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Media Reaction

IRAQ: 'TRAPPED' IN THE 'TANGLED WEB OF WAR'

Steven Wangsness, Editor, Media Reaction Branch
October 6, 2004

Media Reaction monitored by the State Department conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Commentary is selected to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This analysis was based on 65 reports from 32 countries October 1 - 6, 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
 

KEY FINDINGS

  • Commentators conclude "it's hard to be optimistic" about Iraq.
  • Conservative papers say the "terrorist shock wave" seeks to obscure Iraq's progress.
  • "Revelations" by Rumsfeld, Bremer show even hawks "are beginning to have doubts."
  • Polish dailies link talk of troop withdrawals to public pressure and electoral campaigns.




MAJOR THEMES

Iraq 'has never been more dangerous' -- Global editorialists portrayed the security situation in Iraq as "more dangerous than ever" and said the U.S. was "trapped" in Iraq with "no plan for peace." Commenting on offensives to "retake" towns like Samarra from insurgents, European writers opined that the "multiplying military operations" would not solve "the problem" and "risks discrediting" Iraq's electoral process. The military strategy "looks like pouring gasoline on a fire," observed Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung. An analyst for Britain's reliably anti-war Guardian, though, held it would be a "shocking act of irresponsibility" for allied troops to leave now. Papers in the Muslim world focused on the civilian toll. Iraq's independent, widely circulated Azzaman complained of "Apache [helicopter] democracy," while Saudi writers bemoaned "international and regional cynicism" about "massacres" in Iraq.

'Folly' to appease 'merciless' kidnappers -- Labeling them "demonic sadists," dailies denounced kidnappers as "concerned only about their own profit, publicity and power over human lives." Pan-Arab As-Sharq al-Awsat agreed that kidnapping in Iraq is "a prosperous business" that has "nothing to do with politics." Spain's conservative ABC declared that the terrorists want "to cause distress in the countries involved in the freedom" of Iraqis by trying to hide "the fact that Iraq is politically and physically rebuilding." A German outlet, responding to allegations that Italy paid a ransom to free two hostages, observed that Rome "has financed the terror it promised to fight vigorously." While recognizing that hostage dramas are "a nightmare" for political leaders, New Zealand's center-left Dominion Post nonetheless reminded its readers that "appeasement is simply not a policy which works."

'The Secretary of Self-Defense' -- Remarks by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld regarding the lack of al-Qaida-Iraq ties were latched onto by editorialists in Europe and Asia as proof that the justification for war "is falling like a house of cards." Rumsfeld's "slip of the tongue" and "revelations" on prewar CIA intelligence assessments and former CPA Bremer's comments on troop levels has wounded U.S. credibility, editorialists said. Washington's "unwillingness to admit flaws in its case for war...undermines efforts to rebuild" Iraq, argued Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post, adding that the U.S. would face "an uphill struggle" to internationalize the security and reconstruction effort "unless it comes clean on this vital topic."

Talk of Polish withdrawal--all politics? -- Comments by Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski about possible withdrawal of the country's troops from Iraq in 2005 were attributed to the "pressure" of domestic politics by Warsaw dailies, claiming that he was saying "something else" to the allies. Liberal Gazeta Wyborcza said Szmajdzinski's remarks were being used "exclusively to gauge public opinion" while "the interests of the Iraqi people...have long ceased" to be considered. Still, papers in Germany and Romania, noting "faithful" Poland's talk about withdrawal, declared that "chaos in Iraq...and election fever in the U.S." has "shaken up the cohesion" of the Coalition. Conservative Spanish papers, meanwhile, were bemused whether intimations that Spanish troops might return to Iraq at some point were a "trial balloon" or a serious proposition that would help recover Spain's image "as a serious country that keeps its commitments."
 


EUROPE

BRITAIN: "Rumsfeld's Missing Link"

The left-of-center Guardian commented (10/6): "It is quite true, as [Secretary Rumsfeld] recalled, that Iraq was on the U.S. list of countries supporting terrorism, but so, for that matter were Iran, Syria, North Korea and Libya. It is emphatically not true that there was evidence linking it to bin Laden or 9/11. This is worth restating now that both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are talking about fighting terrorism in Iraq. It is also worth restating because the president continues to make the connection, as he did in last week's keynote foreign policy debate against the Democratic challenger. 'The enemy,' Mr. Bush said, 'attacked us.' Mr. Kerry retorted: 'Saddam Hussein didn't.' Mr. Rumsfeld, belatedly, seems to agree."

"More Than Security Is Needed For Free Elections"

The left-of-center Independent editorialized (10/4): “The difficulty for Mr. Allawi and for the U.S. is that even if enough of the country can be secured to make voting a realistic proposition--which is not at all certain--the peace will be sullen and Iraqis will be even less accepting of the foreign presence than they are now. By multiplying the military offensives, the U.S. risks discrediting the electoral process just as surely as if the country were too dangerous to allow voting at all. Iraq is showing yet again that democracy cannot be imposed by force”.

"To Quit Iraq Now Would Be As Shocking As The Invasion"

Max Hastings wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (10/4): “Whatever the difficulties of elections in January, better an unconvincing poll than no poll. Rationally, those who argue that the coalition forces should withdraw have a case. It is hard to be optimistic about what will happen if they stay. Yet allied troops must surely remain through 2005 to support some edifice of government, however rickety. Simply to quit would be as shocking an act of irresponsibility as was the original invasion without postwar planning.”

"It's Too Late, We Can't Pull Out Of Iraq"

Columnist Tom Utley commented in the conservative Daily Telegraph (10/1): "Mr. Bush is a much easier man to read than Mr. Blair. He went to war against Saddam not only to avenge September 11 and to show the world that absolutely nobody messes with Uncle Sam, but because he has a messianic conviction that the American Way (descended, of course, from the British Way) is always and everywhere the Best Way.... Where I differ most emphatically from so many of my Brighton comrades [in the Labor Party], however, is in their demand that we should now set an early deadline for withdrawing our troops. How abject that would be. What a signal to the terrorists that all they have to do is take a couple of hostages, and Britain will do whatever they want. Our interest may not have been engaged in Iraq before the war. But, sure as hell, they are now."

FRANCE: "A New Trail In The Hostage Situation?"

Charles Lambroschini wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/6): “After the Julia fiasco, France’s experts are back to square one. The French authorities are very discreet about the ‘channel’ that has just been closed because of Julia’s intervention. They are only saying that they are not relying on either a foreign government or religious and political officials.... In other words France prefers to rely on ‘private individuals.’ This position is confirmed by Jordan’s secret service which considers that France was wrong to have initially negotiated with Baghdad’s Ulemas.... But all of this does not exclude the possibility of Damascus playing a role.... As in the French hostage situation in Beirut, Damascus can very well have made the French negotiations fail out of vengeance.... But if Damascus is indeed involved one way or another, the situation may paradoxically turn out to be for the better, because dealing from state to state is easier than dealing with underground groups whose demands keep changing.”

