World weighs in on Bush speech

Disapproving voices dominate public reaction

March 08, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

MEXICO CITY - Politicians, editorial writers and ordinary people around the world said yesterday that they were bracing for war after hearing President Bush warn that only days may remain before military action in Iraq, with or without the approval of the United Nations Security Council.

Public opinion in many countries strongly favors no action without Security Council approval, surveys and polls suggest, including those in Mexico, one of 15 members of the Security Council.

The Mexican president, Vicente Fox, must soon decide how to vote on the British and American resolution that would authorize force against Iraq.

In his strongest pro-American remarks to date, Fox said yesterday that "Saddam is playing with fire" and "needs to reveal to the world his commitment to total disarmament." But he stopped short of endorsing Bush's stance, saying the "good news and bad news" reported yesterday by the chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix showed "advances in disarmament" without "total commitment for disarmament."

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair sought support yesterday for his pro-American stance from European viewers of MTV, the music channel. He was met with some skepticism.

"I'm able to produce anthrax in my bathroom," said Niklas Ergandt, 25, a Swede. "Why don't you bomb Sweden?"

London's Evening Standard, which often opposes Blair's government, said in an editorial that Bush's "robust approach may well appeal" to Americans but that it "makes life extraordinarily difficult here" for Blair.

In Paris, popular opinion was represented in a headline in Le Monde: "George Bush Announces an Imminent War With or Without the U.N." A report in Le Figaro called the U.N. debate a "dialogue of the deaf."

In Argentina, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote that war in Iraq would be "opening Pandora's box, threatening to set free the demons of death and destruction."

In Baghdad the official Iraqi news agency said the United States and Britain had presented the Security Council with "the same allegations, fabrications and foolishness that have been and continue to be reproved by the whole world."

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