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|20 February 2001 |
Iraq Air Strikes: 'Sole Superpower' Sends A Message
Last Friday's U.S.-British air strikes on Iraqi radar sites triggered a flood of editorials in overseas papers. Arab commentary was uniformly critical of the strikes and their rationale, with the exception of Kuwaiti commentators who, along with Israeli writers, supported a tough stance and the eventual ouster of Saddam Hussein. A few Arab observers lamented Saddam's refusal to pursue reconciliation with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, seeing this as a precondition for relieving Gulf tensions. Elsewhere, West European papers for the most part avoided overt criticism of the air strikes, but were nevertheless highly skeptical of the efficacy of a "hardline" U.S. policy toward Iraq. Some Russian dailies echoed Kremlin criticism of the U.S.-British enforcement action, and China's official media, matching Arab invective, lashed out at the U.S.' "brutal attacks." A few writers in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe noted that the attacks further alienated Arab and Muslim publics from American policy, with a Tunisian weekly stating ominously: "Bin Ladin's shadow is everywhere." Selected highlights follow:
MIDDLE EAST: With the notable exception of Kuwaiti editorials, Arab commentary on the air strikes was scathing, criticizing the "sole superpower's" perceived determination to brook no opposition to its Iraq policy, either from the Arabs or internationally. The administration's rationale for the attack was dismissed. A Bahraini paper baldly stated that "the 'no-fly zones' have no legitimacy and are not based on UN resolutions." Continuing this theme of illegality, a writer in Cairo's pro-government Al Ahram contended that the U.S. had acted more like a "thug" than a global policeman: "A cop enforces international law...but a thug enforces its own law primarily to show power and hegemony, placing its own interests above others'.... This is exactly how the U.S. acts with Iraq." Israeli and Kuwaiti editorialists were the sole Middle East defenders of the strikes. These strange bedfellows asserted that military strikes and economic sanctions, while worthwhile, fell short of the true objective in Iraq: the removal of Saddam from power.
ELSEWHERE: Leading European papers joined others in Russia and China in interpreting the air strikes to be, in large part, a signal--both to Saddam and other governments--from the new Bush administration that it will have "zero tolerance" for the Iraqi regime or for those--read China, Russia and some European allies--who show sympathy for or otherwise aid and abet Baghdad. Said right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine: "The message could not have been clearer following the creeping erosion of sanctions [and] Iraq's arms modernization.... Bush is now redesigning U.S. politics in the region.... Bush's attack demonstrated to the world what the U.S. meant by 'rogue states.'" Others, too, saw the inception of a new, tougher U.S. stance in the region, with Milan's centrist Corriere della Sera holding that the Iraq action is proof of a larger message: "Bush's America intends to be a superpower bigger and better than Clinton's. It intends to define more clearly its national interests and to make them count on the international scene."
EDITORS: Stephen Thibeault and Katherine Starr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 64 reports from 42 countries, February17-20, 2001. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.
IRAQ: "Iraqi Foreign Minister Asks UNSC To Denounce, Stop 'Aggression'"
Baghdad's Republic Of Iraq Radio reported (2/20): "Foreign Minister Sahhaf sent a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov hoping Russia and other UNSC member states will intervene immediately to stop the continued agression against Iraq and hold the aggressors and their accomplices fully internationally responsible for the aggression. [Sahhaf wrote:] 'The U.S. claim that its aggression against Iraq was in self-defense constitutes disregard for the UN and its charter, as well as for international law. This is particularly true because this aggression--along with all acts that the U.S. administration and its satellite, Britiain, the servant of Zionism, have launched against Iraq since 1991within the framework of the so-called no-fly zones--constitute a unilateral use of armed force against the sovereignty of an independent state.'"
BAHRAIN: "No-Fly Zones Are Illegal"
Sayed Zahra commenrted in independent Akhbar Al-Khalij (2/20): "U.S. justifications--that the U.S. raids were in self-defense--are not acceptable, underestimate the minds of the people of the world and humiliate the Arabs.... Although all Arab countries, and the whole world, know that what is called 'the no-fly zones' have no legitimacy and are not based on UN resolutions, the Arab countries have been reluctant to call for an end to this mockery and to end the American aggressions. Condemning the attacks has no value if not accompanied by a clear and firm Arab call for canceling those illegal no-fly zones."
EGYPT: "The Cop And Thug"
Nabil Omar wrote in pro-government Al Ahram (2/20): "We may not accept the United States as the global cop...but we might surrender to that role, since it is the sole superpower today.... Surprisingly, the United States would rather play the role of world thug instead. A cop enforces international law for everyone...but a thug enforces its own law primarily to show power and hegemony, regarding its own interests over others'.... This is exactly how the United States is acting with Iraq. We are not defending Saddam Hussein, who is an embodiment of human crime...and a tyrant.... His people are paying the price of the world thug's violence...as if the United States allied itself with Saddam to humiliate the Iraqi nation. It pretends to help the Iraqi people turn against its president...which is a laughable pretext.... Iraq was not the real target of the [American] raid. It was only a site used to declare the strength of the new American administration.... It is a message to the spectators in the theater...that the call...to ease the sanctions on Iraq is unacceptable, since the sole player on the stage resolved to maintain Iraq under the blockade. This is the flagrant thug."
