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Europe

European Press Review: U.S. Reaps What it Sows in Iraq

Editorialists in Europe commented on Chirac's calls for relaxing the Stability and Growth Pact, and the U.S. decision to keep troops in Iraq for as long as it takes.

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European newspapers criticize the U.S. military presence in Iraq.

The Frankfurter Rundschau argued that many governments were working hard to meet the criteria for the EU Stability and Growth pact, while the French let things drag for months, fobbed off offers of help and now ask for special treatment. Instead of attacking the unloved Brussels corset, the paper recommended, Paris should take its cue from Berlin and tell the French people hard truths and launch urgently needed reforms.

On a similar note, Germany’s Die Welt remarked that despite German Finance Minister Hans Eichel and his European colleges’ support for the Stability Pact in the face of French President Jacque Chirac’s calls to relax it, no one actually believes the issue is over yet. Chirac argues that the Pact doesn’t make economical sense, but the Pact is there to keep politicians in line, wrote the paper and wondered if the deficit ceiling is not too lax. The paper pointed out that so far not a single country has paid any fines as required whenever a member in the euro zone goes over the three percent budget deficit limit.

On the topic of Iraq, Britain’s The Independent said the U.S. decision to keep troops in the country for "as long as it takes" isn’t so much about the security problems as it is about other countries’ reluctance to share the military and financial burden. The lack of a United Nations mandate for a multinational force in Iraq is the clincher, it maintained. The paper went on to write, the U.S. and British governments can’t say they weren’t warned, "they are merely reaping what they sowed."

The official reason for going to war – Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction – is ever less convincing, wrote London’s Financial Times. It’s been three months since the end of major combats and there are still no signs of the weapons. The intelligence was old, the case that Iraq tried to buy uranium was wrong. A hidden stash may yet be discovered, but in any event, the paper concluded, the onus is on the coalition partners to complete the job they started.

The emotional wave that Bush has been riding from September 11 until now is almost all but spent commented Italy’s, La Repubblica. Between a war that turned into a guerrilla fight with no light at the end of the tunnel, to Allan Greenspan’s announcement of a sluggish forecast for the U.S. economy – the thrust forward seems to have slacked off wrote the paper.

Austria’s Kurier picked up on German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s visit in the U.S. Not much hope should be put on it sparking an invitation from Washington for Chancellor Schröder to visit in Autumn, the paper suggested, and added that even less expectation should be put on President Bush dropping by unexpectedly while Fischer is in the White House.