February 23, 2005
BUSH VISIT WARMS EUROPEAN TIES BUT 'DIVISIONS RUN DEEP'
** Bush's "courting" of Europe "could pay off" when the next crisis looms.
** Dailies remain cautious, not yet convinced transatlantic "reconciliation" is real.
** "Fundamental differences" remain between the Atlantic partners.
'Bush discovers Europe'-- European dailies praised President Bush for offering the "hand of friendship," discerning "a wish that it might really be possible to reestablish dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Europe." They interpreted his "new tone" as an acknowledgment that "even America needs strong partners." Even Britain's leftist, reliably anti-Bush Guardian gushed that many Europeans "will take comfort in the fact that the president went out of his way to treat the EU so seriously." The Netherlands' influential NRC Handelsblad concluded that Bush "is doing everything possible to win over" the allies, while other papers agreed that "concrete results" had emerged from the "rediscovered transatlantic understanding."
After Brussels, 'ambiguity'-- Still, most most commentators remained wary. They questioned the substance of Bush's "charm offensive" and asked if Bush, "the foreign policy radical," had "suddenly" become a multilateralist. Leftist outlets asserted that Bush had come to Europe "hat in hand" because "he painfully experienced his limits" in Iraq and needed partners to "shoulder part of the burden" there. The question, said Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine, is whether Washington "is really willing to allow its partners to take part in the drafting of the Atlantic agenda." The Czech Republic's business-oriented Hospodarske noviny argued that Bush "is not making this trip to give in" to Europeans but "to persuade them that U.S. interests are European interests as well." The president, intoned France's leftist Liberation, "continues to pursue the dream of a universal American leadership."
'Transatlantic mood remains uneasy'-- Norway's social democratic Dagsavisen pointed out that "behind the many nice speeches and smiling photo shoots is an underlying disagreement on a number of issues." The U.S. and EU "have common objectives," others wrote, but their preferred methods "significantly diverge." If Bush "shrugs off the rift between" the U.S. and Europe "by saying there is no American or European strategy, but only one of freedom, then this shows how little he has understood," declared Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau. "This may be a president anxious to mend fences, but to Europe's dismay his message to rogue states is as uncompromising as ever," a conservative British tabloid observed. "Such tough talk sits uneasily with Europe's 'soft power' diplomacy." Editorialists predicted that the "boiling issues" of Iran's nuclear program and arms sales to China would soon show the "limits of transatlantic understanding." In addition, an Irish writer asserted, the "most intractable dispute may be the most fundamental one--Europe's ambition in the world."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888, firstname.lastname@example.org
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. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. 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 86 reports from 45 countries February 21 - 23, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Russia's Slide Into Authoritarianism Must Be Challenged"
The center-left Independent commented (2/23): "If Mr. Bush's sweeping inaugural promise to spread freedom and democracy around the world is not a sham, then he must surely apply it to Russia. In effect, tomorrow's meeting will be the first test of the new Bush doctrine of ending 'tyranny' and confronting every ruler about internal repression."
"Next Stop Bratislava And A Testing Time With His Pal Putin"
Columnist Simon Tisdall argued in the left-of-center Guardian (2/23): "In recent interviews, Mr. Bush seemed reluctant to come down hard on Mr. Putin, whom he referred to as his friend, Vladimir. 'I mean, he's done some things that have concerned people,' Mr. Bush told a Slovak journalist. He would politely try to suggest a better way, he said. But Mr. Putin has not taken kindly to such prompting in the past. Mr. Bush needs to show a little steel if he is to make headway."
"Bush's Mission Goes On"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (2/22): "George W. Bush yesterday held out the hand of friendship to Europe. At the same time, he challenged democracies on this side of the Atlantic to join him in promoting peace and freedom across the globe.... The president, while adopting a friendly tone, did not dilute the conviction born of the atrocities of 2001: that those who terrorize their people at home are likely to sponsor terrorism abroad. There is a danger that Europe will read too much into the irenic element in Mr. Bush's speech while underestimating his undeviating purpose; that it will interpret this tour as a victory for the 'soft power' of Brussels over the 'hard power' of Washington. To do so would be fundamentally to misread the impact of September 11 on its victim.... The one area crying out for better transatlantic coordination is Iran. The Bush administration says it is seeking a diplomatic rather than a military solution. If that is so, it should either wholeheartedly back the attempt at mediation by the EU troika of Britain, France and Germany, or negotiate directly with Tehran itself. The present position, where the Administration ostensibly supports the EU3 while privately pooh-poohing their efforts, plays into Iranian hands. Mr. Bush was right to remind his audience yesterday that oppression and terrorism threaten democracy on both sides of the Atlantic. The chances of their cooperating on Iraq and the Arab-Israeli conflict have improved. They must now get their act together over Iran, which, as a sponsor of terrorism and a would-be nuclear weapons power, poses the greatest threat to Western interests in the Middle East."
The left-of-center Guardian commented (2/22): "Many Europeans will take comfort in the fact that the president went out of his way to treat the EU so seriously. Gone was the sense, such a damaging element of the Iraq crisis, that the U.S. would cherry-pick 'willing allies' among compliant 'new' Europeans. Now he favors 'a strong Europe', not for its own sake, which may be fair enough, but 'because we need a strong partner in the hard work of advancing freedom in the world'."
"Road To Damascus"
The conservative Times argued (2/22): "Mr. Bush is right, therefore, to be encouraged by what he described as an 'arc of reform' in the Middle East running from Morocco to Bahrain to Iraq and on to Afghanistan. He is also correct to imply that the EU could and should do more to promote political reform in the countries surrounding Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
"Bush Hails Strong Europe As Partner"
The independent Financial Times observed (2/22): "However much they may welcome the message that the U.S. is now back to supporting European unity, many European leaders still mistrust Mr. Bush as the messenger. This is understandable. Not only is the cold war context for historic U.S. support for EU integration gone but Mr. Bush looks set to remain the sort of foreign policy radical many Europeans instinctively recoil from."
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail held (2/22): "This may be a president anxious to mend fences, but to Europe's dismay his message to rogue states is as uncompromising as ever.... Such tough talk sits uneasily with Europe's 'soft power' diplomacy. And the strains will become worse today when Mr. Bush raises the EU's bitterly controversial plans to lift the arms embargo on China."
FRANCE: "Time To Leave Brussels"
Correspondent Jean-Bernard Cadier told listeners on Europe 1 radio (2/23): “It is definitely time for President Bush to leave Brussels. The first day of the summit was marked by grand declarations and big smiles, but on Tuesday the smiles seemed to be increasingly forced when the fundamental issues were brought up. Not only were deep divergences still apparent, but it also appeared that it is always the same countries that stand up to the U.S.”
"The Franco-German Couple Wants To Impose Itself Against The U.S."
Alexandrine Bouilhet wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/23): “George Bush met a lot of people, saw many heads of state, numerous foreign affairs ministers, but everywhere he went two heads stood out of the crowd, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder.... And the message that was addressed to President Bush by the EU yesterday was imminently clear. If he wants to strengthen the relationship with Europe, as he says he does, he will not be able to get around France and Germany.”
"George W. Bush, Godfather Of Europe Despite Himself"
Alain Duhamel opined in left-of-center Liberation (2/23): “George Bush has discovered the European Union. He has obviously not given up the idea of converting it to his way of thinking. He definitely intends to use NATO as the toolbox of the Pentagon. He would like to sway the Europeans to get on board with his strategy for the Greater Middle East.... He continues to pursue the dream of a universal American leadership. Nonetheless, while George Bush 1 ignored Europe or tried to break it by treating it as though it were a declining continent, George Bush 2 has rediscovered Europe, has paid tribute to it and foresees to treat it some day like a real partner. Bush 1 brought about the birth of a European public opinion, Bush 2 incites Europe to act independently.”