"No One Accepts The Annihilation Of The Iraqi People"
Pro-government Al Akhbar stated (2/20): "The world does not like Saddam's regime, but no one accepts that the price is the annihilation of the Iraqi people. Before eating in Camp David, Blair and Bush should make sure their hands are washed of the blood of Iraqi children."
"A Veto Against Striking Iraq"
Ahmed El-Guindi wrote in pro-government Al Akhbar (2/19): "We should admit that the Iraq regime is to blame for everything Iraq faces, for the suffering of the Iraqi people during the blockade, for the continued American policy. If Iraq realized this responsibility and wanted to avoid new repercussions, it should take the opportunity of the Arab summit in Jordan to initiate a real reconciliation with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia so that Iraq returns to Arab ranks. Only then can Arabs express to the United States and its new President Bush their 'veto' against striking Iraq, and tell them that our primary issue is peace."
"The First Act Is Shameful"
Ibrahim Abdel Meguid Saleh declared in opposition Al Wafd (2/19): "The majority of Arabs and Muslims in the United States elected Bush, and the Arab and Islamic world hoped he would win, thinking he will be less biased toward Israel and less antagonistic against them. However, it is clear that there is no difference between a Democratic and a Republican president.... The American aggression on Iraq aims to divert Arab attention away from the courageous Palestinian Intifadah against the Zionist enemy...and divide Arab ranks.... I urge the Iraqi leadership to stop completely the talk about Kuwait being part of Iraq.... The Egyptian government should prepare to do without American assistance as soon as possible.... I tell U.S. Secretary Colin Powell...that he is not welcome in our country while his hands are full of the blood of the Iraqi women and children. Pride is a precious thing and if Arabs do not fulfill their duty against the American aggression on Baghdad, it will be a declaration that they relinquished their pride."
ISRAEL: "The Iraq Litmus Test"
The independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (2/19): "Ultimately, President Bush's policy toward Iraq will determine whether he plans to continue a 'policy' of fudging and denial raised to the level of a high art, or be a leader who will demonstrate that the West is not powerless against weak but brutal local bullies like Saddam Hussein. The litmus test is not what happens with sanctions, but whether the United States leads the way in supporting the Iraqi people against a hated and dangerous regime."
"First Baghdad Test For George W. Bush"
Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in a page one article in independent Ha'aretz (2/18): "The bombing signaled that [U.S. President] Bush doesn't plan to ease U.S. policy toward the Baghdad regime, despite Arab and international pressures on Washington to show increased flexibility.... Iraq, as Bush sees it, is an isolated and tightly defined problem which should not be allowed to influence other issues in the Middle East. Yet Bush's apparent policy assumptions are not shared by the leaders of the Arab states, who were hoping for a new American attitude after the 2000 presidential elections.... Saddam Hussein's declared willingness to launch a Jihad, or holy war, against Israel put Iraq at the forefront of states supporting the Palestinians. Thus, any strike against Baghdad constitutes a dagger thrust straight at the heart of the PA, and also a move which vexes the trend toward support for Iraq in Arab countries. This interlocking set of circumstances has fallen into place in recent months and years; and the new U.S. president faces a taut, potentially explosive chain reaction scenario that was never a potential factor during his father's administration."
JORDAN: "Why Is Israel Not Being Bombed?"
Chief editor Taher Udwan wrote on the back page of independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/20): "Israel is the one that deserves to be bombed, not Iraq. When U.S. planes bomb Baghdad, they are striking against the capital of a country that has been besieged for ten years on the pretext that the Iraqi leadership has intentions to own mass destruction weapons or to threaten the security of others. But Israel is the only country in the world that continues to occupy the land of other people, to kill people and to use developed weapons."
"Tense Atmosphere Prior To Colin Powell's Tour"
Semi-official, influential Al-Ra'i observed (2/20): "The U.S.-British raid against Baghdad was met by world condemnation, not only because it was unjustifiable and lacked international legality, but also because it marks an unexpected start for a new administration that has previously said that it is going to adopt a rational policy in the region.... The use of force has proved to be futile and the region cannot take any more of those arrogant measures. It is time for dialogue and peace to win over war and violence."
KUWAIT: "Why The Military Strike Against Baghdad"
Mohammed Al-Qadiri wrote in independent Al-Seyassah (2/18): "The recent air strike executed by American and British aircraft is a sound policy which aims at protecting the security of the Arabian Gulf and its peoples from a murderous Iraqi regime. Therefore, it is vital that this regime be overthrown so that the peoples of the whole region can breathe the air of freedom and learn to build a democratic society."
