May 27, 2004
BUSH WAR COLLEGE SPEECH: 'OLD WINE IN NEW BOTTLES'
** President Bush's
"surprisingly rosy" speech "left many questions
** Dailies say "a
little more humility" would help alleviate the world's "deep
** Critics term the speech
and UN resolution "camouflage to perpetuate" the occupation.
** Outlets dismiss the plan
to raze Abu Ghraib as "empty symbolism."
'Rhetoric without concrete proposals'-- Dailies said Bush's "vague" speech
lacked "vital details needed to inject some much-needed realism" into
his Iraq vision. Official China Daily
termed it full of "old rhetoric but few specifics" and Slovakia's
financial Hospodarske Noviny heard "nice flowery phrases about
majestic ideals, but that was all."
Japan's liberal Asahi was "deeply disappointed" that
there was "no new course of action."
Muslim writers concluded the speech "failed abysmally on all
counts" and contained no "viable coherent strategy." Numerous papers linked the speech to the
presidential election, labeling it a "showpiece to serve Bush's
re-election campaign" and "arrest the erosion of his
Bush 'should have acknowledged' that 'mistakes were made' in
Iraq-- Bush did not "show
any humility" or offer "even a trace of self-criticism," carped
papers such as Canada's leading Globe and Mail, which said Bush
"would have been more credible if he had been frank" about
Britain's independent Financial Times urged Bush to make a
"clean public break with his disastrous mishandling of Iraq." Other papers called the speech a
"statement of desirable goals" that, said India's centrist Tarun
Bharat, would have been "welcome had they been executed around 14
months ago." But some editorialists
praised the speech as a "good beginning"; Singapore's pro-government Straits
Times judged Bush "correct not to give any sign that he is less than
'America should not attempt to maintain control behind the
scenes'-- Arab papers demanded the
U.S. "restore full sovereignty to the Iraqi people and end the current
occupation." The pro-government Saudi
Gazette held that "a transfer of sovereignty in which actual
control...remains in someone else's hands is not much of a transfer." Canadian and Chinese dailies agreed that the
new UN resolution "should not legitimize occupation under another
name." Some writers alleged the
U.S. "wants to keep Iraq on a leash" even after June 30; Germany's
centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung concluded "talk about the transfer of
sovereignty is a lie."
Destroying Abu Ghraib is 'too little, much too late'-- Many dailies downplayed Bush's promise to
demolish Abu Ghraib as a mere "propaganda gesture" that was his
speech's "only new element."
Spain's centrist La Vanguardia alleged the proposal came about
only because Bush "urgently needs to erase the most despicable episodes of
the occupation." Arab observers
opposed the idea; Tunisia's independent Ash-Shourouq said destroying Abu
Ghraib "means obliterating the traces of the huge crime committed by the
U.S." But Indian, Canadian and
Russian dailies termed the idea a "clever move" that has
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
76 reports from 38 countries over 25 -
27 May 2004. Editorial excerpts from
each country are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "How Bush
Path To Iraqi Democracy Will Also Liberate U.S. Forces"
Foreign editor Bronwen Maddox commented in the conservative Times
(5/26): "It was a mistake for
President Bush to force his landmark speech on Iraq into the mould of 'five
steps...to democracy and freedom'. He
made it sound like a program for treating addiction, and one that was too brisk
to expect much success. He claimed to be
laying out the path to Iraq's 'empowerment' and democratic health, but was
clearly instead laying out five steps to the liberation of 100,000 U.S.
troops. The spurious structure of the
five-point scheme only emphasized the lack of practical details. Delivered a year earlier, it would have been
an acceptable, workmanlike account of the huge amount of work that still needed
to be done. But with five weeks left
before the handover of sovereignty to a new, handpicked Iraqi government, it
restated existing working notes, while doing nothing to fill in the practical
gaps.... The neatness of the scheme is
at odds with the violence on the ground.
After June 30, the U.S. loses much of its control over whether events
unfurl according to this plan."
"A Framework For Iraq At Last "
The independent Financial Times editorialized (5/26): "Does the content of the proposed UN
resolution and of Mr. Bush's speech now provide the minimum conditions for a
viable handover? It would have done six
months or a year back, when the Financial Times was arguing for rapid
and maximum involvement of the UN in Iraq.
But the situation is now far worse owing to the steady degradation of
security in Iraq and the damage done to America's reputation from its
mistreatment of prisoners. At least we
can be grateful that the U.S.is sticking to the June 30 deadline.... The transfer of power's security provisions
are murky, however.... Mr. Bush's
unwillingness to make a clean public break with his disastrous mishandling of
Iraq is part of the problem. He has
shifted position, particularly towards the UN, on which he is relying to broker
the composition of the interim government.
But he does not say so publicly in a way that could change the overall
climate. The impression is that he is
pushed into every concession, especially by his plummeting poll ratings. In the wake of the U.S. torture scandal he
offers to demolish the Abu Ghraib prison.
But such symbolism is likely to be offset by the outsize U.S. embassy
under construction in Baghdad. It is
unthinkable that the U.S. should cut and run from Iraq, leaving it a failed
state. But to prevent that, Mr. Bush
will have to go further to put meaning into his pledge to build a 'free and
"Bush's Latest Plan Is Constructed On The
Flimsiest Of Foundations"
The center-left Independent editorialized (5/26): "President Bush's speech on Monday
evening setting out his Iraq policy was addressed to several different
audiences. It was designed to still the
audible murmurings of disquiet among the Republican faithful in Congress, to
convince sceptical Iraqis that the U.S. is sincere in its determination to hand
over control of their country, and to persuade the anxious international
community that America was, at last, taking account of the opinion of
others. His most important audience,
however, was the wider American public, which will pass its own judgement upon
Mr. Bush in November, and is increasingly fearful that the Iraq mission is
becoming a disaster.... Peer a little
closer, however, and the 'plan' proves to be an edifice constructed on the most
fragile foundations.... There will be
five more 'major' presidential addresses on Iraq before the 30 June
hand-over. But if there are many more
suicide bombings, urban insurgencies and U.S. casualties, even far finer words
than those Mr. Bush uttered on Monday evening will not matter a whit, and he
will end up a one-term president like his father."
FRANCE: "Bush Explains
But Is Not Convincing"
Jean-Louis Turlin held in right-of-center Le Figaro
(5/26): “George W. Bush wanted to give
new coherence to his Iraqi policy. But
he failed to be convincing.... Many
questions remain unanswered.... In his speech
President Bush did not announce a new strategy for Iraq.... His main objective was to be
reassuring.... The president’s
performance showed a more humble Bush, although still determined to achieve his
mission in Iraq, ‘where the U.S. is confronted by changing war
conditions.’ Obviously conditions the
Bush administration was not prepared for.”
“Bush Calling The Allies To Arms For The Sake Of Iraq”
Pascal Riche wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(5/25): “President Bush, whose face and
Iraq strategy have both suffered some damage, was to speak to the American
people last night.... His speech was
meant to signal he is back in charge, as a response to the media which has
become more and more critical.... The
aim is to step away from the ‘past’ and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse incidents
and move towards the future....
President Bush, who will give five other speeches on the future of Iraq
wants to prove that he has a plan to resolve the crisis, in association with
the UN, and that he is not groping in the dark.... But opposition to his plan will be strong,
beginning with France and Germany....
while at home television networks did not plan to carry his
Superpower's Call For Help"
Matthias Nass judged in center-left weekly Die Zeit of
Hamburg (5/27): "In Iraq, George W.
Bush is trying to save what can be saved. And this is not much. The bankruptcy of his strategy is complete:
politically, morally, and militarily.
Never since Vietnam has America got to such a degree on the wrong track;
never before since then have we seen the U.S. superpower's policy not knowing
in which direction to go and so frightened at the consequences of its own
activities. The government in Washington
is now also disintegrating into warring factions. The Pentagon, the State Department, and the
CIA are feuding with each other in a reckless and intriguing way.... In a speech at the War College, President
Bush has now, hidden behind rhetorical bombast, asked for assistance.... But those are wrong who hope that the
superpower is now willing to pursue a multilateralist policy. Nevertheless, it is important to help America
at a time when it asks for assistance.
On the one hand, because George W. Bush and his war cabinet are unable
to find a way out of the Iraqi horror...and, on the other hand, because the
deep rift between Americans and Europeans could be healed through a joint
reconstruction effort. This could begin
on July 30.... Gerhard Schroeder and
Jacques Chirac cannot have an interest in a humiliated superpower. Of what use will it be to accuse the
superpower of having begun the war on unfounded reasons, of having driven the
Iraqis to the verge of a revolt with their dilettantish occupation policy. They all know this. It would worsen the situation in Iraq even
more if the United States withdrew in panic.
At the end of 2005, after elections, the constitutional referendum, and
the formation of a really sovereign government--a withdrawal will hopefully be possible. The opponents of the war are also responsible
for Iraq having enough time for its reconstruction by then."
