November 17, 2003
EVEN WITH ACCELERATED TRANSITION, STILL A TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
** After a
"hastily" called summit, the U.S. "is adjusting to reality"
** Speeding up the transfer
of power to Iraqis is positive, but not a panacea.
** Some now worry the U.S.
will leave Iraq too quickly--with "catastrophic" results.
An accelerated exit from 'mayhem'-- Editorialists concluded that the U.S. has
been "readjusting its sights" in Iraq because of the twin pressures
of a "sharp rise in terrorist attacks" and the "electoral
imperative" of escaping the "Iraq quagmire." Following "a feverish round of
consultations" in Washington, the U.S. was "apparently looking
forward to having all problems solved by the summer 2004." President Bush, "having seen a drop in
public support, had no option but to move forward the timing of ending the
occupation of Iraq," stated Japan's liberal Asahi. Echoing this view, France's left-of-center Liberation
stated, "After having initially refused the transfer of power to the
Iraqis, Bush is all of a sudden in a hurry to do so," adding that
increased disaffection over Iraq "is jeopardizing Bush’s chances to be
re-elected." Arab papers argued
"America’s enthusiasm to hand over power" results from successes of
'Real concerns remain'-- Dailies asserted that
"America's new orientation in its Iraq policy was overdue" and that
Washington "appears to have understood that the absolute priority, in its
own best interest, is to transfer power to the Iraqis." Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel
judged that "the timetable will not stop violence immediately...but the
approach is right." A reformist
Russian paper allowed that "the Iraqi guerrillas have succeeded where
European diplomats have failed," but cautioned "this is hardly a
cause for rejoicing." With Iraq
"close to 'Lebanonization,'" another European paper remarked,
"solutions that could have been implemented four months ago are much more
difficult today." According to an
Italian analyst, the "real problem is to establish the length of time it
will take to transfer government responsibilities, including...security, to a
trustworthy Iraqi government."
The U.S. is 'obliged to stay the course'-- Even formerly stalwart anti-war papers worried
that "having created the mess" in Iraq, the U.S. might now be tempted
to leave too soon. "When Washington
signals uncertainty" or that it wants "to get out very quickly, the
Americans are pulling the carpet out from under the feet of those Iraqis"
who would help build the new Iraq, stated Norway's paper-of-record Aftenposten. Others argued that handing over power to the
Iraqis too soon could lead to "civil war and draw thousands upon thousands
of Islamic fanatics" to Iraq. A
frequently expressed sentiment was that it would be "a mistake" to
proceed with a quick "Iraqification" without "genuine internationalization"
under the UN aegis. Iraq should be
placed under a UN "political mandate" and the UN should be allowed to
"take over the supervision of the establishment of new
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 96 reports from 41 countries, November 13-17, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
Alternative To Bush's Plans For Iraq"
The conservative Scotsman of Edinburgh editorialized
(Internet version, 11/17): "Those
who wonder what benefits might derive from President Bush’s state visit to
Britain this week might stop to note the acceleration of the political timetable
in Iraq that has just occurred. The de
facto American protectorate in Iraq is now scheduled to end by 30 June, 2004,
at which point a sovereign provisional government composed of Iraqis will take
over control of the country. This
announcement, timed to coincide with the visit, will not dissuade those bent on
demonstrating against Mr. Bush in London, but it rather suggests that loose
talk about a new western colonialism in Iraq is rather wide of the
mark.... The essential issue is...how to
forge a multi-ethnic, multi-religious Iraq that has a workable democracy; and
how to create stability and security in Iraq which will allow
reconstruction.... Both the Bush and
Blair administrations have grossly underestimated the difficulty of securing a
post-Saddam settlement in Iraq. That
suggests there has been a tendency to present issues too simplistically. Leave that to the anti-Bush
"The Power Of A Car, A Bomb And A Man Willing To Die"
Martin Woollacott wrote in the left-of-center Guardian
(11/14): "It is ironic that the
United States and Britain, who would never have invaded Iraq had it not been
for the superior technology which they trusted would limit their casualties to
a tolerable level, now face a military and political crisis in that country
precisely because of the primitive technology which those resisting them are
employing.... The paradox of Iraq is
that the occupiers face a militarily successful resistance which is not at all
popular except in limited areas and among limited groups.... How to unlock Iraqi knowledge about who is
doing the violence, and how to release Iraqi energies and courage so that the
conflict becomes one between the Iraqi majority and the minority of wreckers
is...the main preoccupation of the coalition authorities. Speeding up the handover of power may or not
be the solution.... The Iraqis may wish
to see the back of the Americans, but not before the threats to their security
have been reduced and basic political decisions have been taken.... If American seriousness becomes widely
questioned that will reinforce the wait-and-see attitude, which is part of the
problem. The final paradox may be that
the more determined the U.S. is to stay, the sooner it may be able to
"A Second Chance To Get Iraq
The independent Financial Times observed
(11/14): "Seven months after the
fall of Baghdad, the Bush administration has been forced by intensifying
violence to reconsider the 'seven steps to sovereignty' plan devised by Paul
Bremer, its administrator in Iraq....
The main one is that the insurgency against the U.S.-led occupation
forces is gaining ground, in step with the fast-spreading perception among
Iraqis that they can beat them.... This
is important, because a realistic judgment about security is imperative if
there is to be any chance of retrieving the situation.... Inside Iraq, not only can the insurgents
recruit more; they can also inhibit and intimidate any form of collaboration
with the Coalition Provisional Authority....
The critical message to send is that this is a national project to
rebuild Iraq, which the occupying forces are there to assist but not
dictate. It also needs international
support to succeed, and the only way to secure that is through the United
Nations Security Council's placing Iraq under a political mandate--to give the
project the external legitimacy it currently lacks."
"America Should Start The Search For A Way
Out Of Iraq"
The center-left Independent editorialized (11/13): "The urgent recall to Washington of Paul
Bremer, the American head of the euphemistically named Coalition Provisional
Authority in Iraq, is welcome for one reason only. It suggests that the United States is at last
reviewing its whole approach to the conquest it embarked upon with such unrealistic
expectations in March.... The need for a
comprehensive reassessment of the deteriorating situation is beyond
doubt.... Yet a fast track to elections
and the broadening of Iraq's Governing Council under UN auspices may now offer
the only chance of progress. Whether the
UN would, or could, accept that responsibility at this late stage, having
suffered the losses it has and without new U.S. guarantees of safety, is a
separate question.... Regrettably, the
suspicion must be that Mr. Bremer's summons to Washington was less about the future
of Iraq than it was about the future of George Bush. With the prospects for peace and democracy in
Iraq looking more remote than ever, the risk is a deliberate confusion in the
White House between what is best for Iraq and what is best for Mr. Bush's
re-election--and a betrayal of the very ideals for which the U.S. president,
and our prime minister, have said they were fighting."
FRANCE: "Iraq And How
To Get Rid Of It"
Michele Gayral judged on government-run Radio France
Internationale (11/17): “The U.S.
appears to have understood that the absolute priority, in its own best
interest, is to transfer power to the Iraqis.... This vision, which is certainly realistic and
seems to espouse the Afghan scenario, leaves several questions
unanswered.... To answer all the
questions President Bush would need time, something he does not have much
of. A certain Tuesday is fast
approaching, when the problem will be ‘Iraq or how to get rid of it.’”
Michel Schifres held in right-of-center Le Figaro
(11/14): “Everyone agrees that France’s
analysis of the Iraqi crisis was on the mark.... But what is important now is the
future.... De Villepin’s suggestions are
among the most reasonable and credible.
Only a political approach to the crisis can resolve the
situation.... The power behind de
Villepin’s approach lies not only in what he said but how he said it.... His was a friendly attitude devoid of the
bitterness which in the past led to France’s disgrace.... Time will be an important factor: whereas President Bush's electoral
constraints urge him to go fast, the armed guerrillas’ preference is for a slow
process giving them a chance to increase their campaign of terror. These two opposing forces complicate even
further the Iraqi conundrum.”
"France’s Helping Hand"
Ivan Rioufol commented in right-of-center Le Figaro
(11/14): “American strategists
underestimated the risk of a Sunni population coming together against the
coalition.... It has become quite clear
that Colin Powell’s concerns should have been taken into account. If the neo-conservatives lose in Iraq it will
in large part due to their arrogance and convictions. De Villepin’s solemn offer to help must be
noted. This time the Americans should
listen to the France’s advice.”
