May 19, 2004
COALITION FACES A 'CATCH-22'
** Many dailies conclude
the Coalition's "search for an exit strategy" has begun.
** The transfer of
sovereignty is "the most difficult moment" in the Iraqi crisis.
** Pro-war writers urge
"finishing the job" but caution the outcome is "very
Iraq's 'dark days'-- The
assassination of IGC President Salim is "deeply depressing" and marks
blow to a shaky transition process," global editorialists averred. With the Coalition not "even able to
protect the pillars of this process" from attack and risking having their
forces "bogged down...as was the case in Vietnam," writers judged
that "the temptation to withdraw is huge." Many outlets, like Australia's Canberra
Times, speculated that "behind the scenes" the allies were
looking for "a new exit strategy" out of the Iraqi
"impasse." Statements by U.S.
officials that U.S. forces would be withdrawn if asked to do so by the new
transitional government showed that "the last taboo...is crumbling"
and "says a lot about the mood" of Coalition leaders, as did
purported U.S. willingness to accept an Islamic government if one emerges. This "reflects Washington's new realist
position," a Uruguayan daily declared.
'No good way out'-- Analysts
said it was "no time for make-believe measures." Handing Iraq "to the Iraqis is the only
way out of the crisis" but remains "risky." The U.S.-led coalition faces a
"catch-22"; even if "the only solution" is a political one
through the UN, the security situation still demands a military presence by the
"hated liberators." The longer
U.S. forces stay in Iraq "the more hatred they will provoke," South Africa's
liberal Witness maintained, but "if they pull out they will leave a
vacuum that could collapse into anarchy...leaving the jihadists to claim
victory over the evil superpower."
A few papers, like the business-oriented Trinidad Guardian,
argued that "it is time to withdraw...and to let the Iraqi people decide
their own destiny," but others contended the Coalition "must stick to
the timetable to prevent anarchy from triumphing."
A 'tragic denouement'--
Australia's liberal Sydney Morning Herald reflected the views of
many anti-war papers, stating: "The
only solution...would be for Washington to hand over total responsibility to
the UN." Pro-war, generally
conservative papers such as the UK's Scotsman, without underestimating
"the scale of the task" or overlooking that "success is by no
means assured," countered that the Coalition had to stay "to finish
the job" and scorned the "absolute madness of a cut-and-run
policy." They counseled, though,
that the June 30 handover "has to be more than just...symbolic"; the
Iraqis "need to be given the chance to take charge of their own
affairs." Other pro-war
editorialists cautioned the U.S. to "lower its sights and pursue the art
of the possible." Canada's National
Post confessed it was "increasingly difficult to see a light at the
end of the tunnel" and that "cutting and running" could be
"the least unattractive option," a "tragic" end for "a
war that many of us once expected would herald a new dawn for the Middle
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
93 reports from 42 countries May 9 - 19, 2004.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent
The June 30 handover of power has to be more than just a symbolic
date.... Time is a key factor because
Iraqi goodwill towards America is ebbing away.... Iraqis need to be given the chance to take
charge of their own affairs....
a tragic denouement for a war that many of us once expected would
herald a new dawn for the Middle East.
BRITAIN: "We Must
London mayor Ken Livingstone wrote in the left-of-center Guardian
(Internet version, 5/19): "When you
are in a hole, stop digging.... The
grisly state of affairs in Iraq is creating pressure for two radically opposed
alternatives. One is to increase the
number of British troops; that is, dig a deeper hole. The other is to withdraw British and U.S.
forces. But the more it goes on, the
clearer it is to me that we must withdraw....
What appears as a security problem is, in the end, political.... The efforts of the Bush administration to
square this circle through the transfer of some power to an unelected Iraqi
administration on June 30 will fail. The
U.S. will retain real control of security.
No Iraqi administration that does not control the security forces is
'sovereign', nor will it be seen as such.
Attacks on U.S. and British troops will continue.... Security cannot be achieved until Iraqis are
convinced that they have a legitimate administration and security forces. Only elections will deliver this. The most rapid possible timetable for
elections, not the chimera of military solutions, must be the British policy in
Iraq. While elections are being
organized, the UN should take charge of all foreign security forces in
Iraq. The main political organisations
in Iraq would have an entirely different attitude to a UN-commanded force than
the current U.S.-led one, isolating those engaged in military actions.... In principle, U.S. and British troops could
be transferred to such a UN command. But
the U.S. has always refused to put its troops under UN command.... The only way forward is to transfer command
of security operations to the UN and announce the progressive withdrawal of
U.S. and British troops. The Iraqi
administration, working with the UN, would be responsible for deciding what
security measures, what combination of internal, UN and neutral foreign forces,
it wished to maintain during the transition.
This might well mean temporarily replacing departing British and U.S.
troops with those from members of the Arab League--which are more likely to be
seen as neutral by Iraqis."
"Staying To Finish The Job"
Edinburgh's conservative Scotsman
editorialized (Internet version, 5/18):
"Yesterday, however, small amounts of sarin were deployed against
U.S. troops in Iraq.... It reminds us
that...despite more than a year’s investigation, some of this dangerous
material remains at large...[and] that the various Baathists, jihadists and
al-Qaida cells operating in Iraq have no more compunction against using WMD
than they have against cutting off the heads of innocent foreigners on
television, or assassinating any Iraqi working towards democracy. The message is loud and clear: there can be no question of withdrawing
coalition troops from Iraq while the present emergency lasts.... No Arab state is calling for allied troops to
pull out instantly, because they fear the consequences of chaos in Iraq as much
as anyone. It might be that the Iraqi
provisional government, when it appears after June, will use that fact to ask
for peacekeeping troops from Arab and Muslim nations. That might help relieve the military and
political pressures on the U.S. and Britain, though it is equally possible that
the Shia majority in Iraq will actually feel more comfortable with Western
troops than forces from Sunni countries.
These conclusions imply that the current debate in the UK over the
political future of Tony Blair is misplaced in one sense. Mr. Blair could be forced to demit
office.... However, Gordon Brown or some
other Labor stalwart in Number 10 will face exactly the same scenario in Iraq,
with no hope of cutting and running.
Which suggests we should focus on finishing the job rather than looking
for shortcuts which don’t exist."
"June 30 Can't Come Quickly Enough For The
Good Of Iraq"
Toby Harnden took this view in the conservative Daily Telegraph
(Internet version, 5/18): "These
are dark days for the people of Iraq.
Yesterday, many more of their number were lost and others horrifically
injured. The dead included not just
Izzedin Salim, the head of the country's Governing Council, but ordinary
workers at the entrance to the Green Zone coalition compound.... But now is no time for panic, defeatism or
paranoia. After yesterday, the easiest
thing would be to throw up our hands, bemoan the fact that the Iraq project was
doomed from the outset and pull out our troops.
This, of course, is exactly the response that the men who dispatched the
suicide bombers to Baghdad's checkpoint 12 hoped to provoke.... The murder of Mr. Salim is a sign not of the
intrinsic folly or tactical ineptitude of the American-led coalition. Neither is it, as the more optimistic U.S.
officials have said, an indication that America is winning in Iraq because the
insurgents have resorted to desperate tactics.
But it is a reminder of the scale of the task in Iraq and the nature of
what is at stake. Iraq has become the
battleground for the future of the Middle East and probably even the West
itself. Concluding at this stage that
Iraq is a lost cause could turn out to be a dangerous self-fulfilling
prophesy.... So what is to be done? If there is an answer, it is to speed up and
increase the amount of sovereignty to be handed over to Iraqis. The June 30 handover of power has to be more
than just a symbolic date.... Time is a
key factor because Iraqi goodwill towards America is ebbing away.... Iraqis need to be given the chance to take
charge of their own affairs.... American
military help will be needed to promote stability but the end result will be
down to Iraqis themselves. Success is by no means assured, but failure cannot
The conservative Times editorialized (5/18): "To talk about an early departure at the
same time as more troops are being deployed is to appear cynical. It is also dangerous to claim that all
soldiers would be removed on July 1 if that is what Iraq's new rulers wish when
it is highly unlikely that the coalition would really agree to such a
request. The notion that the main strategic
ambition for George W. Bush and Tony Blair might be to withdraw troops at speed
is a fallacy that each man must dismiss as forcefully as possible. If such an idea is allowed to take root, it
will make the management of events in Iraq more difficult."
The left-of-center Guardian opined (5/18): "The restoration of sovereignty seems to
have become the new light at the end of the tunnel. So what kind of sovereignty will the Iraqis
regain in six weeks time, and how much difference will it really make?... The U.S. is now claiming that the new
administration will not be qualified to exercise full powers because it has not
been elected and therefore has no legitimate right to amend or pass laws. There could hardly be a more disingenuous
argument: the U.S.-led coalition has changed its mind three times on how to
restore the Iraqi government but in spite of popular demands has consistently
opposed holding early elections. and the
laws which are now in place have been decreed by the coalition authority and
rubber-stamped by the governing council which it appointed without a wisp of
public legitimisation.... The UN envoy
Lakhdar Brahimi has said that no one expects the coalition forces to disappear
on July 1, but equally their future role and effectiveness should be questioned
very closely. The elaborate effort to
mask continued US military control through a new organisation called
Multinational Forces-Iraq (in which Iraqi forces are supposedly 'partners')
should be challenged. At the least, as
we have already argued, the Iraqi administration should have a veto power over
coalition forces' military operations--and the right to tell them to
"Blair Must Find A Way Out Of Iraq"
The center-left tabloid Daily Mirror observed (5/18): "When the prime minister says we will
remain in Iraq until the job is done, we have to ask what that job is. Is it simply handing over power? Or introducing democracy? Or bringing peace? All those aims were set back yesterday by the
killing of the head of Iraq’s ruling council.
If the U.S. could not protect him, there is a long way to go.... Tony Blair must have an exit strategy. And one with a short time-scale."
"Iraq And A Smell Of Appeasement"
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail held (5/18): "On the very day speculation grows over
what London and Washington are planning in Iraq, the terrorists strike again
[by killing]...Izzadin Salim, head of the Iraqi Governing Council.... Today, nobody is safe in Iraq, not even leaders
afforded special protection. And in the
shock of this setback, suspicion is growing that Britain and America may be
preparing to cut their losses and run....