"Europe Exists: Bush Saw It"
Pierre Laurent contended in communist l’Humanité (2/23): “In short, the U.S. likes Europe especially when it behaves itself and is aligned with its positions.... With this in mind is it difficult not to see the final declaration at the NATO summit as a troubling limitation of Europe's margin of maneuver? With the conflict in Iraq continuing and the American sword of Damocles hanging over Syria and Iran...is it really the right time for Europe to hand its fate over to George W. Bush?... Europe should have another destiny than to be the armed guard dog of American security policies.”
"Means And Ends"
Patrick Sabatier wrote in left-of-center Liberation (2/22): “The [Bush-Chirac] dinner was symbolic of the desire of the two allies to mend the relationship that was damaged by their disagreement over the intervention in Iraq. But the real issue was to gauge if there has been any change in U.S. foreign policy.... The French and the Americans share the same will to see Iran and Syria stop destabilizing the region by supporting terrorists.... But to bring this about Bush, though he has not said it yet, is ready to use the big military stick...whereas France, and its European partners, prefer to offer the carrot of diplomacy. Bush will have to be as prepared to listen to his allies on the means as his allies will have to prove their determination to bring about the end.”
"The Thread And The Web"
Francoise Crouigneau commented in economic right-of-center Les Echos (2/22): “In a weary Europe, the rate of abstention in Spain for the vote to ratify the EU Constitution underscores the doubts that remain as to Europe’s capacity to define a clear destiny. And discussions continue on the other side of the Atlantic to determine the reliability of the European ally.... We have two visions of society based on common values that evolve in different ways. Europeans and Americans have common objectives but the methods significantly diverge and this is where misunderstandings arise. History has shown that when the two allies shoot in the same direction nothing can stand in their way.”
"Bush Discovers Europe"
Pierre Rousselin noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/22): “When we listen to George Bush’s fine words we almost wonder what was the 'temporary debate' that [threatened our relationship].... But we also wonder if George Bush is not going a bit overboard, like a child who has just realized that he has broken his favorite toy. Speeches, dinners, toasts, press conferences...the White House has decided that no effort will be spared to show that George Bush is in harmony with the likes of Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder who had once stood in his way.... Bush has discovered that Europe exists. It took him four years to do so but the blame is, in part, on Europe itself which also took four years to accept the fact that Bush could be elected by America.... Following his re-election, George Bush recognized that it was urgent to re-establish a healthy transatlantic relationship.... But does he really need Europe? Despite what he has been saying repeatedly, it is not so certain.”
GERMANY: "Among Equal Partners"
Martin Winter noted in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/23): "Those who want to measure the gap between the United States and Europe looks at best at those things that did not happen at the summit: a joint declaration. After half a century of political partnership, the 'pillars of the free world' are too far away to form a supportive arc between the two sides. It may lift the mood to proclaim in an idealistic way the fight for freedom and use nice words to say what Europe and America could achieve with their values, but it will not help repair the Atlantic partnership.... It is not values and not the vision of a democratic world that has caused a rift in the Western camp. Iraq, Iran, and the fight against terror have revealed a deep dissent over the perception of problems and the way how to resolve them. The political cultures in America and Europe have drifted apart and to bring them together again can succeed only if they break the logic of the U.S. dominance in this partnership."
"A Piece Of Bush's Mind For The Kremlin"
Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/23): "With his clear words, Bush reminded his former soul brother Putin that the head of the Kremlin began as a reformer, but has meanwhile lost the course of democratic virtues. It has taken the U.S. president some time to address this problem. He still praised his relations with the Russian president when Putin maltreated Bush like a voodoo doll in the days and weeks before their meeting in Bratislava: missiles for Syria, nuclear cooperation with Iran, and joint military maneuvers with China. Washington has now made clear that Putin must prepare himself for tough criticism. Bush's meeting with Ukrainian leader Yushchenko was another clear signal in the same direction. American government representatives suggested a deepening of relations between Kiev and the North Atlantic alliance. This sounds like NATO membership for Ukraine--Moscow's nightmare. Bush has managed to calm critics who have asked how his doctrine of spreading freedom and democracy goes with his soft approach on Moscow. It is now clear that the U.S. president does not see any problem in negotiating with the increasingly autocratic Putin and, at the same time, reminding him of his democratic obligations. His model is former President Reagan, who has never cut relations with 'the evil empire.' Bush is also calling upon Europeans, saying that the EU countries must place reforms at the heart of their dialogue with Russia."
Right-of-center Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten observed (2/23): "The meeting with President Bush offers another indication of the Alliance ossifying in rituals. Oaths of loyalty and conciliatory gestures do not replace a serious debate over the future of NATO. That is why Chancellor Schroeder hit a central point with his demand for NATO reform. In view of new trouble spots, the 26 NATO partners must find an agreement on the future role of military aspects in politics and who will make the final decision on operations. They must also agree as soon as possible on where is the separating line to the EU that is getting increasingly influential. Without the embarrassing aspects that accompanied the criticism of the Chancellor's speech, NATO would probably have been able to clarify the first issues during President Bush's visit to Brussels yesterday. But this did not happen and that is why the NATO again went down in a 'rhetoric of coziness."
Center-right Westfälische Rundschau of Dortmund concluded (2/23): "The governments in Europe and Washington need not find each other charming. They must consider the positions of the other side plausible and assess them with the appropriate seriousness. But both sides are still far away from this state. Thus far, the U.S. administration has been unable to clear up the suspicion that it is mainly interested in using its current global dominance to form the world according to U.S. interests--if necessary with military means. The majority of Europeans, however, associate with the 'rule of the law' that Bush postulates a global order in which the UN is the center as the place to balance interests. Thus far, President Bush has been able to escape all efforts to resolve conflicts at this level, be it in environmental policy, global trade and in Iraq. The chancellor is right when he wants to talk about these fundamental differences of opinion. This can happen in NATO and in other appropriate bodies. But it is important that both sides now are talking, and not only smile, to each other."
"The Values Gap"
Markus Ziener editorialized in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (2/23): "In an unprecedentedly clear message, Bush dedicated an important part of his speech in Brussels to Russia's democratic deficits. Putin, who will meet Bush in Bratislava tomorrow, must see this as an affront. Not a long time ago, Moscow was a sacrosanct U.S. ally in the war on terror. Bush's criticism is correct, because Russia's civil and democratic development is deeply disturbing.... Bush has made up his mind. Those who praise the values of freedom and democracy must make them a yardstick for each ally as well. He still reaches out to Putin and refers to the difficult transformation of the country, but the model of Russia could show the perils of a values-based policy approach. Of course, Russia must always be reminded of the reasons why people rejected communism and do not at all desire a new dictatorship. But it is also correct that the way of the people is marked by their experience, character and pride. Moscow still sees itself on one level with Washington and will not appreciate missionary recommendations.... The analyses might be right, but they also draw a picture that does not promote the goal of freedom in Russia."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/22): "If the U.S. president's trip to the political heart of the old continent has a meaning that is more than repair work...then it has the following meaning: to give Atlantic links a common task; to give them enthusiasm for freedom and responsibility for realpolitik; to advocate unity, and to respect the partners. The listeners of Bush's speech liked especially his praise for European unification and the acknowledgment that even America needs strong partners, the Europeans. This praise, if it was really meant seriously was desired and overdue.... Of course, there will be differences of opinion over methods and priorities. In the case of Iran, the 'West' is faced with a new test, but as delicate as this test may be, this is not the really decisive question. This question is whether America is really willing to allow its partners to take part in the drafting of the Atlantic agenda in an appropriate way, i.e., to give them influence as early as possible. And whether a Europe that sees its concerns taken into consideration is really willing to take America's concerns seriously. Then there will be no longer be any room for an arrogant support when Bush speaks (or raves) about freedom and democracy as a precondition for peace."
