BROOKE GLADSTONE: As we watch in horror as Al Qaeda gasses dogs, the world's press seems to be recoiling at the prospect of a U.S. war with Iraq. Here with a summary of the global opinion pages is Alice Chasan, editor of the World Press Review. Welcome back to the show.
ALICE CHASAN: Thank you, Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So in what ways does the debate as reflected in the world's press compare to the way we're talking about this potential war over here?
ALICE CHASAN: I would say that the primary difference is that most of the European publications, many of the publications in the Middle East, some of the Latin American publications emphasize the question of what they see as U.S. exceptionalism -- what Oslo's left wing Klassekampen calls "America's divine right" to call the shots in whatever policy it wishes to carry out. The Europeans are interested in negotiation and arranging for the United Nations weapons inspectors to re-enter Iraq whereas their perception is that the Bush administration really has no interest in the weapons inspectors going back in and intends to oust Saddam Hussein through force.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Now we always expect Britain to be our allies, and yet when I was reading the Financial Times and the Daily Mirror and The Observer, papers with different perspectives usually, they seem unanimous that the Bush administration is being over-hasty in its pursuit of Saddam Hussein.
ALICE CHASAN: That's true, Brooke. There seems to be growing sentiment in Britain that Tony Blair has followed Bush too faithfully as his lap dog, and the editorialists seem to want to push their prime minister to take a stronger and more independent position and they're highly skeptical that the Bush administration has mounted a cogent enough case for ousting Saddam Hussein and they're very, very unhappy with the idea that Britain might be assisting in this operation.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:What about the German press? I know that there was a flap earlier this month when the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, said that he would not be, quote, "available for adventures" like a war in Iraq. Then the Bush administration chided Schroeder and, and this has gotten heavy play in Germany, hasn't it?
ALICE CHASAN: Yes, it has, but the truth is that for months now the German press has been ridiculing the Bush administration's stance. Several months ago already Der Spiegel did a cover on which it depicted George Bush as Rambo. More recently you have a centrist publication like Munich's Suddeutsche Zeitung saying that the rest of the world is in an arm wrestle with the United States over Iraq. Since Schroeder is in an election campaign now, he is perhaps taking his cue from popular opinion as it's reflected in the press.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: As you survey the papers throughout Europe, what do you sense most? Outrage? Contempt?
ALICE CHASAN:What we see is consternation -- country after country whether in Asia or Europe or Latin America asks the following questions: Singapore's Straits Times asks -- Who will remain to pacify Iraq the day after the campaign ends?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Have you found in any of those publications any pockets of support?
ALICE CHASAN:Well there was a piece by Andrew Sullivan last week [LAUGHTER] in the Times of London in which he was wearing his British hat -- as opposed to the American hat he wears when he writes for American publications -- and he was explaining to his fellow Britains why Americans are justified in worrying about Saddam Hussein and why the British should also worry about him. Of course there are reports let's say in the Israeli press that Sharon -- the government of Ariel Sharon -- is encouraging and pushing the Bush administration to attack Iraq sooner rather than later, and perhaps Ariel Sharon and Andrew Sullivan are of one mind on this, but one sees few other perspectives that are anything but skeptical and highly concerned.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What about the rest of the Middle Eastern press?
ALICE CHASAN:Throughout much of the region there is a great preoccupation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are still focused on Bush's speech a month or so ago in which he declared that there had to be a regime change in the Palestinian Authority as well. Egypt, however, has chastised the United States for what it considers a rash and highly dangerous campaign and the Gulf States are also very concerned about the possibility of an attack because they fear that their own sovereignty might be threatened and they're also concerned that Iraq could be carved up and part of it could come under the aegis of Iran which is apparently very worrisome. In Bahrain, for instance, Akhbar Al Khaleej, one of the Gulf newspapers, says that this would certainly threaten the unity of the Gulf countries if Iraq were to be carved up.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Earlier this week the Bush administration suggested that they would be working toward a regime change in Zimbabwe on top of all this talk about Iraq. How did that go over?
ALICE CHASAN: It simply gave more fuel to the rhetorical fire at the disposal of editorialists and commentators around the world that the United States apparently believes it has the prerogative to decide when and where a regime change is necessary.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Alice Chasan, thank you very much.
ALICE CHASAN: Thank you, Brooke.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Alice Chasan is the editor of the World Press Review. [MUSIC]
BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, charges of bias against the Grey Lady and against the coverage of the baseball strike. Also, movie Indians get real.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media from NPR.
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