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European Press Review: Bush Eyes Mars

European editorials on Thursday commented on U.S. plans to send humans to the red planet. Others looked at Iran, Germany's role in Iraqi reconstruction and the Americas summit.

Der Standard in Austria said a national mission to a distant place where much fame can be won and no guerillas can lurk is to make Americans forget the ongoing misery in Iraq and make the president appear as a visionary. New moon missions would probably also have military objectives such as a missile shield in space.

Although understandably Bush junior wants to present to the nation a challenge of the same grandiose calibre as that formulated by John F. Kennedy, observed Politiken in Denmark, this is hardly the time when so much time, energy and money should be spent on space. How long is the enthusiasm going to last and where will the money come from?

Germany’s Badische Neueste Nachrichten noted that ever since Kennedy launched the program that put a man on the moon, every U.S. president has tried to leave his own trail in space. But curiously enough, always in election


It won’t decide this year’s election, observed the Ostthüringer Zeitung in Gera, but Americans are certainly impressed by this kind of derring-do. Bush sees himself as a controller of the world’s affairs with epochal power. Seen positively that’s called daring, seen negatively it’s called megalomania, the paper noted. He’s sending out the message: Let the Democrats’ presidential candidates get embroiled with the nitty-gritty of politics and knocking everything, while the president thinks in big categories.

The Saarbrücker Zeitung wrote that Bush has half the Americans with him on this, the other half against. And in any case, it’ll most likely turn out to be just pie in the sky.

Looking at the latest power struggle between Islamic fundamentalists and reformers in Iran, the Salzburger Nachrichten in Austria saw no signs of ordinary Iranians being ready to risk their freedom for the protesting members of parliament. The paper saw the conservatives banking on people’s bitter disappointment over the reform process not having produced any fruits.

Commenting on an announcement by the German government that it might send a military hospital aircraft to Iraq, La Stampa in Italy sensed a shift in German

foreign policy. Without giving up his pacifist position or traumatizing Germany, it said, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder seems to be taking the country into closer

dialogue with the United States and the NATO nations already engaged in Iraq. One reason is not to be excluded from rebuilding it.

The Basler Zeitung in Switzerland said of the Americas summit in Mexico that the poorest of the poor, especially the indigenous people, are most opposed to what the paper calls “the lust for free trade.” They don’t believe that it’s

going to reduce their poverty. They want schools, hospitals and decent housing, not abstract economic constructions, the paper wrote.