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The World Debates War in Iraq

Comment and analysis from Tehran, Rawalpindi, London, Islamabad, Jakarta, Baghdad, Calí, Tokyo, Manila, Beirut, Karachi, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Sydney, Calgary, Bratislava, and Paris

An Iraqi Kurd watches Al-Jazeera's live coverage of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's address to the U.N. Security Council
Arbil, Iraq (230 miles north of Baghdad): An Iraqi Kurd watches Al-Jazeera's live coverage of Hans Blix's Feb. 14, 2003, report to the U.N. Security Council (Photo: Behrouz Mehri/AFP).
Tehran
Iran News (reformist), Feb. 17: What about the Iraqi people who have been taken hostage by a megalomaniacal dictator for so long? Why is nobody thinking about the immense suffering of the nation of Iraq? If one negotiates or yields to the demands of this hostage-taker Saddam Hussein, he will only be emboldened to increase his demands. He might even take more hostages. In any event, it is only the hostages [the Iraqi people] who will suffer further loss and injury….If Saddam Hussein is allowed to finesse his way out of this crisis, he may take the entire region as hostage in the near future….Moreover, someone should ask these antiwar protesters…if they realize how truly terrifying it is to live near a deranged and demented ruler such as Saddam Hussein, who has already invaded two of his neighbors?…Where were these protesters when Saddam Hussein was killing hundreds of thousands of citizens with conventional and unconventional weapons?…In conclusion, the same high and mighty Western powers who created the monster that is Saddam Hussein owe a debt of honor to the people of Iraq, as well as to the people of the entire region, to disarm and remove him from power now.

Rawalpindi Nawa-i-Waqt (conservative), Feb. 17: Unlike the Muslim world, Europe has fulfilled its moral responsibility to oppose war in Iraq. Europe’s governments, policymaking institutions, and people have demonstrated a strong antiwar sentiment. It’s now the Muslim world’s turn to fulfill its moral obligations. If the Muslim rulers give up their policies in favor of the decadent United States and start voicing their opposition to U.S.-led war on Iraq, they can stop Bush from his mad adventure. They should take a cue from Schröder and Chirac’s courageous stand. Likewise, the people of the Muslim world should stage protest demonstrations; they should form a human chain to resist Bush’s war frenzy.

London Al-Quds al-Arabi (Palestinian expatriate) Feb. 14: France’s president will not find a single supporter among the Arab leaders….Those leaders have made up their minds in advance. They have decided not to antagonize President Bush, hoping to evade his punishment and escape from the “Democratic Transformation” process he has threatened to impose on the region after settling the battle in Iraq and toppling its regime....The antiwar Franco-German alliance has created divisions that are considered the most dangerous in the history of the Western camp. This has put the future of its military arm, the NATO alliance, to the test. But there has not been a single [large] demonstration in the principal Arab capitals to support this position and oppose the aggression on Iraq….The Arab leaders have devoted all their efforts to intensifying the psychological war against the Iraqi leadership in an effort to compel it to flee the confrontation and surrender the country as an easy prey for the U.S. invader.

Islamabad Pakistan Observer (English-language), Feb. 17: The Arab League's ostrich-like behavior and the Muslim world’s lack of concern over the monstrously lengthening shadows of war are simply disgusting. They have evidently lost their sense of righteous indignation. Yet there is still time to retrieve it and face reality with courage and determination….The fact is, the Muslim world has immense resources of men and material….Saddam Hussein has apparently lost the opportunity to save Iraq from death and destruction. The Iraqi people are unfortunately being made to pay for his follies and lust for power. He should realize this and try to save Iraq nation from annihilation and fragmentation.

Jakarta Kompas (independent) Feb. 13: Perhaps there is truth in the Bush charge that Saddam Hussein is a dictator, a tyrant threatening humanity and world peace, and his inclusion of Iraq in the “axis of evil.” But on the other hand, perhaps there is truth in the Iraqi media’s charge that Bush is a human being who acts like a devil. In any case, the Bush versus Saddam Hussein conflict is more accurately described as a clash of two devils.

Baghdad Al-Iraq (government-controlled) Feb. 18: In a scene that asserted the strength of justice [the Feb. 15 antiwar protests], the entire world has affirmed Iraq’s just cause and recorded its true place in the bright annals of history….These are signs of certain victory as foretold by mujahid President Saddam Hussein….The U.S. “administration of evil” and Blair’s government face a diplomatic impasse and isolation. They fumbled in the darkness and issued dirty statements, which found no one to circulate them other than the Zionist media, which is itself in an isolation more complete than that of the Bush administration and his lackey Blair. The United States, which has been tempted by the evil of injustice, has pushed its media into a vicious campaign in which it hears only its own voice….Iraq and all noble people have triumphed. The U.S. “administration of evil” has lost, thanks to our ability to convey the voice of justice and the righteousness of our cause to all peoples and nations.
—Nasrallah Al-Dawudi

Calí El País (conservative), Feb. 18: Thousands took to the streets of the world to ask that war not be unleashed against Iraq. [Yet] Saddam Hussein has no reason for chanting victory. Quite the opposite. Protests are directed primarily against him, because he is the cause of an eventual war on Iraq. Thanks to his tyranny, his atrocious methods, his dictatorial deliriums, and his lies, millions today are cannon fodder….Yes, the world wants peace. But this wish will be impossible so long as its violence continues to hang over society and be in the hands of those who show their contempt for mankind.