"How Do I Tell It To the Voters"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
opined (5/26): "The beginning of a
series of TV addresses with which George W. Bush wants to regain the voters'
support failed miserably. Instead of
explaining his strategy for Iraq's future, Bush offered a policy of
symbols.... But the president's failed
appearance hides that Iraq is really faced with change. Almost simultaneously with Bush's speech, the
United States and Britain submitted a UN resolution that will suspend the
occupation and returns full sovereignty to Iraq on June 30.... It will now be crucial to see how the course
is set and how great will be the say of the Americans in Iraq.... Only if there are chances to integrate
all--the war coalition, the Iraqis, and the international community--will there
be a real chance for a stable Iraq. The
UN resolution offers a basis for this....
The U.S. government has understood that it will be doomed to failure in
Iraq if it wants to do everything on its own.
Maybe the president should tell this to his voters in his next address,
Dietmar Ostermann opined in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter
Rundschau (5/26): "In order to break up political
and psychological barriers not only in New York, a clear signal of the
president that Washington is really willing to make a new beginning would have
been useful. It is more than
questionable whether lost Iraqi confidence can be regained by simply razing the
Abu Ghraib prison or by quietly replacing the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq,
Ricardo Sanchez, as a likely pawn in the politically still unresolved torture
scandal. But Bush, whose election
campaign is built on his role as supreme commander, was unwilling and unable to
exercise any self-criticism."
"Bush, The Wrapping Artist"
Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl filed the following
editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (5/26): "Apart from the proposal to raze the Abu
Ghraib prison...George W. Bush's address contained the same slow-moving
articles.... But Bush was unable to set
a firm date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq...because he does not
it know it either, and because he does not want to please the insurgents and
terrorists between Fallujah and Karbala with precise data on a day when they
can do whatever they want."
"The U.S. Mock Giant"
Hans Monath judged in an editorial in centrist Der Tagesspiegel
of Berlin (5/26): "Bush again did
not mention a timetable for a definite end of the military occupation. But only with such a timetable the Americans
could show the Iraqis that they are serious about [Iraq's] independence. To the world, the U.S. government could also
demonstrate that it continues to control events. This would also prevent a looming mystification
of terrorists as heroes who would recommend the withdrawal as a victory of car
bombs over a superpower and thus a global model. In order to seriously discuss such a
strategy, official Washington should admit that the cases of torture are not
minor dirty marks on a perfect success story but the obvious evidence of the
failure of an arrogant policy. But Bush
will not do this shortly before the elections.
Neither would John Kerry. This is
why little speaks for Washington taking advantage of its last options for
action in Iraq. This is fatal, for
neither Americans nor Iraqis can be impressed with appeals to hold out."
"Bush Does Not Know What To Do"
Olivia Schoeller noted in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(5/26): "George W. Bush's rhetoric
on the Arab world has clearly changed since the Abu Ghraib torture
scandal. It was remarkable that he
mentioned the Islamic culture respectfully and praised the achievements of the
Arab world. It also came as a surprise
that he admitted that not everything is going well in Iraq. But apart from that he said nothing new: the enemy is evil, Iraq is the last frontier,
democracy is good and also possible in the Arab world. No one doubts that."
Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung held (5/26): "In his announcement George W. Bush
still did not give an answer to the most urgent questions. Neither was he able to explain to the
Americans when the U.S. forces will return home and how many more people will
be killed in Iraq, nor did he explain to the Iraqis how he wants to bring
together Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis in an alleged sovereign transition
government. And he did not answer the
question how an Iraqi government can be sovereign if international forces in
Iraq can do whatever they want. How
serious should the Iraqis take such a transition government that has no
influence on U.S. forces? The talk about
the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq is a lie, one more lie in a series of
Center-right Maerkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the
Oder contended (5/26): "No, Bush
will be unable to correct the consequences of his misguided post-war policy.
Symbolic decisions like the dismissal of General Sanchez or the razing of the
Abu Ghraib prison will not help. His
speech was everything else but a blow of liberation--he rather admitted his
Disappoints America And The World"
Bruno Marolo commented in pro-democratic left party (DS) daily L’Unità
(5/26): “On Monday night George Bush
addressed a nation that is concerned about the war in Iraq and in 33 minutes he
described a situation that has no way out.
He did not indicate the conditions for a withdrawal of troops and he
said he would deploy more if needed....
He had promised to announce ‘solid measures,’ but instead he...listed
the objectives that he has not yet been able to achieve, without explaining why
things should go better in the future.
He took on only one commitment:
he will build a new top security prison in Baghdad.... Perhaps he’s fooling himself that in this way
he will erase from the Iraqis’ minds a shameful chapter of the
occupation.... Bush is in
trouble.... Those who were expecting a
change in course were disappointed. When
the scandal erupted Bush apologized to the Iraqis for the torture, but he’s not
willing to apologize for having allowed their country to turn into a bloody
"The White House Disappoints U.S."
Vittorio Zucconi noted in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (5/26): “There were no
novelties, no new road map.... In the
next five weeks, the strategy of the speeches leading up to Iraqi sovereignty
with a U.S. leash, traditionally increase a president’s popularity and polls
are likely to improve. But if he
continues to propose the same worn-out rhetoric we heard on Monday evening, the
positive effects will be short-lived.”
RUSSIA: "Bush's Five
Sergey Chirkin wrote from New York in official government Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (5/26): "U.S. President
George Bush has set forth his vision of Iraq's future. It is the first of a series of speeches he is
going to make as he is seeking re-election.
The idea is to turn away public opinion from the U.S. troops' latest
setbacks in Iraq and to post-occupation prospects for that country, and to
repair the president's tottering image.
Bush was speaking at a military college in Pennsylvania. The choice of venue was hardly
fortuitous. To make a good start, the
Administration thought it important to find a responsive audience. The cadets [sic] and their instructors fit
that role perfectly."
"Bush Promises To Destroy Abu Ghraib"
Yevgeniy Bai filed from Washington for reformist Izvestiya
(5/26): "The president tried to
dispel the Americans' growing doubts about his Iraq policy. The political situation in America, as well
as in Iraq, is about to reach the boiling point. A mere five weeks before sovereignty transfer
in Iraq and slightly over five months before the presidential elections in the
United States, most Americans are quite unclear about what is going to happen
in the U.S.-occupied country after the magic date of June 30. They wonder if the president has any plan at
all for Iraq and its political future....
Nobody expected the president to set a date for troop withdrawal. Under the circumstances, it is simply
unthinkable. The only sensation caused
by the president's speech is that he has decided to raze the notorious Abu
Ghraib prison to the ground. That is a
clever move. Bush did not apologize for
the methods the U.S. military used in Abu Ghraib. Instead, he said that the old prison, a
symbol of death and torture, will be destroyed to make way for a new,
super-modern, high-security one."
Leonid Gankin commented in business-oriented Kommersant
(5/26): "It does not take much to
see that things are going from bad to worse for the occupation forces.... It is naïve to think that a formal transfer
of power will change the situation. The
provisional government will be seen as collaborationist. Formed by the Americans, it will operate under
U.S. control, with the U.S. military maintaining its presence in the country. This means that George Bush, his popularity
ratings plummeting disastrously, is heading straight for defeat in
November. To win the elections, he needs
somehow to stabilize the situation in Iraq.
He can only do so by sharing authority with the UN and bringing in an
international peacekeeping force. The
GIs should stay in the barracks, out of the angry public's eyes.... By deciding to change nothing, President Bush
is putting national interests ahead of his own.... Is it selflessness or thoughtlessness?"
Presidency Will Be Decided In Baghdad"
Senior foreign editor Anneliese Rohrer commented in centrist daily
Die Presse (5/26): "With his
speech on Iraq, George W. Bush could not win back trust, nor
credibility.... The launch of his
offensive aimed at explaining the point and purpose of the Iraq war to U.S.
voters has failed miserably. Whether
five additional speeches will save the situation remains to be seen.... In truth...the White House has long since
lost control of the political processes in Iraq.... The most striking aspect of his speech,
however, was Bush’s incessant invocation of the wishes and aspirations of the
Iraqi people. Whoever followed the
speech, could not help but feel that he was clearly trying to dictate what the
Iraqi people’s interests are supposed to be....
All those who--given the post-war chaos in Iraq--were hoping for a
change in the U.S.’ political course, or even a trace of self-criticism, should
remember that the speech was aimed at domestic, not at international
BELGIUM: "New Wine In
An Old Bottle"
U.S. affairs writer Lieve Dierckx remarked in
independent financial daily De Tijd (5/26): "With his speech Bush not only wanted to
regain the support of the American people for his Iraq policy, but also hoped
to appease the skeptics in the UNSC--France, Germany, Russia and China. Bush not only wants their support for the
draft resolution that the Americans and British introduced on Monday, but he
also wants to persuade them to send troops to Iraq. It is very doubtful that Bush will be
successful. Paris, Berlin, Moscow and
Beijing said yesterday that the U.S.-British draft document is a good basis for
debate, but that the document needs much improvement. Those four countries do not even contemplate
sending troops to Iraq.... The
president...will henceforth speak about his Iraq policy every week until the
transfer of power takes place. That
means that he has five weeks to stem the tide.