"Why Does The U.S. Refuse To Overthrow Saddam's Regime?"
Ali Al-Kindari argued in independent Al-Qabas (2/18): "We believe that the United States is able to overthrow Saddam's regime if it wanted to. But, the United States will not do that for the following reasons: Iraqi oil; Iraq owns massive amounts of oil reserves, America is aware of this and would not want a new regime to share the oil with European and Russian companies. The Alternative: America will not overthrow the Iraqi regime until it finds a suitable alternative, at least one that it can influence. The price: America cannot overthrow Saddam without the approval of Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The minimum price America has to pay these countries is their influence over a new Iraq."
LEBANON: "Diplomacy In The Language And Logic Of War"
Ghassan Tueni wrote in moderate anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/19): "Striking Iraq (a real brother) with American and British jets deserves more than denunciations and...burning flags in the streets.... The American-British air raid against Baghdad...is not a mere 'message.'... It is an inauguration of a new style in diplomacy, which will perhaps be the slogan of the new American era.... It is 'diplomacy in the language of war.' Diplomacy...with airplanes, bombs, destruction and innocent people getting killed, because in the Arab world--from Palestine to Lebanon to Iraq--we were engaged in a war America was party to during Clinton's days. Now Bush jumped into the middle of this war and with a violence that was not practiced by Clinton.... We suggest that Arab foreign and defense ministers meet immediately."
OMAN: "Daily Provocative Justifications"
Egyptian Mohammed Naji Amairah wrote in independent Al Watan (2/17): "The new American-British bombing of Iraq is unjustifiable. The allegations and pretexts offered by Washington and London are convincing nobody.... [We hope that] the slumbering international conscience will wake from its nap...to hear that the U.S.-British justifications...linked to international resolutions have no legitimacy. The same principle applies to the unjustifiable seige and sanctions policy imposed on the Iraqi people, which every day reveals the extent of U.S. arrogance and unilateralism in decision-making."
QATAR: "The Arrogance Of Power"
Semi-independent Al-Rayah editorialized (2/18): "The new Bush administration has used its arrogance and power to cover up its failure to objectively evaluate the Palestinian/Israeli issue.... The American administration committed a stupid mistake by bombing Iraq without valid justification and this will increase the public hatred of Arabs towards the Americans. This latest attack will be discussed in the Arab Summit in March and Arab leaders need to solve the Iraqi-Kuwaiti problem and break the siege imposed on Iraq."
Semi-independent Al-Watan averred (2/18): "The air strikes are a message to Egypt and Syria because of their commercial treaties with Baghdad. They are also a message to the Arab leaders before they meet in Amman next month.... It would have been wiser and easier to send these messages via other channels--not by killing innocent people."
SAUDI ARABIA: "PR War"
The Jeddah-based, English-language Arab News declared (2/18): "Faced with such helplessness in dealing with a broken, defeated and hungry nation, what can the sole superpower do to prove its toughness other than fire a few bombs at a safe target? Let us remember that there was no air surveillance of Iraq when it was needed--when its military was eliminating the population of the southern areas. Of course, people die. But do a few deaths matter when when two presidents [Iraqi and American] are trying to prove that they are tough."
SYRIA: "Aggression Against Iraq; Intention And Real Goals"
Elias Khouri commented in government-owned Al-Baath (2/20): "There was no legal, moral or humanistic justification for the Anglo-American raid against Iraq.... The United States seeks to maintain the state of affairs in Iraq so as to maintain its military presence permanently in the region. Ending the crisis and cementing peace in the region will automatically dictate withdrawing its forces."
"Where Are Standards Of Justice?"
Sayyah al-Sukhni stated in government-owned Al-Thawra (2/20): "The Anglo-American air strike against Iraq raises the issue of U.S. double standards.... The United States continues to send its war planes to Iraq and persists in exerting pressure on the UN to prevent it from removing sanctions.... At the same time, it continues its bias toward Israel and overlooks its crimes against the Palestinian people.... The Pentagon uses the issue of implementing the UN resolutions as a pretext to justify its air strikes against Iraq. Why all this enthusiasm about carrying out UN resolutions, while ignoring Israel's violation of UN resolutions and taking no step to make Israel abide by them."
Mohammed Ben Youssef claimed in independent, French-language weekly Tunis Hebdo (2/19): "To strike Iraq this way, the United States wants to show to the world, including its traditional allies, that [it] remains the global policeman and the 'incontestable master' on the scene!... It is high time that Washington opens its eyes and stop treating Arabs as second class persons, because for several years an active public opinion has emerged in most of the Arab countries, where the United States has strategic interests to defend.... Bin Ladin's shadow is everywhere."
