International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 23, 2004

January 23, 2004





**  Global observers assess Bush's SOTU as "confident" but a "nakedly political" re-election bid.

**  Supporters credit Bush as a leader who proved he can "stay above the fray" of party politics.

**  Critics find Bush "contemptuous" and "unilateral"; stress he is "vulnerable" on the economy.

**  Arab papers chide Bush for "deliberately" avoiding mention of the Arab-Israeli conflict.




President gave a 'pure election campaign appearance,' delivered an 'election manifesto'-- Observers of all ideological persuasions judged Bush's SOTU more of a "full-blooded stump speech" than a State of the Union address, with many claiming he "exploited" the annual event to "boost his electoral standing."  The schedule of the speech, one day after the Iowa caucuses, gave the impression that Bush sought to "steal the stage" from his Democratic adversaries.  Spain's conservative La Razon voiced the common view that Bush did "not miss a chance to use such a privileged platform to open his personal campaign." The UAE's pro-government Gulf News disparaged the timing of the speech, "brought forward to cut off the Democrat's oxygen of publicity" and exposing the "dark swamp of party politics."


Bush's 'strong leadership,' message of 'unity and optimism' wins approval-- Bush's "spirited" message and "determination" resonated most positively with conservative papers in Britain, East Europe, Australia and Japan.  In a characteristic stamp of approval, the Australian declared "Bush has proved a man for his times."  Inspired by his "strong leadership," Japan's Sankei vowed to support Bush's "resolve to fight terrorism."  Czech, Polish and Kosovar writers praised Bush for his "courage" and "strong voice" on moral issues, emphasizing how different he is from "many European leaders."  Even some critics conceded Bush had made "tangible accomplishments" abroad.  "He can be accused of many things," mused Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung, "but not of being hesitant and without courage."


Bush's 'we call the shots' message incites critics-- The harshest detractors disparaged the SOTU as largely "war talk" and "blatant dishonesty."  They concluded that Bush was "cleverly playing" on Americans' fear of terrorism while sidestepping domestic issues where he "knows he is vulnerable."  Echoing the critics, London's conservative Times held: "His belligerence, the myopia and the long list of things he did say show that he is not secure on every flank."  While Brazil's Valor Economico derided Bush's "illusory data" of a U.S. economic recovery, an Australian analyst averred that "no amount of "rhetoric can conceal the thinness of his answers" to economic problems "mostly of his own making."  Leftist and Muslim writers warned that Bush's "unambiguous and aggressive posture" was an "indirect threat" to other countries, which a Lebanese paper dubbed the "Bush Doctrine of making additional enemies." 


Arabs, Muslims fault Bush for 'talking about everything' but Arab-Israeli conflict--  Commentary in the Muslim world noted that Bush's SOTU was "distinguished by his totally ignoring" the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Bush was giving Sharon "the green light" to continue his hostile policies, they said.  It was "deliberate," added Lebanon's nationalist As-Safir, intended to "lift any pressure off Israel" and part of a "clear plan to attract Jewish votes."


EDITOR: Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This analysis is based on 98 editorials from 43 countries, January 21-23.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Mr. Bush, Tighten Your Purse Strings"


The conservative Daily Telegraph maintained (1/23):  "President Bush was able to tell Congress on Wednesday that the war on terror is going well and that the state of the Union is strong.  Odd then, that the currency of that Union--the dollar--should greet his speech by falling sharply on foreign exchanges.  The markets do not fully share his confidence....  Mr. Bush's aim is to get re-elected in November.  And faster economic growth should reduce the deficit, up to a point.  But the danger is that Mr. Bush and his lackluster Treasury secretary, John Snow, seem to be making no effort whatsoever to balance the books.  At this rate, Mr. Bush could face the same awkward questions as his father, who famously said, 'Read my lips, no new taxes' in 1988, only to break that promise once re-elected." 


"Bush Opens Campaign By Staying On Solid Ground"


The conservative Times editorialized (1/22):  "The White House said that the address on Tuesday would not be 'political,' but that could not have been less true.  It was nakedly political, and delivered from a position of confidence.  Yet his many omissions simply highlighted his points of real vulnerability--and one of the greatest is the wariness even of Republicans of letting him spend any more....  Bush’s gibe at 'submitting to the objections of a few,' and his declaration that 'America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country,' could have been scripted to scupper [talks with the UN on the Iraq transition]....  Intransigent but nervous abroad; cautious and circumscribed at home.  This was a confident opening to Bush’s re-election campaign.  But the belligerence, the myopia and the long list of things he did not say show that he is not secure on every flank.”


"Divisive Union"


The independent Financial Times took this view (1/22):  "George W. Bush’s third State of the Union address turned out to be a campaign speech to launch his re-election bid.  The president started out reaching for the poise and rhetoric of a statesman above the political fray but quickly descended into an aggressively partisan tone....  It was a speech, in other words, that frames an election debate that promises to be highly divisive....  The address offered little new and less of substance on domestic policies where the president could be vulnerable."


"Mass Destraction"


An editorial in the center-left tabloid Daily Mirror (1/22): "The UK joined America in a war against Iraq because, we were told, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.  Nine months after the war ended, none has been found.  But the hunt for WMD became a search for something different – weapons of mass destruction programmes. Now President Bush in his State of the Union address has changed that again.  This time into 'weapons of mass destruction-related programme activities.'  Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy yesterday asked Tony Blair to explain what that means.  Unsurprisingly, we are still waiting for an answer.


"Bush Rises Above Political Fray In State Of The Union Address"


The conservative Daily Telegraph judged (1/21):   "President Bush delivered his State of the Union address this morning, portraying himself as a leader above the fray of party politics as his Democrat opponenents headed for a renewed bout of campaigning.  Mr. Bush emphasised the successes of his national security strategy as a re-election theme and delivered a message of unity and optimism."


"Bush Offers Stark Choice To Voters"


Washington correspondent Justin Webb commented in the publicly-funded BBC (1/21): "George Bush kicked off his election campaign with his third State of the Union address by offering the American people a stark choice.  The spoken message was that a vote for George Bush is a vote for continued progress in safety and prosperity, but supporting an opponent would be a vote for outdated policies that would make America less safe.  The unspoken message was that if voters ditch him as a wartime leader they run the risk of disaster befalling the nation.   The speech was his major step to frame the debate and tell voters why they should stay the course....  The timing came very close to Democrat's first test in the Iowa caucuses, and this speech was effectively a bid for re-election.  In November, Americans will vote on two issues: Whether Iraq was a disaster and whether the economy is on the mend.   If Iraq is not a disaster and the economy is on the mend, President Bush will be re-elected, and this speech won't make much difference one way or another.   But if there is some sort of disaster in Iraq or the economy clearly hasn't gotten better and more jobs aren't created, no amount of rhetoric will save this president.   This is after all a 50-50 nation, split down the middle.   It won't take much to tip the election one way or the other."


