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Europe

European Press Review: Bush's Iraq Defense Will Hurt Him in Polls

Democratic front-runner John Kerry’s winning roll in the party’s presidential race, Bush’s defense of U.S. Iraq policy and Rumsfeld’s silence over new German Mid East plans filled European editorial pages Tuesday.

Rome-based newspaper Il Messaggero wrote: "John Kerry has stopped competing with other Democratic candidates, and now speaks as if he's in a head-to-head fight with President George W. Bush." However the paper cautions, "before the presidential race becomes an exclusive battle between Kerry and Bush, Kerry has to win primary elections and caucuses in the southern U.S." The paper added, "That way, he'll prove that he doesn't only appeal to voters from the liberal north."

German daily Berliner Zeitung believed that U.S. presidential elections "aren’t won over policy issues." The paper says, "The crucial question," the paper says, "is the credibility of the candidate. And that’s exactly why Bush is now in trouble in the election, because during the Iraq war he acted in bad faith," the paper concluded.

French paper Le Figaro agreed. "In a democracy a president can't lie to the people without being punished for it," it said. "Bush and U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were deceptive about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that means they risk not being re-elected," it added. "That's not so dramatic, but what's much worse is that their deception, over the long term, endangers the development of western ideals in the Middle East."

London’s The Guardian however, saw a coincidental utility, to what it called "Bush's lies about Iraq." The paper wrote, "Because all of Washington's reasons for going to war have evaporated, the only excuse left is President Bush's deep desire to bring democracy to the Iraqi people." It added, "Of course, this desire is as much a lie as the rest -- but it is a lie we can use." The British daily saw the possibility to harness Bush's weakness on Iraq to demand that the democracy lie become a reality. "Genuine democracy could come to Iraq, not because Bush's war was right, but because it has been proven so desperately wrong," it concluded.

France’s Le Monde focussed on U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s silence over plans for the Middle East unveiled by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer during the Munich security conference over the weekend. "It’s noteworthy that he didn't mention German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's plan for the Middle East," the paper wrote. Fischer proposed that the U.S. and Europe pool their resources to achieve lasting stability in the Middle East. "Fischer's plan is not any more just about keeping the status quo, but comes out of the principle that military force alone won't overcome the danger of new forms of totalitarianism which – according to the German foreign minister – include the Islamist Jihad terror movement," the paper wrote. "The fruitless debate between Israelis and Palestinians in Munich strengthened the idea that a third party has to separate the two sides," the paper stressed.