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Europe

European Press Review: Racing Against Time, Patience in Iraq

Some European editorialists on Friday advocated a rash transfer of political power to Iraqis, others a more gradual. All agree: the U.S. needs to take action.

The Financial Times of London says that as much as anything else, the task of the occupation forces is to turn around perceptions about the future of Iraq. It is
vital, the paper adds, that the occupying forces don't yield to frustration. The British paper writes that progress begins with the search for legitimate authority in Iraq – Iraqi authority. After so much bungling, the paper concludes, there is no guarantee any transfer of power to Iraqis will succeed. Still, to have a chance, it needs a framework of legitimacy.

The fate of the Iraqis, writes the Dutch Algemeen Dagblad, depends to a large part on U.S. President Bush’s bid for re-election. At the same time, the paper continues, Bush can’t afford to leave his armed forces in a situation that claims new victims on a daily basis. Still, handing over power is only feasible once the conditions have been created. And that, the paper says, doesn’t look likely it's going to happen any time soon because Bush hasn't let other countries participate fully in Iraq’s reconstruction. It is not democracy that is in store for Iraqis, the paper concludes, but even more misery.

Die Welt in Berlin is philosophical about the significance of Iraq. It recalls that the Europeans fell out over the diplomacy and strategy of the Iraq war. Now that the American war plan is entering a crisis both at home and in Iraq, it’s time for the Europeans to rethink their foreign and security policy. The paper says the Berlin government must understand that the future of the Atlantic alliance and Europe’s role in the world will be decided in Iraq.

Switzerland’s Basler Zeitung believes Iraq urgently needs a credible and short-term political perspective so as not to sink into chaos, -- a fact the Bush administration has finally come to realize as well. Trying to turn Iraq into a model Arab democracy, the Swiss paper says, is the last remaining justification Bush still has at home for a war that could prove to be a millstone around his neck in the upcoming elections.

Finally, France’s Le Figaro says time is a crucial factor in the Iraqi drama. The difficulty is that the actors in this drama utilize time in contradictory ways. Creating legitimate Iraqi governmental structures should not be rushed, the paper explains, – this would lead to new tensions. President Bush’s
timetable, however, calls for a speedy move, so he can disentangle America from the Iraqi quagmire and concentrate on his re-election campaign. But the terrorists in Iraq ,the paper points out, are playing for time to continue their attacks and spread fear. The paper concludes that these contradictions further complicate the situation in Iraq.