The situation in Iraq continued to top the news throughout Europe as the number of casualties rises and Washington's coalition partners begin to show signs of uncertainty.
"U.S. President George W. Bush was warned that an invasion of Iraq would lead to no good, but the American leader nevertheless assumed Iraqis would welcome American soldiers as liberators from Saddam Hussein," recalled the Kommersant in Moscow. Instead they are now regarded as occupiers, the paper observed and pointed out that the resistance against coalition troops is growing as is the number of civilian casualties, which in turn is increasing resistance. The only solution is to pull troops out of the country, the paper surmised.
Barcelona’s El Periódico insisted that despite the decision by Spain and other coalition countries to pull troops out of Iraq, Madrid must maintain a good relationship with the United States. It observed that both foreign ministers made a good attempt to put things behind them during a meeting in Washington on Wednesday. The paper noted that even though the Bush administration can continue to rely on Spain for peacekeeping missions, such undertakings must be done in a international context.
The failure of the United Nations to provide a new resolution on Iraq was cited as the main reason for Madrid’s decision to recall troops, observed Die Presse in Vienna. Every day that goes by and nothing happens at the UN’s New York headquarters, terrorists become more confident in their mission to cause as much death as possible, the paper wrote. Criticizing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's inability to come up with anything strong enough in these time of current global threats, the Austrian daily lamented that the UN leader would not be the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient to fail to live up to that honor.
"Iraq has enough problems already," stated London’s The Daily Telegraph. Chastizing the United Nations, the paper noted the country doesn’t need to be burdened with an ineffective organization that didn’t concern itself enough with how former dictator Saddam Hussein was abusing its oil for food program or the many resolutions it passed. "George Bush and Tony Blair are right to want to shake off the status of occupiers, but they shouldn’t be fooled by the illusion that the United Nations would be an adequate replacement." The paper said one only needed to look at the current situation in the Balkans or the Middle East to know what the future in Iraq holds.
The other British daily, The Guardian, grieved for the children who suffered an appalling death in Basra after a bomb exploded near a police station. There and in many other similar instances the paper urged its readers to move beyond the rage and consider with a fresh mind what lessons should be drawn. First, it suggested U.S forces in particular need to adopt a much less provocative approach. Second, real economic power has to be devolved into Iraqi hands. "There is by no means an easy formula in the face of violence, but it’s better than blundering on," the paper concluded.