European Press Response to the War in Iraq

Leaflet dropped on Iraq
One of the leaflets dropped over Iraq. The Arabic reads "British soldiers are active in your area." (Photo: AFP).

Brussels De Morgen (independent), March 21: The United States is defending its own interests and there is nobody in this world strong enough to stop it. The situation is that simple and poignant. But it becomes totally grotesque when the White House says that its version of the Roman Empire is the best form of democracy for us all.
—Yves Desmet

Tirana Shekulli (independent), March 20: The bombs falling on Iraq now remind us of bombs that fell [on Yugoslavia] four years ago, bombs that marked the beginning of the end of another dictatorship….That U.S.-led intervention was met with strong criticism and resistance, as today's intervention is met with criticism and resistance….But there were people in Kosovo who suffered through the bombardment who wished the bombers could drop more bombs.…We know it is a very hard day, as it was four years ago. But those in doubt about the war in Iraq should talk to us in Kosovo. Ask us: “Are we better off now than we were before NATO dropped the first bomb over Yugoslavia?” Of course. Our lives our incomparably better now. Iraq’s citizens, as well as those who oppose the war, will understand this very soon.

London The Times (conservative), March 25: The decision to embark on military operations in Iraq last week produced something unfamiliar in our politics: the sense of the genuinely tragic—by which I mean not the sad or the catastrophic, but the awareness of desperately constrained choices, profound moral risk, the knowledge of the cost of what we do, even when we do it from conviction.

Hamburg Welt am Sonntag (conservative weekly), March 23: Bombs are raining down on Baghdad, while the war of opinions rages on all sides, with a ferocity that grows ever stronger as it becomes ever clearer that this war represents the failure of politics and the bankruptcy of diplomacy. As the United States uses its military superiority as a normative force to create facts, thereby rendering virtually pointless any objection or opposition to the use of force, those whose voices went unheard go on fighting the battles they lost long ago.

Milan Corriere della Sera (centrist) March 21: We ought to agree...that those who have opposed Bush now find themselves in the strange position of hoping that he will win, and quickly....The face of America is not only made by Bush...or by the culture of the preventive war. A great nation threatened and scared by terrorism should be understood, helped to choose tolerance, rediscover...its European roots, and reject the temptation of isolation and unilateralism.
–Ferruccio De Bortoli

Paris Le Monde (liberal) March 21: The Americans plan to stay in Iraq after ‘liberating’ the Iraqi people...and disarming Saddam Hussein....This is a more responsible attitude than leaving Iraq to its fate...But first everyone must acknowledge the magnitude of the task...and most of all, accept the role the United Nations can play....Nothing gives the United States the right to short-circuit the United Nations in the reconstruction of Iraq....While war is always full of surprises, postwar Iraq is sure to be full of landmines.

Nuremberg Nürnberger Zeitung (conservative), March 21: The U.S. president has nothing else in mind but the reconstruction of the political landscape, first of the Middle East, and then of the world....Bush is absolutely sure that...the United States must be the guarantor of the peace and prosperity of the world’s peoples, and this guiding philosophy has subordinated almost all other concerns.

Antwerp Gazet van Antwerpen (conservative), March 21: Now that Bush has made his move, we must look to the future. The crucial day is not the day when Saddam Hussein falls, but the day after. On that day, the reconstruction of Iraq must start. On that day, Bush will have to outline his vision: A liberated and democratic Iraq must be the cornerstone of a new Middle East. It sounds nice, but it is far from reality today.
—Paul De Bruyn

Sofia Duma (left-leaning) March 21: There is no longer doubt that the regime in Baghdad will be defeated. This, however, will be the easier part of the task. The hardship will come after the war, because abandoning the established world order is too high a price to pay for disarming Saddam Hussein. It is certain that the balances on which the current world order is based will be destroyed. And it is very unlikely that the removal of the dictator in Baghdad will be the starting point of a new and democratic order in the Arab world.

Budapest Magyar Hirlap (liberal) March 21: Thursday morning the post-Yalta world collapsed once and for all. Something new has begun....That’s it for the international political institutions of the 20th century. Or, alternately phrased: Is this already the age of Pax Americana? The answer is clear: Yes, it is.
—Gallo Bela

Budapest Nepszabadsag (liberal) March 21: The Americans will have an extremely difficult job in Iraq because Iraq has learned a lot from the previous war. There will be very few clear targets....An even bigger problem is that Saddam Hussein...has built up his defense in civilian locations, in towns and cities....The destruction of these posts could bear serious risks and cause heavy civilian casualties.

Budapest Magyar Nemzet (conservative), March 21: The attack against Iraq is the first test of international powers in the new world order. It may also become the introductory phase to long-lasting period of American hegemony. A second American century might begin, President Bush is paving the way for a second American century with this illegitimately launched war.
—Gabor Stier

Amsterdam De Telegraaf (conservative) March 21: The war against Iraq started. It was unfortunate but inevitable. There is only one person to blame: Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein....That is why the actions taken by the United States and its allies are justified….After a quick military victory, efforts should also be focused on the postwar period. Not just the Americans, but the Europeans, too, should help build a democratic Iraq in which unity will be maintained. The collapse of this country into several parts would not be of any benefit to anyone.

Warsaw Gazeta Wyborcza (liberal) March 21: Every war is a disaster, [but]...we must remember what this war is about. It is war against a despotic regime, a regime that is dangerous to the world and deadly to the Iraqis themselves. —Adam Michnik

Bucharest Dilema (intellectual weekly) March 21: We can assume that, regardless of the situation on the battlefield, the Americans will lose the information and the propaganda war: They are the aggressors, their equipment is overwhelmingly superior, and collateral damage will easily take center stage, as the images of the suffering by the civilian population will be stronger than any speech against tyranny.
—Magdalena Boiangiu

Bern Berner Zeitung (centrist) March 21: Saddam Hussein is a criminal who deserves to be hung from the nearest tree. Nevertheless, one had to be against this war…because people like George W. Bush, who are motivated by religious—that is to say irrational—impulses are unpredictable and dangerous. But now the war is reality and one has to hope that the United States will achieve a quick victory.
—Andreas Z'Graggen