Asia-Pacific

War in Iraq

Asian Press Response to the War in Iraq

Abu Dhabi television shows the bombing of Baghdad, March 21
Abu Dhabi Television shows the bombing of Baghdad, March 21, 2003 (Photo: AFP).

New Delhi The Times of India (conservative), March 25: If the Iraqis are excited at the prospect of deliverance, courtesy the visitors, they aren’t exactly showing it. If anything, the Iraqis’ dislike of Saddam Hussein would appear to be only matched by their distrust of the United States….The Americans are also discovering, if belatedly, that defiance is a double-edged sword. What better proof of this than the ironic invocation of the Geneva conventions by a country that defied world opinion and the United Nations to go to war? Were not the same conventions held to be irrelevant when prisoners were dispatched in the most inhuman conditions to Guantanamo Bay? In the same league is another American charge—that Russia assisted Iraq in contravention of the U.N. sanctions against that country. Whatever the final outcome, this is a war that history will judge as one fought by breaking every rule.

Taipei China Times (pro-government) March 21: It is now for the antiwar countries to decide whether they will continue the stand-off with the United States or even condemn the U.S. and British “invasion” of Iraq. They obviously won’t. Jacques Chirac and Vladimir Putin, after winning all their admiration, must maintain long-term relations with the United States, because nobody is sufficiently strong to start a second Cold War with the superpower.

Tokyo Yomiuri Shimbun (centrist) March 21: The fault for the war lies with Iraq.... Nobody likes war, but this is a chance, not a day too soon, to free the Iraqi people from oppression, and we hope to embark upon a period where they can seek to create a rich, democratic country. More than 40 countries are supporting the U.S. action. It is not true that the U.S. is isolated from the international community....It is true that the disagreements among the international community have dimmed hopes of creating a future order to guarantee global peace and stability….But it is necessary for the international community to be reminded, one more time, of the source of the Iraq problem. The United States and Britain were not lazy in their efforts to gain more support among the international community.

Islamabad Pakistan Observer (right-wing) March 21: The law of the jungle, of brute force and 18th-century colonial powers, is now revived. The U.N. Charter is, in effect, a dead letter as far as the United States is concerned. Pity the Arabs did not show themselves alive to the situation. The Middle East is now Israeli-dominated. The “Axis of Evil” is going to rule the Middle East, its oil, and its wealth. Back to the heyday of imperialism!
—Samiullah Koreshi

Kuala Lumpur The Star (pro-government), March 23: This attack on Iraq will touch raw nerves and will likely reverberate around the Arab nations, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. The issues at play tend to be as emotionally charged as they are politically driven. There is a need for all parties to be more restrained and measured in their responses, without being any less thoughtful….Admittedly, the attack on Iraq is beyond the control of nearly everyone. Among the best ways to respond to this undignified development is to reject it outright.

Kuala Lumpur Utusan Melayu (pro-government) March 21: The entire world knows that America’s interest in Iraq is in its vast oil resources....We regret that the war is actually an attack against Islam, not the original objective of wiping out international terrorism. It is the Muslim world that will lose the oil. If the United States succeeds in toppling Saddam Hussein, then Baghdad will be ruled by a puppet government.

Sydney The Australian (conservative), March 25: As incidents such as [the ambush of allied soldiers by Iraqi troops pretending to surrender and the interrogation of American prisoners of war], aggregate and reveal the heinous character of Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is little wonder that public support for the involvement of Australian troops is increasing, with a majority of Australians now in favor. Such incidents should also cause those few Australians who have decided to place further obstacles in the way of our troops, by becoming "human shields" for Iraq, to take a long, hard look at themselves, and come home.

Lucknow Rashtriya Sahara (conservative). March 21: So, finally, the U.S. took off its democratic mask and declared war on Iraq....The outcome of this war is a foregone conclusion. But, on the moral side, it can be said that the United States has already lost. By flouting international law, Bush has stripped his fellow countrymen of their democratic credentials....The world had never supported Saddam Hussein’s autocratic rule; today, the same Saddam Hussein has the world’s sympathy.

Karachi Ummat (Urdu-language daily) March 21: Right now President Bush is not proving his animosity toward Saddam Hussein or Iraq. He had done so already. He is jeopardizing the future of his own people through his misguided decisions and stubbornness. President Bush seems to be implementing his policy of killing Muslims the world over by targeting one Muslim country after another.

Singapore The Straits Times (pro-government) Determining the correct policy for Singapore depends very much on being able to accurately read the most probable conclusion to the war in Iraq. If, as we have predicted, the United States will most likely be able to achieve a reasonably quick and peaceful end to the Iraq war, then Arab opinion will become less antagonistic toward the United States, especially if the United States and Britain start delivering humanitarian aid and enable the rapid reconstruction of Iraq. Then Singapore’s support for the United States on the Iraq question will be less problematic. But if the end-game is messy and results in heavy casualties, then we would be seen as having backed a losing horse. Victory has a thousand fathers; defeat is an orphan.
—Mark Hong

Seoul Chosun Ilbo (conservative), March 24: This is not a war. The classical definition of war involves two sides pointing guns at each other and fighting. What we are seeing is a one-sided attack, a game in which the discrepancy in defense spending between the two sides is glaringly obvious. The war in Iraq seen from American television is a burst of pent-up military strength and clinical experiments of new weapons. The coverage looks like a war movie. The United States that we see now is different from the United States that we have known. Americans tolerate domestic antiwar sentiment in the name of diversity, but seethe at allies who voice antiwar and anti-American sentiments. And it seems that the Americans will not budge an inch from their attitude of “American supremacy.”
—Kim Dae-joong

Dhaka The Daily Star (independent), March 25: It is heartrending to observe the demeaning of a proud, powerful, and benevolent superpower in the hands of a doctrinaire gang of big businessmen from the energy and armaments sectors. The United States, since its birth, has positioned itself on high moral ground. It is committed to peace, prosperity, and the happiness of its people. Its core values are the most noble of democratic culture. It has mostly resisted the imperialist leanings that go hand in hand with military and economic power….Yet today, President Bush and Tony Blair have thrown the world into turmoil by launching an unjust and meaningless war when it was not considered necessary by the comity of nations as well as vast masses of protesters all over the world. The U.S. Congress and the British Parliament could not vote rationally when patriotism was put on the line….So we have an unequal and unjust war in Iraq since the black day of March 20.

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