International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 12, 2004

May 12, 2004





** Global media are unmoved by Rumsfeld's apology; many clamor for his resignation.

** Some say Bush has a "dilemma;" letting Rumsfeld go would equate to admitting mistakes.

** Damage done to the U.S. may be "irretrievable;" it's a "tragedy" for Bush's moral leadership.

** Muslim, developing world outlets admire U.S.' democracy for enabling such "public scrutiny."




Rumsfeld would do world a 'favor' if he resigned--  Media in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand called for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation, judging it the "only option" and the "best thing" for Bush's and the country's reputation.  Though he's not "personally responsible" for the heinous acts, critics found him "guilty of a lack of urgency in response" and dubbed him the "architect of a mismanaged occupation."  Even stalwart conservative war supporters conceded "Rumsfeld will have to go."  The Australian stressed "he must take responsibility for making Bush look foolish and incompetent by keeping the scale of the abuses from him." And though it won't "mend the damage," as Canada's National Post put it, removing "the politician most responsible" would "at least send the signal that the U.S has learned from its mistakes."


Though he has 'reason' to ask him to step down, Bush still needs Rumsfeld--  Some writers criticized the White House's defense of Rumsfeld as a "failure of courage," but others reasoned that since the Secretary "symbolizes the war," losing him would be a "bitter defeat for Bush."  Italy's leftist La Repubblica found the president's "vote of confidence" not surprising, explaining that for Bush "to dismiss the person" most responsible for planning and handling the Iraq project "would mean recanting a year of preparations, a year of deaths."  Bush was "facing a dilemma," observed Argentina's leading Clarin; he has cause to ask for Rumsfeld's resignation, but if he did, he'd be admitting "mistakes" in Iraq and "be left without a scapegoat."


U.S. has lost the moral high ground, damage is 'immense, especially in the Arab world'--  Editorials reiterated that the U.S.' credibility as the protector of freedom and democracy is "undermined deeply."  The U.S. has "broken every rule in the book," declared Malaysia's government influenced Star, and by mistreating Iraqis the moral basis for the invasion of Iraq "has crumbled."  The photos were a "cruel reminder" of a democracy that has "lost its soul." They also rekindled accusations against Guantanamo, which one Spanish paper called "Rumsfeld's initiative to build a military prison system protected against legal and international scrutiny."  Vietnamese papers complained that while the U.S. "lectures" about human rights, the "recent maltreatments of Iraqi POWs have uncovered Washington's true and shameful values."


U.S.' 'internal democracy has finally begun to function'--  In contrast to Western media skepticism, some writers in Muslim outlets and in developing countries welcomed the "public scrutiny and grilling" of the Secretary as a sign that the "greatness of America" lies not only in its military might but also in its "robust democratic institutions.  Capturing the mixed sentiment, Jordan's center-left Al Dustour declared: "It true the U.S. is an aggressive country that wants to control the world...but no one can deny that there is a unique democratic process in the U.S."


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.  The analysis is based on 114 editorials from 48 countries, May 7-12.




BRITAIN:  "Nothing Less Than Full Inquiries Will Do"


The independent Financial Times took this view (5/11):  "The report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) into the treatment of detainees by U.S. and UK forces in Iraq makes grim reading....  The response in Washington has been to accelerate legal action against the individuals identified as responsible for the worst outrages.  Yet that will not be enough....  [Donald Rumsfeld's] own panel to investigate the allegations and advise on what needs to be done will do little to reassure critics--three of the four members also sit on the Defense Advisory Board, his advisory panel.  George W. Bush's response has hardly been better.  The president was slow to apologize last week, at first continuing his re-election campaign.  He was shown to have been in ignorance of these most damaging allegations, presiding over an administration in a tailspin over the affair.  He did little to seize back the initiative after his summit with Mr. Rumsfeld at the Pentagon yesterday....  The damage done by these incidents is enormous, and may be irretrievable in the context of the U.S.-led coalition's role in Iraq.  Nonetheless, both countries need to rebuild trust and confidence by showing much greater candor about what they know about such abuses and publishing evidence that will sooner or later emerge through damaging leaks.  Both also need properly independent inquiries into these events, as with similar incidents in the past, to learn the lessons that some are unwilling yet to confront."


"Brutality: The Home Truths"


Gary Younge commented in the left-of-center Guardian (5/11):  "In an interview with an online magazine,, last January, Lane McCotter described Abu Ghraib, the Iraqi prison at the centre of the torture scandal, as 'the only place we agreed as a team was truly closest to an American prison'. Rarely has a truer word been spoken.  And rarely has there been a more appropriate person than McCotter to utter them.  He was head of Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 when Michael Valent, a prisoner diagnosed with schizophrenia died after he was strapped to a restraining chair for 16 hours....  McCotter resigned as the scandal gathered pace, went into the lucrative world of private prison management and last year directed the reopening of Abu Ghraib.... But McCotter's professional journey alone tells us that the trouble with Abu Ghraib was that it was all too consistent with America's models of incarceration. The story of overcrowded prisons, administered by private, unaccountable contractors is the story of the American penal system.  Over the past 25 years the number of inmates has quadrupled and more than 40 states have been put under some form of court order for the mistreatment of prisoners."


"Even If Our Troops No Longer Torturing Iraqis, Britain's Reputation Remains Stained"


An editorial in the center-left Independent stated (5/11):  "Geoff Hoon's Commons statement on accusations that Iraqi prisoners had been abused by British soldiers was a classic of the genre.  We had hoped for answers to the most obvious of political questions: what did the Secretary know and when?  But the answers, such as he gave, implied a quite different question: who was responsible?  And the answer to this question was the one we have heard all too often from this and other government department heads: 'Not me, guv.'...  If there was an answer, it seemed to be that the abuses were committed and addressed as an 'operational' level, far away in Iraq, and had simply not risen to the political surface back home before they were all over and done with.   In this respect, Mr. Hoon's account bore a striking resemblance to that of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.  He told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that neither the ICRC report, nor the report commissioned by the Pentagon itself, had reached his office before the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison reached US television."


"Abuse And Action"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (5/10):  "It is not unusual for improper treatment to occur in times of conflict.  What matters is that it is identified swiftly and dealt with appropriately....  Mr. Rumsfeld's performance on Capitol Hill has not ended calls for his resignation, but did ease the pressure.  He helped his own cause with an explicit apology, by outlining what the U.S. military had done after the offending photographs came to light, and was wise to warn Congress and the American people that there were more damaging images which would almost certainly emerge.  [Defense Secretary] Hoon has to be at least as open as his American counterpart.  If the balance of probability is that some British troops have broken the Geneva Convention, and that photographs exist which capture that misbehavior, then Mr. Hoon would be wise to make that admission."


"For The Good Of His Country Mr. Rumsfeld Has To Go"


Columnist Bruce Anderson opined in the center-left Independent (5/10):  "Mr. Rumsfeld cannot be held personally responsible for the initial offenses; that would be absurd.  But he was guilty of a lack of urgency in response.  From the first moment, he should have realized that he was dealing with a public relations catastrophe and a moral crisis--not to mention an electoral embarrassment.  He should have instantly dispatched a tough commander to impose a grip on the prison, sack or arrest the malefactors, and have a report on the Defense Secretary's desk within a week....  At a crucial moment, it is impossible to allow such an important post to be held by a damaged figure, struggling for political survival.  This might not be the career ending which Donald Rumsfeld would have chosen.  But it may still be the nearest that he could come to a dignified departure."


 "Abuse, Apologies, And America’s Struggle To Recover Its Lost Authority" 


The center-left Independent noted (5/8):  "This is the only America many thousands of imprisoned and besieged  Iraqis know.  What was supposed to be liberation became occupation; it is now humiliation and oppression.  For Washington, and the Western world it is widely perceived to exemplify, the damage will take decades, perhaps generations to repair.…Three immediate changes are imperative.  The defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, as architect of a mismanaged occupation and head of the department responsible for the military prisons, must resign.  Abu Ghraib must be closed; detainees must be properly screened and placed under international supervision.  Finally, the U.S. must subject its whole detention policy to a rigorous review.…The earliest chance for the US to start recovering at least some of its lost authority may well be if the disorder and misconduct in Iraq cost George Bush the election."


"Rumsfeld In The Dock: The Defence Secretary Faces Down Anger In Congress"


The center-right Times judged (5/8):   “Abu Ghraib prison, a symbol of abuse under Saddam and now under the Americans, should be razed.  There should be intensive, consistent and focused diplomacy in the Arab world.  And Mr. Bush must get a grip on the wrangling within his administration which preceded the Iraq war and vitiated its aftermath.  Those who misunderstood the nature of  the mission to Iraq have compromised its success.  America cannot afford to be let down in this way.”


"Resign Rumsfeld"


An editorial in the independent weekly Economist  asserted (5/8):  "Such statements are not enough, especially in the American case.  The scandal is widening, with more allegations coming to light....  Responsibility for what has occurred needs to be taken -- and to be seen to be taken -- at the highest level too.  It is plain what that means.  The secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, should resign.  And if he won't resign, Mr. Bush should fire him....  Although Mr. Rumsfeld is rightly credited with a successful steering of the conventional war a little over a year ago, he and his team have also been responsible for many of the blunders since then: appalling post-war planning, inadequate troop numbers, excessive deBaathification, and more....  The political course now set....  All efforts must be made to prevent that course from being disrupted or blocked by violence, by sectarian divisions or by Iraqi mistrust of the whole process....  Better still if he and Mr. Rumsfeld were now to demonstrate one of the true American values: that senior people take responsibility."



FRANCE:  "Iraq:  An Unbelievable Waste"


Pascal Bruckner took this view in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/11):  “In Iraq, America is biting the dust and throwing to the winds a moral credit already largely diminished.  Whatever it does, the U.S. has already lost the image battle.  Its leaders have achieved the unbelievable exploit of making the whole world, including its friends, allies and close neighbors, hate America....  Those who supported the intervention in Iraq have no choice but to acknowledge failure....  An incredible opportunity for the region has been wasted. The defeat goes well beyond anything America’s opponents could have dreamed of....  It is not the Republican administration’s warmongering that is most at fault, but its cavalier attitude, a mix between arrogance and negligence.  Washington did not give itself the means to succeed, as if this war was a mere formality planned mostly for reasons of personal glory and electoral propaganda....  In the name of fighting terrorism, Bush’s America has put itself above the common laws of humanity....  The danger of this situation is that in the process of saving democracy, democracy has been destroyed....  With the prisoner abuse, the perpetrators have brought America down to the level of the world’s worst dictatorships....  We can draw three lessons from these incidents:  the first is that the time has come for Europe to act, now that America has lost its moral dominance....  The second is that we must never let America act alone....  More than ever, Iraq proves that a transatlantic partnership is needed....  Europe and the U.S. need each other to control, advise and encourage one another....  The third lesson is that Iraq has now become everyone’s business....  One thing is certain:  in the battle against terrorism, there is no room for incompetence.  And so the first thing that needs to be done is to remove the present resident from the White House.”


"A Diplomatic Pearl Harbor"


Thomas de Rochechouart in popular right-of-center France Soir (5/11): “America’s image was shot to pieces with a few snapshots....  In just a few days these photographs have annihilated America’s propaganda efforts picturing an army which came to Iraq to bring democracy and free its people.”