We now say--reluctantly and with a heavy heart--that to leave Iraq now,
with the job half done, would be even more wrong than the original
"Prepare An Orderly End To Occupation"
The center-left Independent took this view (5/17): "It is hard to pin down exactly when the
self-appointed liberators turned into aggressors in the eyes of Iraqis.... Opinions may differ about when the line was
crossed. Some U.S. officials insist that
their forces are liberators still, threatened by foreign fighters, Islamic fundamentalists
and remnants of Saddam's regime. But it
is surely time for the U.S. and Britain to face the fact that in the eyes of
very many Iraqis our forces are unwelcome, oppressive intruders. Far from fostering security and stability,
they are a block to peace and a focus for attack. If Washington will not draw this obvious conclusion
and prepare for an orderly exit, then our government must revisit its
unconditional support for George Bush and weigh the consequences of retreating
"Paying The Price Of Iraq Deceit"
The tabloid Daily Mail editorialized (5/17): "The Prime Minister has alienated many
people in years of sleaze, spin and deceit in power but the main reason that
people no longer trust him is the war in Iraq.... Whatever this paper’s doubts about the war
(and we have expressed them from the very start), there can be no question of
pulling out in the present circumstances.
To do so would hand a victory to al-Qaida, leave the country vulnerable
to a takeover by a hard-line Islamist regime and potentially destabilise the whole
Middle East. The fact that the West is
facing such an appalling dilemma demonstrates the total failure of Mr Blair’s
"The Time Has Arrived For An Exit Strategy From Iraq"
Comment editor Adrian Hamilton maintained in the
center-left Independent (5/13):
"It is time for the dreaded 'e' word. We need an exit strategy for Iraq and we need
to be honest about it.... The simple
point is that we have passed the point at which the presence of American, and
with them the British, troops were occasionally resented by broadly accepted
guarantee of security in Iraq. Instead
we are now seen as an alien and oppressive foreign occupying power, and the Abu
Ghraib images have only served to stamp that message home.... Mr. Blair should state in the clearest
possible public terms that it is Britain's intention to withdraw all its troops
following an election, keeping only those forces which the new Baghdad
government specifically requests. It's
not a question of cutting and running, simply an acceptance of reality: we cannot stay where we are no longer
"Can They Leave Iraq?"
Jean Daniel opined in left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel
Observateur (5/19): “Paul Bremer and
Colin Powell raised the possibility of a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces
from Iraq. This is a stupefying
suggestion, in spite of President Bush’s ensuing rectification.... I cannot believe that Paul Bremer decided to
make such an odd declaration on his own.
I am more inclined to believe that considering the worsening situation
on the ground, with the compounding effect of the revelations about prisoner
abuse, Paul Bremer was trying to put all the components of Iraqi society face
to face with reality. As for Colin
Powell, he saw an opportunity to regain some of his lost freedom. But like Bremer, Powell cannot have launched
such a trial balloon without President Bush’s green light. President Bush must have considered that U.S.
public opinion was ready for such an announcement, which is both an aggressive
and defeatist decision. Psychologically
and diplomatically, the shock is enormous, because even if America’s image has
turned both piteous and alarming in Iraq and throughout the world, important
groups (the Kurds, the Iranians, the Syrians, Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis) want
the U.S. to maintain its forces in Iraq.
This is why President Bush later announced that U.S. forces would remain
after the creation of an Iraqi government....
The truth is that local groups in Iraq remain violently divided when it
comes to taking and sharing power in Iraq.
This is obviously the worst possible outcome which we feared for
Iraq. The U.S. wanted to export secular
democracy...but Secretary Powell is already saying that a theocratic government
in Iraq would be acceptable.... This is
the first sign of being resigned to the emergence of an Islamic
Republic.... Today, few are those who
are willing to send troops to Iraq to help the U.S. Suddenly the world is wondering whether
anyone can do anything with the U.S. administration as long as Donald Rumsfeld
Patrick Sabatier remarked in left-of-center Liberation
(5/18): “The assassination of the
Council leader...is...indicative of the situation. The terrorists have hit the coalition where
it hurts the most: in its inability to
find allies able to take over power in Iraq....
It is clear that in Iraq no new power will be able to govern by June 30,
with or without the UN’s blessing. Its
sovereignty will be ‘limited’ because of its internal divisions, but also
because of Washington’s desire to keep control of certain key sectors, such as
the security sector.... Therefore the
interim government will not enjoy the sovereignty which might have convinced
the Iraqis of its legitimacy.... Its
members will be considered to be collaborators.... Nevertheless, handing Iraq to the Iraqis is
the only way out of the crisis. It is
indeed a risky wager, one that may be already lost. The transfer must nevertheless happen, but it
must be a real transfer, not a make-believe one, that will change nothing but
will allow Bush to save face.”
"An Assassination That Has Everyone Worried"
Joseph Limagne concluded in regional Ouest France
(5/18): “For the mired Bush
administration the transfer of sovereignty represented an out. In fact
Washington has no alternative. But the
outcome remains very much uncertain. The
Americans still do not know to whom Paul Bremer will be handing the rein in
little over a month.... The White House
has no clear idea of what the transition period should be, while the Iraqis on
the interim Council have already been discredited.... The Americans are therefore counting on
Lakhdar Brahimi.... President Bush is
holding on to that solution, considering that the transfer of power in Iraq
will be taking place during the last phase of the presidential campaign.... The [Greater Middle East Initiative] has come
and gone. In Washington and London a
feeling of failure prevails.
Editorialists who supported the war are beginning to regret it, even
admitting that Chirac was right to oppose it.
This is a meager consolation. The
only solution is a political solution to be implemented by the UN. But the level of insecurity on the ground
demands a military presence. There is no
military presence other than that of the U.S.
And so while the U.S. presence has become a problem, its quick
withdrawal is not the solution.”
"June 30 And Then What?"
Bruno Frappat wrote in Catholic La Croix (5/18): “‘Sovereignty.’ This word is on everyone’s lips.... The opponents to the war, with France in the
lead, are, like the rest, asking for Iraq to recover its sovereignty.... But how to choose, and grant legitimacy to,
those who will be Iraq’s future depositary of that sovereignty?... Just when the scandal of prisoner abuse is
weakening the position of the 'liberators,' these same 'liberators' seem very
much tempted to hand over Iraq to the Iraqis, but to which Iraqis? To those who will be designated as the
victors by a future civil war? To those
who will be named by the UN as most 'acceptable'? President Bush, who has been sending out
trial balloons through his advisors, is mired in a war that may cost him his
popularity. There is only one trump card
he can play: to cynically hold to the
date of June 30 without considering the state in which he will leave Iraq.”
Patrick Sabatier opined in left-of-center Liberation (5/17): “While some on either side of the Atlantic
and the British Channel are wondering whether the French weren’t right from the
start...it is important to remember that a coalition debacle would not be in
the best interest of France and its security.... But while we must not rejoice over the
coalition’s defeats, we must draw the proper lessons from Iraq.... Those directly responsible for the waste,
Bush and Blair, continue to deny they made strategic errors. They are trying to disclaim responsibility
(for the prisoner abuse incidents) and are putting the blame on the lower
echelons. They are threatening to
withdraw from Iraq to force the Iraqis and the UN to plead with them to
stay. A precipitous withdrawal of the
occupation forces would aggravate the chaos, subjecting the Iraqis to other
dictatorships...and endless civil wars.
In reality, the only withdrawal that might open the door to a resolution
to the crisis would be Bush’s withdrawal, Blair’s and their advisors’. They will not do it on their own, but we can
still hope that the voters will force them out.”
"Handing The Iraqis Back Their Sovereignty"
Pascal Boniface of IRIS (Institute for International and Strategic
Studies) maintained in left-of-center Liberation (5/17): “America’s
credibility has suffered so much that the U.S. is close to a moral defeat. Once again we are astounded by the gap
between, on the one hand, the reassuring declarations of U.S. officials who at
the most recognize minor and temporary difficulties in Iraq, and on the other
hand what the entire world has been able to see in the media.... The daily degradation of the situation is a
promise of a catastrophe in the making....
While no one wants the chaos to continue in Iraq, this is no time to
send more soldiers to the aid of the American troops: that is not the way to help, on the
contrary.... Those countries that did
not take part in the war may one day participate in reestablishing order in
Iraq. But only under the aegis of the UN
and after a legitimate Iraqi government has asked for help. Both conditions are incompatible with a U.S.
military presence in Iraq, because it is part of the problem, and not the
solution.... Any foreign presence associated
with the U.S. risks being contaminated by the hate that Washington has
triggered. One may even wonder if any
international presence has now become impossible in Iraq.... If the international community still has a
chance to help Iraq reestablish some kind of order, it must be done in liaison
with a U.S. withdrawal and the help of Arab regional forces.... One thing is certain: pursuing today’s strategy will lead to a
catastrophe. This is no time for
make-believe measures: a real transfer
of sovereignty to the Iraqis has become urgent.
It must be proof of a clear break from the present strategy and
therefore put an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq. Maintaining such a presence will seriously
compromise the chances for an international solution to succeed.”
GERMANY: "A Qadhafi
Josef Joffe judged in a front-page editorial in center-left,
weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (5/19):
"It is idle talk to speculate about whether or when the United
States will withdraw from Iraq. But it
is not yet too early to think about lessons and options: about the gap between magnificent ambitions
and miserly funds, about the democracies' lack of ability to see such wars
through that only indirectly serve one's own security, about addressing
political pathologies in a region that exceeds everything in hatred and the
willingness to use violence the West would ever be able produce.... In a region where the wind of democratic
change has not left a mark since 1989, the issue cannot be good convictions but
only the right behavior. That is why
America should bid farewell to liberal-revolutionary dreams and return to the
realpolitik traditions of its foreign policy.
Look at Qadhafi: he changed his
mind not because of mere remorse, but because he felt the realities of U.S.
power. In the case of Iraq, the
Americans could withdraw to bases that can easily be defended in order to act
from there as the power that is willing to use force and that is able to tip
the scales in the Iraqi power struggle.
