Editorials critical of U.S. President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq crisis filled the pages for another day on Thursday, with the "V" word popping up with increasing frequency.
German editorial pages were almost universally critical of George Bush's performance at a press conference held Tuesday night. Referring to Bush's use of phrases like "stay the course" and "we will not waver," the term that consistently appears in the German press is "slogans of perseverance." That’s how Neues Deutschland in Berlin referred to them, saying that the assurances from Bush are nothing more than this. The Americans have suffered more losses in April than in any month since the supposed end of the Iraq war, the paper commented. The majority of coalition countries maintain that they're standing firm, but actually, the paper wrote, their troops are hiding in their bases and letting the United States conduct its war of occupation alone.
The Mannheimer Morgen called Bush's speech a "document of political helplessness" and wrote that Bush's platitudes and slogans of perseverance are an attempt to dissipate the growing fear among Americans that the Iraq War is developing into a Vietnam-style debacle.
However, Berlin’s Tageszeitung agreed with Bush that, at least in political and military terms, the Vietnam analogy is inaccurate. Anyone referring to Vietnam with the benefit of hindsight is thinking primarily of the way the war ended, the paper wrote. It reminds us that that the war was at first allowed to escalate unhindered by media criticism or domestic protests. The U.S. procrastinated for years before making the ultimately unavoidable withdrawal from Vietnam, the paper said. Nonetheless, the paper concluded, there is something to be learned from that period in history: "Once again, we're seeing an American president resorting to slogans of perseverance."
In Hamburg the Financial Times Deutschland also dismissed Bush’s speech as sound like a bunch of big slogans - he offered no new plans or arguments, the paper noted. Bush answered critical questions with stock phrases, the paper pointed out, and sometimes just with helpless incomprehension. But to be fair, the editors wrote, "we have to concede that there's not much that Bush can do right now other than to 'stay the course' in Iraq." Any hopes that NATO or the United Nations could suddenly be won over and provide strong support have been dashed in the bloody chaos that’s erupted from Falluja to Najaf, the paper wrote. "Even Bush's little coalition of the willing is crumbling," the paper comments, "because more and more governments are beginning to suspect that they've sided with a loser." And that doesn't leave Bush much choice other than to employ strong rhetoric and try to stabilize the situation in Iraq by himself. The shallowness of Bush's remarks, the paper concluded, are a reflection of the serious of the situation.