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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 21, 2004

April 21, 2004





**  Conservative Euro and Aussie writers hail Bush's "steadfastness" and resolve on Iraq.


**  Global critics carp Bush has no concrete plan for Iraq, just "old rhetoric with few specifics."


** Some worry the June 30 handover plans are out of touch with Iraq's "reality," others welcome the UN Iraq plan as a "ray of hope" to realize the transition to Iraqi rule.




Bush 'promises to stay the course,' is 'more determined than ever'-- Conservative British, Spanish, Italian and Australian columnists extolled President Bush for demonstrating "steadfastness at a time of great uncertainty" and for sending the message that terrorism would not weaken U.S. resolve.  Commending him for not wavering from the "course he charted from the start," these writers shared the Australian's contention:  "By sticking it out in Iraq, Mr. Bush can win a major, perhaps decisive victory in the war against Islamist terror."  They also found his words "reassuring," showing, as Madrid's ABC put it, he's "certain of the need to continue doing what his country is doing."  Capturing the tenor typical among these outlets, Britain's Times called Bush "more pragmatic" than is "fashionable to credit him for."


Critics call Bush speech 'vague' and 'muddleheaded,' decry 'crusader tone'--  A larger swathe of papers worldwide were troubled by President Bush's answers to questions concerning Iraqi sovereignty.  Detractors were perplexed that, although Bush was "unflinching" in his mission, he appeared to have "no idea" what the "new Iraqi sovereignty will look like."  They accused him of lacking specifics and relying on "wishful thinking" for the future of Iraq.  Echoing common gripes, France's left-of-center Liberation claimed that his speech "unfortunately" did not give the impression "he has taken stock of the situation," and Poland's liberal Gazeta Wyborcza complained that "Bush did not offer anything concrete on how he is going to prevent a civil war."  Indian and Chinese observers also judged Bush "unable to offer any clear-cut indication" of Iraq's future.


UN plan is the 'only hope' for keeping to June 30 transfer of sovereignty--  Skeptics were dismayed that while the date of the handover "is set in political concrete," the rest of the situation remains "as fluid" as the plans for Iraq were a year ago.  Because Washington "misjudged" the level of resentment toward the occupation, it is now time for the U.S. to turn to the UN, "mend fences and ask for help."  Germany's financial Handelsblatt called the June 30 deadline a "purely formal transfer of power" that "would confirm the unstable status quo" rather than confer legitimacy.  Others warned the Iraqis will be "more than disappointed" if the transition to sovereignty is delayed, with London's conservative Daily Telegraph insisting the best way to stabilize Iraq "would be to transfer sovereignty on time."  More shared the view of Brazil's liberal Folha de Sao Paulo that accepting the UN's proposal seems to be "one of the few feasible options for realizing the transfer of June 30."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr



EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on  37 reports from 19 countries over 15 - 21 April 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.





BRITAIN:  "A Vision Thing With No Exit Route"


The independent Financial Times editorialized (4/15):  "Mr. Bush eloquently reminded his audience of the reasons for invading Iraq and his desire to bring the freedom its people deserved....  Yet when it came to questions on his strategy for handing over sovereignty on June 30, the president was unable to give convincing answers....  Handing sovereignty to a credible interim government could bestow an element of legitimacy that the U.S.-led occupation patently lacks--especially if it carries UN endorsement.  But the danger for the U.S. is that it will hand over to an administration it must defend at all costs, but whose easiest defense against criticism will be to blame the Americans.  Mr. Bush's exit route is still far from clear."


"The Petulant Certainty Of The Foolhardy"


The center-left Independent commented (4/15):  "The date of the handover, 30 June, as Mr. Bush insisted again many times, is set in political concrete.  But everything else seems as fluid as the plans for Iraq one year ago when U.S. tanks completed their conquering dash for Baghdad....  For the second time in his tenure, the prime minister is rushing to the side of a U.S. president who sorely needs a friend.  To salvage political capital at home, Mr. Blair needs to keep a measure of distance and a tangible reward--a revival of U.S. diplomatic engagement in the Middle East that protects the interests of Palestinians as well as Israelis; an agreed formulation for transferring substantial authority in Iraq to the UN.  Without one or both of these, Mr. Blair will join Mr. Bush as just another leader who has confused the easy certainties of messianism with the complexities of vision."


"Iraq Takes A Timely Step Back From The Brink"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (4/15):  "At his press conference in Washington on Tuesday, George W. Bush promised to stay the course in Iraq and to reinforce troop numbers there.  Such steadfastness at a time of great uncertainty signalled to America's enemies that recourse to terror would not weaken its resolve....  The situation in Iraq, particularly the unresolved confrontation in Fallujah, remains tense.  But yesterday showed that a combination of allied resolve and clerical wisdom can deter the direst of threats.  A welcome ray of hope after a very tough week."


"Staying The Course"


The conservative Times held (4/15):  "Mr. Bush has been more pragmatic about Iraq than it is fashionable to credit him for....  This political flexibility often passes unrecognized because it does not suit what has become a predictable and lightweight script....  Mr. Blair will have a very public chance to confirm his shared resolve with Mr. Bush....  The coalition is more than capable of staying a difficult but necessary course."


FRANCE:  "In The Balance"


Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (4/15):  “In Iraq, where the Iranian Mullahs are coming to the aid of the Great Satan, nothing is ever simple.  The worst has not yet happened....  The country is in the balance between an explosion from which there is no turning back and a last opportunity for peace.  The choice, while not entirely in his hands, depends first and foremost on President Bush.  He must give up his propensity to be the only one to dictate what Iraq’s future will be....  His speech on Tuesday did not, unfortunately, give the impression he has taken stock of the situation.  He is the hero of his own disaster movie, with a screenplay he cannot change, because any softening of his policy might be interpreted as ‘weakness.’  Until November he is condemned to ‘stay the course,’ even if it leads him to capsize, all the while speaking of courage and determination.  These are two qualities which, when they become an end in themselves, turn into obstinacy and stupidity.”


"Bush Prisoner Of His Own Logic"


Philippe Gelie noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (4/15):  “President Bush probably did himself a great disservice by giving a press conference...with nothing new to say, either about how to resolve the situation in Iraq or the lessons to be drawn from 9/11.  These two major embarrassments throw a dark shadow on his election campaign....  With over 80 GIs dead and a stalled policy...President Bush was supposed to answer the inevitably difficult questions that were indeed asked from a group of particularly skeptical journalists.  But nothing made President Bush deviate from his usual line....  He seemed tired of trying to answer the same questions, and was short of arguments.  Some may be tempted to conclude that the U.S. is being led by a commander in chief who does not know where he is going, who does not see what is going on around him and continues with his wishful thinking.  Events are the only thing that could make up for the emptiness of his speech, which was repetitive to the point of being a caricature.  George Bush must pray for events in Iraq to finally prove him right.  But they don’t seem to.”


"Failure In Iraq"


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (4/15):  “Standing tall, President Bush decided to change nothing to his Iraqi policy....  President Bush raised the idea of a new UN resolution, but he remained vague....  Does President Bush have an idea what the new Iraqi sovereignty will look like:  not in the least.  The only new information that came out of the conference is that Washington will send new troops to Iraq.  This alone is proof of the White House’s disarray....  The situation in Iraq is similar to Vietnam in that violence feeds violence and prevents a political outcome:  more repression will increase anti-American resentment in Iraq.  In this context, President Bush’s somewhat eloquent formulas looked very much like empty words and so many smokescreens.  The truth is that we are dealing with a failure.  The U.S. has been unable to stabilize Iraq, accumulating military and political errors.  It has lost the sympathy it had gained in the eyes of an Iraqi population, which is today torn between hostility towards the Americans and fear they might leave.”


"The Strategy Of Denial"


Jean-Claude Kiefer observed in regional Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (4/15):  “(One) argument put forward by President Bush for that a retreat from Iraq would satisfy the enemies of the United States.  Too late, it is already done!  The Arab more hostile than ever toward the U.S.  And the unconditional support, which Washington gave to Sharon’s plan yesterday...will not help matters....  Appealing to the UN...seems illusory....  Countries like France and Germany must increase their...diplomatic efforts....  Not for Saving Private Bush, but to aid the United States, their ally, ‘led’ by a blind and deaf presidency."


"Bush And His Failure"


Jean-Paul Pierot noted in communist l’Humanite (4/15):  “President Bush’s posturing has fooled no one. The man who addressed the American people on Tuesday was indeed a U.S. President who has failed across the board.… President Bush did not quell the concerns of the American people when he announced the sending of more troops.… The magnitude of the disaster goes beyond the prognosis of those who warned Bush against going to war.… If the international community is able to impose the UN as the new pivot for a political solution among the Iraqis, then the worst may not be the only alternative.”


