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Europe

European Press Review: Seeing Through Bush's Immigration Plans

Europe’s leading newspapers on Friday considered the reasons behind U.S. President George W. Bush’s immigration plans and reopened the debate on America’s justification for the war on Iraq.

For the Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten, President Bush’s immigration plan is the unofficial start of the US election campaign. "Bush is clearly aiming at undermining a traditionally Democratic stronghold, the immigrant vote," the paper said, and added that his chosen targets -- Hispanic immigrants -- have in the past always voted for the Democrats.

In the same vein, Britain’s left-leaning Guardian newspaper wrote that Bush’s plan to give as many as 10 million illegal immigrants the right to work legally in America is electorally motivated. "Many of the illegal immigrants are Latinos and live in Florida and California, key states in the presidential election," the paper commented.

Germany’s Die Welt newspaper described Bush’s plans as "contradictory" and "short of vision," and warned that Congress and indeed his own Republican party, who are highly sceptical of any formalization of illegal immigration, could yet throw a spanner in the works.

The ongoing saga over whether or not Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was taken up by the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant. Bush is again facing accusations that the mere threat of such weapons doesn't justify the war. But the paper wrote that Bush won't let himself be accused of procrastinating over the issue. "The doctrine in the White House is to take action sooner rather than later," it wrote. "In the recent past, it's emerged that North Korea, Iran and Libya carried out illegal activities that weren't detected. The difficult burden of proof doesn't mean there won't be preventive military action in the future," the paper concluded.

London’s Financial Times accused both America and Britain of misusing intelligence to justify the war on Iraq. "Nine months after the conflict," it commented, "it’s becoming ever clearer that the intelligence used was moulded around decisions that had already been all but made in Washington and London." The paper also said that both governments treated the expertise of UN weapons inspectors with disdain, even though they had uncovered Iraq’s weapons programmes. "That’s something a much larger team of U.S. inspectors has so far failed to do," the paper pointed out, adding that the combined failure and misuse of intelligence undermines the justification for preventive military action.

Several editorial writers dissected the European Central bank’s decision to keep its key interest rate steady. The Frankfurter Rundschau in Germany was unimpressed by what it called the ECB’s" inflexible attitude." "The decision not to cut interest rates will please neither employers nor customers," the paper commented. "A lower rate would have sent a positive signal to investors and consumers making bank loans much cheaper."

The French paper Nouvel Observateur looked at what it called "turbulent times" facing euro-zone countries. "All the key economic indicators are pointing downwards," the paper said. "Countries that are supposed to be the motor of Europe, like Germany, France and Italy, have been mired in recession over the past year, whereas in contrast, Britain, Sweden and Denmark, who have not joined the euro, are enjoying healthy economic times."