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Europe

European Press Review: Bush's Last Chance?

Tuesday's European papers commented on the draft UN Security Council resolution on Iraq proposed by the United States and Britain.

If U.S. President George W. Bush is honest with himself, he’ll have to admit that he has gotten himself into a no-win situation in Iraq, wrote Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. Nevertheless, Bush still acts as though a few policy corrections and improved marketing can make conditions in Iraq seem more positive, continued the daily. At least that’s the impression one gets from the new UN draft resolution on Iraq, it concluded.

Russia’s Kommersant on the other hand viewed the new Iraq resolution as a final chance for Bush’s political survival. Up to now, argued the paper, Bush alone has been carrying the responsibility for events in Iraq, which, on a daily basis, is costing him the votes he will need for re-election in November. That’s why Bush is in such a hurry to put Iraq’s destiny into the hands of the international community, believed the daily.

Italy’s La Repubblica considered the new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq to be more of a “damage control” operation on the part of the U.S. and its close ally Britain than any precise or definitive “exit strategy” for getting out of the mess in Iraq. The daily viewed the draft as a proposal for a solution which does not address the expectations of the permanent Security Council members with veto power, such as Russia and France, not to mention the position of Germany.

The French regional paper L'Indépendant du Midi suggested that Bush is continuing on the path he has set out on despite growing criticism and alarm signals in opinion polls five months before the U.S. presidential election. One would hope that Bush would at least heed warnings from his own camp, wrote the daily. But he has done quite the opposite by reaffirming his confidence in the two architects of the Iraq war: U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Only fools do not change, wrote the paper and concluded that at the moment it is Bush who is not changing. For its part, London's The Times acknowledged that Iraqis will not have full sovereignty after the June 30 hand-over of power. But the UN draft resolution on Iraq reflects the intention of the U.S. to give Iraqis full responsibility as quickly as possible, the paper wrote. It urged that this should also carry the signal that the international community will not abandon Iraq and continue to help until all its problems are solved.