"Stay The Course, But Which Course?"


Fabrice Rousselot in left-of-center Liberation (4/15): “President Bush’s first goal during his press conference was to reassure U.S. public opinion.… But his crusader’s tone and his vague expressions were not convincing. On several occasions he avoided answering questions on Iraq’s WMD… As for 9/11, he refused to shoulder any responsibility. But it was over Iraq and his strategy for the mid-term that he was most vague.”


GERMANY:  "June 30"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/15):  "Most Iraqis will highlight the determination [to transfer power on June 30] and many Americans will then put the matter aside.  But who will the power be transferred to?  Who is capable of taking political responsibility?  Given the criminal, political and religious potential for rebellion in the Shiite and Sunni territories, who has the authority to guarantee a postwar order without having to rely on American military power?  The efforts of the interim administration to create institutions for the time after have not come of yet.  It must be criticized for it; hectic action will determine the search for reliable partners.  However, it is wishful thinking to expect the United Nations to solve the problem."


"Bush Is Bush"


Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (4/15):  "The world has seen an American president who is absolutely unimpaired when he looks at Iraq.  George W. Bush's replies to critical journalistic questions seem like the warlord is at home in a different reality....  Instead of explaining the new situation soberly, he keeps mentioning Saddam's weapons.  That is not the way to win allies.  That's how he will lose his last allies."


"Bush's Reality Test"


Business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (4/15):  "The U.S. government underestimated the dangers in Iraq.  George W. Bush has now realized it.  The muddleheaded show before journalists in Washington made this clear:  in a well-prepared speech he showed himself determined to fight through the Shiite rebellion and the wave of kidnappings, also by increasing troops.  But than he revealed to journalists that he has no concept for Iraq.  The carefully scheduled timetable for a gradual retreat from Iraq and the transfer of sovereignty has become waste paper.  It is correct that Bush is sticking by the date of June 30.  If he gave up the prospect of transferring power, he would destroy any incentive for moderate forces to cooperate in Iraq and play into the hands of radicals.  The U.S. has not established a basis for a controlled transfer of power.  Most Shiites reject the hailed interim constitution.  There is neither a structure nor convincing heads for a government yet.  And the new Iraqi police forces gave up in the face of the rebellion.  If Washington sticks by June 30, it will be a purely formal transfer of power.  It would not create more legitimacy, but confirm the unstable status quo.  The way out of the conflict is to make it more international.  But still, Bush just wants to give tasks to the United Nations, no rights."


"Loss Of Reality"


Linda Staude said on regional radio station Norddeutscherrundfunk of Hamburg (4/14):  "The American nation did not get to see a contemplative president ready to admit some mistakes, but an unbrokenly optimistic and friendly one.  One could also call it increasing loss of reality:  the situation in Iraq is much better than the media are reporting it, insurgents are a small radical minority....  He does not mention any new strategy....  In short:  Bush makes no mistakes--at least none he would think of."


ITALY:  "Bush:  Transition On June 30"


Maurizio Molinari opined in centrist, influential daily La Stampa (4/15):  “George Bush has warned the Iraqi guerrillas and his political adversaries in Washington that he will not change course in Baghdad and he’s so sure of himself to bet his re-election in November on the success of the reconstruction.  The press conference in the White House East Room disappointed those who were expecting a defensive president given the most difficult week of the war and negative polls.  Bush is more determined than ever.”


"Bush Asks For Help From The ‘Rogue State’"


 Gabriel Bertinetto wrote in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) L’Unità (4/15): “Bush put on a tough face and spoke to the worried Americans telling them he will stay the course.… Therefore, on he goes despite the 672 dead U.S. soldiers, the astronomical costs and the armed rebellion of the Iraqis. Bush moves forward but he’s clueless to where he’s going. And he’s forced to ask for help from Iran, the ‘rogue state,’ in order to try and reach a compromise with the rebel Shiites.… Bush thought he had an invincible war and post-war machine. Instead, social chaos, political protests, armed resistance and terrorism are slowly taking it apart.”