"Bush Wants To Escape The Iraqi Quagmire"
Joseph Limagne remarked in regional Ouest France
(11/14): “Paul Bremer’s new mission, to
speed up the transfer of sovereignty is a positive turning point: hence de Villepin’s gesture. But we must not cry victory too soon.... The endeavor is far from easy...because it
comes so late. The solutions that could
have been implemented four months ago are much more difficult today: on the military front, the Iraqi army has
been disbanded. Politically, Iraq is
close to 'Lebanonization.' Without very
strong international support it is hard to see how the same individuals will
all of a sudden become more effective....
For President Bush, escaping the Iraqi quagmire is an electoral
imperative. Yet he cannot wash his hands
of the mayhem triggered by his war against Saddam.... He will probably opt for a partial withdrawal
and a gradual transfer of sovereignty.
But this will raise questions for America’s allies, especially the peace
camp: should they commit or not? France must begin to think about how to fill
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(11/13): “Bush’s priority is simple: to
reduce the number of coffins coming home from Iraq and the daily flow of images
of suicide attacks. The increase in
hostility towards the Iraqi adventure among American public opinion is
jeopardizing Bush’s chances to be re-elected.... After having initially refused the transfer
of power to the Iraqis, Bush is all of a sudden in a hurry to do so. The danger of the ‘Iraqification’ is that a
power with no real legitimacy will take the reins. It would be divided, powerless and backed by
troops much less well-armed that the GIs to fight the increasingly murderous
threat of terrorist attacks.... The
question is whether it is already too late to establish an Iraqi government in
Baghdad. It could not be durable without
the support of an international force that would not be an occupying
force. Nor could it function without a
minimum of legitimacy that could only be conferred on it by the UN.”
GERMANY: "Why America
Is In Iraq"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger opined in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (11/16): "George W.
Bush wants to return sovereignty in a way that promotes, not weakens,
stability. This is why America will
continue to carry the main burden for quite some time. Bush wants to leave forces in the country
until the Iraqi democracy is no longer in danger. This is a noble, but also dangerous
goal. And it sounds like a long stay in
"Acceleration In Iraq"
Daniel Herrmann opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(11/17): "In Iraq, not only two
different worldviews are clashing but also two different cultures and several
religions. But this is only one reason
why U.S. soldiers are...dying in Iraq in the fight for democratization. It is characteristic that U.S. strategists
are now using the 'iron hammer'...to get the problem of constant attacks under
control. But this heave-ho mentality is
also responsible for the fact that the proud Iraqis do not warm to the cowboys. But now there is at least a quick 'Iraqification.'… In Germany there were four years between the
end of the war and the Basic Law. The
United States has still not said why this is to work faster in Iraq than in
Germany--and this under the current circumstances."
Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin editorialized
(11/17): "America's new orientation
in its Iraq policy was overdue.
Washington loved the idea too much to turn the former Saddam
dictatorship into a model democracy....
This was a mistake and President Bush has now realized this. But he listened more to opinion polls in the
United States than to the Iraqis, since they, like the Europeans, have demanded
a clear and political timetable for the transfer of power for months. It is bitter that the United States rethought
only under pressure from terrorists...but it is better to make a late
correction than no correction at all....
The timetable will not stop violence immediately...but the approach is
right.... The Americans should now not
interfere in the political new restructuring process. To safeguard this process, the United Nations
could take over the supervision of the establishment of new institutions. Otherwise the second chance to pacify the
country will be forfeited. It could be
Uwe Schmitt concluded in an editorial in right-of-center Die
Welt of Berlin (11/17): "What
is new beyond the new language, beyond the change of strategies? Nothing apart from the implicit confession
that the pain threshold for President Bush has now been reached in view of the
more than 400 soldiers killed in Iraq.
It would be stupid if the war opponents in Berlin and Paris now saw
their views confirmed, since the United Nations has not the power nor the will
to fill the vacuum in Iraq, and the old Europeans do not have the money nor the
support among their people to back a United States that has converted to
multilateralism. This means that the
Americans won the war without a grand coalition and they will have to end it
that way. But they cannot leave the
country before Iraq has democratic structures and peace been
safeguarded.... In reality, Bush's
policy does not depend on troop strengths not even on himself, but on the will
of the Iraqis to suffocate terror, which is no revolt. Without them, America has no chance."
Right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung has this to say
(11/17): "The prospects for Iraq
are gloomy: Despite all nice words from
Washington, the country is confronted with the dispute between the Shiite
majority that was suppressed under Saddam and the Sunni minority. The 'traveling' tourists from other Arab
countries will add fuel to this conflict, because an unstable Iraq must be
feared less than the democratic model, President Bush originally planned to
"Acceleration In Iraq"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (11/14): "As a
consequence of the shock at the attack on the Italian headquarters we can
demand that Iraq becomes a stable country as soon as possible. But there is no concept that guarantees
success, since there are enough people in Iraq who are preventing precisely
this normalization and stability; they want the resurrection of the old
regime.... The transfer of power to
Iraqi institutions is the logical political choice. But if Iraqification means to withdraw as
quickly as possible before the new bodies have gained the necessary authority,
this would look like an overhasty withdrawal.... There is no way around it: the security question will determine Iraq's
future--and probably even more. That is
why the forces who came as liberators but are occupiers, are unable to free
themselves from their responsibility. It
is not easy to get out of this dilemma.
Even France seems to realize the things that are at risk. If the French offer of comprehensive
cooperation is not exhausted with the sterile demand to place power in Iraq
under the UN's supervision...this would be a first step to revive the lost
partnership. Since Washington must also
be blamed for the rift, it should give up this childish behavior of punishing
France. The situation in Iraq requires
the (practical) solidarity of all partners in the Alliance."
"Iraq And Europe"
Michael Stuermer noted in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (11/14): "The Europeans are
at odds with each other over the diplomacy and strategy of the Iraq war. Now that the U.S. war plan is in trouble at
home and in Iraq, it is time that the Europeans redesign their foreign and
security policy. This will not become
easy, but the situation is too serious for malicious glee and a know-it-all
attitude. The government in Berlin must
comprehend that the future of the Atlantic Alliance and the European role in
the world will be decided in Iraq....
The governments in Berlin and Paris had called upon the United States to
transfer responsibility to the Iraqis as soon as possible, but as if this would
be very easy. Now the Americans want to
begin with this transfer, but under different circumstances. And the Berlin government must now accept an
old demand and make possible its implementation, not to please Washington but
to avert further misery and to overcome the disagreement among the
"U.S. Position Is Hopeless"
Right-of-center Braunschweiger Zeitung judged (11/14): "A withdrawal is out of the question,
since Iraq would implode. The trouble
spot could endanger the world for years.
Will additional funds and forces help?
Means for reconstruction are indispensable, but additional forces would
only be worn down. Even a domestic Iraqi
government could survive only with the support of international forces. Then they would no longer be occupiers, but
this is no guarantee for peace. With
this war without a UN mandate and without a post-war plan, the United States
has maneuvered itself into a hopeless situation."
Rolf Clement commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk
of Cologne (11/13): "What is
currently being discussed in Washington as a change of strategy is not enough
and points to the wrong direction. The
transfer of responsibility to the Iraqi authorities as the only element of a
new strategy will not be enough, since it must also include an integration of
the international community of nations.
It must get greater authorities in the transition period.... What is becoming clear again is that the
United States does not have the intercultural competence which is necessary for
such post-war stabilization. This
deficit can be reduced only if others get increasing responsibilities
ITALY: "The Massacres
Franco Venturini commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (11/17): "Iraq. It will not be the demonstrations in London
that convince Bush that it is necessary to change course in Baghdad, because
Bush has already understood and done so with the institutional calendar that
will formally put an end to the occupation next June. But real concerns remain. Will the electoral season push the White
House to prematurely reduce its contingent now that the fuel has been added to
the flames? A clearer UN mandate could
certainly serve politically, but would it change anything on the ground now
that the UN has withdrawn from Iraq?"
"The American Theorem"
Former Italian ambassador in Washington Boris Biancheri opined in
centrist, influential daily La Stampa (11/15): "Lately there has been talk of
Washington's change in strategy. It
seems to me, however, that the fundamental strategy has not changed. Washington has never had the intention to
remain in Iraq forever and it neither has the ambition nor the culture of a
colonial power. The real problem is to
establish the length of time it will take to transfer government
responsibilities, including those relative to security, to a trustworthy Iraqi
government capable of taking [the responsibilities] and preparing elections. If
the U.S. and allied forces were to leave the country too soon, we would risk an
inter-ethnic and inter-religious war with consequent massacres. If they were to stay too long we would risk
the possibility that the guerrilla war, as al Qaida undoubtedly wants, turn
into a popular insurrection against the foreign occupier."
