International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere
3 April 2001

Portrait of Bush Foreign Policy: Unilateralist And Adversarial

Commentators in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America unleashed a torrent of criticism aimed at the 10-week-old Bush administration's foreign policy. With few exceptions, the tenor of these assessments--as compared to earlier portrayals (see Issue Focus, 1/26)--has been almost uniformly hostile. Virtually every single administration foreign policy position was assailed--including its stances toward China and Russia, the Kyoto Protocol, the North-South Korea dialogue, the situation in the Balkans, Middle East peace negotiations and U.S. missile defense. Opinionmakers also proffered broader condemnations of how U.S. foreign policy is being formulated. Earlier commentaries observed that, because of ostensible intra-administration fighting--between the "moderate" faction, led by Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Rice, and "hawks," headed by Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld--confusion reigned. More recently, however, analysts determined that the conservatives were in charge of foreign policy--a policy characterized by unilateralist, adversarial, Cold War tendencies, aimed solely at protecting U.S. interests. Media voices expressed concern that the U.S.--by taking this direction--is creating an atmosphere not conducive to diplomacy, leading the superpower toward disengagement and isolationism, and ultimately a shirking of its international responsibilities. A few conservative dailies in Britain, Canada and a smattering elsewhere were more supportive of the U.S., warning that other countries' knee-jerk "anti-American chauvinism" does not serve the interests of the democratic community of nations. Regional highlights:

--In Europe, several British, French, German and Russian editorialists expressed frustration that many Clinton administration initiatives and positions were being abandoned, and that an emphasis on unilateral, anti-globalist policies and a muscular pursuit of U.S. interests was the order of the day. Others bemoaned the seeming de-emphasis of U.S-European ties and the growing "gap" between the U.S. and European values.

--Asian media detected a growing U.S. attention to Asian issues, but expressed consternation about several matters. Referring to the U.S. spy plane incident, Chinese and pro-PRC Hong Kong papers invoked the specter of "U.S. arrogance" and "hegemonism aimed at China." Others in the region were dismayed at the U.S. decision not to continue former President Clinton's Korea policy.

--Latin American commentary highlighted such perceived U.S. tendencies as nationalism and conservatism. Some saw the choice of Otto Reich as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs as emblematic of these trends, as well as cause for concern.

--The Arab press dwelled on U.S. policy toward the region, expressing concern about its perceived pro-Israeli bent. A Tunisian writer joined others in criticizing Washington's seemingly more negative attitude toward the Palestinians, saying it is particularly irksome given "U.S. claims to be the leader of the free world and the defender of human rights."

EDITOR: Diana McCaffrey

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on 58 reports from 37 countries, February 25-April 3, 2001. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.


BRITAIN: "Advantage Bush"

The conservative Daily Telegraph observed (4/3): "Is the confrontation [involving a downed U.S. spy plane] between the world's sole superpower and its most serious applicant for superpower status now set to escalate? Initial indications would suggest not.... To heighten confrontation with the United States could delay Chinese entry into the [WTO], a fundamental goal of the reformers. It could also push the Bush government towards supplying Taiwan with destroyers armed with the Aegis battle-management system. Third, the sight of the American Embassy in Beijing surrounded by a baying mob could prejudice Chinese chances of landing the 2008 Olympic Games.... Recourse to anti-American chauvinism is tempting to the politically ambitious. The extent to which it is checked will be a measure of Chinese statesmanship."

"Policy Vacuum"

An editorial in the independent Financial Times held (3/29): "Republicans have vowed to replace Bill Clinton's instinctive interventionism with hard-nosed national self-interest, their realism overriding his romanticism. America's allies and adversaries alike are bracing themselves for a tougher, more unilateralist approach.... So far, the world knows only what the Bush team is against. It has little idea of what it is for. This is a government in transition. Many senior and middle-ranking appointments are still to be made.... The worry is that the Bush administration may be tempted to take important foreign policy decisions in many areas without first having devised a proper strategy.... Furthermore, divisions within Mr. Bush's foreign policy team make it harder to fill the policy vacuum. This is nothing new. The Pentagon has always had a testy relationship with the State Department, which has in turn not always seen eye-to-eye with the NSC. Only the president will have the authority to settle such disputes. Until he does, the world will have to wait, nervously."

"Bush Starts By Going Backwards"

The conservative Evening Standard had this piece by Washington correspondent Jeremy Campbell (3/27): "The normal politeness accorded a new president is fading. Bush is getting an earful from people who have no desire to time-travel nearly a generation into the past.... A hard-nosed adversarialism is back in style.... The George W. Bush that emerges from his first 100 days is surely, appearances to the contrary, an unlikely friend and partner for Tony Blair. Blair and Bill Clinton were soul mates, but Bush is the UnClinton. He is even the UnBush Senior.... The impression is gaining that Bush is in some sense untrustworthy, a sweet conciliatory manner hiding a stiff doctrinaire adherence to old-fashioned Rightist principles.... A well-noted fact about the Bush administration is the absence of significant dissent within it by moderates. That is what makes it so radically different from the Reagan presidency."

"Moscow Doesn't Matter Anymore. And Neither Do We"

Peter Preston, an editor for the liberal Guardian, offered this perspective (3/26): "Nobody should kid themselves that something fundamental isn't happening. If defense spending is about fighting wars, then the wars the United States expects to wage, or hopes to deter, will be Pacific-specific. Europe in so far as it furrows foreheads, will have to take care of itself.... Put simply, the Pentagon is reprioritizing its threat list.... China, in Rumsfeld's own words, is where the perceived threat lies.... The obvious temptation is to see this [DOD] review as a return to Cold War postures. Wrong. Look forward, not back.

"This Washington, for the moment, is not bent on defending the American way against some aggressor who would pull it down. Rather, it seeks to impose that way as a global norm. To the victor, his own empire. There is, frankly, an unpleasant swagger to all this.... Maybe it won't, in every respect, endure for long. Colin Powell's efforts to change Iraq sanctions or keep talking to North Korea reveal some countervailing wisdom whose time may eventually come. Nevertheless, Mr. Rumsfeld is telling us something that we--in Europe or in what we fondly call the special relationship--need to register. We are not the center of this White House's universe. We have drifted towards bit parts on the peripheries."

"Who Will Win The Balkan War In The White House?"

A commentator in the centrist Independent observed (3/12): "It is not clear whether General Powell has thought through his basic position on foreign affairs; Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld have certainly done so. They are both hawks: a much more honorable, sophisticated--and successful--foreign policy stance than most Europeans appreciate. Under President Clinton, Mr. Blair and other European leaders became accustomed to dealing with a pliant and confused administration. That is no longer the case. When Americans take up positions which Mr. Blair finds inconvenient, it will be no use his pretending that this has not happened. If he tried to do so, he would discover that his vaunted powers of spin do not extend across the Atlantic."

"Bush Policies Threaten To Restart Cold War Rivalries"

Ben Macintyre opined in the conservative Times (3/7): "If one characteristic has emerged clearly from the foreign policy of the new Bush administration, it is a willingness to offend old enemies.... The new cold front is being propelled, to a great extent, by American ambitions for NMD.... While much of Mr. Bush's foreign policy is still at a formative stage, the president has signaled a tougher stance on a variety of fronts, most notably Iraq. NMD is emerging as the defining factor in Mr. Bush's international vision, despite opposition and anger in Beijing and Moscow and concern across much of Europe.... This may be no more than a young administration, containing many Cold War veterans, flexing its muscles, but the lines of potential conflict are being laid down with a dangerous lack of subtlety."

FRANCE: "A Dangerous Gulf Between Europe And The U.S."

Bernard Guetta told listeners on government-run France Inter radio (3/30): "The gulf between Europe and the United States is so deep and disturbing that France, Great Britain and Germany are doing everything they can to minimize its importance, believing that one of them will manage to ease the differences. Schroeder's good intentions have just been sabotaged by President Bush's decision on CO2 emissions.... America first, this is the message Bush is sending out. America is no longer weighing its words. It says out loud what it thinks. It batters Russia, bullies China and opposes a dialogue between North and South Korea. It steps back from the Middle East conflict to protect its oil interests.... Bush's America is becoming unilateral, and a stupefied and astounded Europe is tightening its ties with Russia, playing mediator between the two Koreas, protesting over the Kyoto protocol, and holding its own on its defense initiative."

"Vedrine Deciphers U.S. Diplomacy"

Luc de Barochez opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/28): "The French are perplexed by the lack of direction in U.S. foreign policy.... Hubert Vedrine has just observed Washington's hardened attitude as well as its uncertainties. Its position toward China and Russia is putting Europe in an awkward position.... While the anti-missile shield does worry the French, they have understood they will have to live with it. On the other hand, America's new attitude on Iraq pleases France.... To decipher America's new diplomacy, Vedrine met with various members of the administration....

"He was able to observe the different positions adopted by Secretary Powell and Condoleezza Rice on Baghdad. The question is who to believe?... Generally speaking, Hubert Vedrine tried to dissipate the clouds which are gathering over transatlantic relations, while waiting for the Bush administration to clarify its choices."

"Diplomacy Catches Up With Bush"

Jean-Jacques Mevel held in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/19): "The signals coming from the White House since January 20 have been signals of disengagement.... In connection with the Middle East, the term peace process has been replaced with peace negotiations.... and Secretary Powell's visit to the region was intended to tighten the hold on Iraq and Saddam Hussein.... The American umpire is exiting from the scene.... Other parts of the world are also affected by this American disengagement.... Bush's strategists see this policy not as diplomatic withdrawal, but rather as a step backward from the recent interventionism, errors and deceptions of the Clinton era.... For his critics, George W. Bush will sooner or later have to deal with reality, particularly under pressure from his allies. This is already the case with the Balkans. While Bush has not yet defined his NATO policy, there is no longer any talk of withdrawing the 'boys' from Kosovo."

GERMANY: "The American Friend"

Rolf Paasch stated in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/29): "The conflict over MD, but also over climate policy and questions of world trade, has to be seen in the context of a U.S. unilateralism which the Bush-Cheney administration appears to pursue as a new doctrine. Whoever wants to counter the United States' self-centered projection of power with an alternative, persistent, and diplomatic course of action cannot announce his participation in U.S. plans even before opposing arguments have been exchanged. Otherwise, he will weaken his position. So far, it has worked for Europe and Germany to lead the transatlantic dialogue from a position of weakness. However, if the EU in the future wants to decide on issues of security as a partner and competitor, it will be necessary to build up a constructive transatlantic culture of conflict. A first step in that direction could be taken if Chancellor Schroeder made it clear to his American friend in Washington, publicly and in a straightforward manner, that a lot of people in Europe have differing opinions about threat scenarios and missile defense."

"Bush Turns Clock Back In Matters Of Climate Control"

Dietrich Zwaetz and Jens Muenchrath maintained in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/27): "Bush made it unmistakably clear to the stunned world public what he thinks of international agreements concerning climate questions, like the Kyoto Protocol: Very little, indeed. The United States is on the road to hegemony in matters of energy policy. Global environmental concerns are being ignored.... The protection of the environment in the United States is no longer the goal only of marginal groups who have to put up with being ridiculed by politicians. Bush cannot rank environmental policy completely below economic growth."

"Personal Impressions"

Ralf Neukirch said in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (3/26): "Time is short, but the list of controversial issues is all the longer.... In foreign policy, a change of course is in the offing, which has created concern in Germany. The tougher attitude toward China, North Korea and Russia are examples of this new U.S. policy. But the Berlin government hopes to get at least one clear answer: The crisis in Macedonia requires a clear answer to the question of how long and to what extent the Americans plan to stay in the Balkans."

"Janus W. Bush"

Stefan Kornelius noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/17): "The administration's split in matters of foreign policy is becoming more and more obvious in Washington's power structure: On the one side, the tightly knit web of insiders from Congress and the administration, grouped around the old war horses Cheney and Rumsfeld; on the other side, the more moderate outsiders surrounding the secretary of state and the head of the NSC, Condoleezza Rice. The conservative wing in Congress has great influence, and President Bush is allowing it to happen. Bush will not be able to keep up this Janus-faced conduct for long without identifying his own position. Only then will it become clear what exactly Bush has in mind for the United States."

"The Measuring Stick"

Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger judged in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/6): "The United States should come across as strong but not arrogant in the world, says the new president, who already spoke out in favor of internationalism during the campaign and who does not consider U.S. culture, politics and economy the center of the universe. The president's statement is hitting a nerve. After all, many non-Americans have been bothered in the past by the almost frivolous demeanor of an unchallenged and overly self-confident power. Very often, such U.S. behavior triggered a reflex of rejection and resistance. In the United States, on the other hand, the idea of 'benevolent hegemony' has many supporters: Only a country capable of such hegemony can direct the world through the rapids of the times and guarantee security and stability. Bush does not want to pull back. He seems to have a realistic perception of the United States' world political significance. In Iraq, he showed that he is not afraid of standing up for U.S and Western interests. But here is what is important: Tact and style determine whether the United States is being perceived as well-meaning or arrogant. The country cannot let its unique status get to its head; it must remain aware of its responsibility. That is the measuring stick for Bush's policy."

ITALY: "Bush Has Two Foreign Policy Teams"

An analysis in provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio observed (3/28): "Cheney and Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell are accused of being in disagreement on everything, of quarrelling and continuously giving different versions of the same problem, in sum of weakening, in this way, the White House prestige.... But what if this were just tactics?"

"If Reagan Is The Model"

Ennio Caretto commented from Washington in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (3/24): "Bush's debut has not been easy. Since his arrival at the White House two months ago, the U.S. economy and the stock market have gone down, a new Balkan conflict has erupted, the Middle East impasse has intensified, and tension has developed with Russia, China and North Korea. The luck that accompanied Clinton for over eight years--albeit with some tragic parentheses like the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo--seems to have turned its back on his successor. Bush has no responsibility whatsoever for the economic slowdown and Wall Street's fall.... His foreign policy, however, raises some doubts.... The Reagan model, which proved to be effective in the tug-of-war with communism, is not necessarily valid in the post-Cold War era.... It is possible that Bush will change strategy.... For now, however, it is clear that Bush has not embraced Clinton and Europe's principle that Russia and China are potential 'partners' of the West.... For Bush, they are 'competitors,' and, as such, they are no longer at the center of U.S. foreign policy, at least for the time being. And the president's electoral promise to show 'more humility' in international relations has emerged, so far, only in a sort of non-interference between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"Bush has bombed Iraq, closed the door to North Korea, given a green light on the space shield, and begun a gradual withdrawal from the Balkans without consulting the allies, or by doing so only formally."

"Bush's Foreign Policy Turn"

Ugo Tramballi commented in leading, business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (3/23): "After two months, the foreign policy record of the Bush administration does not seem to be edifying. Bush has 'barked' at the Russians and the Chinese, has closed the White House to Arafat, and has told international environmentalists that America will continue to emit the quantities of carbon dioxide it deems necessary--contradicting his own negotiators and the secretary of state on different occasions. And not even with allies has Bush behaved like a if his country, at the apex of its power and its international glory, had decided, again, to close itself off into a fortress. Exactly what the British did two centuries ago, when they were the first world superpower, before the Americans took their place.... Bush seems to have concretely engaged himself on only three fronts: the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the sale of sophisticated weapons to Taiwan, and disengagement from the Balkans.... Yet the president of the United States governs with a team. And Bush's team is made up mostly of the men of his father's administration.... America is not becoming isolationist, but, from now on, it will be much more selective in its interventions.... Perhaps the problem is not George Bush's mediocrity, but the exuberance of Bill Clinton to which we had become accustomed."

"Bush's Disengagement: 'No' To Peace Mediations"

New York correspondent Anna Guaita wrote in centrist Il Messaggero (3/18): "Disengagement. This seems to be the foreign policy of the new U.S. administration. The signals in that direction are evident at this point. The latest one came Friday, during the visit to the White House by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern: There was cordiality, but when the time came to pledge America's attention to the peace process in Northern Ireland, President Bush sounded a little too vague to be convincing.... The conclusion is obvious: If the Clinton administration was hyperactive anywhere in the world where peace negotiations were underway, the Bush administration will be less involved or even completely absent."

RUSSIA: "Eye-For-Eye Can Leave Both Sides Blind"

Robert Shemak said in official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta (3/24): "With striking ease, the Americans have agreed to trade their agents-cum-diplomats in Moscow. The matter, clearly blown up, could have been settled otherwise--U.S. and Russian special services are in good contact, so, experts say, they could have solved the problem 'in a professional way.' Acting eye-for-eye can really leave both sides blind. Even worse, it can ruin what good the two countries have gained in post-Soviet years. Hopefully, the 'reasonable' wing of Bush's foreign policy team will prevail. The Republicans do have people who favor a realistic and constructive approach to Moscow."

"Who Will Dominate Asia?"

Andrei Ivanov said in reformist, business-oriented Kommersant (3/23): "[Both the United States and China] showed a desire to develop relations. They also revealed inability to remove their differences on the key issue of who will dominate Asia. Washington does not consider China a friend. President Bush said the other day that China is a strategic rival rather than a strategic partner. On the one hand, Washington wants to appear tough on countries that do not meet democratic standards--it lists among them China and Russia, along with Iraq and North Korea. On the other hand, Washington holds a realistic view of the role China, with its growing economy and military might, is eager to play in Asia."

"Return To Cold War, Texas-Style"

Mikhail Loginov commented in St. Petersburg's pro-reform Nevskoe Vremya (3/23): "Most Russian analysts argued before the U.S. presidential election that whatever the outcome, it would not have a serious impact on U.S.-Russian relations. If the information on the expulsion of 50 Russian diplomats turns out to be true, these relations will move to a totally new level. More precisely, they will return to Cold War levels. There should be a demonstration of force in response to the force of the new U.S. administration. George Bush clearly intends to use 'Texas methods' similar to the style of his father's presidency."

"It's Not Cold War Yet"

Vitaly Portnikov commented in reformist, business-oriented Vedomosti (3/21): "A steady chill has set in between Russia and the United States. The failed visit to Washington by Russian National Security Secretary Sergei Ivanov, with the Americans virtually rejecting the proposed summit meeting, and the warm welcome for Iranian President Mohammad Khatami in Russia, with reports about Moscow's plans to sell Tehran rocket technologies, all that, combined with rumors and emotions, causes concern about the future of Russian-American relations. Even so, it is not a cold war yet.... Russia can do many things, but it can't undermine the U.S. economy. So it can't really wage this as a yet-undeclared war against the Americans, or make indifferent Europe accept it as a defense alternative, or prevent the deployment of a missile defense, or scare the Americans by expanding ties with a rogue state.... Russia needs to be smart in the first place.... Therefore, for Russia--mad at Bush and hurt by a possible expulsion of a hundred Russian agents--the worst thing to do would be to lose its cool and sacrifice what little has left of its economy to confrontation. Then it will lose the cold war even before it begins."

"What Kind Of Moscow Does U.S. Want?"

Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta ran this view by Maksim Makarychev (3/15): "It is clear by now that the Bush team...will try to dissociate itself from the Democrats' 'special' policy toward Russia as soon as possible. But apparently, it will keep 'long-playing records' such as Chechnya, democracy, and press freedom in the U.S. collection of political 'singles.' With the White House considering ABM the top priority in its relations with the Kremlin, the Russia powerhouse, evidently, will move to Vice President Cheney's staff and the Pentagon. As Washington is making its first moves in the big game of politics, we can see how it really feels about Russia and whether it really wants it to be strong. After all, besides differences on ABM or Iraq, the two countries have a lot to share: nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the exploration of outer space, successes in combating international terrorism and organized crime. That the United States sees a need for painstaking pragmatic work is encouraging. Hopefully, Washington realizes also that Russia is past the time of kowtowing to the West never to return to it again and will only talk to the West as an equal."

"Idyll In Bilateral Ties Over"

Aleksandr Chudodeyev commented in reformist Segodnya (3/15): "The idyll of the Yeltsin-Clinton days is over. The new U.S. administration does not hide its being far more wary of Moscow than the old. Condoleezza Rice's recent statement about Russia as the main threat to stability in the world clearly does not help bilateral relations. But then, Moscow is in no hurry to dissuade Washington from seeing it that way. Its uncompromising stand on NMD and expanding ties with rogue states do not contribute to mutual understanding."

BELGIUM: "George Bush Is A Danger To Humankind"

Luc Van der Kelen commented in conservative Het Laatste Nieuws (3/19): "The Bush family acts as if there has never been a Bill Clinton. In the empty head of the American president, the Clinton era was simply a long nightmare. Junior's policy meshes perfectly with [Bush] Senior's.... The Bush family has made the bombing of Iraq its favorite hobby. Whether the Iraqi children die: they do not care. In earlier days, the Bush family informed NATO Allies when they were going to shoot. Today it is enough that Tony Blair joins the initiative.... Bush promised carbon dioxide reductions.... But, it did not happen. Bush Jr. has informed the Congress...that reductions are bad for the industry.... The military and the industry have seized power. They dominate the White House, the armed forces, and foreign affairs. It makes the weak George Bush a dangerous president."

CZECH REPUBLIC: "George W. Bush To Weaken Transatlantic Link"

Frantisek Sulc commented in centrist Lidove noviny (3/28): "The current Republican administration is taking a completely different approach than Clinton's. While Clinton saw the guarantees of security and peace for the United States, especially in international organizations and treaties, the Republican administration wants to turn back history and wants the United States to be capable of taking care of itself in every possible situation, and only afterwards would...the United States cooperate with international organizations."

DENMARK: "Wanted: American Leadership"

Center-right Berlingske Tidende judged (3/30): "It is deeply regrettable that Bush does not support the Kyoto agreement. It is particularly disappointing because it shows that the United States is in the process of running away from its international responsibilities."

HUNGARY: "Prior To An Atlantic Climate Change?"

Former Washington correspondent Gabor Lambert observed in business/political Vilaggazdasag (4/3): "The series of decisions, that have been made [by the Bush administration] and that neglect all international reactions, suggests that a unified foreign policy is not taking shape. Not indeed, because it can already be sensed that a consensus on international affairs is lacking among the chief decisionmakers. It is not clear yet how big the controversy is among the players of the 'hawk-dove' cast.... For the new generation that is growing up now in Europe, the Soviet threat, and the special relationship with the United States, is only history. It can only be established about the Bush administration, on grounds of its decisions (like torpedoing the Kyoto Protocol), that it is less sensitive in ignoring its Atlantic Allies' opinion than its predecessor."

KAZAKHSTAN: "George Bush Is Not A Peacemaker"

Independent, bi-weekly Globe held (3/21): "By his actions, the new U.S. Republican president...has broken with the policies of his predecessor Bill Clinton. George Bush, it seems, will not try to succeed in all the same areas. In fact, he's already stopped some practices, such as when Washington negotiated with undemocratic regimes concerning the spread of economic cooperation, at the same time criticizing them for their problems with human rights violations. These days Bush definitely is setting his priorities, and to achieve them he is ready to pay the price on secondary, according to the White House, issues."

THE NETHERLANDS: "Bush's Conservatism"

Influential, liberal De Volkskrant held in its editorial (4/3): "George Bush Jr. triggers the old reflex of anti-American sentiments in Europe....

"But Europe now no longer perceives Bush as a goofy president, but as a rightwing-religious sniper with narrow-minded ideas about abortion and capital punishment; one who favors Christian organizations, who shamelessly behaves like a common figurehead for the business sector, and who drops bombs on Iraq without warning. The news that Bush wants to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol caused international commotion.... Nevertheless, it is too easy to make Bush out as a caricature simply because of his resistance to Kyoto. Do not forget that it was former President Clinton who was responsible for the failure of the climate conference in The Hague last year. Of course it is true that Bush placed a strong conservative accent on his first two months, but we cannot deny that he also managed to remove European concern about the missile shield, European defense and the American presence in the Balkans.... Europe should certainly and clearly oppose the Bush administration's withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, oppose the Bush administration's tough policy on North Korea, and oppose the fact that the Bush administration does not want to play a mediating role in the Middle East. Through frequent contacts, Europe should try to influence the Americans. U.S. governments have proved to be flexible.... The power struggle in the Bush cabinet is not yet settled. It would be good if Europe were to support the moderates within it, such as Colin Powell, who is on one line with Europe. The European ambition to bypass the United States and deal with Korea and the Middle East directly demonstrates an unrealistic view of the power relations in the world. Both Europe and the Bush administration need to realize that confrontational politics will damage both their interests."

NORWAY: "Fortress USA"

Independent Dagbladet averred (3/30): "President George W. Bush rejects the Kyoto agreement and the immediate response from the rest of the world is astonishment and disappointment, worry and dismay.... With this statement and with his decision to build an American missile defense, Bush has demonstrated a clear hostility towards international cooperation. In today's world this can not be called anything but cynical, high-handed and arrogant."

POLAND: "Europe Expects Determination From America"

Bartosz Weglarczyk wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (2/26): "The Kremlin is trying to drive a wedge between Washington and its European Allies by proposing its own version of an anti-missile shield. France and Russia are also together striving to lift sanctions on Iraq, contrary to U.S. positions.... Despite the fact that there are many experts on Russian and European affairs in the Bush administration, the new president is postponing the presentation of his own vision of relations with Europe and Russia.... If Bush follows in the footsteps of Reagan, he will engage with Russia to determine the rules of engagement between the world's two superpowers, disregarding protests from his European Allies. After eight years of Clinton's often tentative foreign policy, many European leaders expect such determination from America."

ROMANIA: "U.S. Seems To Be Inspired By Cold War Mentality"

Mihai Hareshian's editorial in the English-language Nine O'Clock said (3/29): "Over the past few weeks, the foreign policy promoted by the Bush administration came to the attention of political observers and equally to the diplomacies of the great powers. This special interest resides in the fact that recent U.S. initiatives seem to be inspired by a Cold War mentality believed to be long ago overcome.... European reactions to the new orientations of U.S. policy show that the Old Continent has decided to avoid a Cold War relapse and that they will make use of all their influence on the United States toward this end."

SLOVENIA: "W. Bush's Little World"

Left-of-center, independent Dnevnik opined (3/17): "The new president...has primarily been interested in tax reform.... He has left the hard work in the field of foreign policy to the secretary of state.... The sum total of Bush's clown-like and Powell's very serious policy is scant. It has become evident that the direction which future U.S. policy will take cannot be guessed, and that the U.S. politicians have not paid much attention to it."

SPAIN: "Russia And United States Fall Out Of Tune"

Independent El Mundo wrote (3/23): "With the uneasiness created by the decision of the United States to begin work on the anti-missile shield, small disagreements have taken on greater importance.... The confirmation yesterday that a State Department official will meet with a representative of the Chechen rebels has further heightened emotions within the Kremlin. They will never reach a level of understanding if Putin continues to think he can control U.S. foreign policy and Bush continues to act without taking into account Russian sensibilities."

SWEDEN: "Bush's U.S.A. Is Sufficient Unto Itself"

Conservative Svenska Dagbladet asserted (3/31): "There are new winds blowing in Washington, Moscow, Beijing and Seoul, and the Palestinian leadership have gotten a much tougher tune from the president and his advisers.... It is not a return to an old-fashioned Republican isolationism, but rather being sufficient unto themselves or taking an unilateralist attitude. The United States is not withdrawing from the world but now proceeds from what is best for the United States on various issues. This is an attitude, which likely will upset the international community, regardless if we are talking about friendly countries, like the EU, or hostile nations, which have been skeptical about the role of the superpower for a long time."

TURKEY: "Washington's Mind Is Confused"

Erdal Guven opined in intellectual/opinionmaker Radikal (4/1): "It is apparent that Washington's mind, as far as foreign policy issues--including Turkey-related matters go--is confused. The confusion stems from the differences of opinion within the new administration. Secretary Powell stays on one side, while Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is on the opposite. The former pursues a moderate tone and stands for the new world order, while the latter represents post-Cold War era rhetoric.... It is right to say that Washington has not yet fully settled in. And at least six months is required for this. It remains to be seen whether Bush will listen more to Powell or Rumsfeld; yet world realities will play a determining role on this. Obviously, something has changed in Washington. Ankara should closely watch this change since every foreign policy decision is somehow related to the United States."


CHINA: "U.S. Excuses Betray Its Weakness"

Jin Zeqing commented in official, English-language China Daily (4/3): "Washington's claim that the collision was a result of the Chinese jet bumping the U.S. plane accidentally only attests to U.S. arrogance in managing bilateral relations. When the collision occurred, Washington did not express any willingness to join Chinese efforts in rescuing the Chinese pilot, nor did it show any concern for him. The only concern of officials in Washington is how soon the Chinese government will return the U.S. navy surveillance plane and its 24 crew members, whom the Chinese side has taken good care of. Washington's frosty response towards the Chinese pilot's predicament is indicative of the double standard the United States has adopted on human rights.... Making mistakes is natural. But always making mistakes detrimental to other countries' interests or other people's lives is hardly responsible international behavior."

HONG KONG: "U.S. Plane Collided With Our Plane, Revealing U.S. Hegemonism"

The pro-PRC Hong Kong Commercial Daily remarked (4/3): "U.S. military planes want to fly near the sea and sky of China to gather military intelligence. This is a threat to China's security and national interests. The Chinese military will absolutely not let this go unchecked. It is perfectly justified for China to take necessary action. As long as the United States continues to act without restraint and refuses to give up its hegemonism aimed at China, conflicts will be inevitable. Accidents similar to what just happened will take place sooner or later."

JAPAN: "U.S.-EU Gap Is Widening Quietly"

Business-oriented Nihon Keizai's chief Washington correspondent Matsui observed (3/27): "The gap between the United States and the EU has been widening quietly over not only economic friction, but also security issues. A decade after the end of the Cold War, both sides are becoming rivals in diplomatic and security fields, having a subtle effect on Asian countries, including Japan. The United States and the EU have become discordant over national security issues since last October when the U.S. presidential election campaign was still in full swing. While senior German officials have called on the EU to adopt a defense policy independent of the United States, the Bush administration is disengaging the United States from the EU and clearly attaching greater importance to ties with the Americas, including the expansion of NAFTA in Latin America. Behind all this is a rise in regionalism in the United States and Europe. As globalization is progressing, the United States and Europe are trying to strengthen regional economic ties so as to survive fierce competition. Asia will be no exception to this trend."

AUSTRALIA: "Hey, Dubya, Whose Side Are You On?"

Hamish McDonald had this op-ed comment in the leading Sydney Morning Herald (3/30): "Bush's decision to walk away from the Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gas emissions has immediate political fallout for American allies...not least those in Japan and Australia.... But the embarrassment goes much wider than Kyoto. Bush and many of his top officials are cynical about a whole raft of multilateral initiatives covering the world's financial 'architecture,' the nuclear balance of power and human rights.... Behind all this is a flare-up not so much of American isolationism as of an insularity or provincialism that distrusts foreigners and is unwilling to risk submitting Americans to foreign direction in anything--be it an international war crimes court, a UN peacekeeping mission or the Kyoto Protocol. Potentially it could drive deep wedges between the United States and its partners in Europe and the Pacific."

PHILIPPINES: "A Hands-Off American Foreign Policy?"

Beth Day-Romulo wrote in independent Manila Bulletin (4/3): "Since the collapse of the Cold War, America has been searching for a foreign policy which suits the changed, and constantly changing, times.... President Bush...shows little interest in attacking foreign policy in a hands-on way, and apparently would rather leave it to his Cabinet and Congress.... But foreign countries are knocking at his door.... Thus far they are going home with little more than a hospitable welcome. South Korea's President Kim Dae Jung went home disappointed by lack of U.S. support. The lameduck Japanese Prime Minister Mori got little more than a glad hand. Israel's newly elected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...was told by President Bush that he will not try to 'force peace' on Israel and the Palestinians--a direct reference to the hands-on efforts of his predecessor."

SINGAPORE: "Some Bush Eye View"

The pro-government Straits Times commented (3/26): "U.S. President George W. Bush is a well-scheduled man....

