July 1, 2005
BUSH SPEECH ON IRAQ: DEALING WITH A 'MISERABLE REALITY'
** Ft. Bragg speech "made clear" Bush has no "comprehensive" plan to end war in Iraq.
** Critics fault Bush for invoking "recycled" and "obsolete" 9/11 argument.
** Arab, Asian outlets call Bush "more ambigious than ever" about true nature of Iraq mission.
** Even doubters mostly agree that early U.S. withdrawal would be "fatal."
'Defensive' Bush reiterates commitment-- Saying he was "on the defensive at home" as well as "stuck in the Iraqi quagmire," global commentators said President Bush's speech on the anniversary of the return of sovereignty to Iraq was an attempt to "buy time" in the face of "declining support" from the U.S. public and "dissension from within his own party." Bush "admitted the difficulties and hardships of the armed conflict," judged Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta. But he did not offer a "new vision," leading Hungary's right-of-center Magyar Nemzet to complain that Bush should have articulated "at least a proposal on how to create better, more humane conditions in Iraq."
'Banking on Americans' fears'-- Dailies charged that Bush had played the "trump card" of 9/11 in order to stop the "escalation of criticism." Critics, declaring the U.S. had "exaggerated Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaida," called the references to 9/11 "Orwellian" and charged that al-Qaida's presence in Iraq is "an effect, not the cause" of the war. Conservative papers, however, said Bush was "right to describe [Iraq] as the latest battlefield in the global war on terror." The point, contended the Australian, is that "the Islamists have made Iraq the new front in the war on terror by their choice, not ours."
'No surprises'-- Arab and developing-country outlets dismissed the "defensive speech" as "more of a PR exercise than a policy." The address "had nothing new in it," held China's official Xinhua Daily Telegraph. Iraqi and Palestinian editorialists wondered "exactly what mission" Bush is on, while a Jordanian stated that Bush "purposefully ignored" the fact that Iraq's "tragic situation...has made the slogans of freedom and democracy a moral and political farce." Venezuela's pro-government Diario VEA mocked, Bush "is at a dead end. His only exit is defeat, which, sooner or later, will take place."
'Not the time to go wobbly'-- Arab papers said Bush "will have to" announce a withdrawal "someday." Most analysts, though, maintained that "rapid withdrawal...or even setting the agenda for such withdrawal, is not an option." Canada's nationalist Ottawa Citizen counseled that "the struggle for a free Iraq is not something the West can walk away from," while others, like Germany's centrist Der Tagesspiegel, concluded that pulling troops out "would cause an even greater catastrophe." Holland's influential NRC Handelsblad, a frequent critic of the war, pointed out that a "stable and democratic Iraq is also in the interest of Europe" and admonished NATO to contribute more than its so-far "symbolic" assistance. "The Americans and the British cannot do it alone," the paper said.
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 49 reports from 31 countries June 29-July1, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "They Have No Idea How To Win Their War"
Former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (7/1): "In June there were more casualties among coalition troops and Iraqi forces than a year ago in the same month--before the handover of sovereignty that we were promised would transform security. We will continue to lose this conflict until U.S. forces grasp that they breed more insurgents by the indiscriminate use of firepower and by putting higher priority on killing rebels rather than protecting civilians."
"If You Reckon Americans Are...Trigger-Happy Warriors, Think Again"
Gerard Baker concluded in the conservative Times (7/1): "No one can set out a detailed path to victory against an insurgent enemy. But the Bush administration needs to demonstrate a commitment to getting the job done. That means not only protestations of resolve, but actions to back it up; specifically more troops if needed. Otherwise the steady attrition of support will gather ominous momentum."
"Bush Remains Steadfast Under Iraqi Fire"
The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (6/30): "Mr. Bush was...right to describe it as the latest battlefield in the global war on terror, although that raises the question of why Washington, having taken control of the country, allowed it, through poor planning, to become so. For the sake of its own reputation, and the safety of moderate regimes in the Middle East, the United States must now see this conflict out."
"One Fine Speech Cannot Save A Presidency"
Chief editorial writer Mary Dejevsky commented in the center-left Independent (6/30): "With the mayhem in Iraq heading prime-time news broadcasts many nights of the week and no 'timetable' in prospect for a U.S. withdrawal, the 43rd U.S. president is in trouble. He may escape impeachment--for knowingly misleading the American public and Congress--but he may suffer the next worst fate of a president: leaving no positive legislative or other achievement that would mark his place in America's history."
The conservative tabloid Daily Mail judged (6/30): "This is a president who took his country into a bloody conflict on a series of lies. With support for the occupation fast crumbling in the U.S., the President is at it again as he tries to meld the Iraq insurgency with the evil schemes of Osama bin Laden--this when Saddam's Iraq was implacably opposed to al-Qaida. It won't work. The American public is beginning to see through his lurid rhetoric."
FRANCE: "Pullout Or Retreat From Iraq?"
