President Bush addressed the world's leaders yesterday morning at the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly. The speech came at the end of one of the most violent weeks in Iraq since the interim government assumed power at the end of June. Nonetheless, the president defended the decision to go to war, offered an upbeat assessment of progress, and asked member states to provide more financial and military assistance to secure the country. The following is a sampling of international commentary in response to the speech from around the world.
"It was enough to observe the applause given Annan while he condemned the American war and the violation of the rule of law and compare it to the deadly silence that accompanied Bush's 30-minute speech to understand the incredible damage that this short-sighted and ideological presidency has inflicted on America's image."
-Vittorio Zucconi, La Republica, September 22, 2004
"Again, the U.S. president spoke at the United Nations, again he defended the Iraq war… but his speech and reality are separated by a deep trench. Chaos dominates in Iraq… and we cannot see a convincing strategy how to crush the revolt. George W. Bush and Iraq: the balance sheet is devastating. Those who doubt it should talk to intelligence experts, study intelligence dossiers or follow the news on a regular basis. The facts are available."
–Malte Lehming, Der Tagesspiegel, September 22, 2004
"Mr. Bush's willful blindness to the mayhem his war has wrought may be most charitably dismissed as electioneering, especially as his Democrat opponent had finally come out fighting only the day before. But the UN General Assembly is not a forum for electioneering. It is, as the Secretary General showed in his exemplary address about the rule of law, a platform to the world. It offered Mr. Bush the chance to banish his image as a go-it-alone gun-slinger and admit in all humility that the U.S. needed help. Regrettably, it was an opportunity he chose not to grasp."
–The Independent, September 22, 2004
"U.S. President George Bush's speech in the UN General Assembly opening did not supply any news regarding the Israeli-Palestinians conflict. The issue was raised only at the end of the speech after global terror, Iraq and Sudan's crisis, the war on AIDS, and human cloning."
– Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, September 22, 2004
"By calling for respect of the right of law in his remarks, Annan proved to what extent the war in Iraq has poisoned international diplomatic relations…. As for President Bush's address, it elicited much skepticism on the part of the diplomats listening to him. The bitterness that dominated last year at the UN over the inability of multilateralism to prevail in Iraq has been replaced with concern over the chaos which is growing there.
–Luc de Barochez, Le Figaro, September 22, 2004
"In his speech to the UN yesterday, U.S. President George Bush made what it was described as a rare criticism of the Jewish state when urged a halt to settlements on occupied Arab lands and an end to the cowing of the Palestinian people. But this is not the first time he has made such a criticism; he said the same thing many times before, but nothing has ever changed on the ground."
–Al-Quds Al-Arabi, September 22, 2004
"President Bush's motives for adopting a more conciliatory tone toward the United Nations are clear. He knows that the United Nations must become a real player in Iraq if the circle of violence is to have any chance of being replaced by the peaceful and democratic developments that are crucial to the history books' judgment on the Iraq war. And Bush is able to note that there is still not a single country that has offered troops for the special UN force that is a precondition if UN personnel are going to be able to return to Iraq in earnest and prepare the election which, it is planned, will be held in only four months."
–Ole Damkjaer, Berlingske Tidende, September 22, 2004