"Twenty Thousand More Soldiers In Iraq"


Ennio Caretto commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/15): “At the press conference, Bush was supposed to announce a peace plan. Instead, he announced a war plan, explaining that NATO would be involved as well.… It was the first time that Bush publicly spoke about his expectations on NATO’s contribution in Iraq: it would mean thousands more men, more military and police operations. The President didn’t go into details, he only said that Secretary Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are currently negotiating with European colleagues.… The escalation of the conflict outlined by Bush is linked to the legitimization and defense of the new Iraqi government. The President remains firm on the June 30 deadline.… Bush used the press conference like a hammer. He denied that a ‘civil war’ or ‘popular insurrection’ is underway in Iraq; he rejected comparisons to Vietnam;… he warned that a defeat would shake world equilibriums; he refused to state whether or not he made mistakes; he even maintained that Saddam Hussein’s unfound WMD could still be found. In a somber tone, he concluded that a free and democratic Iraq would change the scenario in the Middle East and in the Persian Gulf.”


RUSSIA:  "Bush Stakes On Iraq"


Artur Blinov has published his comment in liberal Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/15): "Hardly had General John Abizaid complained about shortages of troops in Iraq than the U.S. Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush, loudly promised, so that all America could hear, to comply with the Central Command chief's demand....  His contact with the press coincided in time with the aggravation of combat activities leading to public concerns about the future of the conflict.  Under those conditions, a title like 'the war president,' which usually added popularity to the White House incumbent, can now send Bush's support rating plummeting....  It turns out that the outcome of the upcoming U.S. presidential election will depend on the situation in Iraq....  The president has made a stake for reelection on his success in the war and has even doubled it."


AUSTRIA: "The Unflinching President"


Foreign affairs editor Martin Stricker wrote in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (4/15): “Great messages don’t need lengthy explanations. This is clear, at least where President George W. Bush is concerned. He is deeply convinced of his mission and that of his country.… In his view, the war against terror is part of this mission, and for this reason there can be no going back – failure is inconceivable. In his speech, Bush neither acknowledged past mistakes, nor paved the way for a change of course. This simple way of thinking brought Bush as much sympathy in the U.S. as it did resentment. Pragmatically speaking, his philosophy becomes dangerous when it is applied less than prudently – not only by the boss himself, but also by his stalwart followers. In Iraq, one misconception followed the next. A brilliant plan had been made for the war itself, but nothing had been prepared for the peace. The prompt dissolution of the Iraqi army had catastrophic consequences, as had the preference of the dashing Rumsfeld-boys over the diplomats of the State Department under Colin Powell.… The President’s answer to the question to whom exactly responsibility in Baghdad will be handed in late June was typical: We’ll find out soon, Bush said defiantly. Poor Iraq.”


BELGIUM:  "Bush Has Not Been Explicit"


Foreign editor Gerald Papy asserted in independent La Libre Belgique (4/15):  "The situation in Iraq was the main topic of the press conference that George W. Bush gave on Tuesday night. But one has to point out that the U.S. President has not been very explicit on which solutions he contemplates to get out of the crisis....  In which shape will the Americans give Iraq back to the Iraqis? Who will be in charge? What role do the Americans see for the troops of the current coalition or even of an international force under UN auspices? And with which freedom of action vis-à-vis the United States that, one way or another, will continue to assume at least moral responsibility of the evolution in Iraq. George W. Bush has not been explicit on any of these pending questions."


"George Bush's Lack Of Audacity"


Foreign editor Gerald Papy observed in independent La Libre Belgique (4/15): "On the occasion of his third major press conference since he took office and in this electoral period, George Bush, of course, tried to reassure his fellow citizens....  But the U.S. President seems to have chosen to ignore the fact that the recent wave of violence and of hostage takings has already had negative consequences for the Americans. While they hoped to get countries that had opposed the war involved in Iraq, they are seeing that these countries are instructing their citizens to leave Iraq. And while they hoped to somehow rely on the UN to accompany the political transition in Iraq, the return of the international body is not facilitated by the current insecurity. Lastly, the Iraqi groups' violence and the often-disproportionate U.S. Army's repression - whereas British troops seem to be more efficient in bringing security in their areas - have the effect of amplifying anti-American hostility among the Iraqi population.  George Bush has confirmed that he would abide by the established timetable for the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis by June 30. To prevent a real civil war from taking place at that date, it is urgent for the coalition to get out of an exclusively repressive strategy and to come up with clever measures to curb violence, to help create an Iraqi representation that would be better accepted than the current Interim Government Council, and it is urgent for the United States and Great Britain to launch another initiative at the UN to try to rally as many countries as possible to help restore Iraq.  On all the above, we had expected that George Bush would be more audacious."


