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European Press Review: War Comes to Italy

Europe’s editorial pages on Thursday devoted much attention to the devastating bomb attack in southern Iraq, which killed at least 19 Italian policemen and 9 Iraqis.

The Austrian daily, Der Standard, responded to Wednesday’s attack on an Italian police base in Nassiriya by writing that it is now time to see what the coalition of the willing in Iraq is really made of and what it is prepared to undertake.

Denmark, which also has troops stationed in southern Iraq, is part of the coalition of the willing but for how long, wondered the Danish newspaper Politiken. It said the country’s politicians should start thinking about why Danish troops are actually in the country, especially when considering that they lack a clear U.N. mandate and an idea of what post-war Iraq should look like.

The Italian newspaper La Stampa had similar concerns. Wednesday’s attack means that Italy has entered the war, it wrote, and it has done so almost without noticing it, without understanding it and without being really sure of whether it really wants to be in a war in the first place.

The British newspaper, The Independent, looked to Washington and opined that America should start the search for a way out of Iraq. The promised improvement in the security situation has not materialized, the paper commented. If anything, the Iraqi resistance is spreading and becoming more deadly.

The Spanish newspaper El Pais agreed with that assessment. The American superpower has long since lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, it said, and on top of this, the CIA has warned that the Iraqi resistance movement is getting more and more support

from normal Iraqis.

Another British paper, The Guardian, implied that this will not change anytime soon. The latest U.S. threat to get tough against the insurgency is likely to alienate more Iraqis in a conflict in which too many innocent civilians have been killed. The question now, wrote the French newspaper Liberation, is whether it is already too late to install an Iraqi government in Baghdad. Such a government would only survive, the paper thinks, if protected by international troops with a certain degree of legitimacy.