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Europe

The Effect of Iraqi Civilian Deaths

Newspapers across Europe comment on latest deaths of civilians in Iraq and debate the merits of a controversial defense summit in Brussels.

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The European press, parsed and pared.

After the recent shooting of Iraqi civilians in Falluja west of Baghdad, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung chides American soldiers for being too quick to use their guns. "The incident fits in neatly with the shooting of women and children in a car at a checkpoint earlier during the conflict, or the attack on the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad," writes the paper, and answers its own strong rhetoric as to how the Americans will respond to the incident: "Investigations? No way. Apologies? Not a word."

Britain's Guardian thinks that it will now be even more difficult to convince Iraqis that U.S. soldiers are there to help them. The paper calls for an independent investigation and continues: "Meanwhile, the 82nd Airborne division should be withdrawn from Falluja. If necessary, they could be replaced by better-disciplined British troops."

The defense summit of the leaders of Germany, France, Luxemburg and Belgium is also widely covered by European papers on Wednesday. The Danish paper Jyllands Posten attacks the countries for exacerbating divisions in Europe: "Four E.U. nations that are united in their opposition to the war on Iraq have held a separate summit on E.U. defense policy while all the others are trying to mend fences and return to a certain pragmatism. Unfortunately, pragmatism is hard to come by if a few countries put their personal delusions of grandeur before anything else."

The British Independent is more sanguine and instead praises the summit: "That the meeting took place was highly significant and achieved more than Britain, for one, will want to admit," says the paper and demands that the British government take the meeting's results seriously. "The government should reflect that from such humble beginnings the single currency was born, and the effect of the euro has been not to divide Europe, but to leave Britain out in the cold."

The French paper L'humanité previews demonstrations due to take place on May Day, or international workers day. "There are always good reasons to protest on May 1st," say the paper. "This time, the topic at the center of demonstrations will be the pension system as the main challenge to today's society. We need to confront the neo-liberalists who govern us and the best way to do that is to get people out on the streets."