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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 17, 2003

October 17, 2003





**  Passage of U.S.-sponsored UNSC Iraq resolution is a "thumbs-up" for Washington.


**  Peacekeepers, financial assistance "not guaranteed" by what may be a "symbolic" victory.


**  European commentators envision the possibility of mending the transatlantic rift.




A 'triumph' for U.S. diplomacy--  European commentary painted unanimous passage of the U.S.-sponsored Iraq resolution in a generally positive light.  Austrian dailies termed the vote "an unbelievable success" for U.S. diplomacy and "the best news the U.S. has had in a long time" on Iraq.  "The internationalization, under American command," of Iraq's reconstruction process, other writers stated, may open "a new Iraq’s stabilization."  Italy's business daily Il Sole-24 Ore said the vote "represents a fundamental shift in the handling" of post-war Iraq, but leading centrist Corriere della Sera cautioned that the "pacification of Iraq is far from being guaranteed."  Spain's independent El Mundo contended the resolution signaled acceptance of the "fait accompli of the occupation" while establishing conditions that the U.S. "will have to enforce if it hopes to obtain" international support.  Another centrist Euro broadsheet argued the resolution "will set in motion a process that is no longer solely in the hands of the Americans."


Peacekeeping troops and 'hard currency' will still be hard to get--  Many outlets, like Brazil's liberal Folha de S. Paulo, viewed the impact of the UNSC vote as likely to be "more symbolic than material."  Despite the unanimous vote, "France, Germany and Russia remain dissatisfied with the text" and there is "great resistance" among many countries to help the U.S.  According to France's right-of-center Le Figaro, Paris voted yes to avoid being isolated, but "neither France, nor Germany nor Russia will be helping, financially or militarily."  Though Canada's liberal Toronto Star said the resolution "leaves little wiggle-room for ostensibly peace-loving, multinationalism-besotted nations" to decline burden-sharing, a left-of-center German editorialist reflected the view of many that the "resolution will prove to be rather without value" and the U.S. "could be brought back to earth at the donor conference in Madrid."


Hope for the transatlantic relationship--  Writers split on whether the resolution "marked a return by the Bush administration to the old-fashioned idea of diplomacy."  Berlin's right-of-center Die Welt praised the "compromise" by which Washington "has accommodated its partners without totally meeting their demands."  Another German paper argued that new UN mandate "has brought a rapprochement of transatlantic view points," while Italy's left-leaning, influential La Repubblica professed that "the unanimity at the Security Council seemingly signals a shift in transatlantic relations" to a more "relaxed" state.  Other analysts judged that "bitterness remains on both sides of the Atlantic" and that "the differences between Europeans, and between Europeans and Americans, have not really been mended, and they should not be swept under the carpet."

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 27 reports from 13 countries, October 17, 2003.  Due to filing deadlines, commentary in this report is largely restricted to Europe.




BRITAIN:  "Unity At The UN Marks A Welcome Return To Diplomacy"


The center-left Independent editorialized (10/17):  “The Americans deserve credit for doing something right.  U.S. diplomacy has been counterproductive so often in recent months that unity at the United Nations seemed improbable until as recently as Wednesday....  The concessions made by the Americans may not have been substantial, but they added to the sense of urgency with which the transition to an Iraq ruled by Iraqis will take place.  Just as important, they marked a return by the Bush administration to the old-fashioned idea of diplomacy, which is that every side makes compromises and concessions in order to reach an agreement that is least objectionable to all....  But the long-term gains for Iraqis and the world [are] in keeping America tied into international institutions, and in anchoring the transition to democracy in Iraq firmly in a UN framework.  For that at least we, and they, should be grateful."


"Powell’s Resolution"


The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (10/17):  “The passage...of Resolution 1511 through the Security Council yesterday is a triumph for Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State.  He persuaded the Administration to return to the United Nations to seek military and economic help for Iraq....  Yesterday’s resolution places responsibility for the rehabilitation of Iraq on the wide community of UN members, while ensuring that the secretariat plays a subordinate role in that process....  The security situation in Iraq remains precarious and the target for foreign aid, despite a $1.5 billion grant announced by Japan on Wednesday, looks ambitious.  That said, there is now hope that the worst of the post-invasion difficulties are over.  In that sense, Resolution 1511 is a watershed.”


FRANCE:  "France Votes For The U.S. Resolution At UN"


Luc de Barochez remarked in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/17):  “Yesterday FM de Villepin had the ungrateful task of explaining to the press why France was approving the UN resolution, thus supporting Washington’s control over Iraq....  In fact France was running the risk of being isolated at the UNSC, since Russia and Germany were clearly tempted to vote ‘yes.’  But neither France, nor Germany nor Russia will be helping, financially or militarily.”


