(Foreign Media Reaction Daily Digest)

Commentators in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America proffered very positive assessments of Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright's confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, with many noting that the SFRC largely seemed delighted with the prospect of Ms. Albright as the head of U.S. diplomacy. "Everybody was cooing," centrist top- circulation Corriere della Sera of Milan said, "both her fellow Democrats and the Republicans." Noting her testimony statements and describing her personal style and past experience as the U.S. representative to the UN, pundits remarked that Ms. Albright will most likely be a more assertive and "interventionist" secretary of state than her predecessor.

Opinionmakers also took the opportunity to comment on various substantive aspects of U.S. foreign policy of particular interest to them, using Ambassador Albright's testimony as a launching pad. A number of European analysts praised Ms. Albright for her reassuring testimony on European matters--helping to alleviate, they said, the European anxiety of being replaced by Asia as the focal point of U.S. foreign policy. Middle Eastern media outlets limited themselves to lamenting the secretary- designate's alleged pro-Israel bias, although Saudi-owned, pan-Arab Al-Hayat maintained, "Arabs, regardless whether they are officials, writers or ordinary citizens, are mistaken if they consider her from the beginning a foe. Although Albright's support for Israel is clear and well- known, at the same time she wants to succeed as secretary of state, and it will be of no use to her to have the Arabs as enemies--nor does she want that." Meanwhile, Asian editorialists expressed concern about American isolationism and a range of foreign policy problems facing the second Clinton administration. Dailies in Latin America decried the alleged American failure to deal seriously with their region. Conservative El Panama America welcomed reports that President Clinton plans to visit the region in the spring, saying, "Why in this era of instantaneous international communications can a presidential visit be so important in the formulation of policy? Obviously because Clinton and the main architects of his international policies (Albright...) are not knowledgeable about the region...and empirical experience is necessary for a better understanding between Washington and the other countries of this hemisphere."

Other pundits opined that the tide of rising domestic problems and issues, as well the implications of a president in his second--and last--term, may make President Clinton more interested and personally engaged in foreign policy matters. Brussels' conservative, Catholic La Libre Belgique, for example, echoed the sentiment of other media voices: "A second term traditionally offers the president the opportunity to lead with a policy which is likely to make him enter history.... President Clinton--who prides himself on having been a peacemaker in Bosnia, the Middle East and Haiti--is coveting other [foreign policy] laurels."

This survey is based on 26 reports from 20 countries, Dec. 31-January 10.
EDITORS: Diana McCaffrey and Mildred Sola Neely


GERMANY: "Ideal Occupation"

Left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (1/10) commented, "Madeleine Albright is the ideal candidate for the portfolio of secretary of state. But in this office she is required to show a greater willingness for compromise than she showed at the...UN.... In the future she will be required to show consideration for the network of political and economic interests in which the United States is a central pillar.... Before the U.S. Senate, she showed a moderate attitude, but she demanded that the United States increase its support of peace forces in conflicts in the world. This means that she does not search for a compromise with the isolationism of conservative politicians in her country--and, at the same time, she indicates that her personal commitment would not evade possible sensitivities. Albright will have to stand her first test when it comes to NATO's enlargement. Her chances are favorable: For a long time, she has been one of the visionaries who are sketching out the new architecture of the continent."

"Leadership Role"

Business newspaper Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (1/10) observed, "Under the leadership of Secretary of State- designate Madeleine Albright, the United States is likely to execute its foreign policy in an active and pronounced manner.... The focus of her foreign policy, which she outlined in the hearing before the Senate, did not contain any surprises. She remained loyal to her policy and made clear that, in her opinion, isolationist currents have no chances. As usual, she presented herself as an eloquent and assertive politician."