"Dirty War, Damned War…"


Francois Ernewein wrote in Catholic La Croix (5/10):  “Soldiers from democratic countries lapsed into the horror that they were supposed to combat.  Disregard for Human Rights was the only thing left to justify the war in Iraq after proof of the nonexistence of Weapons of Mass Destruction....  This war, the legitimacy of which was already doubtful in the beginning, has now become frankly disgusting...and George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld or even Colin Powell will have a difficult time, although they are trying, in making reservists such as Lynndie England carry the entire responsibility of the brutalities inflicted on the prisoners.”




Left-of-center Liberation’s Antoine de Gaudemar held (5/10): “The revelations on prisoner abuse in Iraq mark the final chapter on the moral discredit of George Bush’s Iraqi adventure...which has led to a sort of group repentance that should logically have culminated in Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation.… That said, we are still waiting for France to officially recognize acts of torture by its military on prisoners during the Algerian war. Jacques Chirac was quick to denounce the situation in Iraq, but it was not until 2001, some forty years after the fact, that a French general was tried not for torture but for justifying acts of torture in his memoirs.”


"Is The Bell Tolling For Bush?"


Gilles Delafon concluded in Le Journal du Dimanche (5/9):  “Logically the photographs of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners...should toll the bell for the Bush administration’s Iraqi adventure....  These photographs are cruel reminders of a democracy that has lost its soul by engaging in an illegal war....  The Secretary of Defense has been rescued by the White House but remains 'on parole'...and with the fall of this icon the entire war on terrorism is called into question.”


"Rumsfeld Under Pressure"


Pascal Riche noted in left-of-center Liberation (5/7): “The fact that President Bush made publicly known his disagreement with Rumsfeld has triggered a debate on the Defense Secretary’s fate.  It is indeed very rare for the President to publicly acknowledge his disagreement with one of his cabinet members....  Resistance to Rumsfeld’s departure will be strong: he symbolizes the war in Iraq and losing him would mean a bitter defeat for President Bush.”


GERMANY:  "The Enemy Inside"


Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg noted (5/11):  "America will have to pay dearly for this scandal with one resource which has become scarce for the United States anyway:  sympathy....  In Europe above all, the number of people who turn away from the United States, will considerably increase....  The fact that British forces obviously took part in the systematic abuse of prisoners does not alleviate this damage....  Americans watched the pictures of torture with the same dismay as Germans, Japanese or Australians.  But this dismay was reassured first of all by the certainty that these crimes were 'un-American,' as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld put it.  But this certainty is tested day by day.  God's own country is looking into a mirror and sees pictures that represented dictatorial regimes before."


"High-Level Conspiracy"


Left-of-center Hamburger Morgenpost editorialized (5/11):  "Can you remember a U.S. president who has so brutally lied like George W. Bush?  First he lied about the reasons to go to war against Saddam and now he lied when he said that only a tiny number of soldiers and police officers committed crimes and tortured detainees.  We know that Secretary Rumsfeld is responsible for it.  We also know that prisoners in the illegal camp of Guantánamo on Cuba and in Iraq confessed because they were tortured.  Being cronies, Rumsfeld and Bush have certainly talked about it.  The results of this high-level conspiracy are catastrophic:  for some time we have been seeing the U.S. as the leading Western nation that fights for civic decency, but this has become a bad joke, not only in Arab countries.  We will all suffer the consequences."


"President Has Problems Explaining Events"


Torsten Riecke had this to say in a front-page editorial in business Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf  (5/11):  "If President Bush's closest aide Rice knew early this year about the incidents, there are only two conclusions:  She either totally misinterpreted the situation and she informed her boss too late or Bush knows more than he is willing to admit….  It is not that easy for the military and political U.S. leadership to absolve itself.  Those who could have wanted the truth could read in the Taguba report at the end of February.  The report also gives first indications of the deliberate abuse of prisoners….  The scandal cannot be resolved with a quick punishment of the torturers.  Who gave the order to systemically violate human rights?  Who knew about it and tolerate these practices? These questions can no longer be kept at the door of the Oval Office.  The president must answer them."


"Prime Minister Without Principles"


Christoph Schwennicke opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/11):  "British  like U.S. soldiers acted in a way which rules out that they can lead Iraq to a new future.  British and U.S. soldiers have been stigmatized. In Iraq and the entire Middle East, they have become a problem....  There is no indication of Great Britain having had a strategic concept...that could have been used to avoid the disaster that has now been created.  Tony Blair is now considered someone, who, driven by archaic, religious reasons, marched into a false war without any preparations for the case that  the so-called good did not automatically assert its position against the evil....  There is no indication whatsoever that Blair would have used his allegedly privileged position with George W. Bush to prompt the United States to accept an expanded political approach.  Even his alleged support for a stronger UN role [in Iraq] has remained no more than [that]....  It would be high time for Blair and the British government to give evidence of this highly esteemed special relationship."


"No Apology"


Washington correspondent Siegfried Buschschlueter commented on national radio station Deutschlandfunk of Cologne (5/8):  "What we did not see was an apology, the personal consequence, Rumsfeld's admitting guilt.  It cannot be enough to downgrade the behavior of military police as single cases.  A system is behind it.  It is based on fundamental decisions and both the Pentagon chief and the president are fully responsible for this system and the decisions....  If Rumsfeld, during the rest of his term, did everything to reform the system that has prepared the ground for arbitrariness and violence, humiliation and cruelty, he would do his Department a great service.  He could then wait with his resignation until November 2.  Then the U.S. voters could decide whether a change in the Pentagon would be enough to restore the reputation of their nation in the world."


"Baghdad is Still Not Lost"


Jacques Schuster opined in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (5/10):  "If the Americans stick to a simple 'sorry,' the situation will become difficult for the United States....  If Washington wants to shape Iraq in its sense, if it wants to avoid an escalation, it must send signals, symbolic but also material ones....  The demonstrative razing of the Abu Ghraib prison would now be appropriate.  It would reveal to Iraqis and Arabs that torture is no means of U.S. politics.  In addition, this could also require Donald Rumsfeld's resignation.  Also, it must be made clear to the Iraqis that the presence of U.S. forces is not a sign of occupation but serves their own security.  U.S. forces should withdraw from the cities and be deployed as smaller units in distant desert bases....  At the same time, the civil administration should recruit parts of the old, less burdened Saddam army.  In the future, law and order must again be a national task: by Iraqis for Iraqis."




Knut Pries judged in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/10):  "The vagaries of life did not cause private Lynndie England and all the others, who left humanity in Abu Ghraib, to end up [in Iraq], but it was a planned, even though mad policy.  Charges of 'conspiracy to torture' that have now been raised are a continuation of this madness with legal means.  If someone has conspired, then it were the people who sent Lynndie England to this reservoir of manure to give the Iraqis a piece of their mind.  It was President Bush and his government....  This disgrace hits the entire government, and since it did not start this campaign against the resistance of the people, it also hits the United States as a whole.  And it hits all those people who argue that the good defends against the evil in Iraq, even though with bad means."


"Rumsfeld's Failure"


Stefan Kornelius opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/7):  "After one week, the Abu Ghraib torture scandal has finally reached the site where it belongs to: the center of U.S. policy.  At issue is not the correct number of abuses, not the form of humiliation, at issue is not who knew what when.  At issue is the political responsibility and thus Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation.  We can certainly not blame Rumsfeld for the fact that soldiers systematically or accidentally tortured and humiliated prisoners, but the secretary is responsible for the treatment of the scandal after it reached the secretary's desk.  He failed several times: he did not care about the details...and he reacted politically wrong....  Then he hid and did not lead the team of investigators, finally he did not apologize with any word.  The political damage for the United States is so immense that even Rumsfeld's resignation would not create a balance.  But a political sacrifice would be a very credible signal that the U.S. government is serious about its promises and maintains the values that it tries to convey in Iraq.  For Rumsfeld a resignation would be a sign of humility which we have thus far not seen from him."


ITALY:  "Between Trust And Resignation"


Prominent foreign affairs commentator Vittorio Zucconi noted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/11):  “The Pentagon of Bush and Rumsfeld has become an upside-down version of Alice In Wonderland....  Bush seems less and less in control and increasingly a hostage of the tragic Iraqi ‘fantasyland.’  His vote of confidence [in Rumsfeld] should not be too surprising....  For Bush to dismiss the person who more than anyone else planned and handled the Iraq project would mean recanting a year of preparations, a year of deaths.  And above all it would mean to disavow that ill-fated decision to apply the ‘preventive war’ doctrine.  The defense of the ‘face’ that was behind the war was not something Bush owed Rumsfeld, but to himself.”


"A New Pact Of The Democracies"


Angelo Panebianco opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/11):  “After toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime, Rumsfeld and his collaborators have amassed errors....  To ask for his [Rumsfeld’s] head, despite Bush’s defense, is a right and duty of America’s allies in Iraq.  But the fact remains that America’s defeat would be a catastrophe for all of us.  It would mean a victory for fundamentalist terrorism in the Middle East for which we would all end up paying.  This is why Zapatero-style decisions are irresponsible and wrong....  Perhaps the time has come for the present the Americans with a redefinition of the pact that historically ties the two sides of the Atlantic....  Rumsfeld’s defeat is the defeat of the idea that the superpower does not need anyone, except for an occasional ally.  It’s legitimate to ask America to be more humble.”


"Let’s Not Stop With Rumsfeld"


Bernardo Valli contended in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (5/10):  “The irreparable fact remains that the obscene photos that have been diffused worldwide have branded the Iraqi operation.  And it will be difficult for Bush’s America to free itself from it....  They are devastating not only because they undeservingly give greater credit to the enemies of America and its allies, but also because they erase a large part of that respect, along with the hatred, that America evoked with its power.  This power, at least momentarily, has been stripped of the principles it prided itself with....  Certainly, no Arab regime has gone without practicing torture.  Bush’s America, that self-proclaimed itself the empire of good, has stooped down to their level.”


"End Of The Line For Rummy The Fighter"


Gianni Riotta commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/8):  “So long to the presumption of governing militarily an occupied nation, thanks to the trusted adviser Chalabi, and so long to CPA Paul Bremer’s blue suit with combat boots.  So long to the ironic remarks on the UN, France and old Europe.  The pacifists are toasting, the Democrats are toasting, Powell and the State Department diplomats are toasting, the Pentagon generals are toasting since they will no longer have to worry about Rumsfeld’s budget cuts, and Colonel Chamberlain is toasting....  With or without a resignation, Donald Rumsfeld’s extraordinary over.  The fighter has been defeated by an historical development that will not spare him....  The woman soldier who held the poor Iraqi prisoner with a leash ended up strangling the lord of the hawks.  At the Pentagon the photo of him remains, but Rumsfeld yesterday for the first time wore his retirement suit.”


RUSSIA: "Rumsfeld Called To Task"


Boris Volkhonskiy said in business-oriented Kommersant (5/8): "Observers note that the Donald Rumsfeld row is increasingly becoming not so much a foreign policy factor as a domestic policy one....   There is a struggle going on inside the Administration over influence on the President.  This time the contenders are the Pentagon on the one side and the State Department and special services on the other."


AUSTRIA: "Rumsfeld’s Star Is Falling"  


Foreign affairs editor Martin Stricker stated in independent provincial Salzburger Nachrichten (5/8): “The American public is looking to place the blame in the scandal surrounding the treatment of prisoners in Iraq.... The ‘New York Times’ has called on Rumsfeld to step down. America can easily do without him, but the President cannot. Getting rid of the Defense Secretary would be admitting failure.”


