International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 31, 2003

January 31, 2003





**  The open letter from the leaders of eight European nations calling on the international community to take a united stand with the U.S. against Iraq occasioned mostly--but not universally--positive commentary in the eight countries.

**  French and German writers were more negative, some calling the letter a "slap in the face" and its signatories Washington's "vassals."

**  Most observers saw a "profound fracture" in the EU, lamenting its inability to produce a common foreign policy and seeing more "trouble" ahead as the Union expands to the east.




SIGNATORY NATIONS:  'New Europe' striding 'with America' but stoking Europe's divisions--  Editorialists from across the political spectrum in Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary and the Czech Republic mostly averred their leaders had rightly bestowed on the U.S. "the legitimacy which it had never lost…[as] moral leader...of the Western world."  They allowed that there was "an element of truth" in Rumsfeld's comments on "old Europe" and that France and Germany are no longer Europe's "driving force."  London's liberal Guardian saw new EU members from the former East bloc as further complicating "a fraught inter-European dynamic" and saw trouble brewing as they "challenge the predominance of the West Europeans."  In Spain, Hungary and Portugal, writers forecast rough sailing for leaders who pledged fealty to the U.S. "maybe at the expense of public opinion."


NON-SIGNATORY NATIONS:  Letter reveals EU's 'deep divisions'; some see power shifting to 'New Europe'--  French and German writers agreed that the "alarming" letter "casts a miserable light on the common EU foreign policy."  French commentary was the more forceful, with right-of-center Le Figaro huffing that the letter was "an insult to Europe"; left-of-center Liberation saw the hand of the U.S. in "torpedoing the concept of an emerging Europe which might rival" the U.S.  German writers argued the "document of division" had "demolished the pillars" of the "transatlantic bridge" and stressed the damage to Europe's "international credibility."  Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung lamented that Europe's leaders, despite the continent's "clear" anti-war majority, cannot find a common ground "somewhere between cheap populism and their commitments to the alliance" with the U.S.  Other Europeans outside the zone of eight agreed that the letter revealed a "deeply divided" Europe and reflected "the EU's weakness."  A Romanian commentator saw Europe's "decisionmaking power" shifting to "the former communist countries.”  An Austrian writer added that these new members might turn out to be "the voice of a new, self-confident Europe that no longer simply agrees to everything that originates on the other side of the Atlantic.”


EDITORS:  Steven Wangsness, Gail Hamer Burke, Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 48 reports from 19 countries, Jan. 30-31.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Europe's Cracks Threaten To Grow"


The independent Financial Times expressed this view (1/31):  "The European Union is approaching a choice that many leaders, not to mention citizens, hoped to avoid.  Yesterday's declaration by the leaders of Spain, Britain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, and three candidate countries from central Europe, calling for unity with the United States in forcing Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction, raises the prospect of a deep rift with sceptics led by France and Germany.  The outcome could affect EU foreign policy, and the path of integration, for years to come.  A schism is not unavoidable; nor does the looming divide apply to foreign policy issues beyond Iraq.  On matters from the International Criminal Court to the centrality of resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict, EU members are united.  They share common values, based on respect for multilateral institutions and international law.   The question of war or peace in Iraq is, though, stretching interpretation of those values to a breaking-point....  A divided response would undermine the credibility of its efforts to achieve a common foreign and security policy.  Much would depend on France.  A circumstance in which the United States and UK, backed by the signatories of yesterday's letter, launched a war after France had used its Security Council veto against military action would leave Europe hopelessly divided.  President Chirac and other leaders face the unenviable task of balancing the case for war, the value of the transatlantic relationship, European unity and public opinion.  There can be no greater test of their statesmanship."


"Old Europe Rebuffed"


The conservative Daily Telegraph opined (1/31): "France and Germany used the 40th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty last week to renew their claim to be the motor of Europe and to criticize American impatience with Saddam Hussein.  Yesterday they were reminded that they do not speak for the continent as a whole, particularly as regards Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.  Where does this leave France and Germany, the core of what Donald Rumsfeld notoriously called 'old Europe' last week?  Neither country was consulted on publication of a letter that confirms that Washington has broad support on this side of the Atlantic for military action.  Both are miffed, but also aware that this week's events have imparted significant momentum to Mr. Bush's case. The fact that Mr. Rumsfeld's jibe stung indicates that it contains an element of truth.  French and German plans for further political integration have received short shrift in the convention on Europe's future chaired by Valery Giscard d'Estaing.  Both countries are violating the economic stability pact that is supposed to underpin the euro.  In short, the two former enemies, who sealed their reconciliation through the Elysee treaty, are no longer the driving force.  Divisions over Iraq have merely confirmed that fact."


