm
Center for Disease Control - SARS
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/
China From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/China.cfm

Tell Us What You Think

 

PORTER: Investigative reports of insider trading on the stock market and stories about the government's mishandling of a health crisis. The subjects sound like something from an American newspaper or magazine: But these reports were published in the Chinese business magazine Zigh-Jing. Our sister publication World Press Review recently named the founder of Zigh-Jing as International Editor of the Year. Kate Murphy, the senior editor of Fortune magazine presented the award.

KATE MURPHY: It would be nice if China passed something like the First Amendment. It would also be unlikely. In unfree societies such as China change often occurs when brave people test the limits. That has been Zigh-Jing's role. Its aggressive, honest journalism has expanded the boundaries of what is permissible to report and thus eventually of what is considered normal. Sure, there have been setbacks. But the trend is promising. A friend of mine recently wrote a book in which she argued that China excels at what she calls "economic hardware." The Shanghai Stock Exchange, for example, is in a spectacular building constructed and improbably fast and features world class trading technology. But as Hu Shuli has made a career of demonstrating, the legal, ethical, and practical underpinnings of China's financial markets are comparatively shabby. Through her work at Zigh-Jing, Hu Shuli is helping to write the software of a better, freer China. And it is for this reason that she is a worthy recipient of this award.

[Applause]

MCHUGH: Hu Shuli didn't set out to be a journalist. She was assigned by the Chinese government in 1978 to study journalism at the Chinese People's University. After graduation she worked at two major newspapers until 1998 when she launched Zigh-Jing a finance and business magazine. The publication made its mark in October of 2000 when it detailed widespread share price manipulation by 10 leading firms in the Chinese stock market. Hu says China is changing and the communist government has loosened its grip on the media.

HU SHULI: The Chinese economy is in transition. Since the 1998 age of Den Zhao-Peng' reform and opening policies, China has been moving from a government brand economy to a free market economy. Today the Chinese media industry is in a similar transition. So that is an exciting time to be a journalist, I think, especially a journalist, a financial journalist in China. Because the government is recognizing the importance of the transparency in the capital markets. We are experiencing a measure of freedom in our ability to report and publish our findings. More and more newspapers, magazines, and television news programs are embracing investigative journalism. And the more citizens are beginning to view certain segments of the media as independent force in the society.

MCHUGH: This past winter Hu's magazine broke ground with its SARS epidemic coverage. She says the publication not only reported on the medical cases, but also examined what she calls "the weakness of the Chinese central system" in dealing with SARS.

PORTER: Hu says the Internet caused the biggest changes in Chinese journalism. She says for the first time reporters were able to, as she puts it, "look outside in the world." It was then she says Chinese journalists realized the international standards for reporting were very different.

Even though China is becoming more open, Hu says reporters still run into government roadblocks.

HU SHULI: While the line dividing what is and is not permissible has retreated in recent years, there's no doubt that it still exists. And while we in the Chinese media are not afraid to walk right up to the line, even to push it back once in a while, we are still careful not cross it. It's not very visible and fixed. It's moving and I think quite flexible actually.

PORTER: As for the future Hu says she can never be too optimistic but believes freedom of the press will continue to evolve. World Press Review editor Alice Chasan says the magazine chose Hu Shuli it's International Editor of the Year because Zigh-Jing has become a watchdog over China's rapidly developing financial markets. Hu Shuli says she's honored to receive the award not only for herself but also on behalf of her magazine's staff.

MCHUGH: If you have questions or comments about today's program, visit our Web site at commongroundradio.org or e-mail us at commonground@commongroundradio.org.

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is a Stanley Foundation production. On the Web at stanleyfoundation.org.

MCHUGH: This is Common Ground, radio's weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

KEITH PORTER: I'm Keith Porter.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: And I'm Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, bridging the US-European divide.

CHARLES GRANT: The first reason you shouldn't jiggle the knife is it won't work. Europe is integrating. The integration is driven by economics. And the economic integration and common shared interests mean that the wound between New Europe and Old Europe will heal.

MCHUGH: Plus, the tough job of rebuilding Liberia. And, one German city's love for classical music.

BRIGITTE SCHONING: We collect young musicians, from the age of 18 to 28, from all over the world to come together in Stuttgart to play with us during the European Music Festival.

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Transatlantic Update

Listen to This Segment
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Related Links
The German Marshall Fund
http://www.gmfus.org/apps/gmf/gmfwebfinal.nsf/$UNIDViewAll/0E9AFEF8E9EA2CD985256B1F004DFE15?OpenDocument&TT_home
Centre for European Reform
http://www.cer.org.uk/
American Enterprise Institute - Foreign and Defense Policy Studies
http://www.aei.org/about/contentID.2002121511391525/default.asp

Tell Us What You Think

 

PORTER: To judge by some of the insults, newspaper headlines, and accusations flying across the Atlantic over recent months, you could be forgiven for thinking that Europe and the United States had suffered an irreversible parting of the ways. But some intriguing new research conducted on both continents suggests that trans-Atlantic tensions are not so much a clash of two alien cultures as they are a family squabble. Nina-Maria Potts reports from Washington.