Jacques Hubert-Rodier observed in right-of-center Les Echos (7/1): "Iraq is on the brink of a civil war. Considering the risks for the region's stability, one might have expected a new vision...which the U.S. president did not provide.... No one wants chaos or a civil war in Iraq.... The question today is how to stabilize Iraq and through what means.... And this is exactly the question to which President Bush did not bring an answer.... He rejected the possibility of a progressive pullout calendar.... This position makes even more difficult the return to full Iraqi sovereignty.... If George Bush does not begin to plan for a progressive pullout from Iraq his soldiers could well be stuck in the Iraqi quagmire. An exit strategy would require that other countries send troops and/or re-enforce their military presence. A difficult prospect when in fact the trend is exactly the opposite."
GERMANY: "Unclear Policy"
Peter Sturm commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (6/30): "Chancellor Schröder did certainly not even dream of becoming the crown witness for Bush's Iraq policy, but the American president, who has come on the defensive at home, referred to the war opponent in order to explain to his people the necessity of staying course. Indeed, there is no way around it. Pulling out of Iraq would be fatal. The Iraqi security forces will not be able for the time being to create peace and order in the country."
"Helpless In Washington"
Michael Backfisch noted in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (6/30): "In the past, the President has always known how to play the September 11 trump card. He dealt Republicans a landslide victory in the 2002 congressional elections and he secured his own reelection by his strict anti-terror policy. But Bush's tactical strength cannot make up for his strategic weakness. His speech in Fort Bragg made clear once more that the administration lacks a comprehensive concept for putting an end to the terror in Iraq. This also explains the unprecedented cacophony of its leading representatives. While Vice President Cheney grandiosely announced that the insurgency is in its last throes, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld spoke of a fight that could last 12 more years. Appeals to stand firm cannot remove such contradictions. Bush calls for patience, but that is exactly what people are short of."
"Doomed To Patience"
Clemens Wergin asserted in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (6/30): "One year ago, the U.S. officially handed over power to the Iraqi government, and because the security situation is not getting better, there are more people in the U.S. now calling for a date by when the troops can go home. U.S. President Bush was right to reject these demands, because such a date would only encourage the insurgency. The West cannot afford to leave Iraq to the terrorists.... You do not improve the catastrophic situation by withdrawing U.S. troops. This would cause an even greater catastrophe. The U.S. has made its own bed there and now has to lie in it."
"Hindu Kush And Euphrates"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg editorialized (6/30): "In the question of Iraq it is no longer important who was right in the past. What matters today is how the country can overcome the dangerous chaos. The differences between America and Europe are much smaller here than it looks like at first glance.... There are no convincing alternatives to the current twofold U.S. strategy. On the one hand, the young Iraqi democracy must be further supported politically and militarily. For the time being, the U.S. forces are indispensable in the fight against ruthless opponents.... Setting a date for withdrawal would be a dangerous signal to all opponents of a democratic Iraq. Leaving Iraq and Afghanistan to Islamists and terrorists would be a disaster for the region, the U.S. and Europe."
ITALY: "Bush Has Overused September 11th"
Arturo Zampaglione contended in the left-leaning influential daily La Repubblica (6/30): "The reference to the blackest day in American history raised strong emotions across the Atlantic. And Bush wanted to have this collective fear raised to stop the hemorrhage of consensus and escalation of criticism that is translating into a debacle of the popularity of the White House. In reality, before the American invasion, there were no traces of bin Laden in Iraq. And the presence [of al-Qaida] now is an effect, not the cause, of the actions of the Pentagon. But immediate polls reveal that Bush’s political operation had a certain success."
"We Will Not Betray The Promises Of September 11th"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote from Washington in the pro-government, leading center-right daily Il Giornale (6/30): "[Bush] didn’t promise anything.... For this reason commentators had the impression that [he]...didn't say 'anything new' and didn’t 'delineate a strategy'. [This is] an unclear impression: the President has a strategy and has just launched it with his keynote to the soldiers. He started, rather, a new 'offensive.' Only that the addressees aren’t Iraqis, but Americans, and the 'offensive' is instead essentially a defense. And the key word was not found in the specific promises or in a vision of the future of Iraq (that has changed even if it has become even more nebulous regarding the timetable), but in a recall of the past. A good eight instances, almost obsessively, the man of the White House spoke of how September 11th had changed everything, as an event on which every decision depended and to which each of his strategies referred."
RUSSIA: "Getting Hooked On War"
Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (6/30): "What made George Bush call Iraq the main battlefield in the war for America’s security? [Coming] from the Administration, it sounds new but quite improbable. It is risky, too. George Bush is really taking chances, as 'collective Osama bin Laden' may take advantage of him. The President’s words can be taken at faith value only as long as explosions shake Iraq, not the United States. Once, God forbid, al-Qaida tries something in the United States again, the Bush concept to move the war on terror to third countries, away from home, will instantly fall through and the Iraq campaign will make no sense anymore."