FRANCE:  "Contemptous"


Senior foreign correspondent Christian Malar commented on France 3 Television (1/22): “This was a real election speech.… George Bush is determined to keep America in its role as the world’s policeman ‘does not need a permission slip’ to defend itself. At a time when the American administration is trying to involve the UN in stabilizing Iraq, these words seem contemptuous for the UN and countries such as France, Russia and China that came across in the speech as part of the few countries the U.S. will not submit to.”




Patrick Sabatier editorialized in left-of-center Liberation (1/22):  "When a candidate also happens to be in the president's seat the election becomes a sort of referendum and the State of the Union speech an opportunity to defend his results.  He knows that he is vulnerable.  Although he can bank on American patriotism and the memory of Sept. 11 in order to present himself as the best defense against an ever-present threat to the U.S....domestically, he is accused of promoting two Americas; one that caters to the rich...and one that suffers from unemployment....  The role of the U.S. in the world has not been this prominent in American politics since the Vietnam War and voters, including the anti-Bush faction, will judge the candidates by the yardstick of their credibility in this area."


"Bush: Return to Realpolitik"


Francoise Crouigneau editorialized in right-of-center, economic Les Echos (1/21):  "For his State of the Union address, George W. Bush left nothing to chance, including the date.  This was the president's chance to steal the show from his adversaries one day after the Iowa caucus...and one week before the New Hampshire primaries....  The speech was marked by a return to realpolitik and a real focus on domestic issues....  This return to realpolitik is also patent in President Bush's message with regard to foreign policy.  Prudently, past rhetoric such as the 'axis of evil' has been set aside to make way for the pragmatic quest for a safer America and world.  This pragmatism is...exemplified by the redemption of qualified by Bush and his advisers as a model of cooperation.  The hand that has been held out to the UN should also enable the U.S. to renew dialogue with Washington's most skeptical critics.  But will American voters be moved by this discourse?  Only time will tell and John Kerry's victory in Iowa is a reminder that the game is not over yet."


"The President's Limitations"


Dominique Bromberger told listeners on state-run France Inter radio (1/21):  "Nothing was spared to dramatize the State of the Union address.... Warnings of air attacks on Congress during the president's speech enabled George W. Bush to play on his public's fears by stating that another Sept. 11 is not unimaginable...and that the 'we have not come all this leave the work unfinished.'  In other words the president was appealing to his fellow citizens not to change the commander during the battle....  But as martial as the speech was it also underscored the limitations of the Bush administration's field of action....  The president will certainly not be spared if things take a turn for the worse in Iraq or if economic growth, boosted by tax cuts, peters out.  The administration's lack of military and financial reserves proves that if the Democrats play their hand correctly anything is possible."


GERMANY:  "Application"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/22):  "A year ago, the existence of WMD was the main reason for the Iraq war, but today, they have shrunk to 'program activities.'  His main ally Tony Blair will wonder whether he would really have moved to the Gulf because of 'activities' and would have risked his reputation and credibility.  For U.S. voters, these seem to be semantic nuances which will fade in the view of regime change in Baghdad....  This does not mean that the Iraq issue will not play a role in this election year.  If the political transition into post-despotism times does not succeed, if occupation and restructuring end in a disaster, a totally different balance sheet will be submitted than Bush has now presented.  And if economic growth does not have an effect on the labor market, even a rosy picture of the future will not help.  But this also means:  if no reports of disaster come from Iraq and if the economy has left the worse behind, the Democrats and their challenger will have difficulty piercing Bush's armor."


"Address On the Election Campaign State Of The Nation"


Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl argued in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (1/22):  "President Bush's State of the Union address was a pure election campaign appearance, and if it was an indication of the political controversies in the coming months, then we should be excited to see a campaign that will be waged with all means....  We listened to a president who was convinced of the correctness of all his measures, who regrets nothing.  The Iraq war?  Tough, but correct.  The ignorance of the United Nations?  No issue....  The tax cuts?  Congress should immediately adopt them.  And to the delight of his conservative rank and file, Bush even provoked the opposition Democrats with a list of those issues which are threatening to tear apart U.S. society....  The only issue he did not address was abortion...but otherwise, Bush looked like a man who, with the grin of a wolf, is juggling with several hand grenades at the same time....  Bush can be accused of many things but not of being hesitant and without courage.  He seeks the confrontation, he occupies issues, and he shows the characteristic that Americans appreciate the most:  leadership qualities....  The coming months will show, whether he will go down well with the voters."


"The Divided Nation"


Christoph Birnbaum asserted in the Hamburg Financial Times Deutschland (Internet Version-WWW, 1/21): "The U.S. presidential race has begun.   Only one day after the 'Iowa Caucus,' which kicked off the Democrats' primaries for the presidential candidature, George W. Bush made it clear to all Americans with his State of the Union address that for him, the hot stage of the election race is now beginning.   And Bush thereby plays it doubly safe: the 'war against terror' is his highest domestic policy priority.   Here, he said, the United States must fulfill a 'mission' of the free world.   If necessary, also alone.  With pathos, to which we are unaccustomed, Bush follows the historical precedent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.   This goes over well in the United States.   However, in the places where his speech turned to domestic issues -- to the topics of health insurance and the budget deficit -- a deeper rift cuts through the nation.   Seldom has a president of the United States divided the nation so deeply as Bush does.   Those who keep the high [level of] participation in the Iowa primary in mind suspect that the presidential race will stir up the United States even more."


ITALY:  "Bush To America:  'Let's Go On Like This"


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (1/22):  "Full steam ahead against the terrorists, against all those who would like to limit America's power, and against domestic opponents as the electoral campaign has already begun.  The tone, more than the content, is what characterized President Bush's State of the Union speech....  The almost unanimous opinion was that it was an effective speech.  And it was unanimously assessed as the most political and 'electoral' of similar speeches in decades, even if one compares to George W. Bush's past ones."


"The Return Of Candidate Bush Splits America In Half"


Vittorio Zucconi judged in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (1/22):  "The last State of the Union speech before the November elections was more an electoral speech than a presidential speech....  What Bush was more interested in...was not to explain the unexplainable puzzle of weapons, or to justify the faulty or, worse, manipulated intelligence on which a preemptive war should be based.  What he cared most was to repeat an unquestionable truth, i.e., that 'the world is, in any case, a better place now that Saddam is no longer there' and other states, such as Libya, have realized that 'America maintains its word.'  The road is right, the work is still 'unfinished' and 'this is not the time, after paying such a high cost, to stop or retreat.'"