To be successful, he will have to sing another tune. New wine in old bottles won't help him."
"A Lack Of Vision For Iraq"
Foreign editor Gerald Papy wrote in independent La
Libre Belgique (5/26): "Which
project did George W. Bush defend on Monday night? Nothing more than what was
already written in the timetable of the transfer of power.... If there is more or less an agreement on the
broad lines of the program, the international community remains divided about
its implementation details. Yet, the U.S. President remained desperately silent
or vague, whereas one expected him to develop a 'clear strategy.' What will be remembered of George W. Bush's
address? The announcement that the Abu
Ghraib prison.... It is not with these
tricks that Iraqis will regain some confidence in the U.S. Army and
administration. George W. Bush's luck
today is that all big countries want to avoid repeating the major confrontation
that took place before the war. But, fundamentally, one is entitled to share
former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's doubts whether 'the current
President enjoys the credibility to gather the kind of international
cooperation that he is calling for.'"
"With One Year Delay"
Frantisek Sulc opined in center-right Lidove Noviny
(5/26): "President George W. Bush
is trying to convince the Americans that he knows what he is doing in Iraq, and
that everything will work out just fine.
His speech yesterday...was not bad, but it was delivered one year too
late.... The president has outlined five
points that should help to improve the situation there. However, they will work only if the Iraqis accept
them. They would have worked if
presented last year, and they only might perhaps work this year."
GREECE: "Tougher Days
In Iraq; George Bush And His Close
Senior editor Stathis Efstathiadis argued in
elite, staunchly pro-opposition To Vima (5/26): "Only the fact that President Bush was
forced to admit last week that ‘much tougher days may lie ahead of us,’
indicates the extent of the failure of U.S. policy and the impasse of the White
House in view of November’s elections.
With falling ratings...the chances of his re-election are dropping to
the point that political analysts predict that it will only depend on John
Kerry’s lack of charisma.”
"President Bush’s Tongue And The Sincerity
Elite, staunchly pro-opposition To Vima
editorialized (5/26): "When you
seek such symbolism [as demolishing the Abu Ghraib prison], you should ensure
that you learn how to pronounce the symbol of the problem that you created for
yourself, your policy, your country, your allies.... The mentality of looking down on things, as
shown by one’s inability to learn to pronounce one name, painfully contradicts
one’s sincerity of intentions. In this
manner, only impasse gains.”
HUNGARY: "Building On
Gabor Horvath, Washington correspondent for top-circulation,
left-of-center Nepszabadsag, editorialized (5/26): “Abu Ghraib will be demolished. This was the only new element in George W.
Bush’s speech.... The speech did not include
a couple of important elements, which could have helped the ordinary American
and Iraqi citizens have a better idea of what to expect from Bush. The president did not give an exact deadline
for the withdrawal of troops. Neither
did he outline the conditions under which, if set, the United States would
leave Iraq [to cope] on its own. He
instead made a dim promise that Iraq would, ultimately, have a chance to write
its own history and that nobody would want to make an American out of the Iraqi
people. Another important element that
was missing from the speech, namely how Bush thinks to win over both the Iraqi
and the international public to support his plan."
"Dim and Risky Future"
Liberal Magyar Hirlap opined (5/26): “They only have an idea. This much can be concluded from the
president’s televised speech, in which he was meant to outline Iraq’s future to
the world. How the presidential plans
will be translated into action, is another issue.”
NETHERLANDS: "Lack Of
Left-of-center Trouw noted (5/26): "George Bush does not show any humility
at all.... Bush cited some coalition
success stories: 2,200 new schools, 240 hospitals,
1,200 clinics, and a production of 2 million barrels of oil a day.... But he did not offer apologies for the abuse
of prisoners...[or] even acknowledge that excessive actions in military
operations caused harm, for example in Falujah.
And he continues to place Iraqi resistance in the same category as
international terrorism.... We must
admit that there is no simple solution in Iraq, certainly not concerning
security...and we must admit that the British and Americans are making an
effort to meet the wishes of critics in and outside of Iraq. However, the deep mistrust would probably be
more easily removed if Bush would demonstrate a little more humility and
acknowledge mistakes. Unfortunately we
don't see this at all."
"Too Little And Too Late"
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad editorialized
(5/25): "Bush's five-step plan does
not contain anything new and is simply too little, too late.... Iraq needs an internationalization that goes
much further than Bush has proposed and so the new [draft UNSC] resolution
still has room for improvement.... It
would have looked good for Bush if he had acknowledged that after the triumph
in Iraq mistakes were made.... For the
Netherlands, soon to decide whether or not to extend the Dutch mission in Iraq,
Bush's words are an invitation for negotiations and setting conditions. Yesterday we learned that the Abu Ghraib prison
would be taken down. But in Washington
no one has paid a political price for the misdeeds. A resignation of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
would be more than just symbolism. It
would mean taking political responsibility and show that the U.S. is aware of
the depth of the crisis. The Netherlands
should raise this issue behind the scenes.
The draft resolution cannot be blindly accepted simply because it
mentions the word 'multinational' a few times.
Same advice here: try to
influence. Military presence in Iraq is
an important societal responsibility.
But Dutch presence is not something taken for granted. There must be much more in return than is
currently the case."
Independent VG commented (5/27): "The comparison is unpleasant, but the
entire Iraq-affair more and more resembles the military and political quagmire
Vietnam turned into 30 years ago....
President George W. Bush tries to solve this. In the period leading up to the Iraqi
handover, he is heading a well-coordinated PR campaign. The purpose is chiefly to make American
voters look ahead, and try to convince them...
The President's speech and five-step plan for Iraq...raises more questions
than it gives answers. In reality, the
most concrete proposal was to demolish the ill famed Abu Ghraib prison, where
U.S. soldiers filmed their own grotesque abuses of Iraqi prisoners. These disgusting pictures...have hardly
increased the appetite for a more active participation in Iraq in strong
anti-war countries like France and Germany.
Neither in Paris nor in Berlin are there many objections to leave
President Bush to sweat it out [in Iraq].
In both places it is well known that Iraq may be the final nail in the
President's political coffin in the election."
"Pathetic Speech From A President Under Pressure"
Centrist Nationen observed (5/26): "President Bush spoke a lot about what
he would like to achieve in Iraq, but little on how he will bring it
about.... We would like to be able to
believe in his plans. But so far the
problems in occupied Iraq have been too many, and the positive solutions too
few, to make his speech reassuring. The
problems in Iraq are far greater than Bush will admit."
Foreign policy analyst Ana Maria Nitoi opined in the independent Gardianul
(5/26): “George W. Bush tried on Monday
evening to assure the entire international community of the White House’s good
intentions, presenting the so-called political calendar of Iraq after June 30,
when the transfer of sovereignty will take place. George W. Bush’s speech at the U.S. Army War
College in Pennsylvania represents the first step in a counteroffensive meant
to improve the image of the United States, seriously damaged by the semi-failure
in Iraq up to now, and at the same time, Americans’ perception towards their
leader in the White House, with only six moths to go before the presidential
(Non) Strategy For Iraq"
Columnist Brano Ondrasik commented in his column in the financial Hospodarske
Noviny (5/26): “The U.S. State
Department promised that President George W. Bush would present his vision for
Iraq in his highly anticipated speech.
The whole world watched to see what the Washington strategy will be for
controlling the chaos, democratization, and setting a time limit for the
foreign troops’ presence. The world
never got the answer to most of the key questions. Instead of solving them, Bush just changed
the policy to a new non-specific five-item plan. We could hear again nice flowery phrases
about majestic ideals, but that was all.… The June 30 date will be the last
chance to put the train called Iraq back on track.... Rhetoric without concrete proposals is not
what the public wants to hear, and moreover it does not consider the needs of
the Iraq people.”
SPAIN: "Late Steps By
Left-of-center El País commented (5/26): "Bush has a strategy to try to recover
his popularity ahead of the elections in November, but not to solve the
situation in Iraq, for which he has no new ideas.... For the Anglo-American promoters of the new
[UN] resolution there is little doubt that the new provisional government will
request the troops to stay, thus turning them from occupiers into invited
guests.... The president's speech does
not provide any novel proposal, except for the demolition of the prison of Abu
Graib...the only concession to his critics....
As for the 'five-step' plan, it is a mere statement of desirable
goals...that may have made sense one year ago, but now arrives too late. Bush is not proposing that the UN have
control over the military as Zapatero asked, which confirmed one of his
predictions.... The [term] for the
presence of foreign troops should be none other than when full elections are
held in Iraq and what the new government decides. Anything else means deepening the mistakes
that have already been made to date."