"Pressure Is Mounting"


Senior columnist Ernst Trost commented in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (5/7):  “What is the point of all this talk about liberating the Iraqis, if the liberators use methods that are similar to those of Saddam’s hangmen?  That is the question that many people from Cairo to Baghdad asked themselves.  By now, many Americans are probably asking the same.  In an election year, this is going to hit Bush a lot harder than the reactions of an outraged world public.  In the U.S., criticism of the cover-up strategy practiced by the Pentagon with regards to first internal reports of abusive behavior on the part of soldiers is mounting.  After all, these were not random incidents.  Specialists of the U.S. military intelligence service were flown in especially to teach soldiers how to get information out of prisoners.  Similar ‘techniques’ had already been tried and tested in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo.  That is also why Defense Secretary Rumsfeld did not inform the president.  By now, the eloquent head of the Pentagon is laughing on the other side of his face--and the voices calling for him to step down are getting louder.”



BELGIUM:  "Worse Than a Crime"


Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert claimed in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (5/11):  "George W. Bush had the opportunity to turn those horrible photos into a positive message - to demonstrate that freedom remains the best remedy against unpunished crimes.  However, that implies that he should have fired his Defense Secretary.  While Donald Rumsfeld (himself) is not responsible for the aberrations in the Abu Ghraib prison, he clearly reacted too slowly and too weakly to the reports.  His apologies in the Congress don't change a thing to that.  To say that he had not seen the photos is ridiculous.  That man is not illiterate.   If he continues to cling to Rumsfeld, Bush will identify himself and his nation with something that grimly resembles a regime that tolerates malpractices.  If he does that because the thinks he cannot do without Rumsfeld in the war in Iraq, he will make not only a moral but also a practical mistake.  In Iraq the issue is no longer a military victory but winning the hearts and minds.  And that is not Rumsfeld strongest side - to say it euphemistically.  A paraphrase of Talleyrand's famous words is applicable to the preservation of the Defense Secretary: it is worse than a crime; it is a mistake."


"The Worst Is Still to Come"


U.S. affairs writer Evita Neefs wrote in Christian-Democrat De Standaard (5/10):  "This is not about a few rotten apples, as Donald Rumsfeld wanted to make Congress believe last Friday.  The abuse in the Iraqi prisoners is the result of decisions that were made at the highest level.  The credibility and the moral prestige of the United States are at stake....  The evil has happened and the damage is immense, especially in the Arab world.  America's credibility as the protector of freedom and democracy is undermined deeply--especially in that region which, in Bush's view, was going to profit from the domino effect that the democratization in Iraq would cause.  A country that presents itself to the rest of the world as the model state cannot place itself above the law--as it did in Guantanamo and in the Abu Ghraib prison.  That is the essence of the photo scandal, and because the questions reach so much farther than the misdeeds of a few rotten apples the scandal will continue to resonate."


"Can Rumsfeld Survive This?"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (5/8): "It is inevitable that this (abuse) scandal will have political consequences.  The first question is: can Rumsfeld survive this?  As the architect of the war he was untouchable and the strongman in the Bush administration.  Today, he is under heavy fire.  If he is forced to go, he owes it to himself.  He knew about the abuse for months.  Furthermore, he rewrote the rules for the treatment of prisoners.  When military people go too far, (Rumsfeld) is indirectly co-responsible.  Today, he stands alone.  His arrogant behavior has yielded him many enemies who are eager to present him the bill.  Will Bush survive this?  He is in an election campaign and polls show that his popularity is dwindling rapidly.  Leaving Rumsfeld in his position may cost (Bush) his office.  However, dismissing Rumsfeld is admitting that the war has turned into a mess.  It was precisely this war that had to guarantee his re-election.  Bush apologized twice for this soldiers' behavior in Iraq.  That is not enough.  Iraq has become a mess that leaves no one unharmed.  It is up to Bush to prevent even worse things from happening.  There is only one way: the chief responsible must be fired.  Rumsfeld must go.  In that case, the Americans will be able to restore their image.  It will cost a lot of sweat."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Rumsfeld's Free Ride Ends"


Pavel Masa commented in the center-right Lidove Noviny (5/10):  "Immediate reactions of U.S. representatives to the Abu Ghraib scandal were predictable--we are sorry and will investigate further.… The investigation promised by President Bush will hardly reveal the substance of problems in Iraq to the public.  This will be prevented by the interconnection of the chain of mistakes ranging from prominent persons in the White House through representatives of the occupation administration to commanders of the prison administration.…For similar reasons, the resignation of Rumsfeld, which the media is demanding, is unthinkable.…[Nevertheless], the probability is high that the more voters will be tolerant of Bush in the presidential elections this year the less they will be tolerant of Congressmen from his party [to ensure the American system will work].  However, Rumsfeld's free-ride in the realm of hi-tech ruling the world will end in any case.  If only because Bush will not want his critics to label him a dictator.


"Vietnam Warning"


Pavel Verner opined in the center-left daily Pravo (5/10): "The affair of mistreated prisoners might perhaps have started the process of changing public opinion in the U.S., which may end the occupation of Iraq in entirely non-military ways.  But then what?  After the American debacle in Vietnam the Communists took over.  After withdrawal of Americans from Iraq, a civil war would probably break out there.  And what regime would then be imposed is the question, which is as alarming as the current situation in the country."


GREECE:  "Images Of Humiliation Will Turn Iraq Into New Vietnam"


Elite, staunchly pro-opposition To Vima held (5/11):  "Tony Blair, following President Bush, apologized to Iraqis and Arabs for the torture and humiliation of Iraqi detainees.  If other leaders of the coalition of the willing believe that an apology 'closes the case,' this ritual of apology will become total pretense, let alone 'just war.'  Additionally, if it is proven that torture was indeed a consciously chosen interrogation practice, things become worse.  The very pretense that this war had some ethical base is totally lost.  The images of torture and humiliation of Iraqi detainees will turn this case into a new Vietnam."


"Truth Is A Victim"


Influential leftist pro-opposition Eleftherotypia stated (5/10):  "Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is accused not only of torture, but also of the policy in Iraq that leads to 'strategic defeat,' as some American generals put it.  Many Congressmen said that Secretary Rumsfeld did not answer questions as to who is responsible for the torture of Iraqi prisoners.  The Washington Post gave answers to such questions disclosing that the U.S. and British governments had approved 20 new torture techniques in 2003.  So far, George Bush has apologized.  On May 19, a corporal and a woman of the Special Forces will be tried in Baghdad.  This is how truth is tortured and justice is ridiculed."


THE NETHERLANDS: "Freedom is Humiliation"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant  carried a commentary by its deputy chief editor Arie Elshout (5/10): “It is unforgivable that Rumsfeld did not instruct his people in a better way.  His troops should have known that they were not only on a military mission but were also setting an example.  The fact that this has not been  done affects the legitimacy of the Iraq expedition.  What now?  End the experiment Iraq? It is an option but there will be a price to be paid.   Every time you have a loser, you also have a victor.  And in Iraq the victors could be people who do not have good intentions with western interests.  President Bush saw reforming Iraq as a way to tackle the roots of anti-western violence in the Middle East in order to secure America’s safety.  Therefore, if he were to end the mission that would be a setback.  But if he does end the mission, Bush could turn to containment….   Nevertheless, taking all aspects into consideration, the Americans should persevere.  But in a variation on their own rule, that the mission determines the coalition, we would like to say: the mission determines the leadership.  It is too important to leave it to Rumsfeld.  He needs to go.  And so should Bush in November if he does not manage to get things in order before that.”


“Rumsfeld Under Fire”


Left-of-center Trouw had this editorial stating (5/8): “Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is rightly taking the heat for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners because the Secretary knew about the photos and did not act on it, thereby politically hurting President Bush.... The damage done to the American image in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world might be even bigger. In the last year Rumsfeld has not shown that respect and tactful behavior on the side of the U.S. troops in Iraq are his personal priority…. In the next few months, the U.S. will try to transfer some authority to Iraqi representatives. The larger the role for the UN, the greater the possibility that more countries will contribute troops to the stabilization of Iraq.  The negotiation process is a journey through a minefield.  The excesses committed under Rumsfelds responsibility make this journey even more difficult.  His departure would not guarantee that the process in Iraq will be successful but at least it will give the Iraqis and others the hope that the norms and values which America says it stands for, are more than just words.”


NORWAY: "Bush Bears Full Responsibility"


In the social democratic Dagsavisen, Foreign News Editor Erik Sagflaat commented (5/11): "One man has the full responsibility for the torture scandal in Iraq. That is President George W. Bush. He approved the system with prison camps where normal laws don't apply, and where 'pressure' could be used to make prisoners talk....  It is sad to witness how a handful of subordinate soldiers are now being picked out as scapegoats. They are to be punished for the entire world to see, so that those who really carry the responsibility walk free.... And high above it all, the Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, who must have accepted this treatment of prisoners....  Bush is losing control in Iraq... 'Because of us Saddam Husseins's torture chambers have been closed' has been among Bush's favorite slogans.... No, they are not closed. They have only gotten new torturers.... Bush, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz have only well documented contempt for international laws and agreements like the Geneva Convention.... This also reflects the confidence the prison guards must have felt when abuses were photographed and pictures openly distributed as war souvenirs. No doubt the soldiers felt they were being backed by Bush with his knowledge that in the war against terror 'you do what is necessary'."


"Pest And Cholera"


In the independent VG,  Foreign News Editor Svein A. Rohne commented (5/11): "It all comes apart for President George W. Bush. One crisis follows another in Iraq, where gross abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans angers people worldwide. More and probably a lot worse are to be expected, if we choose to believe U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.... The President appears to be in a sorry situation, to put it mildly. Today it appears as if he no longer even has the choice between pest and cholera; he will have both, and that in the middle of an election campaign."


"Serious Failure By Rumsfeld"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten  commented  (5/10): "Besides whatever damage this has caused the reputation of the U.S. - much of this irreparable - we have here an administrational incapability so gross that it brands the dynamic Pentagon as very ineffective. The Secretary of Defense said that he focused on preventing the pictures from being published at an unfortunate moment. There is no fortunate moment to publish such for the simple reason that the content is unfavorable. So is the result of the behavior it documents.  After this - and with more scandalous material to be expected, like Rumsfeld signaled - it is almost impossible to envision how he once again may be effective as Secretary of Defense."


ROMANIA:  "Rumsfeld Testimony"


Foreign policy analyst V.R. opined in the independent daily Ziua (5/10):  “The American Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, recently played his best card, maybe of his entire career, while testifying to Congress about the behavior of American soldiers accused of torturing Iraqi prisoners.  Rumsfeld’s attitude, often considered  ‘abrasive’,  has for many years, created many political enemies.  Those enemies hurried now to state that his best decision should be to submit his resignation.  The American president hastened to [Rumsfeld’s] assistance declaring that he is an important member of his administration and that he will continue to function as such.  Triggered mainly by the scandal of abuses committed by Americans in Iraqi prisons, the demands for Rumsfeld’s resignation represent the negative image that the Defense Secretary has now in the United States.“


POLAND: "Pentagon’s Culture"


Joanna Przyjemska observed in right-of-center Zycie (5/11): “The trial of the first marine accused [of abuse of Iraqi prisoners] is to be open, but it would also be interesting to learn who modified the interrogation rules. It is remarkable that the shocking pictures have not resulted in anyone’s dismissal so far.... These are the last months for Bush in his tenure - instead of successes, he faces more and more trouble. He may pay for them with the head of his secretary of defense and, moreover, with his second tenure.”


