Pact With The Devil

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

Troops from the Philippines are coming home a month early from Iraq – soon all fifty-one of them, from their strictly humanitarian-aid duties there – as the Filipino truck-driver Angelo de la Cruz remains hostage to Islamic militants. Many in the world are dismayed at this apparent climb-down by Philippines president Gloria Arroyo in the face of terrorist threats, and this includes the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, whose writer Paul Høi takes Arroyo to task in an editorial entitled Arroyo Makes the Same Mistake as Doctor Faustus. (more…)

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That Gallic Skepticism Over Iraq

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

“Sovereignty” was transferred to the new Iraqi provisional government last Monday, two days earlier than what had been announced, in what has been praised as a slick move to head off the crescendo of attacks insurgents surely were holding in store for what was supposed to be today’s ceremony. But that’s necessarily “sovereignty” in quotation marks, since it’s an open question what sort of “sovereignty” that new Iraqi government has really received, if for no other reason than the large number of foreign troops – mostly American – that remain in the country but outside of any sort of direct Iraqi control.

You know that you can expect views from the maximal-skepticism side to come from the French press. The early hand-over may have been a surprise, but both Libération, from the French Left, and Le Figaro, from the Right, were nonetheless quickly ready to provide the same. (more…)

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Turkey and Other Bones of Franco-American Contention

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

At the NATO summit in Istanbul, wrapping up its second and final day today, relations between the United States and France have certainly not gotten any better. Bush did not help prepare things very well with an interview he had with RTE (Irish Radio and Television – official transcript here) as he made his way to Istanbul by way of Ireland (and a summit there with top EU officials over the weekend). In the interview he strongly suggested that it was really only France that opposed the Coalition attack on Iraq – “And, really, what you’re talking about is France, isn’t it?” – an assertion which seems to be in contradiction with widely-held facts. Then, once in Istanbul, Bush seemed to think he had the authority to advise the EU to admit Turkey as a member-state, which prompted French President Jacques Chirac to declare that Bush “not only [went] too far, but he went into territory that isn’t his. . . . It is not his purpose and his goal to give any advice to the EU, and in this area it was a bit as if I were to tell Americans how they should handle their relationship with Mexico.” Undaunted, Bush has since repeated this line today at a speech at an Istanbul university: “America believes that as a European power, Turkey belongs in the European Union.” (This CNN report has all the details of the spat in English.) (more…)

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Ayatollah Bush

Monday, June 7th, 2004

The cajoling (over Iraq, of course) and the 60-year-old commemorative ceremonies are now over, and President Bush and entourage have caught Air Force One back to the States. He leaves behind, among many other things, an excellent article in the current issue of the authoritative German commentary-newspaper, Die Zeit, which his staff, at least, would have been well-advised to have studied in preparation for this visit (the article is dated June 3). Now, I know that the President doesn’t care much for foreign languages, and maybe that attitude also percolates down to those who work for him, so that that probably did not happen. But that’s OK anyway, because Jan Ross’ piece Bush and Us can also serve just as well as a post-visit dissection of the true attitudes towards George W. Bush and America in general among Europeans, beneath all the World War II-gratitude veneer. (more…)

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The Meaning of D-Day

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

The news may have been slow coming through the middle of this past week (as I complained in my previous entry – or maybe I was just manufacturing an excuse to go review the “Europa XL” entry on Italy), but that has quickly ceased to be the case, what with President Bush’s embarking on Air Force One to pay another visit over to Europe. Naturally, Iraq will be foremost in everyone’s minds, as he attempts to gain a little more assistance for that country from our European allies, perhaps with a view towards engineering formal NATO involvement at the upcoming Istanbul NATO summit. The ceremonial pretext, however, is the 60th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II – although, as we’ll see, the ceremonial and the practical political spheres have already impinged upon each other.