"Bush Admits Problems"
Artur Blinov observed in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (6/30): "Unlike Vice President Cheney, whose recent statements caused many to protest their 'triumphant' tone, Bush admitted the difficulties and hardships of the armed conflict."
Ernst Trost opined in mass-circulation tabloid Neue Kronenzeitung (6/30): "Like Donald Rumsfeld, Bush, has adopted a realistic view that sees no definite date for a withdrawal of the GIs. However, the main purpose of his exercise in rhetoric was to make clear to doubtful Americans that Iraq is the most important battleground in the war against terror.... The U.S. president didn't give his citizens much hope. His generals would decide when the Iraqis had reached the point where they could protect themselves, he said. Notably, he appealed to the Sunnis to commit to the democratic process instead of continuing their fight. For the time being, however, violence dominates everyday life in Iraq. The number of victims is continually on the rise. The President led the Americans into war, but he has no clue how to get them out of it."
"Getting Closer To Reality"
Foreign affairs writer Livia Klingl judged in mass-circulation Kurier (6/30): "George Bush in his second term only bears faint resemblance to George Bush in his first. Not because his hair has turned grayer, but because his thinking has become more realistic and his language has more nuance. Bush's speech...contained hardly any of the platitudes uttered previously about the 'good' people and the sacrifices that they will have to make to fight against the anti-American, anti-freedom, and anti-modernity 'evil' that comes straight out of the Islamic middle ages. Pseudo-instant solutions for the erection of democratic lighthouses in despotic desert areas were missing from the speech--the everything-is-possible optimism that prevailed at the beginning of the war was toned down considerably. The President's speechwriters adapted his choice of words to a miserable reality. The average Americans did the same with their assessments of the President's political abilities.... The only comfort is that at present there is no one else with a better idea how to get out of this long drawn-out tragedy in Iraq than to have patience and muddle along."
BELGIUM: "Banking On The Americans’ Fears"
U.S. correspondent Nathalie Mattheiem wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (6/30): "President Bush has tried to persuade Americans that he has a plan to win his Iraqi bet. It is a minimal one, i.e., staying the course. Its justification remains the 9/11 attacks.... In his 30-minute address on freedom and patriotic values, the President did not define what a victory would be, or how he would obtain it, whereas Americans are witnessing with an horror that he says he shares the daily bloodbaths in Iraq. On the contrary, the President recycled an argument that was part of the initial propaganda to justify the invasion of Iraq, i.e., the connection with the 9/11 attacks. Skipping the very controversial weapons of mass destruction chapter, he mentioned al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden to claim that Iraq is the main front in the war on terror. One has to have quite some nerve--or even be somewhat desperate--to do that.... There is also a taste of defeat in this constant repetition of an obsolete message, after having promised a beaming liberation.... Whom did the President convince? Probably not many abroad, where people will surely point out the President’s exaggerations when he spoke about international cooperation. He probably did not convince many among the Democrats either. Actually, the President’s address seemed to be meant for an audience that supports him, i.e., the conservative and patriotic America."
BULGARIA: "From Orwell To Bush"
Nationalist, stridently anti-U.S. daily Monitor commented (6/30): "In an Orwellian style, George Bush once again tried to convince the Americans and the world that he was right about the war in Iraq. In the last year, neither the attacks against the occupiers, nor the casualties on both sides have decreased in number.... Even though bin Laden is nowhere to be found, Bush once again used his name as an excuse for the war, even though it’s widely known that there was no love lost between Saddam and bin Laden. It’s all a means to an end when the safety of the Bush family financial assets and Cheney’s oil business are concerned.... Is this what Bulgarian soldiers are dying for in Iraq? What are the Bulgarians doing in Iraq?"
CROATIA: "The High Price Of American Defense In Iraq"
Salih Konjhodzic observed in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik (6/30): "It is almost certain that retaining of Americans [in Iraq] could influence further strengthening of the Iraqi resistance movement, which would contribute to a growing spiral of bloodshed and violence. Even though Bush is warning that there will be no retreat from Iraq, there have been many signs that he is doing everything he can so that American soldiers will return to their homes as soon as possible. The key issue in all this is how to preserve the strategic economic-political results of the violent overthrow of Saddam Hussein? Americans do not care so much whether Shiites or Sunnis will be in power in Baghdad. What they care about is the frantic attempt to preserve current control over flow of Iraqi oil and gas."
FINLAND: "Bush’s Reminder Of The Enemy"
Right-of-center Aamulehti editorialized (6/30): "Democratic politicians criticized the President for referring to 9/11 five times in his speech. The critics said there is no evidence of links between al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. But not even the Democrats can change the fact that terrorism exists.... The U.S.-led coalition cannot leave Iraq before Baghdad can guarantee safety in the country. Setting a deadline would be a clear sign to the terrorists who could just sit tight and wait."
