European editorials on Monday focused on the situation in Iraq and also the way that business confidence and unemployment figures might influence the US presidential elections.
Britain’s Guardian wrote that beyond the politics of interim Iraq, there is a too easily forgotten ongoing human tragedy. It asked whether US troops killed 300 or 30 in Najaf: "And does anyone believe that they were all armed gunmen?" The paper concluded that if the interim government and its backers have any hope of making progress they must acknowledge the realities of a deeply divided Iraqi society which will not be solved by armed offensives.
Russia’s Kommersant went one step further and said that it now becomes clear that the Shiites are not just fighting the US presence in Iraq but that the conflict is more about who gets to rule the country in the long term. The paper claimed that is the answer being sought by those fighting in Najaf.
Britain’s Independent remarked that every flare up of violence, especially those that involve US forces, pushes the prospects of democratic elections, and thus a more stable Iraq, further away. It suggested that it is a time for Iraq’s leaders to hold their nerve and concentrate on doing what is necessary to deliver the country from the misery of violence and insecurity in which it is now trapped.
In France, L’Humanite observed that US intervention has turned Iraq into a powder keg, a country in flames where the fanatics set the tone. The occupiers don’t appear to want to leave and the attempts by Iraqi democrats to create hope for peace meet new obstacles on a daily basis, the paper claimed, adding that the only way to peace is one chosen by the Iraqi people and not by some Texan oil magnate.
In Belgium, De Morgen looked at the quickly vanishing optimism in US business. It wrote that feelings about the US economy, the locomotive of the world economy, have suddenly changed. It was only a few weeks ago that economists were predicting the US economy was expanding so rapidly that it was threatening to overheat, the paper wrote. Now the feelings of optimism on the other side of the Atlantic have suddenly reversed, because the employment figures for June were disappointing and because Wall Street is reacting badly to the oil prices, the paper noted.
In France, Les Echos said that even though the US economy has been creating new jobs, the release of negative figures for July of only 32 000 new jobs has given rise to the fear of economic growth without new employment. The Democrats have used this opportunity to point out that the Bush administration has destroyed 1,1 million jobs, whereas under Clinton 17 million new jobs were created, the paper wrote and concluded that Bush will not be able to rely on the economy to help him try to beat Kerry.
In the Netherlands, de Volkskrant warned that Bush junior might be facing the same plight as his father did in 1992 when he suddenly lost his advantage over Clinton in the presidential election after there was a loss in confidence in the US economy. It therefore found the Bush campaign slogan of “we have left the problems behind us” astonishing. The daily wondered whether Bush was aware of the bad employment figures that were about to be released.