Getting Bush Back Together with the Europeans will be Sensitive Work

There is general agreement in the editorials of two major Dutch newspapers that the best thing which happened during the visit of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and Foreign Minister Jaap de Hoop Scheffer with President George W Bush on Tuesday was the announcement by Bush that more cooperation would be sought from the United Nations in Iraq.

The NRC Handelsblad makes two comments worth mentioning. In the first instance, the editorial on 4 September 2003 says: ‘ The United States has demonstrated they could easily defeat Iraq and Afghanistan with military power and remove both regimes.’  Now, however, the United States has need of its allies and of the United Nations in order to successfully round off their victory.’

Secondly, the actual implementation of a United Nations Security Council resolution which would involve the larger community in the Political, economic and military aftermath of Iraq, is a ‘basket of eggs’. The French and Germans will put tough conditions on any contribution and it is not good for the United Nations itself to become aligned directly with the military machine of the United States.  Nevertheless, says the NRC Handelsblad, ‘the best news in months is the return of the United Nations to the world stage.’

The leader of De Volkskrant to its editorial devoted to the Bush United Nations decision says that Bush has ’gone on his knees’. Mr. Bush has returned to the United Nations as the ‘asking’ and not as the ‘demanding’ country.  Unlike the beginning of the war, ‘France possesses, with its veto vote, the key to an international rescue operation by the United Nations’.

The editorial on 5 September 2003 cautions President Jacques Chirac of France to make the right choice.  ‘One certainly hopes that Chirac, who has a habit of overestimating himself, is able to correctly assess the situation.’ Whether or not it is Bush who makes concessions by the involvement of the United Nations, or Chirac or Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany, the most important of all, says the editorial ‘…is to ensure that no one will give the remnants of the Hussein regime or Muslim terrorists a new chance to win the war.’

Weitzel & Company