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: "Law Of The Jungle"
Sharjah-based, pan-Arab Al-Khaleej asserted (2/18): "The least that can be said of the American-British aggression against Iraq is that it is the deed of a gangster based on the law of the jungle imposed by Washington and followed by London and Israel. Aggression like this should not go unheeded as in previous cases, because it signals that Washington and London have no intention of changing their aggressive tendencies toward the region."
"A Routine Operation"
Abu Dhabi-based Akhbar Al-Arab editorialized (2/18): "It is disgusting and even humiliating to see that Israel's striking civilian houses and children in Palestine and Lebanon or the U.S. and Britain's doing so in Iraq has become routine. Killing Arabs daily has become routine as if we have become...experimental rats.... Strategists have often made wrong assessments, and it seems that the White House strategists have lost their compass and failed to envision the consequences of those strikes and aggressions."
BRITAIN: "Bombing Saddam Is Not Enough To Oust Him"
Michael Gove opined in the conservative Times (2/20): "The real reason why Saddam deserves to be a target for British bombs, and much more, is not 'humanitarianism' but self-interest. We should fight him, not to protect 'his' people, but our own. There is nothing singular in Saddam's willingness to terrorize his own subjects in order to maintain his hold on power, it is the stock in trade of regimes from Zimbabwe to Burma, against whom we heft no swords. What is exceptional about Saddam, and left unsaid by our government, is the threat he poses to us by his development of weapons of mass destruction.... The recognition that our current policy is flawed is, thankfully growing. Dick Cheney...Donald Rumsfeld, and the Tory defense spokesman, Iain Duncan Smith, all realize that we need, in...Smith's words, to 'confront Saddam properly so that we can get rid of him.'... But only by proclaiming that we are eliminating him in the pursuit of our own interests rather than in the name of a bogus 'humanitarianism,' will we serve notice to all who would disturb our peace that we are worthy of it."
FRANCE: "A Warning For China?"
Jean-Jacques Mevel held in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/20): "The strikes against Baghdad and the U.S. precautions regarding Chinese workers could be interpreted as a warning sent to Beijing: Washington does not appreciate the fact that China is endangering American pilots by helping to improve Saddam Hussein's defenses. The true target of the strikes may have been the network of fiber optic cables installed with the help of the Chinese, which deprive U.S. surveillance of its ability to listen in on Baghdad."
GERMANY: "Thunderous Noise In The Gulf"
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger said on the front-page of right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/19): "With a bang, George W. Bush stepped on the stage of international politics. The message could not have been clearer following the creeping erosion of sanctions, Iraq's arms modernization and the strategic vacuum in dealing with the Iraqi leader during the last years of the Clinton administration. Since the system of inspections has collapsed, the Iraqi arms apparatus continues to work unhindered and unobserved. One can easily imagine the consequences if nothing is done to prevent it. That is why the claim is not convincing that the strikes were a routine operation to protect U.S. and British patrol flights aimed at enforcing the no-fly zones. George W. Bush is now redesigning U.S politics in the region.... Military containment alone will not be enough to achieve the hoped for change of regime in Baghdad. In the future, sanctions must be applied in such a way that they do not affect the Iraqi population but instead strike at the pillars of the regime. However, a relaxation of sanctions must be politically controlled to prevent Iraq from rearming again. President Bush's order to attack demonstrated to the world what the United States meant by 'rogue states.' But the U.S. president will now have to prove whether his demonstration will also lead to a future-oriented strategy to guarantee regional stability."
"Bombs As A Substitute To Politics"
Stefan Kornelius judged in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/19): "For more than ten years, the United States and a increasingly smaller force of allies tried to contain Iraq. While inspections and sanctions failed, the military component remained successful. But of what use will be the constant bombing if there is no political corset?... The cheering reactions of the Arab world to the terrorist attacks against the USS Cole showed how dangerously isolated Washington is. Iraq's containment can succeed only if it is shared by a politically broad alliance. This alliance must share the view that provocation and aggression in the Gulf region still carry the name Saddam Hussein as sender."
ITALY: "Re-Establishing Large Alliance Is Difficult For White House"
New York correspondent Mario Platero commented in leading, business Il Sole-24 Ore (2/20): "Secretary Powell's visit to the Middle East...will be the ideal occasion to clarify the Bush administration's true goals as far as Baghdad is concerned. On the one hand, it is clear that sanctions are useless, that the Europeans are anxious to do business with Iraq, that a good part of Arab public opinion is sympathetic toward Saddam Hussein...and that the oil factor does play a role, especially in times of crisis as we had last summer. On the other hand, the Americans, the Europeans and the moderate Arab countries ought to have one common interest: to prevent Saddam from proceeding with his project to build an arsenal of strategic,
chemical or nuclear weapons, or from resuming threatening neighbor countries.... Vis-à-vis this situation, one can hope that the Bush administration will try to formulate a completely new strategy."