PORTUGAL: Lacerating Icon”


Influential moderate-left daily Público's deputy editor-in-chief Nuno Pacheco editorialized (5/9):  "The photo taken in Iraq [of a hooded man standing on a bucket attached to wires], among others, could turn into a lacerating icon for the same American which has come to lose on the moral front what it aspired to win on the combat front. “Here it is not about fascism, but about a logic that, under the cover of democracy and of a notion of impunity (the USA refused to submit its soldiers before a judge of an for an international court on human rights), puts in doubt the ethical affirmation of that same democracy…. The promises attributed to the makers of t his war: to bring freedom, human rights and democracy to the Arab world.  After this infamous episode, how can American sustain that these are their objectives in this operation?… There are seom who think … that Donald Rumsfeld should resign.  But he remains immovable.”


"Deepest Apologies?"


Centrist A Capital editorialized (5/8): “There have already been those who have tried to whitewash the case of the treatment of the prisoners, alleging that, though condemnable, it can’t be compared to what Saddam Hussein was doing to his people.  They are doing this with the same carelessness with which they defended a military intervention based on reasons known to be political and economic.  Donald Rumsfeld expressed his ‘sincere apologies’, but will it be possible to believe in what he says, and above all, will the Iraqi people be disposed to pardon him?”


"The Horror Of Abu Ghraib"


Former top television executive Emídio Rangel, vented in his regular column in high-circulation center-right tabloid Correio da Manhã (5/8): “The idea that everyone had of the American army was of a disciplined, civilized corps imbued with democratic and humanistic values.  What the photographs lead us to understand is an image of a group of evildoers without any respect for human rights, acting as undisciplined beasts…. The aggravating circumstance is that the release of these images can only have provoked in the whole Arab world the widest repulsion obviously increasing the ‘army’ of the terrorists.  There is not even at present one Arab capable of voting for the North American position and it is clear that now only sentiments of vengeance prevail....  The failure of courage to dismiss Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense responsible for the atrocities committed, is the finishing stroke in the hopes for a second term as President of the USA.”


SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO:  "In The Name Of American People"


Liberal Danas' U.S. correspondent observed (5/10):  "It seems there will be more photos and video tapes that will provide evidences of rapes, tortures and deaths....  A person from Belgrade cannot resist making comparisons.  One cannot forget all the  wars, tortures, rapes and killing in prisons and camps in the Balkans in the  last 10 years. However, one fact is completely different.  Here in the U.S. no one, at least for now,  has not tried  to justify, explain or find excuses such as:  'the other side did it also', 'it was just defense from terrorists and enemies of our people and the state.'...  For sure, no one nation is genetically genocidal, monstrous and unfair but individuals could be like that, particularly when protected by powerful ones. Currently, here [in the U.S.] they are trying to attach crimes to the names of individual perpetrators. If they fail in this, Anti-americanism will be even stronger and isolation is not good."


SPAIN:  "Questioned Moral Authority"


Centrist La Vanguardia commented (5/11):  "The war that had to win the Iraqis' confidence has managed to unite them in order to throw out the occupiers....  The harm is done and may be irreparable if President Bush does not make a radical change in the direction of this war.  Donald Rumsfeld would do a favor to the world if he resigned for being the one responsible for these abuses, which cannot be accepted by a democratic country.  As more evidence of the abuses comes out, it will be seen that this war, from which law has been absent, was morally untenable."


"Leaving The Horror" 


Left-of-center El País judged wrote (5/11): "If there were any doubt, the horrors of the torture confirm that leaving Iraq was the best moral option and the most sensible from the Spanish military point of view....  Bush has not removed Rumsfeld from his post, and Rumsfeld has not resigned.  On the contray, the President went to the Pentagon to reaffirm his support for the Secretary of Defense.  These horrors have taken away all moral authority from the US and the other occuping force, Great Britain."


"Zero Credibility"


Left-of-center El País  wrote (5/8): "At this stage Donald Rumsfeld lacks credibility for granting his request for forgiveness to the U.S. Congress or the announcement that an independent commission will get to the end of the abuses inflicted on Iraqi prisoners by the forces in his command...  Bush has preferred to minimize the facts and attribute them to a few rotten apples.  But what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan began in fact in Guantanamo two years ago, when Washington started, on Rumsfeld's initiative, to build a military prison system protected against legal and international scrutiny.  The harm caused now to the superpower's credibility is proportional to the proclaimed doctrine that its foreign actions are based by definition on the principles of ethics and common good.  On such a false argument is based, at the end, the U.S. refusal to submit to international criminal courts.  If Rumsfeld assumes what has happened in the Iraqi prisons... his only option... is to resign.  Otherwise, it is Bush the one who should dismiss the star Minister of Defense...  He should do it even if the tenant of the White House understands that, in handing in the head of his not-presentable collaborator, he is preparing, and not saving, his own head before the event in November."


"Rumsfeld Should Resign"


Independent El Mundo averred wrote (5/8): "U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deserves his reputation for being a tough guy.  Arrogant, cold and calculating, he is the prime exponent of the neocons that have devised, promoted and managed the monumental strategic mistake that has been the War in Iraq.  And, however, yesterday, in his appearance before the commission investigating the terrible abuses perpetrated in prisons in Iraq, the hawk among the hawks seemed more a dove that is fatally injured....  And nevertheless... he made clear that he has no immediate intention to throw in the towel....  If, as some media assure, there were precise orders to 'soften' the detainees in order to facilitate the questionings, we would be before a very grave case of organized and systematic violation of the principles of the Geneva Convention and of human rights.  This would question not only the mission that the U.S. is carrying out in a more than debatable way in Iraq, but also its commitment to the system of values that distinguishes civilized countries.  There is much at stake...  The U.S. still can save some of its battered reputation.  But, for this, there is only one path: Rumsfeld should resign and his successor should immediately implement a thorough investigation that allows to know the whole dark truth and punish those at fault.  No matter their level."


SWEDEN:  "Call For Responsibility, Show Leadership"


Conservative Stockholm morning daily Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (5/8):  “There is a risk that the pictures from the Abu Gharib prison will shape the truth on Iraq and that pictures, which were never taken in the same prison during Saddam Hussein’s rule, will sink into oblivion....  Responsibility must be called for not only from the soldiers who took part in the abuse, or swept the scandal under the carpet, but also from the one who holds political responsibility for the efforts in Iraq.  Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld must hand in his resignation....  To substitute Secretary Rumsfeld is important and will show the Arab world that the abuse of the Iraqi detainees is not accepted in the U.S.”


TURKEY:  "This Account Must Be Settled"


Oktay Eksi wrote in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (5/9):  “President Bush, who was supposed to bring democracy to Iraq, has flunked....  Thank God...that the United States' internal democracy has finally begun to function.  The U.S. media and the Congress, which had seemed blind and deaf after 9/11, have finally woken up and begun to search for answers about whether the U.S. has the right to engage in such arrogant acts....  The fact that President Bush publicly defended Rumsfeld, and the fact that he will not ask for Rumsfeld's resignation show that his mentality has not changed at all....  If President Bush and his administration had respected concepts such as the rule of law and respect for human rights, they would not have covered up this disgrace that came to light in January.  Furthermore, they would have punished the criminals in a most severe manner, and would have announced it to the world.  Well, it was Mr. Bush who not refused to implement a legitimate legal process for the foreigners detained as enemy combatants long before the Abu Ghraib disgrace.  Can anyone claim that those who are imprisoned in Guantanamo without any proof and who face interrogations without any legal representation are luckier than those in Abu Ghraib prison?  All of this means we are not talking about just a few rotten apples.  We are looking at systematic acts of torture engaged in by U.S. military personnel at the instruction of the U.S. administration.”


"Settling Accounts With Torturers"


Oral Calislar noted in the social democrat-opinion maker Cumhuriyet (5/9):  “The Rumsfeld testimony in the Congress illustrates certain lessons.  First and foremost, we see lessons about the sensitivity of the American public to the torture allegations.  This outrage has helped to create an atmosphere in which questions are asked about what really happened.  Rumsfeld and high-ranking generals of the U.S. Army were embarrassed by the tough questions they faced.  The representatives of the U.S. people were able to question them....  The Defense Secretary of the world’s most powerful country, and the senior commanders of the world’s most powerful army were trying to explain and justify their actions.  And they were doing the explaining to the country’s elected representatives.… The U.S. has a system that allows the highest level officials to be called to account.  In the case of Abu Ghraib case, both Republican and Democratic senators were eager to make this happen.  Rumsfeld is a Republican, but this did not seem to matter at all in this process.  Questions asked by Republican senators were just as tough as those asked by the opposition Democrats....  While watching the testimony of Rumsfeld and the American generals, I could not help but dream about the possibility that our own torturers will someday face a similar situation.”





JORDAN: “Our Generals And Their Generals”


Daily columnist Urayb Rintawi wrote on the op-ed page of center-left, influential Arabic Al-Dustour (5/9):  “We will not be able to boast about democratic reforms in the land of Arabs and Islam until we see our generals take the seats of confession before the representatives of our nation and our people, exactly as Rumsfeld and his generals did yesterday before a congressional committee and as leaders and military people of the Bush and Clinton administrations had done before the special investigative committee on the events of 9/11.  There are many common things between our generals and their generals: a tendency towards militarism, a preference for the use and over-use of force, the ability to violate mankind, a hatred for the media….  Yet, our political systems are very different from their political systems.  For them, these systems create control mechanisms for these over-zealous personal and individual tendencies and mechanisms for observation and accountability.  For us, these systems not only lack such mechanisms, but they also dictate to our people the need to cry out in exultation God’s many graces and the leaders’ wisdom....  Our generals and their generals are fallible human beings.  Their system regards them as fallible human beings and keeps their actions and their behavior subject to scrutiny and inspection, while our system raises our generals to such high places that they become immune to criticism.”




Daily columnist Bater Wardam wrote on the op-ed page of center-left, influential Arabic Al-Dustour (5/9):  “It is true that the United States is an aggressive country that wants to control the world by military force, invade lands and change regimes.  It is true that the United States is completely biased in favor of the Israeli aggression and the usurpation of the rights of the Palestinian people.  It is true that the United States violates international laws and refuses to abide many international agreements.  It is true that the United States is now against the Arab world religiously, ethnically and politically.  All this is true, but no one can deny that there is a unique democratic system in the United States, which could be, by all means, the reason behind the power of that country.  It is a system that allows members of the Congress to bring in the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and interrogate them harshly in public for a long time with regard to an issue that harms the reputation and the security of the United States.  The interrogation that Rumsfeld and Myers were subjected to was not a charade to appease the Arabs and Muslims, as some people believe.  It was a real and serious interrogation and part of the American domestic political framework.  This harsh questioning was not designed to offer an apology to the Arabs and Muslims, but rather to rebuke the Secretary of Defense for actions committed that directly harmed the reputation of the United States and its moral justifications for imposing its aggressive policy on the world....  The Americans believe, for no apparent reason, that they represent moral purity in world politics....  No doubt, the American army’s stupidity was detrimental to the reputation of the United States, because it simply took away from it, forever, the moral justification that it used to interfere in other countries’ affairs....  Honesty dictates that we acknowledge that American democracy is strong, and that we in the Arab world, cannot even dream of seeing Arab ministers of defense stand before an Arab parliament in a live, frank and genuine questioning regarding human rights violations or harming the reputation of the state or its political objectives....  I wish the Arab empathy for the human rights violations of the [Iraqi] prisoners would extend to include the rights of Arab prisoners in Arab jails and would defend them with the same force and honesty.”


