The world on the war

How the international press views Bush's ultimatum and the looming war.


Compiled by Laura McClure
March 20, 2003 3:28AM (UTC)

Australia, Editorial from the Sydney Morning Herald

It should not have come to this. The international community should not have failed to disarm Iraq peacefully. The United Nations Security Council should not have failed so spectacularly. The United States and Britain should not have been left to go it alone. And when the moment of truth arrived, Australia should not have been so deeply committed to a course set by the United States and Britain that it had no choice. We could only confirm the already promised support and are now in a deeply regrettable war.

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Australia has, however, gone further than its interests and its international obligations require.

Australia's support in the process that has led to war should have been more circumspect. We were right to cooperate with U.N. sanctions for peace and to support the creation of a broad international alliance. We were also right to lend symbolic support in the military build-up which tried, but failed, to make Saddam disarm.

Australia was wrong, however, not to have foreseen the danger of becoming so deeply committed that in an instant we find ourselves committed not to a broad and united coalition of forces, but a venture led by the United States and supported by Britain, Spain and to a much less and symbolic degree by a few others. Australia's military capacity, always more symbolic than strategically vital in a conflict such as this, is now committed on a distant stage. It would be better applied closer to home. Unfortunately, it is too late for that. Unfortunately, Australia is committed to this war.

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Ghana, Editorial from Accra Mail

What would such a war mean to the distressed economies of Africa?

A lot. For starters, if the war should drag, and the price of oil soars, Africa's fragile economies would be hardest hit.

Even if the war is short-lived, Africa would still lose out because the reconstruction of Iraq would take top billing like the "emergent democracies of Eastern Europe" have been enjoying since the '80s.

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Right now Africa is grappling with the concept of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). It is highly unlikely that NEPAD would make any headway should the guns roar and tanks roll into Iraq. NEPAD would as well consider itself part of the collateral damage of this war.

India, Editorial from the Times of India

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The die is cast. The United States is going to war -- against a foe who offers it no clear and present danger whatsoever -- with no sanction or justification other than self-righteousness.

The millions all over the world who have marched in protest and prayed that there would be no war can now only hope that the coming conflict will be short and mercifully swift, with minimum loss of innocent lives. The Bush camp has tried to make out that those against the war were pro-Saddam. This is deliberate misdirection. Those who have rallied for peace have done so in the name of the people of Iraq who have long suffered Saddam's dictatorship. An internal uprising against Saddam cannot be ruled out, and should perhaps be the best and most humane solution.

No crystal ball-gazer can predict accurately what developments the next few days and weeks will bring. But one thing is certain. The world will never be the same again. For not only has the United States acted with total disregard of the international community by bypassing the U.N. Security Council, but has arrogated the right to continue to do so in future through the use of the so-called Bush doctrine -- which legitimizes Washington's pre-emptive intervention in any situation which is even potentially threatening, or could be so in the future...

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With former allies like France today being vilified by Washington for their dissent, and President Bush openly stating that the United States does not need the world's approval, the message is clear: Washington will do militarily, politically and economically what it wishes and no international treaty is, in effect, worth the paper it is written on; no country safe from U.S. diktat. However, the purportedly benevolent global autocracy of Pax Americana could turn out to be its own worst enemy by sowing the seeds of terrorist reprisal. Which in turn would make the United States even more aggressively paranoid and thus escalate the spiral of retaliation. The Iraq war is over before it has begun, for no one doubts its outcome. The real war has begun in an inescapable future which is already here.

Iran, Parviz Esmaeili in the Tehran Times

The silence of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and other U.N. officials also seems to confirm the idea that the U.N. has been stripped of its authority to decide about the world, which has actually been transferred to a real axis of evil with Bush as its head...

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In fact, instead of allowing the U.N. and the international community to disarm Iraq, the Bush administration and its lackeys are disarming the U.N. and the international community.

History shows that the bitter smell of gunpowder also bothers dictators. No dictator has ever succeeded in conquering the world. Warmongering will not lead to U.S. supremacy in the world and instead will bring about the collapse of the Western superpower. A Persian proverb says: "It may come early or late but it will finally come."

Israel, Editorial from Haaretz

It would, without a doubt, have been preferable if American diplomacy had succeeded in gaining more widespread military and diplomatic support for the campaign against Iraq. For a short moment, following 9/11, it had seemed that the nations of the world planned to join forces in the battle against global terrorism. But with time, it transpired that selfish concerns of certain states -- in particular, the temptation to gnaw at the puissance of a wounded superpower -- have overcome even the universal interest in stripping a tyrant like Saddam Hussein of his ability to strike.

