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Europe

European Press Review: The U.N. Could at Last Get its Chance in Iraq

European papers on Friday focused on the increasingly risk-fraught attempt by the Americans to restore order in postwar Iraq and the erosion of President Bush's credibility.

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While U.S. President Bush along with daughter Barbara pets elephants in Botswana, European papers fret about his policies in Iraq.

Italian daily La Repubblica wrote that three months after the fall of the Saddam regime, U.S. President George W. Bush had to admit there’s a "security issue" in Iraq. The paper said every day brought new reasons to worry: A Pentagon report has revealed that fatigue and bad equipment led to the capture of U.S. soldier Jessica Lynch. One marine shot himself north of Baghdad, and the first troops that return home are complaining about "great stress". This climate of insecurity within the U.S. could even worsen, the paper warned, as the justification of the Iraq invasion is at stake because of claims Washington used false proofs to go to war.

The Spanish daily El Mundo agreed and said not even U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thinks that the banned weapons which have triggered this war will be found. In a Senate hearing he confessed that the Bush administration had taken action without having new or relevant proofs against Saddam Hussein, the paper wrote, suggesting that this has become a serious threat to the credibility of U.S. president George W. Bush.

London-based daily The Independent took a different view and argued that invading Iraq nevertheless was the right thing to do: "The clearest and most compelling argument for the war was simply that the Iraqi people wanted it to happen. It was the only way they could see to end the tyranny of Saddam", the paper said. That’s why it sees the morality of the war hinging on one simple question: "Is Iraq better or worse off now than under Saddam?"

Der Standard from Austria suggested Iraq could become a serious handicap for Bush in the next presidential election campaign. "The Democrats will not miss any opportunity to put a spin on Bush’s Iraq mistakes with the American public. The claim that the president lied could be especially dangerous, the paper pointed out, because who will believe the economic promises of a president who is known "not be one hundred percent strict about even the most sensitive national security information?"

Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung commented on Washington’s request to share the cost and responsibility of the Iraq occupation with a coalition of countries, including France and Germany. Yes, Rumsfeld needs help, the paper stated. But it warned that any satisfaction derived from it by the opponents of the Iraq war should not go so far as to stop them from giving any assistance at all. On the other hand, Washington must understand that help has its price. It cannot distribute the burdens of occupation while at the same time keeping total control. Anyone who joins, must also be given a say, the paper said concluding: "It seems that the United Nations could get their chance in Iraq at last."