Front Page: Iraq, April 14, 2003

Newspapers world press
The following is a compilation of today's newspaper reports about the Iraq crisis from around the country and around the world. It is a sampling of different perspectives, designed to offer additional context into the conflict. Compiled by's Andrew Cohen.

From around the country:

David R. Francis of the Christian Science Monitor looked at Iraq's financial situation: "After World War I, the victorious allies tried to collect $33 billion in reparations from defeated Germany. It was a disastrous policy — one that fueled German resentment, possibly contributing to the subsequent rise of Hitler. Today, a beaten Iraq faces far greater debt problems — essentially a national bankruptcy on a scale with few parallels. That's one reason why, despite their disagreement about the war itself, the seven largest industrial nations agreed this past weekend to push for debt forgiveness — even though some of them are owed substantial sums. It was a start. But the negotiations won't be easy and could take some time. Iraq's international debts are the largest of any developing nation — by one economist's reckoning, $387 billion. 'It's a mountain of debt,' says Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton University. 'It would amount to $16,000 for every man, woman, and child in Iraq, many times per capita income.'"

Toya Lynn Stewart of the Dallas Morning News looked inside Texas classrooms: "'What happens if I find out my soldier gets killed in Iraq?' It was a question posed to Grand Prairie teacher Rowena Freeman recently as her seventh-grade class was decorating envelopes to send to soldiers in Iraq. 'I was taken aback, but I didn't shun the question,' said Mrs. Freeman, an English teacher at Arnold Middle School. 'It was in the corner of my mind before we started writing letters, then, lo and behold, the students brought it up in class.' Because some area schools have students in military letter-writing campaigns, teachers like Mrs. Freeman have wondered how or whether they would break the news if a military pen pal were to die on the battlefield. 'It's one of those things that's inevitable — people are dying on both sides,' said Karl Ostrowski, a geography teacher at Sam Houston High School in Arlington. 'How do we make them aware and not scare them? We talk about it but don't try to worry them. If we were to hear something about one of our soldiers, I'm not sure we'd make a public announcement. I'm sure the word would spread, and then our counselors would be available to the students.'"

James Ferragut of the Fargo (N.D.) Forum wrote this column: "The war in Iraq has been played out on several stages. The war has solid support among Americans. But there is still a determined segment which is opposed to the war. That is expected and, for my money, should be encouraged. Dissent is part and parcel of our constitutional rights. Film maker Michael Moore made a fool of himself, embarrassed those watching him and insulted the president all in one svelte move while accepting the Best Documentary Academy Award for his 'Bowling for Columbine.' The Academy Awards committee had urged that no one make overt political statements, pro or con, in acceptance speeches. The man/child Moore couldn't contain himself and reveled in the acrimony of his speech when he shouted 'Shame on you, Mr. Bush ... Shame on you,' as he exited the stage to a chorus of jeers and cheers. In a press interview, when asked how he could have done such a thing, he simply said ... 'Because, I'm American.' It's unfortunate he didn't make the connection that his right to say what he did was at the expense of thousands of American lives lost in wars over generations. Moore's faux pas had less to do with his right to free speech than his inability to abide by rules of protocol at a dignified event. The Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines learned the hard way. The repercussions of her statement to an audience in London that she was '... ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas ...' are serious. The Dixie Chicks music has been banned by hundreds of Country radio stations. There have been organized incidents of Dixie Chicks CD and memorabilia burnings. And the Chicks have lost and alienated previously faithful and dedicated fans. Such is the whimsy of an emotional American public. What we have to be careful about is that the Susan Sarandons, Ted Dansons, Sean Penns and Martin Sheens of the world aren't called un-American because of their views. If you don't want celebrities speaking for you, it's easy to voice your disapproval. Vote with your pocketbook. Don't go to their movies and don't buy their CDs. But for God's sake, don't categorize them as being 'un-American.'"

Patty Vannoy of the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star filed this: "The Sanjay Gupta who grew up in Lincoln wasn't named one of the country's most eligible bachelors in People magazine. The 39-year-old former Lincoln physician is married — with three children. But he's received numerous inquiries into his identity since that other Sanjay Gupta went on the air as a CNN war correspondent. 'There's a lot of coincidences. I'm a surgeon as well,' the former Nebraskan said. But the TV journalist is a neurosurgeon and Sanjay K. Gupta practices on ears, noses and throats in Minneapolis. Gupta, who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the NU Medical Center, said he first heard of his celebrity counterpart from his brother, Ashok, who went to medical school in Michigan with the CNN reporter. Gupta doesn't think he and his fellow surgeon look a lot alike, but some of Gupta's patients and colleagues have mistaken him for the war correspondent. 'The funny part is I have people asking me if he's my brother,' he said in a telephone interview Sunday. Gupta thought it was funny, he said, that some thought his mother might dub two sons with the same name. Gupta's mother gets quite a few queries herself. Uma Gupta, who lives in Lincoln, said she'd received a lot of phone calls — particularly from acquaintances who had children who went to school with her son. Gupta has received e-mails thanking him for his TV reports and was even offered a table in a busy restaurant and the use of a private exercise facility during a recent trip to Las Vegas."