"Diplomatic Loss Of Credit"

Jean-Michel Thenard held in left-of-center Liberation (10/6): “FM Barnier has just revealed that the last contact with the hostage takers dates to September 30. Is it Julia’s fault? Someday we will need to know the truth.... But for now it is important to note that after having once again annoyed the Americans by inviting the Iraqi ‘resistance’ to take part in a eventual international conference on Iraq, France has yet to accomplish something for its hostages. Is it Julia’s fault or the fault of France’s diplomacy which is losing its footing? We need an answer to this, and quickly.”

"Damascus Suspected Of Playing An Ambiguous Role"

Thierry Oberle remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/5): “According to a very speculative scenario, Damascus is said to have used the Julia mission to settle its own score with French diplomacy which is very much involved at the UN in denouncing Syria’s presence in Lebanon.... The fact that France has rallied to a resolution emanating from the U.S. has been a shock to Damascus, which has since the 1990’s enjoyed France’s diplomatic support.... No one can say exactly what led France to this reversal. But the Syrian regime’s lack of flexibility has exasperated Paris, whose influence in this region is one of its last instruments of power in the Middle East.”

"Has Syria Played An Ambiguous Role?"

Michel-Bole-Richard commented in left-of-center Le Monde (10/5): “Bashir Al-Assad, who is already under pressure from American-imposed sanctions...did not appreciate the fact that Paris rallied with Washington to increase the pressure. Everyone knows that Paris has been disappointed with Bashir Al-Assad.... Conversely, the fact that Washington has found in France a new ally (against Syria) is not to the taste of Syria’s officials. But jumping to the conclusion that Syria played an active role in the hostage situation is a major jump. One thing is nevertheless certain: Damascus has become a major player in this matter and managed to supplant Amman.”

"Abusive Criticism"

Michel Schifres remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/4): “Individual missions in hostage situations are always extremely risky.... The outlandish turn of events in the [Didier] Julia mission for the release of the French hostages proves to what extent the Iraqi chaos has opened the door to all sorts of manipulations and extravagant missions.... While parallel missions are sometimes necessary...at this point we must forget Julia's aborted efforts and prove to the hostage takers that France stands united and trusts its government.”

"False Naiveté"

Gerard Dupuy noted in left-of-center Liberation (10/4): “The French hostages do not need these cumbersome new friends.... What we must also note is that all the players working for the release of the hostages find their inspiration in ‘France’s famous Arab policy,’ which is full of juicy contracts, huge compromises and greater disillusionments.... The taking of the French hostages opened the door to every possible manipulation, including that of the Syrian regime, which uses secret intelligence as much as his mortal enemy Saddam Hussein did, and has at its disposal close-knit ties with the armed opposition to both Allawi and the Americans. While Damascus may not have been behind the hostage taking, it may well be adding fuel to the fire.”

GERMANY: "Lost"

Berthold Kohler commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/6): "America waged war against Saddam saying that it was no longer acceptable that a criminal regime with access to weapons of mass destruction and Islamic terrorism were emerging in Iraq. But the poison and laboratories...have not been found yet. Neither has there been any evidence about the close connection between the Saddam regime and al-Qaida. The Bush administration has not been able to regain credibility by its attempts to explain the situation. On the contrary! Secretary Rumsfeld set the latest bad example. He denied himself and forgot what he or intelligence agencies know. At least, former administrator Bremer seems to know that America did not deploy enough soldiers in Iraq--generals had been criticizing this right from the start. If America were to call for another campaign in the future, it would be confronted with mistrust. The fatality is that even 'rogue states' know about it."

"Rumsfeld"

Washington correspondent Uwe Schmitt opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/6): "Rumsfeld's nature does not tend towards misunderstandings or diplomatic ambivalence. The U.S. Defense Secretary says 'kill' when he means 'kill' and he says 'old' when he is kidding frail European patients who are unable to fight wars. And when the mistreatment in Abu Ghraib could no longer be denied because of the pictures, he regretted above all that they were leaked to the public. So don't believe him when he know claims he was misunderstood saying that he had not seen any hard evidence linking Saddam and al-Qaida. The worst that can happen to somebody in Washington happened to Rumsfeld: he spoke the truth."

"Poland"

Dietrich Alexander commented in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/5): "One more dropped out of the coalition of the willing. The faithful U.S.-ally Poland, who has 2,500 soldiers deployed in Iraq, is taking to its heels. Warsaw says it does not want to stab Washington in its back, but that is the way the superpower will see it. Washington can rely on fewer and fewer allies in the hour of greatest need. While the U.S. is looking for an exit strategy without losing its face, ever more allies turn their back on the commitment that seems to last longer and causes more victims than previously expected. Allied governments listen to warnings at home, where they want to win elections and stay in power. Seventeen Polish soldiers died in Iraq and three-quarters of Poles are against the mission in Iraq. Following Spain from 'old' Europe, Poland from 'new' Europe is now pulling out. The countries engaged in Iraq are concerned that the situation might escalate until the elections in January. Towns, which they believed to have secured long ago, have become battlegrounds again. The probability of more losses is high in this explosive situation. As a result allied countries are pulling out. Any ally who deserts in this difficult time is a blow to the U.S. administration, which is currently in the middle of an election campaign. The Iraq war and its consequences could decide the election. Bush and Rumsfeld must fight for every ally, because they will not make it on their own in Iraq."

"Releasing Pressure"

Right-of-center Saarbruecker Zeitung editorialized (10/5): "Right from the beginning, a majority of Poles opposed the Iraq mission, now it is almost three-quarters of the population. The unrelenting chaos in Iraq makes it hard for every government to explain the sense of this mission. Since the attacks in Madrid, Poles fear they might become a target of Islamic terrorism because of their Iraq commitment. The country is also increasingly disappointed about America.... Until now, the Warsaw government could afford to ignore public opinion, but there will be elections next spring. They must therefore open the lid to let the brimming pressure out."