LEBANON:  "Rumsfeld’s Insolence And American Democracy" 


An editorial by Aouni Al-Kaaki in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq held (5/8):  “When boldness reaches the level of insolence, it equalizes an unbalanced personality....  Insolent boldness reflects inhumanity....  This is what Donald Rumsfeld radiates....  All previous American Administrations tried to hide their crimes by using diplomacy, even crimes like massacres committed in Vietnam....  However, the Bush Administration is the one that is really proud of committing crimes....  Only Donald Rumsfeld would stand before the U.S. Congress to announce with pride and insolence that he takes full responsibility for the dangerous violations of human rights....  This position reminded us of the U.S. history regarding the Africans who used to be sold in the U.S.   It also reminded us of their treatment of the red Indians and of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb....Rumsfeld did not bat an eye when he announced that his was fully responsible for what has happened in Iraqi prisons.  His boss George Bush gave him a reward by renewing his confidence in him....  This is first rate American democracy.... The Americans used the same justifications the British did in 1920 when they told the Iraqis that they came to liberate them from the Ottoman Empire and to give them freedom and democracy....  Bush also came as a liberator and to give Iraq freedom and democracy...but he committed massacres against the Iraqis, dangerous violations of human rights and killed Iraqis in cold blood.”


"A New Merchandise:  Torture!"


An editorial by Joseph Samaha in Arab nationalist As-Safir (5/8):  “The last photo of an Arab and an American together is that of President Bush and King Abdallah....  When we look closely at the photo we don’t see any traces of torture on King Abdallah’s face,...However, the truth is that Bush is practicing torture against King Abdallah and most Arab leaders: the kind of torture which cannot be captured on camera....  If we really think about it, we did not see photos of physical torture in the Iraqi prison.  What we saw is photos of degradation of human we can definitely confirm that this kind of thinking is controlling Bush’s behavior towards most Arab leaders...Bush has really to stop talking about ‘values’....  In the last two days, he found time to be with Oliver North and who was the hero of the ‘Contra’ scandal, which also stepped on all kinds of values.’"


"Save America From America!"


An editorial by Rajeh Khoury in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar stressed  (5/8): “Everything that was said about dictatorship and Saddam’s bloody rule will have to disappear before the sadistic American practices against Iraqi prisoners at a time when Washington has not stopped for even one day from shelling the Arabs with slogans of democracy and human rights....  America should be saved from itself....  The issue is much bigger than the practices in Abu Ghraib prison.  The issue is about a dangerous defect in the relationship between the U.S. and many nations around the world, mostly the Arab people.  The U.S. is suffering from a superiority complex, as if...everyone believes what Alan Dallas wrote that ‘God created the Americans on the eighth day’....  No, it is not enough for Bush to stand near King Abdallah and announce his regret for what happened....  It is not enough for him to give King Abdallah a letter of guarantees....  It is not enough that Abou Alaa’ is going to meet Condoleezza Rice in an American effort to absorb the great resentment dominating the Arab world....  What is really needed is for U.S. policy makers to become convinced that they are not the managers of a big prison which is the world.”


MOROCCO: "Dirty War"

Amina Talhimet Rabat bureau chief of socialist Liberation reflected (5/12):  "Funny how history repeats itself. Two years ago the situation in Palestine was catastrophic and the American president Mr. George Bush received the Israeli prime minister and introduced him as a 'friend' and a 'man of peace.' Today with the current tragic situation in Iraq, Mr. Bush rewards Donald Rumsfeld by presenting him as a 'courageous man' who has done a 'remarkable" job in Iraq and in the war on terrorism" ... Shame on America, considering what this country is supposed to represent in this unipolar world we’ve lived in since the collapse of the Berlin wall. ... After an unlawful declaration of war and against the advice of the UN Security Council, British and American forces gave in to the temptation of hate and disdain for the human being.  Bin Laden, Al Zawahiri and Zarkaoui must really be celebrating.  The western called the ‘Greater Middle East Initiative’ has just begun."


OMAN:  "Who Will Judge?"


 Semi-independent Arabic Al-Watan asserted (5/8): "The world has witnessed an 'apology play,' acted out by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his chief military commander who presided over the horrific acts against humanity in the Abu Ghraib prison.  They, and other American military officers, have claimed responsibility for these brutal acts as if that alone demonstrated noble-mindedness.  Under international resolutions issued by the Security Council mandating the humane treatment of prisoners by occupying powers, the U.S. soldiers should be prosecuted; yet we know they will not be so judged.  Rumsfeld tried to settle the waters by announcing compensation to the victims, but how do you compensate women who have been raped and tortured by their captors?  In this play about 'freedom' and 'democracy,' American violators should assume their proper roles as criminals."      


SYRIA:  "A Call To Stop Misleading"


Ali Nasrallah, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, said (5/10):  "Two remarkable events happened last week; the resignation of the Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and the deferment of the U.S. Annual Human Rights Report so as not to make the U.S. look ridiculous after the exposure of the Abu Ghraib scandal....  The only person who realizes the U.S. administration's weakening international position as the elections approach is Secretary Powell, who described the practices against Iraqi prisoners as disgraceful violations that will have grave consequences on the U.S. performance in Iraq."





AUSTRALIA:  "For Damage To End, Rumsfeld Will Have To Go"


An editorial in the national conservative Australian asserted (5/11): “If U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gets to keep his job, it will be a testament to the loyalty of George W. Bush, and a body blow to everything the U.S. and its allies are trying to achieve in Iraq and the Middle East… The U.S., like Australia or Britain, is one of the most multicultural nations on earth, and shows a level of respect for religious and racial difference that is not exceeded anywhere.  There is not the slightest evidence to suggest the lapses at Abu Ghraib, in their cruelty or their extent, deserve to be compared with those of Saddam.... But once the images themselves had leaked into the public domain, the struggle for the hearts and minds of the people of Iraq and its neighbors had suffered a grievous body-blow.... It is Mr Rumsfeld who must take responsibility for the abuse of these prisoners. He is responsible for making the U.S. Army look neither better nor more legitimate than the rag-tag militias it is fighting, who have committed such atrocities as burning U.S. contractors alive. And he, of course, must take responsibility for making Mr Bush look foolish and incompetent by keeping the scale of the abuses from him for four months.”


 “PR Mess From An Honorable Mission”


Columnist and executive director of the Sydney Institute Gerard Henderson opines in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (5/11): “Whoever is responsible for the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, irrespective of their position in the chain of command, should be brought to justice. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of coalition troops in Iraq, whose lives are in constant danger, have performed professionally and lawfully. It is appropriate that Bush should have apologized to King Abdullah. It also appropriate to remember that the treatment of many Arabs in Arab jails - including Syria today and Iraq during Saddam's time - is infinitely worse than at Abu Ghraib. As Lieberman says, the bad behavior of a few does not de-authorize the essential correctness of the coalition's cause in Iraq.”

"The Damage Is Done"


Paul Kelly, editor-at-large for the national conservative Weekend Australian, wrote (5/8):  “It is difficult to imagine a worse propaganda defeat.  The U.S. might just as well have invited Osama bin Laden to write the script.  George W. Bush, attacked for his obsession with morality, is under fire for his immorality....  The mistreatment is despicable in its own right.  But it becomes a metaphor for the failure of the Bush administration to comprehend the challenge in Iraq....  The U.S. project in Iraq will live forever with the image of the wired-up, hooded Iraqi prisoner.  It is a folly, a tragedy and a challenge to Bush's moral leadership.  This event is not just about Iraq.  It is about the U.S.  It concerns America's ability to persuade people around the world to follow its light and its example.  This is where great damage has been done.“


"To Save Bush’s Skin, Rumsfeld Should Go Now"


Washington correspondent Roy Eccleston, noted in the national conservative Australian (5/10):  “Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure at the Pentagon hangs in the balance.  If the Iraqi prison scandal gets worse...George W. Bush will pay a heavy price if he keeps his Defense Secretary....  Six months from an election Bush must weigh how much this issue hurts him in the polls as U.S. voters mark down his leadership in Iraq and more generally....  The best thing for Bush and the country’s reputation may well be to release [the additional evidence] now, along with Rumsfeld’s resignation letter.  One option then would be to move Secretary of State Colin Powell...into the Pentagon job....  If the abuse is shown to be more systematic and the pictures get more gruesome--and both look likely--Rumsfeld could prove too much of a burden for Bush to bear.”


CHINA:  "Human Rights Guardian Has Nothing To Say"


Huang Qing commented in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times  (Huanqiu Shibao) (5/10):  “Global media think that the U.S. image and reputation have suffered a fatal blow.  Importantly, the image of ‘human rights guardian’ that the U.S. upheld has been damaged.  The U.S. Department of State postponed a human rights report that was supposed to be issued on May 5 due to ‘technical reasons.’...  After the discovery of these serious violations of human rights, the abuses of prisoners of war, if the U.S. continued to boast about how it ‘promotes freedom and democracy,’ it would look ‘shameless’ and ‘ridiculous’, so it had to hold back its human rights report....  Second, the abuse of the prisoners of war have cast doubt on U.S. motives for initiating the Iraq war....  Third, now Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and President Bush are facing difficult times....  Bush must protect Rumsfeld, but when the affair spins out of control, there is the possibility that Bush may give up ‘a pawn to save a bishop.’  This has brought great harm to Bush during the election year.  The U.S. military presence in Iraq has become an iron machine without soul and justice.  One can hardly imagine what achievements such a machine can make.”


JAPAN:  "'Deep Apology' Not Enough"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (5/9):  "Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld recently testified before a congressional committee on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by the U.S. military in Iraq and expressed his 'deep apology'....  But his handling of questions suggested that his testimony was made in order to reduce the possible negative impact on the U.S. occupation policy in Iraq, the planned transition of power to the Iraqis and President Bush's reelection campaign.  The Bush administration is desperately trying to downplay the scandal, but has failed to conceal the consequences and implications of the inmate abuse.  It appears that the U.S. military, which boasts of having liberated Iraq, can no longer differentiate between 'friend' and 'foe.'  The U.S. military destroyed mosques, rounded up civilians and performed body searches on Iraqi women in the name of crushing occupation resistance and securing safety.  In the siege of Fallujah, it did not hesitate to kill many non-combatants.  This action illustrates the discrimination against and disregard for Islam and local culture by the U.S. military.  It is reasonable to conclude that abuse of detainees took place in the same context."         


SOUTH KOREA: "U.S. Should Immediately Take Action To Address Prisoner-Abuse Scandal"


The independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (05/11): “It has been 12 days since the media first exposed the inhumane abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison.  However, Washington continues to hold the position that the incidents of abuse only involved individual soldiers and that the misguidance of a few military superiors was responsible for the heinous acts.…  This arrogant attitude by Washington is becoming another reason for the world’s outrage.…  We truly hope that the U.S. will immediately rid itself of international criticism by showing a more responsible attitude, and furthermore, that as the world’s sole superpower, it will be supported not by its military force but for its moral superiority.…  Washington must change its ways so that allied nations that are dispatching troops to Iraq in support for its policies will not harmed by the scandal.”