"The State Of The Union?  It’s OK For Bush"


Cesare De Carlo noted in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione/Il Giorno (1/21):  “Every year around this time the U.S. President, no matter who he is, addresses Congress....  But why yesterday, only 24 hours after the Democratic caucus in Iowa?...  It is obvious that a presidential address, especially if it’s anticipated, steals the stage from the adversaries....  The substance [of the address] is naturally more important.  Bush counters the rhetoric of the Democratic propaganda with a State of the Union that is not bad at all....  Currently, the economy is growing at a rate of over 8 percent.  American taxpayers are paying fewer taxes....  The terrorist threat has decreased....  Afghanistan is no longer Bin Laden’s sanctuary and in Iraq Saddam Hussein, the most potent WMD…has been neutralized....  This is a comforting situation.  The most undervalued of presidents is enjoying a good popularity rating.  And he can relax in view of the November elections.  Unless...he suffers a major political, economic or social blunder.  And this is what the democrats are hoping for in order to regain the White House.”


RUSSIA:  "It's More Like State Of George Bush"


Sergey Strokan commented in business-oriented Kommersant (1/22):  "This monologue would more appropriately have been called the State of George Bush....  It was obvious that the president was way more comfortable speaking of what was going on outside the United States, his focus on Iraq, Libya, democracy in the world, and the global war on terrorism.  The part of the speech that immediately concerned the situation in the United States was clearly 'sagging,' lacking in drive and arguments....   Two years after he proclaimed the concept of a global axis of evil, Bush, determined to go down in history as the terminator of international terrorism, comes across as a leader who is consistent in what he does and averse to conformism and moral relativism.  Herein lie his strengths and a promise of support from much of the United States.  But he failed to win over a sizable and growing part of the electorate which is increasingly inclined to believe that the president is pathologically insensitive to their everyday needs.  That makes him look like the president of the world rather than the president of the United States."


"Bush Keeps Mum On Setbacks"


Yevgeniy Verlin noted in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (1/22):  "Concentrating on successes, Bush kept silent on his foreign policy setbacks, including the stalled roadmap in the Middle East and a new chill in relations with Moscow.  He did not say a word about an 'alliance' with Moscow."


"It Sounded Like Soviet Slogans"


Andrey Vetvinskiy said in reformist Gazeta (1/22):  "The President decided not only to report on his accomplishments to Congress but to call upon millions of Americans to vote for him....  Switching over to the economy, George Bush singled out cutting taxes and increasing the output of natural gas and oil as growth factors.  He urged Americans to constantly improve their professional skills, as in the age of rapid technological progress, every factory and office worker needs to accumulate more knowledge.  That sounded like the Soviet Union in the 1970s, with its slogans 'the economy must be economical' and 'the better you work the better you live.'"


"U.S. President's Election Manifesto"


Aleksandr Timofeyev said in reformist Vremya Novostey (1/21):  "Last year Bush unfoundedly spoke of Saddam Hussein's attempts to get hold of uranium in Africa.   Now it is clear that weapons of mass destruction, the stated reason for the war, will hardly be found in Iraq.   That makes Bush shift emphasis to the military operation as a way to advance democracy in that country....   Bush has had tangible accomplishments abroad.   In his presidency Iraq has been occupied by U.S. troops, and Iran has had to make concessions on nuclear inspections.   Intractable North Korea is all that has left of the axis of evil, as seen by the Americans.   Libya, which has chosen to forsake its WMD program, is going to be used as graphic proof of Bush's tough diplomacy being a success....   Listed among Bush's trump cards is the fact that his unpopular policy to cut taxes has helped lead the U.S. economy out of a recession.   It is also true that since Bush became president, 2.3 million Americans have lost their jobs, impelling him to think of the lower classes' interests."


AUSTRIA: "The Zealous Side Of George W. Bush"


Deputy chief editor Viktor Hermann wrote in independent daily Salzburger Nachrichten (1/22):  “George W. Bush pursued several goals with his State of the Union Address:  first of all, it was a preventive reaction to all the things that a Democratic presidential candidate could potentially reproach him with during the next nine months.  Whether he was talking about unemployment or the budget deficit, the education system or care for the elderly and sick--in all those issues, Bush showed that he is determined not to repeat the mistakes of his father, who ignored the Democrats’ attacks of his inner political and economic strategies after the first Gulf War, secure in the knowledge that he was popular as the liberator of Kuwait....  However, the President’s speech also had undisguised ideological traits.  Bush wants to extend the Patriot Act, which gives a disconcerting amount of rights to the intelligence services.  He wants to double the funds for promoting pre-marital chastity, give financial support to religious charity organizations, and made a point of referring to heterosexual marriage as ‘sacred.’”


"Moderation And Fear"


Managing chief Eric Frey commented in liberal Der Standard (1/22): “Considering his splintered opposition, the economic upturn in the U.S., and the natural advantages of the incumbent in any campaign, all the signs seem to be pointing towards Bush’s reelection.… Even the outcome of the war in Iraq has been looking a bit more positive since the capture of Saddam Hussein.… And Bush has another way of keeping the political middle ground under control: the Americans’ fear of terrorism.… The image of a nation in great danger helps Bush to present the growing international isolation of the U.S. as an achievement, and gives him an excuse for denouncing his critics as unpatriotic traitors. It is likely that Bush is going to try to whitewash his rather indigestible political extremism over the next few months by cleverly playing on the Americans’ fears of terrorism. In the right circumstances, this strategy might work for him – but it remains risky, and might be exposed as a bluff by a skillful opponent at any time.”


"Domestic-Policy Issues Dominated"


Laszlo Trankovits, DPA observed in state supported, nationwide Vienna ORF Television (Internet Version 1/21): "President Bush is trying to secure his reelection with domestic-policy issues.... This time the address, traditionally the most important speech of any president, reflected George W. Bush's very personal nightmare. After all, the Republican from Texas fears nothing more than to suffer his father's fate: 12 years ago, George Bush had to move out of the White House after only one term as president despite victory in the first Iraq War.  Ten months ahead of the presidential election, Bush's State of the Union address was, first and foremost, an election-campaign speech that was dominated by domestic-policy issues....  Even though one year ago, he pointed to the danger of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction with dubious evidence, and has failed to deliver any clear evidence to this day, Bush saw no reason to justify his decisions let alone to express regret.... Bush's speech showed how he would try to avoid his father's fate: as a statesman who shows determination in foreign- and security policy -- and who, at the same time, puts economic policy and the problems of the middle classes and the socially weak into the center of his election campaign."


BELGIUM:  "A Not Very Convincing Address" 


Nathalie Mattheiem observed in left-of-center Le Soir (1/22): " With no innovation, no flight of oratory, the State of the Union Address will probably not divert Americans' attention from the New Hampshire primaries among Democrats. It is probably in the President's advantage. Indeed, according to express polls, the percentage of favorable impressions about the State of the Union Address was exceptionally low."