Bryan Dean of the Oklahoma City Daily Oklahoman offered this: "Anna Jones had a lot on her mind as she entered the post office. Her son is aboard the USS Emory S. Land in the Persian Gulf. She hadn't seen him in months. She went to the post office to mail a package to her 2-year-old granddaughter, who lives in Italy with her mother. Suddenly, the stress of being apart from her family and worrying about her son overcame her, and she could no longer hold back the tears. 'I started crying profusely. I couldn't talk,' Jones said. 'It got 'way quiet in the post office, and I'm apologizing and explaining to them that my son is out on a ship and I haven't seen him or talked to him and my granddaughter is turning 2.' Fortunately, Jones knew she had a place to go where people would understand. She is part of a support group for staff at Deaconess Hospital with loved ones serving in the military. Jones started the group in February with Denise Menefee, who has two sons in the military, and Jana Galpin, whose husband has been activated with the Navy Reserves for more than a year. Jones said the group helps her deal with situations similar to the one she faced at the post office. 'They understand how I feel,' Jones said. 'We're like family. I was surprised at how easy it was for us to interact.'"

And from around the world:

The Jordan Times focused upon Iraq's future: "His Majesty King Abdullah on Sunday stressed the importance of the United Nations role in Iraq, particularly its delivery of assistance and basic social services to the Iraqi people, a Royal Court statement said. Meeting yesterday with Ramiro Lopes da Silva, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, and Christine McNab, U.N. Resident Representative in Jordan, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Rania, King Abdullah said Jordan was confident that the United Nations will exert every effort to provide much needed social, medical and sanitation services to the Iraqi people. Three weeks of a U.S.-U.K. war on Iraq has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, and uncontrolled looting by Iraqis in the last four days has created a state of chaos, with even hospitals being ransacked by looters. The King indicated that Jordan is prepared to coordinate with the U.N. in helping provide Iraq with the necessary relief supplies. Their Majesties said they were very concerned about the deteriorating health, living and security conditions of millions of Iraqis. King Abdullah stressed the urgency of the U.S. and British troops assuming their responsibilities to restore law and order and facilitate the tasks of the governments and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] willing to provide support and assistance to the Iraqi people."

The Kuwait Times focused upon medical attention for Iraqis: "The first batch of Kuwaiti doctors left here yesterday for the southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr to evaluate residents' needs and provide medical assistance. Health Ministry official Mussa Al-Juwaiser said the Kuwaiti team comprised surgeons, gynecologists and obstetricians. A Kuwaiti woman doctor is also among them, to help treat Iraqi women, Al-Juwaiser said. A health center in Umm Qasr is currently being run by Kuwaiti doctors working alongside Iraqi doctors, he added. On Friday, Kuwait sent a plane with five tons of medical aid to Iraqis threatened by a humanitarian catastrophe. The emirate had previously dispatched several convoys carrying essential goods by land to Iraq. Aid organizations have warned Iraq was facing a humanitarian disaster amid widespread looting and anarchy. Meanwhile, British army engineers brought heavy digging equipment into Iraq's second-largest city of Basra yesterday after locals claimed that prisoners were trapped in cells underneath the main police station."

The Tehran Times reported from Baghdad: "Several dozen Iraqis Sunday staged the first anti-U.S. demonstration in Baghdad since American forces arrived to a warm welcome last week, amid mounting anger over widespread looting since Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed. But near the recruitment desk in the Palestine Hotel, demonstrators lifted a banner, "Bush = Saddam." U.S. forces began the Herculean task of restoring normalcy to the country devastated by years of war and sanctions, setting up an operations center to screen Iraqi workers in the heart of the battered capital. They chanted: "There is only one God and America is the enemy of God!" and "We will sacrifice our souls and our blood for Iraq!" One protester said the demonstration was meant "to tell the Americans that they're the ones who put Saddam in power and now they're going to try to force on us other rulers we don't want." Only state-organized demonstrations were allowed during Saddam's 24 years of iron-fisted rule, during which he made Baghdad known as a world bastion of anti-Americanism. But near the site of the small protest, hundreds of locals queued up for their first jobs in the post-Saddam area, triggering massive traffic jams in central Baghdad."

The Yemen Times focused upon local politics: "Recent developments of the war on Iraq have raised the probability of its being a major issue to be dealt with and used or abused by different political parties in the coming parliamentary elections scheduled for April 27. Yemeni voters have shown little interest in recent statements by the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum. Even though election-related activities of political parties have been somewhat slowed down by the ongoing war on Iraq, it is believed that many of those political parties would use the issue of the war on Iraq as a card in gaining voter confidence. It is known that most Yemenis reject the war on Iraq and have called upon the government to implement stiff measures against the U.S.A and the U.K. to pressurize them to stop the war. According to the SCER, the number of registered Yemeni voters has reached a national record of 8 million. The anti-war sentiment overcomes the electoral interest among the population entitlement as people and parties are busy organizing demonstrations and sit-ins as tensions between the authorities and opposition parties reached its peak during the war."

Compiled by Andrew Cohen