London The Guardian (liberal), Feb. 19: Here’s the question every opponent of the coming war on Iraq fears most: Well, what would you do? We’re comfortable enough announcing what we would not do, rattling off all the flaws, contradictions and hypocrisies of the war camp….We need an answer to the argument which has become Tony Blair’s favorite in recent days: that war is needed to topple a cruel tyrant who has drowned his people in misery….It will be a moral war to remove an immoral regime….This is a much harder case for the antiwar movement to swat aside….So the anti-war campaign has to make three sharp moves. First, we have to establish that we oppose the Baathist regime with all the fervor now claimed by the prime minister….Second, we have to dispute Blair’s description of the coming attack as a war of liberation….Washington does not cast this conflict centrally in humanitarian, Kosovo-style terms, but as a way of snuffing out a threat to U.S. security….Third, the peace camp has to set out its own, alternative method of ridding Iraq of its oppressor….If we do not, we allow our opponents to say we are coddlers of evil, allowing an oppressor to rule unchecked. This way, we can hold our heads high with a new slogan: pro-peace, aggressively anti-Saddam Hussein.
—Jonathan Freedland

Tokyo Sankei Shimbun (right-wing), Feb. 15: Assessing the results of the recent inspections in light of [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 1441, we have to say that Iraq bears grave responsibility for failing to comply with the resolution’s requirements. If the “one last chance” the Security Council unanimously gave Iraq turns out not to be the last chance, the United Nations would lose its authority. This time, the United Nations should fulfill its obligations and responsibility to protect “international peace and safety” (as specified in the U.N. Charter). Otherwise, it can be dubbed “a social club,” as President Bush has warned.

Manila Business World (independent), Feb. 13: Granted, the United States can be, and has been, a pain in the neck to some of its allies….[But] for 12 years, Saddam has been running rings around an extremely patient United Nations—lying, obfuscating the issues, refusing to cooperate with international inspectors. Unfortunately, according to the United States, all those lies and obfuscations have been used to hide a buildup of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Saddam Hussein denies this vehemently. As far as I am concerned, in this case, Saddam Hussein is definitely the bad guy, the liar, and the bully. If Iraq has suddenly become cooperative with the United Nations after 12 years of intransigence, it is only because Saddam Hussein, who respects only brute force, realizes that the United States means business—for which we have the United States to thank.
—Solita Collas-Monsod

Beirut An-Nahar (independent), Feb. 13: It is an absurd and categorically rejected heresy to view any war against the Iraqi regime as a Christian war or crusade against Islam….The West neither represents Christians nor do all Christians come from the West. Similarly, the Arab world does not represent all Muslims, nor are all Arabs Muslims….A war on Saddam Hussein has nothing to do with sectarianism, ethnic discrimination, Christianity, or a “conflict of civilizations.” It is not the West’s war against the East. Rather, it is a political war against a repressive regime—a war that began in the wake of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and a call from Arab and Islamic countries, the world community, the United States, and the allies to intervene militarily to put an end to Saddam Hussein’s insanity.
—Jubran Tuwayni

Karachi The News (left-wing), Feb. 11: Saddam Hussein is just a symbol of a mindset which has prevailed in the hierarchy of Iraq over the past 40 years. Merely removing him from power will not serve any purpose unless the entire ruling elite is removed from power and punished for its crimes….Unfortunately, given the fact that the majority of population in the Muslim world is illiterate and is swayed by emotions rather than reason, people like Saddam Hussein can cash in on the popular feelings against the United States and Israel….Hussein’s “apparatus of lies,” his disinformation, and his propaganda should be enough to prove how cruel and ruthless the ruling clique of Iraq has been since its birth….In order to exploit suffering, Saddam blames starvation and medical crises often of his own making on the United Nations or the United States and its allies….The Iraqi regime has diverted many millions of dollars that were intended for food, medicines, and other facilities to its weapons programs or to luxuries for the regime’s elites….The criminal record of Saddam Hussein’s regime is sufficient grounds for its removal. But it should be done by the people of Iraq or its neighbors rather than by those who are not even distant neighbors of that country.
—Moonis Ahmar

Copenhagen Politiken (moderate), Feb. 15: For three months, Iraq has allowed the United Nations inspectors to move about fairly freely and continue the work of reporting and monitoring that was begun in 1991 and interrupted in 1998. But Iraq is still not cooperating with the weapons inspectors on the ultimatum the Security Council approved in November: that Iraq should actively participate in disarming….Iraq is not yet cooperating but might soon cooperate. The responsibility is thus back where it belongs: in the Security Council….With respect to the future of the United Nations, one must hope that the superpowers succeed in finding a compromise….But the possibility cannot be ruled out that the Iraq crisis will now slip away from the Security Council’s grasp and that it will be up to the individual countries to interpret the 17 United Nations resolutions that have been passed about Iraq's weapons programs. That would be a victory for Saddam Hussein and a defeat for the international community—whether or not there is war.