HUNGARY: "The Announcement Never Made"
Laszlo Szentesi Zoldi opined in right-of-center Magyar Nemzet (7/1): "There are several considerations that make the change, the replacement of the Bush doctrine with some sort of a settlement plan necessary. First of all: we have to see that, with the exception of Baghdad and the Sunni triangle, the Iraqi war is transforming into a low-intensity conflict.... In addition to the changes in the international environment and the slow dissolving of the multinational military force, a new move would also be justified by the fact that George W. Bush is now president for the second time. As he cannot have a third term he no longer has to worry about issues that could affect the elections.... What kind of an announcement does the world expect from the American president? Some sort of a settlement plan, or at least a proposal on how to create better, more humane conditions in Iraq that has been bombed down and thrown into poverty. Because, regardless of their political orientations and interests, everybody agrees that the solidifying of the current conditions will bring about an unprecedented poverty and despair in the country that has suffered so much."
"The Man Of The Day"
Foreign affairs writer Eva Elekes opined in left-of-center Nepszava (6/30): "Little is Bush disturbed by the fact that, no matter how hard they tried, they were unable to find a direct connection between al-Qaida and the Iraqi regime.... The President’s strategists are racking their brains to find out how to stop his decline [of popularity]. Perhaps the Saddam trial can bring about a breakthrough? Or if they finally find Osama bin Laden? If things continue to go the same way, Bush will stumble through his four years as a lame duck. Well, he can afford that, as now he will go down in history as a president of dramatic times anyway."
NETHERLANDS: "Bush’s Quagmire"
Influential independent NRC Handelsblad editorialized (6/30): "America will still meet its military commitments in Iraq. That was actually the message in President Bush’s remarks delivered at Fort Bragg.... A high price is being paid for the battle for the reconstruction of Iraq--in human lives, in suffering, and in money.... The President said, 'our progress has been uneven, but progress is being made.' The latter is certainly true. Earlier this year Iraq was able to hold free elections and in between the bomb attacks the country is now working on putting together a democratic government. And we should also not forget that the Americans arrested the dictator. Saddam will have to account for his action before a court. These are facts we cannot ignore. However, President Bush’s premise that American presence in Iraq is necessary to fight terrorism, is still controversial.... For now Iraq will continue to be in pandemonium. A rapid withdrawal of the Americans, or even setting the agenda for such withdrawal, is not an option.... The coalition is thinning. NATO’s contribution by providing military training is only symbolic and does not mean much in numbers. German Chancellor Schroeder during his recent visit to the White House said that a stable and democratic Iraq is also in the interest of Europe.... Well-said. But what is Germany doing as a NATO member state to fulfill these words? Too little! The Americans and the British cannot do it alone in Iraq. They are in a suffocating swamp and need help, preferably provided within a NATO context."
"President Bush Fails"
Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (6/30): "During the American election campaign last year, there was one subject with which President Bush managed to repeatedly score off his opponent, and that was, 'the war on terror'.... After the successful elections there was hope that the tide would turn in Iraq but in the last few weeks we have seen the security situation in Iraq again worsening dramatically.... Withdrawing American troops could in this current situation indeed have dramatic consequences. The interim government in Baghdad does not yet have a reliable army and police force to maintain a minimum of law and order. The danger of a civil war is not imaginary. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Fortunately, Bush did not follow his vice president who said last week that the insurgents were in their last throes, a statement which lacks every credibility.... The President asked his people for patience. Opinion polls show that patience is in short supply. Given the fact that military efforts have reached their limits, political initiatives will have to be used to break the cycle of violence. Unfortunately, Bush's speech did not include any prospects in this regard."
NORWAY: "Bush Treading Water In Iraq"
The newspaper-of-record Aftenposten judged (6/30): "With selected soldiers as back-drop, President George W. Bush delivered a new speech to the Americans and to the world on the crisis in Iraq--more than two years after he announced 'mission accomplished.' One by one the grim predictions on the dangers of such a military intervention are coming true. Notable in this speech is that the original reasons to enter the war--weapons of mass destruction being the most important one--are not mentioned. Instead the President sees a clear connection between the terrorism on September 11, 2001, and the old Iraqi regime--a connection that is almost unilaterally denied by a number of experts on terror and the Middle East. In reality, Bush is trying to tread water in Iraq. He’s trying to buy time.... The Americans will manage to earn time, but the question is what kind of development will take place in this period. It has not been long since the CIA pointed out that the invasion in Iraq and the Americans' actions in the aftermath have turned Iraq into a magnet and training camp for Islamic terrorists. Sooner or later the United States also has to account for their losses and wins in Iraq. So far the losses dominate."
Independent VG had this to say (6/30): "The Iraq war is worth the sacrifices the Americans make, President George W. Bush says. Fewer and fewer Americans agree with him on that.... The mistakes that were made, both in relation to strategy and to the number of soldiers, are unfixable. [But] discussions on what went wrong do not create peace in Iraq. Representatives for the Democratic Party in the United States criticize the President for lacking a concrete plan for how the United States can end its involvement in Iraq in a proper manner. But neither can the Democrats point out an exit route. The Americans are in this quagmire together. In fact, we are all there together. Terrorists being trained in Iraq are everybody's business. They are terrorists, not resistance fighters. Many are foreigners whose top priority is not a free and democratic Iraq. They want to achieve as much chaos as possible and create the deepest possible wounds on the United States and the rest of the Western world. It has become too easy for the war opposition in Europe to let the United States stand alone in the disaster they have created. We are all counting on the possibility that at some point in time it will be possible for the United States to withdraw from an Iraq that functions well, a peaceful Iraq free of hatcheries for new terrorists."
