President Bush’s “mandate”–signaled by clear re-election wins in both the popular vote and electoral college—drew mixed reviews from overseas, especially among countries that opposed the war in Iraq and removal of Saddam Hussein.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the strongest allies in the U.S.-led war on terror, welcomed news of Bush’s re-election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Bush’s second term would provide a boost for global security.
Leaders of France and Germany, who opposed the president’s invasion of Iraq, pledged to make the best of the situation by trying to work with Bush. French television, meanwhile, viewed a continuing Bush presidency as a bad thing, while newspapers hoped a second term would see an improvement in relations between Paris and Washington.
Palestinian newspapers were apprehensive. “Another four years of Bush rule,” said a banner headline in the daily al-Quds.
Jordan’s government welcomed Bush’s re-election, while the Islamic-led opposition viewed it with disappointment. “Renewing Bush’s mandate is a great disappointment and means more blood and victims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and maybe Sudan,” said Hamza Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front.
The Turkish Press said Hungary, one of 30 countries that contributed to the effort in Iraq, would remove its 300 troops by March 31. The war has grown increasingly unpopular among the country’s citizens. “To stay there until the elections (meaning the January elections in Iraq) are held is our duty,” said Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. “To stay there much longer is impossible.”
Poland is also expected to start withdrawing its 2,500 troops in January. The Bulgarian newspaper Trud confessed: “Most of the U.S. allies are sick at heart. Openly or secretly they kept their fingers crossed for Kerry to win, hoping for a person more open to the world to enter the White House.”
The Czech Republic’s foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, meanwhile, criticized anti-American sentiments across Europe. “For me, I see anti-Americanism as a great disappointment,” he said. “It is Anglo-Saxon society that has never experienced totalitarianism. The United States greatly helped Europe and the Czech Republic in the previous century. The Euro-Atlantic link is key for the future of Europe.”
The Socialist newspaper Worker’s World said four more years of Bush means that masses will face more war, poverty and racism. “It is said that Bush now has a ‘mandate,'” the paper said. “But it is clear from his election that he has no mandate whatsoever from the workers, from the unions, from Black people—who voted against him 9 or 10 to 1, depending on which poll one uses. He has no mandate from Latinos, who voted against him by 60 percent. In fact he has no mandate from 54 million people, plus the millions of immigrant workers who cannot even vote at all.”
The Norfolk Eastern Daily Press in the United Kingdom said Bush had “shattered the post-September 11 unity of his country, and is widely viewed with contempt overseas.” While concern over Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq gave Kerry momentum in the final weeks of the campaign, “the fact remained that Mr. Bush was the commander in chief, and removing the holder of that position while U.S. troops are involved in a major conflict is emotionally and psychologically difficult for many voters.”
U.S. media, meanwhile, pondered what a second Bush term might mean for a nation polarized by one of the most hotly contested elections in memory. The Wall Street Journal said the president faces a decision between continuing to lean toward a conservative base that is loyal to him or picking up on his unfulfilled pledge of four years ago to be a uniter and not a divider.
The chairwoman of Bush’s campaign in Pima County, Arizona, said the election gives the president a mandate to move his agenda forward. “America stands behind him—or the majority of Americans—and he can move forward on Social Security reform, continue with educational reform, his tax reform and do what is necessary to keep America safe in the war on terror,” Meg Econ told the Tuscon Citizen.
Sen. John Kyle, an Arizona Republican, disagreed, saying Bush’s mandate on the war is clear, but little else. “The election was not about other issues, therefore he cannot claim a mandate on other issues,” he said. “He has to make a case to the people and Congress on other issues.”
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll released Thursday said Americans by a 2-1 margin believe Bush should emphasize programs that both parties support in a second term, rather than to advance the Republican agenda.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.