May 11, 2004
BUSH ON ARAB TV: 'CRISIS MANAGEMENT,' NOT A
'CONFESSION OF GUILT'
** Rightist Euro dailies
say Bush "managed to score a point with Arab public opinion."
** Other papers say the new
U.S.' new "media offensive" is "too little, too late."
** For Muslim writers, TV
interviews alone cannot fix "ugly and biased" U.S. policies.
** Washington faces a
"long and difficult road" to fix the "political and moral disaster."
Bush's 'personal intervention' receives credit-- Some dailies supported Bush's "out of
the ordinary" effort to appear on Arab TV to discuss the abuse of Iraqi
prisoners. Romanian and German observers
said his "spectacular move" will influence "a few in the Arab
world," while France's right-of-center Le Figaro explained,
"Arabs recognize...that in their countries the press would never have
published such pictures and no investigation would have been
launched." Several Arab dailies
praised the "positive side" of Bush's interviews, as they "show
that Arab public opinion has some weight."
Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News said it was "at
least something" that the U.S. "sees the need to engage with Arab
public opinion directly."
The U.S. quickly aimed to 'contain the enormous damage'-- Euro papers appreciated that Bush moved rapidly
to "correct the American image," showing the U.S.' "clear
recognition" that its profile has "reached an all-time low"
after "silence and incoherent explanations." Outside Europe, analysts interpreted the
interviews "as an attempt to appease" Arabs. Lebanon's moderate Daily Star bemoaned
that it took "crisis and embarrassment" for U.S. leaders to
"publicly address their Arab counterparts in constructive dialogue and
empathic respect." Many outlets
complained that Bush "did not even apologize for this scandal"; the
center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer assailed Bush's failure to
"offer a clear official apology."
Only 'actions, not words' can assuage Arab opinion-- Arab analysts labeled it "simplistic and
elementary" to think the interviews could ease the "depth of Arab
anger" towards the U.S. One Saudi
daily said Arabs "are not foolish enough to be convinced by your
views" in a televised address.
Qatar's semi-independent Gulf Times called Bush "overly
optimistic" to think that a "ten-minute interview would repair the
credibility of his administration."
Other broadsheets said increased Arab anger "is not only due to what
happened in Iraq" but also to "four years of corrosive Bush Middle
East policies" which according to Tunisia's independent Ash-Shourouq
"engender injustice, frustration, violations of rights and
The U.S. still faces an 'exceptional image crisis'-- Several outlets judged that the "coming
days and weeks will show how far the willingness to self-criticism"
extends in the U.S. Spain's independent El
Mundo termed Bush's interviews "right, but clearly insufficient,"
adding that if he "wants to convince people, he will have to prove it with
facts." A Hong Kong daily cited the
"hostile Middle Eastern reaction" to the interviews to conclude the
"struggle is all uphill." A
few writers dismissed the use of "two handpicked Arabic television
stations"; Rotterdam's centrist Algemeen Dagblad said Arabs find
"those media too American and thus dubious."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
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
59 reports from 33 countries over 6 - 11
May 2004. Editorial excerpts from
each country are listed from the most recent date.
An editorial in the right-of-center tabloid Sun read
(5/6): "President Bush tells the
Arab world on TV that he finds the abuse of Iraqi prisoners 'abhorrent.' We
hope his appeal for calm does not fall on deaf ears."
"Price Of Values"
The conservative Times opined (5/6): "The willingness of members of the
Administration to be seen, heard and questioned on these media outlets should
not be episodic. It is fatalistic to
assume that a reasonable case will not make an impact on Arab opinion. A systematic effort should be made to make
the President and his key colleagues available.
This should continue after power has moved to a transitional authority
in Iraq on June 30.... Justice must, as
Mr. Bush asserted, be done and be seen to be done."
FRANCE: “The U.S. President
Scores A Point”
Renaud Girard wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro
(5/6): “Many viewers expected an
apology...and the President’s words did not satisfy everyone.... The incident of the photographs has
accentuated the old frustration felt by the Arab masses towards the
U.S.... They permanently feel humiliated
by an America, which in their view, practices a policy of double standards when
it comes to the Arabs and Israel.... The
photographs have come at the worse possible moment, feeding the old complex of
inferiority vis-à-vis the mighty Christian America.... But even if America’s blunder is decried in
public, in private all Arabs recognize that in their countries prisoner
treatment is far worse than at the Abu Ghraib prison. They also know that in
their countries the press would never have published such pictures, and no
investigation would have been launched....
By managing to underscore these truths, without appearing arrogant,
President Bush has managed to score a point with Arab public opinion.”
“Bush Condemns But Does Not Apologize”
Thomas Cantaloube noted in right-of-center Le Parisien
(5/6): “It took almost a week...for the
White House to light counter fires....
But President Bush, although promising to ‘punish’ the culprits, did not
offer an apology.... This media offensive
comes after days of silence and incoherent explanations...and President Bush is
registering one more blow where he is most vulnerable: in his obsessive desire
to project a positive image of the Iraqi occupation, which is contradicted by
what is happening on the ground.”
GERMANY: "Helpless At
The Home Front"
Rolf Paasch noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
(5/7): "The fact that the president
leaked his dissatisfaction over a leading cabinet member to the press gives the
scandal on the torture scenes a new domestic momentum.... [The scenes] are now politically questioning
the reputation of the U.S. forces and the legitimacy of the intervention. Following the accusations of hushing up the
torture practices, the Bush administration is not only helpless at the home
front. Be it Fallujah or the Defense
Committee, problems have piled up everywhere to such an extent that only
apologies and admitting guilt can create new credibility. To the outside, the attempt to say sorry
failed with President Bush's TV interviews to the Arab world due to a lack of
humility. The coming days and weeks will
show how far the willingness to self-criticism in the election campaign
goes. If Rumsfeld does not have to
resign, Bush is likely to be unable to change course in foreign policy.... Regardless of whether President Bush dares a
radical new beginning in the coming weeks--even colorless Democratic challenger
John Kerry again has a chance against a president who had to rebuke his defense
secretary publicly. No more and no
"Perverted Form Of Freedom"
Christoph von Marschall said in centrist Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (5/6): "This is the most
serious U.S. crisis since the beginning of the Iraq war.... The legitimacy of the entire war is now...in
question.... War and occupation are
exceptional situations, but this gives democracies the responsibility to wage
wars and occupy other countries only in exceptional cases--and to control and
supervise soldiers in a special way. For
America, war seems to be something normal.
But has America understood the extent of this perversion? The treatment of the scandal will show
this. It is true that Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld emphasizes the differences [between Saddam and U.S.
occupation].... This is right but looks
helpless, since an Arab despot cannot be the yardstick. America set the standard with its claim to be
a democracy that wants to export its superior values.... President Bush seems to have understood the
exceptional image crisis in which he and his country now is. He has turned to the Arab countries and
condemned the 'mistakes'.... It is right
that he does this, but mainly for America's sake...but he also hopes that a
confession of guilt will move at least a few in the Arab world to think. When did an Arab leader ever admitted
mistakes in public?.... But if the West
accepts such norms, it will also be allowed to ask whether the Arab, whether
the Muslim world, makes the tortures of their regimes an issue or whether they
only cry out loud when the perpetrators are Americans."