"Europe Old And New"


The liberal Guardian offered this perspective (1/31): "Europe's divisions on the Iraq issue were plain before this latest flurry.  But the entry into the fray, on the pro-U.S. side, of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic further complicates a fraught inter-European dynamic.  Here is an earnest of trouble to come as they, and the seven other new EU members, begin to challenge the predominance of the West Europeans.  And if these stresses were not dangerous enough, there is always Donald Rumsfeld to make a bad situation worse.  The U.S. defense secretary's division of Europe into 'old' and 'new'...hit home because it contains a grain of truth-- although not in the way he intended.  It is, as a rule, a standard U.S. objective to divide and thereby dominate Europe, except when unity suits its purpose."


FRANCE:  "Euro-Insult"


Jean de Belot argued in right-of-center Le Figaro (1/31):  “The letter of eight is an insult to Europe, a reversal for the Union’s cohesion and an affront to the Franco-German couple....  Its format, its content, its day of publication, everything points to a willful gesture against Europe and its practices....  The letter is a slap in the face for Europe and its beliefs. After Washington’s role over Turkey’s EU membership, this is one more example of Washington’s undermining of Europe’s construction....  The Bush-Blair axis has truly succeeded: France was a cause of irritation; it is now coupled with Germany and its neutrality, which is not France’s political position....  .Paris has probably just lost the pre-war battle. But the main loser is the concept of Europe.”


"The Vassals"


Patrick Sabatier held in left-of-center Liberation (1/31):  “Europe is the first collateral victim of the offensive against Iraq....  Washington’s officials have been dreaming of torpedoing the concept of an emerging Europe which might rival with America’s leadership. They are dividing Europe to conquer....  In a way, Chirac and de Villepin got what they deserved.  The ‘plot of the eight’ is Washington’s answer to de Villepin’s unexpected talk of veto and Chirac’s alignment with Germany....  The Franco-German couple is a source of irritation for some of our European partners....  France’s solo diplomacy cannot use the EU to promote its political choices.  But by ignoring European public opinion and by treating the Franco-German couple with such contempt, President Bush and his friends are taking the risk of boosting the risks tied to their war and of damaging the future of the Western alliance.”


GERMANY:  "Divided"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/31):  “The continental European Atlanticists are now disputing the tacticians in Paris and the neo-isolationists in Berlin the right to shape public opinion.   This is a real front, not one between an ‘old’ and a ‘new’

Europe....  Until now, all sides involved have not succeeded in establishing the cohesion and resolve that would be necessary to achieve Baghdad’s disarmament with peaceful means.  But this attempt has never been launched either.  It is cheap to discredit the appeal of the eight as an attempt to score points in Washington.  What they say is right: transatlantic relations should not fall victim to the Iraqi threat and that all governments must face up their responsibility, at best they would do this together.  But even a collateral damage ‘Europe’ can no longer be ruled out.”


"Europe In A Sand Box"


Christian Wernicke noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (1/31):  “The declaration of bankruptcy for Europe’s foreign policy turns out to be an open letter.  By assuring George W. Bush their ‘solidarity and resolve’ in the fight against Saddam Hussein, they eight admit in writing what they denied for weeks....  In the question of war and peace in Iraq, there is no common answer from the European continent....  Madrid, Rome, London, Warsaw, and Budapest consider themselves the avantgarde of the ‘new Europe,’ while Lisbon, Prague, and Copenhagen join them in an act of demonstrating loyalty as vassals.  Washington is grateful, for it knows that the embarrassing warnings from the old world against a war in Iraq can now be ignored even more easily.  And this also means that war in the Gulf is more likely than ever....  While opinion polls prove that the Europeans...reject a looming high-tech war against Saddam, their leaders are unable to discover sufficient common views somewhere between cheap populism and their commitments to the alliance with the United States."