Centrist La Vanguardia argued (5/26): "George W. Bush has touched up again
U.S. strategy in Iraq with a speech that combined the president's wish to rid
himself of the problems of that country with the need to continue justifying the
presence of troops.... Announcing the
demolition of the sinister prison of Abu Ghraib...is only a propaganda gesture
by a Bush who urgently needs to erase the most despicable episodes of the
occupation of Iraq. In fact, the main
part of the strategy that is being developed by the White House depends on its
proposed resolution to the UN Security Council.
Washington and London hope to get international blessing to allow their
troops to stay in that country, blessed by the UN, but without losing military
control or the ability to set the calendar for a definitive withdrawal.... Bush also needs to clean up his image for the
future voters in the presidential elections....
Involving the UN in Iraq, smoothing things over with countries such as
France, Germany and China, and turning the occupying troops into a
multinational force is now an urgent need for a president who wants
Remarks Are Still Threatening"
Fuat Bol wrote in conservative Turkiye (5/27): “President Bush made his eagerly awaited
speech, yet he continues to mix threatening remarks with the facts. The president underlined that the fight
against terrorism is not a war of choice for the U.S., but one that was foisted
upon the U.S. He reiterated that it is
time to take action, not to talk.... The
purpose of his remarks were to convince the international public about the need
for the ongoing war on terrorism and to call on friends and allies to side with
the U.S. However, the truth is that
every backward or cruel regime in the Middle East, including the Taliban and
Saddam, used to enjoy U.S. support.
Their tyranny was made possible by military and political support from
Washington.... The current situation
does not give us hope for a better future.
After the U.S. occupation, Iraq is living in pain and agony. Moreover, the misguided U.S. policies in Iraq
have helped to fuel more hatred and vengeance that will increase threats to the
future of Iraq and the wider region.
None of this is going to bring peace and democracy to the region.”
SAUDI ARABIA: "Iraq
Threatens Bush Reelection"
The English-language pro-government Saudi
Gazette held (5/27): "President
Bush's recent impassioned speech to the nation promising five specific steps
towards achieving American goals in Iraq was impassioned for a very good
reason. Events in Iraq are beginning to
make it look like Bush, in the same way as his father before him, may very well
become a one-term president.... The
simple fact is that opinion polls show public support for President Bush ebbing
away and Iraq is the primary reason....
What started out as part of the war against terror against a state that
was supposedly producing WMD, a state categorized as a supporter of al-Qaida,
has become a quagmire in which most of the moral and political certainties
advanced for the original invasion have vanished. Bush's dilemma is how to provide a fresh
vision of the future while glossing over the mistakes that have already been
made. His rhetoric was a reminder of how
he remains trapped by the past. In a
speech delivered at an army college in Pennsylvania, he said Iraq was now the
central front in the war on terror. The
five specific points he referred to included the handing over of authority to a
sovereign Iraqi government and the establishment of the stability and security
in Iraq that democracy requires. He
promised the U.S. would continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure; encourage
more international support; and move toward free, national elections that would
bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people. The problem is that to carry out this list
requires a continuing U.S. military presence because Washington's vision of
democracy (liberal, capitalist, and secular) doesn't tie in with local
versions. To admit this is to admit the
scale of the problem that still lies ahead.
The one new concession to reality was Bush's attempts to get the UN on
board for any future plans for Iraq.
That may prove difficult because the UN is not going to want to be
restrained by controls imposed by Washington while Washington will not want to
lose control of its military in Iraq. In
the absence of a local alternative security matters automatically default to
U.S. troops. A transfer of sovereignty
in which actual control of a country remains in someone else's hands is not
much of a transfer. The Bush
administration has yet to show itself capable of squaring that circle."
The pro-government English-language Arab News held
(5/26): "Some words stick in the
throat. 'Abu Ghraib' stuck in the throat of President George W. Bush when he
spoke to a US Army college of his vision for the future of Iraq. As well it
might. The president twice fumbled the name of the notorious prison when he
promised that if the Iraqi government which takes over on June 30 wished it,
America would tear it down and build a modern, maximum security facility in its
place. What he failed to realize is that
Abu Ghraib is not a symbol of the brutal depravity of Saddam’s
dictatorship--there are plenty of other reminders of those horrors. It is
rather the place where America betrayed its own ostensible aims in Iraq and
destroyed the last vestiges of hope that ordinary Iraqis had in the
coalition. Now we are coming to the
endgame of all Washington’s blunders.....
As Bush made clear in his speech, the Coalition Provisional Authority is
to be dismantled totally. Still, coalition forces would remain in Iraq in
support of the Iraqi authorities for at least a year, after which the situation
would be reviewed. The degree to which
the Iraqi administration will be able to control the operations of these forces
and also the issue of immunity for coalition forces from prosecution in local
courts are yet to be settled.... For all
his brave words about 'seeing the task through,' Bush has run out of ideas. His
major concern now is saving his administration from electoral defeat in
November, and for that he needs a face-saving escape from Iraq. The greatest sleight of hand in his speech
came when he protested that he had always sought to involve the UN. It suits him now to forget the contempt with
which he treated the UN in the run-up to the invasion. He needs someone now to
whom he can hand over the problem of Iraq."
Resolution Not Enough"
The independent, elite English-language Jordan Times
declared (5/26): "If there was any
hope that US President George Bush's speech on Monday at the Army War College
in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, would show a clear intention to end the US
occupation of Iraq posthaste, that hope was swiftly dashed.... His statements that US forces would remain
and their number will be increased "if they need more troops" leaves
little doubt that Washington's future course on Iraq will be more of the same. Meanwhile, too, the US-British draft
resolution on Iraq that was submitted for consideration to the UNSC appears to
confirm the suspicion that the U.S. is not about to let go of Iraq.... Instead, the proposed resolution is seeking
new camouflage to perpetuate the current occupation. The draft aims first and foremost to
'legitimise' the so-called multinational force in Iraq beyond June 30,
ostensibly with the 'consent' and cooperation of the projected caretaker
government that has yet to be formed....
The UN resolution could offer the US an honourable exit strategy if its
goal were really to restore full sovereignty to the Iraqi people and end the
current occupation of their country. The best hope for Iraq is to hold free and
fair national elections as soon as possible.
With the US presidential elections nearing and Bush's approval rates
slipping, the resolution of the Iraqi conflict assumes an added sense of
urgency. Besieged by a chain of failures that have erased any positive effects
of the continued US presence in Iraq (if there were some at all), Bush cannot
count on his nationally broadcast speech in Carlisle, nor on the resolution
presented to the UNSC, to change his image or that of his government's handling
of Iraq. More crucially, he cannot change the realities on Iraqi soil."
Potential Turning Point In Iraq, And The Stakes Are High"
The moderate, English-language Daily Star
remarked (5/26): "Two new
developments on the Iraq diplomatic front suggest to the global community that
there is another potential turning point in the current, sad chapter in Iraqi
and, indeed, U.S. history. These are the speech delivered Monday by President
George W. Bush, and the US-British draft UN resolution on Iraq. Both are
resplendent in their use of words and projection of visions for a free,
democratic Iraq, beginning with an Iraqi interim government assuming office on
June 30.... While sounding promising,
there is still a sense of deja vu about such assurances.... The U.S. must live up to its latest promise
and ensure that an absolute transfer of authority--political, military and
economic--does go ahead. America should not attempt to maintain control behind
the scenes.... Now is also the time for
the world community to get involved. Those who have hesitated because of the
U.S. role in Iraq should put aside reservations in favor of getting Iraq back
on its feet. And, finally but not least, the Iraqi people themselves need to
step forward decisively and seize the small window of opportunity that will
exist after June 30 to make full use of international support to turn their
country around and demonstrate they have what it takes to set an example of
regeneration and transformation in the region.
The stakes are high. Chaos and violence will reign for a great many
years if this vitally important venture fails."
"Bush's Address On Iraq: Neither Honest Nor Convincing"
French-language, pro-opposition Al Bayane maintained
(5/26): "The America media was very
critical Tuesday morning after Bush’s address on prospects for Iraq,
highlighting the fact that he did not admit his errors and refrained from
presenting a convincing strategy on the future of Iraq."
"While American President is ‘Reassuring,’ The IISS Is
‘Concerned;’ Al Qaeda Galvanized By Iraq War"
Amina Talhimet remarked in French-language, leftist Liberation
(5/26): "The occupation will end
and the Iraqis will take care of their own affairs, declared the American
president, George Bush. Nothing new,
besides the razing of a prison and the Saddam-era torture having a plague-like
effect on the army of the greatest democracy on the planet. The day after Mr. Bush’s speech, the International
Institute for Strategic Studies published a report demonstrating that
Washington and London’s ‘preventive’ war has galvanized international
SYRIA: "A Show Piece
Eyad Mahfoud commented in government-owned Al-Ba'th
(5/26): "In his speech, President
Bush did not admit to the huge failures his country has faced on many issues,
especially with regard to the war on Iraq. In the first place the speech was a
showpiece to serve his re-election campaign and stop the deterioration of his
popularity as reflected in recent opinion polls.... Bush did not hide his concern about
continuing military and political difficulties in Iraq nor that the coming days
will be tough ones. However, his claimed strategy of establishing a democracy
in Iraq was faced with skepticism because it was vague and incapable of putting
an end to the suffering of the Iraqi people over the past 14 years.... The speech was meant for media consumption to
divert attention from Bush's political and military failures, especially his
claims about Iraq's WMD."