"The Allies And The Weapon Of Democracy"
Gianni Riotta commented on the front page of centrist,
top-circulation Corriere della Sera (11/15): "It is of widespread opinion that in his
trip to London next week, Bush will have a less unilateral attitude, offering
his principal ally Tony Blair and European public opinion a different tone: the
strategy of chaos in Iraq erases the utopia of 'democracy for export' like
merchandise in a container and re-launches the Atlantic cooperation.... Only a
multinational force, capable of giving legitimacy to an Iraqi government, can
help the U.S. in this difficult stage, perhaps under the aegis of NATO and the
UN. President Ciampi brought to the White House the moral authority of an ally
that is paying the price with blood, not a project for power but for a better
world. Last Spring, mutual arrogance
and opportunism divided the United States and Europe. In order to stop chaos
from spreading from Iraq to the [rest of the] world, it is now necessary that
the international community not abandon the Americans in Baghdad. It is
likewise important that Bush's speech on democracy as an instrument, and not as
an end, become the doctrine for the entire U.S. diplomatic machine."
"The Best Youth"
Igor Man opined in centrist, influential daily La Stampa
(11/15): "From Washington come
unclear and contradictory signals...whether to begin again with Air Force attacks
or to pass the hand to the UN. Total war
resolves nothing (as Vietnam taught). In
order to find itself again the UN needs a revitalization sponsored by
"The Preventive Withdrawal"
Vittorio Zucconi opined in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica
(11/14): "The new 'tactical
doctrine' that today seems to persuade the sovereign [Bush] the most...is
another one of the formulas taken from Vietnam:
finding an exit strategy--a strategy to leave and to proclaim a
victory...going from a 'preventive war' to a 'preventive withdrawal.'... A prisoner among his own people, Bush is the
only one who cannot pull back. He has to
knock about the pro-consul in Baghdad, Bremer, with orders to speed up as much
as possible the preliminary and necessary phase of the exit strategy, the
transfer of politics and weapons to the local clans.... Today, the very new George Bush seems to lean
toward the side of the pragmatic realists....
This is a politician who is seeking a way out and whom Europe, that was
wrong to put him with his back to the wall at the beginning of the year, should
"The Two Souls Of Terrorism"
Lucio Caracciolo judged in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (11/14): "In Iraq
the terrorists are following a strategy, the Americans are desperately looking
for one. The former attack, the latter
defend themselves.... If this scenario
is not reversed in the next few months we will lose the war. We will all lose it, not only the
Americans. Or better, we Italians and
other Europeans, the weak link in the coalition, will be more exposed to the
consequences of the defeat.... To
continue to present our mission as a 'humanitarian' one, to deny that we are at
war, is not only dishonest, it assures further tragedies.... Tired of the inconclusiveness and
quarrelsomeness of the interim government, Bush seems to be searching for an
interim authority, an Iraqi Karzai, to act as a shield. If the former is reduced to the 'mayor of
Kabul,' it is probable that his Iraqi counterpart would have difficulties in
asserting himself 'mayor of Baghdad.' At
this point we must all ask ourselves--we Italians included--if we can still
win. The answer is yes. Neither the Iraqi insurgents nor the Islamic
terrorists are omnipotent. Their
resources, even financial, are not unlimited.
Sooner or later the common people in Baghdad and in the Triangle could
realize that if the occupation is humiliating and often short-sighted, a
permanent guerrilla has no outlet."
"A U.S. Withdrawal Would Lead To Chaos"
Sergio Romano commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (11/13): "The uneasiness of the other countries that have
troops in Iraq, particularly Great Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland, remains
evident. They can't leave because their
gesture would be unbecoming and America would interpret it like a
betrayal. But let's start asking
ourselves if their ally has what the U.S. calls an exit strategy. With their impotence they are paying the
price for a participation in 'scattered order' that has drastically reduced
Europe's influence and contractual power in the Iraqi matter."
"An Action With Too Many Alarming Signals"
Alessandro Politi commented in Rome center-left daily Il
Messaggero (11/13): "The war
began amid a alarming lack of planning for the post-war.... A feverish round of consultations was held in
Washington [recently] on how to find a solution for this situation, but the
only way not to render all these deaths [of Italians in Nasiriyah] in vain is
to manage, rapidly and wisely, the transfer of power to an authority that would
be seen as concretely legitimate by the Iraqi people."
"The Pain And Politics"
Ezio Mauro, managing editor of left-leaning, influential daily La
Repubblica wrote (11/13):
"Today, after America has asked the UN's help to attempt to gain
control of the situation in the crazy post-war, Italy must work to restore the
role of politics in the Iraqi crisis by helping the UN to play an effective
role, the Iraqis to build a real autonomous government, the West to count on Europe's
values along with those of America."
Andrey Zlobin and Denis Rebrov opined in reformist Vremya
Novostey (11/17): "America
tries not to think of its past, but there is no way it can stop the return of
the Vietnam syndrome, as the body count grows.
The crash of two Black Hawks has become a new source of inspiration for
the Iraqi resistance and yet another grim warning for the White House. Saddam's swagger and bluster has given way to
the guerrillas' terse and real threats.
Washington is still hoping for other countries' help, but as the
fighting gets rougher, the hopes fade away.
No one is willing to send troops to die in the Iraqi desert. Death spares no one, be it the Yankees or
their allies. The Iraqi guerrillas have
succeeded where European diplomats have failed.
But this is hardly a cause for rejoicing in Russia, France, and
Germany. Were the U.S. occupation to end
a la Vietnam, the region would become a potential powder keg rather than a
model democracy, as promised by Bush.
Handing over power to the Iraqis amidst growing resistance would plunge
Iraq into a civil war and draw thousands upon thousands of Islamic fanatics
from across the world. The United States
has failed to reach its political and economic objectives. Talk of an early and inevitable fall in oil
prices after Iraq 'liberation' is no more than theorizing."
"A Blow To Berlusconi"
Andrey Terekhov commented on the front page of centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (11/13): "Obviously, the
events at Nasiriyah will impair the United States' diplomatic efforts to expand
its coalition in Iraq. They are another
clear message to Washington that it should hand over power to the Iraqis soon,
possibly before the adoption of a new constitution."
"Winning Wars And Fighting Them Again"
Andrey Zlobin stated on page one of reformist Vremya Novostey
(11/13): "Don't expect the United
States to pull out its troops from Iraq.
That would be 'fatal' to Iraq and the rest of the region, according to
Paul Bremer. But the United States may
try to do away with the vacuum of power by transferring some of its authority
to the Iraqis. One way of doing this
would be to find someone suitable among local leaders, one who will run the
country until elections, and appoint him a president. It is the Afghan scenario. Whatever, to discuss such a plan at the White
House means to acknowledge that the provisional governing council is a
stillborn of the United States' foreign policy, unable to meet the December 15
deadline...under the latest resolution of the UN Security Council. Whether they like it or not, the Americans
will have to share power with the Iraqis, something Moscow, Paris, and Berlin
have been talking about all along."
AUSTRIA: "Squaring The
Circle In Iraq"
Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer wrote in liberal daily Der
Standard (11/14): “Accelerating the
restitution of Iraqi sovereignty is definitely a good thing, but the decision
has to be based on a political concept...and cannot simply be an act of
despair. After all, previous efforts
didn’t amount to much: what, for
instance, happened to Condoleezza Rice’s stabilization group for Iraq? As long as American or other foreign troops
are present in Iraq, the resistance movement will continue. Past mistakes cannot be undone that
easily: the mistake of not immediately
declaring a state of emergency after the war had ended in order to get looting
and criminality under control. The
mistake of not taking any responsibility for the lootings and the crimes. The mistake of having dissolved the army and
thus with one stroke multiplied the potential of the militia. The mistake of having taken too hard a stance
against normal citizens in the battle against the militia, and of having
committed mortal sins against Iraqi culture.
The list goes on. Right now, it seems that no-one knows how to rectify
"Payday For The Willing"
Foreign affairs writer Christoph Prantner wrote in liberal daily Der
Standard (11/13): “For the
governments that were not willing to participate in the Iraq campaign from the
start, the current situation may be a confirmation of their original
position. However, there is certainly no
cause for more or less open jeering, as the consequences of the disaster in
Iraq do not only affect the coalition, but the entire international
community. Indeed, a new kind of willingness
is needed for getting the situation in the country under control. Washington would probably have a good chance
of getting together a new, broad, independent ‘coalition of the willing,’ if it
showed a bit of honest insight.”