Melbourne The Age (centrist), Feb. 20: It was “the indignant pity of the civilized world” that would ultimately give states the right and the duty to intervene by force of arms against other states that oppressed and murdered their peoples, said Theodore Roosevelt in his 1904 State of the Union address….Why is the indignant pity the peace marchers feel for the people of Iraq expressed not at their long-term oppressor, Saddam Hussein, but at George Bush?....When it calls for international unity, the Bush administration would have more credibility if it were not so jealous of America’s own national sovereignty; if it had not refused to ratify the International Criminal Court without an iron-clad guarantee U.S. soldiers would never be prosecuted; if it had not refused to support the Kyoto Protocol, because “the American way of life is sacred;” and if it were not dead last among developed countries in the percentage of its GDP it gives in aid to poor countries….And yet, a truth does not cease to be true just because it is stated by somebody one dislikes. Saddam Hussein is a cruel tyrant who should face international justice. Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction does pose an intolerable danger to the rest of the world….Unfortunately, though this was not the intention of the peace marchers, Saddam Hussein has taken courage from the massive public opposition to war….I envy the moral certainty of the peace protesters.
—Pamela Bone

Sydney The Sydney Morning Herald (centrist), Feb. 20: [The peace protesters] are people who believe the United States is more of a threat to world peace than Iraq or North Korea, and that the “cowboys” in the White House and Kirribilli House are more dangerous than Saddam….All most people have left to trust is their gut: George Bush talks like a Texan, has slightly crossed eyes, can stumble into incoherence when a microphone is thrust in front of him, talks about God, and therefore is a dangerous moron….Saddam Hussein this week thanked everyone who marched around the world, taking the displays as a vote of confidence in his regime.
—Miranda Devine

Calgary Calgary Herald (conservative), Feb. 15: Preserving a close friendship while preventing a bed-rocking romance has always been the trick in Canada’s relationship with the United States. On the Iraq front, Canada must soon confirm a friendship or start a split. The frustration with Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's carefully finessed position on Iraq to date has not been in giving the United Nations due process before it commits the world to an Iraqi invasion. It’s the giant slab of fudge he’s feeding us by insisting the only route Canada will follow into battle is through the United Nations, when clearly there’s a sharp fork in the road ahead. The U.N. decision will be hijacked by the whims of France or Russia, one or both allegedly ready to use their veto on the Security Council, which would kill the resolution backing an Iraqi invasion. That will not stop the United States from unleashing hell on Iraq—and that's why there will soon have to be a made-by-Canada position, even though the prime minister continues to pretend it won't be required….We need to take a stand on Iraq. Not as U.N. wait-and-see fence-sitter nor as an American poodle. But as a sovereign country with a proud history of doing the right thing—all on its own.
—Don Martin

Bratislava Pravda (left-wing), Feb. 18: Everything we have witnessed in the last couple of days could be only an overture to a drama that might end in the radical weakening, if not complete disintegration, of NATO, the world's most powerful military alliance….The current disputes over further moves to be taken against Iraq are not some short-lived misunderstanding but have a firm foundation….Germany, Europe’s strongest economy, today invests only 1.6 percent of its GDP in its armed forces, which is only half of what the United States spends, even if we discount the markedly higher performance of the American economy. Even militarily underdeveloped countries such as Poland or Hungary do not want to spend more than 2 percent of GDP on defense….Europeans currently trail so far behind the United States in the arena of military technology that, in the event of a joint operation, they would be more of a burden for Washington than a help. The United States can serenely do without them; it will only save itself unnecessary worries [by going it alone]….This is, and will remain, the key problem of NATO's further existence, even should the Iraqi crisis pass by without any consequences. Unless this problem is solved, Slovakia will be joining a North Atlantic alliance that, while still existing, will be dying a slow death.
—Lubos Palata

Paris Le Monde (liberal), Feb. 13: National public opinion polls confirm that the general public is hostile to war even in the eight countries where the leaders signed the letter supporting George W. Bush. 84 percent of those polled in Great Britain are against, 82 percent in Hungary, 80 percent in Spain, 79 percent in Denmark, 72 percent in Italy and two thirds of the Portuguese. In France, they represent 73 percent. And yet, close to three-quarters of Europeans feel that Iraq represents a threat to peace. How can this obvious contradiction between the anxiety caused by Saddam Hussein and opposition to American policy be explained? This is undoubtedly the result of mistrust of the Bush administration, which has not known how or wanted to make an effort to convince its European partners….The harm done by the White House's tactic—a combination of rough pressure and fundamentalist messianism—is obvious. It has tried to impose the theory of preventive war on a Europe that has been working since 1945 toward stopping new conflicts within its borders.
—Patrice de Beer

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