SWEDEN: "Bush’s Fiasco"
Top-circulation Social Democratic Aftonbladet argued (6/30): "The road to peace and security goes via Baghdad. This is one favorite phrase among George W. Bush’s neo-conservative advisers.... But the 'road via Baghdad' has undermined the U.S. ability to further Mideast democratization. This is clearly stated in the much-publicized UN 'Arab Human Development Report,' which was also very critical of the forms of government in the Arab world.... A considerable part of Arab public opinion is also asking the question whether the U.S. goal really is to promote democracy rather than unfairly appropriate Arab oil supplies and secure military strategic advantages. In many parts in the Mideast the Islamists are the ones who demand free elections, well aware of growing popular support.... The American strategy, which coincides with that of the authoritarian leaders in, for example, Egypt, is aimed at fighting these movements (Hamas and Hizbollah). Mideast dictators generally support Bush’s ‘war against terrorism.’ In the choice between the unforeseen results of democracy in the Mideast and the need for reliable, though authoritarian, allies, it is hard to believe that Bush will choose democracy."
"Only Jihadists Want a U.S. Withdrawal"
Claes Arvidsson argued in the conservative Svenska Dagbladet (6/30): "President Bush has problems in Iraq and in U.S. opinion polls...and when the the other day addressed the nation from Fort Bragg, it was an attempt to shift the opinion.... The demand in the U.S. for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is merely a play for the galleries, according to George Friedman, head of the security consulting agency Stratfor. In reality only the jihadists are at present interested in getting rid of the U.S., and they are of little importance in the political arena."
TURKEY: "A Pathetic Situation For Bush"
Fehmi Koru argued in the pro-government/Islamist Yeni Safak (7/1): "It is hard to imagine how the remarks of President Bush could possibly raise the morale of the American people.... Bush talked about the pressing need to attack Iraq and topple Saddam. The justification used to be weapons of mass destruction. But this time President Bush gave 9/11 as reason. He did not even bother to draw a link, direct or indirect, between the events of 9/11 and Saddam Hussein. Bush’s approach is a clear indication that the problems he created for his own country and for the world are not going to end in the foreseeable future. President Bush listed the reasons why the U.S. should remain in Iraq. He was hoping that none of us would notice that these reasons were all consequences of the invasion of Iraq in the first place.... The audience, mostly military, gave no applause or any sign of enthusiasm. Given the situation, there is nothing to justify high morale. This is a pathetic situation for Bush."
"No McDonald’s Without Douglas"
Akif Emre wrote in the pro-government/Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak (6/30): "President Bush’s Ft. Bragg speech is a defensive statement that comes at a time when criticism of U.S. foreign policy has reached its peak. But we would be underestimating this statement if we believe that Bush's remarks indicate only his lack of intellectual capacity or a coherent military strategy. In fact, President Bush is defending the strategy of the occupation, and the arguments he used were strong indicators of America’s pursuit of global hegemony."
WEST BANK: "Ambiguity Of Mission And Inevitability Of Failure"
Mohammad Yaghi commented in independent Al-Ayyam (6/30): "The contradictory statements by leaders of this [American] administration confirm the nonexistence of any exit strategy from Iraq. While Cheney stressed that the resistance is on its way to defeat and that it is on its last legs, Rumsfeld emphasized that the confrontation may extend for 12 years to come. And while Rice underlined that insurgency will be defeated as a result of its isolation by the Iraqi people, Bush underscored that the confrontation will be violent and difficult in the coming months. In his Fort Bragg speech, Bush reminded the Americans time and time again that his war in Iraq is part of his international war on terrorism...and that the exit from Iraq will not be set by any timetable, but rather when the mission is complete. However, everybody is clueless as to what this mission is about. Was it the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime? Or is it safeguarding the unity of Iraq and maintaining its stability? Is it defeating the terrorists in Iraq? Or is it spreading democracy in the Middle East? Or maybe it is all these."