The goal would not be regime change but character change in the way
Qadhafi did: as a ruler who is strong
enough to keep a state together, but does this in the shadow of U.S. power that
prevents him from supporting terror and from experimenting with nuclear
weapons. Less ambition but greater
success would be the slogan which U.S. secessionist allies like the ones in
Paris and Berlin could support. For it
cannot be in their interest that, with the United States, a power of order
disappears from one of the most dangerous regions in the world that Europe will
"At A Turnabout"
Torsten Riecke noted in an editorial in business daily Handelsblatt
of Duesseldorf (5/19): "The last taboo of the U.S. policy
towards Iraq is crumbling. Raison d'etat
and political reason are preventing an open discussion over a quick U.S. troop
withdrawal from Iraq, but with every GI killed there is the growing wish among
many Americans to get their soldiers back home.... President George W. Bush wants to stay the
course...but the issue cannot be a taboo for a long time in the presidential
election campaign. It is true that
growing unease has not yet reached the heads of all Americans, since political
reason still tells them that a U.S. failure in Iraq would be victory for
terror...but there are mounting doubts about whether America can do anything
good in Iraq. These doubts are fuelled
by the daily failure of U.S. ambitions....
If drastic events do not happen in Iraq, the controversy over torture
could be the psychological turnabout in the U.S. engagement in Iraq. There is still not a movement against this
war like during the Vietnam era. Much
will now depend on the future position of Democratic presidential candidate
Kerry.... He must offer more to the
Americans than his previous slogan: 'For
our forces, but against Bush.' Even
though Bush and Kerry present themselves as strong leaders, the Americans are
missing 'leadership' at their top....
Especially during times in which public opinion has been influenced so
much by martial events, such a leadership vacuum can have disastrous
consequences. Nothing would be worse for
Iraq and the rest of the world if the United States, following such a crisis,
withdrew to isolation."
"Calculations Of Power"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in an editorial
in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (5/18): "It is likely that this attack on the
president of the interim government will not remain the only one until power is
formally handed over to the Iraqi transitional government on June 30. Vagabonding terrorists, criminal political
insurgents with links to the old regime are clearly aiming at thwarting the
government and bombing the political process to death. These people are interested in 'chaotizing,'
not in stabilizing, the situation. It is
not the spirit of national 'resistance' that is driving them, but their own
power calculations. It is clear that the
date of June 30 should not be shaken, but it is also necessary that a future
Iraqi government must be equipped with sufficient authority and legitimacy. But this is also certain: its opponents, who also are receiving support
from international sources, will not give away their bombs for this reason
"The Duty Of The West"
Jacques Schuster noted in a front-page editorial
in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (5/18): "It is impossible to say in which
direction Iraq will drift. But the most
recent attack against Iraq's interim president gives enough reason to be
pessimistic. But it is still too early
to talk about a failure in Iraq and to call for the immediate withdrawal of
U.S. forces. Despite the attack, the
Iraqi transitional council still offers the chance for a better future. It still represents all population groups in
the country. It personifies the central
representation of the Iraqis and is able to restore law and order and to create
a minimum degree of calm and stability at the same time. Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis have understood
this. They are interested in a
continuation of the provisional government."
"The Hated Liberator"
Washington correspondent Malte Lehming filed the
following editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (5/18): "The drama is that [the current
situation in Iraq] does not allow an alternative. Every other strategy would be even more
daring. This means: transfer of power on June 30, preparations
for elections, greater involvement of the UN.
Only the Iraqis are allowed to vote on the future of Iraq. They will take over greater responsibility
for the country if the country belongs to them.
The Americans must promote this feeling.
This includes the insight that a new Iraqi nationalism includes a bit of
anti-Americanism, since a pro-American government would be ridiculed as a U.S.
puppet regime. The U.S. government has
no other choice: It must persistently
pursue a course for the establishment of a halfway legitimate government that
will automatically anti-American. The
liberated and suppressed demand back their dignity. The U.S. government must accept this. If the chaos is not to turn into a fiasco, it
must accept its defeat in the struggle for the hearts of the Iraqis."
"No Withdrawal Now"
Markus Ziener penned this in business daily Handelsblatt
of Duesseldorf (5/18): "With
respect to contents, the United States can do much to counter the fatal
impression until the elections that the interim government will own more than
appearances of sovereignty after July 1.
The civil administration (and as of July 1 the U.S embassy in Baghdad)
must then also bid farewell to those areas of power that hurt, for instance the
oil sector. Symbolic acts also include
the trial against Saddam Hussein, whose preparations should be clearly in the
hands of the Iraqis. This process offers
the chance to turn around the debate over Iraq.
This is why the proceedings should begin soon. And in this respect, it is also necessary to
counter the impression that the United States would only incarcerate Saddam
like a trophy in a bunker somewhere in Iraq or Qatar. Since Saddam's dictatorship is the real
reason for the chaos in Iraq. The U.S.
mismanagement came thereafter."
"Loss Of Reality In the White House"
Rolf Paasch argued in an editorial in
left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/18): "The biggest unknown factor in the
policy of the Bush administration is the planned transfer of power to the Iraqi
transition government. At the same time,
Sunni and Shiite militia forces have found a new field of activity because it
is too much for the U.S. forces to handle the situation in Iraq. The vacuum of political leadership has led to
the fact that the killing of another governing council member makes the belated
mission of UN envoy Brahimi even more difficult. And as long as Washington does not present a
clear draft for a new resolution, the engagement of current and potential
allies in Iraq will crumble rather than increase. With a defense secretary, who creates doubts
about his loyalty, Bush only has NSA Rice as a presentable representative for
his policy. Those who followed her meetings
in Germany get an idea of the loss of reality that has been going on in the
"In A Rush"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland
of Hamburg judged (5/18): "The Iraq
conflict has turned into a war of symbols and the United States is threatening
to lose this struggle. After the
devastating effect of the pictures of torture, the killing of the chairman of
the governing council...is again creating a dilemma for the occupiers. Six weeks before the planned transfer of
sovereignty, the Americans are not even able to protect the pillars of this
process.... Nevertheless, the allies
must continue to stick to the timetable to prevent anarchy from
triumphing. In the future, forces will
be necessary for an orderly transfer of power and the safety of democratic
forces. This is why the occupiers must
commit themselves to a long-term engagement.
But the slalom that the British and Americans have shown over the past
few days gives reason to doubt this....
We are beginning to suspect that the governments in London and
Washington react only to domestic problems, irrespective of developments in
Iraq.... But Britain and the United
States must accept their responsibility especially because they began this war
under false pretexts. Even if an Iraqi
model democracy according the western ideal seems to be utopian, power should
not simply be left to diverse militia forces and terror groups. The allies should bid farewell to the country
only if the situation is stable, but this is incompatible with a quick
withdrawal. And this is something Powell
and Blair should tell their voters."
"Way Out Of Iraq"
Torsten Krauel penned the following in right-of-center Die Welt
of Berlin (5/15): "Paul Bremer's
statement...means that the United State is adjusting to being thrown out of
Iraq.... The new Iraqi government will
not appear in public unaffected by opinion currents. If the pressure grows to show the United
States its way out, Washington will not oppose this. But this could also be of use for George W.
Bush. A decision by a sovereign Iraq
that he created...would be an exit strategy that would resolve the problem to
develop such a strategy on his own....
It is important for him...to create a psychological tendency to conclude
the Iraq war. If a democratic Iraq sees
to it that the GIs will return home on time, the expected growth figures will
play an even more important role in the election campaign."
ITALY: "Brahimi Asks
U.S. For Means To Act"
Ennio Caretto opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (5/19): “On the eve of
the presentation of his report to the UN in New York, Baghdad Envoy Lakhdar
Brahimi warned that the UN will have a limited role in Iraq: ‘no more talk about a vital role; it’s more
than enough to talk about a role'....
This is a veiled criticism toward President Bush and PM Tony Blair, who
seem to want to give the UN the responsibility after June 30, but without
effective political and military powers....
Brahimi’s protests stem from the difficulties that he is encountering in
giving way to a new Iraqi government, from the instability in Iraq, and from
the lack of an exit strategy on the part of the Anglo-Americans.... The risk that the transfer of powers on June
30 will be more of a formal rather than a substantial action is a disturbing picture,
unless the talks on the new UN resolution establish the effective transfer of
power to the Iraqi people along with the creation of a multinational force.”
Prominent foreign affairs commentator Sergio Romano opined in
centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (5/18): “In order to leave Iraq without causing the
country to slip into a civil war, the United States and Great Britain must set
two conditions: they must establish an
Iraqi government that is competent, authoritative and free to make its own
decisions; and an Iraqi military and police force is needed to stem the revolt
and impose order. If Bush and Blair were
to leave Iraq without having achieved these objectives, it would be political
suicide. Will they be able to do this in
a few months’ time? Will they be able to
do now, at the peak of the crisis, what they weren’t able to do under more
favorable circumstances? This is the
situation the Italian prime minister will be facing in Washington
tomorrow. Berlusconi is in a predicament
similar to that of the British prime minister. His public opinion is against
the war. And his coalition, like Blair’s
party, is beginning to crack.”
"Let’s Admit The Mistake And Go"
Massimo Fini noted in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il
Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (5/18): “Our soldiers are not peacekeeping forces,
but they are also not equipped to be war forces. They are targets. Zapatero was derided, but he acknowledged
reality and he got on one of the last available buses.... It is much more difficult for us to disengage
today.... But in a quieter moment, it
will be necessary for Western democracies to recognize that the Iraqi operation
was a boomerang, under every point of view.
We went into Iraq with the presumption that we were a ‘superior
civilization’ and we revealed ourselves to be torturers. We went into Iraq for reconstruction purposes
and the firms had to flee because they couldn’t remain in a place where every Westerner
is a target. Admitting one’s errors
shows strength. Perseverance is not only
diabolic, it’s stupid.”
"The War That We Run The Risk Of Losing"
Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio observed (5/18): “Western media are diligently trying to
demonstrate that we are just like the terrorists, maybe worse, and it’s
prohibited to show the behavior of the enemy, like the decapitation of Nick
Berg, because it’s not politically correct.
Western organizations and governments are falling prey to divisions, suspicion,
and animosity. We’re discussing an ‘exit strategy,’ which is legitimate, and
part of a non-colonial undertaking and not founded on territorial dominion, but
we’re doing so without having established security in Iraq and without having
eliminated the armed threats to the stability and reconstruction in that
country. We run the risk of losing a war
that until now we have not been capable of conducting according to the rules of
"Bush: Transfer Of
Powers Will Not Be Postponed"
Mario Platero commented in leading business daily Il Sole-24
Ore (5/18): “The killing of Izzedin
Salim, head of the Iraqi Governing Council, confirms that unpleasant surprises
for America know no end. But the Bush
administration did not show signs of discouragement or concern.... It’s clear that we’re facing the most
difficult moment in the handling of the Iraqi crisis--it’s the moment just
between the political talks at the UN for the resolution...and the transfer of
sovereignty to Iraq. The alliance is
under great pressure both internally and on the field, as the situation becomes
increasingly more difficult.... The UN
is at the center of the Iraqi political transformation and it holds the
political balance: it’s ever more clear
that without an adequate Security Council resolution, it will be increasingly
difficult to reach a consensus.”