NINA-MARIE POTTS: Most analysts agree the trans-Atlantic relationship has been damaged by the Iraq debate. There are differing views on how long the wounds will take to heal. But the news isn't all bad, according to a recent survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund. Foreign Policy Director Dr. Karen Donfried says the good news is Americans still want to work together with Europeans.

DR. KAREN DONFRIED: You also saw an American public that wants to see a strong European Union. Despite the talk about freedom fries and pouring out Bordeaux wine, you actually saw increased support in many cases for a strong Europe.

POTTS: Karen Donfried says on the European side, there has been a clear Iraq effect. Europeans seem to like Americans slightly less, a response particularly pronounced in the French case. On the thermometer rating, on a scale of 0-100, the warmth of feeling between France and the US appeared 10 degrees cooler than last year, on both sides. The survey results show a majority of European have grown more critical of US global leadership and express a desire for the European Union to develop into a superpower. But Karen Donfried says Europeans don't want to compete with the US, they want to co-operate.

DR. DONFRIED: Despite the raw emotions over the past year there is a desire on both sides to work together.

POTTS: The survey results also show strong support in Europe and America for the United Nations, although 57 percent of Americans express willingness to bypass the UN if deemed necessary, compared with just 40 percent of Europeans. That's the good news. The bad news is that the trans-Atlantic friendship continues to be under some strain. With the exception of Great Britain, European disapproval of the Bush administration's foreign policy has grown over the last year. While a majority of Americans say they approve of the current administration's handling of international policy, 64 percent of Europeans say they are against. Another blow to America is the about-turn of one of its traditional allies, Germany, which has shown its unambiguous preference for Europe over the US. Again Karen Donfried of the German Marshall Fund.

DR. KAREN DONFRIED: The conventional wisdom is that public opinion doesn't change very much on foreign policy from one year to the next. So to see a 20-point shift in German views of the US is stunning. And it's clearly related to a particular event—the Iraq war.

POTTS: In spite of differences over Iraq, Americans and Europeans appear to have very similar perceptions of the threats they face. International terrorism ranked top of the list, followed by North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, Iran and its WMDs, followed by Islamic fundamentalism and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Responses on how to deal with those threats were markedly different, with Americans apparently more willing to use force. According to Charles Grant, Director of the Center for European Reform, a London-based think tank, America underestimates how much its current foreign policy is reviled in Europe and hasn't helped the US position by jiggling the knife between new Europe and old Europe.

CHARLES GRANT: The first reason you shouldn't jiggle the knife is it won't work. Europe is integrating. The integration is driven by economics. And the economic integration and common shared interests mean that the wound between New Europe and Old Europe will heal. And if you try to keep it open that will create anti-Americanism in Europe, amongst some of those who are not anti-American at the moment. Even if you succeeded in keeping the wound open it wouldn't be good for the US, because then you have half of Europe actively opposing US interests.

POTTS: Danielle Pletka is Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. She says it's pointless telling the US to stop the name-calling, when Europeans are themselves divided.

DANIELLE PLETKA: If nasty remarks hurt more than they help, although they're very satisfying to the speaker, I'm willing to accept the idea that Don Rumsfeld should, should not make nasty comments. I would only say that Jacques Chirac seemed to, seemed to be making a similarly nasty comment when he told the Eastern Europeans and the Central Europeans that they had missed an opportunity to shut up.

POTTS: Charles Grant puts the Arab-Israeli conflict at the centre of the trans-Atlantic tensions, arguing that this, more than any other issue, has the potential of dividing the West more permanently, partly because of the difference in American and European public opinion, but also over the treatment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

PLETKA: Well, this is something where Bush and Blair have argued about. Because Blair, like other Europeans, think that whatever the faults of Arafat, he has power, and you can't move forward the peace process if you try and ignore him. The British talked to Gerry Adams when he had blood on his hands because he had power, and we couldn't move forward without talking to him, Roosevelt talked to Stalin who had blood on his hands because it was useful to face the common threat of Nazism. And I am afraid as far as the Europeans see it, the more you try and isolate Arafat, the more you strengthen him.

POTTS: For Danielle Pletka, divisions over the Middle East between Europeans and Americans aren't going to be resolved any time soon, a fact she says Europe had better get used to.