Looking at the on-line Dutch press for D-Day coverage, it’s almost totally absent, save treatment in the leading serious evening daily, the NRC Handelsblad. But there the coverage is extensive and truly multi-faceted. (more…)

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Polish Iraq Rumblings

Sunday, May 30th, 2004

The current crisis concerning the situation in Iraq (e.g. continuing open rebellion, uncertain transitional government to which to “transfer sovereignty” on 30 June, just to name a few of the headline things) is hardly going unnoticed in Poland. This is another country which has significant numbers of troops on the ground there, in fact right at the main hot spots, i.e. in the Shiite-dominated south. Back in the early days of the occupation – back when sectors were being chosen for Coalition allies – that area was considered a safe bet to stay “cold.” After all, the country’s Shiite majority had long been oppressed particularly egregiously by Saddam, no?, and so should be particularly grateful and cooperative in the aftermath of his toppling. But that’s just another aspect that has gone wrong with the “plan” – and while we’re on that topic, check out this.

I thought about making this entry the latest in €S’ “Poles in Iraq” series (it would be entry number X – yes, we number them here like the NFL numbers the Super Bowls), but that’s not quite going to fit. (more…)

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Denmark Contemplates the Iraqi Con-Man

Thursday, May 27th, 2004

And now to the latest Iraq-related scandal. No, really: this one centers around the person of Ahmed Chalabi, of the Iraqi National Congress, long the Pentagon’s favorite anti-Saddam Iraqi exile, recipient of a monthly $335,000 payment from the (US) Defense Intelligence Agency, and, in return, the source of juicy intelligence from within the Hussein regime, most notably about its stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The recent raid on Chalabi’s Baghdad house to seize computer records and documents, performed by Iraqi policemen under the protection of US soldiers, was a signal that perhaps this relationship is not so cozy anymore, something understandable given the record so far of those WMD actually turning up in practice. Now there is talk that Chalabi might have been an agent in the pay of Iran all along, feeding the Bush administration with the false information on Iraq that it wanted to hear as a justification to depose Hussein, while at the same time feeding his Iranian paymasters with truly exclusive top secret American intelligence information.

Yes, the suspicion is dawning that the United States might essentially have been hoodwinked into going to war against Iraq – and that officials at this administration’s highest levels might eventually have to answer charges of the unauthorized passing-on of choice information to their good comrade Chalabi, only to see it transferred right along to officials in Tehran. The broad outline of all this, at least, should be familiar by now to anyone who peruses the major American papers (New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times) on a regular basis; I myself rather like the extensive account given here on the Parapundit weblog (and updated here). One interesting side-question that Parapundit’s Randall Parker raises is: How long before the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that, when it comes to international intrigue, we (i.e. the Americans) are nothing but “a bunch of country hick rubes”?

Well, the Danes probably are already aware of this, for one. (more…)

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Bush Speech Leaves Germans, Iraqis Unimpressed

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

President Bush kicked off on Monday night his five-speech offensive to demonstrate to American voters (primarily) and also to the rest of the world that he has a plan for effectively handing off “sovereignty” to some native Iraqi administration at the end of June. That same day Britain and the US had tabled a proposed UN Security Council resolution which, if adopted in the proposed form, would leave occupation troops able to remain in Iraq indefinitely even as that native administration would supposedly be granted the “responsibility and authority to lead a sovereign Iraq.”

Coverage of the President’s speech in the German press generally found it less than fully convincing. (more…)

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First Dutch Casualty in Iraq

Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

It has finally happened, but you knew it was only a matter of time: the first Dutch soldier has fallen in Iraq, just yesterday (Monday). And the timing was significant, if only as a reflection of the breakdown of what public order there was in much of that country over the past few weeks. It might be even more significant when you consider that a decision is coming due as to whether to extend the deployment of Dutch troops in Iraq after the 17 July end of their current mandate there. Doubts about doing that were starting to surface in the Dutch legislature, even before this latest, fatal incident. (more…)

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Responsible Ones

Monday, May 10th, 2004

EuroSavant is back now, from an extended period of travel to Segway in cities located elsewhere in Europe. Fortunately, the scandal that erupted last week over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American (and seemingly also British) military personnel in Iraq shows no signs of dying down soon. I write “fortunately” not only from the immediate consideration that there is still plenty of coverage and commentary in the European press, but also because indeed this matter should not “die down” until all has been investigated, all has been revealed, and all those guilty have been relieved of their positions and punished. Some say that that would mean no such “closure” until Election Day next November.