"Too Little And To Late"
Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
judged (5/6): "Too late, much too
late, the U.S. administration realized the political and moral disaster
stemming from the brutal actions of their soldiers at the Abu Ghraib. And the consequences it has now taken are too
modest, much too modest. The one who is
responsible for the more or less lawlessness in U.S. prisoner camps is Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld. After the latest
revelations his resignation would have been overdue. Only such a drastic measure would be
appropriate to convince part of the outraged Arab world that the United States
is serious about the rule of law and human rights. Instead, President Bush again backed his
defense secretary who is not even apologized.... Bush's TV appearances show that he has become
aware of the political damage that has been caused by the abuses. But we must doubt that he will be able to
keep his promise that 'justice will be done.'
Appearances like the ones of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard
Myers...are simply incomprehensible and only serve to ruin the confidence in
internal control and sanction mechanisms of the U.S. military. In this scandal the Bush administration has
turned into someone who can only react and in this role it is impossible to
regain moral authority.... Only the
conservative voters in the U.S. do not seem to be outraged. If this changes, Bush may take tougher
measures, but on a global scale this will then no longer help."
Mariam Lau opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin
(5/6): "President Bush told Arab TV
viewers that a democracy is not always perfect, and under Saddam an
investigation did not took place in such cases.
This is much but too little for a global power. It was a false tone at the wrong time. Now at least the facts must speak. Investigation, punishment, new
beginning. The new prison head Miller
and his brave security advisor have apologized with the Iraqi people--their
president was not able to do this."
Suffering: This Way Our Values Will Die Out”
Ennio Caretto remarked in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (5/6): “It’s the
confirmation of the bitterness and the shame of the majority of America for the
abuses...committed against prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. And this explains
why President Bush felt the need to reassure U.S. public opinion and to save
relations with Islam. In two interviews with Al Arabiya and Al Hurra television
stations, Bush guaranteed that justice will be done and that such abuses will never
happen again.... The President’s
personal intervention is the first step down a long and difficult road to
regain the superpower’s image and a dialogue with Arab countries.... But in order for the two worlds to fully
cooperate, it is necessary that America ask itself how such atrocities could
have taken place.... We cannot permit
the images of American soldiers abusing prisoners, rather than the toppling of
Saddam’s statue one year ago, become the symbolic images of the Iraqi
“Torture, Bush Promises Justice”
Mario Platero held in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore
(5/6): “Bush made no formal apology, but
his appearance before an Arab audience, his words of condemnation of the
offenders, his promise to bring to justice those who were responsible for the
atrocities, were certainly out of the ordinary.... The problem for this Administration is not so
much the incidents in themselves--deviations and crimes are always
possible--but rather transparency and credibility--two important factors
especially in an election year.... These
circumstances reopen the issue of the International War Crime Tribunal, which
is responsible for trying war crimes, independently of who committed them. The
U.S. has always refused to participate affirming that the court could have been
used against it. But before the evidence of what has occurred, cases like Abi
Ghraib raise no doubts for anyone, perhaps not even for Washington that must
not appear like a super power who operates double standards.”
“Bush: ‘This Is Not My America’--Pentagon In A Storm”
Giampaolo Pioli commented in conservative, top-circulation
syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (5/6): “America no longer understands. The scandal
on the abuses against Iraqi prisoners is overwhelming the White House and
obscuring the electoral campaign....
Bush would have preferred never to do those interviews. But yesterday,
as commander in chief, he was forced to appear on Arab TV in order to make
himself heard in Iraq and in the Muslim world.... The credibility crisis that has hit
Washington and the Pentagon in only a few days is devastating. The Pentagon is
accused of having kept silent. It knew about the abuses since January and it
kept quiet.... It’s as if America has
been struck in the face with a hammer. The nation that publishes the list of
countries that violates human rights was forced to delay its presentation
because its soldiers and ‘independent agents’ who participate in the ‘dirty’
war in Iraq are guilty of the same crimes. Only a quick, credible and exemplary
bringing to trial can limit the fatal damage for the White House.”
RUSSIA: "George Bush
Apologizes To Arabs"
Alexander Danilchuk observed in reformist Gazeta
(5/6): "The pictures of violence
against prisoners have caused indignation around the world, and the White House
hurried to express its attitude toward these events. The president's national
security adviser Condoleezza Rice said President Bush had been personally
insulted by this nauseating and humiliating footage. In her words, the
president had hoped for the responsibility of the American military and still
expected that they would not violate humanistic principles.... Commenting on the behavior of the servicemen
who had failed to live up to the president's expectations, Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld said it wasn't the American way of doing things. By carrying
out these crimes they let down their comrades and their country. George Bush Jr. decided to restore the marred
reputation. On Wednesday evening the president appeared with a 10-minutes
speech on the Arab television channels Al-Arabiya and Al-Hurra. Bush apologized
to the Arab world and said that the footage seen by the whole world had shown
the shameful behavior that was not acceptable for any citizen of the U.S."
"Iraqi Tortures Loosen The Tongue Of The American
Boris Volkhonsky contended in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(5/6): "In his 10-minute interview
shown late last late night by Arab television channels President Bush described
the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American servicemen as abhorrent but said
what had happened in the prison did not represent the America he knew.
President Bush also promised to investigate the incident most thoroughly and
punish those responsible. The investigation will not be confined only to the
Abu Ghraib prison. The US authorities are trying to find out whether similar
incidents did not occur in other prisons. The president said he wanted to know
the truth. He charged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with the task of
finding the truth and reporting it to the Iraqi people and the world."
BELGIUM: "Abuse Fuels
Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn asserted in conservative
Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (5/6): "The abuse in Iraq...fuels the
resistance. It makes it even more
difficult 'to win the hearts and minds' of the Iraqis. The Americans and the British know very well
that those images help al-Qaida and other fanatics recruit terrorists. (The Americans and British) consider
themselves superior to Saddam's dictatorship.
Of course, that is true--but then, they should behave along that
line. The only way out is a thorough and
open investigation.... President Bush
has ordered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to see to it that the
perpetrators of those egregious acts are held accountable. Bush is also giving interviews to Arab TV
stations to calm down the spirits. At
the same time, however, the White House refuses to start an independent
investigation. Their own investigation
should suffice. Perhaps (that is enough)
but will it also take away that bitter aftertaste?"
