by Ray Fleming
LET'S hope that President Bush's digestive system is in good working order.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all working sessions for him during his current visit to Europe; having to swallow unpalatable opinions at the same time as unfamiliar food is not the best regime for a settled stomach and peaceful mind.

Last night's dinner with the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, may have been particularly trying because the other main guest was Spain's Javier Solaña, the EU's High Representative for common foreign and security policy.

Earlier in the week, he had expressed surprisingly critical views on Mr Bush's Iraq adventure.
In a newspaper interview, Sr Solaña disputed the view of the US administration that the recent Iraq election vindicated the Anglo/American invasion. “Is it a vindication,” he asked, “when you count how many billions of dollars have been spent, how many people have been killed and how many soldiers have died? Is it not a little early to say?” Many ordinary people opposed to the Iraq war will be pleased to hear an EU diplomat speaking so frankly.
The election was a step forward, but only a tiny one on a very long and dangerous road.
Sr Solaña's realism is therefore greatly to be welcomed.
Interestingly enough, President Bush also contributed an important note of realism during his main speech in Brussels by warning that a Palestinian state cannot be created from scattered and separated territories and that Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank must therefore be on a large scale rather than piecemeal, and new setttlement activity halted.

It was an important policy statement.


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