"The Stakes Are Immense"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn asserted in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (1/22):  "Will Bush win a second term so that he can finish the work of his father?  Or will his stay in the White House end after four years? We will know the answer on Tuesday, November 2 - and not one single day earlier.  One thing is certain: the ante is immense, perhaps greater than ever before.  Who becomes President is not only important for the United States, but also for the whole world.   The reason is simple: America is at the zenith of its power.  It is the most powerful empire in history. Though he denied it in his State of the Union, the rest of the world considers America the absolute superpower.  That is why it is so important who becomes President....  Bush is not loved in other countries.  The war in Iraq caused deep division between the old allies.  That division remains visible in the controversy over the reconstruction of Iraq: enough reason for many to hope that Bush will be defeated.  This may be wishful thinking.  Of course, Bush has no guarantee that he will win, but he holds many winning cards.  In the eyes of many Americans, he is 'the right man on the right place.'  They want a conservative nation - and that makes him the perfect President.  The capture of Saddam Hussein was also a major success for him....  The only thing that Bush has to fear is the weak economy.  In December only 1,000 jobs were created - instead of 100,000 as expected.  Iraq may cause trouble if American soldiers continue to die there.  On the other hand, his advantage is that the Democratic candidates will destroy each other in the coming weeks - while he does not have to fear any competition....  Bush has not won yet, but those who claim that he is finished may soon be an illusion poorer."


"A Campaign Speech"


Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert asserted in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (1/22):  "President Bush's State of the Union...was more a campaign speech than a State of the Union address.  That is not surprising:  every four years the outside world is irritated by the fact that the most powerful country in the world loses its interest for the rest of the world when it focuses on the election of the most powerful man in the world.  However, Bush cannot afford to ignore the rest of the world:  the first and main reason is Iraq....  If chaos and violence continue to prevail and if there is no convincing progress in the transfer of power process in Iraq an increasing number of Americans will not believe Bush's claim that the world has become a safer place after the war in Iraq."


BULGARIA:  "The Force's Right"


Top-circulation Trud commented (1/23):  "Bush's address has brought back unpleasant memories with one of its postulates which has been discarded in humanity's recent history.  The American nation is a 'nation on mission', said the President of the superpower, in connection with what he believes was the right decision to occupy Iraq.  This is the kind of nation the Germans have declared themselves to be back in the 1930s.  What followed were endless troubles for the entire humankind, including the U.S. itself.  Back then, Germany also had its allies that later bitterly regretted being this country's allies."


CROATIA:  "War From The White House Balcony"


Jurica Korbler observed in Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik (1/22):  “Even though it seemed absurd until a few months ago, Bush is winning, and it is most likely that he will win on Iraq.  History has shown that a country which is involved in a war in one way or another, and Bush clearly stated that America is involved in a war, always stands by its president.  The old themes whether Saddam had bought uranium in Africa, which dominated last year’s State of the Union speech, have now been forgotten.  With the optimistic conclusion that the world is changing for the better because of the American leadership, Bush is moving into the election campaign with a record high amount of dollars collected, and toward the ever more certain victory.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Bush A Little Different"


Pavel Tomasek wrote in the leading business Hospodarske noviny (1/22):  "The generality, to the point of superficiality and empty talk, of the State of the Union Address could tempt one to dismiss the speech....  It should not, however, block from view one important thing.  George Bush has been able to make use of his three years in office to change his country, and through its power even the world, substantially in the spirit of the principles he adheres to....  Bush’s speech was fascinating in how he remained true to himself.  If he has now a good chance to be reelected it is mainly because of this steadfastness."


"State Of The Union Address:  Successful Trick"


Pavel Masa judged in the center-right Lidove noviny (1/22):  "President Bush...tried to gain votes in the upcoming presidential elections [by promising medication to pensioners, scholarships to students...and to the same effect he used the alleged military successes, which  'will change the world for the better.'  He tied the two issues together by an emotional finale....  Although hollow in itself, it may nevertheless be effective, since pre-election campaigning is only a competition among illusionists anyway, and Bush managed to ward off the tricks of his competitors."


HUNGARY:  "Leading Power Deafness"


Right-wing conservative Magyar Nemzet editorialized (1/22):  "President George W. Bush has again left no question about how much the United States at present is taking the opinion of the rest of the world into account.  In his SOTU the president firmly established that he would not seek anybody's permission to defend the American people. 


"Bush's Second Presidential Agenda"


Influential business Vilaggazdasag judged (1/22):  " The President was obviously clear with the situation that it is an election year. It is doubtful whether the opinion of the American voters can be guaranteed ten months ahead. Doesn't someone overestimate the voters' memory who expects them to vote on base of their impressions gained in January? George Bush considers (and hints) the American economy to be the background for the U.S.'s role of world leader."


FINLAND: Bush's Ad With No Surprises


Leading, centrist Helsingin Sanomat editorialized (1/22):  "In an election year, the State of the Union address is inevitably partly a campaign speech, especially if the incumbent seeks re-election.  Party politics probably played a bigger role than usual  in President George W. Bush's speech.   The Democratic candidates had controlled  the media scene because of Iowa.  Bush got his opportunity to seize the moment  and he utilized that opportunity to the fullest.  Last year, it became obvious that Iraq did not have WMD nor any significant programs to develop such weapons.  Bush was expected to admit, at least indirectly, that the Administration's pre-war assessments were somehow flawed.  Of course, no such admission was offered but Bush did have a new formulation for the dangers of Iraq.   Iraq had 'dozens of mass destruction-related program activities'. How specific can one get?"


"Bush's Best Possible World"


Right-of-center Aamulehti held(1/22):  "President Bush launched his re-election campaign.  The overall tone of the speech was optimistic and also conservative.  In an election year, old supporters must not be  be angered by radical new proposals.  The incumbent President always has an upper hand in the campaign.  But recent opinion surveys indicate that Bush's lead is so small that he cannot make big mistakes."


KOSOVO: "Bush Challenging Xenophobic, Quasi-Racist Policies Of Lilliputian Europe" 


Pro-LDK, mass circulation Bota Sot commentator Elida Bucpapaj opined (1/22):  “Everyday on, George W. Bush wins a battle to the spite of Old Lady Europe’s critics who are transforming European leadership mentality into a mentality of Lilliputians, little people, egocentrics who do not think but about their own comfort. In the Presidential speech to the nation, delivered on January 20, the American President, after he talked about important achievements of his administration....  George W. Bush revisited the request for changing immigration laws. It is the very treatment that George W. Bush makes to millions of illegal immigrants...that tells the difference between George W. Bush’s humanism and the critics from Old Lady Europe who treats immigrants like chattel of barter not humans. If Lilliputian critics blamed George W. Bush that his war in Iraq was about oil, what are they going to accuse George W. Bush of when he protects the most unprotected people of the world, the immigrants. While Europe tightens its laws against immigrants (to the level of xenophobia and quasi-racism), George W. Bush reaches out to the most helpless people of the globe - the immigrants who entered America to save the lives of their children or to make future. This act of George W. Bush is not a demagogy but a concrete step that makes Americans enthusiastic about voting for George W. Bush, for it is known that America is a multiethnic place, populated by the peoples from all over the world.”   