Martin Winter noted in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/22): "His courting of the EU in general and France and Germany in particular can brighten transatlantic relations. This may pay off when the next conflict is threatening to break open. But if Bush shrugs off the rift between the U.S. and leading European countries by saying there is no American or European strategy, but only one of freedom, then this shows how little he has understood. This should nurture fears in the EU leadership that Bush understands under the 'one voice' with which America and Europe should speak, the American voice. Bush has come empty-handed to Europe. It is clear what he wants. In Iraq he painfully experienced his limits, and now he is seeking the proximity of partners on whom he can shoulder part of the burden. He does not seem to be willing to give anything in return. But he ignores the fact that the times are over in which the Europeans simply gave in."
ITALY: "The Success Of Ambiguity"
Franco Venturini asserted in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/23): “Everyone is exulting in the rediscovered transatlantic understanding, while swearing that they have not altered their positions. At the great Brussels celebration something isn’t right, but this time ambiguity is closely tied to the truth: without giving up their fundamental choices, George W. Bush and his most rebellious European allies have overcome disagreements over Iraq. They’ve acknowledged each other even where they continue to differ and have established, before exporting it, the democracy of opinion inside Western communities.... In the end, the Iranian issue, following the Iraqi one, will set the limits to transatlantic understanding. America will not relinquish the principle of exporting its values with force, and it does not exclude military initiatives without a UN mandate. Many Europeans believe, however, that democratization can be achieved through other means...and they are asking for shared rules on when to resort to force.”
"Europe Discomfits Bush On Arms To China"
Ennio Caretto noted in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/23): “George Bush and his European critics yesterday ‘buried the hatchet’ on Iraq...but that didn’t stop new contrasts from emerging between the American leader on one side and French President Jacques Chirac and Russian leader Vladimir Putin on the other. Chirac opposed Bush on NATO reform, Iran and China and Putin rejected the accusation that democracy is at risk in Russia.... According to the White House, Bush’s European visit got off to a triumphant start: the two sides are completely reconciled, the atmosphere was warm and divergences were minimized. The American president made the same evaluation, and did everything he could to charm his hosts and jokingly referred to himself as the ‘new Bush,’ but refused to be labeled ‘charming.’ For the time being, it is only a diplomatic success: the refound unity will be confirmed by facts.”
Adriana Cerretelli opined in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (2/23): “On China and Iran, the two boiling issues, reconciliation is still far from being achieved, and we can’t exclude pileups on the road. But we also can’t exclude that constructive solutions could come from persistent divergences.... Bush’s two-day visit to Brussels restarted the engine of transatlantic relations, which was stalled for the last two years, due to the Iraqi crisis. The new America with extended hand has found a Europe that is ready to seize it. While shadows remain, there is a great will for pragmatism on both sides of the Atlantic. It is the best premise on which to begin again.”
Angelo Panebianco commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/22): "President Bush is stronger than he was before, in the wake of his reelection and the successful outcome of the Iraqi elections, while the Europe that opposed him is weak, having made too many mistakes.... There are still diverging economic and cultural interests between the U.S. and Europe. They are not strong enough to nullify what unites America and Europe, but they are still strong enough to lay the ground for new disagreements."
Vittorio Zucconi had this view in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/22): “If...it is true that George W. is a man who ‘does what he says and says what he does,’ the tone, substance, and words used in his speech to Europe must be listened to carefully and must be taken seriously. Bush has not suddenly and miraculously turned into a Wilsonian internationalist, or into a pacifist who is allergic to weapons. In his first, serious speech to Europe after four years of preaching, there are still all the imperial and ideological elements borrowed from the documents of the neo-conservative right, which had disturbed, and at times even offended, the less servile elements among the European allies. But Bush came to say that it is necessary, foremost for his America, not to throw away the baby of Western identity with the bathwater of errors and reciprocal misunderstanding.... For the first time, in Brussels, we saw Bush the statesman--a man who spoke as the leader of all of America.... In the face of daily massacres and insecurity, the White House knows well that the United States cannot continue alone indefinitely.”
"Brussels Has No Alibis"
Adriana Cerretelli noted in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (2/22): “Is this a real or presumed reconciliation?... The Europe that is seeking a less imbalanced relationship and which refuses to be the great ally’s favorite vassal has many doubts.... The America of Bush II today wants to be a less solitary superpower because it has perfectly understood the limits of unilateral actions.”
RUSSIA: "Bush Needs Europe"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (2/22): "George Bush needs to convince skeptical and savvy Europe that his turning to face the Old World is not a time-serving diplomatic move...but a sign of deep kinship between parts of the Western world. Europe has been known to have no special liking for America. Frankly, George Bush has done much to escalate that feeling to a point where Europe, seeing how much its ally is preoccupied with its global hegemony projects, may decide to get away from it.... That Bush, re-elected, has crossed the Atlantic, speaking of a strong Europe, does not mean that the Americans have come to like Europeans or given up the hegemony idea. Not at all. They are just trying to make the process less painful and less costly."
"Dialogue Likely To Be Business-Like, Pragmatic"
Youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda editorialized (2/22): "There are as many similarities as there are differences between our countries. That seems proper, considering that each seeks security and economic benefit. So the dialogue is likely to be business-like and pragmatic. The main thing now is to avoid 'double standards.'"
"Russia Still Has Leverage"
Nationalist opposition Sovetskaya Rossiya remarked (2/22): "Since Yeltsin's days, Washington has been firm in the knowledge that Russia's rulers are either rogues or fools easy to dupe. We need to change that. Our leadership finds it hard to use leverage available to it to bring pressure to bear on the United States. The Russia-will-use-its-veto-right-unless-the-United-States...approach is one example. Had we used that approach, we would have long been in the WTO and the Jackson-Vanik amendment would have long been dead. Another useful instrument is nukes and other WMD-related matters. The Americans fear possible leaks in our nuclear arsenal. It is in Russia's interest not to relieve them of those fears.... Finally, Russia is a unique repository of natural resources attractive to the United States. It is in Russia's interest not to let it get hold of those resources or gain control over them. That, however, should not stop us from cooperating with the Americans on the basis of equality and mutual profit."
AUSTRIA: "An Alliance On Two Pillars"
Senior editor Helmut L. Mueller opined in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (2/23): “The U.S. president’s meeting with the EU leaders already marks a change of trend in America’s foreign policy: the man in the White House acknowledges...that the EU as an independent factor in global politics contributes a lot to stability and security on our planet.... In the meantime, the U.S. has come to realize that military intervention tends to turn more and more into peacekeeping stabilization missions with uncertain ending. For such missions, permanent coalitions are obviously more suitable because of their greater staying power.... The Europeans are justified in complaining that the large strategic issues from Iraq to Iran have not been debated within the NATO circle. They demand a political dialogue; in other words, more co-determination. However, a European pillar in NATO is going to remain a mere phrase unless the Europeans prove that they have new military capabilities in frequently far-away crisis regions. America’s suspicion is going to be aroused anew if the European defense arrangement the EU is organizing turns out to be competition for NATO.”
"The Long-Distance Runner For Freedom And The Short-Winded Europeans"
Christian Ultsch commented in centrist Die Presse (2/23): “ Bush has a clear vision of how he wants to shape the world. Whether one shares this vision or not, at least it is a vision. Europe has no vision, or, if it does, at least it never formulated this clearly.... Bush confirmed in Brussels that he wants the EU to be a strong partner of the U.S. By doing so, he expressly acknowledged Europeans, from a military and foreign policy point of view still in puberty, as adults. It is now time for the EU to behave as an adult. This presupposes, however, the ability to give a decided ‘no’ to the U.S. when necessary--but out of conviction and not out of spite.”