"Electoral Haste In Baghdad"
Philippe Paquet held in independent La Libre
Belgique (11/17): “Paradoxically,
the Europeans who, at the UN in September, urged the Americans to promptly
transfer Iraq’s sovereignty to the Iraqis, might be led to ask the Americans not
to hurry when they meet with Colin Powell in Brussels tomorrow. At first glance, the timetable that was
unveiled in Baghdad on Saturday should please everybody.... This scenario, which is a copy of the
procedure that was followed by the Americans in Afghanistan after the ousting
of the Taliban, is a pragmatic one. In
any case, there does not seem to be other possibilities if the objective is to
put in place a government that is representative of the population in a former
dictatorship without any democratic tradition.
However, what is disturbing is the haste of this spectacular American
turnabout. This haste is, of course, the
result of the numerous setbacks of these last weeks. But it is also the result of electoral
pressure, one year before U.S. presidential elections.... By continuing to keep the UN on the side to
re-shape post-Saddam Iraq by itself, the Bush administration has not succeeded
in justifying its extended presence in Iraq more than it managed to convince
people that it was right to launch its offensive against it.”
"There Is No Time To Lose"
Patrick Dath-Delcambe commented in tabloid La Derniere Heure
(11/14): “The United States wanted to
take its time in order to re-shape the post-Saddam Iraq as it wanted to. And when the Europeans urged it to urgently
transfer political power to the Iraqis, it was very reluctant. Now, Washington wants to put on a spurt,
apparently looking forward to having all problems solved by the summer 2004. The proximity of the U.S. presidential
elections in November has, of course, nothing to do with this suddenly tight
Bart Sturtewagen judged in independent Christian-Democrat De
Standaard (11/14): "The
United States has committed itself so deeply in Iraq that it can no longer
retreat. No one will shed a tear on
Saddam’s departure, but the idea that the Americans can depart now and leave a
vacuum behind them is absurd. This would
make the situation even worse than before the war.... The United States would be fully responsible
for this. Besides, there would remain
nothing of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. A superpower that is chased away by a few
hundreds--or even more probably, a few dozen--bomb planters would be an even
greater disgrace than the Vietnam defeat.
The United States has therefore no alternative but to continue and to
suffer casualties.... The change of
strategy that President Bush announced yesterday will in fact not change
much. Speeding up the appointment of a
puppet government without elections and without a new constitution is a recipe
that can save appearances in a strategically unimportant country like
Afghanistan, but not in Iraq.... If this
failure has a positive side, it is that it will take quite some time before the
United States will throw itself into such an adventure without international
CZECH REPUBLIC: "The
U.S. Is Seeking A Way Out Of The Iraqi Trap"
Petr Pesek commented in center-right daily Lidove Noviny
(11/13): "The fact that American
Administrator Paul Bremer arrived in Washington so hastily indicates the
difficulties Americans face due to the slow transformation of Iraq from a
battlefield into a normal state. And if the
number of attacks is not limited to a tolerable level, it can also jeopardize
the planned withdrawal of American troops."
"Withdrawal Of Forces Would Be Cowardly"
Frantisek Sulc opined in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny
(11/13): "Now it can be said that
there will not be peace in Iraq within several months. The situation could improve within a year,
but it will require many changes in the current attitude towards the country,
stronger presence of coalition forces, and bigger investments. However, this does not mean that everything
is lost and everything that has been done was wrong.... The ones who will have to make a major
contribution to improving the situation in Iraq and who will bring most
sacrifices will be the Americans. If the
situation in Iraq is to improve, the following steps are necessary: The Americans must accelerate the
reconstruction as quickly as possible, together with securing safety and
improving the living conditions of ordinary Iraqis. This cannot be done without further
investments and an increased number of troops--not only American ones. It is necessary to start transferring power
to the Iraqi interim government as soon as possible, without waiting for a
constitution. Putting government in the
hands of Iraqis would have a tremendous psychological effect. The training of the Iraqi army and police
must be speeded up. It is essential to
try to engage countries like France or Russia to solve the situation in
"Instant Plan For Iraq"
Pavel Tomasek editorialized in the business daily Hospodarske
Noviny (11/13): "One of the
vital rules for ice hockey coaches is that when your team is losing, the only
thing you mustn’t do is nothing. Judging
by the sudden trip of Paul Bremer back to Washington, George Bush...is probably
considering a change in [the U.S.’] strategic approach [in Iraq].... Nonetheless, as in ice hockey, the likelihood
of the change to succeed is not much over 50 percent.... It won’t be an easy choice [for President
Bush], since [his] advisors vary in their opinions dramatically. If he is serious about maintaining that the
U.S. mission in Iraq is to introduce democracy, then he should give up the
pre-election gimmick of withdrawing a large number of U.S. soldiers from Iraq,
because an 'instant' path to democracy is not an option."
HUNGARY: "A Baghdad
Liberal Hungarian daily Magyar Hirlap remarked
(11/17): “Although Washington denies it,
it seems to be quite obvious that President Bush approved the ‘hand over of
sovereignty’ of Iraq to the Iraqi people by next July for his own domestic
political considerations.... But Bush’s
move might have a high price.... Because
the recent decision fundamentally changes Washington’s Iraq strategy. Washington has, up till now, followed the
pattern which was successfully employed in Germany and the Japan: it first gave
a constitution and then taught democracy.
Then, it helped to organize elections.
Finally it transferred power over to the winner of the elections. The pattern now changes in Iraq: first
Washington transfers power and the drafting of the constitution to the Iraqis,
which seems to be quite an impossible undertaking in a country that lacks any
traditions of a democracy. In Iraq even
the basic question of what should be the form of state, could not be resolved.”
"Iraqi Emergency Plan"
Washington correspondent Gabor Horvath editorialized in leading Nepszabadsag
(11/14): "President Bush can’t
claim that nobody warned him.... The
White House is now seeking, with gnashing teeth, to adjust its policy in Iraq
to the reality of Iraq. The United
States has failed so far to quickly capture the heart of the Iraqi people. The U.S. could not do the magic of building a
democracy within six months on the ruins of a three decade long dictatorship. But it was all to be known ahead. The United States, though, is not going to be
beaten. It is not going to lose in Iraq. Because the U.S. simply can’t afford it. The parameters of a victory in Iraq might, or
surely will, be redefined. But even if
the most liberal Democratic candidate happens to win the elections in 2004, the
U.S. will not change its goals. America
needed the Iraq war primarily for psychological reasons. It needed a cathartic victory after 9/11 in
order that the American citizens could look optimistically again into the
IRELAND: "Strategy On
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (11/15): "Events are forcing the United States to
change course in Iraq, where resistance to the post-war occupation has reached
much more serious proportions.... It has
become clear that the Iraq Governing Council appointed by the occupation
authorities is dysfunctional.... In any
case the council's powers are severely circumscribed by the failure to devolve
sufficient authority to it. As a result
progress made in restoring basic physical and human infrastructure has been
obscured by the more dramatic acts of resistance and growing dissatisfaction
with the occupation among ordinary Iraqis."
"Bush Tries To Close Pandora's Box"
The centrist Sunday Tribune judged (11/16): "The prediction that war on Iraq was a
Pandora's Box has, unfortunately, been proven through death, destruction and
deprivation.... It has been proven by the
replacement of a brutal dictator in Saddam Hussein with a grossly inefficient
one in the United States.... The U.S.,
it seems, now seeks a way out of the mess....
Eight months ago, we said that George Bush and his allies had all but
destroyed the UN. In a perverse kind of
way, they have actually proved how valuable that organization is. A force led by the UN would have had a far
better chance of success in Iraq....
Hopefully, as Bush now tries to slam the lid on his Pandora's Box we
are, at least, left with hope."
NORWAY: "Dangerous And
Vicious Circle In Iraq"
Newspaper of record Aftenposten judged (11/15): “After seven months it is obvious that the
Americans are having trouble in Baghdad....
When Washington signals uncertainty and pressure to get out very quickly,
the Americans are pulling the carpet our from under the feet of those Iraqis
that would consider collaborating to have a better government.... The U.S. governing assembly in Iraq has
little or no authority, and there is plenty to show that only an election--even
a chaotic election--is the only is the only thing that can give the country a
"Socialist Left And The Ostrich"
The independent VG commented (11/17): “A withdrawal today will send entirely wrong
signals to those who daily attack the occupying forces.... In reality it will appear as a confirmation
that the numerous suicide bombings are having the desired effect, to create
chaos and frighten the occupying forces and their collaborators out of
Iraq.... It is something entirely
different that is needed in Iraq, and the last initiatives from Washington
indicate that this is about to become obvious for President George W. Bush and
his political team.”