As I make my way back into the €S groove, I have to shoot first at the big, obvious targets and leave subtlety (e.g. finding that telling commentary in some otherwise-obscure journal appearing in a more-obscure country) for later. What more obvious source to go to for non-English-language comment than France’s leading newspaper Le Monde? With its editorial from Sunday entitled Responsible Ones, Le Monde certainly does not disappoint. (more…)

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Saving Poland from Lepper-osy

Sunday, April 4th, 2004

Regular €S readers (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) will have picked up certain themes to which this weblog returns regularly: Alyaksandr Lukashenka, for one, and the Polish forces in Iraq, for another. (Well, I’m supposed to do the latter; it’s been rather inactive for a while.) Another such theme seems to be shaping up quite spontaneously: that of sounding the alarm over Central European states that are threatening to make “bad” electoral choices. Sure, as proud new members of the community of democracies they’re more-or-less entitled to make whatever electoral choices they want. But really, elect back into power in the Czech Republic the KSCM – the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, which is “unreformed” and therefore unashamed of the over forty years of misery its predecessor inflicted on the country? Or, in Slovakia, elect as president in the immediate wake of NATO membership, on the very eve of EU membership, the corrupt political thug (we’re talking here about Vladimir Meciar, for those who came in late) whose behavior in the mid-1990s was responsible for Slovakia missing both such boats then? Or, in Poland, elect into power a farmers’ party notorious for blocking highways and throwing livestock products recklessly around in order to make its political points, whose leader has been banished from the Sejm (Poland’s legislative lower house) a number of times for his reckless accusations and other attacks on other leading political figures? (more…)

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A New Churchill Needed for Europe?

Monday, March 22nd, 2004

The tide has now largely turned on the Madrid bombings of two weeks ago. Fewer commentators are willing to assert that the Spanish electorate, in voting out the conservative Aznar government in contradiction to what opinion polls had previously indicated would happen, capitulated to terrorist threats to inflict more of the same on their country in the hope that they would instead be left alone. Instead, most now ascribe Aznar’s loss to his government’s alleged attempt after the attacks, but before the election, to point the blame for them to what for him would be the more politically-advantageous culprit, the Basque terrorist organization ETA.

This is not the case in the Czech opinion-weekly Respekt, though, where in his cover-story commentary Before Terror Annihilates Us Teodor Marjanovic declares that “Europe today needs its own Winston Churchill” in response to the terrorist threat. Are Czech editorial writers merely lagging behind their counterparts further west? I’ll let you judge that in what follows; in any case, Marjanovic raises some good points ordinarily overlooked by many, and does so rather pungently. (more…)

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Did the Terrorists Win in Madrid? German Views

Tuesday, March 16th, 2004

As you all well know, almost-simultaneous bombs set off in several Madrid commuter trains during the morning rush-hour last Thursday killed over 200 people, and wounded many, many more. Then Spanish general elections followed on Sunday; in a result that took many observers by surprise, the Spanish Socialist and Workers’ Party, i.e. the opposition, emerged as the winner, with that party’s leader, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, posed to take over as prime minister instead of the hand-picked successor (Mariano Rajoy) to José Maria Aznar of the ruling (right-wing) Partido Popular.

Aznar of course had been one of US President George W. Bush’s stoutest allies when it came to the War in Iraq, and 1,300 Spanish troops are still stationed in the Polish sector there. Mounting evidence suggests that last Thursday’s massacres on the rail-lines of Madrid were the work of some sort of Arab-linked terrorist organization; so that the thought has come to not-a-few that Spain was being punished for that support for the US with these attacks, and that the Spanish electorate reacted to them drastically by removing the regime that would bring this sort of punishment down on them.

So: Is Aznar’s loss a victory for terrorists? That question is posed in an on-line article by Kathleen Knox from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. It is answered in the affirmative in today’s New York Times by regular columnist David Brooks – he asks in his column Al Qaeda’s Wish List “What is the Spanish word for appeasement?”, although he also claims to be resisting the conclusion that “swing Spanish voters are shamefully trying to seek a separate peace in the war on terror.” That’s basically the same answer given by Edward Luttwak, on the very same NYT Op-Ed page, in Rewarding Terror in Spain, which starts out “It must be said: Spanish voters have allowed a small band of terrorists to dictate the outcome of their national elections.” (But the NYT editorial board disagrees.)