"Division Of Europe"


Martin Winter opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (1/31):  “It may be possible that this appeal was well meant by some of them, but the damage they have done is considerable.  Instead of repairing the cracks in the transatlantic bridge...eight European leaders demolished its pillars.  With their common statement...they will not change the well-based skepticism of their peoples.  And by praising the glorious past of the common struggle for freedom, they do not address the real problem....  They are now abruptly turning away from the search for European unity....  The a document of division, because it is not a document of the 15 or the 25 [EU members].  Whatever prompted messieurs [the eight leaders] to suspect the rest of the EU of being unreliable as far as transatlantic relations are concerned, they involuntarily revealed one thing:  They do not give a damn about the goal of a common foreign and security policy."


"Alarming Event"


Center-right General-Anzeiger of Bonn held (1/31):  “This is an alarming, unique event in the history of the EU.  The attempt to divide, which is now being carried into the not only is also dangerous because is about to destroy the old, glorious Alliance and the peace policy it has developed and favors a relapse into mistakes that plunged Europe often before into misery.  The problem is not Germany or France.  It is based in the discord between the well-tested European model of a cooperative, global order that is based on equality, common responsibility, and a comprehensive definition of security and the claim of the Bush administration, to implement its unilateral model with pressure and, if necessary, by using force.”




Jochen Hoenig editorialized in business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (1/31):  “What an embarrassment for Chancellor Schroeder....  Schroeder was not asked to sign it.  The eight signatories deliberately marginalized him.  In this situation, it can only be cold comfort for him that Blair & Co. also ignored French President Chirac.  The humiliated could have signed the declaration, but they were badly tricked.  The initiative of the eight casts a miserable light on the common EU foreign policy....  If such moves become the accepted thing, the EU will definitely lose its international credibility."


ITALY:  "Berlusconi’s Two Gifts (To President Bush)"


Prominent commentator Sergio Romano opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (1/31): “The United States is currently giving great importance to Italy.  Italy is not a military power...but it can offer George W. Bush what he needs the most right now.  It (Italy) can help him break that hostile, suspicious front built up recently around the French-German position.  In order ‘to give the American president a hand,’ (as he said yesterday in Washington) Berlusconi carried two gifts.  The first gift was his signing of the document with which eight European countries take sides with the United States....  The second gift is the use of (military) bases in Italy, announced yesterday by the (Italian) Defense Minister before the Senate.  Both gifts were equally important for the United States.  The document (of the eight) further contributes to split the European Union and also risks isolating the French-German axis.  And the argument regarding access to the bases (in Italy) will be used by the Americans to convince the Turks to show a similar good will....  (Yesterday’s) meeting in Washington has strengthened the U.S. position, and in particular Secretary of State Colin Powell’s who should present to the Security Council the evidence of Saddam’s lies this Wednesday.  However, it (Berlusconi’s visit) also confirms that, along with the question of the war in Iraq, we are facing an even more important issue involving the relations between Europe and the United States.”


"Europe Discovers Itself To Be More Pro-American"


Marcello Foa argued in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (1/31):  “The document (signed by eight European countries, definitely standing with the U.S.) represents an extraordinary success of the Bush Administration--an important success involving both political as well as formal implications.... Those eight European countries have elevated the level of the Iraqi issue and have given back to the United States the legitimacy which it had never lost…which is that of moral leader, more than political, of the Western world.  Since yesterday, one can no longer talk of a conflict between Saddam and Bush, but between Iraq and the nine countries, in the name of ‘liberty, democracy, and human rights,’ as stated by the document, to defend the security as well as the wealth (of people).....  The decision of the ‘Eight’ will not likely convince  European public opinion, which largely remains against the war....  However...the decision of the ‘Eight’ contains an additional value.  Those eight leaders are convinced that, under certain circumstances, it is necessary to take fundamental decisions, based on principles... without considering electoral advantages."


"EU, First Victim"


A front-page analysis, which continues inside, by Adriana Cerretelli in leading, business  Il Sole-24 Ore (1/31):  “The Iraqi crisis has not yet touched bottom, but it has already caused its first important victim:  Europe and its institutions.  It is not yet known how far French-German pacifism is going to go.  However, so far, it has already inflicted a hard blow...on transatlantic relations as well as triggered a civil war in Europe.”