" Among Barbarians"
Right-wing conservative Hungarian-language Magyar Nemzet
editorialized (5/6): "How many
similar instances of atrocities could have happened without the presence of a
camera that could tell the story to the public? Is a former bloodthirsty red
beret of Milosevic is any different in human nature than Bush's mercenary who
exports democracy [to Iraq]? The Iraqi 'accident' has taken Washington
noticeably by surprise. After a short but telling silence the American leaders
were outbidding each other on condemning the events.... According to bad rumors the recipe is being
prepared now in President Bush' secret lab of how can torturing be included
among the tools of democracy building. Where is the deepest point in
morals? Is it mere a cynicism of a
leading power or the typical American nativity that a statesman, in this case
the American President, thinks that by giving two ten minute interviews to two
Arab language TV stations that he finances, he can win the forgiveness of the
"The Torture Of Iraqi Prisoners"
The center-left Irish Times held (5/6): "President Bush and his administration
have moved rapidly to contain the enormous damage done to their country's
reputation.... Mr Bush told Arabic
television stations yesterday that this is abhorrent, does not express American
values, will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be brought
to justice. It is one thing to state the position clearly; another to follow it
up with action.... The question arising
from this potentially crippling blow to the coalition's occupation of Iraq,
after a dreadful series of events and mistakes over the last month, is how far
up the military and political command the approval of torture went.... The horrifying and deeply shocking
photographs showing sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners could prove a turning
point in the occupation.... Senior
congressional figures have made it clear more revelations are to come and there
are growing calls for resignations at the top political levels. Alongside this
growing scandal comes news that army officials are investigating the deaths of
25 prisoners held by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. One has to wonder, in
the light of these revelations, about conditions in the Guantanamo prison,
where U.S. forces have held prisoners of war outside established legal limits
for months and years of interrogation. It becomes daily more and more clear
that only a radical internationalisation of the Iraqi occupation under the
auspices of the UN can give the country stability and eventual democracy.”
Offensive In An Empty Desert"
Centrist Algemeen Dagblad stated (5/6): "The Bush administration has shot itself
in the foot by having the President speak to two Arab media, al-Hurra
television and al-Ahram newspaper, two sources which lack credibility among masses
of Arabs.... The vast majority whose
attention he needs find those media too American and thus dubious.... The message won't reach its intended
audience. The damage-control mission has failed."
NORWAY: "Torture As
Foreign Editor Erik Sagflaat wrote in social democratic Dagsavisen
(5/7): "On Arabic TV channels
President George W. Bush condemned the abuse against Iraqi prisoners as
'disgusting.' The soldiers responsible for this do not represent America, he
said. No, maybe not the U.S., but definitely his own administration.... That the pictures were taken, and later
distributed rather freely and in full openness, says that those that took them
must have thought they had the full acceptance of their superiors. This was how
it should be done.... Even now the Bush
administration seems more concerned about reducing the political damage, than
improving conditions in the prisons."
Independent VG commented (5/7): "As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed
Forces it is the President who has the final responsibility. That is why he
should have used the opportunity the two Arabic TV channels gave, to present an
apology. Which he certainly didn't do....
It is probably too much to hope for that the President should sack one
of the main architects behind the Iraq war [Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld],
especially during a Presidential campaign."
POLAND: “America Condemns”
Slawomir Popowski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (5/6):
“In his appearance on two Arab television networks, the U.S. President
condemned the mistreatment, humiliation, and abuse of Iraqi prisoners of
war.... The point is that--if one should
trust the opinions of the Iraqis themselves--practices such as those in the Abu
Ghraib prison were not isolated. America and Bush can in no way afford this.
They remember Vietnam all too well and the tragedy of the Vietnamese village My
Lay whose inhabitants were murdered by American troops. Even though those
guilty of the crime were punished as an example to others, the international
public turned its back to America. This is an imminent threat this
time.... The White House claimed from
the very outset that the goal of the anti-Saddam operation was not only to oust
the criminal Hussein, but also to build a modern, democratic state based on the
rule of law, which would be an example for other Arab countries. The cases of
abuse and torture uncovered among Iraqi prisoners--whoever they are--are a
ROMANIA: "Seeking To
Laurentina Gorneaunu declared in independent Curierul National
(5/7): "The U.S. President tried to
calm down the indignation stirred among the Arabs and internationally by the
abuses committed by American troops against some Iraqi prisoners. In a spectacular move, Bush spoke to two Arab
language TV stations, Al-Hurra and Al-Arabyia, to condemn the abuses committed
in the Abou Ghraib prison.”
Independent El Mundo declared (5/6): "[Bush's] gesture is right, but clearly
insufficient.... If he wants to convince
people, he will have to prove it with facts: in addition to an investigation
into what happened, he should implement a system of prison control that makes
it impossible for abuses and tortures to take place again, and Guantanamo is an
example that this decision still has not been taken. His argument that the Iraqis used to live
worse under Saddam Hussein is unacceptable."
TURKEY: “The Two Americas”
Mim Kemal Oke noted in conservative DB Tercuman (5/7): “Following the Iraq prisoner scandal, the US
President was in a rush to correct the American image by appearing on Arab
television channels. Among the arguments
he tried to pursue, one was particularly interesting. Bush said that those who committed these terrible
acts cannot be American. This argument
is not only an effort for finding an excuse but also a confession about the
‘two different types of Americas’ in the President’s mind.... These two different Americas can be described
as ‘the soft one’ and the ‘hard one.’
The former is about the US as a land of liberty and opportunity where
one can enjoy individual freedoms and tolerance of differences. As for the latter, it is about the CIA and
national security. The hard side of
American power is like the alter ego of the soft side.... Westerners have come up with a description of
President Bush as ‘fundagelist,’ a word that combines ‘fundamentalist’ and
‘evangelist.’ President Bush pursued
global terrorism in a purely religious context and contributed to a
fundamentalist interpretation of religion.
Current U.S. foreign policy and American internal security
considerations have deep religious roots.
This is becoming increasingly disturbing for Americans. President Bush is aware of the criticism, yet
his election campaign is based on the alliance of a deep state and
‘fundagelist’ approach. It remains to be
seen which America will prevail in the election.”
WEST BANK: "Torture
In Abu Ghurayb"
Mohammed Nobani commented in independent Al-Quds (5/6): "After the images depicting the ugly
physical, psychological and sexual torture inflicted on Iraqi prisoners by
American jailers in the horrifying Abu Ghurayb prison were shown on TV,
American officials, including President Bush, were quick to deny any
responsibility, political or moral, for this crime, claiming that it is an
isolated and strange incident that does not represent the American treatment of
others during wars. The truth, which
cannot be concealed by even those American officials who are known for their
expertise in deception, is that torture, cold-blooded murder and massacres are
all integral parts of the colonial American mentality, their culture and
preemptive philosophy, which have always characterized the U.S. ever since it
came into being.... This country was
built on spilling the blood of the Indians, who were massacred by the cowboys
of this so-called civilization.... One
of these atrocities worth mentioning here, which will always be engraved in the
human memory, is the U.S.’ use of devastating nuclear bombs during the Harry
Truman era against defenseless civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.... This criminal [the U.S.] is the one who has
revived the policy of occupation in the 21st century in defiance of UN
resolutions, and it is the same criminal that used depleted uranium and
destructive bombs and other internationally-forbidden weapons against
SAUDI ARABIA: "The
Real Conscious Awakening"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan declared (5/8): "American newspapers described the
interview with President Bush on the Arab TV news channels Al-Arabiya and
Al-Hurra as an attempt to absorb Arab anger.