IRELAND:   “Democrats Accuse Bush Of Hijacking State Address”

The center-right Irish Independent printed an article by Tim Reid published originally in the London Times (1/22):  "The speech on Tuesday night, one of the most partisan and aggressive in recent times, was less a lofty address to the nation than a full-blooded stump speech in which Mr Bush took on his Democrat critics and accused them of not taking terrorism seriously....  Aware that he enjoys a huge advantage over Democrats as leader of the War on Terror, he immediately raised the spectre of the September 11....  He threw down the gauntlet, daring Americans to remove a wartime leader from office.…To the charge that his Administration's foreign policy was unilateralist, he countered: ‘America will never need a permission slip to defend the security of the country.’ On Iraq, he contended that ‘some in this chamber and in this country’ had opposed the liberation of Iraq.  Without mentioning the failure by weapons inspectors and American forces on the ground to find Saddam Hussein's alleged illicit weapons of mass destruction, which formed the core of last year's speech, Mr Bush insisted: ‘For all who love freedom and peace, the world without Saddam's regime is a safer and better place.’  On domestic issues, particularly the failure of his Administration to create many new jobs, Mr Bush was equally pugnacious. Ignoring the United States's $500billion deficit, he not only insisted that his $1.7 trillion tax-cut package was working, he also demanded that Congress make it permanent.”


"U.S. Presidential Campaign Ignites"


The center left Irish Times declared (1/21):  “It is much too early to say how such close competition for the Democratic nomination will affect President Bush, who last night laid out his domestic and foreign policy agenda in the annual State of the Union address....  Mr. Bush is fully engaged in the campaign, as shown by his decision to move last night's address forward one week to spike the Democrats' publicity.  His message that the U.S. is still at war with terrorist adversaries resonates with his supporters.  So does his optimistic message about the recovering U.S. economy and specific policy measures to tackle social exclusion and poverty....  The election agenda comes back to issues of healthcare, jobs and the environment which can mobilize voters, especially if the economy does not deliver this year as Mr. Bush promises it will do.”


NORWAY:  "A Political Mission Command"


In newspaper of record Aftenposten foreign editor Nils Morten Udgaard commented (1/22): "The U.S. turns its back on its old alliance NATO, which is completely left out of the Presidents great SOTU Address. President Bush is building his own coalition in the war against terror, and asks God to support the battle for American values in the Middle East... Instead he speaks about 'our international partners', naming 17 - amongst them eight from NATO - and speaks about their crucial importance... What Bush does is to underline the deep gap that still runs through NATO... In such an important speech every issue is closely considered, and aimed at telling us who America currently see as a 'partner'... in the Muslim World ... Bush also claim support from higher powers; 'In everything that shall come, we shall know that His aim is just and true'. These are the words of a crusader... What is lacking and radically sets Bush apart from the majority of the U.S. Presidents after WWII, is that he does not want any cooperation with European countries... The rest of the world is puzzled, as much amongst the eight NATO countries that are told that they are the partners of the U.S. as among the ten that didn't make it to the list...All the time it is becoming more evident that Bush is considering NATO as a political and military toolbox for the U.S. This is something quite new. "


"Bush Vague About Future Plans"


Erik Sagflaat asserted in the social democratic Dagsavisen (1/22): "President George W. Bush didn't mention the up-coming election in his SOTU Address. But his struggle for re-election is really the only thing the speech was about. Bush boasted about his successes, hid his failures and was vague about his plans for the future.... And as the recurring theme in everything he said; the U.S. is a nation at war, and you do not change C-in-C while there is a full-scale war going on. 'We have not come this far, through tragedy, hardship and war, only to leave the job unfinished' said Bush.... However, it is not war...that decides the election result.... The economy and the number of jobs are far more important.... If this is not showing in the coming months, the Democratic challenger will have an unexpected chance."


POLAND:  "The Example Of Bush"


Ewa Czaczkowska opined in centrist daily of record Rzeczpospolita (1/22):  "In his most recent State of the Union address, President Bush clearly demonstrated how much he is different from many European leaders.  And it is not about politics, it is about moral issues.  He has shown that he is not afraid to voice strong opinions on these issues....  Many European politicians could do with such courage."


"Saddam Is Not Enough"


Bartlomiej Niedzinski opined in centrist Zycie (1/22): "Contrary to what some of the Democratic hopefuls for the White House are saying, it is not true that the foreign policy of this Administration is 'the most inefficient in history.' Regardless of the reasons that guided President Bush, let us remember that Saddam Hussein really was a criminal, a man who unleashed two wars, used chemical weapons, and persecuted the Kurds and Shiites. The fact that he was toppled and then captured must be regarded as success.... Bush underscored that, during the 28 months that have passed since September 11, there has not been a single terrorist attack on the U.S. That cannot be denied, and that is also a success of the U.S. Administration.... Will it be enough to be re-elected? George Bush has still the most trump cards in his hand, and still remains a favorite for the presidential elections. He has to remember, however, that the war against terrorism in itself is not everything. Otherwise, the struggle for the White House may turn out to be surprisingly fierce, especially if the Democrats are able to come up with a convincing candidate out of the many presidential hopefuls they have."


PORTUGAL:  "Electoral Campaign In Motion"


Portuguese wire service LUSA chief Luís Delgado wrote in his daily 'Straight Lines' column in respected center-left Diário de Notícias (1/22):  "In his State of the Union address, Bush set his electoral campaign in motion...delineating the two or three topics which will be his electoral platform: the economy...the benefits of this good [economic] progress for education and health, and the war against terrorism.... 'Today we are better off than we were before,' was basically Bush's key message....  On this point, Bush tried to be convincing, demonstrating that Americans are more secure with him, who has confronted terrorism on all fronts, internal and external, than with a new president, without experience or the capacity to make decisions."


SLOVAKIA:  "Statement About The Great President Bush"


Miloslav Surgosm noted in centrist SME (1/22):  “The State of Union from the White House Chief was precautionary and defensive. Elections are approaching....  He paid attention to advocating the war in Iraq, but he did not omit his weakness, the domestic economy....  The mission of the whole speech was clear:  you would make a big mistake if you changed your President now....  However he did not say anything new. The speech was only about himself and how great his policies are.”


SPAIN:  "A Recalcitrant Bush"


Left-of-center El País wrote (1/22): "Bush's long speech to his fellow citizens about the State of the Union was as insistent and opportunist as could be expected from the occupant of the White House....  For an emphatic and defiant Bush, the best of the past year's achievements has been the war in Iraq....  Bush's illusory 'new Iraq' is just that, an illusion. As is the affirmation that his global crusade against fundamentalist terror, in which he wants to enlist all Americans, is making the world safer....  This ignores the demands the Iraq situation has placed on the superpower, while more urgent issues such as Afghanistan and the Middle East remain... and the damage Iraq has done to U.S. relations with its allies, Europe first of all.  The unilateralism so praised by Bush, and so evident in other areas such as trade and the environment, has considerably damaged the image of his country in the world."


"Bush, Without Concessions"


Centrist La Vanguardia editorialized (1/22):  "Apparently believing that the best defense is a good offense, George Bush gave a speech without concessions and clearly tailored to his re-election campaign....  It is highly improbable that a majority of U.S. citizens will turn their backs on the president while he transmits this climate of permanent tension, of not letting down the guard against the terrorist threat."


"Bush Opens His Election Campaign"


Conservative La Razon commented (1/22):  "Bush did not miss a chance to use such a privileged platform to open his personal campaign and set his real power against a set of Democrats who, at least in Iowa, have not exactly given off an image of strength."


TURKEY:  "Union Is Not Strong Any More"


Nezih Uzel argued in nationalist Ortadogu (1/23):  “The SOTU address is a declaration of divisiveness within the U.S.  President Bush, due to his wrong policies, created a serious division between Democrats and Republicans.  No matter how much he tried in his speech to reaffirm the strength of America’s union, the fact of the matter tells just the opposite....  Due to the ongoing economic policies, the poor became poorer and rich became richer.  Listening to the arguments raised by Democrat Party members, we can simply draw a conclusion that the differences will get even deeper, and economically speaking, the working class of America is destined to suffer more....  The Bush administration created its own union, which is strong enough because of rich business interests and involvement.  Let’s hear what Wesley Clark had to say:  Clark has renamed President Bush’s tax policy, foreign policy as well as the domestic policy as the axis of evil.”


"Start Of The Election Campaign And Threat To The Middle East"


Ali Aslan commented in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (1/22):  “The text of the speech highlighted the president’s role as Commander in Chief.  The SOTU also indicated that Bush will give higher priority to national security issues over the economy during the election campaign....  It is also interesting that Bush did not utter the phrase ‘axis of evil’ this time, yet he reaffirmed his commitment to pursue reforms in the Middle East and to fight against regimes that shelter terrorists....  In sum, the State of the Union address included warnings about the Middle East but also marked the official start of the 2004.”


"Bush: Might Makes Right"


Zeynep Atikkan argued in the mass appeal-sensational Aksam (1/22): “The whole nature of the SOTU address is designed with the ‘might makes right’ mentality.  No matter how Bush dressed up this idea with his rhetoric about freedom and democracy, he could not hide his real intention.  The fact of the matter is that world public opinion hates the U.S., and the SOTU address did nothing to help the U.S. in this regard."




ISRAEL:  "Pax Americana"


Alexander Maistrovoy wrote in popular, pluralist Russian-language Novosty Nedely (1/22):  "The Middle East was a minor part of George Bush’s [State of the Union] address.  The U.S. President, without going into details, sensibly drew the lines of his Middle East policy.  This was the speech of a victor, who defeated the enemy and has confirmed his intentions to put into practice the ideas of Pax Americana....  He defined the real objectives of his policy, which are changing Middle East that has become a supportive environment for religious fanatic movements and aggressive quasi-ideologies.  This was the U.S.' purpose in coming to the Middle East, subordinating Iraq and overthrowing the Taliban’s regime....  Bush did not mention openly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he considers to be rather a marginal factor in Middle Eastern politics....  Bush mentioned the 'friends' of the U.S.  This notice has an ambiguous meaning: on the one hand obvious concern for their [allies] security and on the other hand a concealed warning -- the U.S. requests its allies to take into consideration U.S. interests and coordinate their policy with it....  The U.S. has a small amount of friends in the Middle East, Israel among them...and it requests that Israel follow its policy." 


WEST BANK:  “When Sharon’s Presence Is Associated With Hostility”


Talal Okal opined in independent Al-Ayyam (1/22):  “The international conditions do not indicate an impending change in the mechanisms or means of dealing with hot Arab issues.  Until now, Europe has not been able to defy American policies or the role the U.S. administration has set for it. Furthermore, Europe has not dared to take an independent role to affect the progress of events in the region.  As for America, in his State of the Union speech President Bush has turned his back on his commitment toward the roadmap and peace efforts....  In such circumstances, it is hard to figure out what would prevent Sharon from continuing his escalating, hostile policies against Palestinians.  Everything happening now encourages him to proceed with his security and military choice.”


LEBANON:  "The State Of The Union Address: Issue 2004"


Joseph Samaha held in Arab nationalist As-Safir (1/22):  “Bush’s State Of The Union Address in 2002 was distinguished by the statement ‘axis of evil.’  Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2003 was distinguished by talk about the great dangers in Iraq represented by Weapons of Mass Destruction and a nuclear program.  Bush’s State of the Union Address in 2004 was distinguished by his totally ignoring the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: nothing, no vision, no map, nothing.  Ignoring this conflict was deliberate...intended to lift any pressure off Israel’s shoulders, keeping the conflict within the framework of the war on terrorism, and developing a clear plan to attract Jewish votes.  It is difficult to view the State of the Union Address without looking at the upcoming American presidential elections.  George Bush tried to benefit from his father’s experience and gave a big room to domestic U.S. issues....  Americans who criticized the Address said that it was weak regarding the Iraqi WMD.  In fact it was more than weak....  Bush almost announced that he gave up on finding Iraqi WMD....  The issue here is not only an issue of lies.  The whole American military belief is based on the right to launch preventive wars is put to question.”


"The State Of The Union"


Mounir Al-Khatib maintained in independent Al-Balad (1/22):  “Because it is a presidential election year, Bush chose another approach for his State of the Union message.  Usually, State of the Union speeches start with browsing the U.S. domestic situation and what the President intends to do next year...but President Bush, who is ambitious and wants to be re-elected, dealt with the Congress as if it is a war tribunal and talked about his military achievements in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the war on terrorism....  He considered that it is an achievement that the U.S. has not been subjected to a terrorist operation since September 11.  Obviously he forgot that the U.S. had not witnessed any terrorist attack since Pearl Harbor.....  In an attempt to keep the Americans prisoners of their fear of terrorism, Bush said that this success (in combating terrorism) depends on the Americans’ preparedness to continue to confront terrorism...Bush did not hide his imperialistic tendencies, saying that the U.S. will not ask for any country’s permission to protect its security, even its allies.  The head of the Democratic Party Nancy Pelosi responded by saying that America has to show its greatness and not its power, it has to be a light and not a mere rocket...Bush’s address presented a dark image for what to expect in the near future.  Perhaps its only positive aspect is that it ignored the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”


“The State Of The Union Is Impressive Yet Dangerous”