IRAQ: "Bush Does Not Have A New Strategy For Iraq"
Bassem Al-Sheikh wrote in independent Ad-Dustoor (6/30): "U.S. President George Bush did not provide new information during his speech at Fort Bragg.... Bush appeared insistent in sticking to his previous strategy.... Bush focused on three main issues of concern. The first issue revolved around his attempt to counter the concern of the American people regarding the increasing number of U.S. soldiers that are being killed.... Bush seemed to be addressing the Democrats who have begun to refer to the Iraqi situation as a quagmire. Bush attempted to diminish these doubts while simultaneously admitting that Iraq poses a difficult test.... At the same time...Bush stated that setting a date for U.S. withdrawal would convey the wrong message to the Iraqi people who want to be sure that the Americans will not leave them before accomplishing the mission. Bush's clear statement on this issue puts an end to the debate over whether a timetable should be established..... The U.S. will stay in Iraq until the mission is accomplished. However...exactly what mission is Bush referring to?... Bush...indicates that he opposes sending more American troops.... He considers this would counter the U.S. strategy that is aimed at supporting Iraqis to take the lead.... Perhaps President Bush meant to summarize his strategy on how to deal with the situation in Iraq. However, he did not discuss many important subjects because he chose to deal with the situation solely from an American perspective. Today, Iraq is in worse condition than it was a year ago. We do not want to discover that the next year will become even worse."
SAUDI ARABIA: "Way Forward In Iraq"
The pro-government English-language Arab News held (6/30): "Bush is on the political ropes, his domestic reputation bleeding faster than his soldiers in Iraq.... This may not be a conflict that ordinary Americans are going to stand for very much longer so the president Tuesday played his last card--that if Washington gave a time and date for its Iraqi disengagement--it would be a major victory for the terrorists.... The invasion of Iraq gave al-Qaida both an abundance of U.S. targets and a fresh cause.... They have made bloody use of both. But Washington’s problems are nothing compared with those being faced by Iraqis.... The Americans cannot solve the violence because they are part of the problem. There is still however the chance that the Iraqis can do it for themselves.... A rapid agreement on a constitution that strongly reflects the interests of all Iraqi communities is absolutely essential. So too is the rapid inclusion of all local militias within the Iraqi military.... If the majority in the transitional government are serious about a united and free Iraq, they must look to defending themselves and dispensing with American help as quickly as possible.... But will Bush ever admit that while America, for all its power, cannot defeat itself the insurgency in Iraq, truly united, the Iraqis very probably can?"
JORDAN: "Bush’s Speech And The Occupation’s Crisis"
Samih Ma’aytah noted in independent Al-Ghad (6/30): "U.S. President George Bush was not particularly intelligent in saying there will not be an announcement of a timetable for withdrawing his troops occupying Iraq on the grounds that such could be considered a victory for the resistance. Yet, this American declaration confirms what Bush wanted to deny: even the very thought of withdrawing is in the cards but its rejection is due to fear that it would be seen as a victory for the fighters.... America’s problem in Iraq is not just in the military losses or even in the failure of its forces to maintain security; it is in reconstructing Iraq to what it used to be before the war.... America knows that Iraq’s problem is not going to be resolved by holding elections under the occupation, but rather by building a new Iraq where its citizens benefit from its riches, have control over their sovereignty and feel safe. This is where the occupation failed. If President Bush refuses to announce a withdrawal timetable now, then he will have to someday."
Chief Editor Taher Udwan asserted in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (6/30): "At first glance, someone reading Bush’s recent speech about Iraq would have the impression that America is not going to withdraw from Iraq despite the fact that it has turned into a quagmire for the American troops.... Bush considers setting a timetable for his troops' withdrawal a grave mistake, a bad message to the Iraqi people, the American soldiers and what he calls the terrorists. The question is: is there anything worse for the Iraqi people and the American soldiers than the current situation, and is there anything better for the terrorists and the resistance?... Bush purposefully ignored [that]...there is a resistance against his troops...that the tragic situation under which the Iraqis live has made the slogans of freedom and democracy a moral and political farce...that the slogan of rebuilding Iraq has become nothing more than a bitter joke .... The Iraqi people and America’s soldiers and their families find nothing worse than Bush’s messages, bringing them news of an extended war without further purpose or aim than what the world sees today."
QATAR: "Bush Speech Lacked Vital Points On Iraq"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times maintained (6/30): "There were no surprises in the speech that U.S. President George W. Bush made.... It was more of a public relations exercise than a policy statement.... His speech didn’t contain an exit policy but it sounded more ambiguous than ever and must have left the Americans wondering when the 140,000 U.S. servicemen will return home.... After the Bush speech it appeared that there is no cohesion among U.S. leaders and their statements on Iraq have given mixed messages.... As the Iraqi security forces are still years away from being able to tackle the insurgency on their own, the Americans will have to stay for a longer period in the country than generally anticipated.... The much-anticipated speech lacked the two most important points as to how and when Iraqi forces would be able to fight without U.S. support and about reconstruction goals, which have been floundering amidst rising insurgency."
SYRIA: "Repercussions Of War"
Mohamed Khair Jamali opined in government-owned Al-Thawra (6/30): "President Bush's defensive speech is part of a stable policy the U.S. administration has adopted to prevent the growing criticism from creating a shift in the U.S. pubic opinion as happened during the Vietnam war.... Linking the war on Iraq with the war on terrorism, depicting Iraqi resistance for occupation as terrorism and warning against scheduling a withdrawal...all these will not contain the crisis or eliminate it."