"Trip Through The Jungle"
Senior editor Ernst Trost commented in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung on (2/22): “If he did not urgently need the Europeans, Bush would probably have chosen to stay at home. After all, he is aware that no U.S. president before him was ever as unpopular as he is with the peoples on the old continent... However, the Europeans should care about building a responsible basis for cooperation with Washington again. There is too much going on in the world to allow the two sides to persevere in isolationism and sulk. A wise mix of diplomacy and political pressure is needed to prevent further military adventures in Iran or Syria. And the development in the ‘holy land’ would also profit from transatlantic unity.... However, things will never be what they once were. For too many Europeans the U.S. has lost its role model function. More and more, Europe seeks to find its own way. Nevertheless, as much common ground as possible should be preserved--for everybody’s sake.”
BELGIUM: "Bush Offers Europe A Marriage Of Convenience"
Martine Dubuisson editorialized in left-of-center Le Soir (2/22): “Even if the most convinced 'Atlanticists' don't like it, Bush’s new love affair with the Europeans is a love affair of convenience, not a love match. And, as he said in his speech, partnership with Europe is only contemplated at the regional level, i.e. to solve conflicts in the ‘Greater Middle East.’ So, has the new Bush arrived? On appearance, yes he has. But on substance, this assessment will need to be made based on concrete facts. But in the meantime, the international context forces us not to refuse the hand that Bush is holding out.”
"An Important Political Moment"
Chief editor Luc Van der Kelen commented in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (2/22): “Has there been one moment in our recent political history that is as important as President Bush’s visit to Brussels at the beginning of his second term? Probably not, because President Bush and Belgium--as the symbol of the entire ‘old Europe’--have restored and confirmed the union that has maintained peace and freedom on both our continents for 60 years. Yesterday, President Bush called it the ‘alliance of freedom.’ And, that is what it is--beyond all the military and economic disparity.... Those who stayed away from yesterday’s appointment with history manifested shortsightedness...and are far away from political maturity. The fact that this speech was delivered in Brussels also shows how important our capital has become as a political center in the world. We are probably the second ‘decision making’ place--after Washington.”
CROATIA: "Bush Is Returning to NATO"
Foreign affairs correspondent Bruno Lopandic wrote in government-owned Vjesnik (2/23): "George Bush, American president with a unilateralist drawback, has decided to change some things in the new mandate. He called NATO the ‘most successful alliance in history,’ and marked NATO as one of the most important places for discussing strategic issues. The statement is of extreme importance for NATO itself, because as an alliance in constant transition, NATO has decided to undertake a difficult and demanding task--political, military and security activity far from its borders.... As things stand now, Bush will for a while leave it to the European Union to try to diplomatically resolve the ‘Iran case.’ That’s good for NATO, which is leading the demanding mandate in Afghanistan with great difficulties."
"Polite Hosts Did Not Beat the Guest"
Mass-circulation Vecernji list commented (2/23): "However, behind the polite mask, it seems that European politicians have stood by their opinion about Bush. Schroeder has not given up his request for the EU, and not NATO, to be the umbrella under which the transatlantic dialogue will be held and renewed, and Chirac has not given up his concept of a multipolar world which is contrary to Bush’s one superpower concept. That’s why one can conclude that nobody has convinced anyone of anything. Europe has just behaved decently, watching from a distance Bush’s attempts to convince it that he has really changed."
CZECH REPUBLIC: "Bush Came 'For A Beer'"
Pavel Tomasek commented in the business daily Hospodarske noviny (2/23): "It is clear from Bush's statements that he is not making this trip to give in to the Europeans. He came to persuade them that U.S. interests are European interests as well. He is trying to revive European countries' willingness to follow America’s lead through carefully chosen words and symbolic gestures. In doing so, he returns to the best traditions of U.S. foreign policy. This is a noteworthy change for Bush, who prides himself for shrugging off many a tradition in the past four years. If, however, Europe wants to gain more than a libation from Washington next time, it will have to act accordingly. It will have to prove that it can come to joint decisions as required and to deploy an efficient military force anywhere in the world. Above all, Europe must refrain from any attempt to unite solely on the grounds of opposing the U.S. because, as the Iraq war showed, such attempts only lead to a split within Europe."
"Search For The European Cowboy"
Blahoslav Hruska observed in the center-left Pravo (2/23): "Many European politicians would happily adopt Bush’s words about peace, freedom and democracy if it were not for the fact the U.S. regards these principles as universally transferable and unconditionally applicable. European publics expect their politicians to adapt their actions to specific time frames and situations, with a certain dosage of skepticism and critical oversight. However, in those cases where the goals and programs have already been clearly defined--e.g. the peace process in the Middle East or reconstruction of Afghanistan--transatlantic unity works at its best and Bush need not look for his cowboy, while Europe need not criticize Bush for acting like a rash sheriff who shoots first and looks later."
"Bush Wants To Win Over A Europe That Is Set Against Him"
Lubos Palata sniffed in the center-right Lidove noviny (2/22): "President Bush will only have dinner with Chirac in Brussels, barely visit three German cities with Schroeder (bypassing Berlin), but will travel all the way to Bratislava to meet Dzurinda in his home city. Not only will he provide the five minutes of fame to Slovakia by inviting Putin to join him there.... It is quite evident that of all the above stated politicians, Bush likes Dzurinda the best...and it is clear why. Dzurinda consistently and unwaveringly agreed with what Bush did and exhibited such loyalty that one would expect of a vassal.... Nevertheless, it is not Dzurinda who is important in this matter. It is merely a demonstration of how the U.S. thanks its loyal allies. In Brussels or in Frankfurt, Bush has not withdrawn from any of his past positions. He came as a winner and acts the part.... He came to give Chirac, Schroeder and the like a new chance. Although Bush has enormous problems in administering Iraq, the double mandate given to him by both the Americans and the Iraqis enables him not to be in the role of a petitioner. He can to tell everyone how they are expected to behave...like Dzurinda."
DENMARK: "George W. Bush Arrives Hat in Hand"
Left-wing Information editorialized (Internet version, 2/22): "To boil things down to a single metaphor: Bush came to Europe with his hat in his hand. His rhetoric in his address...in Concert Noble in Brussels was miles away from that of his verbose speeches about the United States' missionary role in the struggle against tyranny and terrorism held at the beginning of the year. The substance was not essentially different, but the emphases were milder. Implicitly, you could discern a wish that it might really be possible to reestablish dialogue and cooperation between the United States and Europe during the next four years. Bush talked not only about his idealism but also about realism and cooperation. This sounds like a new tone. Unfortunately, it is too late if Bush has any illusions about returning to the Cold War and the 1990's, when Europe fell in line behind the U.S. president's world leadership. It would be an enormous exaggeration to claim that the EU has the political and military maturity to fill a superpower role on an equal footing. Nevertheless, Bush must realize that there has been a colossal increase in Europe's influence at the world level since his father was president.... No one would abjure a new era of transatlantic unity, but it will be a unity that is different in character, one based on cooperation between equal partners. Is Bush ready for that? You might have your doubts."
FINLAND: "Let Bygones Be Bygones"
Right-of-center, regional Aamulehti editorialized (2/22): "Bush presented himself like a new man, at least in words. He said no power on earth will ever divide us. For Europeans, his words undoubtedly sounded much better than some really harsh statements heard from representatives of his Administration earlier. But one single important speech will not make a difference immediately. Two things are needed. First, Europeans must study themselves and their statements and deeds. Secondly, and this is an absolute must, words must be followed by deeds in the effort to improve the transatlantic relationship. From the European point of view, the decisive question is whether Bush's outstretch hand means a take-it-or-leave-it approach or whether it is meant as the basis for genuine talks. If the latter is true, Europe must meet him half-way, at least."
