Patrick E. Tyler / The New York Times – 2004-09-24 23:54:46
LONDON (September 23, 2004) — The editorial cartoon in The Times of London on Wednesday was derisive: the first panel showed President Bush telling the United Nations General Assembly, “Friends, our policy in Iraq is directed solely towards a successful election.” The second panel had him saying which election: “Mine.”
European newspapers, including some that supported the American military campaign in Iraq, were largely critical of Mr. Bush’s address on Tuesday to the United Nations, accusing him of being unrealistic about the worsening situation in Iraq.
The Financial Times contended in its lead editorial that the Bush administration “systematically refused to engage with what actually has happened in Iraq” — namely, in the newspaper’s view, that American policy “mistakes” had “handed the initiative to jihadi terrorists” who “now have a new base from which to challenge the West and moderate Islam.”
The newspaper said that Mr. Bush’s Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, “after being evasive, long-winded and sometimes contradictory,” was beginning to speak more realistically than Mr. Bush about the deterioration of security in Iraq. And, the newspaper asserted, Mr. Bush’s “disengagement from the reality of a sinking Iraq is alarming.”
The left-leaning Independent of Britain carried an editorial cartoon of Osama bin Laden putting up a Bush campaign poster saying “4 More Years” on a shell-pocked bit of masonry in Iraq. The cartoon seemed to be inspired by a diplomatic spat over remarks attributed to the British ambassador to Italy, Sir Ivor Roberts. After a private discussion on policy that was supposed to be off the record, Sir Ivor was quoted by an Italian newspaper as saying that Mr. Bush had become “the best recruiting sergeant” for Al Qaeda.
In its editorial, The Independent said that Mr. Bush “gave little hint” in his speech of the “catastrophic war” under way in Iraq. “Instead of a measured account of reality in Iraq,” the editorial said, “he treated the ranks of national leaders gathered at the UN to a portentous and self-justifying speech brimming with clichés about ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ that glorified the American way.”
Applause for Mr. Bush was scarce on the Continent, but in Poland, the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper ran a commentary by Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who noted that Mr. Bush’s speech had to be considered in the context of an election campaign. And after hearing the views of Senator Kerry, the foreign minister said, Poland considers itself “closer to the position presented by Bush.”
The Polish newspaper Nasz Dziennik, however, argued in an editorial that Mr. Bush, having “attacked Iraq in defiance” of those nations that called for United Nations authorization for invasion, Mr. Bush was now trying to convince the international community that it should pay for the “chaos” caused by “reckless policy.”
In France, two major newspapers commented on Mr. Bush’s remarks, one by contrasting his approach with Mr. Kerry’s. The left-of-center Libération congratulated Mr. Kerry for belatedly setting forth a comprehensive position on Iraq, and for advocating an approach that would “involve US allies in a broader way.”
President Bush, the paper said, is “part of the problem rather than the solution” when it comes to working with allies. In his speech to the United Nations, the paper said, Mr. Bush “showed that slightly autistic self-satisfaction remains the dominant tendency of American power.”
In Le Figaro, which reflects the thinking of France’s conservative establishment, the correspondent Philippe Gélie wrote that Mr. Bush was “impervious to criticism” in the conduct of American foreign policy, and characterized his speech as that of a “campaigning American president” who “lectured the rest of the world.”
“In his vision of a global war between good and evil, each new crime strengthens his conviction of having been right against those who accuse him of having invaded Iraq under false pretenses,” Mr. Gélie wrote.
An editorial in the German daily Tagesspiegel was blunt. Its headline: “US, UN, Iraq: The Truth Counts for Nothing.”
Italy’s largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, said Mr. Bush had “forgotten that his go-it-alone approach has alienated many sympathizers” with American goals in the Middle East, and warned the White House that it would take more “than an isolated appeal during an election campaign” to rebuild the consensus that once existed on Iraq.
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