Following Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the U.N. Security Council, two English-language newspapers in predominantly Islamic countries called for peacemaking efforts.
A Jordan Times editorial said that “even if we give the United States the benefit of the doubt, these new elements did not amount to convincing evidence of Iraqi noncompliance, or that Iraq presents any real or imminent danger to any party.”
“We have every reason to believe that the Iraqi crisis can be solved by peaceful means and insist that all parties, including the United States and Iraq, should work tirelessly for that outcome,” said the Times.
Pakistan’s most widely circulated English paper, Dawn, said, “With the US and Britain determined to attack Iraq regardless of what the Security Council decides, hopes for a peaceful resolution of the Iraq crisis seem to be rapidly receding.”
The editorial said, “The Muslim world is particularly concerned about the current drift towards a deadly and destabilizing conflict in the region. Even Saudia Arabia, traditionally allied to the US and deeply distrustful of Saddam Hussein, is deeply worried about a potential conflagration in its backyard.”
“There is still time for the US to pause and ponder,” said the editorial. “Washington must heed the calls from all the divergent forces urging a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis and step back from the brink. The alternative could be a cataclysm that would plunge the Middle East into utter chaos and anarchy.”
Editorial reaction in other foreign papers ranged from sharp criticism of Powell’s presentation to caution against going to war.
The Toronto Star referred to Powell’s presentation as “political theatrics.” It said: “There was nothing in Powell’s presentation that answered the questions: Why attack Iraq now? Isn’t Iraqi militarily hobbled and sufficiently contained.”
The paper expressed support for the continued work of U.N. inspectors and urged the exploration of every peaceful option.
Half-way around the world, an Australian paper, the Sydney Morning Herald said, “A strong argument showing Saddam’s deception and defiance is one thing. The case for war is quite another.”
The paper’s editorial warned, “While the implied threats of war hang heavy in the air, and the readiness of the US to act is hardly in doubt, the rest of the world seems not ready yet to take that fatal step.”
A Melbourne newspaper, The Age was more supportive of the Secretary of State’s presentation: “What Mr. Powell revealed is certainly an indictment of the Iraqi regime, but it is not yet reason for the council to abandon the inspection process that is under way. The process should be completed, with Iraq on notice that the clock is ticking ever close to midnight.”
The Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, said, “There can be little doubt that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime is lying to the countries of the world. He is playing them for dupes.”
But the editorial also questioned how realistic was the US goal of creating a pro-Western democracy in Iraq. Noting that 75,000 U.S. troops would be needed in Iraq for five years to accomplish such a goal, the paper urged President Bush to be “more open with the American people, and with other countries such as Canada, about all that is envisaged.”
Two foreign papers expressed stronger support for war.
The Vancouver Sun said, “For the continued safety of the human cavalcade, Mr. Hussein must be brought to account for his many sins, and brought to account now.”
Powell’s speech “was a withering riposte to Iraq’s taunt that the US has no proof that it has hidden, and continues to hide, illicit weapons of enormous destructive power,” said the London Times. “Even if it ultimately takes war, he [Saddam Hussein] must be stopped.”