"The Iraqi Chaos"

Heikeo Flottau commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/4): "The major assaults in Samarra and Fallujah might convince George Bush's voters, but they will not change the fatal situation in Iraq. Especially in the U.S. many people ignore the fact that Iraqis do not want to live under an occupation regime. The new rulers made several mistakes right after the invasion. They did not just liquidate the regime despised by many Iraqis, but they eliminated the entire Iraqi state against the will of the people. The result was a total breakdown of public order. It does not come as a surprise that there still is no authority in Iraq that can effectively fight gangs, who kidnap even more Iraqis than foreigners. The thoughtless policy of the first days after Baghdad's fall is to blame for it.... The American offensives in Samarra and Fallujah will not solve the problem of the country--the opposition to the occupation forces. A disintegration of the country is conceivable if a civil war between Prime Minister Allawi's supporters and Sunni and Shiite insurgents were to break out before the election in January. Kurds in the north could declare their independence from Baghdad; that's what they have always wanted.... Such a breakdown could result in further conflicts. The fight would be one over economic resources, oil in particular; it would not be about god.... A collapse of the world's second-largest oil country would not result in the desired stability, but plunge the entire region into permanent chaos.... The only realistic opportunity to pacify Iraq would be an American and British declaration saying that they will permanently withdraw from Iraq. The current military strategy looks like pouring gasoline on a fire."

"A Question Of Principles"

Marcello Berni commented in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (10/1): "Since the release of the Italian hostages, at the latest, the question of Italy's foreign policy principles has come up. Despite all the denials, the opinion that ransom was paid to save the lives of the two women is gaining ground. If that were true it would be a scandal. What sort of message is it if a state lowers itself to negotiate with terrorists and pays them?"

"The Value Of Two Hostages"

Oliver Meiler opined in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (10/1): "One million dollars is a lot for a gang of criminals but it is very little for the lives of two people. Italy's government had the consent of its people, since nothing has moved Italians more in recent years than the fate of the two women.... What would Italy have done if the women were killed? Above all, Berlusconi, who led the country into this war against the will of the people, must wonder about this question. It was a highly political question. Would he have stood by the Iraq mission and his Iraq policy? Probably not. The release of Simona & Simona and their smiles when they arrived in Rome rescued Berlusconi. In comparison, one million dollar is peanuts. But Italy has financed the terror it promised to fight vigorously. Let's put things straight: Italy is sending out a devastating message. The smile of Simona & Simona will turn into more terror."

ITALY: "'There Were Ties Between Al-Qaida And Iraq'"

U.S. correspondent Alberto Flores D’Arcais wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/6): “Rumsfeld’s and Bremer’s remarks signal that the Administration is heading for a day of reckoning.”

"Rumsfeld’s Admission: No Tie Between Al-Qaida And Saddam"

The pro-democratic left party (DS) daily L’Unità noted (10/5): “After having maintained the contrary for two years, Donald Rumsfeld now admits that there was no ‘strong and clear evidence’ that Saddam Hussein’s regime had ties with the Islamic terrorist organization al-Qaida. This was an important admission on the part of the U.S. Secretary of Defense who, in the middle of the election campaign, has surprisingly backtracked on the statements he made prior to the war in Iraq.”

"The Shadow Of A Dual Defeat Frightens The White House"

Vittorio Zucconi wrote in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/4): “In an ideological war like this one, waged not in response to aggression or to invasion of an allied country, as was the case in Kuwait, it was inevitable that the ideologists of the ‘preventive war’ and of ‘export democracy’ who infected...the U.S. government under the terrorist shock wave, would attempt to micromanage operations in order to serve their propaganda objectives... Now Rumsfeld has admitted that the superpower will not be able to bring democracy to Iraq and that it will be forced to leave, leaving the Iraqis, once again, to pay the price for the madness of the imperial Euro-American powers, after having paid with 30 years of ruthless dictatorship that today’s liberators helped build and arm.”

"Blood And Dollars"

Guido Rampoldi commented in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/1): “The 37 children who were killed in Iraq explain why the Iraqi guerrillas cannot be called ‘resistance’.... I don’t mean to disturb the legitimate joy of our country, but those 37 victims definitively prohibit us from considering the liberation of the two Italian girls as an Italian victory.... If in freeing the two hostages the kidnappers obtained what they needed in order to become even more ferocious and to kill even more people, then they’ve won and we’ve lost.... What is even more disorienting is the image being projected by the so-called ‘coalition of the willing’ in face of murders and kidnappings. The supposed alliance continues to proceed without a common method and without perceptible solidarity. Rome negotiated and apparently even paid a ransom, Washington doesn’t negotiate, or at least not for civilians, and London is officially in agreement with the U.S., but that could change.... Isn’t this image, of a wavering and mediocre West, terrorism’s symbolic victory?”

RUSSIA: "Better Late Than Never"

Andrei Vetvinsky observed in reformist Gazeta (10/6): "With the presidential election less than a month away, the U.S. authorities have admitted that neither the counter-terrorist campaign in Afghanistan nor the war in Iraq had enough justification. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he sees no convincing or incontrovertible proof of the links between the toppled regime of Saddam Hussein and the al-Qaida international terrorist group. And the deputy commander of the Guantanamo base has announced that most of the Taliban being kept there will soon be sent back to Afghanistan because it is impossible to prefer concrete charges against them. The immediate effects of these revelations are hard to predict. On the one hand, by publicly admitting its mistakes the U.S. administration has demonstrated strength and a commitment to the principles of democracy. On the other hand, they seriously weaken George Bush's electoral position because an absolute majority of Americans associate him with the start of two large-scale military operations which have turned out to have been unnecessary."

"Iraq Is Under Threat Of Disintegration"

Alexander Reutov observed in the reformist Kommersant (10/1): "The new authorities and the American command are demonstrating their utter helplessness. So there are growing doubts in Iraq as to whether it makes sense to preserve Iraq as an integral state. Such sentiments are especially widespread in the oil-rich northern and southern areas.... The leaders of the three southern Iraqi provinces--Basra, Dhiqar and Maysan--have already held preliminary talks on creating a federation. They feel that they have a better chance of restoring order and coping with universal anarchy. And they have the example of the Kurdish-populated northern provinces of Iraq where military clashes are much rarer. The leaders there have managed to keep their grip on power in spite of the attempts by militants to undermine it. What is adding to the confidence of the southern Iraqis is the fact that about 80 percent of all Iraqi oil reserves are concentrated in the provinces of Basra, Dhiqar and Maisan. And oil prices are high."

AUSTRIA: "Secretary Of Self-Defense"

Foreign affairs writer Thomas Vieregge commented in centrist Die Presse (10/6): "Since the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib prison was revealed, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has turned into a Secretary of Self-Defense, who gets himself and his commander-in-chief into hot water. If these were not election campaign times and the president committed to his resolute, arch-conservative voter clientele, George W. Bush would have had to fire him long ago.... The fact that now, in the final run-up to the elections, even the pro-war advocates are beginning to have doubts, that the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq Paul Bremer has emerged from cover, has to be alarming to Bush. This is the only explanation for Bush's intention to address the nation directly with a speech."