But that’s all English-language; you already know about all that. Let’s check what the German press has to say. (more…)

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Kerry-Amour in France

Tuesday, March 9th, 2004

Me, too! Me, too! So Europe is Kerry country, not least because the Democratic presidential candidate is fluent in French and can produce phrases in other European languages, reports the Economist. (Subscription required; or you can get the same message from this Washington Post survey of a ragged potpourri of English-language newspapers from around the world – from Manila, Hong Kong, Edinburgh, southern India, and the like.) Sounds like a good bandwagon for EuroSavant to hop onto, say with a look at the French press to see whether the Fifth Republic really loves the Democratic Party’s candidate as much as is claimed. (more…)

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The Dutch in Iraq: To Shoot or Not To Shoot

Saturday, February 28th, 2004

Those 1,260 Dutch soldiers now serving in Iraq – are they allowed to shoot if necessary, or not? Surprisingly, especially at this late point (after all, Dutch troops were sent to help out the Coalition forces there late last July), there has seemed to be some confusion on this point for a while now, which finally prompted the predominant house of the Dutch legislature – the Tweede Kamer – actually to interrupt its pre-Spring vacation yesterday to stage a debate on the matter, starring several of the key ministers involved.

That debate, and the affair generally, is covered well both in Het Parool (Troops in Iraq May Shoot) and the NRC Handelsblad (lead article: Chamber Swallows Ministers’ Explanation). Fortunately, it is still true (knock-on-wood) that there have yet been no Dutch casualties in Iraq. On the other hand, there has indeed been one case of those Dutch forces inflicting a casualty (and you truly get the impression that creating victims, for the Dutch, causes just as much shock and horror as becoming them themselves). That was back on 27 December of last year, when sergeant-majoor Erik O. shot an Iraqi looter in the back and killed him – so this was no ordinary trooper, as sergeant-majoor (just as the American sergeant-major) is the highest Dutch army enlisted rank. Sergeant-majoor “O.” was shipped back to the Netherlands and incarcerated there on 1 January – put at freedom a week later, though still under charges. (more…)

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Powell Goes Dutch for Lunch

Thursday, February 12th, 2004

The US military may be present in Iraq on the open-ended plan, with no fixed terminal date, but that is hardly true of most of the other Coalition forces – including the Dutch battalion stationed in southern Iraq, whose deployment the Dutch Parliament (specifically, the dominant lower house, or Tweede Kamer) approved for only one year, until next July. As you can well imagine, that upcoming deadline for withdrawal evidently weighed heavily on Colin Powell’s mind on Monday as he met the new Dutch foreign minister, dr. B.R. (for “Bernard Rudolf”) Bot, for their first ever tête-à-tête “getting-to-know-you” lunch. (They had met once before in December at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. Bot is the new Dutch foreign minister in the first place because Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the previous one, was snatched up to become NATO Secretary General as of the beginning of December; his selection was covered on €S here.)

It’s a little early to be making definitive decisions about whether those Dutch troops are going to stick around for another murderous Iraqi summer (not to mention those murderous Iraqi insurgents – but there hasn’t yet been a Dutch casualty, knock-on-wood). That’s the opening message Bot is said to have delivered to Powell. That may also be why the meeting received relatively little attention in the Dutch press, basically getting it only from the top and the bottom, i.e. from the somewhat-tony NRC Handelsblad (Powell to Bot: Keep Army in Iraq) and from the popular-but-not-quite-gutter-press De Telegraaf (Powell to Bot: Stay Longer in Iraq). Ooooh, those headline similarities are spooky – but oh-so-commanding! (more…)

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WMD Rogues Back into the Fold?

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

As 2003 has turned into 2004, there has been a lot of movement world-wide in the area of – brace yourself for this all-too-familiar, overused bureaucratic term – “weapons of mass destruction” (call ’em WMD) and the “rogue states” that, to various degrees, have pursued their acquisition in the past. Most prominent was Libya’s renunciation of such weapons and agreement to adhere to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards, even before actually signing any written accord to do so. But North Korea also recently allowed a team of US observers visit its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. For its part, back in October Iran signed agreements granting the IAEA more scope for inspection of its nuclear facilities, and even Syria started to speak publicly last week about its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Zbynek Petracek, in the most-recent issue of the Czech commentary weekly Respekt, surveys these developments in an article he entitles So That You Don’t End Up Like Saddam. But is all this breaking of the nuclear ice attributable to the downfall of the Iraqi dictator?