Because we want to believe Bush, especially when he himself expressed
his abhorrence and disgust with the images, we hope that the president had a
conscious awakening, even if it were a little too late. To improve the US image in the Middle East we
need actions not words. If this were a
real conscious awakening we hope that it leads to opening the Iraqi detention
centers and those in Guantanamo to Human Rights Commissions. We also hope that the US occupation of Iraq
ends. America should stop its unlimited
support of Israel. When people regain
their stolen rights, and justice prevails, then we will believe that this was a
real awakening, not just words to absorb Arab anger."
The pro-government English-language Arab News editorialized
(5/6): "President George W. Bush’s
interview on Arab television yesterday is a clear recognition that America’s
image in the Arab world has reached an all-time low. That Washington has
understood that and sees the need to engage with Arab public opinion directly
is at least something. But that is as far as it goes. For all George Bush’s sincerity in his
televised regrets for the treatment meted out by US troops to Iraqi prisoners,
the interview will convince almost no one in the Arab world that Washington has
changed its ways. Even had he got down on his knees and howled apologies for
the now notorious photos of abuse, no one would have believed him--and no one
here does believe him. It is not the photos that are the problem. It is four
years of corrosive Bush Middle East policies, coming on top of decades of US
incompetence and missed opportunities....
Nothing that this US administration has done since it took office has
given any support to moderate opinion in the Middle East. Bush was looking for
an excuse to finish his father’s war from the minute he arrived in the Oval
Office. Sept. 11 in all its horror, gave him the excuse.... Whatever America’s original good intentions,
whatever the hopes that the ouster of Saddam may have raised, the awful reality
is that Iraq is now in crisis. Most Iraqis today look at the inept and brutal
behavior of the US-led coalition and want it out. If the president imagined for one minute that
his acknowledgement of the wrongs done to luckless detainees was going to help
matters, he was mistaken. Once again his simplistic and elementary worldview
has played him false. For him, the fact that the US government is taking stern
measures against the soldiers who murdered, tortured and brutalized prisoners,
in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is a virtue. For the rest of us, it is a case of
shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. The savagery of the US
military is only a symptom of a wider abject policy failure for which the
president ought actually to have been apologizing last night. The whole exercise simply cut no ice."
"Well, Do Arabs Alone Hate You?"
Ali Al-Mosa argued in Abha’s moderate Al-Watan (5/6): "Well, Mr. President we will listen to
you, although we will not enjoy your talk.
We are not foolish enough to be convinced by your views in a televised
address. Increased Arab anger is not
only due to what happened in Iraq but was also due to an accumulated anger over
successive ugly and biased U.S. polices against the Arab world.... Washington must understand that just to
appear on a single Arabic language channel will not extinguish Arab anger unless
it is associated with actual policies on the ground. Well, instead of two channels, we will
provide the U.S. President with the opportunity to appear on all Arabic
entertainment channels, provided that he provides us with only one opportunity
on a single channel, including those U.S. Zionist disinformation channels, to
directly address his people."
"The Crime Of The Occupation"
Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad editorialized (5/6): "Abu Ghraib Prison represents the wrong
US and British policies to combat opposition in Iraq. The crimes of the former regime and the human
rights violations by the occupation soldiers have become equal in the minds of
Iraqis. The statements of regret and
abhorrence by the American President and the British Prime Minister will not
erase the angry feelings of the Iraqis."
ALGERIA: "Did Not
Leading influential French-language Le Quotidien d’Oran
remarked (5/6): "Both interventions
of the American President on Arab channels, yesterday (May 5), did not
dissipate the doubts, fears, and disapproval of worldwide public opinion.”
LEBANON: “From Guantanamo
To Abu Ghraib”
Joseph Samaha observed in Arab nationalist As-Safir (5/7): “Seeing George Bush talk, walk, move his
arms, greet, repeat his nonsense, lie, promise, etc., has become torture in
itself.... It is unacceptable for the
American apology to become the event....
And it is unacceptable to claim that it is not right for a number of
soldiers to disfigure the American ‘mission of civilizing’. The Abu Ghraib events are the ultimate limit
of the American project. Even if those
events had not occurred, they were already initiated in the huge campaign of
lies that paved the way for war. They
were established in Guantanamo. They
were protected through violations of international laws, decisions and war
agreements. They are also part of daily
killings that target civilians (more than 1000 during April alone), and of arbitrary
behavior, and crimes made without getting enough attention or enough media
“The Israeli America, The Saddami America”
Rafiq Khoury held in centrist Al-Anwar (5/7): “There is a Chinese proverb that says ‘One
picture is equal to a thousand pictures’.
And the simple thing that the pictures of naked Iraqis subjected to
sadism by their American male and female jailers in Abu Ghraib prison show is
that America is naked.... And it is
difficult for President George Bush and his advisor Condoleezza Rice to cover
that nudity with words no matter how fancy or denunciating they may be.... The ‘bomb’ that exploded under the feet of
the American Administration...made President Bush rush into addressing Arabs through
the satellite channels...but it is not important for Bush to talk to the Arabs;
what is important is that he hears what they are saying.... There is no way for anyone to believe
America’s talk about spreading freedom and democracy after today.”
"Talking To The Arab World:
A Lesson Learned?
The moderate English-language Daily Star
maintained (5/6): "Suddenly, a U.S.
president is addressing the Arab world directly on Arab satellite television
stations. It is therefore unfortunate that when George W. Bush appeared on
Al-Arabiyya and Al-Hurra on Wednesday evening, his message to the Arabs was not
inspired by optimism about the region's future, but by a sense of crisis
management. In fact, a series of crises, all of Washington's own making, extend
from Afghanistan to the shores of the Mediterranean, and is adversely affecting
relations with the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The particular crisis which spurred Bush's unprecedented appearance on
Arabic-language television channels was the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US
troops. This abuse, it seems, does not consist of isolated incidents.... It is late in the day to begin public
relations efforts to patch up such serious damage--Washington should never have
mismanaged its adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why did it take crisis and
embarrassment before senior American policymakers and administration officials,
in this instance no less a figure than the president himself, to publicly
address their Arab counterparts in constructive dialogue and empathetic
respect? The U.S.' standing with the Arab public, too, would have to benefit,
since the image of the US in the Arab world could hardly be more abysmal than
it is today. Yes, it is late, but the
world can only hope it is a case of better late than never, and that valuable
lessons have been learned.... We can
also hope that if such 'broadband' communication does become a feature of
future US dealings with the Arab and Muslim worlds, that it is not conducted in
a condescending manner, as a master would address a servant, but in a manner
that befits the claimed goals of a world benefactor striving to set an example
of democracy and respect for all peoples and creeds."