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To the good fortune of the Iraqi leader's victims, the United States has not weakened in its resolve to oust Saddam, despite the problems and disappointments encountered en route. Israel, which has placed itself firmly in the pro-American camp, hopes for a hasty outcome, with a minimum of losses.

Japan, Op-Ed from Asahi Shimbun

Japan's stand on war with Iraq is anachronistic.

Japan, caught between the United States and the nations of Europe, will be seriously affected by the changing relationships among Western nations. Even so, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi simply recites his lines about the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and its compatibility with international cooperation.

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Is it appropriate for Japan, even though it hopes to avoid straining the U.S. relationship in the face of North Korean threats, to simply wait for the storm to pass and chant the mantra of "support for the United States''?

Many Japanese oppose war on Iraq, but Koizumi has said it is sometimes a mistake for a nation's leader to act on public opinion. He says, given a choice between war and peace, people will always prefer peace. But the present antiwar mood is hardly that simplistic.

Regarding Iraq, people feel Iraq is at fault. They agree the Japan-U.S. alliance is important. Even so, they cannot support a war the United Nations does not condone.

But the government continues to argue, as it has for dozens of years, that maintaining the Japan-U.S. alliance makes everything else all right.

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Foreign policy is not conducted for the benefit of the Prime Minister's Official Residence or the Foreign Ministry. It is an anachronism to fail to inform the people and propose available options while instead offering nothing but the stand that the government has decided that what it does will be "the only thing in the national interest.''

Jordan, Editorial from the Jordan News Agency

As the United States goes to war, Jordanians and Arabs find themselves haunted by the same question that they have been asking Washington for the past few months: What is the plan? Speaking after the Azores summit on Sunday, President George W. Bush reiterated his commitment to a ''unified'' Iraq. That, like 95 percent of what Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said after their summit, was nothing new.

What Bush has failed to mention so far is how he intends to keep Iraq united, how he intends to foster the emergence of a representative administration including all ethnic and religious components of Iraqi society.

No Jordanian, no Arab has ever bought, even for one single second, Bush's blabbering about bringing democracy to this region. A democratic government in Baghdad would reflect people's anger and revulsion against U.S. policies, and translate it into policies.

Russia, Boris Kagarlitsky in the Moscow Times

The issue is no longer Saddam Hussein or even Iraqi oil. If the United States doesn't go to war now, it will in effect be admitting that its foreign policy over the past year was utterly pointless. President George Bush could apply some spin, of course, by declaring that only the pressure brought to bear by the U.S. military buildup forced Hussein to disarm.

This is the hope of European and Arab leaders. But they view the Iraq crisis in the context of international politics, whereas for Bush the war in Iraq is a domestic issue ... If the war that everyone is expecting doesn't happen, American patriots will be deeply disappointed. Like all nationalists, they will only be fully satisfied when the blood starts to flow. Somehow it just wouldn't seem right if the administration's stated goals were achieved without a shot being fired. National pride demands human sacrifice...

War has become a riveting made-for-TV extravaganza. The average American is used to watching CNN footage of wars in obscure countries where the good guys crush the bad guys with high-tech weapons. Bush has promised to serve up the same kind of entertainment, only on a bigger scale. Now he has to stand and deliver.

United Kingdom, Martin Woollacott in the Guardian

America is moving toward war in a mood combining helplessness and heedlessness, a hope of being in the right, an anxiety about the possibility of being wrong, and patriotic feeling in equal proportions.

The conflict is thousands of miles away and will be fought by professional soldiers rather than by the conscripts who went off to Vietnam and earlier wars, which means it can the more easily be put to the back of the mind, even at this moment of its beginning.

The president's sombre speech, not without eloquence, will now alert many to the risks being faced. But in the American capital yesterday, at least until the president spoke, the last gasp of diplomacy and the first hot breath of war were not evident outside government offices and foreign policy institutes...

As hostilities begin, the differences between the anti-war and pro-war schools in the United States have been partially submerged by their common feeling that the administration's diplomacy and its military and political preparations have been inept.

Turkey's possible last-minute decision to permit U.S. forces to pass through is seen as typical. "How could we go in 18 months from having everybody on our side to a situation in which we are going to war with just one major ally? It's quite a feat," said one opponent of the war. But, equally, "we have not managed this well," said an advocate of military action.


Compiled by Laura McClure

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