GREECE: "Bridging the Gap"
Independent, influential Kathimerini declared (2/22): "The major problems facing Americans in Iraq have led them to second thoughts.... Condoleezza Rice's tour and the president's statements during the NATO Summit indicate that Washington intends to bridge the gap. The critical question is under what terms this will be achieved. Will the president meet the European demand to shape more equitable relations? This can be proved only in practice, and when the moment comes to cope with open issues, such as the tug-of-war over Iran's nuclear program."
"He Is Selling 'Freedom' To Us"
Influential leftist Eleftherotypia asserted (2/22): "With adulation for a 'strong Europe' President Bush is aiming to entangle Europeans in his plans to reform/subjugate the world through American 'freedom.'"
HUNGARY: "Smile Offensive"
Foreign affairs writer Eva Elekes opined in left-of-center Nepszava (2/23): “There are a lot of uncertainties. How superficial is Washington’s smile offensive, and how much content is there behind the mood-improving nice words? Only future actions will reveal that.”
IRELAND: "Bush In Listening Mode"
The center-left Irish Times editorialized (2/23): “In listening mode, [Bush] has heard several forthright pleas for a more equal transatlantic partnership. He has had detailed discussions on Iraq, Iran, China, the Middle East, climate change and other crucial issues in world politics. These are important encounters with potentially lasting effects. They represent a real change of mood compared to the last four years.... Such psychological shifts of mood definitely matter at the highest levels of politics; but they are, of course, not sufficient to ensure action.... The obstacles to improved relations over the longer term have been clearly identified during the last two days.... If transatlantic relations are genuinely to be transformed they must become more equal, with the development of new frameworks for political, foreign policy and security dialogue. This imperative was stated clearly at yesterday's summits and is now firmly on the U.S.-EU agenda. That is the most important thing to emerge from these events. It could be a historic change.”
"Divisions Run Deep Despite Show Of Unity"
Denis Staunton observed in the center-left Irish Times (2/22): "Mr. Bush's stated commitment to European unity is not shared by all his friends in Washington, many of whom perceive the EU's growing political and economic muscle as a potential threat to U.S. interests. Europe's leaders are aware, however, that their divisions over the Iraq war have damaged them, both in the eyes of the European public and in terms of Europe's wider influence in the world. Governments from 'Old Europe' and 'New Europe' alike are determined that the stand-off within the EU over Iraq should not be repeated. This desire for unity is evident in the coherent approach the EU has taken to two policy issues which divide Europe and America: negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and moves to lift the EU arms embargo on China.... EU officials claim that Washington is more receptive to European concerns than at any time during Mr. Bush's first term in office. They express satisfaction at the role of Mr. John Bruton as EU ambassador to Washington, suggesting that he has already opened doors on Capitol Hill which have long been closed to emissaries from Brussels. Despite all this talk of reconciliation between the EU and the U.S., the transatlantic mood remains uneasy, and the most intractable dispute may be the most fundamental one--Europe's ambition in the world.... Mr. Bush will get one clear message: America must treat Europe as a more equal partner if cooperation is to be effective.”
NETHERLANDS: "Europeans And Bush End Period Of Cool Relations"
Left-of-center Trouw concluded (2/23): "Everybody had a good feeling after the European-American summit. There are no actual results.... But still Bush can return with a little victory: all NATO countries, including France, will contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq."
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad noted (2/22): "Is it time for a reevaluation of George Bush? After the elections in Iraq and given the recent improvement in the American-European relations, there are now new chances for international cooperation past the bad feelings about the invasion in Iraq and the annoyance about the smirk and the swagger.... Bush himself is doing everything possible to win over the Europeans."
NORWAY: "Bush With A Stretched-Out Hand?"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten held (2/23): “The realities of the transatlantic connection have not changed much. Bush knows very well that not even the French oppose the idea of freedom that he praises. However, the disagreement of what is the right and most purposeful way to spread this idea, maybe especially in Iraq, is still equally deep.... Terrorism is a threat, and it has to be fought. But, it also has a cause, not the least in unbearable social conditions and political suppression. On a long-term basis, these phenomena have to be areas to attack also politically. Repeatedly, [Bush] has stressed this together with the call for political freedom and the need to find an effective way of relieving the tension between Israel and the Palestinians. The president and his political architects have thereby established a much wider perspective than what we saw in the fall of 2001. You have to be very optimistic to see this development as an unproblematic road to better connections across the Atlantic. But, it could be a start.”
"Bush In Europe"
Social democratic Dagsavisen contended (2/23): “Behind the many nice speeches and smiling photo shoots is an underlying disagreement on a number of issues. Iraq is in the past, and can be solved by having the opponents of the war enter with much needed civilian aid. There is, however, no immediate solution to problematic areas such as Iran, the arms blockade on China, and NATO. Bush says he supports the attempts by Germany, France and Great Britain to make the Iranians stop their controversial nuclear program. But, the United States does not want to actively engage together with the three, something which would have increased the pressure on Iran and thereby the chance of succeeding.... The Europeans’ wish for a NATO with two equal parties and a more direct dialogue between the EU and the United States is met with resistance. The United States is perfectly happy with today’s situation: a NATO where the United States decides most everything, and which can be used as a toolbox for U.S. global military activities.”
"After The Reconciliation"
Independent newspaper VG commented (2/22): “An openly eager President Bush visits Europe, where he is received by equally eager European top politicians. But no matter how many smiling handshakes we will see in the days to come; the transatlantic connections are being re-made. A U.S.-dominated NATO, formerly welded together by a joint enemy, is no longer the right forum for today’s more self-opinionated Europe (i.e., EU) and the political dialogue with the United States.... On stage, Bush and his European hosts will reunite after the political skirmish before the conflict created by the United States’ walking it alone in Iraq. Off stage, questions will be raised: How can we avoid such disagreements in the future. Where does the road lead after the reconciliation?... The EU has its own political agenda and wants Washington’s acceptance. It is no longer sufficient with a defense alliance that the Americans use more or less as a military toolbox. New winds are blowing through Europe and across the Atlantic.”
POLAND: "Two Voices Across The Ocean"
Jacek Zalewski wrote in economic daily Puls Biznesu (2/23): “President George W. Bush’s European tour, undertaken at the beginning of his second term, is intended to mend bridges across the ocean, which were damaged by the Iraqi war during the first term. Is it possible? On Tuesday, we heard a lot of lofty words. But it turned out again that the U.S. has not changed its perception of the world, according to which only the Americans are entitled to issue a certificate of good behavior. President Bush’s lips are dripping with words of freedom and human rights, but they tighten at the mere mention of the right of human beings to breathe fresh air!”
"The Charms Of The Old Marriage"
Marek Ostrowski wrote in center-left weekly Polityka (2/23): “In terms of global policy, both sides have learned something. The Americans perhaps understood that unilateral actions are not always 100 percent successful, and that one should care about alliances and coalitions instead. The Europeans understood that multilateral actions without America are not always effective. In a word, that the best option is to act together in the common interest--as true partners and allies should always do.”
"The Effectiveness Of The Western Alliance"
Jan Skorzynski wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (2/22): “If some had still doubts as to the message George W. Bush is bringing to Europe, the U.S. president’s speech in Brussels must have removed them. The U.S. leader made it clear that he is coming to the Old Continent with an offer of dialogue and a hand reached out in understanding.... Poland can especially be proud of its foreign policy for Bush’s words concerning the need to include Ukraine into the ‘transatlantic family’ and the positive role President Kwasniewski played during the Kiev crisis. The cooperation between America and Europe in the days of the orange revolution is an example of the Western alliance’s effectiveness--and the best argument for keeping it.”