“Where Is U.S.’s Morality Gone?”


Soongsil University Professor Park Jung-sin wrote in the independent Dong-a Ilbo (5/11): “The barbarous abuse of Iraqi POWs by U.S. forces and the ensuing irresponsible behavior of the Bush Administration in addressing the abuse scandal are being denounced as ‘un-American’ because they both ignored basic moral codes that had been upheld by the Americans. … If this behavior continues, the U.S.’s moral leadership will inevitably lose its power and the U.S.-led war in Iraq will end in failure.…  The U.S. President, not the Secretary of Defense, should reflect deeply on this heinous crime of trampling on the human rights and freedom of Iraqis, and should stake his presidency on bringing those responsible to justice.  Only then can the U.S.’s justification for the Iraq war - restoration of peace and freedom in Iraq - be recognized.…  The question of how the U.S. will address this escalating scandal is also an important matter for the ROK, which is preparing to send troops to Iraq.…  Considering that the troop deployment is related to our national strategy, we are entitled to call for Washington to take thorough steps to make sure such an incident will never happen again.”


INDONESIA:  "The Apology"


Islamic-oriented Pelita commented (5/11):  “The apology has at least reduced the anger, or reduced the many criticisms and the increasingly high anti-American sentiment due to publication of the brutality at Abu Ghraib by the international media, including the U.S. media.  The U.S. military has also promised to try the case on May 19....  We agree that a military tribunal should be laid out for the Abu Ghraib case because it is not enough to solve such brutality, if not barbarism, only with an apology and rhetoric from a president.  All the actors must face the law.  If necessary, Secretary Rumsfeld has to resign.”


"U.S. Dignity And Honor At Stake In Iraq Case"


Leading independent daily Kompas commented (5/10):  “Apparently, Bush failed to reduce world anger.  The apology he and Donald Rumsfeld made last week failed to reduce Arab’s anger....  Efforts to withdraw from Iraq elegantly also faced challenges.  The U.S. and Britain expect to have a smooth withdrawal by the end of June.  But the situation has worsened as the deadline approaches....  The Ghraib case might as well constitute an obstacle for Bush’s reelection in the November election.”


MALAYSIA:  "Prison Scandal Rips U.S. Image"


The government-influenced English-language Sunday Star remarked (5/9):  "The harsh and degrading treatment of Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. soldiers has hit the United States like a wildfire that seems to be spreading out of control.  The man in the center of the storm and feeling the heat is Rumsfeld, who has been facing an increasing chorus of calls for him to resign.  At this moment, it is unlikely that Rumsfeld will quit because he has the confidence of President Bush, who has said openly he would not fire his defense chief.  There is no denying that extensive damage has been done to U.S. credibility, not only in Iraq and the Middle East but throughout the world.  No more can the U.S. take the moral high ground and condemn other countries for alleged human rights violations when its soldiers have broken every rule in the book by mistreating Iraqis....  More evidence could surface soon.  If the scandal grows, Rumsfeld will be left with little choice but to resign.  Even then, it may not improve U.S. credibility in the eyes of the world."


"Swimming In The Iraq Quagmire"


The government-influenced English-language Sunday Star commented (5/9):  "The chasm between what the U.S. claims to be doing for Iraq and what it is really doing there amounts to an aberration, even a perversion....  It came as no surprise that Iraqi detainees have been bullied, humiliated and killed by U.S. soldiers....  Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush can do little more than fudge, spin and deny the crucial issues of the day.  Thus U.S. unilateralism is called a 'coalition', prisoners-of-war are just 'enemy combatants', and torture is no more than 'abuse'. "


NEW ZEALAND:  "Heads Need To Roll"


The Timaru Herald maintained (Internet version, 5/10):  "What has been happening in the Iraqi prisons leaves such a horrible taste that the blame goes beyond the soldiers directly involved.  American and British military authorities are investigating the crimes and have promised to deal to the perpetrators, but the outcomes are likely to take months, if not years.  And in the meantime the battle facing the coalition forces to bring calm and democracy to Iraq will get tougher, not least because they will be viewed as war criminals who are no better than Saddam.   Heads have to roll now to restore a semblance of credibility and to give hope to what is being attempted in Iraq.  The first head should be that of American Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  He has acknowledged responsibility by saying the tortures and killings occurred 'on his watch.'  If George W. Bush is to overcome the rising tide of opposition to the invasion and win re-election, he has to cut Rumsfeld loose.  Only then can work start on repairing a very tarnished image."


"Let The Best In Us Correct The Worst" 


The pro-government Straits Times columnist Janadas Devan said (5/9):   "As long as there were no photographs, it was possible to believe that no great harm could come of designating terrorist suspects as 'unlawful combatants', thus denying them rights accorded by the Geneva Convention. America, which virtually invented the notion of rights by enshrining a Bill of Rights in its Constitution, couldn't possibly abuse these wartime restrictions of rights. The photographs exploded these innocent beliefs. The only way now to convince the world, especially the Arab/Muslim world, that America is indeed different, is to present another set of pictures: The President apologizing; the Defense Secretary grilled by Congress; the administration excoriated in the media; America willingly exposing its dirty linen to the world; the torturers of Abu Ghraib being prosecuted and convicted. The only way to repair the damage that these revelations have had, in other words, is to let Arabs see that the best in America can and will correct the worst. They have seen how Americans can be unjust; now let them see how America allows justice to be done. That in itself should be a valuable lesson for Arab countries."


PHILIPPINES:  "Doing A Saddam"


Columnist Gemma Cruz Araneta wrote in the in the conservative Manila Bulletin wrote (5/11):  "Why I am not surprised that Iraqi detainees were being tortured by their U.S. captors?...  Torture is an instrument of state policy, not only of the USA but of all other countries.  No government will admit that, least of all the USA; but we all know that torture is as old as the history of mankind....For more than two centuries now, the USA has enunciated its foreign policy with a forked tongue and a poker face.  With its fatal embrace, America has crushed hearts and minds...all in the name of Lady Liberty and Democracy....  Those young foot soldiers from...urban...America...could not have known enough about the intricacies and taboos of Islam to humiliate and abuse their prisoners with such precision.  The top brass do know, but they will never be blamed for 'staining the honor' of the U.S. military.  They will never be caught dead doing a Saddam at Abu Ghraib."


SINGAPORE:  "Let The Best In Us Correct The Worst"


The pro-government Straits Times columnist Janadas Devan said (5/9):   "As long as there were no photographs, it was possible to believe that no great harm could come of designating terrorist suspects as 'unlawful combatants', thus denying them rights accorded by the Geneva Convention. America, which virtually invented the notion of rights by enshrining a Bill of Rights in its Constitution, couldn't possibly abuse these wartime restrictions of rights. The photographs exploded these innocent beliefs. The only way now to convince the world, especially the Arab/Muslim world, that America is indeed different, is to present another set of pictures: The President apologizing; the Defense Secretary grilled by Congress; the administration excoriated in the media; America willingly exposing its dirty linen to the world; the torturers of Abu Ghraib being prosecuted and convicted. The only way to repair the damage that these revelations have had, in other words, is to let Arabs see that the best in America can and will correct the worst. They have seen how Americans can be unjust; now l et them see how America allows justice to be done. That in itself should be a valuable lesson for Arab countries."


THAILAND:  "U.S. Loses Final Shred Of Credibility"


Walden Bello commented in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post (5/11):  “The Iraq debacle is likely to make future U.S. interventions more difficult due to their unpopularity with the U.S. public.  It may even push the U.S. into a new isolationist phase, looking inward and refusing to be engaged internationally.  That will be good for the rest of the world, which has been destabilized too long by this lawless superpower.  It is a shame that a number of Asian governments allowed themselves to be sucked into an illegitimate and immoral enterprise. The Abu Ghraib debacle provides these governments with the perfect opportunity to end their support for the occupation and withdraw their troops from Iraq.  But it will take moral courage to say no to Washington, and that, say many analysts, is in short supply these days.”


VIETNAM:  "Actions That Came From A 'Democracy'"


Le Minh wrote in Ha Noi Moi, a daily run by the local government of Hanoi, (5/8):  "It is ironical that while Washington are always lecturing about human rights in this and that place in the world, criticizing this and that country for human rights violation, the recent maltreatments of Iraqi POWs have uncovered Washington's true and shameful values....  Though the actions of some American soldiers are promised to be investigated properly, that does not help cool down the anti-American rage in the region after the people there have seen the actions that are totally not humanlike brought to them by a 'democracy.'"


"Apology Is Not Enough"


Manh Cuong wrote in the Vietnam Confederation of Labor Unions widely circulated Lao Dong (5/8):  "Inhuman maltreatments against Iraqi prisoners have become shameful evidence lashing at the U.S.'s inborn pride associated with respect for human rights....  And on May 6, for the first time, the whole world witnessed President Bush making an apology....  Why was that so easy?....  The White House's opposition forces as well as foreign and domestic public are demanding the U.S. president to either dismiss the Secretary of Defense or force him to resign.  Therefore, an apology from the president at this time is the easiest thing that can be done to divert the attacks the public is having for Mr. Rumsfeld."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Abu Ghraib: Rumsfeld’s Last Stand"


Washington correspondent Simon Marks, wrote in liberal This Day (5/7):  “I sat down and actually read the U.S. Army’s report into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners under its command…  The report’s author--Major General Antonio Taguba--illustrates that ‘the system’ not only failed, but is utterly beyond repair.…  Taguba report makes it clear that the abuses were not only tolerated but actively encouraged by military intelligence officers who wanted detainees to be ‘softened up’ ahead of interrogation sessions.…  The Bush administration…wants the world to believe that while it failed to honor the Geneva conventions in a war-zone where compliance is mandatory, it is voluntarily enforcing the conventions in circumstances where they do not strictly apply [Guantanamo Bay].  For the first time, the words ‘resignation’ and ‘Rumsfeld’ are not being used in the same sentence in the salons of Washington.  It’s easy to understand why.”


MAURITIUS:  "Shame, Shame And Shame"


The pro-Muslim (pro-Labor Party and generally anti-U.S.) French language weekly Star (5/9), ran an opinion piece  by Al-Qalaam stating (5/9):  "The grilling of Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, by a Senatorial and Armed Services Committee reflects the revulsion felt by the vast majority of Americans about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.  What has been revealed by the CBS television may be only the tip of the iceberg.  Nobody, American or otherwise, would have thought that the U.S. Forces would conduct themselves in such a despicable way with a visa to extract intelligence information from Iraqi citizens.  Such a cruel and indignant behavior has sent shock waves, not only within the USA, but throughout the world. To the Arab and Muslim world, the half hearted apology of President Bush was too little, and too late.  Already his blind support to Ariel Sharon for the state terrorism the latter is undertaking in assassinating Palestinian leaders, has seriously undermined his credibility and even his handedness towards the Arabs and Jews.  As more evidence of prisoners' abuse emerges, as it no doubt will, the chances of President Bush winning a second term of office grow slimmer.  The greatness of America does not lie in only in the might of its armed forces and high-tech devastating weapons, but also in its robust democratic institutions which enable people like Rumsfeld to be subjected to intense public scrutiny and grilling."