Peculiarities Of Abu Gharib"
Ahmed Boukyoud declared in left-to-center Arabic-language Bayane
Al Youm (5/6): "On the heels of
his national security advisor, yesterday the U.S. President dared to offer an
interview to Arab television channel Al Arabiya to explain his position
vis-à-vis the scandal of Abu Gharib prison in Iraq.... If the U.S. President and his administration
imagined that it would be easiest to rid themselves of this heavy legacy by
offering a TV interview and by expressing an apology, (Bush) must have been
day-dreaming and ignoring the depth of Arab anger against U.S. policy.
Especially since Washington, on a practical level, is not exhibiting any change
in its policy or behavior towards many regional and international problems,
most particularly in regards to its unconditional support for Israel's
aggressive policy.... The U.S. cannot
escape this crisis unless it provides the return of sovereignty to the Iraqi
people with the international community's assistance under UN auspices."
Semi-independent Arabic-language Al Watan editorialized
(5/10): "It seems that the Bush
Administration is attempting to focus international public opinion solely on
the prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq. This
scandal is obscuring bloody American and British military actions against the
Iraqi resistance, prior to the transfer of authority. The abuse scandals will continue; yet we must
not forget the other tragedies occurring in Iraq. We must not blindly accept American lies when
it comes to the spread of democracy and freedom."
QATAR: “Interviews Will Not
Restore US Image”
Semi-independent English-language Gulf Times said
(5/6): “President Bush spoke directly to
the Iraqi and Arab peoples yesterday, in a personal effort to repair America's
tattered reputation in the Middle East. The nub of Bush's argument was that the
torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, where nearly 4,000
people are held, was an aberration that did not represent the reality of
America.... Bush insisted that those
responsible would be punished. It was important, he said, for Iraqis to
understand that everything in a democracy was not perfect but that mistakes
would be investigated and culprits punished. Bush did not apologize for the
torture but in separate statements several top military and civilian officials
did. If the president imagined that a 10-minute interview would repair the
credibility of his administration he was overly optimistic. His speech might
have worked had the torture at Abu Ghraib been the sole source of offence. But
for more than three years, starting even before September 11, 2001, the US has
adopted an unfriendly and aggressive stance towards Arabs and Muslims. Israeli
atrocities have been justified. The elected leader of the Palestinians has been
dismissed as irrelevant. Palestinians' legal rights have been swept away in a
Bush-Sharon alliance. Islam has been projected negatively. Arabs have been
lectured on how the US is going to show them the proper way to live their
lives. A sovereign Arab state has been invaded, though it posed no threat to
the US. Iraq and Iran--and by implication their citizens--were dubbed
"evil". Dark threats have been
made against Syria. After that, the events at Abu Ghraib look like part of a
pattern of ingrained hostility towards Arabs. They cannot be dismissed as the
actions of rogue individuals. But there is an Arab folk saying: For every
crisis there is a scapegoat. We learn that despite the Pentagon persuading CBS
to delay airing the torture report for two weeks, neither Bush nor Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld knew what was going on. Now the president has found
out, there will be an inquiry and punishments will be inflicted. Just don't
blame Bush and his coterie. Indeed, one case has already been tried and the
culprit "punished". A soldier found guilty by court-martial of
murdering an Iraqi was demoted to the rank of private, thrown out of the army
and sent back home to his family. No jail sentence was necessary. That,
apparently, is the appropriate punishment for murdering an Iraqi.”
“Can Words Change Wrong Deeds?”
Al-Azab Al-Tayib opined in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Raya
(5/6): “The master of the White House
has some fears that the Arab hatred is increasing against his administration
even though Mr. Bush is trying to convey a message that the hatred is against
America, not only his administration. But can Mr. Bush heal the damage after it
happened? The pictures were very clear;
the humiliation was very clear; and the hatred of the Bush administration was
very clear. Some people obviously advised Bush that if he talks to the Arab
public with good words he can win their hearts. The problem is not the words or
the choice of words, it is the timing of saying these words and the way you say
it. The Zionist-Christian cabal that is running Washington now--which includes
Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice--has created a barrier between us and
Bush and his gang. We can’t change what we see and what we feel just because
The president of the U.S. talks to us and gives us ten minutes of his time.
Afghanistan, Fallouja in Iraq, and last but not least, the daily pain of the
Palestinian grieving mothers and widows doesn’t make us feel sorry for the
Americans and or sympathize with them. The man did not even apologize for this
scandal! Are we that cheap in your eyes Mr. President?”
SYRIA: "Image Of
Charles Kamleh asserted in government-owned Tishreen
(5/7): "The pictures that appeared
in The Washington Post of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners add to President
Bush's troubles and might drive him to find a scapegoat, most likely Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld.... Rumsfeld might
come under growing pressure after testifying before the Senate Armed Services
Committee. The entire Bush Administration might come under stronger pressure
that would drive it to launch aggression in all directions.... Can Bush once again evade domestic and
foreign anger that prompted him for the first time to appear on an Arab
television station in an unprecedented move? That appearance made things worse
as he failed to offer a clear official apology to the victims of the shameful
aggression that his forces committed against Iraqi prisoners. Any cosmetic strategy will most likely be
useless.... The images of the occupation
will certainly not be beautiful because they are images of the crime of
occupation and direct aggression in violation of international law and global
TUNISIA: “A Complaint
Against Unknown Persons”
An editorial by Co-editor-in-chief, Hajer Jeridi, in independent
French-language Le Temps read (5/7):
“The war against Iraq has just started to show one of its most horrible,
abominable and inhuman facets.... These
numerous abuses and scandals...give a conclusive idea of the hidden face of the
ones who claim the authorship of democracy and freedom. It is an ugly and
hideous face that came up.... The
flagrant gap between the pompous speeches and unwholesome practices has never
been so obvious.... This war, launched
in the name of democracy and the principles of Human Rights, has produced chaos,
insecurity and instability. It has generated oppression and the violation of
basic human rights; it has violated the physical dignity of the people. However
hard the American politicians try to ignore any responsibility in these crimes
by attributing them to individual deviations, the reality shows the complete
opposite. In every country the military
commands come always from the top of the hierarchy.... It is to no avail that the President and his
collaborators multiply their media appearances, to improve their image in the
Arab world.... Moreover, their
nonchalant reaction proves in itself the scandalous offhandedness with which
the American administration is handling this serious issue. Just nice reprimands towards the guilty
persons, who they say will be sanctioned once revealed by the
investigation. The guilt is here: in
this American system of defense of intelligence, it is the hierarchical chiefs
who ordered such ill-treatment and torture...unless the U.S. prefers to opt for
an anonymous complaint.”
“America And Arabs...”
Senior editor Assia Atrous stated in independent Arabic-language As-Sabah
(5/7): “President Bush purposefully
addressed the Arab public opinion after the confirmation of the Red Cross
organization, which has stressed that the reports it has about the violation
made against the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib prison, by the American and British
colonized forces is much more worse than what has been shown till now. The Bush
speech was done with a precise and clear media and political plan in order to
gain the support of the American public opinion and to control the rising anger
of Arab public opinion and the Iraqi one in particular.... Washington should know that to fix such
damage, it should start by changing its image not only towards the Arab world
but toward the entire world. It should face its mistake and change it and this
by recognizing without delay the rights of Iraqis to have their whole
sovereignty on their territory without any mediation or regency from any part
within the international rules and legality. The U.S. government should start
an open and just trial of the guilty and include the people who ignored what
they did. Apart from that, different
bridges of dialogue with America will remain unable to overcome this trust
crisis which is likely to get worse.”
