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Europe

European Press Review: The Fight Against Terror

The fight against terror featured prominently in European newspapers on Thursday as did the subject of Germany’s military reforms and unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The left-liberal French daily Libération presented a sobering view of the fight against terrorism in an editorial entitled "Bush at the Starting Block." The American president is only at the beginning of a long, hard battle against international terrorism, the paper wrote on Thursday: "Tough times are ahead for George W. Bush. He thought he’d reduced Islamist terror to an election issue by intervening in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the explosions in Riad and Casablanca have destroyed that hope." It seems instead, the paper theorized, that the nebulous al Qaeda organization has spawned a number of offshoots operating independently of one another. It is a true epidemic multiplying without a head, and the "doctrine" Bin Laden is enough to sustain it, whether the leader is actually alive or not, the editorial concluded.

A war is won in more than one battle, the Turin-based Italian newspaper La Stampa stressed in its review of the U.S. fight against terror. Comparing the U.S.-led efforts to wipe out terrorism to the situation in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, the editorial suggested that it was time America face up to the bitter reality the British and Israelis know so well: the war against terror cannot be won in a single battle. "It is a tug-of-war," the paper wrote, "and the loser is the one who gives up first." Al Qaeda understands this and has turned the fight into a global phenomena effecting more than just one people or one nation, the Italian daily said.

Austria’s Salzburger Nachrichten focused on its northern neighbor Germany and efforts to reform its military. The national Austrian daily endorsed the German defense minister’s plans to turn the country’s army into a force capable of fighting outside the national borders. It is very unlikely, the paper wrote, that German soldiers would be called upon to defend their homeland against a military aggressor. More probable is a deployment of German troops to the outskirts of Europe and beyond as part of a European alliance. Therefore, the paper said, the minister’s reforms were completely justifiable. "Obviously the German government had the courage to analyze the changing security situation in Europe and to draw the necessary conclusions," the editorial summarized and then criticized the Austrians for not doing the same, "That is far more than Austrian politicians have ever managed to achieve on the subject."

The unrest in northeastern Congo featured on the Luxemburger Wort’s editorial page. The paper compared the situation in the former Belgian colony to Angola and referred to the country’s extensive wealth as a curse rather than a blessing. "As so often in Africa, the fighting goes beyond tribal rivalries and involves big economic interests," the paper said in a critique of foreign powers like Uganda and Rwanda who take advantage of the fighting and the resulting power vacuum to secure their piece of the pie. "The Democratic Republic of Congo is a doomed state," and when it collapses the whole region will be sucked into its chaos, the paper prophesized.