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Europe

German Press Review: Buy Moscow, Ignore Berlin, Punish Paris

German editorial pages were awash with analyses of the unanimous approval the United Nations gave to the U.S.-drafted resolution on Iraq's future on Friday.

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Ambassadors approve the U.S.-backed resolution on Iraq.

Buy Moscow, ignore Berlin and punish Paris. That, according to the Handelsblatt newspaper, was how the United States decided to deal with the United Nations with its latest Iraq resolution. The policy was both cynical and successful, the paper said. Once Moscow had given in, Germany and France were isolated with only Syria for company, a position they were right to avoid, the paper wrote. But the final decision had nothing to do with the resolution's content. Instead, it was about saving face. There changes the critics had called for were absent. There was no schedule for the hand-over of power; the United States retained control over Iraqi politics, the country's economy and its oil; and the United Nations hadn't been accorded a central role in Iraqi reconstruction. But at least the unanimously approved resolution would put an end to the differences in recent months and would give world leaders a chance to finally do something to rebuild the war-torn country, the Handelsblatt wrote.

Even critics of the Bush administration have realized that if the U.S.-led coalition failed to stabilize the situation in Iraq it would spell disaster for the entire Middle East. That was the Frankfurter Rundschau view. The paper wrote that in the wake of its controversial decision to go it alone against Saddam Hussein, Washington now needed cooperative partners -- not hostile friends. The Russians, French and Germans learned from experience that the quarrelsome superpower couldn't be contained through confrontation, but only -- if at all -- through cooperation, the paper wrote.

Bonn’s General-Anzeiger also said that the three main opponents of the Iraq war appeared to have made huge concessions to the United States. The Bush administration got its way on all the important issues, the paper said.

What looked like a victory for U.S. President Bush was in fact a heavy defeat, the small Offenburger Tageblatt commented. Bush may have hoodwinked the anti-war alliance, but he didn’t get what he really wanted: financial and military support for Iraq's reconstruction. The paper said what the United States really needed was money and more money, because the war and the continuing occupation of Iraq were costing America a fortune.

Lack of money was also the downfall of the German charter airline Aero Lloyd, which unexpectedly declared insolvency on Wednesday. Cologne’s Stadt-Anzeiger remarked that the airline’s promotional ‘happy hour’ -- during which flights cost just €49 ($57) -- became its darkest hour at 6:00 a.m., when the bank abruptly cut its credit. It was a major shock for the company’s 1,400 employees, as well as the thousands of vacationers who no longer had a return flight, the paper said. The paper was indignant about the lack of automatic travel insurance, that it said should accompany ticket purchases. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy a holiday in the sun without suddenly being stranded far away from home.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten wondered why the Bavarian state bank had to pull the plug on such short notice. Couldn’t it have given Aero Lloyd a few days grace, it asked, especially when it said it intended to meet all the airline’s obligations? The paper said this latest insolvency was a clear illustration that supply in the tourist industry now far outweighs demand.