“U.S. Chooses Safety,” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul)
“Conservatism Wins in the U.S.,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul)
“The Peace in the Korean Peninsula Should Not Be Put to a Test,” Hankyoreh Shinmoon (Seoul)
South Koreans watched the U.S. presidential election incredibly closely, with breaking election coverage broadcast live in train stations, work places, restaurants and cafes. The U.S. president has a great impact on South Korea’s policies towards the North. The country is deeply split between conservative and liberal ways of approaching the communist government of North Korean President Kim Jung-Il. Conservative newspapers such as JoongAng Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo celebrated Bush’s re-election and reaffirmed Bush’s view of the North as an “Axis of Evil”; more liberal papers did not hesitate to express disappointment at Bush’s victory and stressed reconciliation with the North. Hankyoreh Shinmoon wrote of an urgent need to change the image of a “unilateralist America” whose foreign policy relies on military might.
There was one thing both liberal and conservative papers agreed upon: Bush’s re-election will make the South’s conciliatory gestures toward the North more difficult to pursue.
“Bush repeats unchanged Taiwan stance to China’s Hu,” China Post (Taipei)
“Survey backs sovereign and independent Taiwan,” Taipei Times (Taipei)
“World leaders congratulate Bush’s re-election,” Xinhua News Agency (Beijing)
“Hu, Bush talk over phone,” China Daily (Beijing)
Guarded optimism most accurately describes Beijing’s mood upon the re-election of George Bush. The Chinese have always shown a preference for dealing with a known quantity rather adjusting to change.
Officially, China’s President Hu Jintao congratulated Bush and extended a wish for even closer bilateral cooperation, according to the Xinhua News Agency and the China Daily, which also reported that in a subsequent phone conversation Hu extracted the assurance from Bush that his policy toward Taiwan as part of one China has not changed.
The China Post echoed the importance of Taiwan in the bilateral relations. China is relying on the United States to keep Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian’s activities toward independence in check. As if to confirm that China’s wish was understood at the White House, Secretary of State Colin Powell went to Beijing just before the U.S. election and publicly declared that Taiwan was not a sovereign nation and urged negotiations leading to reunification with the mainland.
However, the Taipei Times reported that a recent poll indicated 70 percent of the people of Taiwan considered Taiwan a sovereign nation.
“To Your Bunkers; It’s Bush,” “America Authorizes Bush to Stay in a State of War,” “A Historic Victory for Republicans Guaranteed Their Majority in Congress, and Put Democrats Under Siege,” Assafir Daily (Beirut)
“BUSH,” Annahar (Beirut)
Expressing some degree of surprise for the quick resolution of the American election, Arabic newspapers concentrated their coverage on two factors: The future impact on the Middle East of a second Bush presidency, and the American meaning behind re-electing Bush.
Beirut’s Assafir Daily considered Bush’s victory a coup in the political, social, and intellectual life of America, and a sharp turn toward the extreme religious right. Its editorial calls for the whole world to go into hiding. “To Your Bunkers; It’s Bush” wrote the paper’s editor, Joseph Samaha. He sees the results as a victory for conservative ideology, demagoguery and religion.
The other leading Beirut daily, the more conservative Annahar, had one word for its headline: “BUSH.” The subtitle: “The Most Votes in the History of Presidents.” Jihad Al Zein, the paper’s senior columnist, sees in Bush’s victory a four-year renewal for the “Iraqi Adventure.” “Bush can consider now that he has a mandate to take the Iraqi adventure where he wants: building a new Iraq and bringing the troops back home.” He questioned, however, Bush’s ability to understand that “the death trap of any potential reform in the Arab World is in the unconditional American support for Israel.”
Addustour Daily in Amman, Jordan, anticipated in its editorial that Bush’s second term could be better for Arab and Muslim countries because he will not be under the same pro-Israeli pressure now that he is not facing another election. The paper concludes, “We hope that Bush will review his errant policies which fueled anti-American sentiment among Arabs and Muslims, and pursue a new opportunity for a new page of balancing America’s interests with the interests of the people of the region.”
“Bonehead Power,” Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
“U.S. has world holding its breath,” “Guns, Gods and Gays,” “Americans voted for a militarized Rambo,” The Star (Guateng)
A Mail & Guardian story entitled “Bonehead Power,” declared derisively, “The boneheads have it. And what is truly frightening is that ... the boneheads have it by a clear majority. Despite the developing disaster in Iraq, the tattered state of trans-Atlantic relations and the perception among 70 percent of American voters that the U.S. economy is in a mess, George W. Bush has the most ringing electoral endorsement since the Reagan years.”
Writing under the headline “U.S. has world holding its breath” in The Star, which has a 54 percent black readership, Alister Sparks wrote, “George Bush has become a danger to world peace, and opinion polls show that six out of seven people around the globe realize that.”
David Usborne, also writing in The Star, argued that the vote turned on morality. Under the headline “Guns, Gods and Gays,” he wrote, “Call it the anti-Janet Jackson boob vote, the pro-gun vote, the anti-gay marriage vote or the Jesus vote.” U.S. voters, he suggested, shelved their economic interests. “Family values means less about food on the table than about God at the table,” he wrote.
Many stories assessed the extent to which Bush would attend to Africa and its problems in his second term. Writing in The Star, William Maclean quoted John Sremlau, a professor of international relations at Wits University praising South African President Thabo Mbeki for maintaining a “very good, professional, statesmanlike relationship with Bush.”