"War President?"


Foreign affairs writer Roger Huisman in editorialized in conservative Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg (4/15): "George W. Bush is clearly in trouble.  Less than 50 percent of the Americans approve his strategy.  That leaves the incumbent President in the danger zone.  However, malicious pleasure is the worst reaction to the precarious situation in Iraq - most of all because the American troops and their allies cannot leave the hot spot in the Middle East overnight.  With his promise that he will send more troops to Iraq, however, Bush started a dangerous escalation of the conflict.  The sad reality is that the American adventure in Iraq is a total failure.  Even worse, Bush's recipes that he conjured from his pockets on Tuesday threaten to set the entire region ablaze.    According to the Jerusalem Post, Bush said after the murder and mutilation of four American contractors: 'I want to see heads roll.'  How do you call a man who divides the world into good and bad people, who thinks in old-testamental terms of vengeance and revenge?  Exactly, a major danger for mankind."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "There Is Now No Way Back"


Jan Rybar wrote in mainstream MF Dnes (04/20):  "The American will still hand over the control of Iraq into the hands of a new Iraqi cabinet on June 30.  It will probably be more of a formal step than originally thought and armed echelons of coalition troops will remain as the only real power in the country.  ...Withdrawal of these soldiers would cause enormous chaos and very likely a civil war as well, because there are too many armed men hungry for power.  And even the U.S. presidential election this November will not be able to change anything substantial in this regard.... So, what is left for the soldiers and diplomats to do?  Hold on and fight."


HUNGARY:   "Bush Will Not Bend"


Washington correspondent Gabor Horvath pointed out in leading leftist Nepszabadsag (4/15): "For the victims in New York and Washington, [President Bush] blamed Osama bin Laden, for the horrors in Baghdad, Sadaam Hussein; of his own decisions, he could not identify one as wrong. And what's the worst: he looked sincere.... [President Bush] failed to explain how he was going to persuade the allies who had been deeply insulted last year, and who are doubly reluctant after the Madrid attack, to provide significant military force, or Secretary General Kofi Annan, concerned about the security situation, to send UN officials to Iraq. [President Bush] did not say how, because he has no idea. Nor has he any idea whom they are going to transfer the power to in Iraq on June 30. He does know, however, that he must not look weak or hesitant. America's enemies would take advantage of that, and the voters back home would also punish him for that. Toughness for him comes from a deep inner conviction. Just like his Messianistic sense of mission, namely that that entire world must be made into a better place, and the road to achieve that leads through the Middle East, primarily through Iraq. According to the decisive majority of the international public, the world today is a more dangerous place than it was two years ago; Bush, however, did not blink an eyelid when he stated the opposite.... He still fails to show any inclination for substantial change, for a flexible re-evaluation of the plans as the situation changes, for the admission and correction of mistakes."


NETHERLANDS: "75 More Days"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant  in its editorial (4/15): "President Bush is determined to stay on course and hand over sovereignty on June 30.  But the problem with June 30 is that it is still unclear who will take the power and on what conditions....  Also very vague is the responsibility of the UN in this transition....  Nevertheless it seems wise that Bush opposes the postponement of the transfer of power.  He is right when he points out that the coalition will be seen as an occupation force...even more importantly is that the transfer of power on June 30 will force Iraqi leaders to take responsibility....  And, this also goes for Germany and France.  Both countries promised their support to a stabile and free Iraq.  With the approaching deadline it is time they put these words into actions."


"Tough Reality"


Influential independent NRC Handelsblad stated in its editorial (4/14): "President George W. Bush is determined.  Despite a couple of rough weeks,' the United States will finish the job in Iraq.  He sticks to his plan of handing over power on June 30....  Nevertheless Bush will have to come up with a more precise vision for the future of Iraq then endlessly repeating the mantras of liberation and democracy."


POLAND:  "Bush Puts Everything At Stake"


Bartosz Weglarczyk, U.S. correspondent for liberal Gazeta Wyborcza commented (4/15):  “We still do not know how the Americans intend to keep the promise and transfer power to the Iraqis on June 30th.  President Bush did not offer anything concrete on how he is going to prevent a civil war in Iraq.  The White House surely realizes how high the stakes are....  By saying that a failure in Iraq would have unimaginable consequences but America will win the showdown, President Bush staked his future on one roll of the dice.  If on November 2nd...the American and coalition soldiers continue to be killed in Iraq, Bush will say farewell to a second term, and the war on terror will be challenged.”