"Iraq A Stone Around Bush's Neck"
Erik Sagflaat commented in the social democratic Dagsavisen
(11/13) : "Time is running out for
George W. Bush. With less than one year
left until the presidential election he must as soon as possible reduce the
American losses in Iraq.... It is expected
that the U.S. will try to put in place an Iraqi transitional government sooner
than Bremer had planned. Bush does not
have time to wait for Bremer's more gradual approach.... The problem is to find an Iraqi leader with
trust of all the fighting factions and with the ability to build bridges over
the deep ethnic, political and religious conflicts. In Iraq besides there is greater danger than
in Afghanistan that such a government would be considered by many Iraqis a
Quisling-government.... One thing is
certain in any case. One of America's
main problems is still Saddam Hussein.
As long as he is on the loose, it can be difficult to create
stability. There will always be a
nagging fear that the despot can somehow one day get back to power."
POLAND: "Poland, Iraq,
Piotr Kuncewicz observed in leftist Trybuna (11/14): “None of the declared goals of this war has
been accomplished aside from creating a favorable economic situation for the
American arms sector.... Transferring
power to the Iraqis would mean either a new satrap or a civil war--or
both. Whoever is going to help rebuild
Iraq in the future, they will not be Americans, British, or Poles, because by
then they would be totally hated.”
Except Give Up"
José Manuel Fernandes editorialized in influential, moderate left
daily Público (11/13): "Independent from the political cost that
it has for Bush (and for Blair, or for Berlusconi, or for Barroso), the only
option that can't be added to the Iraqi scenario is that of escape. The coalition, although it continues to be
punished by terrorist attacks, cannot get out of Iraq as the United Nations and
the Red Cross did: they above all have the obligation, in collaboration with
good-willed Iraqis, to continue to adapt their strategy to the difficulties
which, in the short term, are likely to increase.... In Iraq, the [coalition] has to continue to
follow its course, since there is no manual for situations which are arising
there. And it is a course where the
difficulties of each day have to be learned by experience, but which does not
leave room for retreat. Not even for
strategies dictated by electoral calendars, even when those elections are
ROMANIA: "Change In
Foreign policy analyst Ana Ilie commented in Cotidianul
(11/17): “Pushed by the more and more
obvious degradation of security in Iraq and before the upcoming presidential
elections in the United States, the George W. Bush administration has decided
to change its military and political strategy in the Gulf.... The transfer of political and security
responsibilities to Iraqis must not be done hastily, because, on a military
level, it might prove to be a failure, and, on a political level, it might take
Iraq out of the democratization process.”
Bogdan Chireac opined in respected daily Adevarul
(11/17): “Since 9/11, America has
prepared and successfully led military campaigns in Afghanistan and
Iraq.... However, with combat
efficiency did not come political efficiency.... Iraq has become a real magnet for all of the
Arabic world’s fundamentalists, and every American or westerner there, no
matter what his mission is, has for them become a legitimate target.... The lack of political strategy is so obvious,
that America was not even able to find believable leaders to impose on Kabul or
Baghdad, so as for America not to be perceived as an invader state any longer.”
SLOVAKIA: "The Dead
Make The Political Problem Come Alive"
Boris Latta wrote in left-of-center independent daily Pravda
(11/14): "Iraqis are beginning to
win. Since it’s hard to get the
Americans out; they are succeeding in threatening the countries that have
decided to send their own soldiers to join the U.S. in this war. After the assassination of the Italians, the
Japanese and Danish became afraid and requested the time to think, and the
Portuguese sent their soldiers to ‘calmer’ Basra.... The fact that it was easier to enter Iraq
then to leave it shows the similarity to Vietnam. The problem is that 'Iraqification' can
create governmental offices whose legitimacy will be doubtful under these
circumstances. The predictions about the
Americans taking too much on their shoulders are more and more becoming true
and Iraq is becoming a nightmare."
SPAIN: "Time And The
Left-of-center El País commented (11/17): "Time is running in a paradoxical way
against the U.S. in Iraq.... Now, as was
anticipated, Bush is in a hurry to accelerate the 'Iraqification'...which
doesn't mean that U.S. troops would withdraw, but rather, that they will
'bunker-ize,' making Washington no longer a de facto occupying power, with the
obligations that that implies.... Bush
is suggesting a quick 'Iraqification' but without prior, genuine
internationalization. A mistake. And as the situation worsens, the more help
the U.S. needs, the less it will get....
The U.S. must fully return to the UN and place it in the center of the
whole process, especially concerning authority of legitimization and political
control, as happened in Afghanistan or Bosnia.The U.S. must also support the
Geneva Plan for a peace between Palestinians and Israelis, something Washington
is now starting to indicate, as something that would contribute to changing the
current image of the U.S. in the Arab world.
The hammer is not enough. Nor is
'Iraqification'. Go see 'The Battle
of Algiers' again.
"Political Process For Iraq"
Conservative La Razon held (11/16): "The problem is that the success of the
transition plan is not only conditioned by the development of the internal situation
in Iraq, but also by the electoral interests of the Bush administration. Before November 2004, when the current
president will be a candidate for reelection, Washington needs a local power to
exist in Iraq, on which to unload part of the responsibility for the
maintenance of public order and the civil administration of the State.... It is not a very long period, and depends on
too many factors. And the resistance by
the supporters of Saddam is not the worst one."
"To Iraqify As Quickly As Possible"
Left-of-center daily El País stated (11/17): "The thing is, the U.S. needed to have
done something from the beginning. The
model of a phantom Iraqi Government Council..has failed.... Wise men correct their mistakes. But in the new plans of Bush an absolutely
necessary element is missing: greater involvement of the UN as the legitimizing
authority and supervising, rather than driving, the transition.... Bush wants the U.S. to stop being an
occupying force as soon as possible....
But at the same time he is trying to avoid at all costs having his
change be misinterpreted as a retreat or an 'early' withdrawal (this is the
expression that now Rumsfeld uses).
Nobody wants a quick retreat. But
the existence of a political schedule is an essential condition for an exit
that won't cause greater harm."
To Leave Iraq"
Independent, liberal Stockholm Dagens Nyheter noted
(11/14): "It is true that much has
become better after Saddam Hussein's fall, but Iraq still is an unstable,
troubled, and dangerous part of the world....
The terrorists do not treat differently troops or relief workers, do not
differ between military or civilian targets, and the situation is gradually
becoming a nightmare for the U.S. and the UK.... It is obvious that the aim must be that the
Iraqis take over government themselves, that democracy becomes domestic, and is
not controlled from the outside.... Much
therefore speaks for a speedy handing over of power and control to national
authorities. But at the same time the
dangers (of doing so) are apparent.... A
real nightmare scenario would be that out of the remnants of Saddam Hussein's
rule of terror emerges a state that once again terrorizes its citizens, will be
plagued by internal fighting, or will become a threat to peace."
TURKEY: "Saddam Takes
Sami Kohen observed in mass appeal Milliyet (11/14): "The situation in Iraq increasingly
makes clear that Saddam Hussein has started to take his revenge on the
U.S. The magnitude and style of the attacks
against the occupation forces indicate an organized guerrilla war, if not a
popular resistance.... Following these
developments, the U.S. administration felt the need to reevaluate its Iraq
policy. According to Washington-based
reports, the Bush administration has now decided to transfer authority from
Americans to Iraqis as quickly as possible.
If that is really the case, it indicates a complete U-turn in U.S.
policy for Iraq. The Bush administration
has pursued a policy based on the belief that it has all the capabilities to
finish the job alone. This
miscalculation has come at a high cost.
Things would have been different had the U.S. acted along with an
international peacekeeping force and under UN authority."
Hasan Bulent Kahraman opined in the liberal-intellectual Radikal
(11/14): "It seems that the U.S.
policy for Iraq as well as its theories about Iraq's future have totally
collapsed. It is unlikely that the Bush
administration can overcome the consequences in the foreseeable future.... The gist of the issue is probably not about
Republicans and Democrats, who are saying almost the same thing. The real issue is about the lack of U.S.
creativity in coming up with new ideas.
The situation is like a complex American puzzle for which even the U.S.
doesn't have the answer."
ISRAEL: "Bush's Iraq
Veteran journalist Larry Derfner wrote in conservative,
independent Jerusalem Post (11/13):
"Iraq is turning out to be a tragedy of much greater depth than
either the pro-war or anti-war camps, with their shallow certainties, are
prepared to deal with.... Between Bush's
natural cynicism about nation-building and his traumatic encounter with the
Middle East on 9/11, not to mention his utter frustration with the Palestinians
and the loathing he can't help but notice coming at him from the Arab and
Muslim world, where does he suddenly come to believe that Iraq can be
transformed into a stable democracy? He
doesn't believe it. Bush only talked
himself into believing it because he had no choice--his war plan was short an
exit strategy, so he took neoconservative advice and adopted democracy as his
desperate excuse for one. In truth,
though, there is no exit strategy.