But Maclean was largely pessimistic in his article, headlined “Americans voted for a militarized Rambo.” The story ended with a quote from Adenaan Hardien, chief economist at African Harvest, a South African fund manager, who cautioned those optimistic about the economic benefits of a Bush victory. “Global growth will be ... a loser,” Hardien said. “Bush’s methods have thrown sand in the global economy’s gearbox, and we learnt in the 1990s that peace is more conducive to sustained wealth generation.”
“The Empire Votes,” Folha de Sao Paulo Daily
“We have to put up with four more years?” O Globo (Rio de Janeiro)
Brazilians are especially unhappy about the Iraq War, but also oppose U.S. plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Post-Nov. 2 headlines reflected the anxiety in Brazil—Latin America’s largest nation and economy—that the globe would become even more hostile and war-ridden with an emboldened President Bush in power.
In Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper, one opinion writer used a dose of black humor to describe the ramifications of the U.S. ballot: “The gravest aspect of the Bush re-election is that it occurs at a moment when the possibilities of establishing a human colony on another planet are still remote, creating a dilemma, where can one flee to?”
Another op-ed headline in the same relatively conservative newspaper asked, “We Have To Put Up With Four More Years?” A Jornal do Brasil editorial noted Bush claimed a mandate from his victory, but pointed out that internationally, support for Bush is low. The paper begged him to use some of his political capital to win back credibility for the United States the on the international stage.
“Indian autumn on Capitol Hill—Bush 2 offers India huge business and strategic opportunities,” Indian Express (Mumbai).
“Will Bush raise the H1-B cap now?” Times of India (Mumbai)
“Engaging the U.S. a necessity: Manmohan,” The Hindu (Chennai)
“PM to Bush: Congrats, an India visit will be milestone—Singh: ‘We are on same side in war on terror and checking proliferation,’” Indian Express
The reaction to the Bush re-election in India has been one of cautious optimism about a sense of continuity. The business community was especially hopeful that the offshore outsourcing storm might have blown over.
Editorially, some papers like the Tribune dubbed the Bush victory as Americans choosing “a known devil rather than an unknown one.” Politically, Indian and Pakistan have started jockeying for influence in Washington. The prize? A Bush visit to the subcontinent, early in the second term. Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was quick to send a two-page letter to President Bush, which became headline news all over India.
A closer look at the letter revealed the subtext. The Tribune reported that Prime Minister Singh had written that Washington should ensure “that terrorism or religious extremism are not tolerated as instrument of state policy.” India watchers know that that is diplomatic innuendo for Pakistan.
“President Bush understands Pakistan’s problems: Sheikh Rashid” The News International (Karachi)
“Re-election of Bush allayed concerns, says Foreign Office,” The Dawn (Karachi)
“President Bush should pay heed to vital issues: Musharraf,” The News International (Karachi).
Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, was equally effusive in its congratulations to President Bush. Leaders like Federal Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid were relieved that a Bush victory would continue the current rapport with Washington.
But it was also obvious in President Musharraf’s congratulatory message that he realized many Pakistanis and other Muslims are unhappy with the Bush administration.
One of the most vital concerns, according to Musharraf, was the Palestine issue. While the Indian prime minister spoke about addressing “terrorism or religious extremism,” the Pakistani leader spoke about finding the “basic causes to terrorism and conflict.”
—Sandip Roy and
“What is the Cost of George W. Bush’s Agenda?” El Economista (Mexico City)
“Texas Theocracy: Christian Hezbollah in the White House,” La Jornada (Mexico City)
“The Vote of God,” Proceso (Mexico City)
“Bush and the Fear Vote,” El Economista (Mexico City)
Mexico’s coverage of the re-election of George W. Bush focused on three key issues: the economy, the role of religion and the use of fear in the U.S. elections.
While a headline in Mexico City’s El Financiero read “Bush Key Factor in Rise in Share Prices,” El Economista’s article “What is the Cost of George W. Bush’s Agenda?” asserts that Bush’s re-election on a platform of national security comes at a “very high economic cost that will eventually have to be covered by the rest of the world.”
The power of evangelical Christianity in the U.S. election is evident in the appearance of a new word, “fundamentalismo,” in the Mexican press, reports La Jornada in its article “Texas Theocracy: Christian Hezbollah in the White House.” The word does not exist in Spanish and has been imposed by the U.S. media, the article observes, another example of American cultural imperialism.
“When God is voting against you, it’s very difficult to win,” reports Mexico City’s weekly magazine Proceso in its article “The Vote of God.” In the Nov. 2 elections, the article continues, Americans voted for the candidate who would be held up as the “sword of God” against “the evil represented by the Arab people, by gay marriage, and by the millions of poor who abound in the streets of the empire.” Bush, the article asserts, “ran a campaign of fear that prevailed over voters’ reason.”
Bush won the election, El Economista reports in its article “Bush and the Fear Vote,” as a result of the administration’s skillful use of the “discourse of fear.” Despite the failing economy, false information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the high cost of the war, the article asserts, U.S. voters were controlled by fear, which was inflamed by the American mass media.
“Fear, the psychosis that definitively established itself in American society since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Bush’s promise to continue fighting ‘terrorism’ was the adage American citizens bet on.”
—Elena Shore and
Mary Jo McConahay ?