By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
U.S. President George Bush has achieved his bid to secure European Union support in stabilizing war-torn Iraq. Bush schmoozed Europe’s leaders at a EU-U.S. summit held in Ireland over the weekend.
President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, U.S. President George Bush,Prime Minister of Ireland Bertie Ahern.
Lingering European resentment remains over Britain and the United States’ decision to invade Iraq in 2003. However EU leaders were keen to discuss security and stability in Iraq and how they would assist moves toward peace now the new interim Iraqi government is set to take partial-power this week.
Indeed Summit host, Ireland’s Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, with Bush at his side and when questioned by reporters, said he had expressed disquiet on behalf of Ireland at what the U.S. had committed in Iraq: “From Afghanistan in Guantanamo, that that's been an issue… these things, unfortunately, happened. Of course, we wish they didn't, but they do. And what's important then is how they're dealt with, how things improve for the future,” Ahern said.
The EU’s final communique declared, "We stress the need for full respect of the Geneva Conventions," which was clearly a reference to U.S. abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and U.S. maltreatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in Afghanistan.
Unrepentant Bush: “Let me take a step back and remind you about what happened: There was that resolution out of the United Nations called 1441, it was voted on unanimously, where the world said, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences.”
On the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Bush said: “And in terms of the decision to go to war, I can understand why people were disquieted about that. Nobody likes war. But remember -- let me take a step back and remind you about what happened: There was that resolution out of the United Nations called 1441, it was voted on unanimously, where the world said, disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. That's what the world said. And Saddam Hussein deceived. He didn't allow the inspectors to do their job. And so we had an issue -- either you say something and mean it, or you don't. I happen to believe when you say something you better mean it. And so with other nations, we acted.”
However, Europe has certainly softened its stance toward the U.S. At the final EU-U.S. press conference a buoyant Bush was quick to seize Europe’s support for a push of American-styled liberation to a broader Middle East region. He brushed the cringe aside and glided debate toward Europe standing side by side with the United States on security matters: “As we meet our responsibilities in this new century, we will defeat the forces of terror and help to build a freer, safer, and more prosperous world.
“The advance of freedom led to peace and prosperity in Europe, and it can do the same for the wider world. And so our alliance is looking beyond the borders of Europe to support the momentum of freedom in the broader Middle East. The people of that region are eager for reform, and we are listening to their voices<” Bush said concluding his EU-U.S. summit speech.
Within hours of Bush’s EU-U.S. speech, NATO announced it would train Iraqi security forces. The statement read: “Today, NATO Ambassadors reached an initial agreement to respond positively to the request of the Iraqi Interim Government for assistance with the training of its security forces, in accordance with UN Security Resolution 1546. NATO Heads of State and Government are expected to approve this agreement at their Summit Meeting in Istanbul on June 28th, 2004.
“Allies are united in their full support for the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Iraq and for strengthening of freedom, democracy, human rights, rule of law and security for all the Iraqi people,” the NATO statement read.
On June 28-29, leaders of the now 26 NATO countries will meet in Istanbul, Turkey, to enhance NATO’s missions and “deepen the Alliance’s partnerships” and discuss assistance to Iraq.
With Europe’s politicos onside Bush is now in Turkey preparing for the NATO-summit where he plans to solicit firm NATO support for troops to peace-making operations in Iraq: “I look forward to working with our European allies on many of the same issues we addressed here in Ireland. The unit of the Transatlantic Alliance in the face of new challenges and the advance of freedom in the world -- that's what we're going to talk about.
“NATO continues to transform itself
to meet the new threats of the 21st century. The NATO
mission in Afghanistan is helping the people of that country
establish democracy after years of tyranny. And NATO has the
capability -- and I believe the responsibility -- to help
the Iraqi people defeat the terrorist threat that's facing
their country,” Bush