RUSSIA: "Must We Let
Ourselves Be Dragged Into Iraq Mess?"
Oleg Shevtsov opined in reformist youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya
Pravda (5/18): "Coming to
Moscow the other day, U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice sought
our support on a new UN resolution on Iraq.
The American aggressors hope to repair their image through enlarging
their coalition under the UN colors. The
Americans would like Arabs to side with them, but even the most loyal of their
allies have difficulty doing so for ethical reasons. They will be pleased even more to see Russian
armored personnel carriers ply the Middle East desert.... But must we help the U.S. marines clear their
mess in Iraq? Our American partners have
more than once promised to take our interests into account in return for our
allied assistance. Getting our full
support in Afghanistan, they tightened their grip on Central Asia. They also keep bugging us for our methods of
fighting terrorists in Chechnya. This at
the time when they maltreat Iraq prisoners.
Strategic partnership needs to be based on mutual trust. So while coordinating in bringing about a
settlement in Afghanistan and Iraq, we should not send our countrymen to help
U.S. expansion in oil-rich regions."
"Iraq Resolution Race"
Reformist Vremya Novostey (5/17)
front-paged this by Katerina Labetskaya in Washington and Aleksandr
Timofeyev: "Over the past weekend
Russia and the United States were actively looking for an acceptable model of a
settlement in Iraq. There is little time
left for disputes.... The situation in
Iraq incites no optimism. A quick troop
withdrawal from Iraq is fraught with chaos and internecine feuds, so Russia
does not mind the international forces staying on after June 30. But they must cease to be an occupation
force; their mandate, mission, responsibility to the UN, and the duration of
their stay in Iraq should be clearly determined. Unlike Washington and London, Moscow is in no
rush and wants the process of forming a new interim government to be as
transparent as possible and its makeup acceptable to the broad sections of the
Iraqi population, neighboring countries and the world at large. Also, the UN Security Council should approve
the new government.... As seen by
Russia, the proposed resolution is not a top priority. It is far more important now to work out a
concept of an Iraq settlement following sovereignty transfer."
"The U.S. Out To Pass Buck To UN"
Anatoliy Shvedov said in reformist Izvestiya
(5/17): "The Americans would
clearly like to shift the Iraq burden to the UN Security Council
member-nations, if not all of the UN.
Meanwhile Moscow has been increasingly galled by the United States being
active in former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the
Caucasus. Washington prefers talking
about 'constructive cooperation' with those countries and urges the Kremlin and
its Foreign Ministry to give up 'old thinking.'"
Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya ran this by B.
Lvov (5/13): "Looking closely at
what the U.S. administration is up to with regard to Iraq, it is easy to see
that the plan is simple and provides for more efforts to delude the public at
home and abroad. The United States says
that it will start transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30, assist in
adopting a new UN resolution on placing Iraqi authorities under a kind of UN
auspices, and eventually pull out its troops and let in the Blue Helmets. All that is a lie pure and simple. The truth is that the United States has in
mind to stay in control of the Iraqi armed forces, keep up the extra-territorial
status of the U.S. troops there, be able to veto any laws and decisions made by
the Iraqi authorities, maintain its presence in Iraq indefinitely, and be the
sole master of its resources. If so, any
Iraqi government and parliament under
the UN aegis is a farce, and the proposed UN Security Council resolution to
draw more allies into Iraq a hoax. Just
like a year ago, the Bush administration, as it refers to the UN Security
Council, is hoping to find dupes there, but there have been fewer of them in
the world lately."
Decisions Are Needed In Iraq"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy editorialized in
independent La Libre Belgique (5/18):
"The post-June 30 period seems to have been as well prepared by the
British and Americans as the post-war period and...in those circumstances and
for lack of support from the other major countries of the UN Security Council,
the United Nations will face an insurmountable challenge."
"Occupiers Still Don't' See A Way Out In
Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert wrote in
Christian-Democrat De Standaard (5/18):
"On June 30, Iraq will theoretically become sovereign again. But when will the United States and Great
Britain be able to leave without leaving chaos behind them? Both British and American public opinions are
increasingly asking for an 'exit strategy.'
But neither Washington nor London seem to have one.... With the exception of the date, June 30,
nothing is clear about the transfer of power.... The interim government, which is supposed to
organize elections by the end of the year, does not have a lot of credibility in
Iraq because it was not elected but chosen by the UN, in consultation with the
United States. If Iraqis view it as
getting its orders from abroad, its credibility will become nil."
IRELAND: "Setback In
The center-left Irish Times argued (5/18): “The assassination yesterday of Abdul Zahra
Othman, known as Izzedin Salim, the largely ceremonial president of the Iraqi
Governing Council since May 1st, is another blow to a shaky transition process
that is supposed to pass real power to Iraqis in barely six weeks
time..... It was a warning to the U.S.
that its writ still does not run, and to all those who are working with it that
they may pay a heavy price for doing so....
U.S. officials have in recent days, with Salim's support, been suggesting
a role for members of the current IGC in what would otherwise be the largely
technocratic administration proposed by the United Nations representative,
Lakhdar Brahimi. Despite recent polls
showing 80 per cent of Iraqis do not have confidence in the U.S.-led
Provisional Authority, the injection of some political voices could indeed add
some legitimacy to its successor. The
intimidation of such moderate elements poses a real danger to the possibility
of a managed transition and will provide comfort only to those determined to
plunge Iraq into a sectarian civil war.
And, the more difficult and violent the process becomes, the less
inclined the U.S. will be to hand over, as it must, the real levers of power to
Iraqis--or Iraqis and the UN--most particularly control over the army. Much depends on cool heads prevailing.”
Deputy chief editor Arie Elshout wrote in influential liberal De
Volkskrant (5/10): "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."
POLAND: "Let’s Leave
Iraq Before It’s Too Late"
Tabloid Super Express editorialized (5/19): “No one can feel secure in Iraq any
longer. The stabilization mission of
coalition forces has turned into a bloody war.
Therefore Super Express believes we should withdraw our
twenty-five hundred troops from there as soon as possible. They did their job. They tried to instill peace in Iraq, build
schools, hospitals, and wells. To no
avail.... Withdrawing the Polish
contingent cannot mean abandoning our ally.
We have [Polish] special forces in Iraq, GROM in particular, designed to
conduct real fighting side-by-side with the Americans. And they should stay.”
"Iraqi Boiling Pot"
Bronislaw Wildstein wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita
(5/18): “The worst thing that could
happen to Iraq now would be to leave this country to its own fate.”
"A Ceremony For Bush"
Robert Stefanicki observed in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza
(5/18): “U.S. General Mark Kimmit said
the assassination of Izzidine Salim...reinforced the coalition’s conviction
that the transfer of power is proper and necessary. He meant that the end of chaos is near, that
as of July 1, when a ‘sovereign’ government assumes power, Iraq will cease to
be an occupied country, so military resistance and terror will lose their
grounds. Nothing could be more wrong. The ministers of an interim government will
be targets for terrorists just as members of the Governing Council are because
the government--just as the Council--will have very limited sovereignty, and in
the eyes of the Iraqis it will be stained by the sin of illegitimacy.”
Foreign policy analyst Cornel Codita commented in financial daily Bursa
(5/19): "The word 'Vietnam' is now
on the lips of all those contesting the policy of the U.S. administration [in
Iraq].... There are more and more signs
that the Administration is becoming the victim of the 'Vietnam syndrome.' After the Administration initially insisted
that the U.S. military presence in Iraq would be a long one, even after the
transfer of power, now there are more and more signs that a withdrawal might
take place right after June 30--in any case, before the Americans go to the
polls on the first Tuesday in November.
Everything now looks like a desperate attempt to avoid the same
well-known ending [as the Vietnam war]."
On A Barrel Of Dynamite"
Left-of-center Delo editorialized (5/18): "The end of major military operations in
Iraq was actually the moment when the war really began. Since then, we have only heard bad news.... The President of the Iraqi Council was
assassinated on Monday, and the first Italian soldier was killed in a direct
military encounter. Both pieces of news
are bad. The Americans are not able to
protect the president of the body they have established and tasked with
covering the occupation with a veil of collaboration. Italians who went to Najaf on a humanitarian
operation found themselves in the middle of a battle for control of the
city. There is also good news. The American military is planning to transfer
4.000 soldiers from South Korea to Iraq.
This is the first time in a while that [the U.S.] acknowledged the
actual situation. It is not
democratization...gradual transition of authority to civilian institutions, or
a war against terrorism...that is currently going on in Iraq. The current situation in Iraq is a war which
one side will win. Americans themselves
made up the reason for the war....
Hence, it will be their victory or defeat. There is no need for these laurels to be
shared with reluctant coalition members, the United Nations, or an imaginary
Iraqi sovereign sitting on a barrel of dynamite."
SPAIN: "What If The
U.S. Leaves Iraq?"
Alberto Sotillo asked in conservative ABC (5/16): "The announcement by current U.S.
viceroy for Iraq Paul Bremer that the U.S. will leave the country if the future
government asks them to seems yet another effort to convince Iraqis that the
turnover of sovereignty will not be a pantomime. But Bremer may be reflecting other hidden and
piercing wishes existing among those who are living the despairing day-to-day
of the occupation. There are some very
suspicious words: 'It's obvious that we
cannot stay if we are not welcomed.'
And what if Bremer was saying the truth?"
TURKEY: "The Way
Fikret Bila argued in the mass-appeal Milliyet (5/18): “The U.S. and UK are searching for a way out
in Iraq by trying to establish an Iraqi government that will have the Iraqis’
trust and support but will also defend U.S. and UK interests. Is it possible to have such an administration
in Iraq? Would Iraqis support such a
government? Moreover, could an Iraqi
administration defend U.S. and UK interests after getting such support from its
own people? This is not possible. Only a ‘puppet government’ could allow a
continued U.S. and British military presence in Iraq and take care of their
economic and political interests. But
this kind of government would never get the support of the Iraqi people. If the choice is left to the people, they
will definitely elect an anti-American and anti-British administration, which
will most likely be a Shiite government.