"The Census Of The Allies"


Left-leaning, influential La Repubblica editorialized (1/31):  “We are finally and truly all Americans, although reservist Americans.  Berlusconi’s trip to Washington...was able to obtain what...democratic, socialist governments never dared in 46 years:  It transformed an ally into a satellite....  Italy, one of the six founders of the European Union, made one of its usual, sad, classical ‘turnabouts,’ by standing with the United States and the latest member countries of the European Union against France, Germany and the Benelux  Countries, (who are) the remaining founders of the Treaty of Rome.”


RUSSIA:  "The Split"


Yuri Kovalenko commented in reformist Novyye Izvestiya (1/31):  "This collective manifesto is a testament of a split in Europe and a rebuff to France and Germany as they are still trying to stop the United States by throwing a wrench into its war machine....  The two leading European powers, aspiring to set pacein the EU, are really in a very difficult situation, as Washington wins over one country after another in the Old World."


"U.S. Gets What It Wants"


Yevgeniy Verlin contended in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (1/31):  "America has finally got what some believe it has wanted all along: Europe has split....  In Europe, everyone seems to have resigned to the idea that war is inevitable.  Few politicians seriously believe that Saddam will disarm (or step down), and almost none believe that the Americans...may suddenly give up their war plans to gain control over Iraq."


"Bush Finds Europeans Ready To Support War"


Aleksandr Samokhotkin said in reformist Vremya Novostey (1/31):  "Having the rookies-- Hungarians, Poles, and Czechs--among the signatories, clearly, is a PR action designed to prove their allegiance to transatlantic solidarity.  It is the finest balm for the Pentagon's chief Donald Rumsfeld....   The Old Europeans must worry now lest Washington should use the eager New Europeans to bring pressure to bear on the EU's old-timers, who dream of their own defense policy.... "


"Germany, France Aren't All Of Europe"


Boris Volkhonskiy remarked in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (1/31):  "Now the United States has every reason to repeat after its Defense Secretary that Germany and France are not all of Europe."


"Eight Undermine International Law"


Yekaterina Kudashkina noted in business-oriented Vedomosti (1/31):  "The authors of the letter, in effect, undermine international law.  Using illegal means to depose rogues sets a dangerous precedent.'"


AUSTRIA:  "The Faithful Eight"


Foreign affairs writer Christian Ultsch commented in centrist daily Die Presse (1/31):  “The Iraq crisis has split Europe....  Even before the evidence against Iraq is on the table, eight European countries with their letter have clearly stated that Washington can count on their support....  On the other hand, some countries in Europe dare to have a different opinion than the U.S. in this rather tricky issue.  And despite Donald Rumsfeld’s 'old Europe' label, perhaps those countries will turn out to be the voice of a new, self-confident Europe that no longer simply agrees to everything that originates on the other side of the Atlantic.”


"No European Foreign Policy"


Managing chief Eric Frey opined in liberal daily Der Standard (1/31):  “The eight European leaders’ Iraq letter reveals the power of the U.S. and the EU’s weakness....  For many in the EU convention the letter may have come as a shock, but in truth it is a challenge.  Without a big step towards a united Europe, squabbles will continue to be the order of the day regarding EU foreign policy.”


BELGIUM:   "A Snub For Europe"


Chief editor Beatrice Delvaux argued on the front page of left-of-center Le Soir (1/31):  "A major snub.  Those who still had doubts that Europe was unable to have a common foreign and defense policy are now convinced.  The eight European countries that signed the letter--and this is first and foremost valid for the Eastern countries--have clearly chosen their side when it comes to world governance: they have chosen the side of NATO and of the American vision that, in their eyes, is the only one capable of guaranteeing Europe’s freedom.  This spectacular stand is even more humiliating for Europe...since the signees did not even bother to consult the Greek Presidency, reducing it to a folkloric role and giving the old French-German couple a few more wrinkles....  The only protection from the excesses of an absolute power is the emergence of an opposition force.  Yesterday, eight European leaders publicly decided to do without it.  This attitude, in the field of purely political tactics, is prejudicial.  The fact that the United States is finally prevailing in the Iraqi question does not change a thing.”


