European allies alienated by President Bush's first four years in power offered Wednesday to let bygones be bygones, saying they want to work with the new administration and seeking, right from Day 1, to get the new White House to listen more to overseas opinion. Generous of them, don't you think? Chirac thinks that now that Bush has a mandate, he'll begin to let them call the dance, while the US pays the piper? I think NOT!
French President Jacques Chirac, in a congratulatory letter, said he hoped Bush's second term "will be the occasion for strengthening the French-American friendship." Friendship? Where? When?
"We will be unable to find satisfying responses to the numerous challenges that confront us today without a close trans-Atlantic partnership," wrote Chirac. He addressed the letter to "Dear George." We? Where? When?
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who also clashed with Bush over Iraq wrote the president a congratulatory letter expressing "great expectations" for renewed cooperation. Schroeder should be thankful if we continue to ignore him.
"The world stands before great challenges at the beginning of your second term: international terrorism, the danger of weapons of mass destruction, regional crises — but also poverty, climate change and epidemics threaten our security and stability," Schroeder wrote. "These challenges can only be mastered together." Kyoto? LOL!
Another critic of the Iraq war, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his government wants "a relationship of efficient, constructive cooperation with the U.S. government and with President Bush, respecting the ideas of each side." Yeah, right. It's going to happen real soon, yeah.
Zapatero, who angered Washington by withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq, stayed up most of the night to watch as Republican red crept across the U.S. electoral map.
Election interest in Europe was intense, as was the disappointment many felt over Bush's victory. Some saw it as proof that Europe and the United States are farther apart than ever.
"There is a major and lasting lack of understanding between the American people and the rest of the world, in both directions," said Hubert Vedrine, a former French foreign minister. "Almost all nations, with perhaps three or four exceptions, wanted change." Finally, a french guy that gets it.
Others worried that Bush, strengthened by a bigger win than in 2000 and backed by a Republican Congress, would turn a deaf ear to world concerns. Do ya think?
"Europe will continue to criticize Bush the same way as earlier," said Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson. "But I do not believe that he will be more willing to listen." See above. Note to Swedish Prime Minister, the majority of Americans do not WANT him to listen.
Bush allies in the war on terror took comfort in continuity.
"From our point of view, the Bush administration is a known quantity," said Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. "We've had a very good relationship with them for the last four years and I'm sure we'll be able to keep building on that over the next four." Yeah, we love the Aussies and they reciprocate. I sure wouldn't want to be the terrorists that put them in harm's way, ala Bali.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said a Bush victory would mean the American people had not given in to terrorist threats. "I would feel happy that the American people have not allowed themselves to be scared and made the decision they considered reasonable," Putin said at a Kremlin news conference. Interesting, Putin is now on 'our side.' Why am I reminded of WWII?
British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to work with Bush in the war on terrorism and in revitalizing the Middle East peace process, and called on Europe and the United States to "build anew their alliance" after strains created by the Iraq war. "A world that is fractured, divided and uncertain must be brought together to fight this global terrorism in all its forms and to recognize that it will not be defeated by military might alone but also by demonstrating the strength of our common values, by bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq as we have done to Afghanistan , by pursuing with the same energy peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine," Blair said. Again WWII, though with the US at the forefront...
But even among these supporters, there were appeals for Bush to work on healing the trans-Atlantic rift.
"It is not natural to have — maybe not a cold war — but, in any case, a chilling of relations along theses lines," said Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka. "I hope that European leaders and President Bush will show initiative in this area." I've heard only good things about PM Belka, so I would assume he is putting equal weight on both sides of the Atlantic, something our old 'allies' fail to understand.
Hungary, meanwhile, announced it would withdraw its 300 non-combat troops from Iraq by the end of March. Its government has been under mounting pressure from citizens and opposition parties who object to the soldiers' presence.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski said Wednesday he was glad his ally had won a new mandate that would promise to bring progress in the fight against terrorism. Poland is a key U.S. ally in Iraq, where it commands a 15-nation security force.
An ailing Yasser Arafat congratulated Bush and expressed hope that a second term would help give a new spark to the Middle East peace process, an aide to the Palestinian leader said. Well, we could have hoped for him to come out and throw a fit that Kerry wasn't elected, but we DO understand he is not feeling well.
Arafat "declares the readiness of the Palestinian leadership to cooperate and work with (Bush) to resume political efforts to bring about peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the president's vision" in the road map, Arafat aide Mohammed Rashid said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top adviser, Raanan Gissin, called Bush's re-election a victory for a "relentless fight against terrorism." No Manure.
South Korea pledged to work more closely with the next Bush administration to peacefully resolve a dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Whoopee!
"The government hopes that the second term of the Bush administration will continue to cooperate with its allies to secure peace and prosperity in the world including on the Korean Peninsula," the presidential office said in a statement.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing looked forward to promoting "constructive cooperative relations" with Washington. China opposed the war in Iraq and most Chinese said they were against Bush's re-election. Respect on both sides would be in order.
Leaders from nations throughout Latin American and the Caribbean expressed willingness to work closely with the White House, despite near-universal public opposition to the Iraq war and concerns about U.S. trade policy.
Even Venezuela, whose government has openly criticized the Bush administration, said it wanted to reverse tense and often angry relations with the United States.
"We won't see the United States as an enemy, as an adversary, but as a very important country in the region with which Venezuela has extraordinary relations in terms of petroleum, in terms of the war on drugs," Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente said.
Aides to President Hugo Chavez said the populist leader would continue to speak out against the war in Iraq and would keep fighting "against imperialism."
But Cuba's state television said Bush won the presidency by manipulating voters' fears of future terrorist attacks. On Wednesday's edition of the island's nightly televised "Mesa Redonda" discussion program, host Randy Alonso said Bush's win was due to a successful strategy "to cultivate fear among (U.S.) citizens" and "present himself as the great leader of the fight against terrorism." Glad to hear the Monroe Doctrine and corollary are recognized.
Though U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated Bush, U.N. rank and file were less sanguine. The relationship between the world body and its most influential member sank to a new low over Iraq. They think we care? Why?