GERMANY:  "Compromise"


Dietrich Alexander judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (10/17):  “The approval by the highest UN body morally upgrades the victorious coalition and provides it with more legitimacy....  The ‘counter-axis’ Moscow-Paris-Berlin did not choose confrontation--so much the better....  [Washington] has accommodated its partners without totally meeting their demands.  This is called a compromise....  The path is open to the international community to fulfill its task in Iraq.”


"Sample Without Value"


Stefan Ulrich commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/17):  “In the end [the UN] could be a handy fall guy for America, if everything continues to go wrong in Iraq.  Washington has achieved everything it wanted--but only on paper.  In practice, this Iraq resolution will prove to be rather without value.  The U.S. wanted to clear the way for money and troops from abroad....  Germany, France, and Russia have already sent a loud ‘but’ after their low ‘yes’....  After their triumph in New York, the Americans could be brought back to earth at the donor conference in Madrid next week.  They will not obtain the funds they need.  The European Union in particular will not see a reason why it should considerably increase its oh so tiny contribution....  For why should America’s friends invest in an Iraqi venture, which they believe has gone in the wrong direction up to now, and on whose future strategy they cannot exert any influence?...  Berlin, Paris, and Moscow, however, must allow the question why they approved the resolution.  A no would have been more honest--or at least an abstention.”




Jasper von Altenbockum commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (10/17):  “Paris, Berlin, and Moscow have escalated expectations on an Iraq resolution during the past months.  Compared to that the results of their diplomatic efforts are pitiful.  The Americans are neither accepting a UN rule in Iraq nor are they embarking on a deadline to reestablish sovereignty in Iraq.  Only the vague call on the interim governing council in Baghdad to present a schedule for elections and a constitution by December 15 saves the faces of the war opponents.  Given the explosive atmosphere in Baghdad, the end of Iraqi occupation remains a question of years and not of a few months like France would have liked to put in the resolution.  The discussion about the UN resolution was a debate of prestige, which prevented what apparently should have been

promoted:  fast action.  The grounds have now been prepared for the donors conference in Madrid next week, a conference that, from an American point of view, is only a drop in the ocean.”


"Mandate Without Power"


Rolf Paasch opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/17):  “It would not have helped much to respond to the vagueness [of the resolution] and the stubbornness of the Bush administration by abstaining or dissenting.  At the same time, what Messrs. Chirac, Putin and Schroeder have said after the passing of the controversial resolution is true: a UN mandate without any power for the international organization is not an appropriate response to the situation in Iraq....  “Washington is naïve to believe that unilateral control of reconstruction in Iraq can overcome the difficulties of the occupiers....  And when the Europeans prefer to send protest notes to Washington instead of sending troops to Baghdad or the funds will not flow at the donors conference in Madrid next week, then the Democrats in the U.S. Congress will accuse their president of having failed the test on multilateralism.  The new UN mandate has brought a rapprochement of transatlantic view points.  But for Iraq, the compromise is a missed chance because it does not alter much the stigma of occupation.”


"Bitter Reason"


Clemens Wergin opined in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (10/17):  “Now, a compromise has been made which satisfies really no one....  The French and Germans voted yes in the end because the latest revisions by the U.S. convinced at least the Chinese and partly the Russians.  And because the U.S. would have obtained a small majority anyway....  It is welcome that Berlin and Paris gave in.  Anything else would not have been constructive and would have harmed more than served the Iraqis.  The resolution is above all a success for Secretary Powell....  President Bush knows that Iraq is the greatest burden in his presidency....  It is clear that with the election of a new Iraqi government the American authority in Iraq will find an end.  The resolution will set in motion a process that is no longer solely in the hands of the Americans.  Despite the agreement, bitterness remains on both sides of the Atlantic.  America did not expect that the opponents of war would again hold so grimly onto the Iraq question.  Some commentators even sensed a diplomatic war of attrition with the aim of jeopardizing Bush’s reelection.  On the other side, the Old Europeans stuck to the view that the second resolution can’t either heal the original sin of America’s war against Iraq.  The transatlantic gulf remains.”


