The German press said on Tuesday that with the resignation of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Europe had lost a valuable friend within the camp of President George W. Bush.
"For Europeans, the US secretary of state was the John Kerry of the Bush administration: the last hope on this side of the Atlantic and a man who stood for a reasonable and measured foreign policy," said an editorial in Berlin's Die Welt newspaper, which added that Bush's leadership had effectively tied Powell's hands. "Powell played the role that Bush gave him, just as was the case for US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The foreign policy over the last four years did not bear the stamp of Powell but that of the president. And that is not going to change."
Another paper, Der Tagesspiegel, said Powell "will be missed on both sides of the Atlantic."
Powell was "the man in Bush's team who the Europeans could count on the most," said the Berliner Zeitung. "The problem is that since Sept. 11, 2001 it has become hard to know where Powell stands," it added. "He became a naked instrument in the hand of the holy warrior Bush."
There was criticism too from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which said the current war in Iraq has been "a fiasco" for Powell and that he should have resigned after the failure to find chemical, biological or nuclear weapons in Iraq.
The Financ ial Times Deutschland however reflected the overriding mood of regret in Germany towards Powell's departure. "Powell no longer had any influence. That is often the case with people who are nice," said the business daily.
Moscow’s Kommersant sounded like it’s nearly crying: Colin Powell is leaving us! It’s a disaster! What are we going to do now? Russian President Vladimir Putin put his money on George W. Bush’s re-election. The paper asked what for, because now the Russian people and international politics have lost a friend. The best ones always leave, wrote the paper.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph started off by saying that Colin Powell had the makings of an outstanding secretary of state. But it goes on to explain how his department started to lose influence after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The daily said Powell became increasingly at odds with Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and soon started to look like a fish out of water. The paper didn't clearly welcome Powell’s resignation, but it does think that President Bush now has an opportunity to appoint a secretary of state more in tune with his unique blend of social conservatism and foreign policy radicalism.
General Powell sounds the retreat, was the headline of the F inancial Times’ editorial column in Britain. The daily called Powell a tragic figure, someone who was caught between his soldier’s loyalty and his apparent dislike of the unilateralist policies he was asked to carry out. The paper believed Powell's biggest weakness during his four years as secretary of state was that he lacked a close relationship with President Bush. It remembers how Powell lost most of
his international standing after presenting to the United Nations ‘evidence’ of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, which now appear not to exist. The paper thought it was at that point that many allies, especially in Europe, largely gave up on Powell.
Basler Zeitung said Powell’s resignation wasn’t exactly a surprise. The paper saw him as a tired, isolated politician whose views on foreign policy all too often didn’t correspond with those of his boss. The daily believed that Powell never matched Bush in the first place.