Secretary Powell already says the U.S. will respect a religious
administration in Iraq if that comes out of the election process. The U.S. is no longer interested in the type
of government that will be established in Iraq, but only in whether that
government will preserve a U.S. and British military presence, prevent violence
against U.S. and UK forces, and protect the economic and political interests of
the U.S. in Iraq. I would like to think
that the U.S. will not allow the Iraqi people to carry Iraq toward a civil war
through more ethnic and religious conflict while they are looking for their
"Future Of Iraq"
Cengiz Candar noted in the conservative-sensational DB Tercuman
(5/13): “Today the focus should be the
future of Iraq rather than unnecessary debates about whether or not the war was
justifiable. The U.S. vision for Iraq,
as stated from the beginning, is a democratic Iraq with territorial
integrity. The formula to achieve this
goal is a federal Iraq. The Abu Ghraib
photos created a fatal blow against the American intentions, yet American
vision for Iraq’s future remains a valid as well as a legal goal.... The U.S. should not abandon its policy of
transferring authority to Iraqis.
Transfer of authority must be coordinated with an election calendar. The U.S. should also take steps toward
fairness in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and urgently discard its
‘pro-Israel’ image. As for the Abu
Gharib scandal, the U.S. should make sure that the responsible persons,
including the responsible political rank, receive severe punishment.”
"Leaving Iraq Will Be Very Difficult For The U.S."
Mehmet Ali Birand noted in the mass-appeal, sensational Posta
(5/11): “Some groups in Turkey are happy
about the U.S. misery in Iraq. They want
the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq.... Yet
if the U.S. loses all control in Iraq and is forced to withdraw, the country
will become even more unstable. If
things take such a turn, it will be Turkey that will suffer the most.... The first test will be on June 30, when
authority in the country will be partially transferred to Iraqis. The U.S. must not repeat the mistakes of the
past 12 months, but rather take careful and correct steps that will alleviate
problems. Unfortunately, the
presidential election in November will mean that domestic political
considerations will become paramount in the U.S. Iraq policy. This will cause a delay in the implementation
of important changes.”
IRAQ: "Last Chance
Looms To Form Representative Government"
Muhammad Abdul Jabbar wrote in Al-Sabah daily, issued by
the Iraqi Media Network on behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority (IWPR
translation, 5/13): "No matter what
form the next government takes, it represents the last chance to form a
government of national unity and of good representation. The most important issue is the range of
representation in this government. There
is a great desire to establish a government capable of representing the
extremely various Iraqi political spectrum.
This representation will be considered an embodiment of national unity
and a temporary compensation for postponed electoral legitimacy. However, there are misgivings that Iraqis may
lose this last chance as they did on three previous occasions: forming the Governing Council, appointing
ministers, and appointing deputy ministers.
This kept many powers off the political stage and led to political and
social tensions. In the absence of the
option of elections, those who will be responsible for making the decision of
appointment have to make the right decision as the last step they take before
some of them leave their current posts."
ISRAEL: "Iraq In
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(5/10): "Since its liberation, Iraq
has made tremendous progress.... The
name of the game is not to throw away all this, and the potential of an Iraq
that is successful and free, just because some in the West have lost confidence
in the West's own cause. For this to
happen, the people of Iraq must be allowed to establish their own elected
government as quickly as possible, perhaps even ahead of the 2005 deadline for
elections currently in place. A fully
legitimate Iraqi government--not UN-appointed technocrats from the old
regime--is the best guarantor of freedom and stability in Iraq and
SAUDI ARABIA: "Deeply
The pro-government English-language Arab News editorialized
(Internet version, 5/18): "The
Iraqi Governing Council may be a creation of Washington, but Iraq needed a
platform on which to build its future, and for better or worse the council is
that platform. Thus the murder...of its
head, Izzedin Salim, is deeply depressing....
Iraqis are rightly angered that following the defeat of Saddam, the old
police and army were disbanded.... Now
the Americans are having to turn to former members of Saddam’s security
apparatus. This will cause alarm to
ordinary Iraqis who once feared these people.
But given the extraordinary mess that Washington’s total lack of
post-conflict planning has created, there does not appear to be a realistic
alternative.... The interim government
that is due to take over in just 43 days will have no power to change laws in
advance of elections in December or January. It is still undecided if it will
have control of security, which means not just Iraqi police and military but
coalition forces as well. British officials have indicated that the interim
government must have overall security responsibility. Yet Washington is not keen to have its troops
come under any sort of Iraqi control, except in one important respect: if the interim government wants coalition
forces to quit, the U.S. is making clear, it will comply. That is an opportunity, but only if the
interim government can feel that it has at least a measure of support among the
Iraqi population, if it has some chance at least of leading the country to a
more secure future that accommodates the desires and needs of its disparate
elements, Sunni, Shiite and Kurd.
Otherwise if the interim government requested a coalition withdrawal, it
would merely get President Bush and the tottering Tony Blair off the hook. But an insecure interim government would
never make such a request. It would want
the Americans to stay as long as possible, on the assumption that what happens
after a U.S. withdrawal will in fact be precisely the sort of murderous folly
we saw [in Salim's killing], but with nothing at all to check it."
Americans By Neck In Iraq To Serve Our Agenda In Palestine"
Daily columnist Nahed Hattar wrote on the op-ed page of
independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (5/10): “Jordan lies between two occupations, one to
the west and one to the east.... Amman
can play an effective role in Iraq that would lead Washington to give serious
compromises in favor of Jordan’s national security in Palestine.... It is time for Amman to declare the
legitimacy of the Iraqi resistance and to begin a serious dialogue with
regarding Iraq’s future and the future of Jordanian-Iraqi relations. We have wasted much time following Bremer and
his governing council and believing in the illusions of reconstruction
projects, not to mention that we have cut off Jordan’s ties with the
Iraqis.... Jordan's efforts should be
focused on ending the American occupation.
Maybe, the Americans now need someone’s help to get out of the Iraqi
"Disintegration In The Service Of Occupation"
Rafiq Khoury opined in centrist Al-Anwar (5/18): "Iraq is tossing in its blood on the eve
of transferring power to the Iraqis, but nothing on the horizon suggests that
there is an imminent end to this tragedy."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
Setbacks, New Challenges For Iraq Mission"
The national conservative Australian remarked (5/19): “The assassination on Monday of the head of
the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzedin Salim, makes it clear that what the
Islamists hate most, even more than Americans and Jews, is the prospect of
democratic Muslim nations in the Middle East.
This latest killing was, above all, a warning to all moderate Iraqis
that if they work with the U.S.-led coalition and the UN envoy towards a
peaceful transition to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, they will be
marked men. What the assassination also
highlights is the absolute madness of a cut-and-run policy in Iraq. If Iraq is left unstable, divided or vulnerable
to Islamist takeover, it will tell the enemies of the West that, unlike the
earlier generations that saw off fascism and communism, we do not have the
stomach for defending our friends or our values, or striking back against our
enemies.... The terrorists' biggest
setback since the fall of the Taliban would be democracy and pluralism in
Iraq. There is no doubt the West has the
power to make this happen--the question is one of will.”
"Iraq Must Not Be Run On Terrorists' Terms"
Melbourne's liberal Age stated (5/19): “The international obligation to ensure power
is restored to all Iraqis has never been clearer. Iraq was a violent, brutalized place long
before foreign troops ousted Saddam Hussein.
And whether or not Iraq was linked to terrorism before, terrorists are
emphatically at work there today. By
sowing fear again in Iraq, they are challenging efforts to stabilize and
democratize the nation.... Terrorism
increases the difficulty and urgency of the process of transferring power but
must not be allowed to decide its outcome.
Rather, such acts reinforce the need for the coalition and an
increasingly involved United Nations to hold to their present course.... A more broadly based peacekeeping force,
involving other states that are less likely to be seen as occupiers, would be
helpful in advancing a political solution.
The UN is the proper body to supervise the policing of Iraq and the
holding of national elections. This
should take place as early as possible.”
"How To Get Out Of The Quicksand"
Academic Neville Meaney wrote in the liberal Sydney Morning
Herald (5/17): “So the time has come
to think the unthinkable. There is no
good way out of Iraq. The proposed
formal transfer of sovereignty to a U.S.-selected provisional government is no
answer. It is a creature of the foreign
invader and will depend on American military might to uphold its
authority. Those many millions of
Americans, Britons and Australians who opposed the war cannot, however, wash
their hands of the matter and leave the Iraqis to their fate. We have a responsibility to try to find a way
of averting the civil war that seems likely to follow a precipitate coalition
withdrawal.... The only solution that
can claim a fig leaf of respectability would be for Washington to hand over
total responsibility to the UN. The
coalition should pay for both the cost of the UN administration and the
restoration of Iraq's infrastructure.
The U.S.-led alliance launched the war and caused the destruction. The Americans are spending $200-300 billion
annually on their military occupation.
They can afford to be very generous in negotiating terms with the
UN. Should the UN be willing to assume
such an onerous task, it would have to work with the Iraqis to draw up a
constitution and then oversee an election. “
"Iraq: America Must
Finish The Job"
Des Moore asserted in the liberal Melbourne Age
(5/17): “The growing consensus has it,
while America has proved its military prowess it has also damningly revealed
its strategic incompetence, political shortsightedness, and moral waywardness. Soon, many say, America will also reveal its
lack of national resolution, by cutting and running, abandoning Iraq to bloody
chaos.... Most of all this is
fashionable nonsense, which does not appreciate the realities.... Many affect to think that the U.S. has grown
too big for its boots, that defeat in Iraq would teach it a much-needed lesson,
and that the world would be a safer and a better place with an America put in
its corner, wings clipped. But the world
would be worse off, not better off, in that event. In an anarchic, weapons of mass
destruction-proliferating, Islamist-terrified world, only an America that has
retained its credibility and resolve can provide the necessary
leadership.... Australia and others like
us should work not for America's downfall but for its strengthening. For only America's shoulders can hold the sky
"Iraq: Looking For A
The Canberra Times editorialized (5/17): “A new Iraqi exit strategy? The United States, Britain, Italy, Japan,
and, separately, Australia, have said over the past few days that they will
pull their troops out of Iraq if the new interim authority that takes power on
June 30 asks them to leave. Admittedly,
the declaration has been made in terms expressing confidence (and even, on the
face of it, hope) that no such request will come. But things can change quickly in Iraq, as
Britain and the U.S. are well aware....