"Bush Reaches Out"
Bartosz Weglarczyk opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (2/22): “President Bush’s visit to Europe started well. His speech in Brussels was resolute, filled with lofty words at moments, but free of the arrogance so typical of Bush during his first term. We Poles might have given Bush a standing ovation at least a couple of times: when he spoke about Yalta as the source of injustice and fear; when he mentioned ‘Solidarity’ [trade union] and Poland’s efforts to resolve the political crisis in Ukraine; and when he stressed that no disagreements, no short-lived disputes, no power in the world can divide America and Europe. We have been waiting for such words from the U.S. president.”
SLOVENIA: "Illusions Of Sub-Contractors"
Left-of-center Delo remarked (2/23): "[Bush's] wish for improvement of transatlantic relations...would sound more convincing and more genuine if it was accompanied by clear signs of America's yielding on issues where differences in U.S. and European positions are wider than the ocean between them. Also, the thesis about fighting together for freedom would be more effective if it was supported by actual rather than rhetorical readiness of the American guest to give up...his strategy of solo actions...and belittlement of common future challenges during his second term. In brief, to allow...the EU to play an equal role on the international stage.... However, the hope for a new period of Euro-Atlantic cooperation seen through American eyes is evidently limited to a handful of 'sub-contractor' activities, which the White House is willing to hand over to the EU after it finishes the major work using its own discretion.... Thus, the wooing of European leaders with the slogan 'no power in the world will ever divide us again'...is not a recognition of mistakes.... Rather, it enables [the United States] to dedicate its attention to other 'battlefields' such as Syria, Iran, and North Korea. George Bush has evidently achieved his goal, since the European allies hurried with reconciliation gifts after a hand was offered to them.... If Europe is not an equal partner, it can at least abandon itself to illusions about advantages of a patched-up alliance."
"There Are Too Many Shadows"
Left-of-center independent Dnevnik commented (2/23): "A difficult meeting is awaiting Bush and Putin in Prague on Thursday.... Bush was very direct on Monday [when he said] that...Russia should not be isolated, nevertheless, the United States and European countries should make democratic reforms the heart of their dialogue with Russia. He could not have been clearer.... [At the meeting] much will be said about the successful joint fight against terrorism, and about economic successes; still [the two countries] cannot be called allies. They are not adversaries either, but too many shadows have accumulated in their relations."
SPAIN: "Bush, Europe Ad Spain"
Conservative ABC editorialized (2/23): "It's unquestionable that the U.S. has taken a new direction in foreign policy. With this turn comes out the inherent flexibility of (American) liberal institutions and its own political tradition. Conscious of the importance of the experience, the U.S. has taken away its own conclusions from the crisis caused two years ago after its intervention in Iraq.... In this rethink, it seems clear that the main beneficiary of this new style should be Europe.... Once time passed and the damages were evaluated, the Americans have demonstrated their pragmatism, bringing both sides of the Atlantic together.... It's certain that Zapatero's mistakes are obvious.... But this circumstance can not damage Spanish general interests and lead to weakened bilateral relations between two friendly countries. For anyone with a minimum of patriotism, the situation is beginning to go further than the reasonable unease that the U.S. must show towards the Socialist government which has not done things properly. Spain doesn't deserve it. Beyond the discrepancies aroused in the last few months, a loyal approach between both countries is possible and necessary. What joins us is much greater than what separate us."
Left-of-center El País held (2/23): "Bush tried, at NATO and the EU, to recuperate a sense of transatlantic unity; a unity that is essential in the world in which we are living. Bush needs the Europeans to get out of the jam in Iraq and to develop his 'transformational' project.... What happened with Chirac and Schroeder is significant. Nothing has changed.... But the reconciliation has happened, something that shows the influence of the German-French axis.... The 'punishment' has been forgotten, and the tone adopted by Schroeder and Chirac is also more constructive. Furthermore, the free and friendly greeting from Bush to Zapatero, shows the thaw with Spain is also arriving, marked out by such words as 'normality', mutual 'respect' and 'balance'.... But there is no need to be dramatic. Spain is making efforts in the common fight against terrorism...that independent of its interest and values is starting to achieve the recognition of the Bush administration.... And it is significant that, in this first trip abroad of his second mandate, Bush courted a 'strong Europe'".
"From Words To Results"
Centrist La Vanguardia commented (2/23): "Washington's undisguised attempts to divide the old continent seem to be overcome. But, if talking about the advancement of specific matters, achievements can only be described as modest.... In other disputes--such as the EU's plans to lift the arms embargo on China--there was also a rapprochement, but not an agreement.... The divergences also extend to Iran, a country to which some European states want to give an incentive to abandon its nuclear program, which differs from the policy of 'zero concessions' that Washington maintains with Tehran. However, Syria will have to seriously consider the retreat of its troops in Lebanon, one of the few things in which Washington and Paris completely agree upon."
Independent El Mundo stated (2/22): "What plan will occur to Zapatero to get a photo of himself at Bush's side, one that can reduce the feeling of resentment towards us and scorn for our recent desertions and for the electoral exploitation...of an anti-American obsession?... Zapatero promises to persevere until Bush answers his phone call. It's a recognition of the mistake that, once the extremist clichés of anti-imperialism are forgotten...one wouldn't dare to remain seated at the passing of the American flag.... But at this moment at this (leadership) level, its a bit unfashionable to try to find one's own place, personal or national, by attaching to the anti-Americanism of the masses, as if the U.S. were an enemy of our life style instead of its Capitan. Zapatero has understood this, and for this reason he is trying to purge his sins, chasing after Bush in a mendicant attitude so that he is forgiven of punishment, and so that Spain has her right to eat cake again."
SWEDEN: "Stronger Transatlantic Ties"
South Sweden’s major daily, independent, liberal Sydsvenskan stated (2/22): "The message was evident when President Bush yesterday gave a major address in Brussels: it is high time to forget old disagreements and start a ‘new era’ in transatlantic relations. Europe and the U.S. share similar values and should cooperate to promote freedom and democracy in the world, President Bush said.... A positive sign is that President Bush will be the first American president to visit EU’s institutions...and President Bush’s travel may actually be the beginning of a return to more cordial U.S.- EU relations.”
Social Democratic Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet declared (2/22): “President Bush’s visit to Europe is being described as a charm offensive. Bush talks about ‘a new era of transatlantic unity.’ On the surface the flirtation seems to have worked. In the last few days also European politicians have talked about wiping the slate clean over previous disagreements on the Iraq war. Pragmatism? A shift in international politics?.... Basically U.S.-EU disagreements are as great as before...and ultimately it is all about the fact that the U.S. has not relinquished or even modified its security policy doctrine.... The transatlantic link is important. Both the EU and the U.S. will be needed to solve many world problems, the most acute ones in the Mideast. It is excellent if Bush has realizes this. But who will benefit if crucial issues like international law and human rights are shelved in favor of pretended unity?”
TURKEY: "Bush In Europe"
Yilmaz Oztuna commented in the conservative Turkiye (2/23): “The Greater Middle East Initiative seems to be the main goal to achieve during President Bush’s first trip to Europe after the start of his second term. President Bush hoped to create a forum for discussing with the European Union their mutual interest in this project. Bush’s focus was France, as Chirac is likely to become president for a third term. Washington’s relationship with Europe is doomed to suffer weakness unless French support is ensured for American initiatives.... France will continue to be an immediate focus of diplomacy in Washington’s agenda. It is very unlikely that France will stand completely against U.S. policies. For instance, Chirac and Bush agreed to work together to ensure a Syrian pull out from Lebanon. Further consensus between the U.S. and France can be expected. As for Turkey, creating anti-Americanism is not in Ankara’s interest. It is amazing but true that certain officials in Ankara believe an Iranian-Syrian alliance supported by Turkey would be victorious in the event of a war initiated by the U.S.”