UGANDA:  "Carry Your Can"


State-owned daily The New Vision editorialized (5/10):  "As the United States struggles to redeem its image in the deep quagmire that is Iraq, it is refreshing to hear a senior administration official personally admit fault.  Secretary for Defense Donald Rumsfeld has apologized and taken full responsibility for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by elements in the U.S. army.  This should be a lesson for our own public servants.  The continued revelation in the media of pictures depicting torture may yet have deeper ramifications for George Bush and his team, but that admission could have bought the administration valuable breathing space.  Admission of fault may not always be the suicidal option it might appear to be, but many times it is the wiser way to handle an issue.  By carrying the can, Rumsfeld may have saved his job (in the short term), though what he did was, ultimately, the moral imperative."


ZAMBIA:  "No One Is Taking Responsibility"


Government-owned Zambia Daily Mail editorialized (5/11): "There is no point justifying the morally repulsive actions of the occupation American and British forces in Iraq who are torturing prisoners through some of the worst forms of crimes against humanity imaginable.  It is surprising that such actions are to be committed by people from countries that pride themselves with Christian values of freedom and human dignity. It is sad that such actions went on unabated with the full knowledge of the defense secretaries of Britain and the United States.  What is more one is taking responsibility to atone for the sins of the excited and misguided invading soldiers....  The revelation by the Red Cross...presents a serious scandal of great proportions that requires honest answers from the two occupational powers whose forces are violating human rights....  Instead of both Secretaries...[Geoff Hoon and Donald Rumsfeld]...resigning, we have seen senseless defenses...justify the horrific acts....  The civilized world is horrified by the callous acts of the British and American forces exacting such dehumanizing and extra-judicial punishment....  This blatant disregard for other people is one thing that the Western world has never come to understand as one of the causes of the ever increasing negative sentiment against them.... It is actions like that which radicalizes the rather equally misguided elements into actions of terrorism....  A world order predicated in the arrogance of power and disregard for other people of different civilizations cannot be expected to be a peaceful one. Violence will forever beget violence and we hope the imperial minds of those who wield power in Washington and London will realize that their invasion of Iraq is a huge scandal of great proportions that cannot be washed away by the faint excuses being offered on both sides of the Atlantic."






CANADA:  "Why Donald Rumsfeld Should Resign His Post"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (5/12): "An uncharacteristically contrite Donald Rumsfeld told U.S. lawmakers last week that the buck stopped at his desk when it came to apportioning blame for the horrific abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S. guards inside Abu Ghraib prison.... But if Mr. Rumsfeld is truly serious about taking responsibility for what has occurred on his watch, he should resign. He should leave not merely because of the Abu Ghraib atrocities, shocking as those were, but for his much more serious failures of management that have critically undermined the vitally important effort to rebuild Iraq, ensure order and stability and create the other conditions - notably respect for the rule of law - necessary for democratic government to take root....   Months before the invasion, Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that the administration would have to be prepared to run Iraq once Saddam Hussein's regime was swept away and that the consequences were unpredictable.... Mr. Powell was pushed to the margins. And the administration blundered into a situation for which it was shamefully ill-prepared, a failure that must be laid directly at the feet of the man who took charge, Mr. Rumsfeld. In his grilling by a Senate panel, he said he intended to stay at his post as long as he thought he could still be effective. If not, he said, he would resign in a minute.' Mr. Rumsfeld, your time is up."


"Iraq Prison Horror Presents Crisis Of Trust For U.S. Leaders"


The left-of-center Vancouver Sun opined (5/11): "Many Americans, and America, have been shaken to the core with the realization that they, too, can behave in a manner as depraved as that of any Third World despot. As such, it is the hearts and minds of Americans that might have been lost in this debacle. Certainly, deplorable behaviour frequently occurs in wars, and in prisons, but that's no justification for it. Rather, armed with knowledge that such behaviour has occurred, it's incumbent upon the Bush administration to show that the wrongdoers will be punished. Perhaps even more importantly, the U.S. needs to persuade a doubtful world that this behaviour won't occur again -- that the war can be prosecuted in a humane and moral manner. That won't be easy, but it is imperative, and it will require a lot more than a few showy courts-martial.... The rejoinder offered by most implicated soldiers is that they were just 'following orders,' which has never been a good excuse, and isn't a good excuse now. But even if a lousy excuse, it's probably true. Although details are still fuzzy, it's clear that responsibility for the debacle can't merely be on a few soldiers. Responsibility evidently lies at the highest levels of the chain of command.... [T]he President George W. Bush must deal forcefully with the highest levels of the command structure if he is to ever win back the hearts and minds of Americans and Muslims in the Arab world, too."


"Fire Rumsfeld, Tear Down His Jail"


The conservative National Post editorialized (5/10):  "U.S. soldiers came to Iraq to bring democracy and human rights. Yet there they are, binding naked men with ropes and dog collars.  For al-Qaida's recruiters, such images are manna from heaven.  The scandal may also prove a death blow in the battle for Iraqi hearts and minds.  If America is forced to withdraw its troops prematurely and Iraq lapses into civil war or authoritarian rule, much of the blame will lie with the sadists who appear grinning in these photos.  Obviously, those directly responsible for the depicted abuses must be brought to justice.  And Abu Ghraib prison itself must be torn down....  But that must be just the beginning....  Had it not been for a whistle-blower within the military, journalists at the CBS program 60 Minutes II and The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the world might still be unaware of what went on at Abu Ghraib.  This fact, taken alone, would justify Mr. Rumsfeld's resignation.  But the case against him goes deeper:  it is only because of the Defense Secretary's flawed planning that America was forced to jail more than 40,000 Iraqi prisoners in the first place....  Mr. Rumsfeld's departure will not mend the damage caused by the Abu Ghraib scandal and the mismanagement of postwar Iraq.  But by removing from office the politician most responsible for both problems, it would at least send the signal that the Bush administration has learned from its mistakes and is intent on reforming its military.  This newspaper continues to believe that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was justified in principle, and we applaud President George W. Bush for his courage in attempting to bring political reform to the heart of the Arab Middle East.  But there is little question that his Defense Secretary's implementation of this grand vision has brought shame and hostility upon the United States.  Mr. Rumsfeld did a service to the civilized world by engineering Saddam's defeat.  But for the sake of America and Iraq both, it is now time for him to go."


"Bushites Set Tone That Led To Abuse"


Columnist Linda McQuaig wrote in the liberal Toronto Star (5/9):  "Washington's attitude toward the Iraqi people has been another signal to the troops that Iraqis are fair game.  By not even keeping track of the number of Iraqis killed by U.S. forces, Washington has treated Iraqis as dispensable, as little more than a backdrop to its triumphant mission in Iraq.  Of course, torture is nothing new.  But while we know all the details of Saddam's torture chambers, we know little about what's gone on for decades in the torture chambers of U.S. allies, with Washington's complicity.  Don't expect to hear much about that.  Instead, expect to hear a deafening chorus of how America doesn't do things like that--from the same people who brought us Guantanamo Bay and the new gloves-off era."


"The Buck Stops With Bush"


Under the sub-heading, "For 18 months, his administration has shown deceit about the illegal, inhumane techniques of U.S. troops," senior writer Dan Gardner held in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (5/8): "Much has been made of the refusal of U.S. President George W. Bush to demand the resignation of his secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, over the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal. But on the subject of torture, a review of the chronology of the last 18 months suggests President Bush has either lost control of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon, or he has broken a pledge he made to the people of the United States and the world. In either case, it is not Donald Rumsfeld who should resign. It is George W. Bush.... If, as it now appears, it is established that stress-and-duress techniques, or other violations of the Convention Against Torture, are still widespread despite Mr. Bush's statement of June 2003, it will mean one of two things. Either Mr. Bush has lost control over the interrogation practices of the U.S. military and the CIA, or he has broken his solemn pledge to never permit the use of torture or ill treatment. In either case, he has disgraced his office and should resign." 


"Abu Ghraib's Abuses Require A Wider Focus"


The leading Globe and Mail commented (5/8): "U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed very well yesterday his horror and regret at the sadistic actions of his country's military in an Iraqi prison. Nonetheless, there was an air of unreality to the hearings in front of two congressional committees. Mr. Rumsfeld seemed genuinely baffled at how such 'un-American' behaviour could occur. Yet it should not be that hard to believe.  Nineteen months ago, a man was taken out of his jail cell in Brooklyn, N.Y., and deported - at midnight, and with no chance to plead his case before a judge - to the Middle East. That man was Maher Arar of Ottawa.... The difference in Mr. Arar's case is that he was apprehended at a New York airport. As a non-citizen on U.S. soil, he was entitled to the protection of the U.S. Constitution. Yet the deputy attorney-general of the United States signed off on his deportation.... Perhaps Attorney-General John Ashcroft should have been answering questions beside Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday. On his watch, the U.S. government has created a legal black hole at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for 'enemy combatants.'...  For an Iraqi prison to be treated as a pit in which the basest behaviour became possible seems one more natural progression.... The war on terrorism and the liberation of Iraq are just causes. When just causes sink to atrocities, and in doing so head down self-destructive paths, the only answer is to return to first principles: the rule of law, and unflinching openness. A full, honest and public examination of Abu Ghraib is only just beginning."



ARGENTINA: "'Rumsfeld Does A Superb Job'"


Francisco Seminario, filed from Washington D.C. for daily-of-record La Nacion (5/11): "In a new attempt to turn over the page amid the increasing scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, President George W. Bush was compelled yesterday to publicly reiterate his most absolute trust in U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But the presidential gesture, now that the Republican administration is going through one of its most critical moments while there is a violence resurge in Iraq, did not put an end to the wave of requests for Rumsfeld's resignation. It did not withhold a scandal that continued increasing by the release of more pictures of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.... Even more, the questioning of Rumsfeld's work has appeared in his own political party on an election year, and even some U.S. military sectors have criticized 'the highest authority' at the Pentagon."


"Torture Faces Bush With A Dilemma"


Ana Baron, leading Clarin Washington-based correspondent, opines (5/10): "As a consequence of the crisis sparked by the torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Bush is facing a dilemma. His Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declared he's accountable for everything that took place. This would be a reason enough for Bush to request his resignation. But if he does, Bush will show his weak spot. He would be acknowledging that there are big mistakes in the way in which he's conducting the war in Iraq, and at the same time, he would be left without a scapegoat. In the middle of his election campaign, this would mean that all criticism would be directed against him.... Rumsfeld's arrogance and disdain for international law are, to a certain point, very similar to what can be seen on the face of the soldiers that appear in the already famous photos showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. The Washington Post disclosed yesterday that Rumsfeld had approved questioning methods for prisoners that, according to human rights organizations, violate the Geneva Convention.... Whatever the case, Bush is aware that this is affecting his chances for re-election.  And the big question mark is whether Rumsfeld's resignation would diminish or increase the negative impact."



BRAZIL:   "Effects Of Torture"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (5/11): "The impact of the terrible images of U.S. soldiers torturing prisoners in Abu Ghraib is not yet completely clear, but there is no doubt that Washington's authority in Iraq has been dramatically affected, even in terms of defining Iraq's political future.... The political effect of the crisis may even be interpreted as positive: the UN is now stronger. The White House's ability to determine the rules of the game and impose limits to the sovereignty of the provisional government has diminished following the disclosure of maltreatment.... It is very likely that more Iraqis will enlist as members of the resistance and those now working in institutions seen as pro-U.S. (police, Army, etc.) may reconsider their situation.... The Arab population, which is already inclined to believe that the U.S. is not reliable, is seeing in the Abu Ghraib images material evidence that confirms its worst suspicions. It will be difficult for the U.S. to restore its image among the Arabs."