"Bush's Visiting Card"
Franco Venturini commented on the front page of centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (2/17): "The Bush team acknowledges that the policy of the embargo against Iraq needs to be re-examined, but, to prevent possible misunderstandings, it begins by using force since such a gesture will be more sensational...ten days before the debate on sanctions scheduled to take place in the UN. Do we need to remind (our readers) that Bush's men have repeatedly criticized Russia over the last few days, that some warnings also went out in Beijing's direction, that useless doubts about the space shield will not be accepted, and that the dispute is now in the open over Europe's projects for a common defense?... In sum, Bush's America intends to be a superpower bigger and better than Clinton's. It intends to define more clearly its national interests, and to make them count on the international scene.... The Europeans would be mistaken in not realizing that the challenge facing the new America concerns them as well. The political and negotiating debate among the allies will be positive for all on one precise condition: that Europe makes progress toward that common political strategy that is still missing, and that it manages to be both a friend and a counterpart (of the United States). Bush won't allow it too much time."
RUSSIA: "Criticizing Hussein Is Mauvais Ton"
Maksim Yusin commented in reformist Izvestiya (2/20): "U.S.-British air strikes at targets near Baghdad have caused a wave of condemnation in Moscow. The 'regular act of brigandage' by the Western powers has been castigated by politicians of every hue and cry from Vladimir Zhirinovsky to Gennady Zyuganov to Mikhail Gorbachev to Grigory Yavlinsky. None has said a word of criticism against vengeful Saddam Hussein who threatened to punish Israel of all countries. Russia, if it wants to remain a peace broker in the Middle East, would do well to show at least some objectivity, pretend to be unbiased. In other words, Moscow should have condemned Saddam's provocative statements, along with the British-American bombing."
"Little Hot War"
Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (2/20) ran this by Vsevolod Ovchinnikov: "Observers in developing countries have called the new U.S. administration's foreign-policy debut 'mini Hiroshima' in the sense that the Americans, while hitting Baghdad, had their sights set at Moscow. They may be right, considering the backdrop of the military operation against Iraq. It is very reminiscent of the Cold War days.... Condoleezza Rice has stated that Russia is a threat to the West, particularly to Europe. The Pentagon's new chief has accused Moscow of selling military technology to rogue states.... Combining the little 'hot' war with a new 'cold' one has the same goal as Truman, as he sought to intimidate Russia.... Once a cornerstone [ABM treaty] is pulled from under strategic stability, Washington will have its hands untied. And so will Moscow."
"Bush Reflex: When In Doubt, Strike"
Dmitry Kosyrev said on page one of centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/20): "The rocket strikes by U.S. and British warplanes are the first feasibility, if not fortitude, test of the Republicans' foreign policy doctrine. It was not a welcome one, though--the need to do 'this' to Iraq came earlier than Bush wanted.... As for the raids, which are as popular in the United States as they are useless, U.S. experts see them as the emergence of a new Washington style. That is, if you are unsure what to do, don't show that--though the new president may 'not be in the know,' he isn't the one to waver. This is a kind of Bush reflex which is to be taken merely as forced tactics--when in doubt, strike--not as a strategy."
AUSTRIA: "From Air Strikes To Reality"
In a commentary in mass-circulation Kurier, foreign affairs editor Livia Klingl wrote (2/20): "U.S. security experts are planning to turn the 'unipolar world'...into a permanent institution. Many (not only Arab) countries felt blackmailed already under the Clinton administration by the American motto offering security, for instance against an aggressive Saddam Hussein, while dictating the policy of the country. In the long term, military action creates destabilization rather than security."
"The Mother Of All Legacies"
Conservative Die Presse carried a front-page commentary by foreign affairs writer Clemens Schuhmann (2/19): "The recent U.S. strike marks the end of its directionless Iraq policy of the past years. George W. Bush apparently set himself the goal of once and forever putting an end to the 'mother of all legacies.'... However, the timing of this lesson for Saddam Hussein was wrong. The United States has not come closer to its actual goal: a change of power in Baghdad."
BELGIUM: "Bush Strikes, Saddam Cashes In"
Baudouin Loos editorialized in left-of-center Le Soir (2/19): "Actually, American administrations change but their policies vis-a-vis Iraq remain: it is still the hardline, with a drastic international embargo, the use of the 'stick' when necessary, but never of 'the carrot.'... The problem is that Baghdad's strongman keeps on scoring points. It may be ironic, but the strikes of last Friday can be added to the numerous bonuses which Iraq accumulated these last years: three UNSC permanent members are now pleading with the entire Third World for the abolition--or the reduction--of the sanctions, the Arab countries have at last understood that air embargo was not part of the UN Resolutions.... In short, if one adds unfettered trafficking, one can consider that the sanctions have lost their efficiency, of course not for the average Iraqi citizen, but for the regime, which is stronger and probably more popular than ever in the Arab world. It is no longer Saddam Hussein who is isolated, but the British-American policy. Were the strikes of last Friday intended to torpedo the meeting scheduled for the end of this month...between the UN and Iraq, and which, according to some, could end up on a deal--a comeback of the UN inspectors in exchange of a softening of the sanctions?"
