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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Win for Democrats Heralded in Europe

ROME -- 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 Secretary of Defense 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 you so."

"The king has no clothes," said Pino Sgobio, lower house whip of a Communist party in Prime Minister Romano Prodi's center-left coalition. "These elections have certified the failure of six years of [U.S.] foreign and military policy."

European governments, some of which 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 wall.

"We always said what we thought about this action. It's up to them to analyze the situation and draw conclusions from that analysis," French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.

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 Organization Secretary, said on a blog.

"[Americans now] realize that invasions like that of Iraq don't get rid of the radicals, but have precisely the opposite effect."

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 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 of the Labour party. "What is the tipping point when people get angry. Is it body bags?"

n Ukraine's defense minister, a liberal who wants his country to join NATO, said Thursday that he was sorry to see Rumsfeld leave office as he had "always wished Ukraine well."

"I can only regret that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has resigned," Defense Minister Anatoly Hrytsenko said on a trip to central Ukraine.