“The Problem Is With The U.S. Administration”
Editor-in-chief Abdelhamid Riahi wrote in independent
Arabic-language Ash-Shourouq (5/6):
“Yesterday’s reaction of the American president to try to comprehend the
Arab and Muslim people anger from the photos of shame and horrors undertaken by
the U.S. soldiers has a positive side. It shows that Arab public opinion has
some weight in the American administration. An administration used to dealing
with our issues from a Zionist point of view and used to addressing us with the
language of weapons, missiles, and justifications for the occupation.... President Bush tried to make what happened
look like separate incidents but reality shows the opposite...because most of
the horrors that were undertaken against the Iraqi people are from the occupation.... When the American administration markets the
occupation as ’liberation’, it is either ignoring the feeling of the Iraqi
majority or it does not understand the message that the Iraqi people want to
convey through the resistance.... Bush’s
speech, which tried to embellish the occupation to Iraqis under the cover of
the sanctions to be taken against the abusers, gives in a sense, a kind of
‘legitimacy’ to the occupation, which opens the door to Sharon to embellish the
colonization to the Palestinians and consider it as ’Democratic Colonization’. We know that the majority of Americans are a
nice and peaceful people and have a sense of humanity, but the real problem is
with the policy of its administration, which engenders injustice, frustration,
violations of rights and oppression in the Arab world."
CHINA: “Prisoner Abuse
Scandal Harms White House: President Goes On TV To Put Out Fire"
Xu Jie and Wan Ting noted in official Communist
Party-run international Global Times (5/7): “The scandal of the U.S. military in Iraq
abusing prisoners of war has forced the Bush Administration to face its most
serious test since 9/11. To cool down
public anger, Bush broke the rules and accepted interviews from two Arab TV
stations. However since he did not
clearly say sorry, the Arab world still thinks the U.S. is not sincere. Who should be responsible for the prisoner
abuse affair has become a focus of world attention. The recent photos showing prisoners of war
being abused are just a small part....
Bush himself became involved in the affair in order to put out the
‘fire'.... The Arab world was not
satisfied with Bush’s speech. Now it is
Rumsfeld who is having the hardest time.
Although recently he has frequently criticized the criminal nature of
prisoner abuse and has committed to delivering severe punishment to ‘bad
soldiers,’ some Democrats and Congressman have demanded that he resign.”
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"A Stain On Reputations Too Deep To Wipe Away?"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
held (5/11): "There is now a moral
and a practical need to face, and fully investigate, the allegations of abuse,
including torture and death in British-run detention camps. George W. Bush's interviews with Arabic
television stations last week, and the subsequent expressions of regret from
the U.S. president and from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, are a start but,
as retired American general Wesley Clark put it, apologies aren't enough. The only way to begin to repair the
reputations of their forces and of the coalition itself will be a public
accounting of how extensive and how systemic the abuses were, proper punishment
of those responsible and changes in the procedures that allowed them to
happen. As the person who has accepted
responsibility for the abuses, Mr. Rumsfeld should resign. If he does not, he should be
dismissed.... There is mounting evidence
the Abu Ghraib jail, where much of the abuse occurred, was part of a U.S.-run
prison system that gave priority to intelligence-gathering. Rule of the Geneva Conventions were flouted,
with tacit or active approval of administrators. Lax supervision, inadequate training,
overstaffing and confused chains of command helped create conditions for abuse. Why coalition partners neglected to impose
adequate discipline in such an important area, and why reports of rights
violations were ignored for so long, needs explaining."
"The U.S. Must Practice The Morality It Preaches"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
commented (5/7): "Nothing that U.S.
President George W. Bush said during his broadcast on Arab television this week
could have atoned for the abuse inflicted upon Iraqi prisoners by American
troops. Even if Mr. Bush had said
sorry--and he didn't--it would not have been enough to calm the anger these
disgraceful acts have provoked.... Mr.
Bush said the abuse does not represent the America I know. But it does represent the America he should
have known. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners
follows a depressing trend that has emerged since the September 11 attacks on
the U.S. in 2001. This trend might be a
natural response to the devastation of September 11 but it has to be
curbed. Mr. Bush at least should have
seen it coming. There has been evidence
of a willingness on the part of U.S. authorities to tolerate abusive treatment
of detainees in pursuing the war on terror.
This has been the case in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. There was no reason to believe that Iraq
would be any different.... The
implications of what happened are particularly serious given that the invasion
has, all along, been justified on moral grounds. But torture, in whatever form, is a grave
violation of human rights. It cannot be
tolerated. If the abuse in Iraq has
finally shocked the U.S. into recognizing this, then something positive may yet
emerge from this highly regrettable affair."
"Life's A Peach For Profiteers"
Peter Kammerer said in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (5/7): "U.S.
President George W. Bush...a few days ago gave rare interviews to the
Arab-language satellite television networks al-Hurra and al-Arabiya. His aim was to assuage anger among Arabs and
Muslims created by reports that American and British troops were abusing
Iraqis. Instead, judging by the reaction
from the Middle East, he further infuriated people convinced that the U.S. and
its allies are up to no good in Iraq....
Stories abound of unemployed truck and bus drivers in the U.S. snapping
up jobs with American conglomerates like Halliburton in Iraq for U.S.$10,000 a
month. Therein lies the fundamental
problem, one that has been obvious since the beginning of the American invasion
14 months ago--a lack of education and understanding of Iraq and its
people.... Judging by the hostile Middle
Eastern reaction to Mr. Bush's interviews, the struggle is all uphill."
MALAYSIA: "A Sorry
The government-influenced English-language New Straits Times
editorialized (5/7): "Being
President of the United States of America means never having to say you’re
sorry.... The White House Press
Secretary Scott McClellan can even say that the "President is
sorry". But President George W.
Bush himself won’t say he’s sorry. Appearing on two Arabic television stations
on Wednesday, he merely shrugged it off as an 'abhorrent' incident that can
happen because 'everything is not perfect' and 'mistakes are made.' In containing the damage done by the
incriminating images from Abu Ghraib prison, the stock approach by the White
House and the Pentagon has been to say they didn't know about it, condemn it,
distance themselves from it, deny responsibility for it, characterize it as
isolated, blame it on a few, promise an investigation, and pledge to punish the
guilty. This will work with the American
public because, like Bush, they want to believe that 'what took place in that
prison does not represent the America that I know.' Steeped in denial, Americans prefer to
believe that it was the work of some sick soldiers. But Bush was addressing the Arab world. And Arabs know from bitter experience that
humiliation and brutality is very much the American way. After talking to Arab viewers, Bush declared
at a political rally that Saddam Hussein’s 'torture chambers are closed.' In re-opening them, democratic America has
shown that barbaric practices are not confined to Arab dictators."