"Talking With The Americans"


Christophe Lamfalussy commented in independent La Libre Belgique (1/31):  “The ‘old Europe’ that is opposed to an expeditious solution to the Iraqi crisis, is asking for something simple: that the question be debated at the level of the UN Security Council, that diplomatic negotiations continue with Baghdad, and that the use of force be the very last resort.....  The European leaders’ letter has the merit of 'clarifying the situation,’ President Bush said yesterday.  The ideal would be that it also leads to a genuine debate between Americans and Europeans, to discuss their relations and, first and foremost, their misunderstandings.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Side By Side With America"


Michal Mocek wrote in mainstream MF Dnes (1/31):  "America, we support you!  Even if this message of eight European statesmen does not reflect view shared by most Europeans, it should not be reproved.  There is a purely European reason for respecting it: France and Germany stood up to speak for the old continent, but Europ'se position must be formed by a majority of EU members.  The eight signatures show that common European foreign policy must be real, not only a façade for resolution of the French and Germans."


"Bush And His Faithful Versus The Unstable"


Jan Eichler opined in center-left Pravo (1/31):  "President Bush made it clear that he is reassessing the faithfulness of his allies.  The anxiety of the U.S. stems from its fear of WMD and it plans to develop a new strategy to counter this threat--not only prevention but taking preemptive measures.  France, Germany and Canada disapprove of this approach to Iraq and the American president takes this disagreement as a sign of unreliability.  He therefore turns to those countries he expects to be supportive and helpful.  He can find both these qualities in the new NATO allies.  In the years 1995-97, the greatest asset of NATO was seen in giving equal rights of expressing their opinion to all countries, however small.  Currently, bilateral discussions over across-the-board negotiations seem to be preferred.  This fulfils the forebodings of NATO critics, who claimed that by enlarging NATO it would become much more pro-American.  The undertone of the open letter signed by the eight European representatives is a proof of such intentions."


HUNGARY:  "United With America We Stand"


Liberal Magyar Hirlap editorialized (1/31):  “Let us state it firmly:  The Hungarian head of government is entitled to explain his position publicly, even abroad, together with other European leaders.  Entitlement is not the issue; the sequence of events is.   In Hungary--and all over the world--people are afraid of war.  They are afraid of terrorism, too.  Consequently, it would have been better for Peter Medgyessy to stand up before the public and tell his opinion first in Hungary....  In Hungarian domestic politics, the opposing political forces can agree on practically nothing.  Not even on the big issues the nation is facing.  That is unacceptable.  Most probably that is the explanation for the Hungarian Prime Minister expressing his position in such a forceful way outside Hungary first.  That, however, is also unacceptable.”


"Transatlantic Divide"


Leading Nepszabadsag held (1/31):  “A British analyst went as far as stating that ‘it has been the deepest divide within the EU since the sixties.’  He is most probably right.  President Bush can rightly interpret the joint letter of eight European leaders as a document that is, in a today generally pacifist Europe, a demonstrative expression of support toward the United States and a manifestation of the Rumsfeldian ‘New Europe’.  We have today the United States on the one side and Europe on the other, where the public opposes war.  Europe's main concern is that is has become clear that the conflict is not between the United States and Europe but rather within Europe itself, between individual governments.  The Hungarian government’s spokesman has stated that ‘the letter, in essence, expresses the united European standpoint.'  But a united standpoint, as such, does not exist.  The Hungarian opposition claims on Hungarian Prime Minister Medgyessy that he has taken a standpoint in a serious issue first in Western newspapers and only later at home.  Their criticism is legitimate to some extent, but it isn’t about the timing of the prime minister’s move.  Because Mr. Medgyessy’s signature on the letter verifies what he already stated clearly during his visit in the United States last year.   He took the stand on supporting a Europe that tries to define itself as a partner and not as an opponent of the United States.” 


LUXEMBOURG:  "Europe Divided"


Victor Weitzel fulminated in Le Quotidien/Luxemburger Wort (1/31):  "The USA is playing a dirty game in Europe.  The German and French opposition to a war at all costs led the Americans to bet on the divisions that emerged after Tony Blair’s adhesion to Bush’s policy.  The center-right governments from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Denmark, but also these new Trojan horses indebted to the USA within the EU and NATO, namely Poland, and now even the Czech Republic and Hungary have deemed it necessary to widen this division.  Without warning the Greek EU presidency, they appealed to the European people to be united with the USA against Iraq.  PM Jean-Claude Juncker rightly said that this attitude was highly regrettable, scandalous and did not show solidarity.  He also added that the initiators of the letter showed their 'incapacity to fulfill any function in the EU leadership.'...  Still, the USA has achieved its aim: to ruin the common foreign European policy, establish new imperial ties with European countries which expect any advantage after the end of a campaign which intends to go far beyond the legitimate intention of disarming Iraq."