"Bush's Heritage"

Senior editor Hans Rauscher editorialized in independent Der Standard (10/6): "The Bush administration wanted to reorganize the Middle East and created a playground for terrorists, civil war armies and religious fanatics. The American troops only control a few islands in [Iraq] and have no chance to win the war against the insurgency. In one, at the most two years they will withdraw and leave behind chaos. This will be hailed by the radicals in the Muslim world as a victory and an encouragement and will consequently double their efforts. This will be the heritage of the warrior against terror, George W. Bush."

CZECH REPUBLIC: "Vietnam Mistakes And Iraqi Failures"

Frantisek Sulc wrote in the center-right Lidove Noviny (10/2): "And how to get of this [ugly] situation?... 1) To iron out relations with the UN and NATO. Not because it is necessary for the existence of the U.S., but because it is worthwhile. The Iraqi problem must be internationalized. 2) The number of soldiers in Iraq must be radically increased and tough security measures must be introduced.... 3) Washington must do everything within its power to bring forces from Muslim countries to Iraq.... 4) The U.S. administration must cease its rhetoric a la 'You are either with us, or against us.'... 5) It is also necessary to go through archives and to seek guidance from people with experience with post-conflict situations. Nevertheless, what happened in Iraq over the past one and a half years has irreversibly damaged military operations and international organizations. Cooperation [between key international players] will be now reached more cautiously and willingness to get involved will be less."

"Ransom For Hostage Would Be A Defeat"

Lucie Weissova, Czech Radio reporter, commented in the centrist, leading daily MF Dnes (10/1): "Islamic terrorists do not have ideals, they are not fighting for national liberation; this can be seen clearly from their selection of victims [of kidnapping]. And if some Western so-called intellectuals seek an explanation for terrorists' deeds and they even find blame on our side, they are fatally wrong. Terrorists are concerned only about their own profit, publicity and power over human lives. They are demonic sadists.... If it is revealed that the news about ransom being paid for releasing the two Italian humanitarian workers is correct...it [is] another step towards a victory of Islamic terrorism over the Euro-American community."

"Sometimes There Is Nothing Else To Do Than To Pay"

Petruska Sustrova opined in the center-right daily Lidove Noviny (10/1): "The more innocent and defenseless victims of kidnapping there are, the more people in the home country of those victims think that the government should protect the lives of its citizens no matter what.... How to convince its own public that the resolute non-negotiating with kidnappers is not a merciless sentence of death? I think that there is often no other solution than to pay. When we see...on our TVs the happy [Italian] girls, it is a different picture than seeing a desperate prisoner who is threatened with having his head cut off."

HUNGARY: "Hungary In The Crosshairs"

Laszlo Zoldi Szentesi wrote in conservative Magyar Nemzet (10/5): “Life has written a completely different scenario from what the Hungarian government originally expected [in Iraq]. Our paper has called attention to the domestic dangers of Hungary’s presence in Iraq many times. It has been obvious since the beginning that the longer we stay in this Middle Eastern country, the bigger the security risk to Hungary. The international coalition is shrinking; some of its members have already brought their troops home. Others are considering a radical reduction of their forces. Only the Hungarian government remains silent, as if it were perhaps waiting for a command. Or perhaps the government of Hungary is waiting to be the last remaining [coalition member] on the side of the U.S.-British alliance. Like it or not, Hungary has become a target of international terrorism. It is truly unbelievable that no one is taking action now, when a significant drama could still be prevented.”

IRELAND: "The Tangled Web Of War"

The center-right, populist Irish Independent editorialized (10/6): “President George Bush went into his re-election campaign believing that Iraq was his trump card. In the last few days it has begun to appear that it could be his undoing.... Allegations that Saddam Hussein had made progress on a nuclear weapons program came to nothing. Then the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the former U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, jumped in with both feet.... Several members of the administration have now been caught out in untruths, and yesterday a spokesman for the Bush campaign added his share by denying that differences had existed between Mr. Rumsfeld and the generals. If the confusion in the Republican camp helps Mr Kerry to win the election, most of Europe will be pleased. But a Bush defeat will not change the situation on the ground. An insurrection still rages. Iraq must be pacified before it gets a democratic election and a legitimate government. Here again, Mr. Rumsfeld put both feet in it when he envisaged an election in three-quarters of a country which never would be peaceful. That spoke volumes about Washington's good faith and understanding of the country and the region. The task for the election winner will not be a disastrous withdrawal, but to restore order and stability. In that endeavor the U.S. should accord the United Nations a powerful role. That would be a move which its restive European allies would have no difficulty in supporting.”

NORWAY: "Norwegian Iraq Paralysis"

Independent tabloid Dagbladet commented (10/3): "The situation in Iraq is more dangerous than ever. The USA’s naive incompetence in Iraq has lent frightening potential to fanatical international terrorism in Osama bin Laden’s wake. And how is Norway responding to this ticking bomb that affects us all? Foreign Minister Jan Petersen’s response is limited to being despondent. Incredibly enough, for the administration, Iraq still seems to be about short-term alliance worries. And so the foreign minister appears not to consider it his role to ask some basic questions, or to travel to Iraq’s neighboring countries to critically evaluate the assessments he gets from Washington.... In contrast with other European parliaments, the Storting has not had a singe hearing about the Iraq crisis."

POLAND: "Credibility"

Dawid Warszawski wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/6): “Donald Rumsfeld admitted a few days ago that ‘there is no hard evidence’ to link the Saddam regime and al-Qaida. Meanwhile, the existence of such close ties--aside from the thesis that Baghdad was producing weapons of mass destruction--was the main justification for the invasion. Today this justification is falling apart like a house of cards. Just like the American strategy for Iraq after Hussein has fallen to pieces.... The American invasion is ending with a fiasco. It does not mean that the coalition should now pack up and leave in disgrace. It is responsible for what has happened--to the Iraqi people, and to Iraq’s neighbors threatened with instability. The invasion cannot be undone, but its consequences must be amended as much as possible. But for the future, any American administration will have to bear the weight of responsibility for Bush’s trickery. Which may mean that in the event of another international crisis, the American public and the international community will simply not believe a U.S. president even if he tells the truth this time.”

"How To Leave The Desert"

Pawel Wronski wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/6): “The debate on Iraq [in Poland] is being held under the pressure of politicians conducting their election campaign, who claim that troops must be withdrawn ‘now,’ and who blabber about ‘mercenaries and occupiers,’ as well as under the pressure of the public, which does not support our participation in the stabilization forces. To the Polish public, [Defense Minister] Szmajdzinski said: We are to stay there only for another fifteen months. To our allies he is saying something else: We are not going to make any rapid moves, we will be in Iraq for as long as fifteen months more.”

