Newspaper editorials from Canada to India said President Bush failed to make the case for war against Iraq in his State of the Union address.
The Toronto Star said, “Bush’s speech last night did not answer the basic question. Not in a persuasive way, at least. Americans, and the world, are still wondering: Why this rush to war?”
“Bush has made but an infirm case for rushing into a war that could isolate America, distract from the war on terror, inflame the Middle East, bring more suffering on the Iraqi people and encourage anti-American extremists,” said the Star. “And while U.S. officials promise constantly to provide damning evidence on Saddam, they haven’t yet.”
Noting that Bush offered little new information about the danger Iraq poses, Toronto’s Globe and Mail wrote, “Because Mr. Bush contemplates something as audacious as the conquest of Baghdad, the world demands assurance that American military actions won’t end up being worse than the problem itself.”
The Ottawa Citizen said, “Mr. Bush’s grand oratory reflected the grandiose vision of American destiny that he holds. The belief that America has an almost divine mission … is not new.”
The editorial cautioned that the United States should recognize the limits to what may be accomplished in the Middle East. “He must realize that American power alone cannot remake the world. Good speeches and good policy are not the same,” the paper said.
Halfway around the world, the Times of India took a harder line. The editorial characterized the U.S. position on Iraq as “the Wild West mindset of ‘shoot first, ask questions later.'”
The Times said, “The US has shown an unreasonable hurry to hang Hussein.”
Another Indian paper, the Hindustan Times, wrote, “On the question of the possession of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq, the issue which started it all, no smoking gun has yet emerged although UN inspectors have been searching high and low. But ranking administration officials have made it clear that they won’t wait to find one. Their logic, in the memorable words of Donald Rumsfeld, is that the ‘absence of proof is not proof of absence.’!”
The editorial said, “The absurdity of the proposition eludes Washington.”
The Jordan Times called Bush’s Tuesday night address a major setback “for those working towards peace in the region.”
“Delays in proving that Iraq poses a lethal threat to the world contradict the fervour and urgency with which the US administration is bent on war,” the editorial said.
Although Saddam Hussein should not “be let off the hook,” the Sydney Morning Herald questioned the “imminent danger” that Iraq poses.
“What is the imperative for prompt invasion? Have diplomacy or international containment been exhausted?” the editorial asked.
The Age, a Melbourne paper, criticized the Australian prime minister for claiming that his government has made no final decision about Australia’s military involvement.
The paper’s editorial said that the problem for Bush and the prime minister is that Iraq’s potential dangers “will not change anti-war sentiment in the absence of hard evidence.”
London’s Financial Times said that Bush’s speech was designed to convince Americans that the country was heading in the right directions economically and militarily.
“But any reasoned assessment leaves room for plenty of doubt,” the paper said.
Speaking favorably about U.S. and British policy, the London Times criticized European nations opposed to war.
Nevertheless, the paper said that “previously secret details have to be published” in order to change the opinions of the opponents of war.
The Belfast Telegraph said that Bush’s speech provided “new intelligence information” and that Colin Powell will provide even more “fresh evidence” at the U.N. Security Council meeting next week.
“If he [Colin Powell] can produce killer facts, to underline the weapons inspectors’ finding that Iraq has failed to account for large quantities of chemical and biological agents,” the editorial said, “the natural reluctance of people to accept the necessity for war should begin to crumble.”