BRITAIN: "Albright's Perch"

The independent weekly Economist carried the following profile of Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright (1/10): "Charm may count for a lot over the next four years. Warren Christopher lawyered audiences to sleep.... Mrs. Albright, by contrast, is a master of the press conference and the winning speech. At her confirmation hearings this week, she declared that foreign policy cannot be conducted on the cheap. If anybody has the energy to lobby Congress for more cash, it is probably her.... But there is more to Mrs. Albright's confirmation than energy and charm. Assuming the hearings carry on as cordially as they began, they will show that the gloomy talk of American isolationism has been greatly exaggerated.... The Republicans quickly found out that America cannot avoid being entangled with the world. And, faced with the prospect of Mr. Clinton's chief interventionist as secretary of state, they have purred and rolled over.... American unilateralism can achieve powerful results in the short term, as in Bosnia's semi-calm and Mr. Boutros Ghali's ouster. But, over the long term, unilateralism is damaging. America needs to encourage its allies to do more in the world. It must navigate a path, as one wise commentator said, 'between disengagement, which is not possible, and over-extension, which is not sustainable.' That commentator was Mrs Albright, in a speech she made last June. Now she must live by her own words."

"Albright Vows To Nurture Ties With Europe"

The conservative Times commented (1/9): "Her statements will bring welcome succor to Britain and other European governments, where there has been concern in the weeks since President Clinton's re-election that the United States now appears more dedicated to stronger ties with Asia than with its former allies in Europe."

"Mr. Clinton's Global Parish"

The independent Financial Times editorialized (12/31): "The responsibilities of American global leadership, never light, are particularly complex in the post-Cold War era. President Clinton enters his second term with a new foreign policy team but with the conventional expectations that his mark on history, whatever his personal inclinations, will be mostly determined by what he accomplishes outside his own country. Warren Christopher, the outgoing secretary of state, is fond of saying that United States foreign policy should reflect American values. These he defines as democracy, free markets, human rights, and collective economic and military security: laudable goals but easier to define than to implement.

"It does not help that the current mood of the United States is inward-looking. That reflects a parochialism evident elsewhere in the world, but it matters more when you are trying to run the sole remaining superpower. There are isolationist, even xenophobic, tendencies on both left and right of the American political spectrum. Mr. Clinton, to his credit, does not share these but they are strong enough to limit his freedom of maneuver.... Above all, a president who now knows the foreign policy ropes should use his second term to address the American role in the world more consistently than he did in the first. That does not require a rigid 'Clinton doctrine' but rather the application of his subtle mind and communicative skills. The presidency remains a powerful 'bully pulpit' against the forces of parochialism, if the occupant is prepared to use it for that purpose."

FRANCE: "Madeleine Albright: No Cut-Rate Diplomacy"

Jean-Jacques Mevel said in right-of-center Le Figaro (1/9): "During the Senate hearings, Madeleine Albright spoke essentially of big bucks.... 'We have a great diplomatic machine, but we cannot make it run on a cut-rate budget.'... Bill Clinton's choice reflects his own political maturity. After a first term marked by political hesitations in Somalia and Haiti, as well as by difficult relations with the military, the president has taken on a certain assurance in matters of foreign policy. Ms. Albright is among those who are calling for a more clearly defined intervention policy in world affairs, especially in Bosnia."

ITALY: "A Love Feast"

Washington correspondent Ennio Caretto observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (1/9): "Women first. President Clinton, who owes them his re-election, tasked the most combative of all, Madeleine Albright, with introducing the foreign policy 'dream team' for his second term. And Albright did not leave any doubts: She will be a much more interventionist secretary of state than her lukewarm predecessor, Warren Christopher.... Her point of reference will be Europe--'the lesson of this century is that America should remain a European power.' More than a hearing on Albright's suitability as secretary of state...yesterday's hearing was a love feast. Everybody was cooing, both her fellow Democrats and the Republicans, who see her as an 'iron lady.' It emerged clearly that Madeleine Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia, has not forgotten her Central European origins and that, for her, the transatlantic axis is fundamental."

BELGIUM: "Madeleine Albright, 'Political Animal'"

Conservative Catholic La Libre Belgique (1/10) said: "Madeleine Albright is the U.S. 'Iron Lady' --tough, not very diplomatic, people say. And it is true that she bears the scars of her childhood as a refugee, of a forsaken wife and of a woman who had to fight hard to reach the highest job of a diplomatic world so far dominated by men. She has the didactic mind of a professor, the skill of a talk-show host and the impatience of a workaholic. But she also has a grandmother's heart, charm and a disarming sense of humor. She never forgets where she comes from and where she is going to....

