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Europe

A Europe Divided

In light of the U.S.' decision to divide Iraq into three zones managed by Washington's allies in the war against Saddam Hussein, German editorialists warn that Europe has been divided into two foreign policy camps.

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Düsseldorf’s Westdeutsche Zeitung comments: "The conservatives took a long time to find anything resembling a party line on the upcoming reforms. But their hemming and hawing was barely noticeable, thanks to the turbulence German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder created among the ranks of the Social Democrats and Greens. In reality, the paper says, the tension between hardliners and reformers is just as present among the conservatives as it is among the coalition members."

The mass-market Bild agrees that the conservatives have yet to come up with a radical restructuring plan for the German social state, which has simply become too expensive. But what’s worse, the paper says, is that the opposition is trying to win cheap points: "On the one hand, they maintain that Schröder’s reforms don’t go far enough. But when the plans become concrete, there are only cries of horror -- impossible, anti-social, catastrophic! And then, the conservatives play the protectors of the little people, whose livelihoods are under threat from the red-green coalition."

Many papers comment on Washington’s plan to carve Iraq into three sectors, each controlled by a war coalition partner, with initial control going to the US, Britain, and Poland. The Kölnische Rundschau comments on the exclusion of the United Nations from the plan, saying: "This confirms what was long suspected of the U.S. strategy -- the UN, and any other nation who wasn’t part of the coalition of the willing, is going to be left out of Iraq’s postwar reconstruction." The paper also says that it’s now clear what U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair meant when they said the UN would play a key role -- humanitarian help only with no voice in decision-making.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung says there was hope that the rift between the pro- and anti-war nations could be overcome by cooperation in rebuilding Iraq. Now, the paper comments, that hope has been destroyed, and the division of the EU into two foreign policy camps solidified.