BROOKE GLADSTONE: We're back with On the Media. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. The first days after the World Trade Center attacks saw newspaper headlines around the world declaring sympathy and unequivocal support for America.
Almost two weeks later, while bipartisan support for the president seems to be holding in the U.S., divisions are appearing in the European press.
Martin Walker joins us to review the European editorial pages of the past week. Martin, welcome back to the show!
MARTIN WALKER: Hello.
BOB GARFIELD:My expectation was that some of the more contrarian points of view would be expressed in French and Italian newspapers, but one of the most stunning broadsides against the United States' position in this came from England! Tell me about the New Statesman piece.
MARTIN WALKER:Well the, the New Statesman which is a traditional left wing weekly had a piece that said Americans would do well to ask themselves why, despite what should be an enormous propaganda advantage in beaming their way of life to every corner of the globe, their ideals and values have signally failed to inspire the Third World young in the way that Marxism did and Islam now does.
And it finishes up by saying if America seems a greedy and overweening power, it's partly because its people have willed it. They preferred George Bush to both Al Gore and Ralph Nader.
We've had something even stronger in, in my old newspaper, The Guardian, where another left wing columnist has, has written that the Rupert Murdochs and the BBC Foreign News chiefs and everyone else who refused to understand the difference in the Middle East between the violence of conquerors, exploiters and oppressors on the one hand and the violence of the conquered, the exploited and oppressed on the other.
I think that really reflects the poll of the, of left wing opinion in quite a lot of Europe. What I am surprised by is that that is not the kind of comment that we've been hearing from some of the traditionally left-leaning European papers like for example France's Le Monde which had a, a very strong piece this week which talked about "the just war" against terrorism.
What it concludes is that it remains that the doctrine of a just war does not only permit us to condemn without reserve the actions of terrorists; it must also be one of the criteria by which we ought to judge the "crusade" against terrorism charted by President Bush. And I think that, that represents if you like the, the sensible left--liberal critique of the American position which is: let's wait and see what he actually does and on the whole we, we, we support America in this and we're feeling deep solidarity with America about it -- but nonetheless, please America, don't go to extremes.
BOB GARFIELD: What have you heard from Germany?
MARTIN WALKER:In-- in the Frankfurt Algomeiner Tzeitel [sp?] Klaus Deiter Frankerburger wrote a, a very, very interesting editorial this week in which he, he condemned the -- what he called the thoughtless left, and he says that: those who confine themself to righteous indignation against the Americans will have to ask themselves whether they want to help fight this war or whether they in intentional or unconscious solidarity with the Taliban want to help perpetrators pass themselves off as victims.
This question of the distinction between "perpetrators" and "victims" is one that does seem to be something of a fault line in the--in the European press.
BOB GARFIELD:A lot of people were surprised in the early days of the crisis when President Bush used the term "crusade" to describe his goal of tracking down terrorists wherever they may lurk and smoking them out and bringing them to justice.
I wonder if in Europe where the Crusades began - has taken particular note of that phraseology and is girding for a war between Europe and Islam.
MARTIN WALKER:Well Il Messagero [sp?] which is an Italian newspaper that broadly supports the, the moderate Socialist Party there made the point that this was a particularly unfortunate phrase because of course it was -- it's Osama bin Laden himself who uses the phrase "the new crusaders" to describe the role of the British and American troops who are in the Persian Gulf and who have been mounting the no fly zone patrols over Iraq.
The very concept of Crusader does tend to strike any Arab reader in, in a rather unfortunate way.
BOB GARFIELD: All right. Martin Walker, thank you very much!
MARTIN WALKER: Thank you!
BOB GARFIELD: Martin Walker is the chief international correspondent for United Press International. [MUSIC]