America has no way to get out of Iraq without all hell breaking
loose. So America digs in, and all hell
is breaking loose. Like I said--a
Iraq Is The Solution"
Pro-government Al Ahram editorialized (11/17): “The Iraqi resistance against American troops
has escalated.... This proves that the
era of occupation and controlling other nations by force has gone.... If the news that the U.S. agreed to surrender
power to Iraqis in June is true, the U.S. will have made the first steps on the
right track.... Confession is a virtue
and it is political shrewdness to work on correcting mistakes.... Certainly this transfer of power should be
conducted first through an interim period where the designation 'occupying
forces' is eliminated and the UN and the Arab League cooperate in managing
"Truth Is Virtue"
Editor-in-chief Galal Dowidar wrote in aggressive pro-government Al
Akhbar (11/16): “There is an
international consensus that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq has been
barbaric conduct that lacked legitimacy....
Undoubtedly, the U.S. President’s retraction from consecrating his
occupation of Iraq is a virtue...and is a victory for all the honest voices
which opposed this American-Zionist imperialist madness. The orders given to Bremer...to hasten the
transfer of power to Iraqis indicate that the U.S. president has started to
fear a repetition of the Vietnam quagmire in Iraq.”
"Washington's Options For Extracting Itself From Iraq"
Jeddah's conservative Al-Madina editorialized (11/17): "Arabs and Muslims have nothing to do
with the growing violence in Iraq. The
occupation is what gave birth to this situation. According to a UN resolution, Iraq is an
occupied country, thus the resistance is an undeniable reaction to the
occupying force.... The United States
has two choices. First, America could
play to the election year, and gain time with promises to turn over authority
to a temporary Iraqi government; or they could turn over the whole matter to
the UN and lighten American domination.
Which of these options will the U.S. take?"
JORDAN: "The Iraqi
Resistance Is Making Events"
Chief Editor Taher Udwan contended in mass-appeal Al-Arab
Al-Yawm (11/16): “No one can ignore
the fact that Saddam Hussein and the Al-Baa'th regime are the ones leading the
resistance in Iraq, that this resistance has brought dramatic and conclusive
changes to events in Iraq, and that the story about America’s enthusiasm to
hand over power to the Iraqis is nothing but the fruit of this resistance. It is early to say that the United States
will withdraw from Iraq, but it is not far from the truth to say that the Bush
administration has actually linked the Iraq file to the next presidential
elections in the fall of 2004. Choosing
next June as the time for forming the ‘Iraqi Karzai government,' five months
before these elections, indicates that the Bush administration is seriously
looking for a political cover to allow it to withdraw from the Iraqi arena and
still allow the president to win the next elections. This is what the Bush administration
wants...but its calculations are not guaranteed, and it all depends on the
Iraqi resistance and what Saddam Hussein might do.”
LEBANON: "Chaos In
Rajeh Khoury wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(11/14): "As quickly as possible
and in any way possible...these words indicate that someone is in a great
hurry! In flaming Iraq, these words
indicated that there is suffering and suffocation.... Where did Rumsfeld's plans and Wolfowitz's
programs for a democracy in Iraq go?...
There is no need to speculate....
The only thing that Washington decided and was able to implement was
going to war.... It is only fair to
mention that America, which has planted shock and fear, has started to harvest
what it planted.... The meeting in the
White House between Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, and Bremer was an
urgent meeting to study developments in Iraq in the shadow of an intelligence
report that is cautioning of even worse times to come.... However, speeding up things in Iraq might
pave the way for a civil war inside Iraq that might have regional
"What Is Behind Summoning Bremer To Washington?"
Aouni Al-Kaaki commented in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq
(11/14): "Bremer was summoned to
Washington...and with him all the problems in Iraq, which reflected mounting
concern at the White House, Pentagon, and the State Department over the
situation in Iraq.... There is no doubt
that the American administration has become convinced that it will not be able
to subjugate the Iraqis...and that President Bush's popularity is decreasing
alarmingly as a result of what is happening in Iraq.... The Americans know what the solution should
be: the UN should fully supervise the
formulation of a temporary government that would work on a new constitution,
pave the way for free elections, and outline a calendar for American and
British withdrawal from Iraq. However,
to date, Bush has not approved such a plan because it means that his policy and
plans in Iraq have failed."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "U.S. Must
Stay The Distance"
Defense writer Geoffrey Barker observed in the business-oriented Australian
Financial Review (11/17): “Last
week’s sudden U.S. policy reversal on Iraq suggests that President George Bush
wants to declare victory and to cut and run from what has become a Middle East
slaughterhouse since Saddam Hussein’s overthrow.... The U.S. leader now faces compelling domestic
pressures to make a quick exit.... It is
easy (and tempting) to observe that the U.S.-led coalition was warned
repeatedly that it would face the crisis it now confronts in Iraq.... Creating a peaceful, democratic Iraq was
never going to be easy.... Having
created the mess, the U.S. and its partners (including Australia) are obliged
to stay the course.... If this means
handing administrative control to a United Nations-led transitional authority
modeled perhaps on the successful East Timor transitional authority, the
victorious allies should do so with good grace while they take primary
responsibility for ensuring security in Iraqi cities and in the countryside.“
CHINA: "U.S. Forced To
Adjust Iraq Policy"
Ren Yujun commented in the official Communist Party People's
Daily (Renmin Ribao) (11/17):
"The U.S. has no other choice but again to adjust its Iraq
policy...due to the increasing death toll in Iraq and...the decrease in public
support for Bush to its lowest point yet....
Bush's behavior aims to ease rising anti-war sentiments in the U.S. and
abroad, and more importantly, before the 2004 presidential election. However it is doubtful that the U.S.' new
wishful thinking will be effective."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "U.S. Should Fundamentally Change Its
Iraq Policy "
The pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao
noted (11/15): "The Bush
administration...plans to step up the pace to return power to the Iraqi
people.... However, this readjustment is
not enough and it may even bring about bigger risks. The key problem is that the U.S. is still
attempting to manipulate post-war Iraqi reconstruction. It has basically never considered readjusting
the UN role in Iraq. The White House
wants to extricate itself from Iraq, but it cannot withdraw its troops hastily
for it has the responsibility to deal with the aftermath of the Iraqi war and
to stabilize the situation. The Bush
administration should make fundamental changes to its Iraq policy and the
post-war reconstruction. Most important
of all, the U.S. should return the leading role in post-war Iraqi
reconstruction to the UN.... U.S. troops
should not withdraw hastily. They should
continue to stay in Iraq to safeguard security and maintain social order before
the UN sends a multinational peacekeeping troop to take up the
"UN Offers A Way Out Of The Iraq
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
remarked (11/13): "Washington at
last appears to be acknowledging the grim reality that its strategy for
rebuilding Iraq is failing. It has taken
six months and the loss of many lives, but indications of a shift in policy are
beginning to emerge.... The meeting with
Mr. Bremer is believed to be aimed at speeding up the transition of political
power to the Iraqi people, perhaps by adopting measures which the U.S. has
previously shunned. It looks as if a
turning point may, indeed, have been reached.... One of the options being considered is
installing an interim leader....
Electing a constitutional convention, or preparing a temporary
constitution, are also possibilities.
What is most important, though, is that there is a change in mindset on
the part of the U.S. The effort to
rebuild Iraq must be made the responsibility of the international community,
through the UN. And the country must be
swiftly returned to the Iraqi people.
Accepting that a turning point has been reached is a good start. Now the U.S. needs to choose the right
direction to take."
JAPAN: "Recoil From
SDF Dispatch Would Encourage Terrorists"
The conservative Sankei editorialized (11/16): "If the dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq
on a logistical and humanitarian mission is not positively and independently
(of the U.S. call) enforced by the GOJ, it would not contribute solidly to the
reconstruction of the war-ravaged nation.
Japan itself must take responsibility for possible casualties among SDF
troops during their deployment in Iraq.
The government has no choice but to send the Japanese troops at an early
date because Japan's participation in the U.S.-led Iraq rebuilding project will
not only bring stability to the Middle East but also serve Japan's national
interests. A recoil by Japan from the
planned SDF dispatch following the massive Nasiriyah bombing would only
encourage acts of terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere in the world."
