European politicians who opposed the
U.S.-led war in Iraq say they feel vindicated by the Democrats'
victory in U.S. mid-term elections and the resignation of
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The reaction across the continent ranged from unrestrained
gloating to diplomatic tiptoeing. But the bottom-line message to
President George W. Bush over his Iraq campaign was: "We told
"The king has no clothes," said Pino Sgobio, lower house
whip of a communist party in Prime Minister Romano Prodi's
centre-left coalition. "These elections have certified the
failure of six years of (U.S.) foreign and military policy."
European governments, some of whom felt their views were
ignored in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003,
expressed hopes for a new era of open dialogue on a more equal
footing with Washington.
Prodi, who came to power last May on an anti-war platform
and has vowed to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq by the end of
the year, said he hoped U.S.-European relations would have "less
friction and more collaboration".
His foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema, was far more direct.
"The cycle of preventative wars, of unilateralism, has ended
in a great failure that even the American public has
acknowledged," he said.
France, perhaps Europe's fiercest opponent of the war, said
Bush and Rumsfeld had been forced to read the writing on the
"We always said what we thought about this action. It's up
to them to analyse the situation and draw conclusions from that
analysis," said French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
The ruling Socialist Party of Spanish Prime Minister Jose
Luis Zapatero, who pulled Madrid's troops out of Iraq after his
surprise election victory in March 2004, said the vote was a
thumbs-down to Washington's strategy on the war on terrorism.
"The great loser is President Bush, and, especially, his
foreign policy," Jose Blanco, the party's Organisation
Secretary, said on a blog.
"(Americans now) realise that invasions like that of Iraq
don't get rid of the radicals, but have precisely the opposite
Germany's Greens party, a junior partner in the Berlin
government at the time of the invasion and now in opposition,
seemed to reflect the view of many leftist parties.
"The (election) will put a strong damper on the one-sided
and dogmatic policies of George W. Bush...This was the bill to
the White House for their disaster in Iraq," Juergen Trittin,
deputy head of Greens' parliamentarians, told N24 television.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to send troops
to Iraq divided his party and sharply split public opinion, and
reaction to the elections was equally passionate.
"I've never needed any convincing it was a mistake and many
people in this country felt the same. We feel bitterly angry
about marching on the streets and being completely ignored,"
said Ian Gibson, a Labour MP.
"What is the tipping point when people get angry. Is it body
With reporting by Reuters reporters in Rome, Paris, London,
Berlin and Madrid
© 2006 Reuters