An unsigned op-ed in the government-owned Syria
Times read (5/26): "President
Bush presented glad tidings and brought the good news that the U.S. would tear
down the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but only after getting Iraqi approval to
build a modern, maximum security prison....
Good, Mr. Bush. That will create more jobs and work for US companies. It
will also mean more well-equipped cells for more and more prisoners, where no
videos or cameras can be sneaked to. Any
abuse will not be recorded or filmed. US soldiers can do whatever they want.
Mr. Bush, demolishing the walls of Abu Ghraib does not mean ending the scandal
or abolishing the abuse. The walls that should be demolished are those in the
minds of the abusers those who look at themselves as superiors."
"Abu Ghraib's Assassination"
Co-editor-in-chief Jameleddine Karmawi stated in independent
Arabic-language Ash-Shourouq (5/26):
"The most important aspect of President Bush’s speech is that the
coalition forces will remain in Iraq after June 30.... [Ironically] Bush was still making reference
to Iraqi’s ‘sovereignty’.... My belief
is that the important thing that matters for the U.S. is that it controls
petroleum resources in Iraq after June 30....
What struck me most in Bush’s speech is that he emphasized on the
destruction of 'Abu Ghraib' to sweep off the scandal which has not stopped
hurting the Empire.... Changing the
decoration is a cinematographic move, not a political one.... Evidently, Bush omitted from his speech the
still missing WMDs and the presumed relation Iraq has with the 9/11 events.
Moreover, he did not talk about the law that allows him to imprison the former
Iraqi president.... It is my legitimate
right to question his intentions as he insists on destroying the prison of Abu
Ghraib.... Bush knows full well that
every city in the West is replete with museums and jails which were turned into
memorials...and since Abu Ghraib epitomizes the suffering and torture of
Iraqis, destroying it means obliterating the traces of the huge crime committed
by the U.S.... Bush has not come to Iraq
with freedom but he will compensate that by putting up a statue that stands for
freedom.... Abu Ghraib has to
remain...because at the end, the latter is more sacred than the building of the
transitional government...because this prison has included free people who said
no to the alluring American slogans."
"An Attempt To Get Out Of The Iraqi Quagmire"
Senior editor Noureddine Achour asserted in independent
Arabic-language As-Sabah (5/26):
“Following the insinuation of the American civil governor Bremer a few
weeks ago about the possibility of seeing the American forces withdraw from
Iraq because of the insecurity reigning there and the increasing resistance
operations, Bush’s and Blair’s governments have resorted to the UN in an
attempt to give legitimacy to the post-June 30th handover of authority to Iraqis.... To legitimize their pursuit of occupation in
Iraq, the US and Britain are proposing a multiethnic force led by the US in
Iraq with the possibility of reconsidering its role a year after the transfer
of power. However, the leaked draft resolution poses question pertaining to the
future of Iraq: how the US and Britain can get out of the Iraqi quagmire, to what extent the Iraqi government can take
charge of the issue of security, and whether the Iraqi authorities will have
the power to ask coalition forces to evacuate and to be responsible for
resources available. It does not seem that Washington and London are ready now
to answer those interrogations because of the absence of a real plan concerning
the post-war period in Iraq. This was blatant in the difficulties they had in
dealing with the Iraqi reality on the ground.... By looking at the political situation and at
the factions, we are likely to note the difficulties in helping Shiites,
Sunnites and Kurds reach a compromise on the role of each party in the future
"Long On Words, Short On Ideas"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf
News maintained (5/26): "Iraq
is not an election issue for White House strategists to spin to the American
public, it is a country in truly desperate straits and the sooner George Bush
realises this the better. The US president's speech was meant to soothe frayed
nerves, provide a vision both for Iraq and the coalition troops there and, most
importantly for the Iraq people, show that Washington actually has a strategy.
With just five weeks to go before Iraq regains a tarnished version of
sovereignty, it was important for Iraqis to see that Washington knows what it's
doing. Bush failed abysmally on all counts.
It was not what he addressed that caused so much concern but what he
didn't address. Security for Iraqi men, women and children is non-existent.
Bush made no mention of how to improve it. Schools, hospitals, universities
need to be built as well as the country's infrastructure. These issues are not
being met. And finally only an international agreement of the future of Iraq,
will even begin to solve that desperate country's problems. Bush was notably
vague on this. By Bush's own words the
situation is bound to get worse before the handover of autonomy. This is an
amazing admission for Bush to make and is a damning indictment of his lack of
policies. It is alarmingly clear that the US president does not have a strategy
and in the lack of a viable cohesive strategy hope for a peaceful stable Iraq
diminishes every day. Bush spoke as if
he was targeting voters rather than the problems facing Iraq. The Iraqi people
deserve so much more than a president in the White House who is so utterly out
of his depth on the international stage and so blind to their plight."
"Lost In Bush Land"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej
Times stated (5/26): "Few had
expected any dramatic outcome from US President George Bush's much-awaited
address on Iraq. The speech...offers too little, too late. True, he has
reaffirmed the US commitment to June 30 power transfer deadline. But we have
been there and heard that before. The
fact is the American president is fighting a losing battle both in Iraq and at
home in the US. Even as Bush has sought to attack the doubts that threaten his
presidency by portraying Iraq as a pivotal point in the 'war on terrorism,' he
has perilously linked the campaign in Iraq to the poll battle he is waging for
his re-election. And the writing on the wall is starkly clear: If he loses the
war in Iraq, he loses the presidential poll battle in the US.... . As
in the past, this speech was not short on quintessential Bushspeak.... Taking the bully pulpit to a decidedly
military setting, Bush held forth on how Iraq had become the vanguard of
freedom's fight in Middle East. The only saving grace in the president's speech
was his outlining of a five-point plan for Iraq.... The U.S. president's speech...will not
succeed in restoring the world community's--least of all Iraqi people's--trust
in the U.S. mission in Iraq. The least Bush could have done was to offer an
unconditional apology to the Iraqi people for the appalling destruction,
humiliation and shame the occupation army has unleashed on the country.... Of course, the U.S. could never hope to be
forgiven by Iraqi people for the rape of their land. But it could have at least
made a serious attempt at redemption. President Bush has failed yet again to
convince the world that the US is repentant over Iraq disaster."
AUSTRALIA: "Talk Of
Independence But U.S. Wants To Keep Iraq On A Leash"
Paul McGeough opined in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald
(5/27): “In his Monday speech...George
Bush spoke of 'full sovereignty.' But if
it is to be 'full' and 'sovereign' there should be none of the palaver we have
at the UN where the Security Council is being asked to vote on a motion that
would authorize U.S. forces in Iraq to 'take all measures' to keep order and
which leaves their presence in the country open-ended. Equally, if a Security Council motion is
needed to legitimize an ongoing foreign presence in Iraq, why the unseemly plan
for an exchange of letters at a later date on a range of vital issues, like the
relationship between the Iraqis and foreign forces and the treatment of
detainees and prisoners?.... With all
this caveat confetti hanging in the air, it was hardly surprising when Bush
briefed reporters in the Oval Office after Monday night's speech, that he
balked when asked if it was imperative that Iraq become a democracy or that it
have free elections. In other words,
were they free as a nation to decide their own fate?... The White House's new Iraq plan is its old
plan--repackaged as 'five points' in the hope that some might be fooled into
believing that Washington knows what it's doing, even if voters are deserting
Bush in droves.”
“Bush Promises To Soldier On”
The national conservative Australian asserted (5/26): "The good news is that President George
W. Bush has promised to stay the course in Iraq. The sobering news is that he
has no new ideas on how to quickly end the killing and advance the cause of
democracy in Iraq. In essence, Mr Bush's speech yesterday offered nothing
new.... The U.S. will continue to fund
the reconstruction of the shattered state. And it will fight on against the
terrorists who will kill whoever they can to prevent the creation of a
democratic Iraqi nation. The objectives are spot-on. For all the failings of
the American occupation, the prospect of a democratic Iraq as a beacon of hope
in the Middle East is worth the present pain.
Nor can the President be blamed for not setting out any new strategies
on how all this is to be done. It is hard to see what the US can do other than
stick to the timetable for the transfer of power.... Mr Bush was sadly silent on issues where the
Americans can, and must, manage better. The humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by
their guards has given many Iraqis enough evidence to decide that the Americans
are as brutal as Saddam's regime. The President's promise yesterday to demolish
the Abu Ghraib prison where the mistreatment took place is too little, much too
late. And the Americans must improve their urban combat tactics. City streets
are no place for infantry equipped with heavy weapons that can kill innocent
Iraqis kilometers away from their intended targets."