"Crossing The Line"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil commented (5/11): “A disquieting mystery makes the release of the photos that document the torture of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers even more embarrassing. What hands have produced such hideous documents?  Who is their author? What reasons have lead him to register scenes that, once presented to the eyes of the civilized world, would certainly provoke the reaction being observed in different countries, and which will result in the torturers’ punishment? In a New York Times article, Robert Fisk compares the images with the horror of the 9/11 aircraft...colliding with the second WTC tower and that changed History. He may be exaggerating, but the photos in Iraq may have  signaled crossing the line of horror: The soldier torturers regard themselves above good and evil, forever unpunished.  Those responsible for the abuses and violence against defenseless prisoners posed to the cameras with the semblance of a work well done. Some smile at that atmosphere of insanity. They seem pleased with the role as rulers of hell.  They distribute humiliations like someone who distributes water and food amongst needing people.Yes, it’s possible that the photos have been obtained clandestinely and with different purposes. Yes, it is also possible that one of the torturers might have wanted to document those moments, and then given in to the weight of remorse. But it’s more likely that everything might have been the result of the sensation that, if the U.S. is the sheriff of the planet, its soldiers can do whatever they want underground.  Whatever the answer may be, the episode has dimsantled the speech that justified the invasion.  The speech had promised the arrival of civilization.”


"Looking For A Way Out In Iraq"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (5/10): "The disclosure of evidence of torture - thanks to the integrity of the U.S. media - has precipitated a crisis that will have consequences difficult to predict.... The USG has never had a consistent strategy for the occupation and continues to be divided in terms of what to do.... What has actually been discussed in regards to Washington's options is when and under what conditions the White House will 'declare victory and order the withdrawal'.... Washington's hard liners, who want the UN far from Baghdad, think that President Bush has been the victim of a plot by the Department of State.... Liberals believe that there will not be a military victory or political change without the UN. But the UN will only accept the task - and its presence will only be accepted by the Iraqis - if it can guide the stabilization as it did in Bosnia, in partnership with the provisional government in Baghdad."


"Torture Increases Wear And Tear On Bush Administration


Business-oriented Valor Economico (5/10) commented: "The military occupation in Iraq has not succeeded in stabilizing the nation.... Only simple-minded strategists believed that the force used to overthrow Saddam Hussein would be enough to resolve Iraq's problems.... To make a bad situation worse, reports of torture of Iraqi prisoners have shocked the Arab world as well as many of the Republicans who support Bush in the Congress.... President Bush's policy in the Middle East has been a disaster.  The 'Rumsfeld doctrine' in Iraq is a failure.... Sending additional troops to Iraq has become politically impossible, and the promise to yield some power to the Iraqis in June is more problematic than it was in the beginning.... The only way to stop the military escalation is to open serious political negotiations to install an autonomous government that has some chance of success.  The images of torture have negated all the supposed moral superiority of the democracy that the U.S. wants to impose on the region, in addition to making a political consensus among Iraqis even more difficult to achieve."


"Credibility In Check"


Center-left Jornal do Brasil editorialized (5/7):  “The apologies presented by Donald Rumsfeld...are of no use... The damage to U.S. image abroad is already done. The scandal of torture to Iraqi captives...outlines a type of a sad crepuscule of the American physical presence in Iraqi soil. It also puts in check the U.S. saga as exemplary supporter of human rights and liberties.... The end of Saddam will always be good news.  But that is not enough to restrain the liberal reaction currently in course in the U.S., which among other things clamors for Rumsfeld’s resignation.  Such measure will not in any way, reduce the scenario of violence in the region. The crisis not only feeds the risk of extremism in the Islamic world.  It also seriously affects the future of U.S. foreign policy.  It will obviously get even tougher to get from other nations the homework that Americans themselves were unable to do. The EU can be an alternative to barbarians from the other side, now led by Bush, the Scourge from Texas."



BOLIVIA:  "Mistakes In Iraq"


Humbert Vacaflor commented in leading centrist La Razon (5/10):  “The war shows Americans violating human rights in situations much worse than those attributed to Fidel Castro....  Every Sunday, El Prado, the main avenue in La Paz, closes for cultural and leisure activities.  On May 9, El Prado was also the scene of an unprecedented middle class civic demonstration asking for peace, democracy and dialogue in Bolivia. During yesterday’s event, young people distributed a leaflet showing the now famous pictures of naked Iraqi prisoners being scorned by U.S. military.  One caption, referring to U.S. requests for Bolivia to sign an Article 98 agreement read, "This is the reason US troops need immunity."  Another caption read,  "There will not be peace in Bolivia and the world as long as we maintain silence in the light of such atrocities."


CHILE:   "A Hard Blow For The United States"


An editorial in leading popular, independent held La Tercera (5/10):"The image of American soldiers submitting Iraqi soldiers to abuses…add a disturbing element to a post-war situation that was already extremely difficult for Washington even without these crimes….   To the atrocities now being revealed and which occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq...we must add the late and weak reaction by American authorities who were aware they were occurring.  Although President Bush has assured that horrors akin to those we are seeing now will not happen again, the international community has reason to doubt.”


"Unacceptable Abuses And Mistreatment In Iraq"


The weekly roundup column in conservative daily-of-record El Mercurio stated (5/9):  “In the current situation President Bush might have good reason to retain confidence in his secretary of Defense, but his opponents have solid reasons to demand his resignation.  Rumsfeld, they say, must be held accountable for the abuses committed by his subordinates and for the mistakes in the chain of command that allowed this to happen.” 


"Bush Must Send A Clear Signal"


Conservative daily of record El Mercurio noted (5/9):   “What is at stake here is the credibility of the U.S. as world leader and as guarantor of peace, human rights, freedom, and democracy….  This incident has revealed the inability of U.S. forces to give the Iraqis assurance and stability.”


"The Moral Vacuum After Abu Ghraib"


Roberto Ampuero commented in leading popular independent La Tercera (5/9):  “The human rights violations committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq...have had a devastating result, more than the actions of the Iraq resistance: the United States lost what remained of its moral authority in the Arab world.”


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:  "Abu Graib and the U.S."


In establishment, pro-business, government controlled leading morning Listin Diario, daily columnist Ana Mitila Lora mused (5/11):  “Shame, anger and sadness is what a scene of a naked Iraqi produces...the U.S. invaded Iraq to ‘save’ its people from barbarism and with the excuse of finding weapons of mass destruction which never appeared.  A year after that ‘preventive war’ and after submitting that country to the cruelest bombing, once again, abuses are rampant.  We admire the people of the United States but we reject its leaders’ policy of subjugation which we Latin Americans know so well.  What is sad about this scandal is that, in countries like the DR, where members of the Armed Forces and National Police torture prisoners without [the excuse] of a war, they feel their methods have been sanctified.  We remember each one of the Human Rights Reports that the State Department has produced for over a decade, and one can’t help but feel disappointed.”


GUATEMALA:  "Oh, Sweet Lynnie…"  


Business-oriented Siglo Veintiuno ran a comment by Mario Roberto Morales saying (5/11):  "“The tenderness and consideration with which the petite and sweet Lynnie England holds the leash around the throat of an iraqi emblematic of the morals that Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld have imposed on the U.S. military....  The very sweet Lynnie represents the authority that a handful of neo liberals  exercises over the United States’ military structure…  Lynnie has earned a place next to Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein in the gallery of terror...and demonstrates...with her Christian hands, that civilization has never been so close to brutality.”



"Abu Gharib Prison"  


Jorge Palmieri, staff columnist for influential El Periodico noted (5/11):  "The investigation of these extremes are part of a military report that has been kept secret for two weeks, in which the ‘criminal, sadistic, pathological and unjustifiable abuses’ committed by U.S. troops against iraqi prisoners of war are detailed....  The latest information is that Abdul Basid Turki, former iraqi Human Rights Minister, told Paul Bremer...about these abuses in November of last year.  Turki resigned his post when Bremer denied him permission to visit the prison to verify the complaints of abuses to prisoners of war.”


PANAMA:  "Deviations Feed Hateful Feelings Towards West"


Government critic La Prensa front page editorial column held (5/10):  "The coalition that invaded, under the flag of liberty, now subjects its enemies to the same tortures that they suffered under Saddam’s regime: how ironic.… Those deviations committed by U.S. soldiers...just feed the hateful feelings towards the Western world.… When seeing the horrendous images we understand the reason why the Bush administration opposes ratification of the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, created specifically to judge those people that commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.”


"Torturing Iraqi Prisoners"


Conservative El Panama America editorialized (5/10):   "The most recent incident is the torture of Iraqi prisoners in prisons administered by U.S. Army personnel...which shows the ethical and moral degradation that infests U.S. troops in Iraq, which makes us see images of a film we’ve seen before, the one about Vietnam, the prelude to a dramatic withdrawal.  Facing those denigrating practices...we cannot be indifferent.”


PARAGUAY:  "Shamelessness"


A regular columnist for  conservative La Nacion commented (5/9): “For a long time, the United States symbolized the spirit of human freedom…  But this must not hide the fact that there always existed in the United States forces completely opposed to American values, that were able to prevail many times, as when they supported tyrants such as Trujillo, Reza Pahlevi or Ferdinad Marcos, or procedures such as the ones inspired by the School of the Americas.  Regrettably, the government of George W. Bush represents these forces opposed to the principles on which the American republic was founded, something evident to whoever watches what it is doing in Iraq.  The shamelessness of Donald Rumsfeld, crying now that he has been caught by a still free press, is not enough to conceal this.”




A regular columnist for third largest-circulation, left-leaning Noticias asserted (5/9): “The torture and abuses that Americans imposed on Iraqi soldiers show the irrationality that lies in human beings, beyond their education and the values that they share with the group they belong to.… But it would be unjust to think of that society (American) and its authorities as plain sadists.  The aberrations will probably serve to demonstrate to the American themselves that the vileness of the human nature is also latent within them.  And it will precisely be the values that they defend which will compel them to react in order to impose punishment and adopt measures to prevent these types of behavior.”


URUGUAY:  "When The Liberator Tortures"


An op-ed in right-of-center, business-oriented La Republica stated (5/10):  “If each act of heroism and sacrifice in combat is going to be celebrated in wartime propaganda as a manifestation of the society that the soldier serves, at the very least that that society must do is accept as equally its own the miserable acts produced by those same elements, and then ask itself where it has failed with example and leadership that, in this case, was enough to win a war but is so far from winning peace....  The despicable practice of torturing prisoners is as much ‘anti-American’ as it is ‘anti-Iraqi’ or ‘anti-North Korean’ (humanity has not yet arrived at a point where the majority see it to be normal that a prisoner is sodomized with a broomstick) and in which Taguba’s report has found a ‘system’ to the practice based on two aspects that have received, even still, little emphasis: the primitivity of the intelligence services for the treatment of prisoners of war and the active participation and the level equality with the armed forces seen in ‘private guardians’ (the modern equivalent of the mercenaries of old, although belonging to American security institutions).” 


"Respect For Human Rights In All Places And Situations"


Conservative, pro-U.S. Ultimas Noticias asserted (5/10):  “The competent authorities or the adequate tribunals will soon make their rulings. The most important is that the society in and of itself and above all the authorities concerned are aware of these risks or crimes and adopt the corresponding measures as soon as possible.“


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