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Europe

European Press Review: Honest Behavior?

Most European papers on Thursday were unapologetic in their frustration with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in light of the Butler report's conclusion that intelligence services failed in Iraq.

Blair's rhetoric on Iraq before the war had left The Guardian of London "with the impression... that his passionate conviction that he was doing what was right was based on overwhelming evidence." Instead, "he was using flaky intelligence to make a risky judgment," the paper continued and concluded that this "style of government... is both unaccountable and dangerous."

Der Standard from Vienna said Blair and US President George W. Bush continue "this week to reassure us that ex-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein 'could' have had weapons of mass destruction," which Bush and Blair believe is as good as saying "he had weapons of mass destruction." But "pushing responsibility to the intelligence services" has "heavy consequences," according to the paper: "Washington and London have weakened their chances of acting against real or developing nuclear powers like North Korea and Iran. How are they going to get support for sanctions, when their agents already failed in Iraq," the daily asked in conclusion.

Politiken from Copenhagen was a bit more sympathetic toward Blair; although the Butler report "comes across a little too nicely given that Blair and the British government systematically shoved aside all the doubts of the secret services," Tony Blair is still "sticking behind his decision." That is "honest behavior" to the paper, even when the reasons behind it are "even thinner now."

Magyar Hirlap from Budapest was not as concerned with Blair as with Saddam. The paper wants to know "why he didn't allow weapons inspectors into the country to find nothing." The paper relegates that question "to the psychologists, and the Butler report to the historians." The Bulgarian paper Sega took objection to the fact that its country's soldiers are still in Iraq: "Nobody is telling us how much the whole amusement is taking from our budget," the paper wrote and added that "the people that have caused this mess have to pay political consequences... from Bush down to" Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha.