Thursday, November 09, 2006

From the Guardian

"One Frenchman, 53-year-old teacher Jean-Pierre Charpemtrat, said it was about time U.S. voters figured out what much of the rest of the world already knew.

``Americans are realizing that you can't found the politics of a country on patriotic passion and reflexes,'' he said. ``You can't fool everybody all the time - and I think that's what Bush and his administration are learning today.''

Bush is deeply unpopular in many countries, with particularly intense opposition to the war in Iraq, the U.S. terror holding facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and allegations of Washington-sanctioned interrogation methods that some equate with torture.

Many said they thought the big gains by Democrats signaled the beginning of the end of Bush's tenure.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, Jens Langfeldt, 35, said he didn't know much about the midterm elections but was opposed to Bush, referring to the president as ``that cowboy.''

In Sri Lanka, some said they hoped the rebuke would force Bush to abandon a unilateral approach to global issues.

``The Americans have made it clear that current American policy should change in dealing with the world, from a confrontational approach, to a more consensus-based and bridge-building approach,'' said Jehan Perera, a political analyst. The Democratic win means ``there will be more control and restraint'' over U.S. foreign policy.

Passions were even higher in Pakistan, where Bush is deeply unpopular despite billions in aid and support for President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

One opposition lawmaker, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, said he welcomed the election result, but was hoping for more. Bush ``deserves to be removed, put on trial and given a Saddam-like death sentence,'' he said.

In Denmark, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told broadcaster TV2 he hoped the president and the new Congress would find ``common ground on questions about Iraq and Afghanistan.''

``The world needs a vigorous U.S.A.,'' Fogh Rasmussen said.

The prospect of a sudden change in American foreign policy could also be troubling to U.S. allies such as Britain, Japan and Australia, which have thrown their support behind the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Asked whether the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signaled a new direction in the war that has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 U.S. troops, Bush said, ``Well, there's certainly going to be new leadership at the Pentagon.''

``The problem for Arabs now is, an American withdrawal (from Iraq) could be a security disaster for the entire region,'' said Mustafa Alani, an Iraqi analyst for the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. He said the Middle East could be left to cope with a disintegrating Iraq mired in civil war, with refugees fleeing a failed state that could become an incubator for terrorism."

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