"Will U.S. Occupation Be Over By June?"
The liberal Asahi remarked (11/17): "Considering the sharp rise in terrorist
attacks and anti-U.S. feeling among Iraqis as well as the current stalemate in
Iraq's reconstruction, President Bush, having seen a drop in public support,
had no option but to move forward the timing of ending the occupation of Iraq. An early end to the coalition occupation of
Iraq would certainly open the way for rebuilding the war-devastated
nation. The U.S. should have returned
authority to Iraqis much earlier. But it
is not certain whether...the transfer of authority will actually bear
fruit. One major problem is that...there
is no clarification concerning the presence of U.S. and British forces in Iraq
after the return of power to the Iraqi people."
"Cooperation From Arab Nations Is Necessary"
The business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized
(11/13): "The withdrawal of
coalition forces from Iraq could not only throw the postwar nation into total
anarchy but also open the way for the formation of a new Hussein-like regime. Arab nations, which opposed the U.S.-led use
of force against Iraq, have yet to contribute troops to the coalition
forces.... The participation of Arab
nations in the coalition forces would make reconstruction efforts by the U.S.
and international organizations more meaningful and effective. Japan has an important role to play in Iraq's
reconstruction by sending SDF troops and seeking the Arab world's understanding
and support for these reconstruction projects."
Suggests Throwing In The Towel"
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (11/17): “President George W. Bush’s administration
seems prepared to throw in the towel as a sign of surrender from the battle
arena in Iraq.... The transfer of power
process will greatly determine the fate of Iraq in the future. There are concerns that there will be even
worse mayhem should the U.S. leave Iraq in a chaotic state. The U.S. will be alleged as being
irresponsible because it has messed up Iraq....
There are more challenges because the upheaval in Iraq has been used by
militants from various countries in the Middle East to fight against the U.S.”
"Iraq, The U.S. Project Has Not Finished"
Muslim intellectual Republika commented (11/15): “It seems that the situation in Iraq in the
last few days has raised concerns of the U.S.
There are attacks almost everyday--bombs, mortars, or mines--that kill
U.S. troops.... In the worsening
security condition, and political situation, that is not going as expected--the
Iraqi Government Council has not yet finished working on the constitution as
the U.S. wished--the lack of support from alliances means a higher cost of
war. Although the Congress has approved
Bush’s budget proposal for Iraq, Bush cannot just linger with an uncertain
problem.... Nevertheless, setting up a
transitional government does not mean that the U.S. physically could leave soon
Iraq. The U.S. has spent too much money
and, of course, it does not want to leave Iraq empty handed. This means the problem of Iraq will not be
Hearts And Minds"
Luis Teodoro wrote in the independent Today (11/15): "While the Iraqi situation is vastly
different, winning the war there, as in Vietnam, requires the support of the
population. The members of the Iraqi
Governing Council are mostly former expatriates without popular support, and
are regarded as U.S. puppets.... The
U.S. is at the same time determined to prevent the rise of an Iraqi
fundamentalist state.... The U.S. will
'rebuild Iraq into a democracy' only if the democracy will be in accordance
with U.S. strategic goals (to secure the energy sources it needs, and to
maintain a credible armed presence in the Middle East) and therefore no
democracy at all. 'Transferring power'
to Iraqis is thus likely to be regarded as subterfuge to...continuing U.S control
SOUTH KOREA: "Troop
Dispatch Must Be Linked To New U.S. Policy On Iraq"
The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (11/14): "In particular, if Washington, as the
U.S. press reported, seeks to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis by next
summer and to withdraw its troops from Iraq at an earlier date, the guidelines
are bound to change, due to this significant development in U.S. policy. The ROKG must adopt a flexible attitude of
first lending an ear to Washington's position, while keeping a close watch on
developments in Iraq and a possible shift in U.S. policy on Iraq."
"Discussions On Troop Dispatch Lose Ground Under U.S.
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun commented
(11/13): "The world knows well that
the Iraqi situation, which is escalating into an all-out war between the U.S.
forces in the country and local resistance forces, will not get better unless
Washington fundamentally changes its attitude."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "U.S. Dilemma
Hindi daily Dainik Tribune remarked (11/17): "The losses being borne by the U.S. Army
in Iraq may not work to Bush's advantage when America holds elections next
year. Bush knows this only too well, and
is, therefore, trying to prevent U.S. losses by talking about pulling out of
Iraq. Bush's dilemma is that at a time
when America's friends have backed out from helping it, he cannot even admit
that Iraq was a blunder for the U.S."
"More Blind Spots"
The nationalist Hindustan Times editorialized (11/15): "Under the pressure of circumstances,
the United States has had to readjust its sights in Iraq. Washington was not inclined to heed the UN
and the European voices favoring an early timetable for self-rule in Iraq
following the drafting of a Constitution.
But the growing tension between America's civilian representative, Paul
Bremer, in Baghdad, and the Governing Council handpicked by him on questions of
authority, seems to have been a key factor in persuading the Bush
administration to hasten the process of transferring civil power to the
Iraqis.... The Bush administration now
appears ready to go along with the desire of the Governing Council to be given
effective powers as the country's provisional government. The Americans are apprehensive that an
elected constituent assembly may author an Islamic constitution. Thus, key issues are by no means
settled. Besides, America will be in
military control of Iraq even after civil authority passes to the Iraqis. Will that make it less of an occupier in
Iraqi eyes, and will the resistance subside?"
"Un-Do The Damage"
The centrist Times of India commented (11/15): "Washington's inclination to cobble
together some sort of a governing body and then rapidly exit is fraught with
danger. Already, the Iraqis inducted
into the security forces are being picked off by the resistance and local Iraqi
leaders have warned that the country could fall apart. In the end, rather than contain terrorism,
Washington might have succeeded in creating yet another front that will
threaten world peace. There is no
alternative for it but to go back to the UN and ask for a fresh mandate. If the operations are under the umbrella of
the blue helmets, there will be many more participants. Washington's bluster--that it will meet force
with greater force--is not going to help.
The recent losses suffered by the coalition will, it is hoped, make Bush
understand that democracy can be spread only by democratic means. And that America, as the leader of the free
world, must lead by example."
Karachi-based, right-wing, pro-Islamic unity Urdu daily, Jasarat
declared (11/15): "One quick recipe
for bringing the situation under control in Iraq would be to have the United
States immediately pull out its troops from there and hand over affairs to the
UN. But the U.S. has come to Iraq to
occupy the oil resources and the Middle East itself and it will not leave these
at any cost."
"Conflict Without Borders"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn
judged (11/14): "The choice before
the Americans appears to be either to step up their attrition and impose a
peace of the graveyard on Iraq or to leave and let the UN hold early and free
elections in cooperation with countries such as Russia that might still have
some leverage with the anti-coalition elements.
Once a timetable for a quick withdrawal is announced, there can be some
hope that figures will emerge from the shadows who might be willing to talk
peace. Otherwise, we will remain caught
up in a spiral of violence."
Yourself, George W., Before It’s Too Late"
Imre Loefler wrote in the intellectual weekly The E. African
(11/17): “Whatever the intellectual and
moral strengths of George W. are, he very probably desires to be re-elected and
to go down in history as a great president who used his power to improve the
world. He will not be re-elected and he
will not be hailed for greatness either if he muddles on as he is doing now,
nor if he withdraws. The best way out
for Bush, for America, for Iraq and the rest of the world would be if he found
a way to humble himself. What the world
so much dislikes in the manner in which the leadership of America exercises
their power is the hubris, the arrogance.
The ever recurring theme of the Greek tragedy is that hubris leads to
nemesis. If Bush is unable to change his
stance, Iraq will become his nemesis and the end of American supremacy. For no great power ever existed on account of
its wealth alone.”
MADAGASCAR: "The Iraqi
The independent daily Madagascar Tribune editorialized
(11/13): "The U.S.-led pacification
army, not well used to guerrilla warfare, is helpless in front of this rarely
visible enemy drowned among the population; thus it inevitably makes mistakes,
aggravated by the anger and antipathy of the Iraqis who are already impatient
to take care of themselves. For GI's and
Tommies, going to patrol sounds like a real commando suicide from which you are
not sure to come back alive. Iraq
reconstruction...looks like being outstripped by the destructive actions
perpetrated by Saddam's fanatics.... How
to get out of this mess? The first
alternative could consist in letting Iraqis manage for themselves the
situation...by giving full power to the Government Council.... Secondly, the U.S., while continuing to hunt
down terrorists and their like, should give room to UN...to find a solution,
perhaps 'Afghan style.'"