"A Family Business"
U.S. affairs writer Philippe Paquet judged in independent La Libre Belgique (2/19): "By destroying radar installations beyond the 33rd parallel, George Bush notified the Iraqis that now was the time for zero tolerance. At this stage, it is probably a good thing. However, it would now be useful for American diplomacy to show a little bit more creativity."
DENMARK: "Strategy Wanted"
Center-left Politiken noted (2/20): "While the international community appears to be drifting towards softening sanctions against Iraq, Bush seems determined to show his willingness to fight Saddam and his repressive regime.... Massive divisions are appearing in the (Gulf War) coalition.... A new strategy is needed. Its aim should be to reinstall the arms inspectors. This would be the best way to control the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The best way that the United States can galvanize international support is by showing restraint."
FINLAND: "George W. Bush Wants To Be Taken Seriously"
Independent Turun Sanomat's editorial read (2/19): "Many observers think, however, that the strike was also a show by Bush that he is a force to be reckoned with on the world arena."
HUNGARY: "Bush Routine"
Senior foreign affairs writer Hanna Szalay editorialized in influential Vilaggazdasag (2/20): "This has been the U.S. president's first foreign policy decision.... However, it is most likely not part of the 'new Iraq strategy' that the Republican Party promised in its election program."
IRELAND: "The Bombing Of Baghdad"
The moderately conservative Irish Times opined (2/20): "The legal weakness of the arguments used to justify last Friday's raids is reinforced by the political case made for them by the new Bush administration. It looks as if the new president and his team are simply revisiting the victory won ten years ago in order to drive home the message that U.S. power remains intact and that the new administration is determined to reinforce it.... The universal condemnation of these raids by all the region's states (Israel excepted) makes clear that its leaders do not accept the assumptions contained in the policy.... In pragmatic terms, this is a reality U.S. and British leaders should take fully into account."
LITHUANIA: "Desert Storm According To Bush Junior"
Grazina Asembergiene maintained in second-largest, national Respublika (2/19): "The U.S.-organized military attacks against Iraq have become one more painful splinter in Russian-American relations."
NORWAY: "Bombs On Iraq"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten argued (2/19): "Pressure against [Saddam] must be maintained. But it requires that we, who see every reason to work against him...stop giving him free propaganda victories. This is what we do with the arguments used to justify the bomb raid this weekend."
"Attacks That Strengthen Saddam"
Social democratic Dagsavisen held (2/18): "For Saddam Hussein the attack...gives him new and very undeserved international support and sympathy. In the important fight for world opinion Saddam Hussein is now on the offensive.... The last attack probably has made it even more difficult to use diplomatic influence and targeted economic sanctions against the regime in Iraq."
PORTUGAL: "It's Not Normal"
Deputy editor-in-chief Raul Vaz held in financial Diário Económico (2/20): "Three days after George W. Bush's order for the attack on Iraq...it would be normal for some of the 375 million European citizens to want to know what their leaders think about this.... We can accept the justifications of the generous British commanders, who certainly have had reasons to lose their patience [with Saddam]. What we cannot accept as routine is that they do this without consulting their partners in a project that presupposes a sharing of responsibilities.... It's not normal."
SLOVENIA: "Bush's Drawn Pistol"
Left-of-center, independent Vecer held (2/20): "With his 'routine' air strike...President Bush...demonstrated that his foreign policy doctrine is exactly what he had announced in his campaign: The United States will--in Texas ranger-style--pull the pistol and resolutely act when its vital interests are endangered.... Bush was so sure that he was right that he did not even find it necessary to inform U.S. allies about the 'routine' act.... The United States will have yet more proof for its belief that one should not yield to Saddam and that a stick is the only effective medication for him. This fits fine into Bush's uncomplicated foreign policy doctrine, part of which is also the NMD."
SPAIN: "Dealing With Saddam"
Center-left El Pais commented (2/18): "There is little doubt about the need to block Iraq's offensive rearmament.... However, before the fragile Allied unity breaks definitively, it is necessary to adopt more flexible formulas by common agreement for aspects of the embargo.... This is the real puncture through which the sanctions regime has sprung a leak.... It is worth the effort to explore through the UN the possibility of an agreement to permit--in exchange for a significant improvement in living conditions--a return to inspection of Iraqi arsenals.... Another area for review are the punitive air missions outside the exclusion zones. They kill the innocent, provide the dictator with excuses, and achieve nothing useful while dangerously distancing Washington and London from their Western partners."
SWEDEN: "Bombs Over Iraq"
The independent morning Dagens Nyheter ran this editorial (2/18): "It is obvious that this is a clear signal from the Bush administration...but to take this drastic action might, disregarding the reasons, bring about severe risks. A military escalation might enhance Saddam Hussein's grip of the tormented Iraqi people, turn many Arab countries against the policy of the surrounding world, cause discord within NATO, and not the least, create strong division among the members of the UNSC."