If it were, Petracek notes, that would be somewhat ironic, given that the WMD justification for the invasion of Iraq hasn’t panned out at all; last week also marked what was attempted as the “quiet” pull-out from Iraq of the main American team of 400 WMD-searchers (but the media are always watching, especially these guys). But actually there’s precious little connection; indeed, and unfortunately, there has been less progress in fighting the spread of WMD even after the fall of Saddam, even after he was caught in his spider-hole, than you would hope. (more…)

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Damp-Squib Chemical Weapons Find in Iraq

Tuesday, January 13th, 2004

It seems that Danish troops over the past weekend uncovered in southern Iraq some artillery shells that quite likely were filled with the “blister agent” chemical weapon. I was first alerted to this by an entry in Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo site, where he also linked to a BBC report on the find. Naturally, this sort of thing called for a search on in the Danish press for word of what had gone on, and what it might mean. The answer: not that much. (more…)

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Poles Upset at US Visa Regime

Sunday, January 11th, 2004

For many people around the world, mainly either those actively wanting to or at least thinking about traveling to the United States, the big event marking this past first-business-week of the New Year was the introduction last Monday at America’s seaports and airports of mandatory procedures involving the photographing and fingerprinting of most foreign entrants. In one sense, this was just the sequel to the “air marshal” flap happening just before, as yet one more unilateral demand placed by the Bush administration on travel to the US, placed out there for other involved countries to “take it or leave it,” although resistance to this so far has been less than to the demand for air marshalls.

However, see this NYT article for the great Brazilian exception, where authorities – spurred by a judge’s ruling – have in turn instituted the requirement that all Americans entering Brazil be photographed and fingerprinted. And that’s all Americans – the article makes mention that even American diplomats, plus visiting US Senator Pat Roberts, were required to deliver up mugshots and prints – and a better solution is hard to imagine for the obvious problem here that the high-and-mighty setting such US policy normally get to remain blissfully unaware of the impact their decisions have on the everyday lives of ordinarily mortals. There just remains the task of getting George W. Bush to pose in an airport somewhere, which would have the collateral benefit of greatly assisting those many hundreds of thousands of anti-US-policy protesters in Western Europe whose own attempts at fashioning a Bush mugshot on the posters and placards they march with in the streets have too often been hopelessly amateurish.

Another reason resistance is less to the new mugshot-and-prints regime is that citizens from a core of 27 countries (mostly Western European) seen as low-risk and/or particularly friendly to US policy (plus Canada) are exempt. Unfortunately, it’s questionable whether the friendliness of the country and the degree of terrorist risk posed by its citizens are very much correlated; you can grasp this by recalling that that gentleman (now locked up in perpetuity) who two years ago tried to blow up a US-bound flight with explosives hidden in his tennis-shoes was a French national, as well as by reading this excellent opinion-piece on the whole issue in today’s Washington Post’s “Outlook” section. (Then there are those of you asking aloud now “What, France? A ‘friendly country’?” Sillies, for all the Franco-American policy differences of recent years, clearly from geopolitical and immigration perspectives France belongs in that camp of 27.)

But back to the new requirements for folks from what you could call the “great unwashed” parts of the world who would like to visit America, and in particular Poland. Yep, the Poles also belong to those “great unwashed,” notwithstanding things like the prompt and firm support the Polish government provided the Bush administration when it came to Iraq. The Poles are not happy with the new requirements, naturally. Surprisingly, though, a review of Polish press coverage of the matter has convinced me that this development itself barely rates “man-bites-dog” newsworthy status. Rather, the new requirements are merely the latest riff on what Poles perceive to be an ongoing insult – namely that they are required to obtain visas to visit the US at all. What’s more, George W. Bush’s announcement of this past week of proposed changes to US immigration law to grant amnesty in certain cases to illegals in the US turned out 1) To be directly relevant to the mugshot-and-photo issue, and 2) To be of much more interest to Poles. Intrigued? Just click on “More…”

Once again, on this issue Gazeta Wyborcza wins the prize for the extensiveness of its coverage; it builds a handy collection of links to its various articles on a page entitled Should We Introduce Visas for the USA? (more…)

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Iraq as Vietnam?

