- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 14, 2004

Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, one of President Bush’s strongest supporters on Iraq, urged the second Bush administration to recraft its policies toward Europe or risk losing the war on terror.

“Because the war on terror is likely to be a long one and will require considerable doses of stamina and sacrifice, America will need the help of as many partners and allies as it can find,” Mr. Aznar said in a speech at Georgetown University.

He urged the new administration to adopt a dual strategy that reaches out to European governments on one hand, and the European people who harbor an intense dislike of Mr. Bush on the other.

“The countries of Central and Eastern Europe … were told to keep quiet when they openly disagreed with France over Iraq, but instead they supported the United States. These are the very countries that need to feel they have American help and support,” Mr. Aznar said.

If the United States views Europe with contempt, he said, “Neither London nor the countries of Central Europe will be able to prevent France’s vision from dominating the construction of Europe.”

Mr. Aznar, who served as Spain’s prime minister from 1996 to 2004, backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and provided Spanish troops for the coalition forces.

His party lost power in March after train bombings by Muslim terrorists in Madrid that killed nearly 200 people. His successor, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, quickly pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq and has become one of Europe’s harshest critics of the United States.

Mr. Aznar, in his speech delivered last week, warned of a wave of anti-Americanism washing over Europe that focuses obsessively on Mr. Bush as “a cowboy caricature, swaggering, instinctive and primitive, a unilateralist and warmongering Texan.”

Such “anti-American sentiment not only emanates from the street, but is also being stirred up by the governing elites,” he said, pointing to French and German opposition to the war in Iraq.

“It is not true that there are no pro-Americans in Europe. There are, but the current political climate has put them on the defensive, making them feel somewhat outnumbered.

“It is essential for these voices to be heard loud and clear, and to ensure this, support from the United States is vital. If the United States does not look after its European friends, in the end, it will have only enemies left in Europe,” he said.

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