"New Chapter In U.S.-Europe Relations"
Sami Kohen opined in the mass-appeal Milliyet” (2/23): “President Bush managed to achieve some concrete results during his European tour. A climate of consensus on controversial issues was created not only because of the U.S., but also because of flexibility in the European approach. Bush and Chirac left aside former differences and ensured a consensus on the Syria-Lebanon issue. It was very important to see the involvement of NATO and the EU in training Iraqi security forces. For the first time, Europeans agreed to support the rebuilding of Iraq through two institutions, the EU and NATO.... It is also very important for Turkey that solidarity and cooperation be maintained between Europe and the U.S. Harmony between the two will have a positive effect on Turkish diplomacy.”
"President Bush’s Holy Mission"
Uluc Gurkan wrote in the government-controlled, sensationalist Star (2/22): “President Bush believes he has a holy mission to reshape the Islamic world in the Middle East. He is on a mission from God, and to move it forward he has to launch new strikes against Syria and Iran. This is what he believes, but he does not know how to get it done.... If Bush manages to persuade EU leaders in Brussels, and if the EU identifies a common goal in the Middle East and acts together with the U.S., Turkey will have to follow suit. Turkey’s position will mostly be shaped by the stance of the EU, which could lead us into an open-ended adventure in this region. Turkey should produce its own national policies instead of listening to what the U.S. is saying. By creating a national policy, Turkey will be capable of affecting both the U.S. and the EU.”
ISRAEL: "Bush's Olive Branch"
The conservative Jerusalem Post noted (Internet version, 2/22): "Beyond his appeals to the lessons learned from Europe's own peaceful unification, Bush offered a grand bargain: I'll embrace the quest for Arab-Israeli peace if you join my security-through-freedom strategy. Bush's running argument with Europe is over which comes first, freedom or peace? In Brussels, he came very, almost disturbingly, far in Europe's direction.... He laid out, in some detail, the two-state goal and the responsibilities of all the parties.... Does this 'new era' mean that Bush is returning to the old, pre-9/11 conception, still held by Europe, that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of instability from this region? Probably not. Rather, Bush seems to be saying to Europe: Let's do it both ways, yours and mine.... Bush is conceding that peace will help achieve freedom in the hopes that Europe will concede that freedom is necessary to achieve peace."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Discriminatory Western Alliance"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (2/23): "On the first day of his European tour President Bush wanted to look like a partner rather than a dominant unilateral figure. Reality in the past few years has proven that a united Europe is a power that must not be underestimated. Bush has realized that this power can undermine the U.S. attempt to dominate the new world.... The recent trend in the United States’ relationship with Europe characterizes an American vision that idealizes the Western model as a way of life. That is why President Bush has emphasized the need to strengthen the alliance on the two coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. His goal is to spread this vision in the world without any consideration to the sensitivity of other nations, or any respect for their values, civilization, and national identity. Observers have noted that President Bush repeated the word 'alliance' 12 times in his last statement in Brussels.... Bush’s efforts to rebuild the Western Alliance trigger fears of going back to the colonial type of occupation, which used military power to achieve colonial objectives."
"Correction Before Accountability"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (2/22): "A European-American union is not the chief objective for the Bush Administration at this time. But his administration desperately needs European support to get Washington out of the Iraqi quagmire with dignity, especially after all the human and financial losses that the U.S. forces have incurred.... If President Bush wants to mend the rift between the US and EU, and strengthen the mutual cooperation in the war against terror, then he must start by correcting the path of his foreign policies before being accountable before the summit in Brussels."
JORDAN: "Bush’s European Speech"
Chief Editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/23): “Clearly, Bush’s mission in Europe this time is different from previous visits and missions. The U.S. president is trying to start a new era of relations with the European partner. He is looking for Europe’s partnership in issues related to the Middle East. This turnaround did not come out of nowhere, for the U.S. president reaped nothing but failure in Iraq, as the war still goes on there, in fact prolonging the war on terrorism since terrorists now have an arena called Iraq. Bush has finally abandoned his arrogance and his theories about old Europe and is now trying to appease Chirac and Schroeder. The question is: will he succeed? The answer is no, unless he changes his policies on the ground.”
SYRIA: "Nothing New"
Ahmad Afanah commented on official Syrian Arab Television TV1 (2/21): "Those who expected to hear something new or concrete points in U.S. President George Bush's speech to a group of European leaders...were disappointed. The eagerly awaited speech contained nothing more than attractive slogans and resounding words about the fight against terror, safety, peace, freedom, and similar noble principles to which every human being aspires. Even his reference to the Palestinian question was general, calling only for a freeze on the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Arab territories. Informed press sources said Bush's trip to Europe was nothing but an extremely accurate implementation of a plan--devised after the U.S. administration found itself in an unenviable position following the disclosures about the American practices in Abu Ghraib prison--to woo the Europeans and attract them to support the policy of the current U.S. administration and offer further assistance to the post-invasion Iraq."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
JAPAN: "A Beginning For Reconciliation"
Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (2/23): "President Bush's Europe tour demonstrates his strong determination to rebuild relations with Europe.... The U.S. needs European cooperation to maintain global stability. Likewise, Europe cannot maintain international security without U.S. commitment.... We hope Bush's visit will help restore damaged transatlantic relations and stabilize world security. However, disagreement still remains between the U.S. and Europe over several issues, including Iran's nuclear development and the EU embargo on arms transfers to China. The two parties are also split over global issues such as UN reform, global warming, countering poverty, and the International Criminal Court. Prime Minister Koizumi must urge both the U.S. and Europe during the upcoming G-8 Summit to make additional efforts to tackle such challenges."
"Bush Expresses Hope For European Cooperation In Freedom Goal"
Its Washington correspondent observed from Brussels in business-oriented Nikkei (2/22): "President Bush seems to be trying to present a conciliatory attitude during his Europe tour. It is possible, however, that President Bush might again adopt a 'unilateral' diplomacy if the Europeans fail to react positively to his message."
"Reconciliation Still Difficult"
Liberal Mainichi argued (2/22): "Despite President Bush's expressed desire to mend ties with Europe, hurdles still remain for his proposal of creating a 'new U.S.-Europe era.' Europe will need to coordinate with the U.S. in spreading freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East if it wants Washington's support for a 'strong and unified' Europe. Because of his strong belief in the formation of a multipolar world, the French president is unlikely to accept the unilateral approach of the U.S."
CHINA: "Skeptical EU Welcomes Bush"
Yang Liming commented in the official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (2/22): “The EU and U.S. have had sharp differences on the issue of arms embargo against China. However, Condoleezza Rice’s words in Brussels indicate a possible softening of the U.S. position on the issue... Experts cite several possible reasons for the subtle change in the U.S. position: first, the EU’s steadfastness and togetherness on the arms embargo question has worn down the U.S. Second, EU members, including the U.S.’s staunch ally the UK, have assured the U.S. that the EU will revise and implement a stricter ‘code of conduct’ on foreign arms sales. Third, the U.S. has a strong desire to repair relations with Europe. As such, it has to be practical and realistic if it wants to reach a compromise with the EU."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Compromise Crucial To Forging Transatlantic Ties"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post observed (2/23): "The conciliatory tone that George W. Bush struck in his keynote speech in Brussels on Monday marks a refreshing change in the president's approach to his European critics. His address focused on shared values and a common agenda. It was well received by European leaders. There is clearly a desire on both sides to put aside the bitter divisions of the recent past. But it will take much more than a charm offensive and a few carefully chosen phrases to put U.S. relations with Europe back on track. There are underlying tensions in the transatlantic alliance that will not be easily overcome.... The worry is that Mr. Bush might still view cooperation as another way of saying that everyone should support the U.S. position. If this proves to be the case, the divisions and disputes of the past will soon surface again. It is regrettable that Mr. Bush sought to gloss over the huge rift created by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. This has sown distrust of his administration among Europeans--and such distrust will not be easy to dispel. To describe the rancor and ill-feeling the invasion created as a temporary debate is to grossly understate its seriousness. Both sides are talking up the desire for a strong alliance. But this will be possible only if the U.S. treats Europe as an equal partner. Compromises will be needed if the new era of transatlantic unity is to become a reality."
