Middle East

War in Iraq

Winning the Peace

Iraqi children wave food rations
Iraqi children wave food rations handed out by U.S. forces along the highway from Basra to Baghdad, April 7, 2003 (Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP).

Taipei Taipei Times (liberal), April 3: To avoid the expansion of conflict and terrorist activities between Israel and Palestine, and to prevent fundamentalism from wreaking havoc on the Arab world as a result of U.S. military actions, we can expect the U.S. government to follow the post-Gulf War example by working with the United Kingdom and Spain to put forth a blueprint for peace in Israel and Palestine immediately after the war and demand that the two conduct conclusive peace talks.…The people of Taiwan should show their benevolence, have a broad international vision, and make our voices heard for real world peace. We should make the international community understand that Taiwan's support of the U.S. anti-terrorism stance is for the sake of world peace.
—Joseph Wu

London Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Saudi-owned daily, independent), April 3: The direct rule scenario could be a recipe for disaster for all those concerned with Iraqi affairs…It is very important to establish an Iraqi council for national sovereignty as soon as possible. Such a council could represent the continuity of the Iraqi state, prevent its disappearance even for a short period of time, and emphasize the presence of an Iraqi voice wherever and whenever there is a need for it….It is a human characteristic to resent interference in your affairs by a bigger power, even if this interference were to protect you from a tyrant butcher; this is the reason that there is more hostility toward the United States in France, which was liberated by the United States, than in Finland, in whose history the United States had no such role. All this does not mean that the United States should abandon Iraq as soon as Saddam Hussein’s regime collapses; the United States and its allies by their intervention in Iraq have assumed ethical and political responsibilities. Therefore, they are required to stand by Iraq for a long time, perhaps for years, in order to help it to build and develop new institutions and to join the mainstream of world countries. This role would be better played by the United States as a friend and a partner of Iraq, rather than as a ruler and a master.

Rawalpindi Nawa-I-Waqt (conservative), April 1: The United States has declared Syria and Iran its enemies as well. In fact, America is targeting every country that could be taken as a hurdle in the way of hegemonic designs of the American stooges, Israel and India. The current explosive situation demands that the entire world, especially the American people, come forward to stop this war. It is imperative to prevent the situation from turning into a ghastly war of religions and civilizations. It is certain that the United Kingdom and the United States cannot win the war….But the touts in the Muslim world would be ousted from power. Then the true representatives of the public aspiration would ultimately come to power, which would be a great setback for the American designs and interests. If the American and European public does not come forward to play their role, then only the Muslims will be left to deal with the aggression alone, which is bound to have more explosive effects on the prospects for world peace.

Prague Pravo (left-wing), April 2: After two weeks of the war, the White House has shifted to a very brusque vocabulary—only victory….Yet the postwar diplomacy of the United States is a big unknown. For example, it is only possible to speculate whether the White House will put aside its animosity toward France because of its opposition to the war....An even greater unknown is, of course, the tension in Iraq itself and the heightened emotions in the Arab world. Thus, U.S. foreign-policy experts already see many problems on the near horizon in connection with the war that the United States has not yet brought to an end. It seems that the government must also expect direct questions from the legislators in Congress. Many of them, evidently, live in a world cut off from reality: For example, a number of senators were shocked by a [March 26] CIA briefing on anti-American sentiments among Arabs, especially in Jordan and Egypt.

Accra Accra Mail (independent ), April 7: For us a postwar Iraq without a major U.N. presence is another blow to the world body which is currently passing through turbulent times. We call on those who have faith in the future of the United Nations and world peace, as we do, to add their voices to the call that Iraq should be administered only by the world body. The transitional period during which we learn the country is going to be under the command of an American general can only spell doom for [the prospect of] peace in the Arab world. The negative consequences this would have on the world economy cannot be overemphasized....Adopting the French alternative is one big chance to bring back the lost clout of the indispensible United Nations and to ensure a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Hong Kong Ta Kung Pao (government-controlled), April 2: President Bush and other senior U.S. officials have been recently in a bad temper and have flared up easily. Earlier, they accused Russia of selling Iraq night-vision goggles and electronic jamming systems the officials claimed would threaten the safety of U.S. servicemen. A few days ago, the United States warned Iran and Syria to halt support for Iraq. It is both laughable and irritating that the world's number one-military power blamed other countries for its military setbacks….It is noteworthy that recently Iran openly called for Iraq's future regime to be decided by the Iraqi people. This statement evidently was a criticism of the U.S. political reconstruction plan for a postwar Iraq….But judging from the present situation, despite opposition from Iran and other countries, the United States definitely will not share postwar interests with other countries after paying dearly in blood for its occupation of Iraq.
—Shih Chun-yu

Paris Libération (left-wing), April 3: The United States will win the war. It will be a bloody war for the military and the civilians alike....And the dirtier the war, the uglier the aftermath for the United States. A crusade for democracy through force was the initial mistake....[Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld's strategic illusion has been undermined because of the Iraqi resistance....The neo-conservative's strategy for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq is geopolitical madness....What is at stake during today's battles, in which civilians are falling by the thousands, are all the tomorrows to come. These will not be peaceful, not in Iraq or on its borders....The military difficulties encountered on the ground are leaving a small chance to the United Nations: America cannot win the aftermath of the war by reigning alone over Iraq….This war was a mistake. But a cease-fire, as some are calling for, would be a nightmare for the Iraqis and the world. If after the fall of Saddam Hussein the United States can hand over the situation to the United Nations, some legality will have been recovered.
—Serge July

Madrid El Mundo (centrist), April 4: It could seem cynical, even obscene, to begin to talk about—much less— negotiate, a transitional period in a post-conflict Iraq when a brutal war is still producing innocent victims every day. But policy is fed by realities....It's well known that today the U.S. government is divided between a right-wing, unilateralist faction, which dominates these days, and elements more inclined to multilateralism....There are other factors that could favor a larger U.N. role: the need for the United States to recover international credibility; Blair and Aznar's insistence that the United Nations should exercise an “important function;” the risks of a postwar scenario that turns into a purely military occupation of hostile territory; and the urgent need to find funds for reconstruction....There are more reasons for cooperation than for unilateralism.