"She admits being a 'political animal,' basically pragmatic.... She charmed the Congress, including formidable Senator Helms, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.... Madeleine Albright is not familiar with Asia, but she often denounces abuses in China. And, as a woman, she may have a hard time negotiating with the Arabs. But, she has rubbed shoulders with diplomats from all parts of the world at the UN. Moreover, no secretary of state is expert in everything."

"Clinton Coveting Other Foreign Policy Laurels"

Philippe Paquet commented in conservative, Catholic La Libre Belgique (1/2): "A second term traditionally offers the president the opportunity to lead with a policy which is likely to make him enter history.... President Clinton- -who prides himself on having been a peacemaker in Bosnia, the Middle East and Haiti--is coveting other laurels. NATO's enlargement--for which Bill Clinton, at the beginning, displayed only little enthusiasm--should opportunely be implemented in April 1999, a few months before the end of his term. In the meantime, reconciliation with China would perpetuate the work of another Democratic President--Jimmy Carter--who established diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979."

DENMARK: "Albright Understands Europe"

A year-end op-ed piece in the center-right Berlingske Tidende (12/31) held: "Bill Clinton appears to be finding his feet in the area of foreign policy.... His second term foreign policy program appears to prioritize Europe rather than Asia. Furthermore, the U.S. supports NATO expansion while at the same time aiming to strengthen American cooperation with Russia. The new secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, has European roots and thus understands Europe. She is both one of the UN's sharpest critics and most loyal supporters. This is good news for us, since the 21st century will belong to the USA."

POLAND: "Albright Acknowledged The Will To Expand NATO"

Washington correspondent Jacek Kalabinski filed for center-left Gazeta Wyborcza (1/9), "The governments of the United States and Russia are conducting negotiations on the issue of a so-called charter, i.e. agreement on relations between Moscow and NATO, which is to take effect after the admission of new member countries to the Atlantic Alliance. Madeleine Albright, nominated for the post of secretary of state, revealed that fact during yesterday's hearings before the Senate Foreign (Relations) committee. Albright declined to provide the details, adding only that other NATO members participate in those negotiations. Albright acknowledged the will to expand NATO and said that the goal was to overcome the divisions in Europe that have remained after the Cold War."


JAPAN: "Clinton Will Shift To Foreign Policy"

Liberal Asahi ran this commentary by Yoichi Funabashi (1/1): "U.S. presidential administrations (generally) lose momentum rapidly in the second term. Because a presidential third term is prohibited by the Constitution, there is never a 'next time.' The [second term] president tends to exert himself in foreign policy rather than domestic affairs. The second Clinton administration will follow the traditional pattern. Although 1996 was the year of domestic politics, foreign policy will be the central theme of 1997. The Clinton administration has not yet had to face economic hard times, but may in the near future. Another trial for Clinton will be whether the administration can build a good relationship with a Congress dominated by Republicans. Policy may be affected if the President is forced to clash with Congress over White House scandals."

NEPAL: "American Hegemony"

Pro-left Shree Sagarmatha (1/5) in a commentary observed, "American pressure, through the World Bank and IMF, on the world to move toward economic liberalization, is likely to increase, preventing Third World countries, particularly the poor ones, from carrying out their own original policies.... President Clinton pledges to focus his attention on a balanced budget, reduction of crime, a service-oriented economic structure, and a commitment to do something for his own country. It can be surmised that in the days to come, the United States will become much stronger and may give less attention to world affairs.... But wherever there is an American presence, conflicts and confrontations have been aggravated rather pacified.... The dream of world peace will not be possible as long as efforts are made to establish American hegemony and unless the United States brings about drastic changes in its stubborn policies."

SOUTH KOREA: "U.S. Leadership Challenged"

Readers of pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo (1/3) saw this commentary: "The collapse of the Soviet Union lead to a steady growth of isolationism in the United States and made Americans largely indifferent to international affairs.... It's hard to imagine that U.S. foreign policy will be any different this year, given the unsteady trends of the last four. Its position as a world leader could suffer a blow if Washington continues to disregard foreign policy."