PLETKA: Be even-handed in the Middle East. I hate that. I mean, I hate that. Americans aren't even-handed, our job isn't to be even-handed between dictators and democrats. Okay? Period, end of story.

POTTS: For Common Ground, I'm Nina-Maria Potts in Washington, DC.

[Musical interlude]

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Rebuilding Liberia

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Related Links
UNDESA - "Liberia's Governance Program"
http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan002247.pdf
USAID - Liberia
http://www.usaid.gov/pubs/cbj2002/afr/lr/
Liberia From World Press Review
http://worldpress.org/profiles/Liberia.cfm

Tell Us What You Think

 

MCHUGH: A peace agreement was signed in Liberia last summer, ending 14 years of civil war. However, the United Nations Security Council recently refused to lift its sanctions against Liberia saying the country is still too unstable. Common Ground's Cliff Brockman talked with Ameerah Haq of the United Nation's Development Program. Haq says Liberia faces numerous obstacles on its way to recovery.

AMEERAH HAQ: We have a situation in Liberia where there has been really a total gap, many years, you know, very little that is actually functioning in the country in terms of civil service. We've got a situation of widespread human rights abuses. We've got very little in terms of government structure. Any systems for example, not even the firefighting department not working, no firefighters around. Teachers, health workers, nurses who haven't been paid salary in six months or longer. No access to you know, regions outside of Monrovia. So yes, I think that you know, what one gets a picture of from those who've been there is, is really one of a failed state. But I think that there is a possibility to revive these institutions and I think it will take the bringing together of international community and the cooperation and coordination between the mission, the humanitarian actors, political developments, to get Liberia on the road again.

CLIFF BROCKMAN: Situation like that, where do you start?

HAQ: One is to, to provide the security and I think the provision of, of troops and Jacque Klein is in negotiation right now to get troops mobilized from, from countries. So I think that level of the security is number one. Then will be the access to people and being able to get into areas of the country that one hasn't been able to, to reach in providing the humanitarian assistance for people. The food, shelter, looking at the right situation. And of course in a situation such as Liberia one doesn't look at the situation in the country in isolation. So there's a regional response to these kind of situations. So working with the governments, working with ECOAS will be absolutely critical in this process.

BROCKMAN: There have been reports of food shortages and people dying of starvation. How bad is that?

HAQ: From our colleagues who are in, working in the humanitarian situation I think it is desperate and stark situation. There are reports of militia that are committing human rights abuses. You know, there are many refugees who have fled Liberia as well. So one is the ability to be able to get food and the access and roads that are opening up to the populations that, that have been beyond the reach of the humanitarian workers. So it is a difficult situation but I, as I said I think access is gradually happening and I think there are sufficient now food in, in the warehouses that are coming in and once the port is secured—you know, that, that has been a great step in being able to deliver food to the people.

BROCKMAN: I'm sure you're still in a crisis mode in Liberia, or crisis recovery, but when do you think you'd be able to think about some true economic development there?

HAQ: The response comes in phases but I think the planning is already well ahead. And there are discussions of having some kind of, you know, bringing donors together in terms of what the needs and the requirements will be to finance the reconstruction and recovery for Liberia. Right now the emphasis as it must be is on the humanitarian side But nevertheless we already need to look at communities that need to be addressed and strengthened so that the soldiers and others who are going to be demobilized can be reintegrated into the communities and can have jobs. One needs to look at when the transitional government goes in there. As I understand it the treasury and the coffers are empty. How does one provide the immediate infusion of, you know, resources to pay the civil servants, the you know, the government workers, the health workers? So funds need to be established. I think the government of Liberia is in arrears with the international financial institutions. So a lot of all these discussions are going on in terms of planning for not only the immediate relief and the immediate recovery programs but looking at what the long-term economic solution will be and the sources of revenue. Looking at the private sector, the, you know, the role that women can play in strengthening communities and ensuring the peace process holds. And bringing together the different factions. So I think a lot of the economic work already is in the stages of planning, the long-term reconstruction work.

BROCKMAN: How long do you think it will take the country to recover?

HAQ: As you said it's been a long process and for the last 14 years we have seen the gradual sort of dismantling of so many government structures. As I said right now it's a situation of just humanitarian response. People have been displaced. The capacity of the country is greatly reduced. And all these take time. So I think it will be a gradual process. It has to be in phases. But I imagine that by the time the capacity and everything else has developed we're looking at, you know, a five to 10 year horizon of development in Liberia.

BROCKMAN: Ameerah Haq is the Deputy Director for Crisis Prevention and Recovery for the United Nations Development Program. For Common Ground, I'm Cliff Brockman.

PORTER: Coming up next, Stuttgart, Germany celebrates its classical roots. You're listening to Common Ground, radio's weekly program on world affairs.