Sunday, December 28th, 2003

That is the question occupying some commentators as the approaching end-of-year prompts looking back at the “big picture” of 2003’s top story, the War in Iraq. The Washington Post’s Sunday “Outlook” section offers up Iraq Isn’t Vietnam, But They Rhyme, by long-time Post reporter Robert G. Kaiser. Then, as the sort of foreign counterpart that EuroSavant makes its business to make available for exposure to its English-reading audience, there is the essay in this month’s Le Monde Diplomatique by Ignacio Ramonet, entitled Irak, le «merdier». (Sorry: «merdier» is perhaps best translated as “shit-house”; we’ll shortly get into where Ramonet gets that from.) These articles are not as far apart in their sentiments as you might think – or as those might think who are familiar with Le Monde Diplomatique’s usual left-leaning perspective (although, as we’ll see, the French monthly can’t resist lapsing into good old-fashioned left-leaning invective). (more…)

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Spare Us the “Dreams and Glory”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

It’s a bully pulpit, this weblog, here at my disposal on those occasions when I want to react publicly to something I’ve read on the Net. By the nature of things, though, that inevitably means a bias against excellent articles that I might otherwise want to recommend to you, if they’re not European and in a foreign language – it’s not worth going “off-Eurosavant-topic,” you see – and towards pointing you to terrible articles that I just have to argue against. And so it would be with regret that I would let you know of the column Dreams and Glory by David Brooks, were it not for the audience of millions that its posting yesterday on the New York Time’s Op-Ed pages inevitably assured it. (However, in a couple of days it disappears behind the Times’ “paid content” wall, so I’ll try to include many representative quotes for those who are reading this late.) (more…)

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Violence in Iraq: Foreign or Home-Brewed?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2003

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily, has sent its own correspondent (by the name of Thomas Heine) to check things out in Iraq. Being on-the-scene has put him in a position to uncover some interesting discrepancies, as he reports in Iraq’s Disguised Foreign Legion. (more…)

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“Losing the New Europe”

Monday, November 10th, 2003

Continuing on the subject of the Polish military involvement in Iraq, prompted by the first Polish combat death last Thursday, in today’s Rzeczpospolita there is a longer, and more thoughtful, opinion piece (Big Disappointment) from Radek Sikorski. Sikorski works in Washington at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is director of something called the “New Atlantic Initiative.” His commentary article first appeared in the Washington Post last Friday, 7 November, and was in its original, English form entitled “Losing the New Europe.” But unless you pay for access to the WP archives (which I don’t), it’s not accessible. Luckily, if you can read Polish, you can still access it at Rzeczpospolita’s site. (more…)

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Poles in Iraq VII: First Combat Casualty

Sunday, November 9th, 2003

Today it’s back to the Polish press again. You know that I seldom like to deal with the same national press two times in a row, but this time it is justified by a noteworthy milestone in our sporadic “Poles in Iraq” series: the first Polish soldier died in Iraq last Thursday. Actually, it was no mere soldier who was killed, but a Major Hieronim Kupczyk. As you can imagine, coverage in the main Polish papers is extensive.

That is to say, in Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita. I honestly do try to broaden my coverage of the Polish press to include other publications than those two, but consistently fail to find coverage worth reporting on issues that I’m interested in. For example, here is the report of Maj. Kupczyk’s funeral in the Kraków-based Dziennik Polski, but it essentially reports merely that the funeral was held, notable figures spoke at it (e.g. General Tyszkiewicz, commanding the Polish-run multinational division), the Iraqi police and other national contingents contributed guards of honor, everyone was sad, etc.

Rzeczpospolita did a rather more-complete job in its Friday edition, here, complete with a recent photo of Maj. Kupczyk up top, clearly in Iraq, under camouflage netting and in his Polish-style desert uniform. (more…)

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Bush as Baghdad Bob?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

The ol’ reliable Dutch newspaper Trouw has come up with another interesting commentary article – at first glance, at least – entitled Bush als Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf. (Yes, you understand that headline correctly. For the English translation, simply remove one strategic “l”.) Remember him? He was the “Information Minister” in Saddam Hussein’s regime, the one who never let reality get in the way of his own convictions about how the war to defend his country against Coalition forces was going. (And who still has his own fan-site.)