"Clumsy Pretext"

Tomasz Bielecki wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (10/6): “Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski’s declaration proves that the presence of the Polish military contingent in Iraq is being used exclusively to gauge public opinion and Polish-American relations. The interests of the Iraqi people who--as it was declared a year ago--were to be helped by Poles to install security and build democracy--have long ceased to be taken into consideration. There are no prospects for the situation in Iraq to improve soon. The January elections are not expected to bring any big breakthrough. Thus one cannot claim that Poles--or soldiers from other countries--have scored a success in Iraq. Consequently, withdrawing under the slogan of ‘having completed the stabilization mission’ would be hard to do. It is quite the opposite.”

PORTUGAL: "Nonsense"

Francisco Sarsfield Cabral commented, former PSD finance minister wrote in respected center-left daily Diário de Notícias (10/6): "The most shocking thing about Iraq is that the disaster was predictable, except by those who had lost common sense. Besides, it was predicted. American intelligence data...now released, forewarned that the war would cause an insurrection, reinforce Islamic fundamentalism and increase the Islamic world’s sympathy for terrorism.... Today it is evident that the invasion fomented terrorism, in and outside Iraq.... Americans not only revealed themselves as incompetent imperialists in Iraq, but gave also a fatal strike against the moderate Islamic forces that everywhere lost credibility in favor of the extremists."

ROMANIA: "Alliance Losing Cohesion"

The independent daily Cotidianul commented opined (10/6): “Chaos in Iraq and election fever in the U.S. seem to have shaken up the cohesion in the Gulf alliance and in the administration in Washington. After some hesitation by Poland about keeping its troops in the Gulf region, Rome is now thinking of a possible withdrawal of the entire coalition from Iraq, while in Washington one of the most important members of Bush administration (Rumsfeld) contradicts the theses consecrated until now by the American leaders regarding the motives for the conflict in Iraq.”

SLOVAKIA: "There Were Many Mistakes Made In Iraq"

Columnist Boris Latta observed in the moderate daily Narodna Obroda (10/6): “Being mistaken is a human thing, but when millions of people pay for that mistake, it turns inhuman. Moreover, if the mistake is confessed, it is like nothing has happened. And that happened in the newest statement by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. According to him, it is not certain at all that former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein had contacts with bin Laden. But these contacts were the main reason for the Iraq invasion. The second reason was that their government had weapons of mass destruction. In the end, none of it is true.... Rumsfeld stated that U.S. troops could leave the country before the total pacification of the country. Otherwise they could stay there for good, said Iraq Premier Allawi during his recent visit to Pentagon.... Iraq never was and never will be a peace paradise. It is necessary to finish the humanitarian and military help and create a space for discussion among all parties, regardless of which side they are.”

SPAIN: "The Government In The Iraqi Labyrinth"

Conservative ABC editorialized (10/5): "How would it be possible to return [to Iraq] without inverting the arguments used by the government to justify the withdrawal [of Spanish troops]? If [minister of defense] invokes the UN...he should know that that UN has been asking the Spanish government to get involved in Iraq since this past June 8, when, with the Spanish vote in favor, resolution 1546 was approved.... What else does the minister of defense need? Is he expecting a new resolution that is more explicit than this one? The government of Zapatero has the legitimacy to make, in relation to the conflict in Iraq, the decision it thinks convenient. But it cannot, in any case, use UN resolutions to suit the government itself."

"Will Troops Return To Iraq?"

Conservative La Razon observed (10/5): "Either this is another trial balloon, used to check possibilities if the government changes its mind, or it is the announcement of a serious rectification in a confusing Spanish foreign policy, which would be welcome and would facilitate the recovery of our image in the world as a serious country that keeps its commitments, and which is consistent with the presence of our army in Afghanistan."

"Iraq To The Limit"

Conservative ABC had this to say (10/1): "[The terrorists] want, with the impact of the images, to cause distress in the countries involved in the freedom of the Iraqis. We can't forget this. The terrorists know that the photos are mainly for Western consumption. Their action has a target audience: the Western observers who question the presence of troops sent to make democracy possible from the ruins of Saddam Hussein's tyranny.... But those photos are not innocent. They pretend that we forget that children were at the inauguration of a station that was going to provide them drinkable water. The images that we've seen try to blot this fact. [The terrorists] are trying to hide the fact that Iraq is politically and physically rebuilding thanks to the humanitarian and military help of the countries committed to their destiny. Today, more than ever, these countries have to remain in Iraq until it is viable as a free country. Because apart from the doubts and beyond the half-truths over whether the war was justified, there is no option today but to undertake the reconstruction in Iraq and to respond to the UN mandate. If the Iraqis were left to their fate, the totalitarian abyss would impose the injustice of its fanaticism."

TURKEY: "The Cost of Fear"

Haluk Ulman commented in the economic-political Dunya (10/5): “During the first presidential debate, President Bush did not promise any policy change if he is re-elected. Stubbornly, he continued to defend his Iraq policy. Since it has been clearly proven that there were no WMD in Iraq, Bush can no longer defend his case, but still insists that Saddam was on the verge of building WMD if the U.S. hadn’t removed him from power. Ignoring the situation in Iraq after the occupation and the danger it posed to regional and the world peace, Bush insists that the world became much safer after the removal of Saddam. While all experts agree that the occupation of Iraq helped al-Qaida to become more powerful, Bush can’t stop talking about how the occupation weakened terrorist organizations in the region. Bush also highlighted the progress made by Iraq and Afghanistan on the road to democracy, even while there are no signs of democracy in either country.”
 



MIDDLE EAST

IRAQ: "Who Can Release The Biggest Hostage In Iraq?"

Adnan Hussein editorialized in in the Baghdad edition of London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat (10/6): "I wish and hope that Iraqi security forces defeat the insurgency in the cities of Samarra, Fallujah, Sadr City and other hotspots. We must enforce and establish a truly sovereign state in Iraq that will provide security for the country and prepare for public elections. This way Iraq will be able to assert true independence and rid itself of the occupation. The current interim government must know that real triumph comes only from gaining people's loyalty to the government by using peaceful solutions. This requires the use of a huge political and propaganda campaign ahead of any future military operation.... The main political parties in Iraq do not demonstrate clear attitudes towards the war against terrorists and insurgents. Most of those political groups are interested only in making personal, denominational and factional profits. It seems that Allawi's government has lost this media campaign because of the pan-Arab media's stance against it. Pan-Arab satellite channels have become the terrorists' strong weapon. These channels tell lies and rumors about Iraq in order to prevent the establishment of democracy in this country. Moreover, we do not have real media that can prevent the poisonous Pan-Arab and Iranian channels from demolishing our country. Al-Iraqiya seems to be out of touch with the Iraqi community because the occupation has controlled it since the beginning.... Allawi's government should liberate Al-Iraqiya from its foreign kidnappers so that Iraqis can be responsible for their own media."