THAILAND: "Looking Ahead--Clinton's Second Term And Foreign Policy"

Lens Zoom commented in mass circulation Daily News (12/31): "Pundits warned, however, that the next four years will not be as easy... because President Clinton will still have to confront the defiant Republican-controlled Congress...and its incessant pursuit of such scandals as the Whitewater, filegate, etc.... Clinton will also need to correct the U.S. image of a bully that interfered with the UN internal affairs by pressuring for the replacement of its secretary- general, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, much to the chagrin of all UN members, especially the European nations.... Then, Clinton will have more headaches with brokering the Middle East peace process...and persuading Russian President Boris Yeltsin to buy NATO's planned enlargement. As for China, although U.S.-China relations have improved of late, they continue to be troubled by bilateral trade problems and human rights violations (in China)."


ISRAEL: "Madeleine Albright--Pragmatic And Active Diplomat"

Independent Haaretz said (1/10): "If Madeleine Albright is planning to make significant changes in U.S. foreign policy during President Clinton's second term, she did a very good job hiding her plans during her Senate appearance Wednesday. Albright outlined the administration's familiar strategies and added no or very little renovations. Those who are happy with the president's first term foreign policy are very likely to feel there is no need for change. However, there are those who felt that Albright should have said more, especially on U.S.-China relations.... Albright explained that improving diplomatic and trade relations with Beijing may actually help the cause of human rights in the Communist state. One might like to ask Mrs. Albright why she does not apply the same rationale to Cuba.... Albright more than implied that the United States was not going to move from active to isolationist foreign policy. In her own words: 'We must do much more than just watch or be actors in a play. We must author contemporary history.'"

KUWAIT: "Hope Albright Will Give Kuwait's Just Causes Adequate Attention"

Mubarak Al-Hajiri observed in independent Al-Rai Al-Aam (1/7): "The appointment of Mrs. Madeleine Albright as secretary of state was not a surprise, given that she has a personality fit for politics. Many questions were raised...since her appointment.

"Will the American policy remain unchanged? Will the new secretary succeed in solving problems in some of the areas of conflict which the former secretary failed at? The focal points of conflict which were difficult for the Americans to solve are many, including the Middle East peace process. Arabs have doubts that Mrs. Albright will adopt a neutral position given her well-known bias toward Israel. Will the American pledge toward the state of Kuwait to support her in the face of the Iraqi regime slacken? Can Mrs. Albright control American companies, seeking to have their share of the Iraqi cake.... We wish Mrs. Albright success in her new mission and we hope that she will give Kuwait's just causes adquate attention."

LEBANON: "Albright Affirms She Will Seek Comprehensive M-E Peace"

Sensationalist Ad-Diyar commented (1/9): "Madeleine Albright affirmed that she will be strongly active and do everything necessary to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East because this issue is one of President Clinton's priorities.... Answering a question whether she intends to follow up on Secretary Christopher's marathon shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, she said...'I can affirm that I will give great importance to this issue and adopt a style which I hope will be fruitful.'"

"Albright Only Touches Fleetingly On Peace Process"

Arab nationalist As-Safir held (1/9): "The brushes of the newly-appointed American secretary with Middle Eastern issues (during the hearing) were both surprising in nature and embarrassing.... It seems that her hardline positions toward Iraq in the UN followed her to Washington.... Although the demonstrators were kicked out of the Congress, it was apparent that Albright was embarrassed to the extent that she asked to be allowed to respond to the demonstrators' question regarding Iraq.... As for the peace process, Ms. Albright touched fleetingly on this issue without mentioning Syria and Lebanon.... Responding to a question on Syria, Ms. Albright evinced a rather negative position, saying that she has no illusions regarding Syria...but no doubt that the Syrian factor is important for the peace process.... Answering another question, she affirmed that Washington's policy toward the peace process will be directed by the unshaken American commitment to Israel's security."

MOROCCO: "Will Madelaine Albright Take Off Her Make-Up Even With Arabs?"

Amina Shelh wrote in opposition, Arab nationalist Al-Alam (1/7): "How did politicians deal with the Jewish Albright's becoming minister and what do Arabs expect of her? The first political lesson for the first woman at the State Department is to work seriously. When Albright works she forgets everything, even the fact that she is a woman. She takes off her make-up and puts pencils in her hair.... As was obvious in the Boutros Ghali affair, Albright does not simply execute policy but helps make it.... Regarding Albright's position toward Arabs, observers say that all Albright can do to minimize damage is to renew the U.S. commitment to the peace process following in the steps of her predecessor Warren Christopher. Because of her Jewish origin, however, Albright will probably exhibit Zionist tendencies."