"A Question Of Values"


Daniele Fonck opined in Tageblatt (1/31):  "The open letter of the eight European leaders to support the White House, leaving France and Germany aside, should have had a surprising effect.  However, political leaders are not always serving 'politics' and a little war can help to divert public opinion from social interior problems....  The American leaders, namely George Bush, are no idiots, as some try to pretend.  On the contrary, they are very smart, with mainly geopolitical and geo-economic interests but they are lacking humanity.  The American people are innocent on this issue."


NORWAY:  "A Gap Between Europe And USA"


The newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (1/31):  "In tune with the U.S.’ tough military strategy and troop buildup, Rumsfeld has contributed to increasing the distance between Washington and Europe.  In the hope of mending this development, President Vaclav Havel and seven heads of states...sent out yesterday an open letter with support for the U.S.  The letter will probably not create better unity in Europe even if that was the intention....  The letter from the eight put sharp focus on the division between the USA and Europe.  It also reflects the deep internal differences in opinion between Europe’s EU and NATO members.”


PORTUGAL:  "To The Very End"


Inês Serra Lopes, editor-in-chief of center-right weekly O Independente, had this to say in a signed editorial (1-31):  "'Our power lies in our unity,' says the letter signed by eight European heads of state or governments, among whom Prime Minister Durão Barroso is included.  Following the reticence of Germany and France, Europe yesterday declared itself to be on the side of the United States of America. To the very end....  With this, the European position finally ceases to be an unknown that the Germans and French could manipulate at will....  With this joint letter, a little bit if the European Union is, in a certain sense, dying.... The European Union is dead.  Long live Europe."


"A Choice Without A Retreat"


Leading financial daily Diário Económico editorialized (1-31):  "Which Durão Barroso signed the manifesto on Iraq?  Prime Minister Durão Barroso or citizen Durão Barroso?....  From yesterday forward, Portugal is definitively aligned with one of the positions [regarding whether or not UNSC approval is required], however much the Prime Minister brings in the pertinence of a new Security Council resolution; starting from now, Portugal is an active contributor to a disunited Europe with a questionable future; since yesterday, Portuguese public opinion has grounds to give lowered importance to elected officials with parliamentary responsibilities....  In the end, it is irrelevant which [Durão Barroso] signed the document.... There is no retreat from the choice."


"Europe Could Be The First Casualty"


Influential moderate-left daily Público foreign affairs editor Teresa de Sousa claimed in her "Without Borders" column (1-31):  "If there were still a hope of avoiding a war with unpredictable consequences...that hope has just vanished in the face of the tragic spectacle of European division....  This crisis runs the risk of condemning Europe to international irrelevance.  It is the inevitable result of the 'power politics' practiced by two countries central to any European foreign policy--France and Germany....  It wasn't only Colin Powell who felt 'betrayed' by Paris' unexpected turnabout.... Blair saw himself cheated of all his efforts to not have Europe isolated....  Is there still a way out that lets Europe weigh in on an international crisis that will in good measure define the world of tomorrow?  The answer might lie in the summit that will reunite Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair next Tuesday....  Let's hope that the French president is up to the interests of Europe, which many times France tends to identify with its own interest as a European power.  And let's hope that the British prime minister understands that the best road to the 'heart' of Europe necessarily has to pass through Paris and through Berlin."


"The Rule"


In his regular "Symptoms" column in respected center-left Diário de Notícias, leftist economist and Left Bloc Party politician Miguel Portas railed (1/30):  "Colin Powell told the world that 12 countries have already guaranteed their support and involvement in an invasion, with or without the express mandate of the United Nations.  We have to know whether Portugal is among them....  The questions that count for Portugal's entry into war are simple:  Has Iraq by any chance shown the slightest intention of attacking us?  Do our extraordinary spy services by any chance have intelligence pointing to this danger?  Has the CIA, which hasn't even revealed its 'evidence' to the UN inspectors, by any chance informed our authorities of gaudy plans on the part of Iraq?  We need to know.  Because what is suspected is exactly the opposite:  That Portugal will simply become the stage for potential terrorist retaliation if it gets involved in Bush's war....  I understand why the Bush Administration wants this.... I just don't understand what we Portuguese have to do with this criminal insanity."