UAE: "Bush Delivers A Recycled Speech"
The English-language expatriate-oriented Gulf News declared (6/30): "President George W. Bush's attempt to bolster support for his policy in Iraq contained nothing new and nothing pointing to a way out of this mess.... He reverted to his usual rhetoric on freedom and the fight against terrorism. First, the Iraqi government's performance has been lackluster so far. It still contains friction between the Shiites, who are themselves divided, and the Sunnis.... Suffering the lowest approval ratings in his career...Bush repeatedly harked back to 9/11 and cited Osama bin Laden as a reason for continuing U.S.involvement in Iraq. It is no secret, though, that his administration exaggerated Saddam Hussein's ties to al-Qaida. Iraq is not 'the latest battlefield in this war,' as he contended. Bush's speech did not answer any questions about Iraq's future either. There is still a large U.S. military presence in this country and the insurgency is showing no sign of abating. Indeed, it appears to be escalating. And yes, the United States is fighting the insurgents, but that is not why it invaded Iraq. Bush's speech was a smokescreen for not offering an exit strategy.... The questions most Iraqis might well ask are: where is [the promised] freedom and what is its price? Bush did not have a clear answer to that. What was clear, however, is that Iraqi security forces are far from prepared to tackle the insurgency on their own. There must be an effective strategy to end this war and Bush's recycled speech again failed to offer a clear vision for Iraq."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "Challenges For The U.S. And Us"
The conservative national Australian editorialized (6/30): "George W. Bush made a strong case for staying the course in Iraq yesterday. While critics will say he harped too much on 9/11, given the original casus belli in Iraq was WMD, the point is the Islamists have made Iraq the new front in the war on terror by their choice, not ours. Second, while the political evolution of Iraq has suffered numerous setbacks, courtesy of the insurgents, it has nevertheless been a wonder to behold. And given how long it took for democracy to evolve in the West, Iraq's two-year trajectory from tyranny, to war, to multi-party, multi-ethnic democracy can hardly be dismissed as tardy.... But even if Mr. Bush had not made a forceful case, it is difficult to see any alternative to the policy of maintaining coalition troop levels until an indigenous Iraqi security force can be trained.... What do those who counsel an immediate withdrawal of troops imagine would follow it?... The answer would likely be a bloodbath, followed by the collapse of Iraq's democratic architecture. While cutting and running has never been an option, there is plenty the U.S. and its allies could be doing better, particularly in allocating more resources to training those who will replace them.... Second, in the U.S. there has been a decline in public confidence in Iraq policy that will give heart to the insurgents. One thing Mr Bush could do to stem it would be to cut loose Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.... Given that the insurgency lacks an organizational structure, a charismatic leader and a coherent ideology, the argument that victory is there to be won should be compelling."
CHINA: "Even The U.S. Doesn’t Believe The Democracy Bush Talks About"
Zhao Yi commented in official Xinhua Daily Telegraph (Xinhua Meiri Dianxun) (6/30): "The U.S. president’s speech...had nothing new in it but merely repeated his previous position.... Most Americans don’t agree with Bush’s actions in Iraq. The White House however has no plans to change what the U.S. is doing in Iraq. On the contrary the U.S. stated that the sacrifices that have been made in the Iraq war are crucial for U.S. security. Bush has refused to establish a schedule to withdraw troops from Iraq. If the U.S. continues to stay in Iraq for many years, the U.S. will spend taxpayer's money as well as lose American soldiers' lives. However, the U.S. may have ulterior reasons for its unwillingness to withdraw from Iraq."
JAPAN: "U.S. Should Discuss Security Issues With Iraq's Neighbors"
Liberal Mainichi editorialized (7/1): "Although Iraq's security situation remains risky, there has been slow but steady progress in the reconstruction of the war-devastated nation under the leadership of Prime Minister al-Jafari. The most important task for the al-Jafari government will be to draft a new constitution by August. The opposition Sunni group has reportedly decided to join in the drafting of the constitution--a positive step toward Iraq's reconstruction. The most serious problem in Iraq at present is the restoration of security. Vice President Cheney's remark in which he reportedly said terrorists are engaged in a 'last-ditch struggle' is too optimistic. The situation in Iraq may further deteriorate. The strengthening of cooperation between U.S. and Iraqi forces, as suggested by President Bush in a speech on Tuesday, will not contribute greatly to restoring Iraq's security situation. The U.S.-led coalition of the willing should withdraw troops soon after helping Iraqis restore security. Now is the time for the U.S. to review its Middle East policy. The U.S. should start a dialogue with Iraq's neighbors concerning regional security. The Arab and Islamic world continues to have cool feelings toward the U.S. Unless the U.S. successfully resumes dialogue with the Arab world, it cannot come up with any good ideas for resolving the Iraqi crisis."