TURKEY: "U.S. Uneasy Over Iraqi Oil"
Ferai Tinc maintained in mass-appeal Hurriyet (2/19): "The U.S. strike near Baghdad carries an important message from Turkey's point of view. Unlike the Clinton administration, the Bush administration will not remain silent on Turkey's policy of drawing closer to Saddam. In the next few days, this subject will take its place in the Turkey-U.S. relations agenda. The point Washington is dwelling on the most is the Iraqi oil illegally entering the southeast from Iraq.... Bush the son seems to intend to carry on where his father left off. Cracks in the coalition and mounting pressure to lift the embargo against Iraq are the influences underlying the decision."
"A Dangerous Direction"
Fehmi Koru told readers of pro-Islamic Yeni Safak (2/19): "The United States preferred to keep not just Turkey, but all its Allies--except Britain--in the dark about the military operation. Never mind giving its approval, it is known that the UN was never informed. It looks as if this strike were carried to send the message: 'I will do what I want' from the new American administration to the capitals concerned.... Turkey is doing nothing wrong in defining its Iraqi policy independently from the United States, which is tens of thousands of kilometers away. Iraq is our neighbor."
CHINA: "U.S. Launches Brutal Attacks"
Xinhua news agency comments were featured in State Council Economic Daily (Jingji Ribao, 2/20): "The real motives behind the U.S. and British air-strikes against Iraq are: 1) the new U.S. administration wants to demonstrate that it will adopt a tougher stance on Iraq; 2) the United States wants to show off its powerful military presence in the Gulf region; 3) the attacks are intended to solidify the anti-Iraq alliance which now exists in name only; 4) the United States wants to warn Iraq not to interfere in the disputes between Palestinians and Israelis."
"An Ominous Signal"
Lin Jiaoming commented in official Communist Party People's Daily (Renmin Ribao, 2/19): "Taken as an ominous signal, the U.S.-British air raid on Iraq is considered an indication of the Bush administration's strategic choice in the Gulf region, i.e. a possible shift of strategic focus away from the Palestine-Israeli dispute toward Iraq."
"Why Is U.S. Picking A Quarrel Again?"
Wei Lai commented in official Beijing municipal Beijing Daily (Beijing Ribao, 2/19): "On the one hand, the U.S.-British air aid on Iraq is intended to divert the world's attention away from the recent U.S.-Japanese and U.S.-EU disputes. On the other hand, the air strikes can show off America's strength, thus paving the way for Powell's visit to the Middle East."
TAIWAN: "Future Direction Of U.S. Foreign Policy In Bombing Iraq"
In the view of centrist, pro-status quo, Chinese-language China Times (2/20): "President George W. Bush, even before he took office, faced strong challenges from both outside and within the United States to some of his foreign policies, especially those towards NMD and China.... If he chooses compromise now, his authority to push for any foreign policy would definitely be undermined. To avoid such an embarrassing situation and to overcome the public's strong opposition to NMD, and also to establish the new administration's authority in carrying out its policies, Bush has chosen the attack against Iraq as a signal to show the world his will. The signal says: the necessity of implementing missile defense is as certain as the bombing of Iraq.... From Bush's move to attack Iraq to his announcement to implement missile defense and his recent statement to push for brand new high-tech weaponry, we can very clearly see U.S. determination to maintain its position as the single superpower in the world. But [Washington's] determination will surely clash with rapidly growing China."
INDONESIA: "Old-Fashioned Washington Attitude"
Independent Media Indonesia commented (2/20): "The Iraq case is evidence that Washington does not deserve to call itself a champion of democracy. In fact, in humanitarian terms, the United States should be included on the list of the world's most cruel, criminal countries."
MALAYSIA: "Big Hegemonists Hammer The Small Hegemonist"
Chinese-language Nanyang Siang Pau editorialized (2/19): "The United States and Britain claim that they are performing a 'humanitarian' duty in their latest air strikes against Iraq. They have given new meaning to the word 'humanitarian.' The West have been using all sorts of reasons to keep punishing Iraq. Its actions have been criticized by Russia and China, among others. Ten years after the $8 billion Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein is still in power. The Iraqi people have suffered greatly from the economic sanctions but Saddam is still as defiant as ever. The air strikes are President Bush's way to teach Saddam a lesson. But using force this way to play the role of world's policeman will lead to endless conflicts."
SOUTH KOREA: "Bush's First 'Bashing Of Hussein'"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (2/19): "The recent U.S. and British air strikes on the Iraqi capital can be seen as a premeditated warning by the new Bush Administration to Iraq. In addition, the air raid gives the deep impression that it is a show of a strong United States and U.S. military power. However, with its relations with the Muslim and Arab world pretty bleak due to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, we doubt that the United States returning to a hardline stance in dealing with Middle East affairs is the best choice, especially in terms of protecting its national interests or world peace."