Beirut The Daily Star (independent), April 6: Having waged an “illegitimate” war on Iraq that has stoked anti-American feelings around the world, challenged and ignored international law and the United Nations, and caused divisions within the United States, the Bush administration is not about to “offer Iraq on a golden platter to an opposition group or to the U.N. Security Council.” It will deny others a say in shaping post-war Iraq, and it won’t withdraw its forces on request….Israel, of course, will be an exception, and is the only U.S. partner whose participation in shaping post-war Iraq is “guaranteed.” That is because Israel was the main reason for which the war was waged.

Islamabad The News (independent), April 3: Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq is surrounded by states having interests inimical to those of the United States. And unlike the Afghan Northern Alliance, the pro-American Kurds have no political clout in Baghdad or the volatile southern Iraq. That, perhaps, is why the United States envisages direct military rule for Baghdad rather than a [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai-like administration. That would, of course, be no guarantee that American writ would extend even to Baghdad, much less the rest of the devastated country. All signs thus far suggest that the Washington hawks have bitten off more than the United States can chew. That, unfortunately, is cold comfort for those whose lives have already been destroyed by the post-9/11 U.S. expansionism. That things can only get worse in the near future seems a forgone conclusion since, having raised the stakes so high, the U.S. has left no room for an honorable retreat.

Istanbul Hurriyet (independent), April 4: The United States does not appear willing to leave Iraq to anyone in the post-Saddam period. It is interesting to observe that the United States has left all Iraqi opposition elements out of the game, with the exception of the Kurds. Things in Iraq are getting messy, and the visit by Secretary [of State Colin] Powell to Ankara shows that the United States feels the need for allies at this stage.
—Ferai Tinc

New Delhi The Economic Times (conservative), April 3: So batteries are running out on history’s first digital army….To me it looks like all bets are off on the postwar world. If Bush gets stuck in Iraq, which is likely, he’ll lose his job. The next U.S. president will have to spend most of his time dealing with a Middle East that’s bitterly hostile, with an uncooperative Europe, and a sulking Russia and China. Then, India’s regime, which spends all its diplomatic currency trying to buy invitations to the Washington, won’t know which way to look. Not that it’ll matter: A backlash against Bush could make the next U.S. administration determinedly insular, slamming its doors on the rest of the world.

Milan Il Foglio (centrist, leans right), March 28: Now Germany, after France, is aiming at the contracts in Iraq....And while the Paris-Berlin axis was debating this, USAID [The U.S. Agency for International Development] put the first billion-dollar contract to be allotted for emergency assistance in Iraq up for bid, inviting only U.S. firms. The Germans and French immediately agreed to deplore that decision as well....But despite that agreement, Berlin and Paris continue to disagree on the role of the United Nations after the victory of the allies over Saddam Hussein: World order has very little to do with all that, it is much more interesting to watch who is going to control business interests.

Århus Jyllands-Posten (independent), April 1: It will be very difficult for the United Nations to make any decision regarding reconstruction efforts....Whether we like it or not, it is the United States that possesses the military power. The solutions must therefore also come from the United States.

Kuala Lumpur Berita Harian (independent), April 1: The United States used many lies to strengthen its reasons for attacking Iraq. But hidden behind their promises are bombs that blow up civilians and humanitarian aid that is used as bargaining chips. The hatred the Iraqi people feel for the United States and its allies continues to grow. The United States cannot hope to rule Iraq. The Iraqi opposition parties-in-exile already do not support this. Clearly, the United States has a puppet government in mind to install in Iraq once Saddam Hussein’s government falls. The Iraqi people want the freedom to choose their own leader. Only the United Nations should be allowed to handle the transition of power as it helps the Iraqis organize elections.

London The Guardian (liberal), April 1: The choice of regimes in the Middle East is not a choice between secular dictatorship and secular democracy, but between secular dictatorship and Islamic democracy. What the people of the Middle East want and what the U.S. government says they want appear to be rather different things, and the tension between the two objectives will be a source of instability and conflict until Western governments permit those people to make their own choices unmolested. That is unlikely to happen until the oil runs out. The Iraqis may celebrate their independence by embracing a long-suppressed fundamentalism, and the United States may respond by seeking to crush it.

Berlin Die Welt (right-wing), March 29: The Security Council’s willingness to go against U.S. wishes has improved its reputation outside of the United States. Once the fury has blown over, Washington, too, will realize that the Security Council can be a useful tool, that “hard power” needs to be accompanied by “soft power,” and that the United States cannot rule the world like Moscow did the Warsaw Pact....The United Nations will outlast the militant ideologues currently occupying the White House.
—Joerg von Uthmann