"Do-Or-Die Moment For Bush's Iraq Policy"
Business-oriented Nihon Keizai commented (6/30): "U.S. policy toward Iraq appears to have come to a standstill. In [his] speech...President Bush appealed to public support for the deployment of U.S. troops by linking Iraq's reconstruction and U.S. national security. The President even called for patience and sacrifice from Americans, who question the Iraq war's painful costs. Despite the President's speech, senior administration officials appear to have become divided over the pros and cons of the costly war, with the crafting of what is called an 'exit strategy' or a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq not in sight. With a continuing decline in the public support rate for the administration, Iraq policy, the most important issue in the second Bush administration, appears to be trapped in a do-or-die situation."
INDONESIA: "U.S. In Iraq Is Already In A Mess"
Leading independent daily Kompas commented (7/1): "Bush delivered a speech to gain support for U.S. policy in Iraq. What is happening though, is that Bush is facing declining support from the American people and dissension from within his own party.... Bush said, among other things, that the sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers in Iraq each day have been worthy and vital to the future security of the U.S. ... That reality proves that the White House has waged war without proper consideration of the high cost incurred, either financial or in blood, during the post-invasion period."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
PAKISTAN: "Iraq: Elusive Stability"
Najmuddin A. Shaikh said in Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn (6/29): "By the time this article appears President Bush [will] have made his speech.... Even without hearing his speech one can anticipate that in addition to reiterating his determination to keep American troops in Iraq, the president would have termed the battle against the insurgency in Iraq as part of the struggle to bring democracy and moderation to the Middle East.... It is clear that the military situation is bad. The methods that the Iraqi government and the Americans have now had to adopt to cope with the insurgency may lay the foundation for further instability. The only redeeming feature in an otherwise grim situation appears to be the possibility, no matter how slim, of the political situation evolving in a more positive direction.... The region will have to live with the fact that over the past two years Iraq has become the testing zone in which non-Iraqi terrorists have honed their destructive skills and if Iraq stabilizes, these terrorists will be deployed in neighboring countries - an inevitable fallout. A prolongation of Iraq’s agony will only make the fallout worse."
CANADA: "Now Is Not The Time To Go Wobbly In The Iraq War"
David Warren wrote in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (6/29): "President Bush spoke...to the need for patience. The struggle for a free Iraq is not something the West can walk away from. But time is beginning to tell against the Bush administration. It must be able to reduce the U.S. military in Iraq to much smaller, more permanent, regional bases, within three years, or the next president of the United States is not going to be a Republican. That, however, is not my concern. It is instead that the U.S. might fail to consolidate a victory which has brought more hope to the Middle East than any event in recent history. For this, Clausewitzian ruthlessness is required."
ARGENTINA: "Non-Accomplished Mission For Troops"
Mercedes Lopez San Miguel opined in leftist Pagina 12 (6/29): "The President asked for 'sacrifice' and praised the courage of those Americans that are in Iraq 'seeking to make a safer nation'--and once again linked 9/11 terrorism with Iraq, trying to force the meaning of the invasion, trying to make people believe the invasion of Iraq was part of the pre-emptive war against global terrorism, putting everything in the same bag: bin Laden, Hussein, the Taliban. In the scenario of the 'fight against Iraqi terrorists' he pointed towards al-Qaida and the remaining Saddam followers, and tried to explain the state of insecurity in the occupied country. 'There's significant progress,' he said on several occasions. But it's obvious that security is minimal and violence is part of the everyday lives of the Iraqi people.... Even though there were elections in January and there's a 'democratization' process in progress, the 1,740 dead soldiers and the 12,000 wounded have made a strong impact on U.S. public opinion, now highly critical of the situation in Iraq and practically everything done by the Bush administration."
MEXICO: "Iraq: Bush’s Nightmare"
Academic Jesus Velasco wrote in nationalist Diario Monitor (6/29): "The Bush administration faces a number of problems as a result of the continuous criticism of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the daily casualties of American soldiers.... There is increasing questioning of President Bush's policy both domestically and abroad.... So far, Bush has managed to deal with the situation even though no WMD have been found in Iraq and the links between al-Qaida and Hussein have not been proven.... Eventually, the invasion of Iraq will become the Achilles' heel of U.S. foreign policy. All it would take is to conform a strong movement towards peace unifying the people’s discontent with the current situation."
VENEZUELA: "Bush: Completely Trapped In Iraq"
Pseudonymous columnist Marciano wrote in pro-government daily tabloid Diario VEA (6/30): "Bush believed that his power was limitless. That’s why he came up with the pretext of 'weapons of mass destruction' to invade Iraq. The adventure worked on the ground where was logical: the conventional confrontation with Saddam’s army. The U.S. could easily destroy Iraqi army. But Bush did not foresee the Iraqi people's resistance. This resistance has proven to be more effective than former dictator’s army. It was smashed in only two weeks, but the occupying force has been trapped in a unending fight for two years. The Iraqis that fight against the American occupiers are not terrorists: they are patriots. The military of the empire are the terrorists. Against the invader, everything can be justified. History proves that. It is the lesson the world's peoples must keep in mind. Because Mr. Bush, despite the power he has, is defenseless. He is in a dead end. His only exit is defeat, which, sooner or later, will take place."
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