"From Gaza To Samarra"

Samir Ubaid noted in independent, widely circulated Azzaman (10/6): "It is clear that the same Apache helicopters that kill Palestinians in Gaza kill innocent Iraqis in Samarra. They always say that Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and his supporters are hiding in Fallujah. But, we see that only women, children and the elderly are being killed and injured. In Samarra they say they are chasing gunmen. But there too we see innocent women and children killed and wounded. They also say that there are hundreds of Iranians in Najaf and there are many infiltrators in Tal Afar. So far we have not seen one photo of gunmen, infiltrators or Zarqawi. I think this is Iraq's destiny. This country has moved from dictatorship into the age of blind democracy. This democracy can only be seen through Apaches, tanks and humvees. I do not know how they are going to carry out democracy in a country that suffers from destabilization, kidnapping and unemployment. The occupation is behind all these problems in Iraq. We did not hear before that democracy could be born out of an Apache. Nor did we hear that elections might exclude some groups from participation. We do not know how elections will be held without conducting a census, disseminating information about the electorate, and having an honest media campaign. It seems that they want to establish a new democracy called Apache Democracy. More than 50,000 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the occupation. Most of them were civilians, according to international survey centers, occupation sources and the British foreign ministry. Who will represent those 50,000 killed in our elections? This is my question."

"Occupation Is Better Than Dictatorship"

Amer Saleh Al Fatlawi opined in the Iraqi National Congress-published Al Mutamer (10/5): "Iraq was unstable under Saddam's regime. Iraqis did not enjoy security or peace. The attacks that happened after the ninth of April of this year are not new in Iraq. Saddam's followers are accustomed to conducting such sabotage and attacks against Iraqis. The so-called resistance said that they are fighting occupiers. But where were they when Saddam killed and tortured innocent Iraqis? Iraq was suffering from a hidden occupation. However, we do not want to say that the occupation is justifiable. In fact, we reject and condemn the occupation and its effects, reasoning, and results. At the same time, we have to be more objective in analyzing the acts of the so-called resistance. There is a very big difference between the current so-called resistance and the real resistance that fought Saddam's tyrannical regime."

"The Assassination of Journalistic Freedom in Iraq"

Dr. Hassan Qassem commented in independent daily Al Fourat (10/5): "Statistics show that about forty-two journalists were killed while they were covering last year's events in Iraq. The Association of Journalists' Rights in New York reported that the U.S. army is responsible for the killing of this huge number of journalists. The occupation forces intentionally target reporters in order to keep them away from facts in Iraq. This has turned Iraq into an open field for assassinating freedom of the press. The Pentagon waged psychological warfare before the beginning of the last war on Iraq. The U.S forces hit Iraqi TV at the beginning of the war because it commanded influence over Iraqis. The United States has masked many facts in Iraq. Many journalists working in Iraq said that they get little information--only justification--when they inquire about reports. This has caused some foreign news agencies and TV stations to reduce the number of their reporters in Iraq because they might be killed or kidnapped, and furthermore, the U.S. military officials give no answers about journalists' queries anyway. Many journalists ask what is the use of the International Press Center that cost about one million dollars if they cannot obtain facts about Iraq."

"The Kidnapping Business"

Ahmed al-Ruba'i opined in the Baghdad edition of London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat (10/2): "Kidnapping innocent people in Iraq has become a prosperous business. All the masked gunmen have to do is to provide a TV camera and a faked chief of tribe to be a mediator in the negotiations.... Abduction in Iraq has no ethical or political regulation.... The kidnapping business has nothing to do with politics. France, for example, which was against Saddam's toppling, [has] failed to [secure] release its two journalists while Italy, which has a military presence in Iraq, succeeded in securing the release of two of its hostages. The United Kingdom has refused to negotiate with kidnappers although other countries try to bargain and negotiate with killers and murderers by paying them money in order to release their hostages.... This money will encourage criminals to commit more crimes. The best way to stop kidnapping is to refuse negotiations. Abduction in Iraq is a flourishing business. If we continue to negotiate and pay ransoms things will get worse and these criminals will conduct more kidnappings."

SAUDI ARABIA: "Is it Possible To Invent A New Iraq On An American Model?"

Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (10/4): "We want to remind America of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Lebanese national resistance that defeated Israel and forced it to withdraw. History repeated itself for Americans in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia, and is now sinking them in Iraq. America can invade every Iraqi city with its mighty forces, but this will jeopardize its solders’ lives.... Iraq’s problem is that it is blessed with tremendous natural resources and a strategic location. Iraq can renew the Arab region and give it wider horizons. But, the Americans went in expecting to invent an Americanized Iraq to American specifications, and in record time. [They] were shocked when they found that the Iraqi land, people, traditions, and culture did not match their preconceptions. That's when the clash occurred that is still preventing peace and stability."

"To End The Violence In Iraq"

Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa editorialized (10/4): "To prevent a reoccurrence of the tragedy, U.S. forces must precisely mark their targets before launching attacks on cities in Iraq. The innocent victims that we see on TV screens are not terrorists. The memories of children’s bodies pulled from underneath rubble will stick in peoples’ minds as a reminder of the atrocities. These scenes should not be repeated. The more precisely targets are set, the fewer innocent casualties there will be. If the attacks continue to be random and arbitrary, U.S. credibility will suffer, and the Iraqi government will lose ground with the people."

"The Election In Iraq And Taking Advantage Of Opportunities"

Abha’s moderate Al-Watan editorialized (10/3): "It is unfortunate that the U.S. election precedes the election in Iraq. For it would have been a chance for history to repeat itself, with [another] Bush losing the White House. Perhaps the preoccupation of the Bush administration with the presidential election in the U.S. is what pushed members of this Bush administration to avoid involving themselves in the election in Iraq. Yet, the mixed messages that are coming from the Bush administration are what have given the Iraqi resistance its momentum and an opportunity to maneuver and strike. The Democrats have also used these same messages to their advantage. Bush’s opponent has taken advantage of the deteriorating security conditions in Iraq, and has used that to show people that the Bush administration does not seem to be in control of things there."

"Murder Victims Not From Another Planet!"

Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (10/2): "More than one hundred people were killed in Iraq during the last twenty-four hours and most of them were children. At the same time, half that number were killed in Palestine. Sadly, in the past, the killing of fewer souls than this would have brought about an emergency session of the UN Security Council or an extraordinary meeting of the Arab League. At the least, it would have generated objections and condemnations. International and regional cynicism about the massacres in these two countries has peaked.... We are not asking them to 'interfere in Iraq's domestic affairs,' but rather to object and to stop what is happening there and rescue the Iraqi people."