[Musical interlude]

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Bach Academy

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Related Links
International Bach Academy
http://www.stuttgart-tourist.de/english/stuttgart/theatre/bachakademie.html
JS Bach Biography
http://www.jsbach.org/biography.html
Stuttgart, Germany
http://www.stgt.com/stuttgart/homee.htm

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PORTER: Stuttgart is an industrial city in southern Germany and home to Germany's car industry. It's also home to some of Europe's finest classical music. To understand the city's passion for Bach and Mozart, Reese Erlich listened to everyone from street musicians to a world famous orchestra.

[The sound of street cleaning and people talking]

REESE ERLICH: Just to the right of the street sweeping machine, stand six very talented young gentlemen playing violins, cellos, and a double bass.

[The sound of street musicians playing Mozart]

ERLICH: The string sextet plays a medley of classical hits. They've put out a violin case, should the good burghers of Stuttgart care to donate some Euros. And did I mention? They're all wearing black tie.

[The sound of street musicians playing Mozart]

ERLICH: Stuttgart takes its classical music very seriously. The city of 2.7 million sports world-class concert halls, a symphony, and opera.

[The sound of street musicians playing Mozart, then the sound of someone walking away, and the sound of dogs barking]

ERLICH: A few miles from downtown sits an architectural gem of a building, with a high, slanted roof and stone walls. At one time it was the headquarters for a publishing company. Today it houses the International Bach Academy of Stuttgart.

[The sound of an opening door, and someone walking down a hallway]

ERLICH: The Bach Academy is a performing arts group that brings together young musicians and seasoned professionals for choral and orchestral concerts. Andreas Keller, general manager of the Academy, shows me around the five-story building.

ANDREAS KELLER: We go now downstairs to the first floor, where we do have the small concert hall, where we do the rehearsals.

[The sound of walking down stairs; then someone walks over to a piano and begins to play]

ERLICH: The Bach Academy houses practice halls and administrative offices. It also has an archive of books and manuscripts. The really old stuff, such as musical scores written by Johann Sebastian himself, are kept in a vault off site. Keller describes what it was like to actually see one of those scores.

KELLER: It's in a deep, deep vault at an insurance company. They have to collect five people with five different keys. And then you go in a ceremony like. Then—whoosh—a door opens and then you come to the sacrosanctum. It's something very special. You can't describe it. Yeah? You meet Johann Sebastian Bach in person. This paper has been written by him in his own handwriting. This is something there. The heart stops.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

ERLICH: Keller says that Bach, who lived from 1685 to 1750, has long been established as a great German composer. Unlike some classic composers, however, Keller says the Nazis didn't have much use for Bach.

KELLER: There has been other music in, by the Nazis, very much used for political purposes. A lot of Wagner music, you know, this because he has been very anti-Semitic, has been played and performed by the Nazis. But Bach didn't play that role. He has been more ore less all his life a church musician. So all his life he composed and performed music for the church. You can't use it for political purposes.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

ERLICH: Every year the Bach academy sponsors a competition that brings young musicians to Stuttgart. They work with Academy conductor Helmuth Rilling and then offer performances of orchestral and choir music at the city's best concert hall. Academy press representative Brigitte Schoning says the competition is quite stiff.

BRIGITTE SCHONING: We collect young musicians, from the age 18 to 28, from all over the world to come together in Stuttgart to play with us during the European Music Festival. We form a jury that travels a lot of places in the world for auditions. And then we really select the best musicians, singers as well as orchestral musicians.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

ERLICH: The Academy performs works by many major classical composers, and also commissions original music. But it is perhaps best known for its interpretations of Bach. In 1999 the Academy orchestra and choir recorded one of Bach's great choral works, Mass in B Minor.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

KELLER: It's a summary of everything—of faith, of composing techniques, of never ending new findings, new meanings in music. So you can work with this piece for a whole life.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

ERLICH: The Bach Academy performs a series of concerts in Stuttgart every August and September. The choir and orchestra then travel to other German cities and abroad. For Common Ground, I'm Reese Erlich, Stuttgart, Germany.

[The sound of Bach's Mass in B Minor]

MCHUGH: That's our show for this week. If you have questions or comments about today's program, visit our Web site at commongroundradio.org or e-mail us at commonground@commongroundradio.org. Please drop us a line—we'd love to hear from you.

PORTER: Transcripts and information on how to order copies of this and other Common Ground programs are also available on our Web site: commongroundradio.org. I'm Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I'm Kristin McHugh. Cliff Brockman is our Associate Producer. B.J. Liederman created our theme music. Additional compositions by Wink Music.

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is a Stanley Foundation production. The Stanley Foundation: promoting public understanding, constructive dialogue, and cooperative action on critical international issues. On the Web at stanleyfoundation.org.

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