“The Long Road Ahead In Iraq”
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald stated (5/26): "Mr Bush realizes the deeper the
difficulties the US faces in Iraq, after invading without UN backing, the more
it needs that support. But in his speech, he links the suicide bombers and
militants in Mosul, Karbala and Baghdad with those who attacked the U.S. on
September 11, 2001.... Such
misunderstanding of the turmoil consequent on the invasion of Iraq can only
dismay those in the international community whose help the U.S. now badly
“The President Has Come Close To Losing The Argument On Iraq--And
He Knows It.”
International editor Tony Parkinson observed in the liberal
Melbourne Age (5/26): “George
Bush sought yesterday to stop the rot. His speech on political and security
developments in Iraq marked the beginnings of a campaign to counter powerful
undercurrents of doubt and despondency emerging in the US. The presidential
address aimed at reassuring an anxious American public on two counts: first,
that the US mission in Iraq is not a lost cause, and, second, that his
presidency is not a spent force. It came not a moment too soon.... This time, like his allies John Howard and
Tony Blair, George Bush is on the razor's edge. His political survival depends
on arresting and reversing the drift towards despair.”
CHINA: "The U.S. Wants
To Attend To State Affairs From Behind A Curtain In Iraq"
Li Qingchun commented in official International
Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao) (5/27): “Bush’s five-step plan for the Iraqi
reconstruction did not establish a schedule for the withdrawal and it shows the
U.S. has no intention to withdraw military from Iraq within the short
term. The U.S. military’s record shows
the U.S. will return only limited powers to Iraq. Bush said the U.S. ‘will provide technical
experts to Iraq'.... Obviously they will
not just provide technical support, they will actually dominate the future of
Iraqi politics and become the invisible hand controlling the Iraqi political
situation. The U.S. will not easily give
up the spoils of Iraq. What has changed
is the political language. What will
never change are the national interests.”
“Bush In A Rush To Get Rid Of Iraq"
Yang Hailun opined in official Communist Party-run international Global
Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (5/26):
“Facing various pressures, Bush realizes that the solution is to rid
himself of the Iraqi mire as soon as possible, then he will have enough time
and strength to deal with other issues related to his reelection. In Bush’s latest speech, beyond the actual
steps, it mostly is geared toward stirring people’s emotions.... This was a habitual trick of former President
Kennedy – using his own failure to exaggerate the enemy’s power and emphasize
his own importance.... Once the U.S.’
and UK’s new resolution is passed in the UN, the international community will
be more involved in Iraq’s affairs, and the belief is that this will release
much of the Bush Administration’s pressure regarding the Iraq issue.”
"Bush Puts New Labels On Same Old Rhetoric"
The official English-language China Daily noted
(5/26): “With the prison scandal and
escalating violence in Iraq continuing to erode Washington's credibility with
the Iraqi people and the rest of the world, US President George W. Bush on
Monday launched his latest effort to convince skeptical Americans and the world
about a "clear" strategy for handing over power to the
Iraqis.... Nevertheless, he offered old
rhetoric but few specifics on how to rectify the administration's miserable
mismanagement of post-war Iraq....
Invading a sovereign state without UN authorization was a huge mistake.
Designing a power transfer without handing over full state power--again without
UN blessing--will be equally grievous.... However, the draft text presented to
the UNSC for deliberation by the U.S.-British alliance does not give a definite
timetable for ending the occupation by the US-led multinational force and
instead calls for a review after a year, which a new Iraqi government can
request earlier. A review would be
similar to an open-ended mandate and would not mean the force would leave
unless the Security Council, where the U.S. has veto power, decides it should
do so.... Washington's notion that its
military presence and continuing political tutelage will translate into
political stability and democracy in Iraq is no longer credible. The truth is
that the US military presence itself is unnecessary. Security Council members began debating the
draft resolution yesterday. Voices of Iraq and Arabic countries should be
respected. We can only hope a consensus
will be reached quickly - one that lays the foundation for making "Iraqis
governing Iraq" possible and giving the UN a full role to play in the
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Details Lacking In Bush's Vision For Iraq"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
said (5/26): "The picture of Iraq's
future painted by U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday was a surprisingly
rosy one. And it was created with the
use of broad brush strokes. Missing,
however, were the vital details needed to inject some much-needed realism into
this vision.... Then there is the lack
of a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. The resolution provides for them to remain
for at least another year, at which point the situation will be reviewed. They could be there indefinitely. These issues need to be resolved because they
threaten to undermine the legitimacy of the new government. They risk giving the impression that the
occupation will, in effect, continue even after the new leadership is in
place.... The speech also failed to
provide an insight into how the security situation is to be improved. Without peace and stability, the road map
will just not work. And the increased
role for the international community envisaged by Mr. Bush will fail to
materialize.... There was no hint in the
speech that Mr. Bush is willing to admit having made mistakes in Iraq. A little humility at this stage would be
persuasive, especially when it comes to winning the support of skeptical
members of the UN. But building
confidence in the U.S. vision for Iraq--in the U.S., the UN and the Middle
East--will depend on showing that the road map can be followed. It will take more than a rousing speech to
turn the dream into reality."
JAPAN: "Let's Find A
Way Out Of The Iraq Maze"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (5/26): "President Bush has reaffirmed a
political timetable for Iraq, which includes transferring power on June 30 and
holding direct elections by January of next year.... Top priority must be placed on ensuring the
smooth transfer of full sovereignty to Iraq.
As the initiator of the Iraq war, the U.S. is responsible for supporting
the transition of authority through its diplomatic and military resources. Securing internal security will be even more
important after June 30. In the lead-up to the deadline, feuding forces are
expected to intensify their fight for greater influence. This domestic power struggle may result in
military conflict. Establishing security
is key to holding elections.... It is
vital that the U.S. respond appropriately to the prisoner abuse scandal in
order to make Iraq understand that the U.S. military presence is crucial for
"Speech Not Convincing"
Liberal Asahi editorialized (5/26): "In the face of the stalemate in Iraq
and the split of the global community over the postwar nation, we wonder if
President Bush's speech was persuasive.
The fact that he did not say anything new except that Abu Ghraib prison
would be demolished reflects his increasingly precarious position. He failed to
answer questions on many issues, including efforts to contain resistance and
the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The address was not broadcast on three major
networks because of its 'political and partisan' nature. Support rates for President Bush have
recently plunged to the lowest level ever.
With the presidential election only months away, President Bush must
feel very vulnerable. We wanted to hear
what has gone wrong with his Iraq policy and hoped that he would to set forth a
new course of action to reconstruct Iraq.
His speech, however, left us deeply disappointed."
"U.S. Should Stabilize Iraq Through International
Business-oriented Nikkei opined (5/26): "President Bush outlined a five-step
plan for the democratization of Iraq. It
is a constructive proposal. But, the
real issue is whether Iraq can build a political system in which the
sovereignty of Iraqi people is fully respected. The U.S. military, which will
continue to play a leading role in a multinational force even after the planned
transition of power, may need more troops in Iraq. However, every effort must be made not to
leave the impression that the U.S. will continue to dictate the course of
action. France, Germany, Russia and
others are required to use diplomatic wisdom to cooperate with the U.S."
NEW ZEALAND: "When
Bush Comes To Shove"
The Southland Times editorialized (5/27): "More than just empty symbolism can be
found in United States President George Bush's decision, announced in his
recent 'we shall not fail' speech, to abolish the Abu Ghraib prison in
Iraq.... This dismal structure was home
to torments inflicted not only by Saddam Hussein's vile administration, but more
recently by U.S. troops. Mr. Bush said
the demolition would be a fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning. He could more accurately have called the
prison a discomforting symbol of what is wrong with the previous new beginning,
announced when the U.S. invaded in the first place. If anything, the demolition announcement
underscores the arrogance of the U.S. stance in this country, which Mr. Bush
seems to think he has acquired, however temporarily. The prison does not, after all, belong to
anyone other than the Iraqi people. It's
not his to bowl. It is hard for a man
who, practice as he may, cannot seem to pronounce Abu Ghraib, to sound
authoritative when he speaks of it. But
then Mr. Bush's occupation of Iraq remains all effort and no
attainment.... If anything the speech
has triggered a more ardent climate of criticism, not only of his
administration's role but the jingoistic reporting and lack of critical
scrutiny from many branches of the U.S. media.... More analysts within the U.S. are at last talking
in the same terms as the greater part of the rest of the world: a flawed strategy, dreadfully inaccurate
intelligence, inadequate forces on the ground, flagging domestic support and a
political leadership that seems to have multiple agendas above and beyond
simply defeating the insurgents."
"Bowling At Bush"
The moderate Christchurch-based Press opined (5/26): "Increasingly war-weary Americans must
have taken heart from their President's speech, delivered yesterday. Its appeal
to patriotism and show of determination to finish the Iraq mission will draw a
favourable response.... But American
optimism risks being blown away by the next death of a GI in Falluja's dusty
streets. In wars, rhetoric matters but not as much as the body count and the
reality on the ground. George Bush faces
an additional reality check--he will be tested at the ballot box in six months
and is by no means a shoo-in. Were the soldiers back on U.S. soil by election
eve, Bush the victorious President would sweep the country, but a rapid and
bloodless exit from Iraq is improbable. The bombs are likely to be exploding as
Americans cast their presidential ballots. In the interim, they will witness
more military being sent into battle and intensifying evidence that Iraq is
becoming a morass. Bush in his speech
could not avoid the need for an extra draft but he sought to reassure that the
troops would not be sacrificed in a doomed crusade. He sought to lay out a
strategy that would bring peace and prosperity to Iraq with minimum casualties.