THAILAND: "Iraq Chips Away At UN Inspection"
The lead editorial of the top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post commented (2/20): "There is general agreement, from Britain to Bangkok, that the 1991 agreement signed by Saddam Hussein is neither working nor workable. There also is worldwide sympathy for the plight of the Iraqis--which is unlikely to be helped quickly by an opposition uprising, even with U.S. help. Such sympathy and concern is not misplaced. It must not, however, override the primary task, which is to keep Iraq and its offensive government and weapons in check."
The lead editorial of elite, business-oriented Krungthep Turakij judged (2/20): "While Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed took a stance strongly questioning the latest wave of U.S. attacks against Iraqi positions citing humanitarian reasons...the Thai government...has yet to show its clear stance. It should not keep silent or brush aside the incident as irrelevant as was previously the case.... Ten years later, the stability of President Saddam Hussein and his ruling party remains firm.... It's ironic that the ten-year effort to keep the coalition's mission in place has only served to boost Iraq's allies while undermining the United States' legitimacy."
VIETNAM: "One More Signal Of Unilateralism"
Anh Viet wrote in Tuoi Tre, mouthpiece of the Ho Chi Minh City's Communist Party (2/20): "Are the air strikes against Iraq designed to make this country a scapegoat so as to test the world's reaction to the changes in U.S. foreign policy which point toward unilateralism? U.S. unilateralism demonstrates a wrong way of seeing the world and an exaggeration of U.S. superiority. It is...this unilateralism that causes the United States to be a 'lonely giant.' However, this 'lonely giant' is now becoming a threat to sovereignty of other nations."
INDIA: ''Insensitive Bravado"
The centrist Hindu editorialized (2/19): "George Bush has manifestly shown himself to be short on creative diplomacy at this moment by opting for sterile militarism, indeed ridiculous adventurism, as his first major foreign policy exercise.... Bush's knee-jerk policy defining the new airstrike flies in the face of the very idea of smart sanctions with its intrinsic emphasis on humanitarian ethos. This can only denote that an adventurist policy with regard to Iraq is in tune with the present Bush administration's cavalier spirit, as reflected by its 'sci-fi' pursuit of a missile defense system."
"Not A Heroic Act"
The nationalist Hindustan Times held (2/19): "[Saddam's] tyrannical rule evokes no admiration. In fact, the sooner he goes the better...but the point is something else. It is that there will be little endorsement for the kind of unilateral punitive action taken by an overwhelming powerful country against a puny, though widely disliked, opponent. What is worse, the target is really the leader, although it is the ordinary people who have to bear the brunt of such offensives."
PAKISTAN: "Air Strike On Iraq"
The center-right, national Nation opined (2/18): "The display of military muscle against the Iraqi people has not served the avowed U.S. purpose of removing Saddam Hussain from power. On the contrary it merely created the conditions which have allowed him to survive. Only the innocent Iraqi people are being punished. It has also promoted the perception that by such acts the United States and the West are expressing their hostility toward the Islamic world. That would most likely strengthen the very forces the United State sees as the terrorist, anti-U.S. elements it has to eliminate."
ARGENTINA: "Bombing Baghdad"
An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion argued (2/19): "Actually, the surprising thing is that no one is surprised.... What really matters is that...(the United States and Great Britain) have assumed the role of global policemen; and what really matters is that the rest of the world validates the joint attack with its silence.... Even those countries which appear as autonomous, like France, Russia and China, have minimized their protest to mere rhetoric.... It is painful but irrefutable that centuries of fight to create a fairer and more rational world have ended up creating a system that...limits its expectations to the enforcement of the law, dictated by the most powerful."
Claudio Uriarte, left-of-center Pagina 12's international columnist, held (2/18): "With his unexpected bombing of Iraq...Bush has achieved the double and adverse miracle of confirming the worst thoughts about him and precipitating the formation of an international coalition against him, as hinted in the opposed reactions of Russia, China, France, and the what the United States calls 'pariah states'...North Korea, Libya, Iran, and, naturally, Iraq."
BRAZIL: "The Price Of Attacking"
Conservative O Globo asserted (2/20): "With last Friday's military action, the new U.S. administration took advantage of a relatively innocuous provocative action by the Iraqi dictator on the borders of a [no-fly zone] to show how far it is prepared to go if he does not behave. The bombing may be justifiable. But, in a political minefield like the Middle East, one doesn't measure the success of an intervention only by the number of overthrown aircraft or destroyed anti-air facilities. It's doubtful, for example, that the attack would help strengthen...the intention to maintain UN sanctions imposed on Iraq by ten years ago.... Moreover, in the role of victim, Saddam would catalyze the Arab wounded pride, with undesirable effects on the Israeli/Palestine conflict. A new Western campaign against the Iraqi regime will hardly produce definite results in Baghdad, and may damage Israel at a critical moment in its relations with the Palestinians."