The English-language moderate Daily Star editorialized (1/22):  “Bush’s State Of The Union message...was a comprehensive microcosm of all the issues that make the world love and hate America.  The impressive aspects of the performance were many, most notably the powerful national commitment to work, and even to fight, for principles that the American people hold dear.  The U.S. determination to promote freedom, democracy, and economic dynamism throughout the world is inspiring.  People everywhere have no trouble identifying with such noble goals.  Bush articulated them with passion and sincerity.  Less impressive is the slightly haughty tone that the president used to define America’s self-proclaimed global mission to do all the above.... If the substance of American foreign-policy goals is admirable and widely shared, the manner of American foreign-policy implementation is not.  Its rather jingoistic and arrogant manner-America does what it must do anywhere in the world- was evident in the president’s speech, and is highly objectionable to most of the rest of the world.  In relation to Middle Eastern issues, the president’s speech also reflected both wisdom and whimsy.  One could not miss the very sharp contrast between last year’s speech and its allegation about Iraq’s multiple alleged threats against the U.S. and the world, and this year’s more humble, almost tacit admission that most of those charges against Iraq remain unproven.  People respect the U.S. more today because of its willingness to use force to back up its threats, but they also respect it less because of two related issues that are so evident in the Middle East these days; Washington is erratic in following through on state policies, and it uses its military force in a manner that often does not adequately take into consideration local realities....  Bush’s speech was an accurate reflection of the state of U.S. relations with the world: marvelous in some respects, and dangerously naïve in others.”


"The State Of The Union And The World"


Rajeh Khoury commented in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (1/21):  “In the State of the Union Address...President Bush...continued his ‘Bush Doctrine’ strategy of making additional enemies....  When Bush says that his bold decisions have made America more secure, he will find many people who will argue long about the truth of such a statement....  Is it true that America has become more secure?....  Perhaps we should look for the answer in the World Social Forum which was held in Bombay and which ended by sharply criticizing the ‘Bush Doctrine’ which believes in the war as a way to organize the world...Perhaps we should also look for the answer inside the burning Iraq....  Far and away, it is not clear in which areas in the world the U.S. succeeded in disseminating democracy, while it is very clear in what the U.S. spread weapons and troops....  Finally when Bush repeats his pledge to the Americans to continue to pursue and destroy terrorists, he is only promising the Americans an endless war, just because it is producing more than eliminating terrorists....  With the ‘Bush Doctrine,’ the State of the Union will become similar to the State of the World, a place for fear, worry, and terrorism.”


MOROCCO:  "President Bush SOTU Speech:  Kickoff For Elections"


Aziza Nait Sibaha observed in French-language Le Matin (1/22):  "The American president...gave an accounting of his domestic and international activities, but some criticized him for having left out the serious issues that have marked his mandate.  Of course, George W. Bush did not express any regrets in speaking about the war in Iraq, and he forgot to address reconstruction and its cost, as well as the instability that prevails in post-war Iraq.  As for the Palestinians, they expressed their disquiet about the total absence of any reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the presidential address."


"Bush And Reverse Logic"


Mohamed Lakhdadi said in semi-official Arabic-language Assahara (1/22):  "This time in his annual State of the Union address, U.S. President George Bush did not resort to diplomatic language to express America’s insistence on taming the world using a big cudgel under cover of the slogan of fighting terrorism.  His threats were in the manner of Texans, who have a long history of exterminating the red Indians.  He has resorted to the concept of reverse logic used in mathematics to demonstrate that something that’s wrong is right....  The catastrophes of U.S. policy in the world are breeding terrorism.  Yet there is no mention of these crises, and further, there is absolute omission of the Palestinian issue in a speech that lasted more than an hour....  Another four years of Bush at the White House will bring more darkness to the world with its fundamentalist Christian policies, (an ideology) that resembles any other ideology of folly."


"Arab-Israeli Conflict Totally Absent From His Speech"


Semi-private regional radio station Medi-1 reported (1/21):  "While President George Bush has focused on the U.S. campaign to fight international terrorism, he has not mentioned at all the Arab-Israeli conflict and his vision of two states [solution for Israelis and Palestinians] was totally absent from his speech.  However, Bush has called on the U.S. Congress to increase assistance for democracy programs for the Middle East from 40 to 80 million Dollars."


QATAR:  "Bush’s Message"


Semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan opined (1/22):  "Mr. Bush talked for one hour about everything but the Arab-Israeli conflict. This act is not only a negative act; it has more implications. It is simply giving Sharon and his administration the green light to do what they want to do. The Bush administration just took off its last mask and stood strongly behind Likud’s rightist agenda. Sharon, now with a full American support, will continue building the separation wall (fence), build more settlements, plan more incursions, and to kill as many Palestinian leaders as he can. This message from Bush was also directed toward the Arab States, telling them that they shouldn’t expect that the United States will even pretend to play the mediator role. It is a clear message that needs an Arab clear stance. This message leaves us with no chance to maneuver.”


"President Plays On Americans' Fears"


Semi-independent English-language Gulf Times stated (1/22):  "U.S. President George W. Bush pulled the mantle of a wartime leader tight around him as he delivered his last State of the Union address before this November's presidential elections. Playing on the nerves of a nation still traumatized by the events of September 11, 2001, Bush told his people that his policies - including the invasion of Iraq - had made the whole world safer. The implication was that electing a different president would put American lives in danger. Yet his comments on the war on Iraq were shrouded in obfuscation.... On a positive note, the president did proclaim his desire to spread democracy throughout the Middle East. No doubt the Iraqi Shia leaders in Hilla thought about that when they were told a few hours later that choosing their next leaders by holding elections would wreck Iraq's transition to democracy. The U.S.-led authorities organized the meeting, addressed by an American expert.”


"Al-Jazirah TV: Bush Speech Fails to Mention Israel, Palestinians"


Independent, Qatari government financed Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television had a report stating (1/21):  "In his State of the Union speech, U.S. President George Bush has ignored any mention of the peace process in the Middle East.   He failed to mention the U.S. road map to realize peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.   President Bush did not mention Israel, the Palestinians, or Palestine by name in his speech which lasted approximately one hour.   He talked about the city of Jerusalem by indicating that it was among the cities that have come under, what he called, terrorist acts."


