"Unilateralism has become personified--the superhuman Bush versus the axis of evil," wrote Vittorio Zucconi in Rome's La Repubblica.
Both North Korea and South Korea also have criticized the reference, with Seoul warning that such comparisons could torpedo its efforts to achieve a rapprochement with the North, and Pyongyang calling Bush's words "little short of declaring a war."
British lawmaker Menzies Campbell weighed in here with a warning that European allies would want to see "incontrovertible evidence" that Iraq was plotting a terrorist strike before engaging in preemptive aggression.
Wolfowitz stressed to the delegates the need for U.S. allies to upgrade military technology to shoulder more of the collective defense burden. But he also noted that the United States will continue to look toward "flexible coalitions" to combat terrorism around the world--hinting that NATO has little relevance in campaigns far from its traditional sphere of operations, like the recently deployed anti-terror force in the Philippines.
Outside the massive police cordon around the conference, which is being held in an elegant central Munich hotel, hundreds of antiwar protesters ignored a ban on demonstrations but were contained by police and in any case were too far removed for the participants to notice them.
Times staff writers Richard Boudreaux in Rome and Barbara Demick in Seoul contributed to this report.