Frankly, Trouw (no specific author indicated) has something there. It reminds us that al-Sahhaf’s favorite phrase was “We have the situation under control.” When we have President Bush now asserting that the increased tempo of attacks and bombings in Iraq is actually a good sign, since it shows the Iraqi resistance’s desperation, the comparison with al-Sahhaf starts to sound more reasonable. It’s actually somewhat of a surprise that someone else (some Democrat, say) didn’t come up with this parallel earlier. No one else did at least as I far as I can tell, in my frequent reviews of the various European national presses. If anyone can set me straight on that, I’d be glad to hear about it, via e-mail and/or under “Comments.” (more…)

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Over the Iraqi Occupation and Helmut Schmidt in Die Zeit

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

Today we’re back to the €S bread-and-butter – interesting articles in the European press on political subjects – and in fact we resort to a long-time favorite source, Die Zeit. That newspaper’s latest assessment on the situation in Iraq is in an article entitled A Victory Without a Victor, and sub-titled “If America fails in Iraq, Europe loses as well,” by Matthias Naß.

(By the way, give a half-second of pity in passing here for Herr Naß who, because of a recent spelling reform in Germany, is really supposed to have changed the spelling of his name to “Nass.” But this here is EuroSavant sovereign territory, and the authorities in charge of this chunk of cyber-space intend to respect the family name Naß was born under, even though it also means “wet, damp” in German.) (more…)

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Poland: The IGC Scorecard So Far

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

We’ve seen Dutch premier Balkenende travel to Warsaw to try to break some of the stalemates blocking progress at the EU’s Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference (IGC): no dice. On Sunday, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin basically tried the same thing, visiting Warsaw himself to have talks with Polish foreign minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, according to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza. (more…)

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Daily Cynicism Dose

Monday, October 27th, 2003

OK, we’ve heard from the sanctimonious but idealistic Danish Left. (That’s the entry from earlier today, below; with the zany way that weblogs work, you get to read that afterwards, unless you switch over there right now.) Now for last week’s Madrid Conference of Iraqi donors from the cynic’s point of view – what you could call the “pay-to-play” outlook. (That “pay-to-play” concept I’ve now run across in connection with the California recall election, and just recently having to do with the upcoming election for Philadelphia’s mayor – which I am definitely not interested in. You should get a good idea of what it means from what follows.)

Let’s start with Die Zeit . . . (more…)

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Danish Afterword on Madrid Conference

Monday, October 27th, 2003

In the end, last Thursday’s and Friday’s Madrid Iraqi Donors’ Conference seems to have turned out better than expected. The coverage in Denmark’s Politiken (Japan Gives Iraq $5 Billion) gives a final verdict that is middle-of-the-road: yes, donor countries “reached deeper into their pockets than had seemed would be the case even hours before the conference closed.” (As the headline recounts, Japan upped its contribution during the course of the conference, ultimately offering a soft loan of $3.5 billion, and an outright grant of $1.5 billion.) On the other hand, Politiken still calls the results disappointing for the Americans, who had hoped to call forth much more money than the result of $18 billion to add to the ca. $20 billion that the US Congress approved (half of it a loan). On yet another hand, the article points out, for a long time there were doubts whether there would even be enough support to hold the conference in the first place.

Overall, the world’s press has plenty in the results of the Madrid Conference to see either a glass half-full or half-empty, according to the given newspaper’s (and/or its journalist’s) inclination or political stance. It’s rather more refreshing to come across a piece of commentary on these happenings which is willing to put them into a wider context, even if it turns out to be a very anti-Coalition one. This is what we have in the article in the Danish commentary newspaper Information entitled A New Iraq. (more…)

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The Madrid Donor’s Conference for Iraq (German View)

Friday, October 24th, 2003

Yesterday marked the first day of the two-day Iraq donors’ conference in Madrid. I’ve chosen the German press as the prism through which to review events at and surrounding that conference; it usually gives good, comprehensive coverage, and what’s more, in this situation it represents a country which you suspect doesn’t want to be at that Madrid conference in the first place. (Germany’s delegation there is headed not by a political minister – the Minister for Developmental Aid, Heidemarie Wieczoreck-Zeul, might at least have been appropriate – but by her top civil servant, state-secretary Erich Stather.)

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung covers Madrid thoroughly, in two on-line articles, the lead one of which is entitled At the Construction-Site of an Iraqi Marshall Plan. (more…)

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