ROMANIA:  "Division Of Europe"


Political analyst Andreea Enea commented in the pro-business daily Curentul (1/31):  “The document carried yesterday by the international media is the peak of a dispute which has been lurking for some time in European chanceries, and which was brought to the surface by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld....  The declaration of the eight clearly marks the division of Europe and (provides) decisionmaking power to the former communist countries.”


SPAIN:  "Europe Divided"


Centrist La Vanguardia carried this piece by Jose Antich (1/31):  "The [letter signed by eight European leaders]...confirms the enormous difficulty, even impossibility, that Europe has in speaking in harmony with one voice....  Nobody can, in this question, deny Aznar's coherence, even at the expense of going against public opinion.  Because one can't say they are against any war, and then, when it ends, pretend to ally oneself with the winners.  That's too easy. The key, in any case, is in knowing for a fact that we are facing a legitimate war or not."    


"The Dividing Letter"


Victoria Prego wrote in independent El Mundo (1/31):  "It seems clear that Aznar's move has been in response to a request from Washington, almost certainly from President Bush himself.  But for what purpose?  Perhaps to demonstrate that there is another Europe, the one lead by Aznar and Blair, which is not a subsidiary of the Paris-Berlin axis...  This is the image sought by Washington to weaken the unquestionable force of the French-German opposition to certain pretensions of Bush.  But what has pleased so much the U.S. Secretary of Defense is the wound that has just been opened up in the efforts of the EU to speak with one voice, and also in the evaluation of Spain's behavior that some of the members of the EU may have from now on...  It is impossible to believe that Aznar has not measured adequately the scope of his initiative within the EU itself and the cost that this might imply for him." 


"The European Disunion" 


Left-of-center El País opined (1/31):  "The text signed by eight new leaders in Europe...has gone to accentuate the profound fracture in the foundation of the EU before the Iraq crisis.... The initiative can be read as a political victory for the Bush Administration....  But it's also a narrowing of the room for maneuver for France...It is logical that Washington prefers to deal directly with its closest Allies on the old continent rather than do so with the EU.   What is scandalous is that members of the EU would abandon the rocky path tread in the construction of a common foreign policy to come out in favor of Bush."  


"A Contested War"


Conservative La Razon wrote (1/31):  "Facing reality, no matter how hard it may be, is a more realist option than a comfortable and demagogic position that talks a lot about peace and denies the very existence of any danger whatsoever, a practice that historically has ended up in even more bloody wars than those that which were wanted to be avoided...The letter signed by Aznar [and seven other European leaders]...cannot be called a good idea as it contributes to the division rather than helps repair the unity of Europe.  The government cannot afford to project a warmongering image, which does not fit the reality, and should act with no delay in order to transmit to public opinion, by all possible means, the reasons why Spain is on the side of the United States in the world war against terrorism."


"The Spanish At The Forefront Of The World Clamor Against The War" 


Independent El Mundo wrote (1/31):  "Aznar underscored alongside Blair that he is for a second resolution in the UN before attacking Iraq.  His gesture opens a door to an understanding with France and Germany, two countries that Bush also offered a bridge to yesterday so they could stop opposing an intervention against Saddam.  This can only happen if the evidence is overwhelming and the Iraqi dictator doesn't deliver or destroy what they show that he has.  President Bush can rightly interpret the joint letter of eight European leaders as a document that is, in a today generally pacifist Europe, a demonstrative expression of support toward the United States and a manifestation of the Rumsfeldian ‘New Europe’."


SWEDEN:  "The Letter Of The Eight Lacks One Name"


Conservative Stockholm Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (1/31):  "The disunion puts the talk of a common EU foreign policy in perspective.  As long as disunity is the distinguishing-mark, the idea is stillborn....  The letter is a manifestation of the division within the EU, but it is also something more. It is a declaration of confidence (we have more trust in President Bush than in the dictator in Baghdad).  It is a gesture of solidarity (if needed, we will give our support).  And it is an expression of the reality (Saddam Hussein must be disarmed).  Against this background it is unfortunate that Prime Minister Persson was not even being asked (to sign).  The letter, signed by eight, should have had nine signatures.  Hopefully this is not a sign that Prime Minister Persson is getting cold feet now when the Iraqi crisis is heating up."