It is not hard to think that Bush will increasingly see it to his
advantage to be the organizer of a well-organized withdrawal of troops, home to
what will no doubt be called victory parades.... As for Australia, it could be pro-active
about getting out earlier, given that its token contribution achieves very
little, either for the Iraqis or the coalition.
Or it could be scrambling to keep up with American decisions which, when
made, will hardly involve our interests, or our leaders' sensitivities, being
taken into account.”
"I Still Back The War, But Rumsfeld Must Go"
Columnist and former diplomat Michael Costello opined in the
national conservative Australian (5/14):
“If the U.S. is to rescue not just the war in Iraq but also the war on
terror, it must do the following: sack
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Joint Chiefs
of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers. Burn
to the ground Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
Redirect its strategy in Iraq to the pragmatic and possible rather than
trying to 'change the world' (George W. Bush's words) by instantly installing a
perfect representative democracy.... For
the U.S. to continue to insist that its cause is that of right against wrong
will simply be greeted with a horse laugh.
It is unfair, but it has been brought on it by the grotesque negligence
of its leadership in executing the occupation.
It is now even more important that with all due humility the coalition
stays and does the best it can. It is
unthinkable that we should even contemplate leaving Iraq to the viciousness
that is policy for the terrorists who publicly behead innocent civilians. The U.S. must lower its sights and pursue the
art of the possible. The U.S. had better
have a very light hand with its friends in Iraq, who will have to keep the U.S.
at a distance and regularly and often criticize it.“
Withdrawal From Iraq Just A Smoke Screen"
Su Bei commented in the official Communist Youth League China
Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (5/19): “A military withdrawal from Iraq will be an
important symbol of the transfer of power in Iraq.... The Bush government started talking about
withdrawing troops to show that Iraqi reconstruction work is being conducted
according to plan and to increase the public’s optimism about U.S. soldiers
returning home. If it delayed the
withdrawal, this would be equal to admitting that its Iraq policy has
encountered frustration. Therefore, Bush
needs a nominal withdrawal from Iraq. In
fact Bush is very clear that a military withdrawal from Iraq will just be
symbolic.... The White House will not
give up the Gulf (the ‘tap’ used to control Europe’s Japan’s and China’s
resources) before it offers it to a satisfactory new government. Just as Powell told the media, the U.S.
doesn’t doubt at all that the Iraqi Governing Council will ‘welcome’ the
continuing presence of the U.S. in Iraq.
These are the real thoughts of the U.S. when it talks about withdrawing
"Who Is Hurt By Salim’s Assassination?"
Shi Yu commented in the official popular newspaper Beijing
Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (5/18): “The assassination has directly affected
Iraq's confidence in sovereignty being handed over on time.... At this critical time, the rotating president
of the Iraqi Governing Council is killed in a bomb attack in the doorway of the
Coalition’s headquarters--this will definitely influence the UN’s plans to
return to Iraq. This will further
influence Iraqi reconstruction. Salim’s
assassination proved to the Iraqi public that it is very dangerous to cooperate
with the Coalition troops.... If no
Iraqis dare to cooperate with the U.S. and UK occupation, then it will not be
possible for Iraqi reconstruction to function.
It is worrying that all of the leaders killed in the wake of the Iraq
war are all Shia leaders.... This may
ultimately result in an overall confrontation between Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites
and further trigger civil war. The U.S.
military’s image has been greatly damaged since the prisoner abuse
scandal. Their inability to protect
Iraqi politicians and the public’s security can only further influence their
image and thus put them into even worse trouble.”
"Ending Violence-Plagued Occupation Of Iraq"
Hu Xuan remarked in the official English-language newspaper China
Daily (5/18): “While the scandal of
prisoner abuse by U.S. troops in Iraq continues to provide fodder for headline
writers and draw worldwide condemnation, the genteel mainstream news reports
have given common Iraqis considerably less attention.... Iraqi civilian casualties mount by the hour,
and the Iraqi people, who were supposed to get their freedom, are prisoners in
their homes while street crime, terrorist violence and insurrection run
rampant. The overarching error of the
Iraqi invasion, one that has defined the entire Bush administration, is the
gross underestimation of the time it would take to turn Iraq into a stable
democracy and the likely cost in money and blood.... Many Iraqis accuse the United States of only
focusing on protecting international oil exports.... According to an unofficial survey, Iraq's
unemployment rate since the invasion is up to 90 per cent. Mass redundancy and rising living costs mean
more than half the families surveyed need financial help to survive. Democracy is only a word that has no meaning
to the Iraqi people. Their increasing deprivation
is likely to feed discontent and insecurity and increase the appeal of radical
ideologies.... The United States should
speed up the transfer of power to the Iraqi people and end the violence-plagued
occupation as soon as possible.”
JAPAN: "U.S. In Iraqi
The liberal Asahi editorialized (5/19): "Many people, witnessing the ongoing and
bloody clash between the U.S. military and Iraqi rebels, are sensing the
extreme difficulty the U.S. will have achieving its goals in the war on Iraq;
elimination of WMD, eradication of terrorism and democratization of the Middle
East. How will President Bush handle the
Iraq situation from now on? If the U.S.
carries out a 'de-facto' occupation of Iraq after the transfer of power at the
end of June, it will be a hard task for the international community to
cooperate in the rebuilding of Iraq.
Although it is not easy for President Bush, who is facing a presidential
election this fall, to admit that he has 'failed' in his policy on Iraq, the
loss of life and suffering will increase if he hesitates to concentrate his
efforts on the postwar nation. Bush must
now decide to give full-fledged governing authority to citizens of Iraq and let
the UN play a central role in reconstruction efforts."
"Heavy Homework On Iraq"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (5/17): "The G-8 foreign ministerial in
Washington failed to fill the gap between the U.S.-UK camp and the
French-German bloc over the planned transition of power from the CPA to the
Iraqis.... However, a rough consensus on
Iraq emerged out of the meeting. G-8
members have now agreed that a new UN resolution is imperative to allow a
greater UN involvement in the reconstruction of Iraq. If the global community fails to adopt a UN
resolution that stipulates the role of the world body and the authority of the
transitional Iraqi government prior to the planned power handover, specifics
cannot be discussed of such urgent issues as Iraqi debt relief and the
formation of multinational peacekeeping forces in Iraq. The failure to adopt such a resolution would
hamper the smooth transition of power and further aggravate the ensuing
confusion in Iraq.... Japan must do its
utmost to mend the schism within the G-8.
It must exercise its diplomatic leadership to forge a G-8 consensus for
a new UN resolution."
"Assassination Of Iraqi Leader Indicates Complicated
"Leading independent daily Kompas commented
(5/19): “The murder of Izzedin Salim
indicated that the preparation for the transfer of sovereignty from U.S.
authority to Iraqis is facing lots of obstacles. The administrative council the U.S.
established caused controversy among the Iraqi people. Worse still, the danger of division is
looming among the Iraqis. The groups
that oppose the U.S. not only target U.S. troops and other coalition forces,
but also anybody suspected of siding with the U.S. ... If the death of Salim can be used as a
measurement, the Iraqi militant and guerrilla groups will not apparently
support the Governing Council, which was by chance established by the U.S. In fact, like it or not, the presence of the
Governing Council is deemed important in preparing the democratic election
scheduled for January 2005."
NEW ZEALAND: "American
Military Unsuited To Role Of Occupying Force"
Paul Thomas opined in the moderate New Zealand Herald
(Internet version, 5/17): "The U.S.
military, for all its global reach and advanced weaponry, isn't prepared for or
suited to the role of an occupying power....
Morale and discipline can quickly fray when an occupying force becomes
embroiled with a resourceful and ruthless underground resistance supported by
sections of the local population and employing the classic guerrilla strategy
of provoking the occupier into increasingly heavy-handed and indiscriminate use
of force. It happened to the French in
Algeria. It happened to the Americans in
Vietnam. It happened to the Soviets in
Afghanistan. And in the end they all
Sorely Needs Iraq Exit Stretegy"
The pro-government Business Times editorialized
(5/14): "Despite Washington's
optimistic rhetoric about 'staying the course' and bringing democracy to Iraq,
it is becoming clear that the U.S. is downsizing its grand designs.... And most U.S. officials admit in private that
they do not expect a Western-style democracy to emerge any time soon in Iraq
and predict that the country's Shiite majority would probably elect a
government committed to Islamic principles.
The problem is that the Americans seem to be arriving at these
conclusions by muddling through and reacting to crises, and without any clear
exit strategy. In fact, such strategic
incoherence is reflected in the next stage of the American game plan. he Bush administration is insisting that it
would transfer 'sovereignty'.... But at
the same time, the Americans also stress that they would maintain 135,000 or
more troops in Iraq after June 30....
Under such conditions...the appointed Iraqi government will not enjoy
any legitimacy and be seen as a puppet of the United States. Such a situation will make it very difficult for any other countries to deploy
their troops to Iraq under the umbrella of the UN Security Council or the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). And
it will make it likely that American troops would continue to serve as the
focus of violence by radical forces and hostility by the majority of Iraqi
Sunnis and Shiites. A consistent and
workable exit strategy should be based on the recognition that most Iraqis
regard the American military presence in their country as illegitimate and want
to see the Americans beginning a phased and orderly withdrawal after an interim
Iraqi government is installed after June 30.
The American military troops could then be replaced by an international
force under the authority of the UN and with a strong component from NATO and
Muslim countries. Such an American exit
strategy will be welcomed by the majority of the Iraqis--and probably by most
SOUTH KOREA: "Sternly
Punish Those Responsible For Abusing Iraqi POWs"
Kim Young-ho, professor of international politics at Sungshin
Women’s University, wrote in the conservative Chosun Ilbo (5/12): “Though it started the Iraq war unilaterally,
had the U.S. allowed the UN and European and Arab countries to participate in
post-war efforts in Iraq, stability would have been more quickly restored in
the war-torn country. The Bush
administration should drop its unilateralism and make clear to the world its
willingness to manage global order in tandem with other countries. Allowing the UN and international human
rights organizations to participate in investigating the abuse scandal is a
first step toward that end.”