"There is much to be said for this kind of scheduling 'staying on message' strategy. For one thing, it has made for a disciplined White House. Everyone knows the president says what he means, and means what he says, if for no other reason because he says so little.... It is an open question, though, if this style of operation also makes for good governance, especially in foreign policy, where nuance, not simplicity, is necessary.... A similar penchant for the simple message, rather than the substantive initiative, is discernible in what passes for policy toward China. During the election campaign, Mr. Bush had dismissed his predecessor's notion of a 'strategic partnership' with China, arguing instead that Sino-U.S. relations can be cooperative, at best, and competitive, at worst. That may have been fine for the stump, where such talk appealed to the Republican base, but it is not enough in office. What does he propose to do to accentuate the cooperation and manage the competition? What is his policy on Taiwan? How far is he willing to go to assuage Chinese fears over his proposed missile-defense shield? Above all, which would be more preferable: a China enmeshed in the global economy, playing by the investment and trading rules formulated chiefly in Washington; or a China sullen and suspicious because the United States fears it may become an enemy one day, and in fearing so, turns it into one?... The new administration has yet to show it knows the difference between complexities born of simplifications and those which arise from a nuanced understanding of the world."

SOUTH KOREA: "Powell's Remarks"

Conservative Segye Ilbo editorialized (3/17): "We urge the Bush administration, when it formulates its North Korea policy, to keep in mind former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's advice that foreign policy is not something that is changed every four years."

"Call On U.S. Hawks"

The independent Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (3/15): "We do not know whether the recent harsh remarks (by U.S. politicians) would actually affect the Bush administration's North Korea policy. However, it is obvious that since the launch of the Bush administration, U.S.-North Korea relations have not proceeded smoothly, throwing cold water on the ongoing process of reconciliation and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula.... If U.S. policy on the Korean Peninsula were to assume the confrontational nature of the Cold War era, as U.S. hawks suggest, and emerged as a serious obstacle to establishing reconciliation, cooperation, and peace on the Korean Peninsula, the United States would find it difficult to avoid strong...criticism from the Korean people."

"U.S. Unpreparedness"

Kim Young-hie observed in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (3/14): "Where did President Kim's calculation go wrong? He underestimated how unprepared the U.S. side was for a summit at this time. The confusion created by Bush administration officials during his stay in Washington was truly a sight to see. The remarks by the secretary of state and the national security adviser, which came out on the same day, were in conflict. Furthermore, the secretary of state changed his remarks over three days, moving back and forth between a tough and a moderate line. President Kim became a victim of the Bush sdministration's early internal strife over North Korea policy.... Nevertheless, this does not mean that the ROK-U.S. summit failed.... The harsh and direct remarks by Bush and his security team are only a small piece of their unrefined thoughts, which may or may not be reflected in the soon-to-be determined U.S. North Korea policy. Bilateral policy coordination has just begun between the two countries."

THAILAND: "Establishing A Clearer 'Asia Policy'"

Pana Janviroj commented in the independent, English-language Nation (3/28): "The Republican-controlled White House is...trying to demonstrate its hands-on grip of foreign policy, particularly in view of the Taiwan issue. At the same time, the security scene is set to change in the Asia Pacific as weaponry technologies have vastly improved. The U.S. defense department is talking of a plan to realign its Pacific fleets with a more rapid deployment capability. More realignments seem to be at hand for Asia and the Pacific than meet the eye at this juncture, posing a challenging and interesting time ahead for leaders in the region."

VIETNAM: "It Is Inconsistent"

Kieu Thu wrote in army daily Quan Doi Nhan Dan (3/30): "The United States has been boasting that its administrations always respect international laws and treaties signed by their preceding ones. But given the Bush administration's recent announcement to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, it is obvious that the administration is inconsistent, trying to dodge its responsibility to the international community."


PAKISTAN: "The Evolving Bush Agenda"

Maqbool Ahmad Bhatty wrote in Karachi-based, independent, national Dawn (3/19): "The Republicans tend to put America first and question expenditure of resources on international welfare programs. But can they afford to ignore problems of increasing global poverty or the demands for reforms in the WTO and other global financial institutions? The Bush agenda is still unclear and the administration will have to display realism as well as compassion to evolve new policies."


EGYPT: "U.S. Reviews Itself"

Abdel Atti Mohamed maintained in pro-government Al Ahram (3/20): "Republicans are accustomed to combining military power with economic interests. It is not yet clear how they will translate this combination to policies toward friends and enemies in the Middle East. However, security considerations will probably play a major role in drawing these policies.... Thus, the Republican administration may respond to Sharon's calls for more military aid and maintaining Israel's role in advanced technology.... It can also enter an open military challenge with the Iraqi regime and support Iraqi opposition more effectively. It can intensify the containment of Iran and broaden its campaign against international terrorist sources.... However, this is all depends on a more important factor: the ability of the Republican administration to establish a new alliance network in the Middle East.... The previous administration did not succeed in determining its true allies and friends.... Israel no longer has the same the old strategic status in the United States. The Arab world is frustrated with the American role, and it is no secret that some of its parties seek to amend their alliances with the United States in their favor. This also applies to Iran and Turkey in different ways. The United States is in need now more than ever before of a balanced policy toward the Middle East."

JORDAN: "Betrayed"

The centrist, influential-among-the-elite, English-language Jordan Times held (3/22): "We join the government and Lower House in expressing our astonishment at U.S. President George W. Bush's statement on his intention to start the process of moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem....