But his reliance on the June 30 hand-over of governing powers to an interim
Iraqi administration as the guarantor of peace is unconvincing. Crucially, the U.S. will continue to take
responsibility for security, and that will expose the President at his most
vulnerable--the Commander-in-Chief who presides over a mounting flow of body
bags. No-one should feel gleeful at this prospect, not even those who opposed
the war and detest the Bush presidency. An unstable Iraq threatens the security
of the region and that threatens the security of the world. Oil supplies and
the moderating of extreme Islam--two crucial international issues--hinge on the
stable condition of the Middle East."
The liberal Today contended (5/26): "Bush promised to demolish Abu Ghraib and
build in its place a modern detention facility. The proposal seeks to destroy a
hated symbol of abuse. But the damage has been done--and, as far as the Iraqi
people are concerned, nothing less than the immediate departure of the troops
of the U.S. and its allies can begin to repair it.... Although the U.S. claims that its invasion of
Iraq--and, earlier, of Afghanistan--aimed to make the world safer from
terrorism, it has only succeeded in breeding more terrorism by creating critics
and enemies where once there were sympathizers and friends. But the biggest disaster, as far as the
American president is concerned, still looms on the horizon.... Bush faces an election in November--and with
it the prospect of his following in the footsteps of his father, who failed to
get himself reelected after the first Gulf War.
The U.S. president’s speech...focused more on the concerns of his
domestic constituents, and less on the international anxiety over his
mishandling of the Iraqi conflict. With his survey ratings dropping as the
fighting in the Middle East drags on, Bush needs a way out before it is too
late to arrest the erosion of his popularity.
It is likely, therefore, that the U.S. will keep its promise of a
handover by the end of June. While the Iraqis and much of the world community
would welcome a U.S. withdrawal, it will not be the graceful exit that Bush is
hoping for. For one, the stated
objectives of the U.S. invasion have not been achieved. For another, the Americans
would be leaving Iraq in a far worse condition than they found it. Rather than
affirm its leadership in the community of nations, America’s expedition in Iraq
has squandered a large measure of its international prestige. And there’s nobody to blame for that except
George W. Bush. “
"Bush Stays The Course"
The pro-government Straits Times declared
(5/27): "U.S. President George W.
Bush's speech on Monday laying out his plans for Iraq did not contain any
surprises. But the fact that it did not
was the most important thing about it.
Despite the barrage of criticisms that have been leveled at his Iraqi
policies recently...he did not budge from his determination to stay the
course. That may not be the most popular
electoral position to take just now, but Mr. Bush was correct not to give any
sign that he is less than resolute. If
his speech had detailed a so-called 'exit strategy', for example, as his
critics have been demanding he should, that would have sent a signal to
jihadists and Saddamites that Washington was going wobbly. Instead, without once mentioning an 'exit
strategy', Mr. Bush set forth a five-point plan to stabilize Iraq.... Mr. Bush's 'exit strategy' is simple: it hinges on success. The question is how is he going to achieve
it. Mr. Bush left many questions
unanswered in his speech.... As Mr. Bush
acknowledged in his Monday address, it is crucial that the U.S. gets
international support, but that is unlikely to be forthcoming if Washington
does not provide the UN with as clear a plan as possible. Iraq is likely to be wracked with violence
for some time. It is of crucial
importance that the international community, especially Europe and the U.S.,
cooperate to stabilize the situation.
Whatever disagreements the U.S. and its European friends and allies
might have had during the run-up to the war, all agree that a chaotic Iraq is
in nobody's interest. In a crucial
sense, the pre-war disagreements do not matter any longer. Invading and occupying Iraq might have
constituted an optional war, but creating a stable, post-Saddam Iraq is not one
among a number of options--it is the only one.... Iraq may not have been, as Mr. Bush claimed,
the center of the war on terrorism before the invasion, but there is little
doubt that it has become so after. His
speech on Monday was a good beginning, but he will have to do more to explain
how he intends to put his plans into effect and gather greater international
support for those plans."
"Bush’s Dangerous Iraq Policy"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun
editorialized (5/26): “President Bush
has once again disappointed the world.
In his first speech to the American people about U.S. policy toward Iraq
since the outbreak of the sexual abuse and torture of Iraqi POWs by U.S.
soldiers, Mr. Bush continued to show arrogance by asserting the legitimacy of
his policies and by failing to offer an apology for the illegal and unilateral
U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, which has entailed the prisoner abuse
scandal.... Furthermore, Mr. Bush made
clear his intent to continue stationing 140,000 U.S. forces in the war-torn
country even after the planned transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis in late
June.... This is nothing short of a
declaration that the U.S. will stay on as an occupying force while continuing
to encourage the killing.... Mr. Bush
appears to be turning a deaf ear to anguished Iraqi groans or global
INDIA: "America In
Mumbai-based centrist Marathi-language Tarun Bharat stated
(5/27): "President George Bush's
five-step plan in Iraq, declared recently at the United States Army War
College, has come a bit too late in the day.
Bush spoke of a new resolution in the UNSC, which will help move Iraq
towards self-government. He has also
expressed hope in a first-ever freely elected, truly representative national
governing body in Iraq's history. But
these plans would have been welcome had they been executed around 14 months
ago. Bush virtually disregarded the UN
and the entire international community when he invaded Iraq. After America's Iraq policy has evidently
failed, it is not these grandiose plans but words of apology that we expected
from the American president.... His May
25 speech seems like a schoolboy's attempts to read out the homework done so
far. From what is palpable, the
coalition forces will hand over the reins to the transitional national assembly
in Iraq by June 30 and then wait and watch until the U.S. presidential
elections take place in November.... The
new resolution, prepared by Bush to be placed before the UN does not have any
specifics with regard to the international support enlisted in Iraq. The U.S. is likely to control the military
operations in Iraq even after June 30, as per the draft resolution."
"Bush Tries To Mollify Americans On Iraq"
Chidanand Rajghatta wrote in the centrist Times of India
(5/26): "The Bush administration on
Monday suspended a general over the prisoner abuse scandal and announced it was
replacing the top American commander in Iraq, even as the wheels seemed to be
coming of the US occupation of Iraq. A politically--and physically--bruised
President Bush went on national television to tell Americans that the US was
handing over authority to an interim government in Iraq on June 30. Bush said
an essential part of rebuilding Iraq would be the creation of a modern prison
system. The slightly desperate pitch was aimed at mollifying Americans who have
now, finally, begun to have serious doubts about the whole Iraq affair. Bush
approval ratings have plunged to record lows.... There is now palpable anxiety in the
administration over the mess in Iraq. Bush is scheduled to make one major
speech a week in the five weeks before the U.S. is slated to hand over authority
to an interim government on June 30. The U.S. is also rushing back to the UN
for various resolutions. Although Monday's address was presented as 'Iraq's
five steps to freedom,' absent any plans for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq--an
exit strategy--the measures could mean little."
"Razing The New Bastille"
The nationalist Hindustan Times opined (5/26): "President Bush's five-point strategy
for the immediate future of Iraq--as laid out in his keynote speech the other
day--may not convince many people. The Bush plan is indeed noble. But unfortunately
it does not amount to much else in the strife-torn country that is descending
deeper into chaos with every day that passes. Even Mr. Bush's proposal to
demolish the notorious Abu Ghraib prison is too little, too late, although it
merits symbolic value. Bush's imperatives of sounding confident are clear, even
if they lack credibility. Weeks of unremitting bad news from Iraq leave him no
choice but to try and convince audiences at home and abroad that the disturbing
uncertainties in Iraq are only mirages that will vanish, come June 30 when
power is handed over to the interim government. Unfortunately for Bush, some
crucial signboards are missing in his roadmap. They don't tell us much about
how a nation, which is now divided between the secular and more democratic
Kurdish north, Shiite and Islamic south, with the Sunni cauldron in between,
will reconstitute itself into democratic and secular Iraq. The problem with the
Bush plan is perhaps not its lack of clarity, but the plan itself."
An editorial in sensationalist Urdu-language Ummat read
(5/27): "President Bush is hundred
per cent right when he says that the enemy of Iraq and the United States is the
same and that enemy is none other than himself.
President Bush in his animosity towards the Muslims and Islam has
forgotten that this would also cast negative effects even on the Americans
citizens themselves. Al-Qaida has
reportedly expanded its network to sixty countries of the world. How could the U.S. fight against it at so
many places? Prudence demands that the
Bush administration withdrew its troops from Iraq at the earliest."