SPAIN:  "The Power Of Conviction"


Ramon Perez Maura wrote in conservative ABC (4/15):  "If something could be clearly perceived in the president's remarks it was that he is certain of the need to continue doing what his country is doing.  What Bush believes is that the survival of the democracy as we understand it in the West is at risk....  It is what the radical fundamentalists of al-Qaida and those who are trying to end the process of change in Iraq are fighting against."


"What Are We Doing In The Siege Of Najaf?"


Independent El Mundo editorialized (4/15):  "For Bush, the war with Iraq has been no mistake.  He defended it, with more passion than precision, in his last press conference....  Bush is not offering any new ideas and is only showing his impotence and obstinacy in his error.  The worst is that now he is dragging along our soldiers, in Najaf, in a mission that tries to resolve by force what is a political problem, the division and radicalization of the Shiites."


TURKEY:  "Bush Is Determined In His Iraq Policy"


Murat Yetkin observed in the intellectual/opinion maker Radikal (4/15):  “President Bush made it clear that he has no intention of stepping back from his Iraq policy and the war against terrorism....  President Bush is using the Iraq policy to counter the criticism about his handling of 9/11.  The Bush administration’s thinking is like this:  ‘The U.S. did not take preemptive action in Afghanistan because it didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem--it will not make the same mistake in Iraq.  Iraq does not represent the whole of the U.S. war against terrorism.  It is only a part of it.  In the end, the U.S. will win this war.’… President Bush’s approach shows how ambitious the U.S. initiatives are, and how they may cause significant consequences around the world.  Bringing freedom to the Middle East is a huge project, and it is not only limited to Iraq.  Bush believes that the war in Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein brought an historic chance to change the world....  It seems that the U.S. is going to exert pressure in this region to the extent that it can.  The U.S. does not have any competitors in this area--neither Russia nor the EU.  Thus Turkey should pursue a policy not based on emotions, but one formulated with rationalism and caution.”




AUSTRALIA:  "Bush Right To Stay The Course In Iraq"


The national conservative Australian stated (4/15):  “Just as President George W. Bush was taking a political beating over what his government could have done to stop the September 11 attacks, Iraq erupted into the worse violence since last year's war.  Mr. Bush responded...with a speech in which he did not waver from the course he has charted from the start....  Mr. Bush faces the people in November and his popularity will plummet if the American forces are still fighting hard in Iraq by then.  But it is one he must stick to.  By arguing that the Iraqi people have a right to live in a democracy and that such a state will be both a beacon to other nations in the Middle East and a bulwark against terrorism, Mr. Bush has linked his political fate to the creation of not just a stable Iraq but a transformed nation where the people rule through the electoral process.  By sticking it out in Iraq, Mr. Bush can win a major, perhaps decisive, victory in the war against Islamist terror.  There is nothing Osama bin Laden fears more than democracy....  While critics can question his judgment in pursuing Saddam while Osama bin Laden remains at large, Mr. Bush's political courage and commitment are clear.”


"Don’t Quit Until The Job Is Done”


The popular tabloid Daily Telegraph editorialized (4/15):  “Iraqis working to rebuild their homeland as a citadel of democracy and peace in the Middle East will have been encouraged by the words of U.S. President George W. Bush, who responded yesterday to growing anxiety about the progress of the coalition campaign in that divided nation.  In the face of mounting domestic and international pressure to spell out when U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the conflict zone, President Bush said succinctly:  'We'll need to be there for a while.'  Read that as:  'We're there until the job is done.'  And that reassurance will resonate strongly in Iraq, where--despite daily reports of continuing violence and bloodshed--the work of establishing the institutions of a free country is progressing steadily....  In yesterday's press briefing, the U.S. president spelled out his nation's 'exit strategy' from Iraq--when self-government has been established and when peace has been secured.  In other words, when our job is finished.  Australia is--and must remain--committed to the same timetable.“


CHINA:  "Go-It-Alone Policy Gets Bush Nowhere”


Hu Xuan commented in the official English-language newspaper China Daily (4/15):  "One year after the fall of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, U.S. President George W. Bush has to confront the fact that occupation of the war-ravaged country has been more protracted and costly than anticipated....  Nevertheless, he offered old rhetoric but few specifics on how to erase the administration's mismanagement of post-war Iraq.”