THAILAND: "UN Washes
Out Iraqi Blood"
The lead editorial in business-oriented Thai language Post
Today read (5/14): “The picture of
the beheading of the 26-year-old American telecommunication businessman shown
on the Internet and television worldwide deeply hurts people the world over,
especially the Americans.... The U.S.
government, in its capacity as the world leader, must return sovereignty to the
Iraqi people as soon as possible so that an election can be held and the
country be ruled by its own people as promised by the U.S. earlier.... The UN should seek a majority vote to
pressure the U.S. and its allies to withdraw their troops as soon as possible
to ameliorate the situation in Iraq.
It’s about time for the U.S. to come to terms with reality and tell the
world that the bloodletting in Iraq is only caused by itself and a handful of
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pro-economic-reform Business Standard editorialized
(5/13): "Two weeks after the
scandal erupted over prisoner abuse in Iraq...worst-case scenarios now look
plausible, bringing with them the possibility that at some point after the U.S.
presidential elections in November, America will simply cut its losses and
leave. But even staunch opponents of the
U.S. invasion recognize that an abrupt withdrawal could plunge the region into
deeper turmoil.... The local UN boss,
Lakhdar Brahimi, is said to be pushing for a conference that would include key
regional players. But could the UN take
over on Iraq's mean streets? Only if it
has about 200,000 troops and a mandate to police the country aggressively, and
both are unlikely. Which country would
want to send in its troops to clean up the mess created by the U.S.?... Alternatively, the Americans would have to
prepare the ground for a departure by patching together the Ba'athist army and
police force to keep the peace--but the Shia majority will never accept that. It's tough to see light at the end of the
tunnel. A small step could be a regional
conference convened by Brahimi and the UN.
Where does India stand? Essentially as a bystander but one that is
uncomfortably close by with very little leverage over the main players, who are
edging closer to regional turmoil."
"Iraq From Bad To Worse"
The independent Urdu-language Milap remarked (5/11): "By neglecting ground realities and
relying increasingly on ruthless military methods to suppress the grievances of
the Iraqi people, the occupation authorities [have] only worsened the
situation. The U.S. is now trying to
bring the UN in the picture, which may naturally be seen as an attempt to
escape the responsibility for its failures.
To bring the situation in Iraq under control a new approach is urgently
called for. A conference of all
concerned including the leaders of various communities in Iraq, the neighboring
countries and the permanent members of the UN Security Council may be able to
chalk out a workable program to restore the normalcy in the war-ravaged
PAKISTAN: "The Iraq
The Lahore-based liberal English Daily Times maintained
(5/18): "If the U.S. troops get
out, the country might witness atrocities that would erase the memory of
Indochina. If they stick around, they would
still be fighting the warring factions in months to come. No matter how one looks at it, the situation
is terrible. At this stage, there are
also no guarantees that the United Nations can play a role. It would be worth
less than even the IGC which the U.S. sponsored to give its occupation some
vestige of legitimacy. The same is true
of the U.S.-sponsored constitution. As
the situation stands it is not even worth the paper it is written on."
IRAN: "Iraq: Is There No Hope Left?"
Ali Qasemi wrote in conservative Resalat (Internet version,
5/11): "The situation in Iraq is
tense.... The Iraqi people no longer buy
America's freedom and democracy slogans....
The possibility of social and political implosion in Iraq as a whole
should not be overlooked.... The Iraqi
people as a whole and even that country's politicians...have lost their hope in
the future of the political [sphere] and security that is being directed by
America.... America has no control over
the security and political disorder in that country. It is trying with the help of the Baathists
to gain control of the complex Iraqi political and security situation to some
extent, but it does not seem the Baathists could do much either.... One should not lose sight of the possibility
of the Baathist remnants being turned into American agents against the Iraqi
nation.... The present circumstances in
Iraq will not permit them playing such a role in that country. But one should be vigilant.... None of the present players on the Iraqi
chessboard...,is able to orient the bumpy course of Iraqi political and
security developments in a favorable direction.
In these conditions the Iraqi nation's disillusionment will also be
increased, and this disillusionment alongside America's mistakes being repeated
could lead to growing anger and hatred of the Iraqis against the
SOUTH AFRICA: "From
Bad To Worse In Iraq"
The liberal Star commented (5/18): “The Americans...got it wrong when they
presented the conflict as being between their liberating forces and the Sunni
minority that supported Saddam. The
battle now involves elements of the Shiite majority.... That brings us to the Governing Council,
which Washington foisted on Iraq. Its
president...was killed.... This was a
big blow the Washington’s efforts to stabilize the country...and also to its
undertaking to hand over sovereignty on June 30. Even before this assassination the security
situation was extremely volatile. And in
six weeks’ time an unelected government is going to be faced with a mission
"Recruiting For Al-Qaida"
Allister Sparks wrote in the liberal Witness (5/18): “The longer U.S. forces stay in Iraq the more
hatred they will provoke throughout the Islamic world and the more adherents
they will recruit for al-Qaida’s cause.
Yet if they pull out they will leave a vacuum that could collapse into
anarchy, spreading bitter resentment and leaving the jihadists to claim victory
over the evil superpower. A Catch-22.”
KENYA: "Iraqis Must
Have Their Say"
Investigative/sometimes sensational People held
(5/18): “The tragic killing...of the
president of the United States-appointed Iraq Governing council, yet again
underlines the precarious state of the efforts to set up a new administration
in that country. But even more, it is
yet another indication that there is need for the US to review its whole policy
of occupation and more so with regard to handing over power back to the Iraqi
people. Though the US has committed
itself to ensuring that the power handover takes place next month as scheduled,
[the killing] should be a pointer to what is to be expected if the process of
selecting the new administration does not ensure that the Iraqi people have a
greater say in its making.”
NIGERIA: "Time To
Lagos-based independent Daily Champion took this view
(5/12): "We consider the behavior
of the American troops against the Iraqi prisoners utterly unjustified,
particularly in the case of a nation like Iraq where President Bush decided to
go to war against all wise advice.... It
follows, therefore, by what the American and British soldiers have done to the
Iraqi prisoners, the U.S.-led coalition has lost a serious battle and the moral
basis for the war in the first place has irretrievably been broken.... (They) have lost the moral basis for the
continued stay in Iraq and must leave without any further delay. Everything considered, America and its allies
have let their respective countries down, and the people of Iraq who they claim
they have come to liberate.... It is
time for them to pull out of Iraq now, for there can be no excuse for the
mistreatment which has saddened the world."
Pro-government Le Soleil commented (5/18): "President Bush is experiencing a real
dilemma. In persisting in his will to
give Iraq a democratic regime, he risks seeing his army bogged down on the
banks of the Tigris and Euphraptes, as was the case in Vietnam. Or jeopardizing his reelection next
November. Therefore the temptation to
withdraw is huge.... But any hurried
retreat would also mean dishonor for his country.... In the face of the
magnitude of the Sunni insurrection, combined with the one of the Shiites, and
given the strike force of Imam Sadr, the Americans have started in these last
weeks to play a new card, that of the internal Iraqi divisions, by bringing
back to service officers drawn from the ranks of the former Saddam faithful,
and in opposing them against Islamic insurgents. The expected outcome has not yet been
seen. To the contrary...a common front
between Shiites and Sunnis has been established in Fallujah as well as Najaf,
as if to face the common enemy. Make no
mistake, however, the desired departure of the Coalition troops will break up
the holy alliance between Shiites and Sunnis and the community imbroglio could
lead later to a sort of 'Lebananization' of Iraq, destroying any dream of a
peaceful post-Saddam period."
Troops Should Leave Iraq"
The ruling party Mzalendo editorialized (5/9/): "Why is the Bush administration clinging
onto Iraq?... The current excuse for the
continued occupation of Iraq is what they call the fight against
terrorism. It is this continued occupation
of Iraq, which has led to tempers and hatred flaring up, sending the people of
Iraq onto the streets to fight the occupation forces. It is now becoming clear that America invaded
Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein and create a conducive climate for it to
exploit the country’s oil wealth.
American forces are still in the country to maintain this conducive
climate. Given that Iraq is a free
country with people capable of running their own affairs, we do not see the
logic of the continued U.S. presence in that country.... American and coalition forces should be told
to leave Iraq as quickly as possible, so as to avoid more deaths and avert the
destruction of property.... The people
of Iraq have rejected foreign occupation.
The continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq means giving credence to
the brutality that innocent civilians have to endure."
UGANDA: "Pull Out Of
State-owned daily The New Vision noted (5/14): "Islamic militants in Iraq have beheaded
an American contractor. The militants
claim to have been taking revenge for the indignities inflicted on Iraqi prisoners
by American soldiers. Superficially this
might appear to be an own goal by the militants. World opinion has shifted
dramatically against the occupation of Iraq in the two weeks since the prisoner
abuse photos were first published. The
Iraqi rebels were winning the propaganda war and were being perceived as
nationalists and not maniacs. But the
fact is that the militants do not want the coalition forces to withdraw from
Iraq. They want to cause a global
conflagration that will suck in all the nations of the world and end with an
Islamic caliphate ruling all Muslim countries.
Unfortunately the United States has fuelled this fire by invading Iraq,
a country that had absolutely nothing to do with al-Qaida. The United States needs to get out of Iraq
fast if things are not to get worse. The
U.S. should make urgent preparations to hand over to a United Nations
administration. The U.S. should also
give up its unworkable plan for a unitary state run by friendly Iraqis and
allow a tripartite federal state that provides autonomy to the Shiites in the
south, the Sunnis in the center and the Kurds in the north. That is the only hope for peace in
CANADA: "Sad Spectacle
The conservative National Post commented (5/18): "With each passing day, it becomes
increasingly difficult to see a light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq. As if the Abu Ghraib prison scandal wasn't
damaging enough, [the] assassination of the president of the Iraqi Governing
Council, Izzedine Salim, further shakes our confidence.... It is an ominous reminder of the peril faced
by anyone associated with the U.S. occupation.
America's postwar strategy has not brought security to Iraq. And without security, it is hard to imagine
the emergence of a pluralistic, Western-style government.... Nor has the U.S.-appointed Governing Council,
or any other institution within Iraq, developed universal legitimacy. In other words, the Iraqis want the United
States out, yet are currently unable to take control of their own destiny. When the Americans leave, civil war may
erupt.... What happens if civil war
breaks out is anyone's guess. There is a
real danger that the country could split into three.... A year ago, the United States would have
rejected either of these options. But
given its failure to quell Iraq's insurgency, cutting and running is starting
to look like the least unattractive option.