"U.S. Blatantly Ignoring Its Own Advice"
Hardev Kaur wrote in the government-influenced English-language New
Straits Times (5/7):
"Unilateral action and ignoring the UN is nothing new to
America. The U.S. was doing it even as
it invaded Iraq. The support for Sharon
to do the same only lends credence to the belief that Sharon gets what he wants
from Washington.... The revelation of
abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners, and the explicit pictures, have outraged
the Arab world. And rightly so. It is not only the Arab world that is
outraged. Any right-thinking civilized
individual would be horrified at the despicable, cruel, arrogant and bullying
tactics of the occupiers. Once again the
basic internationally accepted rules have been ignored and blatantly
violated. The leader of the coalition
and the world’s most developed nation and the only superpower had argued that
the Iraqis must be saved from the tortures and the evil Saddam. Yet the torture and humiliation at the hands
of their so-called liberators is worse.
with respect for human dignity, human rights and the rule of law."
The top circulation, center-left Philippine Daily Inquirer
said (5/7): “George W. Bush went before
two handpicked Arabic television stations (one funded by the US government),
and bewailed the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American troops without making a
direct apology. The apology he left to generals. But neither the apology nor
the tardy expression of disgust has managed to pacify Arabs or
Americans.... For many Arabs, the photos
circulated by the media serve as definitive proof that America does not act in
good faith, or with sincerity. Never has the disparity between official
American rhetoric and real American answers been so great, or so gravely
damning. For many Americans, it is a
face of their country and countrymen that has inspired horror and rightful
indignation. But for American officials and military brass, it is a face they
still wish to deny-or downplay. They
cannot sweep this under the rug. Their own countrymen won't let them, and the
world won't let them.... What American
politicians, soldiers and civilians must realize, is that their presence in
Iraq and their involvement in the Middle East have been stripped of all
pretensions to legitimacy and idealism.
Not for the world, much of which never granted America legitimacy, but
for Americans themselves. They are faced with the stark reality of the nature
of their occupation of Iraq--one that is grounded on an arrogant disdain for
public opinion and built on a foundation of naked aggression which reduces them
to being at par with the regime they displaced.... Saddam's was a brutal dictatorship built on
fear; America proclaimed itself as something much, much better, motivated by
altruism, characterized by decency.
Faced with behavior to the contrary, it has resorted to trying to manage
information. And its leader does not
even have the decency to make a proper apology, either to the Iraqis or to his
Seema Mustafa concluded in the centrist Asian Age
(5/8): "President Bush must be
tried for war crimes. Along with his
defense secretary Rumsfeld and their cronies in Iraq. The barbaric humiliation and abuse of the
Iraqi prisoners knows no parallel in the civilized world, with the torture
inflicted on the hapless Iraqis by the US soldiers reflecting depraved and sick
minds.... Bush is the most detested
leader in the world. And the most eviled
in the world. These are harsh truths
that the Americans like to deny, but these are truths nevertheless.... It is difficult to say at this juncture what
was more repelling, the images of torture or the sight of Bush blinking his
cold eyes and describing the violence on prisoners as 'abhorrent' to an Arab
television channel. For in his words and
his expression there was complete acceptance and even justification of the kind
of abuse inflicted on the Iraqis by his Army.
The interview was just part of a damage control exercise to shrug off
the blame, and lay it any other door.
Bush could not deny the abuse, so the act was now abhorrent.... The resistance will expand, and will engulf
the Arab world where the people will defy their bovine governments to fight for
their brothers and sisters in Iraq and Palestine.... The dictionary has a choice of words for Bush
to choose from. He can use a different
synonym for 'abhorrent' in every television appearance he makes, provided of
course he can memorize these to the satisfaction of his advisors. It will make no difference. No apology is big enough, no action large enough
to atone for the invasion of Iraq and the horrors that the Americans have
unleashed on a proud people. The
pictures coming out from Iraq are now only of dead bodies, wounded children,
wailing mothers, and now of course torture and sexual abuse.... Bush can give no answers that will convince
the world. He is not a man who speaks the truth. But the Americans should speak out.... Get out of Iraq, President Bush. Go home and stay home."
"U.S. Turns Off Rights Trumpet"
K.P. Nayar opined in the centrist Calcutta-based Telegraph
(5/6): "Severely embarrassed by
revelations about torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, the U.S.
State Department has postponed the release of an annual report, ironically
titled Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2003-2004. The postponement came as President George W. Bush
appeared on two Arab news channels to assure that 'there will be investigations
(and) people will be brought to justice'.
He appeared on the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel and the U.S.-run Al
Hurra television to say that it was important for 'the people of Iraq to know
that everything is not perfect. That
mistakes are made. But in a democracy,
as well, those mistakes will be investigated, and people will be brought to
justice'. Bush decided to address the
Arab people after the army acknowledged...that two Iraqi prisoners were killed
by U.S. soldiers.... His appearance on
Arab television came a day after Condoleezza Rice, his National Security
Adviser, and Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State, flitted from one
Arabic channel to another, apologizing for the U.S. Army's actions in Abu
Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Rice, who has carefully cultivated the image of a
strong lady not to be trifled with by the media, was subdued."
Tyranny Of American Troops Will Cost Bush Heavily”
Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang opined
(5/7): "This hypocritical apology
that is now being sought by the U.S.
President and his administration under international pressure is aimed
at defusing the worldwide condemnation of these incidents of torture, which the
Iraqi prisoners have gone under.
Subsequent statements by U.S. National Security Advisor Rice, Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld, White House Spokesman Scot Mclelin and Major General Kamet
only show that there is a series of lies which are being told to the Arab
public and the entire world. If
President Bush thinks that by giving interviews to two Arab television channels
the anger of the Arab public could be soothed down then he is mistaken."
“Unrealized Dream Of U.S. Administration”
Sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat asserted (5/7): "The apology that does not have some
degree of sincerity behind it is of no use.
So long as President Bush admits his mistakes of attacking Iraq and
Afghanistan and does not express his regrets over the massive scale of
destruction in both these countries his words could not be relied upon."
"Iraqi Prisoners' Abuse"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn
opined (5/7): "President George
Bush's televised address to the Arab world on Wednesday, expressing his sense
of shock over the abuse of prisoners at the hands of American occupation forces
in Iraq does not seem to have had the intended calming effect. This later prompted the White House to issue
an official apology.... From the reports
and evidence so far it is clear that the treatment being meted out to Arab,
Afghan and other Muslim prisoners in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay is in
contravention of the Geneva Conventions on PoWs.... The Bush administration would do well to promptly
investigate the matter and bring those responsible for abuses to book. It must also give access to rights groups'
representatives to the prisons in question as is being demanded by these
GHANA: “America, Please Go
Kwame Nsiah stated in the independent, regional Ghanaian
Chronicle (5/7): "Please
America, go home-go home from Iraq....
