Britain's Conservative Party looks to the old.

What the foreign papers are saying.
Nov. 3 2003 4:11 PM

Iraq's Not Vietnam, It's Afghanistan

European papers started the week contemplating the spiral of violence in Iraq, with photos of the wreckage of the downed Chinook helicopter that claimed the lives of 16 Americans dominating the front pages of several major dailies. Meanwhile, papers wondered if Tony Blair might finally have some real opposition on his hands as the Conservative Party dumped its leader, Iain Duncan Smith.

Germany's Die Welt issued an appeal for solidarity with the United States as American losses mounted following the weekend helicopter attack. "Americans are paying with blood in Iraq," read the paper's lead editorial. Despite widespread opposition in Germany to the U.S.-led invasion, the country "should be sensitive and intelligent enough to stand alongside America in Iraq," the paper said. It reminded readers of the U.S. role in the liberation of Germany and Europe from Nazi rule. Despite constant reassurances from across the Atlantic that the Bush administration will not abandon Iraq, another German daily, Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung, wondered aloud how soon it would be before the U.S. president cracks and engineers a pull-out. It would be the worst possible decision at this point.


Like Die Welt, Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel also ran with above-the-fold photos and coverage of the helicopter disaster. In Munich, the front page of Süddeutsche Zeitung featured the weekend scene in faraway Berlin, where about 100,000 people protested Sunday against Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's planned reforms to Germany's bloated welfare state.

In Rome, where the government supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, La Stampa also led with Iraq, as did France's Le Figaro. La Stampa disagreed with the common assertion that Iraq is becoming another Vietnam. To the contrary, the paper said, it's turning into another Afghanistan, with the country becoming a base for terrorists after the U.S. invasion, much as Afghanistan did following the Soviet Union's ill-fated occupation from 1979 to 1989. (German and Italian translations via Deutsche Welle Radio's German and European press reviews.)

In Britain and elsewhere across Europe, the papers' attention has turned to the new leader of Britain's moribund Conservative Party, an old political hand named Michael Howard. (Not to be confused with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.) Even with Tony Blair's popularity at its lowest level since he took office, most European editorialists agree that rout-avoidance is the best Howard can hope for in the next British election. "For the time being, to lose the next general elections with relative dignity seems to be the most optimistic horizon for the Tories," wrote Spain's El PaísStill, to hear the pundits talk, Blair had best steel himself. "Watch out, Tony Blair!" yelped Der Tagesspeigel. "The years of governing without a serious opposition may be coming to an end." (German and Spanish translations courtesy of BBC Monitoring.)

Many called attention to Howard's age, which stands in sharp contrast to the younger Tory leaders that preceded him. "The Conservative party goes through leaders much as Henry VIII used up wives. It's been three in just six years. Unlike Henry, the Tories ditch a consort in favor of something older," noted the Observer's Andrew Rawnsley. "William Hague (age 36 when he became leader) was followed by Iain Duncan Smith (age 47) who [is] succeeded by Michael Howard (age 62)."

When Tony Blair's Labor Party took over in 1997, "the country was infatuated by [his] 'newness' and 'niceness': the Tory party chose the youthful William Hague as its answer to this political fad. Six years later, Mr. Blair no longer seems particularly new or particularly nice," declared the editors of the Sunday Telegraph. The right-leaning paper offered its "warmest congratulations" to Howard. "His leadership ought to augur a dramatic change in the culture of the party, which has been disastrously introspective and febrile for more than a decade."


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.


America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?