UGANDA: "UN Should
"The United States has announced that it will change its
strategy in Iraq, shortening the transition to Iraqi rule.... Contrary to the assertions of President Bush
and U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice that Iraqis have the
capacity to run their country in the short run, the real reason for the
Americans' new thinking is the harassment they are suffering. It would be wrong to hurriedly pass power to
Iraqis, who are not united. The Iraqi Governing Council has not been fully
accepted; many in its composition are weak characters. It may not be too late to run the country as
a trust territory of the United Nations up till such a time that sanity has been
restored. If the UN managed the
transition, it could be a much more acceptable arrangement for Iraqis and,
ultimately, would lay the foundation for a much more stable country than the
hurried timetable promises."
ZAMBIA: "More Chaos In
The government-owned Zambia Daily Mail editorialized
(11/14): "Instead of sanity and
order, there is more chaos in Iraq than there was before the war.... If the U.S. really wanted to reconstruct
Iraq, it should have left the country immediately it declared the war over in
May and used its billions of dollars on rebuilding the country that it has
helped to destroy with its ammunition....
And maybe for peace and order to return to Iraq, the U.S. and its
coalition forces would do well to return home.... We implore the United Nations to quickly play
its part and bring order to Iraq.
Otherwise the war in Iraq is far from over--maybe it has just
CANADA: "Don't Let
Bombs Wreck An International Rescue"
The leading Globe and Mail opined (11/13): "The motive for yesterday's bombing of
Italian police headquarters in Iraq was painfully clear...to prevent other
countries and organizations from helping the United States rebuild Iraq.... The attackers hope that the victims will take
flight, leaving the United States alone in Iraq. That way they can pose as the patriotic
resistance to an illegitimate American occupation, rather than the wreckers of
a legitimate international rescue. Will
it work? t had better not. If the
international community caves in to this campaign of intimidation, the
insurgents have a much better chance of winning their war of terror.... Everyone wants Iraqis to regain control of
Iraq as soon as humanly possible. The
U.S. itself is trying to speed the process.
That is why Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, was recalled to
Washington for talks this week. But
transferring power to a shaky, unelected Iraqi government while bombs are still
going off would be a disaster. First,
the bombers have to be stopped and Iraq has to be put back on its feet. The whole world should pitch in."
"Give Iraqis A Chance"
The conservative National Post editorialized (11/13): "Various ideas are floating around about
how best to turn this grim reality around....
The forces of freedom must act quickly.... While the timetable for turning power over to
Iraqis must be sped up, it is imperative that the Americans remain in
Iraq. Terrorists have no scruples, and
they're certainly not going to turn into convenience store operators and
medical service workers overnight just because the United States has ceded
direct control to a provisional Iraqi group.
American and other forces must remain in the country to prevent anarchy
and preserve the objectives of the invasion, which is to bring stability--and
ultimately, democracy--to a nation accustomed to tyranny. An early move toward greater Iraqi control
may help achieve those objectives."
BRAZIL: "Pressure In
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (11/15): "Signs of deteriorating security in Iraq
are very clear.... The most dramatic
problem is that there are apparently no prospects for improvement in the short
or medium term. Some in the U.S. media
are comparing Iraq to Vietnam.... A few
months ago, Bush was counting on his success in the war to offset what appeared
to be weak economic performance. Now,
with the economy seemingly in recovery, Bush's staff fears that Iraq will
jeopardize his re-election."
"Europeans Celebrate Speed-Up Of The Transition"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo Paris correspondent Giles
Lapouge remarked (11/15): "There is
no reason to believe that France and its leaders will advocate a complete U.S.
withdrawal from Iraq. Such a decision
would be have dramatic consequences.
First, the U.S. would endure terrible criticism in addition to experiencing
a long period of depression comparable to that which followed its defeat in the
Vietnam War. And nothing is more dangerous than a humiliated and challenged
power. Moreover, a simple withdrawal of
occupying U.S. troops would run the risk of exacerbating the situation not only
in Iraq but also throughout the Middle East.
Once mortally wounded, Iraq would become an ideal base for Islamic
terrorists. Even those in France who
firmly opposed the war in Iraq are today warning Washington to resist the
temptation of abandoning Iraq."
"Bush Will Speed Up 'Iraqification'"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized
(11/14): "Regardless of the reasons
that led the U.S. to invade Iraq, the motivation that is beginning to guide the
White House's strategy in that nation is clear.
It is nothing more than an effort to ensure President Bush's re-election
in 2004.... The economy is no longer
Bush's weak point, due less to the first and still uncertain signs of recovery
in terms of employment than to the impact of escalating death tolls in Iraq.... Lives saved or lost in Iraq may make all the
difference in determining whether the president stays or goes.... In a strictly military sense, the U.S. should
respond to the violence it did not expect with additional troops. But Bush will not do that. On the contrary, he wants to come up with a
'withdrawal strategy' that will bring home a significant number of
soldiers.... This was the reason Paul
Bremer was called to Washington for a series of intensive consultations. And this is also at the heart of the decision
to speed up the transfer of power to the Iraqis. The problem is that the Americans do not have
a clear idea of how to do it.... There
is the expectation that Bush's 'Iraqification' process will break down France's
and Russia's resistance to participating in the U.S.-led UN peacekeeping
Right-of-center O Globo noted (11/4): "President Bush recognizes that a sudden
retreat of the American forces would be catastrophic in Iraq. But, if Washington doesn't change the
approach quickly the result will be just the same. The decision to speed up a transfer of power
to the Iraqis is, therefore, an important diplomatic move. Maybe only a central Iraqi government, though
provisional, should be capable of reconciling ethnic, religious differences,
prevent civil war, and leave Saddam's era definitely behind."
"Mourning And Resistance In Italy"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (11/13): "Given the situation created since the
U.S. announced the supposed 'end of the war,' the attack against the Italian
base is further evidence that things in Iraq are extremely serious and seem to
be getting worse. Despite efforts by the
occupation troops to form something akin to a local government, internal
resistance has shown increasing cohesiveness.
The aim of the guerrillas is to make Iraq unmanageable."
"As It Remains"
Right-of-center O Globo held this view (11/13): "Everything indicates U.S. authorities
are finally convinced that it's necessary to speed up the transference of power
in Iraq to decrease tension and reduce the number of attacks. That means to quickly prepare a new
constitution enabling Iraqis to accommodate ethnic and religious
differences. And call for elections. Last week President Bush declared the U.S. is
prepared for great sacrifices in the upcoming decades--of human lives, he
means--to democratize the whole region.
This has either been poorly explained, or it's contradictory tactics
reconciled by the challenge for a president already in an election campaign."
Questionable U.S. Role In Iraq"
Leading, popular Santiago daily La Tercera remarked
(11/14): "The ferocity of the
attacks and the difficulties the Iraqi resistance is creating for Iraq's
development have become big problems....
But it would be too soon to say the U.S. operation in Iraq has
failed.... Washington's best alternative
to lower and share the high cost of this operation would be to create a UN-led
transition administration, which would allow the U.S. to correct the mistake it
made some months ago when it refused to share the control of Iraq with the
COLOMBIA: "War, Lies
And Backward Steps"
Leading national El Tiempo editorialized (11/14): “All wars have lies...but the lies of the war
in Iraq are being discovered too soon....
If Bush decides to rush transferring the governance of Iraq to the
Iraqis...it will not be out of consideration for the Iraqi people, but for fear
that elections next November...will surprise him with an even worse mess.”
"Between The Postwar And The Endless War"
Medellin-based daily El Colombiano observed (11/13): “Paul Bremer’s sudden trip to Washington...is
considered a clear sign that there will be important decisions taken in the
next few days. The discussion centers
around what must come first: a
constitution, or elections for an interim Iraqi government. The U.S. believes that the first step should
be to adopt a constitutional document....
Meanwhile, the priority is to re-establish security.... Otherwise what can happen is...an endless
guerrilla war that will dilute the American dream of establishing in Iraq an
Islamic system with a democratic orientation.”
Attack In Iraq"
Quito's center-left Hoy contended (11/13): "Since the moment the U.S. decided to
act without UN authorization, everyone feared that a swift military victory, which
in reality is what happened, might turn into a maze with no easy exit due to
resistance from Iraqi groups transforming the situation into a sort of
guerrilla war with suicide attacks that are very difficult to control. This wave of attacks will probably accelerate
the timetable for the political reconstruction of Iraq, transferring the power
to a provisional government and approving a constitution.... But the issue of guaranteeing security
remains, as proven by the bloody attacks, difficult to achieve and does not
foresee any gradual decrease of coalition troops in Iraq."