"The EU Is Divided On Iraq"


West Sweden's liberal regional morning daily Göteborgs-Posten took this view (1/31):  "The letter by the leaders of five EU member states and three future EU members is an illustration of the importance that the EU speaks in one voice....  Possibly one reason to publish the proclamation was to put pressure on Germany, which is being more strongly castigated by the U.S. for its negative stance on taking resolute measures against Saddam Hussein."


"European Conservatives Want To Help Bush"


The Social Democratic Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet argued (1/31):  "The right-wing manifesto, which was not preceded by consultations with the Parliaments of their respective countries, has destroyed the chances for a joint EU peaceful diplomatic solution of the Iraq crisis.  The split within the EU reminds with dreadful clarity of the wars in the Balkans, during which different European loyalties made the Union incapable of taking action. The U.S. then had to take over.  The idea that the EU, after the end of the Cold War, would be less dependent on the U.S., and possibly even a balancing force, might now be illusory."


YUGOSLAVIA:  "The Lackey Manner"


Belgrade daily tabloid Ekspres commented (1/31):  "At a time of a feverish search for a peaceful solution to disarming Saddam Hussein, the  common  initiative of the eight European countries offering their unconditional support to the war-oriented U.S. government sounded sad.   While the behavior of the British PM is not surprising...that the initiative for this lackey's move came from the Spanish PM is surprising....  After this act it is very clear how deeply divided Europe is regarding an invasion of Iraq.  Members of the former East Bloc and of the former Warsaw Pact are very loud in their loyalty to Bush.  In order to flatter and show Pharisee's loyalty they have forgotten their national pride."




TUNISIA:  "A History Of Evidence"


Editor-in-chief, Noureddine Hlaoui judged in the independent French-language daily Le Temps (1/31):  "The divergences that arose yesterday amid countries of the European Union following the courageous and fair French-German political stance requiring the provision of time necessary for the UN to complete its inspections before any military action against Baghdad represent a revealing case-study of the capacities of Uncle Sam to use his art of persuasion.  While reiterating its determination to wage a war on Iraq without a UN consensus, the American administration endeavors to gain a large 'pseudo-support' of the international community....  However, the most surprising in this affairs is that most of the Arab countries, namely those...most concerned...take no concrete action to change the course of events."




INDIA:  "Blair Prize For Bush:  A Europe Split In Two" 


K.P. Nayar observed in the centrist Kolkata-based Telegraph (1/31):  "Even as President George W. Bush considered setting a deadline for military action against Iraq during his talks with...Tony Blair at Camp David....  Blair delivered an unexpected prize for the White House on the eve of his arrival....  The British Prime Minister managed to formally split Europe.  He managed to rally seven other European leaders behind the White House.  Together, the eight leaders...published an open letter...a shot in the arm for Bush who has found NATO deadlocked on support for his war plans and watched France and Germany hitherto speak for Europe against attacking Iraq....  The collapse of European unity at the altar of US interests will have far reaching implications on the future of the EU and Nato that go beyond the war against Iraq."




ARGENTINA:  "Rumsfeld's NATO"


Claudio Uriarte, international analyst of left-of-center Pagina 12 opined (1/31):  "From the open letter published yesterday in several of the main world newspapers...a non-cautious observer could be excused for believing that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have succeeded in their most wanted goal, in which the members of the old Soviet bloc have failed: dividing NATO....  Of all countries that have signed yesterday's unusual open letter...Spain and Italy are crucial in invading Iraq because of their military bases....  Yesterday's open letter goes beyond a genuflection to the US: it starts to delineate an operation plan."


"Bush Accelerates Timing To Attack Saddam"


Jorge Rosales, Washington-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion wrote (1/31):  "Bush's political offensive on the countries that still reject a military operation, like France, Germany and Canada...will continue growing in the next days....  The U.S. obtained the steady support from eight European countries...whose presidents and heads of government published an opinion which they called to close ranks with Bush.  This position marked a clear difference with other European countries, like France and Germany, which have announced that they will lead the European trend against a war on Iraq."



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