PHILIPPINES: "The China Arms Ban"
The independent Manila Times editorialized (2/23): "In the give-and-take diplomacy that will doubtless take place during President George W. Bush's grand European tour, we hope that he’ll hold the line against lifting the 15-year-old arms embargo against China. There’s a growing unease in Asia about China’s military modernization. But it’s China’s declared intentions against Taiwan that cause the most immediate worries in East and Southeast Asia.... Europe’s interest in China hinges on two strategic goals: to deepen and expand trade relations and to cobble together an alliance that could counterbalance American power and influence. China does not really need European weapons. If it does not have them, it will soon have the technology to produce and deploy advanced weapons for both offense and defense. What China wants is Europe’s assent to and recognition of its status as a regional military power.... Instead of the lifting of the arms ban, the European Union--particularly France and Germany--should make common cause with the U.S. in preserving the balance of power in East Asia by maintaining indefinitely the arms embargo on China."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Bush's European Visit"
The Mumbai edition of right-of-center Marathi-language daily Tarun Bharat noted (2/21): "President Bush's Europe visit holds tremendous political significance.... European countries expect the U.S. to expedite the peace process between Israel and Palestine, especially to intensify the pressure on Israel to evacuate their settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Europe also wants the U.S. to thrash out Iran's nuclear threat by way of political discourse and not by way of any preemptive strike. The U.S. has so far not paid much heed to this piece of advice from Europe. During this crucial Bush trip to Europe, the European leaders will also try to get the U.S. to recognize the International Criminal Court. Of course, this effort may not bear fruit at all.... America needs to engage the European Union in a more meaningful manner and shed off its airs of military superiority, which have often hindered U.S.-European ties."
PAKISTAN: "Bush's EuropeanTour"
The center-right Nation had this to say (Internet version, 2/22): "Setting aside divisions over how to manage post-war Iraq and handle Iran's nuclear ambitions, whether to lift arms embargo to Beijing and the anti-global warming Kyoto Protocol would need more than the mere flattering words Mr. Bush uttered yesterday at Brussels.... Many would dispute the appellation of 'democracy' for Iraq and, indeed, the brutal and partial manner it is being enforced there.... The Europeans hardly seem prepared at this stage to join hands with the U.S. in Iraq. Finally, however, the transatlantic affinity based on common goals like the exploitation of Third World resources would compel the two sides to forget their differences. Mr. Bush's world order, after all, is meant to pave the way for favorable conditions to continue their global dominance."
IRAN: "Bush In Europe"
State-run Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 aired this commentary (2/21): "The European countries' decision to lift the arms embargo on China is one of the most important issues that Bush will discuss with the European officials and is a step towards strengthening the concept of multilateralism and indicative of the role that Europe can play in restoring the balance of power in the world.... The use of force and military power...is another source of disagreement between Europe and America...[and] there are no signs indicating a [U.S.] change of stance towards the United Nations or attention to diplomacy as a means and way of resolving disagreements.... This is why many analysts believe that given the wide-ranging differences between the two sides' perspectives over important international issues and conflicting interests in some fields, Bush's visit to Europe does not seem likely to result in any significant achievement or go beyond the beautiful language used to describe the importance and depth of the relations between the two sides of the ocean."
CANADA: "Let Bush Promote Freedom"
Marcus Gee argued in the leading, centrist Globe and Mail (2/23): "It is too easy to write off Mr. Bush as a hypocrite who talks a fine line about democracy but gives his global cronies a pass. It is a complicated world, and Washington faces agonizing choices.... Urging democracy on dubious allies will require a delicate touch.... The good news is that Mr. Bush seems to have concluded that it must be done. On his European trip, he said he expects 'higher standards' from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.... He had even more pointed words for Russia, urging European leaders to urge Moscow to 'renew a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.' That was a pretty sharp jab at Vladimir Putin, whom he once embraced as a soulmate.... The proof of Mr. Bush's commitment will lie in what he does in the next four years. But to dismiss his democracy campaign as mere wind would be a mistake. He is serious about this democracy stuff, and the rest of the world should be glad that he is."
"George W.'s Radical Presidency"
Dan Dunsky commented in the liberal Toronto Star (2/22): "Despite the soothing words, the strains in the relationship are not likely to disappear anytime soon. At its core, the current U.S.-European rift results from the fact that this American president is fundamentally altering the rules of the road that defined the relationship for 60 years. Abroad and at home, George W. Bush is poised to become the most radical president since Franklin D. Roosevelt. By now, it should be clear that Bush is serious about moving ahead with his grand project of reforming the dysfunctional Middle East.... As a result, America has completely altered the way it perceives and responds to threats to its security. This shift is having profound consequences on U.S. foreign policy toward Europe.... Bush is succeeding because no one is offering a credible, coherent or compelling alternative to his ideas.... Similarly, European leaders have offered no anti-terror plan that would make the U.S. reconsider the continent's importance in the major international issues of the day. If power is the ability to shape events, Bush has it in spades right now. As a result, and like no single individual since FDR, the America and the world he leaves behind will be fundamentally different from the one he inherited."
International editor Marcelo Cantelmi opined in leading Clarin (2/22): "George Bush's speech in Brussels tries to iron out a very battered surface. The U.S. leader does this not because he's apologizing for the blows that caused this damage. He does it because he needs to turn Iraq into a multilateral issue and mitigate the costs of that calamity.... The rapprochement with Europe results from an objective necessity. Uniting in order to stop a snowball that can grow bigger thanks to the additional ingredient of mounting poverty in an enormous part of the world, full of youngsters without a future. Even with this alarming situation, it's probable that the request won't be taken into consideration. Usually, armistices at these summits aren't simple."
"The Fairy Tale of Bush's Friend"
Eduardo Febbro remarked in leftist Pagina (2/22): "What Bush outlined yesterday in Europe looks like a fairy-tale. The strategic and messianic agreement in the name of freedom doesn’t conceal, nevertheless, the deep differences that still remain, whether in the area of international policy (Iran, Iraq, China and Syria) or in the commercial aspect (farm subsidies, concealed assistance to the air industry, etc.). The phrase 'no Earthly power will be able to divide us' will be posted in the poetry records of international relations."
BRAZIL: "Bush Turns To Europe"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (2/22): “The Europeans do not want to perpetuate their disagreement with the Americans.... They will have four years with Bush ahead. Although they continue to consider the invasion of Iraq a calamitous mistake, they will hardly let Bush return to Washington without the firm promise to participate, within NATO, in the training of Iraq security forces..... But the U.S.-EU problems are ample and diverse. To begin with, they involve NATO. European leaders such as German Gerhard Schroeder maintain that the organization can no longer be the center of the transatlantic understanding.... Another important disagreement involves the sale of European weapons to China, despite the 1989 U.S. embargo. Nothing is comparable, however, to the discussion between Washington and Brussels on how to lead Iran to give up the sensitive aspects of its nuclear program.”
|Office of Research||Issue Focus||Foreign Media Reaction|