KUWAIT: "What Is Our Position On Iraq?"

Dr. Al-‘Issa editorialized in independent, conservative Al-Seyassah (10/3): “Why is our role [in Iraq] limited to being mere spectators? All we’re doing is preventing some of our citizens from becoming Jihadis in Iraq? The political leadership does nothing more than issue communiqués supporting the transitional Iraqi government and calling warring parties to solve their differences through dialogue.... We must make it clear that we want peace and stability in Iraq under a democratic government that believes in intellectual and religious pluralism and reject any religious state whether Sunni or Shi’a.”

MOROCCO: "What About The International Conference On Iraq?"

Abbas Berrada wrote in Istiqlal party-published Al Alam (10/2): "The U.S. proposal to hold an international conference on Iraq is aimed at covering America's failure in Iraq and in other parts of the world. The proposed international conference would also be used to cover for the U.S. president's big lies. America's scandals have no limits, and America can get rid of them only by the eclipse of the hawks and extremists in the U.S. administration."
 



EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC

CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "Coming Clean On Iraq Is Crucial For U.S. Credibility"

The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (10/6): "However, the Bush administration's unwillingness to admit flaws in its case for war in Iraq undermines efforts to rebuild these countries. Without more credibility, the U.S. faces an uphill battle in winning commitments of troops, humanitarian aid or other support. In the face of a bipartisan September 11 commission report and a fresh Central Intelligence Agency analysis, neither of which conclude that Saddam Hussein harbored or established links with al-Qaida, Mr. Rumsfeld's slip of the tongue and quick reversal will not help. Nor does the administration's silence on the growing likelihood that Hussein did not have active nuclear weapons programs under way, as it had claimed. This is unfortunate, at a time when the U.S. is also hoping to enlist international help in curbing North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.... No matter who wins next month, the subject will have to be revisited. If the U.S. wants the world to follow its lead in democratizing the Middle East and in stopping rogues who wish to acquire dangerous weapons, its leaders will have to come clean on this vital topic."

JAPAN: "Europe Reacts Coolly To U.S. Proposal Of G-8 Talks"

The Paris correspondent for liberal Asahi remarked (10/6): "European nations are reacting coolly to a proposal by U.S. for a meeting of G-8 nations, Iraq and neighboring nations. Europeans are watching to see if the proposal signals a change in the Bush administration's 'unilateral diplomacy.' They also appear to be considering whether holding the conference in early November would be conducive to the security situation in Iraq, where domestic calm is essential for general elections next January."

INDONESIA: "Key To Release Of Two Indonesians: We Oppose The War"

Independent Media Indonesia commented (10/4): “We first thought that the reason for kidnapping of the two Indonesian female workers in Iraq was that they were working for a British company...because of the factor of Britain, the most loyal ally of the U.S. in toppling Saddam Hussein. Abubakar Ba’asyir has reacted strongly because his name has been linked with the hostage takers in Iraq. Ba’asyir argued that the hostage takers do not understand Islamic teaching, which bans taking women and children as prisoners of war.... If Indonesia were to comply with the demand, it would lose its credibility for bowing to external pressures, hostage takers in particular. But if Indonesia did not comply with it, the hostage takers could likely commit desperate actions, and there have been precedents for this. But we believe that strong diplomacy would be able to settle the hostage taking. Moreover, we have a good asset: we oppose the Iraq war. That should become the key word in the negotiations.”

NEW ZEALAND: "Blair Is Not To Blame"

Wellington's leading, center-left Dominion Post observed (10/4): " It is the nightmare the leader of every modern democracy fears: a citizen is snatched by terrorists, demands are made, tearful relatives plead and a life-or-death choice is presented.... British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the latest to face the sickening dilemma. Kenneth Bigley...who went to Iraq to make his fortune...has fallen into the hands of the terrorist group Tawhid and Jihad (Unity and Holy War).... No government can guarantee its citizens' safety in Iraq. But Western democracies are not callous, least of all over their own nationals. They do what they can to protect them, regardless of how foolish those citizens may have been. The Italian Government appears to have decided that includes paying a ransom of $1.5 million for the freeing of two aid workers, and there have been calls for Britain to go down the same route. That would be folly. There should be no negotiation with terrorism.... What [the terrorists are] seeking from Mr. Blair is surrender, and that is something that is impossible, on grounds of both pragmatism and principle. If Mr. Blair were to give the terrorists what they want on this occasion, it would guarantee that there would be more kidnaps, more demands, more surrenders. History has taught that appeasement is simply not a policy which works, whether dealing with rampaging dictators or ideologically zealous terrorists."
 



SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

PAKISTAN: "American Atrocities In Samara"

Irshad Ahmed Haqqani opined in leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang (10/5): "American military operations in Iraq are act of barbarism, and with every coming day...its actions are becoming bloodier and more destructive. The latest example is that of Samarra, where in one day 150 unarmed resistants were killed and women and children were included in this massacre."

IRAN: "Iraqi Elections In Fire And Blood"

Hassan Hanizadeh opined in the conservative, Tehran Times (Internet version, 10/4): "Over the past 18 months, U.S. forces have imposed a long and bloody war on Iraq, directly attacking the people. This has led the nation to a deadlock over the establishment of a parliament and a democratic system.... Meanwhile, U.S. administration officials, particularly the neoconservatives...presume that they can establish police-state security in the country by suppressing the Iraqi nation. The neocons do not want to see a free and democratic election in Iraq because it would surely end in victory for the Iraqi majority, which is not in the interests of the United States. The realities in Iraq are too complicated for the U.S. to ignore. Therefore, they should not try to resolve the situation through military and political maneuvers. Whether U.S. officials like it or not, the Shia community is in the majority in Iraq. Although they have been pushed to the sidelines by pro-U.S. elements, the former Baath regime, and certain neighbouring states in the past, the Iraqi Shias have paid a heavy price to attain their rightful place over the 35-year rule of the Baath regime.... Although efforts are still being made to marginalize the Shia majority, they are willing to pass through a sea of blood in order to institutionalize democracy in Iraq in particular and in the Arab world in general."
 



