European Press Review: The African Bush | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.07.2003
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European Press Review: The African Bush

Editors at leading European newspapers dedicated their editorial pages to George W. Bush's five-country tour of Africa and the weekend's intifada-like suicide bombing in Moscow.


U.S. President Bush walked with African leaders in June, prior to his current trip.

The Financial Times from London commented on U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to Africa this week. The paper predicted that the five-country tour will “produce more show than substance,” but that both Bush and Africa stand to benefit from it nonetheless. “New concern for Africa may help rebuild some of the capital the US has lost in Iraq in terms of international image. The US is edging towards a peacekeeping engagement in Liberia -- a departure for a superpower otherwise averse to exercising leadership in settling African conflicts,” the paper pointed out. And it added: “Much more effort is still needed to tackle African poverty and the wars, disease and the hunger associated with it. But the sums pledged by the US are significant enough to make a difference.”

The Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad agreed that Africa has been able to draw more of America’s attention than it used to. The paper saw this new interest connected to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US and to the doctrine of “preventive wars” which evolved from the attacks. And it pointed out specific American interests in Africa saying: “The Pentagon wants to sign contracts ensuring that American military planes can be refueled in Africa. That concerns Senegal and Uganda, two countries that Bush will visit on his tour.”

Other European papers commented on the suicide attacks in Moscow, which killed at least 15 people at a rock concert on Saturday. The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said the the suicide bombings show that the Chechen war has developed forms similar to those of the Palestinian intifada. “The calculation of the rebels is easy to understand,” wrote the paper, “because they cannot win against the Russian army on the battlefield, they carry the war into Russian society.” And this has a double effect. First, the whole country starts panicking. The Chechen rebels hope that this panic will finally force Moscow to grant Chechnya independence. And second, the paper wrote, the deadly attacks draw world-wide attention to the forgotten war in the Caucasus.

Die Presse from Austria accused the West of simply ignoring the Chechen conflict and argued: “The more warmly the Russian president is being welcomed in the west, the more desperately the Chechen rebels will act.” And the more successfully Putin sells his policy to the west as one aimed at establishing peace, the paper added, the more radically the terrorists will carry the Chechen message into the cities. The editors at the Russian daily Komsomolskaja Prawda, however, were convinced that “the suicide bombers are doomed to fail” -- not only because they die themselves but because Moscow will not succumb to force and give in to terrorism. The city is too big and the people living in it have become hardened. Moscow has seen too much blood and tears in recent years, the paper wrote. It concluded: “The city is learning to live with terror. People are not panicking anymore. In spite of all the tragedies, life goes on."

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