BANGLADESH: "The Bush
Independent English-language News Today observed
(5/27): "What President Bush calls
for 'full restoration of sovereignty' in Iraq it is just another gimmick to
confuse the world opinion. He refuses to
set a deadline for troops withdrawal. It
is not clear if his efforts would succeed but in the event they do, it would
further erode the credibility of the United Nations. Whatever credibility it still enjoys is
perhaps due to its refusal to put its seal of approval on the invasion. The foremost precondition for any UN
involvement should be replacement of occupation forces by a multinational force
under its own supervision."
NIGERIA: "Iraqi Future
Ola Balogun maintained in Lagos-based independent New Age
(5/27): "Most ironically, as if in
a direct playback of history, the Anglo-American scheme for post-Saddam Iraq
envisages the existence of a local Governing Council consisting of Iraqis
nominated by the occupying powers, who are planning to retain the right to
maintain an expeditionary army of close to 150,000 troops indefinitely in
Iraq. Against this background, it has
become truly comical to note the fury of the Anglo-American coalition when
faced with the refusal of the vast majority of Iraqis to accept this version of
'instant democracy.' Clearly, the
recalcitrant Iraqis need iron handling to get to the promised democratic
paradise.... There can thus be no doubt
that the future of Iraq will undoubtedly be determined by the Iraqis
themselves, rather than by external occupying forces. In the long run, true democracy in Iraq may
well lead to the emergence of a federated state comprising of an autonomous
Kurdish region in the north and separate but closely linked Islamic Sunni and
Shiite regions in the rest of Iraq, with control of Iraq’s mineral resources
vested in the hands of the people of Iraq.
Iraqi democracy can obviously never be the outcome of the activities of
foreign expeditionary forces seeking to achieve concealed objectives under the
cover of a supposedly civilizing mission.
Obviously, it should be left for the people of Iraq to decide by
themselves where their best interests lie."
UGANDA: "Iraq Tortures
A Sign Of Hatred Against Muslims"
The conservative, Islamic Weekly Message concluded
(5/25-31): "America is refered
to as the strongest democracy in the world,
the world's only super power and bastion of freedoms. That a side, the US is an
upholder of human rights Internationally. However, the United States has failed
to live up to the world's expectations in Iraq, because of what US soldiers are doing to Iraq prisoners
especially those at Abu Ghraib. These
acts explain a deep-rooted odium against Muslims by a bigger and organized
circle in the US administration and military, not an isolated incident, as some
people want us to believe. In fact some media reports say those soldiers
tortured Iraqis under orders of the
military intelligence so that they can be softened for interrogation. Are these
the values that Americans claim to promote? Or, is this the liberation that the
people of Iraq should sing about?
President Bush claims the war on terrorism is not against Islam or
Muslims, but war against bad people who are bent on killing innocent people.
Actions though show something different. President Bush and the Congress should
do their best and address the root cause of this graviuos behavior by America's
military rather than trying to do some public relations so as to cover these
CANADA: "Time To
Destroy An Evil Place"
The nationalist Ottawa Citizen opined (5/26): "The physical destruction of the Berlin
Wall was a necessary catharsis for the people of the Soviet Bloc. So was the leveling of statues of Lenin. The journey from tyranny to liberty is of
such transformative significance that nations historically have needed to mark
it with symbolic gestures, from re-naming streets to executing dictators in the
town square. As Mr. Bush acknowledged,
it is up to the Iraqi people to decide what constitute appropriate symbolic
gestures. But a good one to start with
would be turning Abu Ghraib into dust."
"Give Iraqis True Power"
The liberal Toronto Star remarked (5/26): "Five months before American voters go
to the polls, there is one burning question on their minds: when will President George Bush hand back
power to the Iraqis, call off the occupation and bring home the troops? It's a question Iraqis are asking, too. And
with reason.... Iraqis are clamoring to
run their own show, with international help.
But that's not quite what Bush proposes in the resolution he has put before
the UNSC. He wants the UN to give him a
free military hand in the 'post- occupation' phase, even though the UN didn't
endorse the war.... This leaves Iraqis
fearing the UN will rubber-stamp a long occupation.... It should be amended to give Iraqis the right
to send foreign troops home, and full control of Iraq's own security
forces. They should have a veto, too,
over the activity of the foreign troops on Iraqi soil. There is merit in having the UN endorse a
plan to restore Iraqi sovereignty, and to expand the international community's
role in providing security and aid.
Iraqis deserve help. But the UN
should not legitimize occupation under another name."
"Bush's Iraq Plans Are Stable If He Has A Steady Hand"
Marcus Gee commented in the leading Globe and Mail
(5/26): "With just five months to
go before he faces the voters again, George W. Bush finds himself in a serious
mess in Iraq.... The whole Iraq
enterprise is clearly in the balance.
The noble goal of transforming Iraq from a tyranny to a free country
with a representative government has proved far harder than Washington
expected.... Because of all this, a
sense of near-panic has taken hold in parts of Washington. In the media, and even among many members
Congress, the feeling is that Iraq is already lost.... Mr. Bush would have been more credible if he
had been frank about the mistakes that Washington has made over the past year,
from the failure to control looting in the war's aftermath to the dissolution
of the Iraqi armed forces, to the almost utter lack of planning for the postwar
period. His administration has yet to
come truly clean on prisoner abuse in Iraq, which appears to be the fault not
just of bad apples in the military but of a deliberate, high-level decision to
use dubious 'stress-and-duress' interrogation techniques. But he succeeded in his main purpose: to show that he has a coherent plan and the
determination to carry it out. Despite
the awful news of the past few weeks, the war in Iraq is not lost yet. The worst ending would be a premature,
panicky retreat. That would be a
disaster not just for Iraq, but for the status of the U.S. and the security of
the whole world."
"Iraqi Quagmire Threatens To Sink Bush"
Paul Koring offered the following analysis in the leading Globe
and Mail (5/25): "U.S.
President George W. Bush is twice mired:
in the quagmire of an Iraqi occupation gone wrong, and in the sinkhole
of domestic politics, where the failures in Baghdad threaten to drown his
chances for re-election in November. In
order to truly persuade critical swing voters, Mr. Bush requires a very
different message than he does when trying to persuade the rest of the world to
help create a stable Iraq. So when he
recast his objectives for Iraq in last night's televised speech, it was
supposed to satisfy two audiences. Few
Americans will cast their ballots next November on whether prospects for Middle
East peace have improved or Baghdad's streets are safer. But they do want their troops home, and some,
at least, despair of America being vilified abroad--even as Mr. Bush's generals
warn that more troops, not fewer, may be needed until after Iraqis hold their
first-ever free elections, scheduled for late this year.... The president's biggest problem is that he is
fast running out of ways to justify both the initial war and the
occupation. Saddam Hussein's banned
arsenals turned out to be a mirage.
There is no evident progress toward making the war a beachhead for
democracy in the Arab world. And the
moral high ground of ousting a brutal dictator has eroded.... For Mr. Bush, that makes sharing the costly
and difficult task of enlisting the rest of the world that much more
difficult. And without the rest of the
world in Iraq, his sales pitch looks shaky at home."
ARGENTINA: "Bush Will
Demolish The Abu Ghraib Prison"
Jorge Rosales commented in daily-of-record La
Nacion (5/25): "Having the
lowest popular support since he took office, US President George W. Bush
acknowledged last night that he expects a resurge of violence in Iraq in the
following weeks, but he confirmed he will hand over power to a local government
on June 30. Also, in a clear attempt to stop criticism of the White House, he
announced that the US would demolish the Baghdad prison where US soldiers
tortured Iraqi prisoners.... In this
way, Republican strategists' worst fears have begun to be reflected in opinion
polls--the negative impact of the torture scandal and the feeling that Iraq
could become another Vietnam are increasingly stronger.... The general impression among Americans is
that just as the US proved to have a conclusive plan to put an end to the
Hussein regime in a couple of weeks, today it lacks a strategy on how to stop
the spiral of violence and lack of control and how US troops will withdraw from
Center-right O Globo declared (5/26): "Bush resists giving explanations. But
in view of his constant decline in popularity polls--a headache especially in
an election year--he has promised to present a clear, objective plan of
action. Judging by last Monday’s
speech...the man who has dragged Americans into one of their more unfortunate
military adventures doesn’t know how to get them out of this mess. Bush didn’t even admit he had made
mistakes--an essential pre-requisite for any change of behavior or correction
of course. In a rhetorical outburst he
announced the intention to demolishing the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.... He did not apologize; he did not announce
energetic measures to prevent the repetition of those hideous scenes that have
hurt the reputation of the U.S. armed forces and jeopardized the credibility of
the U.S. as an agent for democracy. He
limited himself to citing measures that have to be taken--such as passing the
power to the Iraqis, obtaining UN’s approval to maintain the U.S. presence,
improving security, eliminating terrorism and preparing for free elections. He
did not explain how to reach those objectives, and instead of feeding hopes he
increased the frustration of those who no longer believe his administration may
be capable of resolving the gigantic problem he has created.”