Some of us do not see the wisdom in America’s persistence in the
war. President Bush’s speeches do not
impress us. They make us rather weep especially when we come to think of the
war becoming a political weapon in President Bush’s bid to retain power. It is futile.... All the world is saying that America should
leave Iraq alone. Protest marches have been staged in Britain, America, South
Africa, Australia and elsewhere to which we wish to add our plea to request
America, to go home. And America should go....
The war has been lost. America has no cause to persist in it. America
then should go home, and save her beautiful face. Such is our plea."
KENYA: “U.S. Has To Mend
The independent left-of-center Nation declared (5/7): “Over the past week, television viewers and
newspaper readers throughout the world have been regaled with sorry tales about
human rights abuses committed by American soldiers against Iraqi
prisoners.... Blaming the American army
wholesale will never do. But now, unless
the Bush administration finds a way of restoring dignity to the Iraqis and to
Arabs at large, a dozen Al Qaidas are bound to spring up all over the region,
and it will have to contend with a very hostile population in the whole of the
CANADA: "Bush Ties
Himself Too Closely To Iraq Scandal"
Paul Stanway wrote in the conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun
(5/8): "Perhaps I'm missing
something, but when did it become necessary for an American president to take
personal responsibility for the actions of every individual serving in the U.S.
military? George Bush is the U.S. commander-in-chief, so a general responsibility
goes with the territory--the sort of responsibility that requires an expression
of regret on behalf of the American people and the determination to ensure that
those responsible are punished. Which is precisely what Bush did following the
publication of photographs showing U.S. troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners.
Apart from that, fire somebody if you must. End of story. I'm not sure why Bush
felt it necessary to do a mea culpa for Arabic television viewers. I very much
doubt if it did anything to change obdurate public opinion in the Arab world
and it only served to link the credibility of the Bush administration to the
barbarous behaviour of a few soldiers who are about as far removed from the
actual control of the commander-in-chief as it's possible to get. Perhaps his
handlers thought it was necessary to placate U.S. public opinion, but if
Americans now hold their president personally responsible for the actions of
all troops, then Bush is already on his way to defeat at the polls in November."
"Buck Stops With Bush"
Montreal's conservative Gazette editorialized (5/7): "New photos emerged...a day after U.S.
President George W. Bush did not apologize to his Arabic-language television
audience.... It might well have not made much of a difference if Bush had said
'I'm sorry'. Viewers...were reportedly in no mood to give Bush or the Americans
the benefit of doubt. By Thursday, however, Bush decided to apologize.... It might, unfortunately, be a case of too
little, too late. Whatever credit Bush deserves for going on Arabic-language
television, the new photos and newly public information trumped it. The
impression...was of a fundamental breakdown in command. Bush is
commander-in-chief, a role he relished last May when he arranged, at a cost of
upward of $1 million, to land in a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham
Lincoln in a pilot's uniform, announcing the combat stage of the war in Iraq
was over. The buck stops with him. But despite the fact no fewer than five
inquiries into the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison have been launched by
the Pentagon...Bush first saw the photos on television, along with the rest of
the world.... Military chiefs say their
findings were sent up the chain of command immediately, yet by Thursday, U.S.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was still saying he had not read the
entire report [by Maj.-Gen. Antonio Taguba]....
Someone needs to take responsibility for the debacle. The abuse, and in
particular the sexual humiliation, have set back relations between the U.S. and
Arabic-speaking nations in a possibly irreparable way. This is a human rights
disaster. It makes no difference that Iraqis have experienced other, broader
human rights abuses under Saddam Hussein. They had the right to expect better
from the U.S."
"Bush's Moral High Ground Slipping Away"
Paul Koring contended in the leading Globe and Mail
(5/6): "For the most part, George
W. Bush has been making up the rules of the war on terrorism as he goes along
ever since Sept. 11, 2001, when he told a still-stunned nation he would lead it
to victory. In a new type of war against a class of crime--an open-ended
conflict against an enemy with no single nationality--the old rules didn't
apply. So the world's only superpower began improvising.... Initially, in a climate of genuine fear, most
Americans and many others around the world accepted the argument and the new,
mostly unwritten rules that went with it. But slowly, long before evidence
surfaced of humiliating prisoner abuse by gloating camera-toting U.S. soldiers,
the pendulum began swinging back toward concern for civil rights and
constitutional guarantees. Mr. Bush's more Draconian anti-terrorist measures
were challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will rule next month on
their legitimacy. Key international allies began falling away when he decided a
UNSC resolution wasn't needed to invade Iraq. Now, with fresh revelations of
prisoner abuse, the outrage at U.S. tactics that has long been present in the
Arab world is spreading to the U.S. Congress. It may start to erode Mr. Bush's
bedrock support among mainstream U.S. voters. And in Washington, people are
already speculating on whether he will slaughter a sacrificial lamb - a step he
avoided in previous embarrassments, including the failure to turn up weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq.... Holding the
high moral ground looks increasingly difficult for the President, who yesterday
couldn't bring himself to apologize for the prisoner abuse in two
damage-control interviews on Arab-language television.... The mood has changed significantly from the
early post-9/11 days."
ARGENTINA: "U.S. Seeks
To Curb Arab Indignation"
Francisco Seminario noted in daily-of-record La Nacion
(5/6): "Forced by a scandal that
could damage his credibility, George W. Bush yesterday decided to handle, in
person, the delicate diplomatic task of seducing the Arab world public, after
the images of Iraqi prisoners--humiliated by U.S. guards--sparked strong
indignation in Iraq and the entire region.
The President used the words 'abhorrent' to qualify the abuse
perpetrated in the jail of Abu Ghraib. He said this kind of behavior 'doesn't
reflect U.S. values', promised 'there will be an investigation' and defended
Secretary Rumsfeld of the criticism and requests for resignation expressed by
several legislators. Bush never
mentioned the word 'forgiveness', as was speculated he would in order to
minimize the damages of the scandal....
Bush offered interviews to two TV networks with broad dissemination in
Arabic countries, one of them--Al Hurra--financed by the USG...and the other
one, Al Arabiya, from Dubai.... Absent
in both interviews, the clear request for forgiveness came from other
responsible military and politicians, such as NSC Condoleeza Rice, and the new
commander of the U.S. prisons in Iraq....
Bush's decision to address the Iraqis directly was interpreted as an
attempt to appease them, after they were deeply disturbed by photos of Iraqi
prisoners abused in the prison of Abu Ghraib...which shocked the entire
Center-right O Globo stated (5/6): "Even the Bush administration, which
usually doesn’t give explanations even to the Congress, has felt the extension
and deepness of the damage caused to the image of Democracy by the abusive
behavior of the American soldiers who tortured and killed Iraqi prisoners. The President himself used TV Arab networks
to tell Iraqis and Arabs in general he and the Americans, including the
military, reject this type of behavior with indignation. What hasn't yet been shown is that Democracy
works in an exemplary way in the U.S., by punishing the guilty and preventing
new abuses from occuring.”