What a tragic denouement for a war that many of us once expected would
herald a new dawn for the Middle East."
"The Iraqi Mess"
Serge Truffaut opined in the liberal Le Devoir (5/18): "Complete confusion reigns 6 weeks prior
to the setting up of an interim government in Iraq. Be it on the military, economic or political
front, nobody knows what tomorrow will be made of. Therefore, it is a mess in every aspect. This mess is largely due to a search for a
quick exit both by the Bush administration and the Blair government. In London...the government is contemplating a
withdrawal from Iraq after the general elections scheduled for January
2005.... In Washington...if the interim
Iraqi government asks the military to leave, they will. Even if it remains hypothetical, just the
consideration of this possibility says a lot about the mood of the
leaders.... On the military front,
Washington doesn't want to lose command completely. They don't want to be under the authority of
the interim government or of the UN....
At the UN, where a resolution to be presented in early June is being
negotiated, the French and the Russians believe Iraqi officers should be
granted the possibility of refusing to obey orders signed by the
Americans.... The Americans believe
members of the coalition should be exempt from prosecution by Iraqi
courts. Basically, they want immunity
for each soldier. On a strictly
political level, the mess is dizzying....
Since where we go from here has yet to be mapped out, legal experts have
stated that the interim government will have almost no legislative power. Economically, the future is also
muddled. Since the World Bank and other
international organizations are still responsible for monies engaged, Iraqis
will have trouble getting themselves heard.
An effort to clarify all this is vital."
"Horrors Continue In Iraq Quagmire"
The liberal Toronto Star opined (5/13): "The nightmare in Iraq seems cruelly
endless.... It is hard to see the
violence of the past few weeks abating until Iraqis regain control of their
country, and restore order themselves....
What should Bush do to make Americans less unwelcome in Iraq? He should replace Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, a key architect of Washington's fumbling Iraq policy.... Bush should issue a presidential statement
that he intends to pull troops out as quickly as they can be replaced by Iraqi
forces and by foreign peacekeepers acceptable to the new government. And begin doing so. And Bush should invite the United Nations to
assume political authority, until elections, with trusteeship of Iraq's oil,
reserves and aid. The UN could then
appeal for peacekeepers. Bush and his
advisers worry too much about 'rewarding terror' and looking weak. They should worry more about giving Iraqis
reason to regard Americans as the liberators they claimed to be--and not as
targets of opportunity in a drifting, increasingly desperate occupation."
"U.S. Lowers Sights On Iraq Future"
Richard Gwyn opined in the liberal Toronto Star (Internet
version, 5/12): "While President
George W. Bush doesn't yet get it, more and more of his own officials are now
admitting...that the most that can be achieved in Iraq is 'stability' rather
than democracy. Stability is a code word
for installing what's called--unofficially, of course--a 'Saddam lite'
government. Some general, that is, would
take charge, and while not as brutal as Saddam Hussein, he would deal with the
insurgents roughly enough to restore a degree of law and order.... Stability is not an impossible
objective.... Together with a
Housekeeping Stamp of Approval from the United Nations, which would take over
the task of pretending to be running the place, this might--just--allow the
Americans to slide out sideways while holding on to a bit of face. At best, the whole exercise will end up in a
whimper. That, at least, would be a lot
better than the worst-case alternative scenario of civil war in Iraq and
perhaps its breakup in the manner of Yugoslavia, followed by the downfall of
moderate governments in the region such as the Gulf oil states, and, quite
possibly, Saudi Arabia."
"A Good War For The Iraqis; A Bad War For The Americans"
Columnist Margaret Wente commented in the leading Globe and
Mail (5/11): "The tide has
turned for the U.S. adventure in Iraq, and it's going out fast.... The U.S. administration has no idea how to
manage this catastrophe, and there's no way they can regain the moral high
ground. Even the war's most stalwart
supporters are in despair. They're
demanding a brand-new Iraq strategy, fast.
But what might it be? It's
incorrect to say that the old strategy isn't working, because there is no old
strategy. They're making it up as they
go along. People want Donald Rumsfeld
fired, because somebody up high should take the fall. But then what? It's not as if there's someone in the wings
with a better idea.... The irony is that
one of the war's aims is a clear success.
The Iraqis really are better off now.
In the north, the Kurds are happy as clams. There are no floods of refugees (as alarmists
predicted) because the two conditions that create refugees--starvation and
genocide--are absent. Most Iraqis are
better off, and they know it. They think
the future will be better than the present, and they're probably right. Whatever regime they wind up with a year or
five years from now will, in all likelihood, be better than Saddam. The war was good for the Iraqis. It's turned out to be very, very bad for the
United States, and probably for the rest of us, too. I suspect Americans will be so fed up with
Iraq that they'll have no stomach for foreign entanglements for a long time to
come, no matter how just the cause.
What's the chance of intervention when the next Rwanda comes along? Even less than last time. Mr. and Mrs. Suburbia won't give a damn about
the moral high ground. The moral high ground
has turned out to be a costly pain in the ass."
ARGENTINA: "The Role
Of The Military In Iraq"
Rosendo Fraga commented in business-financial,
center-right InfoBae (5/13):
"Obviously, the main military mistake made in postwar in Iraq, in
contrast to what happened in Afghanistan, is having totally destroyed the Iraqi
army and policy, with which coalition troops had to act as cops.... From the military viewpoint, there is no
doubt the right strategy for Iraq is the one used in Afghanistan: small groups
of U.S. troops cooperating with allied local militia, such as the one organized
by Pakistan to capture bin Laden in the mountains bordering
Afghanistan.... However, it has a
central political objection--it prevents the democratization of Iraq based on
the Western model.... The tension between
the military and politicians is growing.
The military leaders in the field have acknowledged they are winning
military battles, but they fear a political defeat like that of
Vietnam.... There are those who think
that Bush wants to maintain the 'principle-based' model of Najaf until [the
November] elections...and then replace it by the 'pragmatic' model of
Fallujah. The bottom line is that six
months are left until November and that is a long time given the evolution of
the situation in Iraq. Ambitious
political objectives conspire against military efficiency, which can continue
winning battles in the same way but losing the war in the end."
"The Only Certainty In Iraq"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized
(5/19): "The assassination of
Shiite leader Izzedin Salim will reinforce the Pentagon's intention to grant
only symbolic powers to the interim government that will formally assume the
administration of Iraq by the end of June.
The argument is that terrorism in Iraq still requires military responses
from the U.S. as well as strict control of all security-related decisions. The infiltration of foreign terrorist groups
into Iraq was caused by the invasion....
It is a fact that the foreign radicals' goal is to render impossible
anything that may lead to the nation's institutional normalization.... But, as has become evident over the 12 months
following what President Bush called 'the end of major combat,' there is no
military solution for Iraq."
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (5/18): "The murder of Iraqi Governing Council
President Izzedin Salim, only six weeks before the scheduled transfer of
sovereignty to Iraqis, has shown how precarious the security situation in Iraq
is. The impact is mainly symbolic
because U.S. officials are really the ones in charge. In addition, a somewhat limited sovereignty
will be granted not to the Council, but to another entity to be designated by
the UN.... In view of so many setbacks,
the U.S. and the UK are already prepared to send additional troops to Iraq.... Since the torture of Iraqis was revealed,
pressure has increased for both Washington and London to at least present a
plan for withdrawing their military forces....
However, such a withdrawal plan does not exist, for to abandon Iraq now
would mean to launch the nation into a civil war of unforeseen
"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 hardliners, 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
"Torture Increases Wear And Tear On Bush Administration"
Business-oriented Valor Economico commented (5/10): "The military occupation in Iraq has not
succeeded in stabilizing the nation....
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."
MEXICO: "The Other
Academic Gabriela de la Paz asserted in the
independent El Norte (5/12): “The
abuses and humiliation received by Iraqi prisoners at the hands of U.S.
soldiers have become a huge setback for the Bush administration and for the
occupying forces in Iraq.... We have
seen an administrator, Paul Bremer, rendered useless in the management of
security. Who will replace him and what
legacy he will leave behind remains a mystery.
We have not seen the slightest signs of democracy or civil liberties
afforded. Citizens have yet to see
normality recovered with the re-establishment of electricity, potable water and
services they had before March 2003....
The U.S. won the military war in Iraq but is losing the war of hearts
and minds. This is serious because it
endangers future operations: fewer
countries will support its army and its diplomacy in Washington after taking
into account the cost that Spain has paid.
The UN will look at the White House’s requests with more distrust.”
"When The Ess Hits The Fan"
Columnist Wayne Brown wrote in the
business-oriented, centrist Sunday Observer (5/9): "There is now no feasible future
scenario for Iraq which doesn’t avoid at best the break-up of that country into
three ethnically homogenous small states, or at worst the unmitigated
destruction of civil war; while, from its huge new 3,000-man Embassy in
Baghdad--really, a Control and Command Center for future U.S. military
invasions of Middle Eastern countries, beginning but not ending with Syria--the
Pentagon directs its armed forces’ protection of the Iraqi oilfields, for the
benefit of Cheney-Bush and the Texan oilmen.
The chaos that that is going to unleash upon the region, and ultimately
upon the world, is nothing to be jubilant about, friends."
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: "Time For U.S. To Leave Iraq"
The business-oriented Trinidad Guardian editorialized
(5/13): "The war was misguided from
the start and the U.S. administration has since brushed aside the fact that no
weapons of mass destruction have been found.
It is now struggling to bring its occupation to an end because its
mission moved from finding weapons to a very unclear one of defeating
terrorists and letting a 'peaceful Iraq' emerge.... Both the maltreatment of the prisoners and
Mr. Berg’s death demonstrate that the situation in Iraq remains out of the
control of the coalition. It is time to withdraw, to offer whatever help
is needed, and to let the Iraqi people decide their own destiny."
URUGUAY: "The Trick Is
To Get Out"
Conservative, business-oriented El Observador noted
(5/18): “Powell’s admission that
whichever government chosen at the polls will be accepted, even if that
government is an Islamic theocracy similar to that which governs Iran and to
which the United States was opposed up until now, reflects Washington’s new
realist position. The most important
thing now seems to be getting out of the boggy terrain into which Iraq has
converted itself, not only in order to save the occupation forces but also to
salvage for President Bush the possibility of re-election.”