"Proper Realpolitik"


Right-of-center business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf judged (10/17):  “U.S. power politics is cynical and successful.  ‘Buy Moscow, ignore Berlin, punish Paris,’ was Washington’s strategy and it has worked.  In the wake of the small UN Security Council members, Moscow gave in, and suddenly, France, Germany, and Syria (!) were sitting on the bench of the obstructionists.  If Chancellor Schroeder and President Chirac wanted to evade such an isolation, they had to make a turn--rightly so.  In the end, it was not about content but about saving face.  But Berlin and Paris haven’t even managed that.  [Chancellor Schroeder] votes yes but with reservations.  By this solution, the domestic politician Schroeder creatively explains that Germany cannot fund the reconstruction, but as a would-be world-politician he trips himself up.  A yes despite the misgivings over the Iraq war--without reservations--would have been better.  If there is realpolitik, do it right....  Who votes yes but shirks financial co-responsibility strengthens U.S. hegemony towards the UN--and is in a position where he has no voice.”


"Legitimizing The U.S. Occupying Power"


Roland Heine opined for the left-of-center Berliner Zeitung of Berlin (10/17):  “Once again, the UN's most important decision-making body has signed off on a resolution that gives the UN itself no more than a secondary role in Iraq while once again legitimizing, at least indirectly, the U.S. occupying power....  It may be that Paris, Moscow and Berlin credit themselves with having denied the U.S. additional troops and funds, but even assuming this remains the case, the new resolution means problems for some of the smaller countries that have thus far refused to play the role of U.S. vassal in Iraq, quoting the absence of a UN decision.  Whatever happens, the U.S. will not find the going easy at the planned donors conference.”


ITALY:  "The Healed Fracture"


Mario Platero opined in leading business daily Il Sole-24 Ore (10/17):  “With the Security Council’s unanimous vote on the U.S.-proposed resolution on Iraq, the rift within the UN since last January is now mended--at least on a formal level.  In fact, after a delicate diplomatic balancing act, Russia, France and Germany voted in favor of the resolution, although were quick to specify that they will not send men and materiel.  The fact is that the miracle of unanimity--even Syria, that everyone expected would vote negatively, voted in favor--took place.  This represents a fundamental shift in the handling of the reconstruction in Iraq and restores vigor to the Middle East peace process.  There is also a clear message for the terrorists: starting today, Saddam’s most faithful followers in Iraq, Arafat’s followers in Palestine, Hamas fanatics and the ‘operators’ of al-Qaeda that are trying to overturn Musharraf’s government in Pakistan will have a much more difficult life....  We will have to see if Bush’s America has learned once and for all the lesson of diplomacy.  The U.S. Administration, in fact, had to accept that it failed in all its objectives of unilateral control of the situation in post-Saddam Iraq.  And this was true both in Baghdad and in the U.S. The polls punished George W. Bush.  No politician is insensitive to the electorate, especially when elections are around the corner.”


"Bush’s Thanks To The UN"


Bernardo Valli judged in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/17):  “The unanimous approval of the Iraq resolution at the Security Council is like pure honey to Bush’s America.  The fifteen votes (among which was Syria’s vote!) have a soothing effect on the wounds that the U.S. has been enduring in recent months along the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers....  The unanimity at the Security Council seemingly signals a shift in transatlantic relations. They seem more relaxed.  The honey that soothes the American wounds, therefore, also calms the polemic between Europe and the U.S.  The text of the resolution gives this impression.  But right after the vote, agreed upon by Chirac, Schroeder and Putin (which appeared to the most critical as a yielding of the European front), France, Germany and Russia rushed to calm enthusiasm and disappointment.....  In substance, this was the message of the three countries: given the difficult circumstance, the Security Council could not appear divided to the world.  This does not mean that the three capitals will respond to the invitation to send troops and to allocate funds, as contained in the resolution.  They will beware of participating in an occupation that has still not given clear indications on how Iraq will return to national sovereignty.”


"A First Step Of Understanding With A Long List Of Penitents"


Franco Venturini commented in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (10/17):  “There is now a premise for the re-unification of the international community.  But we must quickly say that is only a premise.  The pacification of Iraq is far from being guaranteed.  The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is worsening (and the Europeans will ask Bush not to retreat into the shell of his electoral campaign).  Most of all, the differences between Europeans and between Europeans and Americans have not really been mended, and they should not be swept under the carpet if we want the trans-Atlantic alliance and the ambitions of the EU to have a future."


RUSSIA:  "A Step In the Right Direction"


Valentina Kulyabina wrote in reformist Vremya Novostey (10/17):  "The resolution, with amendments as suggested by the three countries that insist on Iraq's sovereignty, is a step in the right direction.  Still, Moscow, Paris and Berlin complain that the document is somewhat wanting.  In their joint statement, the three emphasize that the resolution should have gone farther on two key issues: the UN role and a date for the transfer of power to the Iraqi people."