AFRICA

SOUTH AFRICA: "U.S. ‘War On Terror’ Is Unwinnable"

Political analyst and freelance journalist Allister Sparks held in the liberal Star (10/05): “Sooner rather than later the United States will have to start thinking about withdrawing from Iraq. It won’t happen before the election of course.... But the situation in Iraq is becoming untenable.... America’s dilemma is that the longer it stays in Iraq as an occupying power, the more it undermines the Iraqi regime it wants to support. And the more it alienates the entire Islamic world, playing into the hands of al-Qaida and other extremist organizations.... To have credible elections there must first be credible leaders with the moral authority to impose the necessary peace. The American appointee, Iyad Allawi, does not fit that bill.... He is seen as an American puppet.... Two men have shown themselves as having the kind of popular authority needed...Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani...[and] Al-Sadr.... Both are clerics who want Iraq to be a Shi’ite Muslim state. But they do have the moral authority to end the fighting and in this situation U.S. beggars, however evangelical in their democratic zeal, cannot be choosers. A leading American specialist on Iraq, Peter Galbraith, has suggested...that the U.S. settle for a loose federation in Iraq in which each of three distinct units--Kurds in the north, Shi’ite Muslims in the south and the so-called Sunni Triangle in the center around Baghdad--could have the political system its people choose.... What the Americans should consider is to call in Sistani and Al-Sadr, cut a deal with them to establish a federated Iraq, give them aid to train up new security forces--and then go.”
 



WESTERN HEMISPHERE

CANADA: "The Rumsfeld Versions"

The leading, centrist Globe and Mail concluded (10/6): "Officials of the U.S. Bush administration still cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that Saddam Hussein and his henchmen had no serious ties to al-Qaida, even when the words come out of their own mouths. This has led to a remarkable about-face by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who twisted himself into a pretzel to contradict his own thoughts on the sensitive subject.... Today, Mr. Rumsfeld lays the blame for any confusion squarely at the feet of former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet, who provided the 'points' upon which the Defence Secretary based his assessment. Mr. Tenet walked the plank for the U.S. spy agency's serious shortcomings. It's long past time for Mr. Rumsfeld to join him on the sidelines."

"An Iraq Retreat Is Bad Strategy"

Editorial writer David Warren commented in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (10/6): "[Founder of the Stratfor think tank chief] Dr. [George] Friedman and President Bush are fundamentally agreed that the war is being won. The very fact that no Islamist revolution has overthrown any Muslim regime on the latter's watch is, to both men, an indication the U.S. can prevail. I support them for their willingness to fight the war, but am not so sanguine about the outcome. On the one hand, the Americans remain under extraordinary international pressure to retreat; on the other, the appeal of the Islamist ideology is still growing, and finding its voice through such mass media as Arab satellite television. If, for instance, a President Kerry were to take the Americans out of Iraq, mission unaccomplished as in Vietnam, we would see a storm-tide of Islamist triumphalism, and the belief would quickly spread through the Muslim world that an aggressive, jihadist, politico-religious Islamism is the wave of the future. The same, of course, would happen if a President Bush did that. But everything we know about the man suggests he wouldn't. One reason I pray for his victory in the coming election is because he wouldn't. I don't think he fully grasps the dimensions of the conflict--nobody does. But he knows they are large, he knows the difference between advancing and retreating, and that's really all he needs to know, for now."

BRAZIL: "Bush Has Lost Control"

Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (10/2): "George W. Bush's hesitations in the first debate with John Kerry seem to indicate that the president's repeated arguments to justify the war against Iraq as well as his methods to fight terrorism are losing support in view of the chaotic situation in the invaded nation and the insolence of terrorist groups.... The chaos involving Iraq following the occupation is a much more serious threat against regional stability than that represented by Saddam Hussein.... The war against terrorism has lost its focus.... In Iraq, the U.S. will certainly not suffer a military defeat as in Vietnam. But the local situation has shown to the world the narrow limits of the U.S. military power to fight terrorism.... Bush's policy is causing an unprecedented worldwide discredit of the U.S. ... Thanks to Bush's policy, the U.S. is now been seen as a factor of insecurity, not as the main bastion of democratic values.... By invading Iraq, Bush has spread the terrorism epidemic. The problem for the next U.S. president is to terminate the U.S. direct involvement in Iraq without yielding one of the world's most vulnerable regions in geopolitical terms to religious fanaticism and state terrorism.... It is possible that Kerry's victory in the first debate marks the beginning of a turnaround."

"Barbarism In Iraq"

Liberal Folha de S. Paulo editorialized (10/1): "Several terrorist attacks in Iraq made at least 50 victims yesterday, including 35 children who were receiving candies from U.S. troops. These were vile and unjustifiable actions.... Terrorism is abject and unacceptable. No cause is sufficiently just to have the right to sacrifice innocent civilians. It is possible to understand that Iraqi rebels are fighting against foreign occupation. This is a reasonable and even legitimate goal, but to murder at random is to deny civility and completely abandon the political discussion. In addition to making the political negotiations extremely difficult, terrorism has helped to militarize local, regional and transnational relations, and also to legitimate the bellicosity of states trying to defend themselves. There is no doubt that the apocalyptical terror of al-Qaida or groups identified with its objectives represents a threat that the international community must face vigorously. However, Washington has chosen a sinuous course to follow, particularly when it invaded Iraq without the UN's formal approval."

GUATEMALA: "Trapped In Iraq"

Habitually anti-American afternoon daily La Hora commented (10/1): "In conclusion, the debate only confirmed that the White House has no plan to win the peace in Iraq and that when Bush talks about the democratic future of that country, he demonstrates his ignorance of history and of the conflicts that have marked the nation. In the end, the United States wants to be a guard not only for the Republicans but also for the Democrats."

VENEZUELA: "An Eskimo At The Beach"

Lawyer Juan C. Sosa Azpurua wrote in leading conservative daily El Universal (10/5): "Iraq will not change with the elections scheduled for next January. The conflict will get worse. The 'democratically' elected government will not be able to contain the unleashed fury among Shi'a and Sunni Arabs, Muslims and Kurds, who could only be controlled with a dictatorial rule.... This doesn't mean it wasn't necessary to take Saddam out. For the West it was a mistake to leave the second largest and most important oil reserves of the Middle East in the hands of a madman, someone who could, on a whim, bombard Saudi Arabia or invade Kuwait again, two fundamental pieces for the world's economic stability. U.S. error has been its failure to convince others. Not speaking clearly, hiding its real intentions for fear of being seen as antagonistic to its republican principles. It is the usual irritating hypocrisy; it is thinking the rest of the world is a bunch of fools. If the U.S. had negotiated the Turkish route and its implications for Europe's oil geopolitics and had exposed to the world that it intervened in Iraq in order to protect its energy interests, largely the interests of the globe, whose economies largely depend on the U.S., it would have had the moral authority to exert a tougher policy towards Iraq. By avoiding the classic diplomacy of lies, the U.S. would have counted on more international allies and on the real possibility to exert an effective policy in the Middle East. In Iraq, an intervention that implied a dictatorial military presence for many years, controlled by the West, was vital. Democracy does not fit in a country like Iraq; it's like giving out swimsuits in Alaska. Now, the problem is enormous and will not be solved with an Eskimo wearing Tommy Hilfiger."

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