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Europe

European Press Review: U.S. Needs to Change Iraq Tactics

While some European papers focussed on Iraq again on Tuesday and the meeting at the United Nations General Assembly, others turned their attention to the task ahead for new NATO leader, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

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The UN General Assembly.

Iraq is increasingly turning into a pit of snakes, said Germany’s Heilbronner Stimme, and anyone who puts their hand in gets bitten, no matter how honourable their intentions may be. Even the UN has become a primary target for terrorists there. The paper called it a catastrophe that the U.S. has taken over command without a reasonable concept for the post-war era in place, and added that whoever joins them will have to pay dearly for this huge error. What Iraq needs is a convincing model for the future, a model that can bridge the divides between peoples and religions, the daily argued.

The Guardian of Britain also looked ahead at Iraq’s future, describing U.S. plans to privatise the Iraqi economy as a mistake which should be corrected before it is implemented. The huge sell-off program, tax breaks and virtual elimination of tariffs on imports is designed to attract foreign investment, the paper said, but added that recent evidence suggests Washington’s radical prescription is doomed to fail. The London paper concluded that in reaching for such extreme measures, America has exposed the limitations of its efforts at nation-building.

France's Liberation said any way out of the Iraq crisis must be based on two realities. Firstly that the U.S. is in a bad position with regard to a possibly lengthy occupation which will cost lives and dollars. And secondly that no-one is interested in a U.S. failure in Iraq. The fates of the U.S. and its allies, the French paper concluded, are inextricably linked to the fight against terrorism.

Italy’s La Stampa was confident that the basic conditions are in place for agreement on Iraq at Tuesday’s UN General Assembly in New York. Even if a prognosis is risky, the paper commented, it a Security Council resolution is possible as there are apparent fundamental interests which oppose it.

Turning to the oppointed of new NATO Secretary General, Dutch Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Holland’s Trouw pointed out a difficult task awaits him. We will see, the paper noted, whether he has enough authority and vision to tackle it.

NATO is a unique alliance made up solely of democracies, another Dutch paper Volkskrant commented, and it is the only Western alliance that has the military capabilities to participate in peace missions, which help protect international stability. The paper stated that De Hoop Scheffer must prevent the alliance from becoming irrelevant, and pointed out that could only happen if the large European nations were taught to speak with one voice, and the Americans to listen to the Europeans. The paper was hopeful that he would succeed, commenting that NATO is the only credible alternative to U.S. unilateral actions across the world.