AUSTRIA:  "A Political Statement"


Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer commented in liberal daily Der Standard (10/17):  “The fact that, despite misgivings, the anti-war camp in the UN Security Council has brought itself to voting in favor of the new Iraq resolution, is the best news the U.S. has had in a long time in connection with Iraq....  With the new resolution, the Security Council has made a clear political statement: In order to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq, international cooperation is vital.  That means a lot, and very little at the same time: The hope cherished by the U.S., that this political statement is going to be changed into hard currency next week at the Madrid Conference for Reconstruction in Iraq, or that Germany and France will get their Iraq brigades moving any time soon, will most likely not fulfill itself.  Too big is the gap in expectations.  Washington has made no concessions as regards the concrete role of the UN, or the timetable for handing over power in the country.  However, the U.S. did approve upgrading the role of

the Security Council as far as the multinational force in Iraq is concerned: The Security Council will revaluate the mandate after one year, and it will terminate automatically as soon as an Iraqi government is formed.  Given the current security situation in the country, we can only hope that this government, once it has been formed, will ask for a certain contingent of international troops to stay in the country.”


"A Textbook Example"


Foreign affairs editor Günter Lehofer commented in mass-circulation provincial daily Kleine Zeitung (10/17):  “It was an unbelievable success for the American policy in Iraq.  After the UN Security Council had rejected the war, it yesterday unanimously turned the conquerors into a peace force with UN blessing.  The vociferous criticism from France, Germany, Russia, China, Syria, and even UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has died down to a whisper.  The Americans continue to have the military and political supreme command in Iraq.  With the resolution, they now also have a way of pressuring other states to participate in the U.S. policy.  The struggle over this resolution is going to remain a textbook example of how a superpower can use its position effectively.”


BELGIUM:  "UN Resolution"


Baudouin Loos and Philippe Regnier wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (10/17):  “Washington has, at least theoretically, obtained what it wanted: the Americans keep the unified command and no binding date has been given for transferring full sovereignty to the Iraqis.  The text also gives UN member countries the possibility of sending troops with a UN mandate.  Besides, the Americans are hoping that, thanks to the resolution, there will be a broad and generous support during the donors’ conference that will take place in Madrid on October 23 and 24.  However, although the United States’ leadership in Iraq has not been called into question by the UN resolution--to the great satisfaction of a U.S. administration that is not eager to share the political power--the arrival of troops--and of financial contributions--from the international community, which is authorized in the resolution, is not guaranteed and will depend on each country’s policy.”


HUNGARY:  "Iraq’s Occupation Sealed"


Liberal Magyar Hirlap editorialized (10/17):  "There is an also important interpretation of the fact that the UN passed the latest resolution submitted by the United States.  It is that the countries [Russia, Germany and France] that harshly opposed the war against Iraq, subsequently have approved the American occupation.  It can also mean that a new chapter has begun in Iraq’s stabilization."


ROMANIA:  "Thumbs Up For U.S."


Foreign policy analyst Roxana Frosin commented in the financially oriented daily Curentul (10/17):  “With the help of France and Germany, and...Russian President Vladimir Putin, the United States yesterday obtained international legitimacy to deploy a multinational force in Iraq, in parallel with the growth of role of the UN....  The internationalization, under American command, of the stabilization and reconstruction process of Iraq is a thumbs-up for the White House, which has been the target of huge domestic pressures, against the background of a record budget deficit and the almost daily human loses in the Arab state.”


SPAIN:  "At the UN, Bush Finds a Way Out of Iraq"


Independent El Mundo judged (10/17):  "Those who think that the unanimous approval of the resolution, sponsored by U.S., Great Britain and Spain, legitimizes the Iraqi invasion, are wrong.  What the resolution does is accept the fait accompli of the occupation and establish some conditions that the government of Washington will have to enforce if hopes to obtain the moral and material support of the international community in the future....  The American president will have to choose between meeting the conditions imposed by the UN and leaving Iraq in an orderly fashion, or persisting in the unilateralism that has led him to the current impasse.  The risk that he will choose the second option cannot be underestimated....  When it comes to actions, Bush would do well to remember that it is precisely the failure of the hawks that has forced him to go to the UN in search of a solution."  


"A Ray Of Light"


Left-of-center El País commented (10/17):  "Bush, hounded in his own country by Iraq's increasing cost in lives and money, already has a weapon to use immediately.  Inside the U.S., it will help him fight the attempted revolt by both parties in the Senate which want to raise objections to his request of $20 billion for Iraq's reconstruction.  Outside the U.S., the Security Council resolution gives life to next week's Donors Conference in Madrid.  With this new lever of legality, it should be easier to move the will of the international community so it contributes without a guilty conscience to urgently solve the prostration of the occupied country."


