Bush election: Team World got clobbered

Most world leaders responded to the election of George W. Bush with diplomatically crafted congratulations. But beneath the polite veneer, a number of governments signaled their continuing disagreement with the administration’s approach to international affairs and especially to the war and occupation in Iraq.

The world’s people also spoke. The results of a mock election, held before Nov. 2 among eligible voters in several countries, showed Bush losing substantially in Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, the United Kingdom and France, and coming out ahead only in Russia and Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Bush a “predictable partner,” and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said that the United States under Bush would continue as “the defender and promoter of freedom and democracy” around the world.

But German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder tempered his pledge of continuing “good and close cooperation” with reminders that his government supports “a pullout [by Israel from Palestine] if it is linked to the roadmap,” and urged pressure to that effect from Europe, Russia and the U.S. A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “We have made our position clear throughout the campaign, and it is unchanged: Germany will not be sending troops to Iraq.”

The Lagos, Nigeria, newspaper This Day prefaced its post-election commentary with the following statement: “No grief could have been more genuine. No pain more felt. No sense of loss more benumbing than the one the world experienced when Team World finally got clobbered by Team USA on Tuesday. The U.S. presidential election was not just an American affair.”

This Day’s commentator Adeyeye Joseph observed, “While the 58 million Americans who voted for Bush rejoiced, the world mourned with the 55 million that voted for Kerry.” He went on to observe that Nigeria’s position as the fifth largest oil supplier to the U.S. lay at the root of the complex relationship between the governments in Lagos and Washington.

Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori said, “I think we are going to see more dictatorship on an international scale. We are going to see more extremism come out of there. We are going to see even more isolationism where America will not bother about the United Nations.”

The Cuban newspaper Granma observed laconically, “The Republican electoral campaign was aimed at convincing U.S. citizens that it is Bush who will safeguard them in the context of his proclaimed war on terrorism.” “That could bring with it the bellicose policy that prompted him to unleash two overseas wars during his first mandate.”

In Canada, Liberal Party MP Carolyn Parrish’s day-after-election characterization of Bush as “warlike” brought a sharp disclaimer from Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who called her comments “unacceptable” and said she spoke neither for the Liberals nor for the government.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) projected “a continuation of the aggressive and unilateralist approach to international relations,” and added, “In the present situation, all efforts must be made to check the harmful course adopted by the Bush administration.” The CPI(M) admonished Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for congratulating Bush too warmly, pointing out that “there is a widespread consensus in India that we should not subscribe to Bush’s self-serving war on terrorism.”

Jose Reinaldo Carvalho, vice president and international relations secretary of the Communist Party of Brazil, observed that the U.S. election result “goes against humanity’s perspectives and the hopes of millions of men and women who long for justice and peace, both impossible in a scenario characterized by the prevalence of an aggressive policy of a superpower that views ruling the planet as its raison d’etre.”

Li Xuejiang, in a Nov. 5 commentary in China’s official People’s Daily, said, “Countries the world over place their respective expectations on Bush’s new term in office. Whether these expectations can be met depends on whether President Bush continues to go down the road of unilateralism, or to mend his ways and come back to the road of multilateralism at an early date.”

The author can be reached at mbechtel@pww.org.