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Destruction is the Price of Democracy

Europe's leading editorialists reflect on anarchy in Iraq. Saddam Hussein may have been toppled, but that doesn't mean destruction in the country will come to an end.


The European press, parsed and pared.

The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero looks at the situation in Iraq a month after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. It concludes that, while the fighting is over, peace is still a long way off, as are solutions to some of Iraq’s basic problems, like the lack of water, power, food and, especially, security. A month after the theoretical end of the conflict, anarchy prevails in Iraq, the paper concludes.

The Russian paper Kommersant says that whoever brings about the fall of a dictator must also realize that newly-liberated people often destroy their own country. “In Russia it was no different,” the paper says. “Everyone took what they could get, whether that was an entire republic or merely some tools from a factory. Such destruction is the high price of democracy,” writes Kommersant. “But the Americans can’t measure the total cost of their victory in Iraq, so complete is their faith in the democratic ideal.”

The Financial Times Deutschland looks at Germany's position on its possible role in postwar Iraq. “Poland's request that German and Danish troops help it patrol Iraq may have been unexpected,” the paper says, “but it made one thing very clear: Germany must make a fundamental decision. Either it is ready to take military responsibility or it is not.” But the paper predicts that after the country was one of the most vocal opponents of the war, it will be difficult for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to tell the public that German troops will be actively involved in Iraq. “The chancellor will have to choose between internal peace and external credibility,” the paper concludes.

Spain’s El Mundo comments on the strength of the euro in comparison to the U.S. dollar, and concludes that it’s causing problems instead of solving them. “The euro keeps gaining in value despite the gloomy predictions for Europe’s economies,” the paper writes. “But the political leaders can’t be happy about this. Instead, they’re much more worried that exports could decrease and that it’ll prove more difficult to revive the economy than they thought.” The paper suggests that the U.S. and Europe find a currency policy that will stabilize the exchange rate.

The Times of London focus on the euro debate in Britain, commenting: “If Tony Blair really wants to take Britain into the euro while he is prime minister, he needs a strategy for entry. There are strong arguments against entry now, notably the sluggish state of the German and other euro-zone economies. But the 'not yet' assessment will be widely seen as a no, unless Blair produces a convincing timetable and date for entry,” the Times says.