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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 06:32 GMT
European press review

The war against Iraq and its implications for the future international relationships dominate Friday's European papers.

New dilemmas

With the war in Iraq under way, a number of papers assess the new dilemmas facing the US-led coalition.

The Swiss Le Temps says that the "The United States and its allies are confronted with a paradoxical task."

On the one hand, it says, the pressure of the world's disapproval "demands a war as swift and bloodless as possible". But on the other, "a 'blitzkrieg' achieved with no resistance would cast irretrievable doubt" on the allies' claim that Iraq "posed such a terrifying threat that swift action was imperative".

America's war has devastated the construction of Europe

Spain's ABC hopes that the use of "sophisticated target-selective weapons may achieve the liquidation of Saddam Hussein with a minimum of innocent victims".

This hope is shared by La Razon.

"President Bush seems to be trying to keep his promise to the people of Iraq that the tyrant will be toppled with the least possible cost in innocent lives, " it says.

"If this message is received loud and clear by the Iraqi army commands," the paper hopes, "then maybe the war will be over much earlier than feared."


Other European dailies are preoccupied with the possible implications for Europe and the future of the transatlantic relations.

The Iraq crisis "has not only dealt an axe blow to the 50-year-old American-German partnership but also destroyed the project for common European foreign, security and defence policies," proclaims the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

"America's war has devastated the construction of Europe," despairs Paris's Liberation.

Fear of isolation

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points the finger of blame at French President Jacques Chirac.

Mr Chirac "has relentlessly denounced America's unilateralism, and yet he himself practised in Europe a devastating Franco-German unilateralism".

The launch of the military operation has suddenly turned Chirac into a spectator
Nouvel Observateur

"Amid the widespread confusion, French President Jacques Chirac has grasped the opportunity to garner a new leading role for France within Europe. And as France's junior partner, Germany now accepts a supporting role in international politics."

But the paper believes that "the old European driving force" may still work if the two opposing camps "allow the spirit of loyalty and solidarity to resurface and refocus on their core common interest".

"They may yet realise", it stresses, "that foreign policy is more than short-term crisis resolution. It has to last".

The French Nouvel Observateur is equally critical of Mr Chirac.

The launch of the military operation "has suddenly turned Chirac into a spectator," adding that Mr Chirac has no choice but to join the US.

"He has already gone too far in his arm-wrestling with Bush and he knows very well that he cannot stop the American (war) machine." Any further attempts to oppose it, it stresses, "would risk ridicule and would highlight his impotence".

"A Happy Medium"

But France's Le Monde sounds a more optimistic note.

"If anything good has come out of the Iraq crisis for Europe," it says "it is the fact that it has brought to light the extent to which the relationship with America is a determining factor for the European Union.

"Europe has the economic and commercial means and, potentially, the diplomatic and eventually military trumps to balance America's power." it says.

There must be "a happy medium" between what he calls Britain's "militant atlanticism" on the one hand, and "the often so chauvinistic knee-jerk reaction of bridling against Washington's domination of world affairs".

Schroeder scrutinized

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is another leader subjected to close scrutiny.

Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung rejects criticism of Chancellor Schroeder's opposition to military intervention.

"The claim that Schroeder has isolated Germany is humbug," it says.

This war is not a war of aggression. The aim is not to subjugate and exploit the Iraqi people, but to liberate them
Die Welt

Those who argue that Germany should have ditched its principles for the sake of showing solidarity with America are mistaken, the paper believes.

Die Welt criticises both the German Government and public opinion for going overboard with their anti-war rhetoric.

"It is one thing for demonstrating school students to shout naive slogans," it argues, "but quite another when the German media talk of a 'war of aggression without a mandate from the UN', and clerics and politicians repeat this parrot-fashion."

"This war," the paper stresses, "is not a war of aggression. The aim is not to subjugate and exploit the Iraqi people, but to liberate them."

Torn apart

The theme of disunity is picked up by Paris-based International Herald Tribune.

The EU leaders who gathered for a summit in Brussels on Thursday were "torn apart by a deep and bitter split over Iraq," it says.

Still, the paper notes, they "struggled with how to restore unity among themselves and with the United States, even to the point of offering to participate in Iraq's postwar reconstruction".

"There is deep resentment among most of them that the United States waged war without the legality of international cover", but at the same time", the paper points out, "there is the sense that if the United States is the victor, the Europeans will have been on the wrong side of the war and as a group had better reposition themselves to be part of a postwar reconstruction".

(Europe ability to influence world politics) can only succeed if Europe speaks with one voice on decisive issues of foreign policy
Berliner Zeitung

Germany's Berliner Zeitung believes the EU summit will struggle to do anything about Europe's inability to influence world politics.

"This can only succeed if Europe speaks with one voice on decisive issues of foreign policy," and "that is a miracle", it adds, "that the summit will not achieve".

Instead, the paper argues, the member states have relapsed into the kind of behaviour that greater European integration was meant to overcome.

"In France, defiant Gaullism is spreading" and urging Europe to "set itself up as a counterweight to America," it notes.

"Tony Blair's model stands for the opposite", the paper adds, in believing that Europe "can only become a global power in consensus with the United States, not against it".

The European press review is compiled by BBC Monitoring from internet editions of the main European newspapers and some early printed editions.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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