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Europe

European Press Review: True Threat or Sly Maneuver?

Editorial writers across Europe analyzed whether the newest heightened terrorist warnings in the United States had more to do with actual danger or the presidential election in November.

The Austrian newspaper Die Presse presented the opinion that the latest warnings about renewed terrorist threats to the United States come at an opportune moment in the run-up to the election. However, the paper observed that such a tactic would be an act of pure cynicism that could possibly lead to less vigilance. "If you warn about the big, bad wolf too often, nobody will take you seriously," it wrote. "The next attack would be the price to pay for re-election."

That theme was also taken up by the Luxemburger Wort. In a somewhat outspoken editorial it said that US President George W. Bush has actually benefited from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Until that time he was "a president without policies, indecisive and weakened through the controversial conditions of his election."

"Al Qaeda is helping Bush in his election campaign" was how the Belgian paper De Standaard termed it. The paper went on to say "a concrete terror warning three months before the elections is bad news for presidential candidate John Kerry" because he now has to differentiate himself from Bush and prove he's strong on security.

Another Belgian newspaper, De Morgen, also discussed the idea of Bush of using the terror warnings opportunistically. It opined that the warning could be seen as a way to hold Kerry back after the Democratic candidate jumped seven points ahead of the president after the convention last week.

"The terrorist threat must never be politicized – even in a close presidential race," said Britain’s Independent in an uncompromising editorial. "The Bush team is not averse to playing dirty, very dirty in extremes. The question is whether the Bush campaign would dare play the terrorist card to improve the president’s chances. We sincerely hope that the answer is no."

The Russian newspaper Kommersant pointed out what it saw as a paradox in regard to various governments' secret services. "It is remarkable, that in a totalitarian government the strengthening of the secret services is seen as something intrinsically bad for society," it commented. "However in countries which see themselves as shining examples of democracy it is seen as something completely normal."