"A UN Blessing"


Centrist La Vanguardia held (10/17):  "The importance of the agreement lies in that, from now on, one cannot talk about the illegal occupation (of Iraq).  The UN has accepted the fait accompli and chosen the path of pragmatism, without its Secretary General Koffi Annan, assuming the role of director that he never had during this crisis....  In this way, the open wound in the international community is sewn up and the possibility that international law envisioned in the UN Charter can still be a valid instrument for future crisis is re-established.  Bush, like Caesar, can say:  'Alea jacta est.'"


"Iraq And The UN:  A Consensus, But Not Much..."


Conservative ABC editorialized (10/17):  "The refusal of France, Germany and contribute financial and military to the normalization of Iraq, casts shadows on the Madrid Donors Conference....  If that is the spirit that those countries are maintaining, this forum, meant to raise funds for the reconstruction of Iraq, will be practically stillborn."


PAKISTAN:  "UNSC Vote And The Iraqi Council"


The Lahore-based liberal English Daily News held (Internet version, 10/17):  "Given the initial opposition from France, Germany and Russia, observers say this is a major diplomatic victory for the United States.  U.S. diplomats say the resolution, which authorizes a multinational force in Iraq, could provide the legal cover some countries said they required before sending their troops to Iraq.  However, while going along with a positive vote, the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said that his country as well as France will not commit any fresh military or financial help to the U.S. war effort since the resolution still falls short of what they had demanded....  Now that the UNSC resolution has been taken care of, it may be more difficult for the [Iraqi Governing] Council--opposed to troops from Muslim countries--to resist the U.S. on troops from Turkey and Pakistan.  The United States wants immediate reprieve for its badly overstretched troops.  With the UNSC vote tucked under its belt, it is likely to arm-twist the council, if necessary, to agree to such deployment.  In the event, if it can get Turkish troops into Iraq, it could ask Pakistan for a troop contribution.  Having made such deployment conditional on legal cover, Islamabad will be hard pressed now to wriggle out of that commitment.  The situation could become more pressing if, in addition to the UNSC resolution, the US could get the Iraqi Council to approve the stationing of Pakistani troops.  The coming days will determine Pakistan’s response to the issue."




CANADA:  "Burden-Sharing Essential In Speeding Peace Process"


Rosie DiManno commented in the liberal Toronto Star (Internet version, 10/17):  "Fifteen hands went up at the United Nations Security Council yesterday, but unanimous approval of Resolution 1511 on Iraq was really a game of diplomatic three-card monte.  The astonishing yay vote from Syria notwithstanding, a trio of obstructive countries--France, Germany and Russia--remains profoundly opposed to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and, by extension, the reconstruction efforts in that beggared nation.  Turning over their diplomatic cards reveals the emptiness of yesterday's gesture--no troops, no money, but definitely the Gang of Three wants a piece of the potential reconstruction contracts, worth up to $100 billion....  Yesterday's vote, which must be viewed as a victory for Washington, even if it results in no further international troops....  But burden-sharing remains essential in speeding up the process, which is ostensibly what the French, the Germans and the Russians most want.  Which is why it will be politically difficult, quite hypocritical, for those countries to now remain aloof from the process.  They didn't want any part of the war.  Fine.  But they have little excuse now for taking no part in the peace.  In fact, the UN resolution leaves little wiggle-room for ostensibly peace-loving, multinationalism-besotted nations (hello, Canada) to decline a burden-humping role in Iraq."


BRAZIL:  "Belated Blessing"


Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (10/17):  "It's almost everything the U.S. wanted: the creation of a multinational force to Iraq under the U.S. command.  France, Russia and Germany already warned they won't grant any more money or troops.  On the other hand, the approved resolution does not require Anglo-American occupation forces to give authority to the UN.  Therefore, victory to the White House, and hope that transfer of power to the Iraqis is not delayed.  It's good to remember, however, that the greatest obstacle to the UN participation was precisely the Bush administration's intransigence."


"The UN And Iraq"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo commented (10/17):  "The U.S. has finally succeeded in having the UN's Security Council approve a new resolution on Iraq.  The impact of the measure, however, will probably be more symbolic than material.  The resistance of most nations to helping the U.S. seems great....  Despite the unanimity of the voting, France, Germany and Russia remain dissatisfied with the text....  But they seem to have concluded that it was not worthwhile vetoing the U.S.-sponsored resolution....  The resolution is undoubtedly a U.S. victory, but it has all aspects of a Pyrrhic victory."



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