PHILIPPINES: "Let Bush Sweat"   


The editorial in the top circulation, center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer said (4/17):  "The unexpected success of the Democratic primaries in focusing attention on the deception that allowed the United Sates to wage war…has forced Bush to go on the defensive.  Uncharacteristically, he has submitted himself to unfriendly questions in less-than-controlled environments.  Hence, his disastrous appearance on Meet the Press last February, and then in last Tuesday’s briefing….  We are glad that the politician routinely described as the most powerful man in the world is beginning to feel the pressure to justify his decisions, to actually make a convincing case for them instead of only blithely going through the motions.  We do not relish his obvious discomfort, but we note that it is the responsibility of the free press to hold a democracy’s leaders to account.  In the Information Age, democracy must be understood as the informed consent of the governed.  It is the leaders’ solemn responsibility to explain policy; it is not enough that they deliver speeches and then decline questions.  So Bush is feeling the pressure ‘to come up with an answer.’  That’s a good thing.”



SINGAPORE:  "Two Presidents And Their Dominoes"


Anthony Paul observed in the pro-government Straits Times (4/15):  "There was a chilling moment as I listened yesterday morning to the live telecast of United States President George W. Bush's news conference on Iraq.  About halfway through questions, the president said:  'A free Iraq is going to be a major blow for terrorism.  t'll change the world.'  I found very disturbing the notion that Mr. Bush was counting on the ideology of a reconstructed Iraqi nation--in this instance, democratic capitalism--to transform its region and the world.  We heard a version of a similar sales pitch to the American people at another White House press conference many years earlier.  The two pitches are bizarre reverses of each other, of course.  Earlier, communism, not democracy, was going to transform neighboring states....  Mr. Eisenhower's metaphor did prove apt in a way.  There were dominoes certainly, but they were nationalist, not communist.  And they fell in different directions from the one he had feared....  If President Bush's intention is to stay in Iraq until, as he put it yesterday, the world is changed, it will be a very long and bloody war indeed."


INDIA:  "Bush Grilled By Journalists"


Washington correspondent Seema Sirohi wrote in nationalist Calcutta Bengali Ananda Bazar Patrika (4/15):  "In one of the most important press conferences of his life, President Bush was not able to offer any clear-cut indication on Iraq....  In Bush's world, there is little place of doubt or confusion because the people are clearly divided in two categories.  Either, they are 'good' or 'bad,' and his only defense about the Iraq war is 'we are changing the whole world.'...  The press conference made it clear what amount of pressure the White House is facing."  




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Force And Violence In Fallujah"


The liberal This Day commented (4/15):  “U.S. President George W Bush described last week in Iraq as ‘tough.’  This description is a euphemism in the true style of Washington’s disregard for non-American lives.  The inhabitants of Fallujah are more likely to describe last week as a massacre.”




CANADA: "What Bush Had To Say"


An editorial in the leading Globe and Mail judged (4/15):   "At the end of his televised press conference Tuesday night, U.S. President George W. Bush was asked whether he had failed as a communicator on the question of Iraq. There is no doubt that he has. He is not an articulate man, and his rambling performance on Tuesday was typical. The paradox is that, though he seldom sounds likes one, Mr. Bush is a focused thinker with clear goals and strong ideas. When it comes to Iraq, those goals and ideas are essentially right.   The central message of his news conference was that, despite the “tough, tough” going this month, the United States and its allies will not and cannot falter in their drive to bring stability and democracy to Iraq.... Success in Iraq, on the other hand, would yield huge benefits.... The question is how to get there. On this count Mr. Bush was far less convincing. His administration has already committed a series of blunders in Iraq. Hoping that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would be welcomed in Iraq, as it was, it vastly underestimated how hard it would be to get the country back on its feet.... Mr. Bush would have been wise to admit at least some of these mistakes and promise to do better. But when a reporter asked him to name his biggest mistake since the 9/11 attacks, he paused, then said, 'I wish you would have given me this written question ahead of time.' Despite the recent violence, and the further trouble that no doubt lies ahead, Mr. Bush is still on the right course in Iraq. It would help him make the case if he admitted that the course has been much harder than he expected, and that it is at least partly his own fault."



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