- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2007

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Asahi Shimbun

The invasion of Iraq

TOKYO — Four full years have passed since U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq in the face of widespread opposition voiced around the world. Look at the outcome of the war now. Nobody could possibly say Iraq or the world is safer today than in 2003. It is hard not to be stunned by the enormity of the losses caused by this misstep.

Not all diplomatic options were exhausted before the conflict started. The plan for the postwar occupation of Iraq was based on overly optimistic assumptions. Above all, the United States failed to engineer a united international front for the war that included Islamic nations. It is important to ponder the bitter lessons of the war without belittling them with the luxury of hindsight.

The biggest failure of the U.S. and British governments was the discovery that weapons of mass destruction, cited as the central cause for the war, did not exist. The two governments manipulated intelligence to make the world believe a security crisis was unfolding. The manipulation of intelligence was exposed by investigations conducted by the U.S. Congress and other organizations to uncover the reasons for the policy debacle.

Aftenposten

Norway recognizes Palestinian coalition

OSLO — The government was very quick to recognize the new Palestinian coalition. … That was wise, bold and visionary. There was a clear understanding of the importance of seizing an opportunity. …

The Palestinian coalition had a slow birth. In many ways, it was forced by the catastrophic economic, humanitarian and security conditions in Palestinian areas, as well as pressure from Arab countries. We also know that this new government has built-in conflicts that can quickly lead to paralysis and crisis.

But we are convinced that the new coalition needs a chance. …

Israel, the United States and several major EU countries believe the coalition did not go far enough in fulfilling demands on the Palestinians. We disagree. The platform says that agreements already entered between Israel and Palestinians will be respected. …

We believe it would be yet another political blunder by the Bush administration if it once again rejects a government the Palestinians themselves have negotiated. There are limits on the condescending disenfranchising of a people.

Recognition of a government, of course, does not mean that one agrees with all it does. We have few illusions about Hamas and its intentions. But we are convinced that a continued international boycott will just stimulate fundamental and radical forces that will always oppose any peace settlement.

Daily Star

Middle East politics

BEIRUT — Syrian President Bashar Assad says his country’s relations with Saudi Arabia have recently gone through a “cloudy” patch that he believes can be dissipated at next week’s Arab League summit in Riyadh. In actual fact, that patch is no more than a small section of a perfect storm that threatens to engulf the entire Middle East unless the world’s sole remaining superpower stops viewing this part of the world through the prism of the broken ideology known as neoconservatism.

Carnage in Iraq, injustice in Palestine and poisonous politics in Lebanon are just a few of the shoddy products produced and/or expanded by U.S. President George W. Bush’s approach to the region, all of them flavored by an ugly Sunni-Shi’ite rivalry that America and some of its allies have actively encouraged when they thought it would suit them. …

Hezbollah will not go away, and neither will Hamas, Iran or any other actor that enjoys solid popular support to prevent undiluted U.S. and Israeli hegemony over the region. Annoying as this fact may be, it is just that: a fact. Nonsensical refusals to recognize and engage those who oppose many of its policies can only cause the United States to become increasingly divorced from reality, and the Middle East to become even more dangerously unbalanced. George W. Bush is running out of time to start talking with all the enemies his friends have made.

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