"We are forced to agree that something really wrong might be going on in Washington and we have to start considering that a change in America's Middle East policies could be in the making.... Bush might be thinking that he is acting 'morally and ethically' by living up to his campaign slogans, but he is failing to see that such promises were originally in contradiction with international law. Now that he is the U.S. president, Bush should ask himself whether he really wants to drag his country outside the boundaries of international laws, fuel an already simmering crisis, and become--more or less directly--an instrument of oppression against an entire nation."

LEBANON: "New Rules?"

Sahar Baasiri wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (3/24): "President Bush's decision to expel Russian diplomats over an espionage issue is the strongest and clearest decision he has taken to present in drawing up the lines of his foreign policy.... It is a policy that...appears to set up new rules based on hostile characteristics, starting with caution and doubt and reaching antagonism and superiority. Some examples?... In the Middle East, it shifted American interest from making peace to isolating Iraq.... In China it started by lowering it from a 'strategic partner' to a 'strategic competitor.' It crowned all the above with a decision on Russia that made Moscow accuse it of reviving the Cold War.... The message was not meant for Putin alone, it was meant for the whole world. It says that the America of George Bush is not the America of Bill Clinton; it is the only great power and it will practice this role; it has no use for others unless it chooses to."

SYRIA: "Who Is Responsible For Tension In The Region?"

Government-owned Al-Ba'th stated (4/2): "The continuous Israeli policy of aggression against Arabs for over 50 years relies completely on Western support in general, and the United States in particular. This leads us to reiterate that salvation from the current situation depends mainly on Arabs. There should be a unified and clear stand against all those who support Israel and stand with it blindly. We repeat that we as Arabs do not want the United States to side with us. What we require is that the United States and others stand with what is right and that there is no duplicity in international politics."

TUNISIA: "Who's Killing Peace?"

Editor-in-Chief Mustapha Khammari wrote in independent, French-language Le Temps (4/2): "Did you know that the United States is angry because it believes that the Arab Summit's final communiqué had an anti-American tone? Did you know that America--the nation that claims to be the leader of the free world and defender of human rights--wants to punish Colombia for supporting a UN resolution calling for the deployment of an international force to protect the Palestinians from Israeli aggression?... The resolution was vetoed by the United States because Washington does not want to protect Palestinian civilians.... America wants Palestinians and other Arabs to keep quiet and accept the will of the Israeli government. While the Israeli army bombs, tortures and kills Palestinians, America--the so-called protector of freedom--uses its veto in the Security Council to protect its ally from international condemnation.... Wake up Martin Luther King to witness your dream of peace being assassinated everyday!"


CANADA: "Why Would U.S., Canada Agree To Economically Suicidal Policy?"

Terence Corcoran commented in the conservative Financial Post (3/29): "After five years of relentless hype, a decade of phony weather scares and disaster scenarios over the prospect of global warming, the Kyoto Protocol to control the world's climate through a United Nations' bureaucracy crashed yesterday. The wailing will be loud and prolonged, with U.S. President George Bush getting the blame. He will be vilified and demonized as the man who pulled the plug on the protocol, the international agreement signed by Canada and other nations in an orgy of secret negotiation in the summer of 1997. But George Bush didn't kill Kyoto. Kyoto is going down for three dominant reasons: shaky science, bad economics and even worse policy.... Why would the United States and Canada agree to an economically suicidal policy?... But what is really sinking Kyoto is the science of climate change.... Bad science and worse economics will not, however, stop the momentum of climate-change policy."

MEXICO: "The New U.S. Foreign Policy"

Isabel Turrent asserted in independent Reforma (2/25): "It is still too early to say which way President George W. Bush's foreign policy will go. However, the statements by members of his administration indicate that isolation and realpolitick will be the basis of his administration's diplomacy.... Bush's team has renounced multilateralism in favor of nationalism. The U.S. participation in peacekeeping missions will be reduced or eliminated.... U.S. foreign policy will be determined by the Powell doctrine that holds that military force will only be used to support clear objectives and with sufficient resources to ensure victory and a minimal loss of lives.... This policy has already been applied in the Middle East.... On the same day President Bush met with President Fox in Mexico, U.S. and British planes bombed several Iraqi military bases. Such unnecessary show of force, demonstrates that Washington has no strategy to face Hussein nor the vision to set priorities in the region. Hussein certainly is a threat to peace, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is potentially more dangerous and more likely to unleash war in the region."

BRAZIL: "Signs Of An Even More Conservative Administration"

Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo observed (3/30): "President Bush's decision not to implement the Kyoto Protocol is just one among various indicators that he wants to conduct one of the most conservative administrations in modern times. In each of his decisions and nominations during his 68-day-old administration, Bush has revealed an ideological orientation to the right of former Presidents Reagan and Bush.... Bush nominated to each strategic Cabinet position persons aligned with his party's most traditional wing. For Latam-related posts, this trend is more visible. To head the State Department's Latin America bureau, Bush nominated Otto Reich, a tough anti-Sandinist activist of the 1980's."

CHILE: "Hawks On The Horizon"

Government-owned, but editorially independent La Nacion ran an opinion piece by political scientist Antonio Cavalla (3/23): "The assistant secretary for Latin American Affairs, Peter seems will be replaced by none other than Otto Reich, a man who lobbies for Lockheed Martin and other large companies, and one of the most influential Castro opponents, an ultraconservative man with a fascist past. It is crucial to analyze the repercussions that his appointment could have for Latin America in order to design an appropriate strategy to face the United States.... Peripheral countries will have to do all they can to stop the escalation that the Hawks desire."


This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home