Iraq: The World Is Watching

How does the world view the U.S. involvement in rebuilding Iraq?

May 21, 2003

How does the world view the U.S. involvement in rebuilding Iraq?

Reintegrating Iraq into the global community is a daunting task. That nation is in tatters due to the recent war — and over 20 years of brutal dictatorship. The United States wants to rebuild Iraq. But it faces plenty of criticism around the world for its approach to the task at hand. Our Read My Lips examines the views of countries around the world.

Mr. Putin, why are you against lifting UN sanctions?

“Perhaps Saddam is sitting in an underground bunker on a case of weapons of mass destruction preparing to blow them up.”

(Russia's President Vladimir Putin, April 2003)

How did the Iraq war change the world we know?

“If September 11 changed the world, March 20 has changed it even more.”

(Ho Kwon Ping, Executive Chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, April 2003)

How do neighboring countries judge the U.S. strategy?

“Unfortunately, the Americans on the P.R. side only have one chance to get it right. If they get it wrong, it will take years to try to convince people their intentions were good.”

(Jordan’s King Abdullah, April 2003)

Why is Saudi Arabia worried about U.S. troops in Iraq?

“We think the worst thing that could happen after a war in Iraq is a military occupation. This would bring all the old images of imperialism.”

(Prince Saud Faisal, Saudi Foreign Minister, April 2003)

Which conclusions are drawn by North Korea?

“Iraq teaches us a lesson that — in order to prevent a war and defend the security of a country and the sovereignty of a nation — it is necessary to have a powerful physical deterrent.”

(North Korean statement, April 2003)

Has China also learned a lesson from Iraq?

“The Gulf War was a wake-up call that gave a big push to China’s military modernization.”

(Ellis Joffe, Professor of Chinese Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, April 2003)

Can the United States expect gratitude?

“A liberator, however generous, should never expect gratitude — at least not for long.”

(Antony Beevor, former British officer and writer, April 2003)

Does America have what it takes to establish an empire?

“Other empire builders have fantasized about ruling subject peoples for a thousand years. This is shaping up to be history’s first thousand-day empire. Make that a thousand hours.”

(Niall Ferguson, British historian, April 2003)

How does France view Iraq's future?

“In France, we don’t see any “cake” in Iraq we are excluded from sharing. Rather, we see a massive financial burden.”

(Jean-David Levitte, French Ambassador to the United States, April 2003)

And what is the German perspective?

“If the country is not rebuilt by the United Nations, I see no primary responsibility for Germany.”

(Peter Struck, German Defense Minister, April 2003)

Why is Russia worried about Iraq's reconstruction?

“Just two can win the war — but not the peace.”

(Mikhail Margelov, Head of the Russian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, April 2003)

Will Iraq's borders be redrawn?

“We have no designs on the territorial future — never have, never will.”

(Australian Prime Minister John Howard, March 2003)

What was Australia fighting for?

“Iraq has been taking around 3 million tons of wheat annually under the oil-for-food program — but it could take 5 million if its people were properly fed.”

(Colin Nicholl, West Australian Farmers Federation President, May 2003)

Is there a historic precedent for how to deal with Iraq right on America's doorstep?

“In the 1861-65 American Civil War, the winning side fought for the destruction of the enemy state — and “reconstruction” of its society.”

(McGregor Knox, Professor of International History at the London School of Economics, April 2003)

How do Iraqis feel about the sight of foreign troops?

“This is our country. We can manage our own country. We just told the Americans: “Thank you for liberating Iraq. Now, we want you to let us run things ourselves.”

(Mohsen Zubaidi, temporary de facto mayor of Baghdad, April 2003)

Does the coalition view it in the same way?

“Iraq is a nation with creative people. They don't need to be run from the outside by the United States, United Kingdom or the United Nations — and they won’t be.”

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, April 2003)

Is Great Britain concerned about Iraq as an Islamic state?

“What’s so frightening about a state which is Islamic? We are a country with a state religion — it doesn’t mean we are not a democracy.”

(British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, April 2003)

What will be the consequences of the Iraq war for the West?

“After the victory in Iraq, the future of the West will be decided by the Middle East. Where the threatening Soviet East once united us, the Middle East divides us.”

(Timothy Garton Ash, Director of the European Studies Center at Oxford University, April 2003)

And finally, how is Great Britain planning to set Iraq on the right track?

"Let's all work together internationally."

(British Prime Minister Tony Blair, April 2003)