SAUDI ARABIA: "Albright Does Not Want Arabs As Enemies"

In Saudi-owned, pan-Arab Al-Hayat (1/9), editor-in-chief Jihad Al-Hazen wrote: "Madeleine Albright will not visit Damascus 27 times as Warren Christopher did. Rather, it is likely that she will focus her effort on bringing Israel toward peace by supporting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, not through putting pressure on him. But Arabs, regardless whether they are officials, writers or ordinary citizens, are mistaken if they consider her from the beginning a foe. Although Albright's support for Israel is clear and well-known, at the same time she wants to succeed as a secretary of state, and it will be of no use to her to have the Arabs as enemies--nor does she want that.... In general, U.S. foreign policy will be characterized by continuity.

"U.S. foreign policymakers will not take the risk of one war, not to mention two wars. Perhaps the United States may find that the concept of power or the impression of others that the United States is strong and capable of using force is enough to support its foreign policy, without an actual need for military intervention. This is likely the tack Madeleine Albright will take in her job as secretary of state."


INDIA: "New Policy Options"

Washington correspondent N.C. Menon put forth this analysis in the nationalist Hindustan Times (12/31): "It does not need the punditry of a political wizard to realize that U.S. President Bill Clinton in his second term will not just hold office, but will fill it.... A major difference in Clinton's a second term will be the public attention paid to foreign policy.... Clinton will also use his executive privilege to a greater extent to launch international initiatives. The only moot point is whether he will utilize his new freedom of foreign policy action to rise above narrow nationalism to fulfil the role of a world statesman. He can do the latter, but it will not be easy, given the American proclivity so far to apply morality to foreign policy on a rather selective basis.... It is...incumbent upon a superpower with global concerns to make an effort to understand and appreciate the national and strategic interests of the various countries it has to deal with.... Clinton has the opportunity to discover in his second term that such a new foreign policy will not only be easier to execute, but more rewarding in the glory that will accrue to him for contributing to the creation of a friendlier, more peaceful, planet. Will he rise to the occasion? Only time will tell."


MEXICO: "Lack Of Interest In Latin America"

Centrist, nationalist Excelsior (1/9) stated: "In her Senate confirmation hearing, Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright brought back the echo of the deceased John Foster Dulles. The aggressive U.S. official said the United States is not a charity agency to solve all problems in the world, thus it is necessary to redefine priorities.... Through her own words she reminded us of the belligerent Dulles who used to say that the United States has not friends, but only interests.... Madeleine Albright has been known for her lack of interest in Latin America, and for her non-diplomatic ways of addressing issues. The worst, however, is that she is considered as a 'hawk' who favors the use of military force.... When she spoke about Mexico, she said she would be willing to review the U.S. policy toward Mexico, if the anti-drug struggle failed.... The prospect of dealing with Albright embodies no promise for Mexico."

COLOMBIA: "Appointment Will Have Repercussions For Colombia"

Leading, Liberal Party-oriented El Tiempo (1/6) held in an op-ed piece by columnist Martha Lucia Ramirez, "The applause that [Albright's] nomination has received both domestically and abroad is a fair recognition of Mrs. Albright's political savvy, knowledge, and experience. This designation, along with [others] will have important repercussions in the future of relations between Colombia and the United States, as well as most of the world. That is why we must celebrate the naming of the current minister of defense (Juan Carlos Esguerra) as the new Colombian ambassador to the United States, because we must admit that in this cold war between our country and the world's premier power, the only one that has been affected has been Colombia."

PANAMA: "Toward A Better Understanding Of Latin America"

Henry Raymont wrote in conservative El Panama America (1/6): "President Clinton is now including Latin America in his foreign policy priorities.... Preparations are underway for his first visit to the region sometime in April or May.... These are being done in the middle of Lima's hostages crisis, the pending frontier agreements between Peru and Ecuador, and the suspension of conversations with Panama on the bases future.... Why in this era of instantaneous international communications can a presidential visit be so important in the formulation of policy? Obviously because Clinton and the main architects of his international policies (Albright, Berger or Dobbins) are not knowledgeable about the region...and empirical experience is necessary for a better understanding between Washington and the other countries of this hemisphere."


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