SYRIA:  "Law Of The Jungle"


The English-language government-owned Syria Times noted (1/21):  "The U.S. electorate is evenly split heading into the 2004 presidential election year, a new poll has found.  Of course, foreign policy constitutes one face of the U.S. Administration's fiasco. The most significant other face is the domestic policy pursued by President Bush in different fields; economy, social security, education and defense etc....  Many Americans view Bush's policy on the so-called anti-terror war as a big lie aimed to export his domestic crises....  The majority of American pollsters said they disapprove of his handling of the economy. As for jobs, unemployment, health care and education, the pollsters feel uneasy.  Many expressed skepticism about Bush`s recently announced immigration initiative. Concerning Bush`s plan 'to build a permanent space station on the moon', the majority said it was not worth the risk and costs.  Back to earth, the U.S. Administration`s policy in the Mideast continues to be strongly condemned not only in the region, but also in the world on a large scale....   In the occupied territories, the U.S.-backed Israeli occupation forces continue to launch a war of extermination on the defenceless people of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with the aim of liquidating the just cause of Palestine....  The whole matter can be summarized in a single sentence. Bush and Sharon believe in the law of jungle. 'Might is right' is their doctrine."


UAE:  "Bush Feeds On Republican Cheer"


The English-language pro-government Gulf News declared (1/22):  "It was billed as a State of the Union address, but what we saw was George W. Bush launch his campaign to stay in the White House. Even the timing of the speech, brought forward to cut off the Democrats' oxygen of publicity following the Iowa caucus, defined the event as being rooted not in the sunlit uplands of statesmanship but in the dark swamp of party politics.  No New Deal or Great Society emerged from the clipped sentences of this speech, nor were they meant to. Last year, Bush used the occasion, in words that have come back to haunt him, to accuse Iraq of concealing weapons of mass destruction. Without noticing the contradiction, Bush stated this year 'For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible and no one can now doubt the word of America.'  This was a partisan affair, the last Union speech before the election. And it showed. As the Republicans yelled and whooped their delight the Democrats were reluctant to bestow applause on the president's words. The election may not be until November but this speech, in everything including its defiant and strident delivery, showed that we are well and truly in an election campaign."




AUSTRALIA:  "Political Cycle Drives Bush Vision In 2004"


The national conservative Australian stated (1/22):  "Yesterday's address...was...a political document, designed to kick off the President's campaign for re-election in November. The focus was on national security, and the speech signaled the extent to which Mr Bush will use the war on terror in his campaign....  While nothing will convince hardline critics in the U.S., Europe and Australia that Mr Bush's aggressive foreign policy decisions [taking action in Iraq and Afghanistan] are justified, he knows that most voters support him in those actions. And so they should. The world changed on September 11, 2001....  In this respect Mr Bush has proved a man for his times, and it is those whom he yesterday branded 'condescending,' because they do not believe that some countries are ready for democracy, who are out of touch....  Australia received, not one, but two mentions in the State of the Union, both in the context of our role in liberating, then rebuilding, Iraq. Unfortunately, however, the auguries were not good on the single most pressing issue in Australia-US relations, the current negotiations for a free trade agreement."


"Bush's Opening Re-election Pitch"


An editorial in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald read (1/22):  "This week, in his latest State of the Union address, he is still much concerned with the war on terrorism, and perhaps not enough concerned with the domestic economy. Mr Bush plays two tunes on national security. He says the US is a safer place since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He also says that since there have been no further attacks on American soil since the September 11 attacks, it is 'tempting to believe that the danger is behind us'. Such a hope, he warns, is 'understandable, comforting and false'.  Many Americans will accept Mr Bush's warnings of continuing danger and judge his credentials on defense and national security as superior to his political opponents'....  On domestic affairs, though, Mr Bush is vulnerable. No amount of rhetoric can conceal the thinness of his answers to the economic problems, mostly of his own making, that increasingly beset the U.S. ...  On the evidence of this speech...Mr Bush still has ground to make up to persuade Americans that he has the answers to the nation's economic problems."


"Bush Mobilizes For Election"


Roy Eccleston observed in the national conservative Australian (1/22):  "George W. Bush has launched a spirited election-year defense of his foreign and economic policies, arguing in his annual State of the Union address that the world is safer thanks to the US's resolved in going to war in Iraq....  Mr Bush specifically failed to mention last week's costly Mars space initiative, which went down badly with many conservatives who believe that spending in Washington is already out of control.  But he wooed his conservative Christian supporters, forcefully repeated his opposition to gay marriage, and left open the possibility he would support a constitutional amendment stating that marriage is the union of man and woman."


JAPAN: "We Support President Bush's Resolve To Fight Terrorism"


Conservative Sankei editorialized (1/22):  "President Bush's State of the Union Address demonstrated his strong leadership in the fight against terrorism.  By expressing his firm commitment to secure domestic and international security, he tried to assure Americans that he is determined to defend the security of their country."


"To Make The World A Safer Place"


Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri said (1/22):  "It is significant that the leader of the world's sole superpower expressed his firm resolve that his country will accomplish its mission to fight terrorism.  Although the international community was split over the war on Iraq, close coordination between world nations is indispensable in eradicating terrorism.  We expect the US to exercise further diplomatic leadership in fostering international cooperation."


"U.S. Needs To Improve Its Damaged Image"


Moderate Mainichi opined (1/22):  "As seen in the progress on Libya and Iran, the U.S.' fight against terrorism has produced concrete results. However, unilateral action by the U.S. resulted in damaging its image as a leader of the free world, and complicating its relations with the UN and EU. To restore its status, the U.S. needs to promote cooperation and coordination with its friends and allies in dealing with world affairs."


 "President Less Confrontational On Diplomatic Front" 


Top circulation, moderate-conservative Yomiuri's Washington correspondent Hishinuma observed (1/21):  "In his address, President Bush reiterated accomplishments in the war on terror and justification for the Iraq war, thus expressing his strong determination to continue performing his duties as a 'war president.'  At the same time, this year's speech was less confrontational on the diplomatic front than his two previous addresses.  In fact, the President, referring to Iraq reconstruction, stressed the importance of the UN's role in transferring power to the Iraqi people.  Behind this moderate line lie concerns on his part that the U.S., if it does not obtain the international community's support, would be forced to continuously foot the bill for rebuilding Iraq and that such a prospect, by triggering American discontent, would hurt his reelection campaign." 


"Do Not Take Unilateral Action"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun editorialized (1/22):  "The U.S. needs support from the U.N. and the international community in order to succeed in Iraq restoration efforts and in the fight against terrorism.  President Bush should not repeat unilateral action but instead should seek and promote cooperation with the international community.  The President declared that the US has no desire to dominate and no ambitions of empire.  He should prove his statement by his future action."


PHILIPPINES:  "Bush Seeks To Legalize TNTs Working In U.S."


Federico Pascual said in the independent, second-largest-circulation Philippine Star (1/22):  "As expected, President Bush delivered an upbeat State of the Union address Tuesday night that defended his handling of domestic concerns and the war that the U.S. is fighting in Iraq....  Among his proposed legislation that drew interest among Filipino and other alien residents in America is his temporary guest worker program under which an estimated eight million illegal immigrants could temporary status.  Under the proposal, illegal TNTs ('tago ng tago') [translation: illegal residents]...can apply for a temporary worker's visa only if they have a job.  This will minimize their being exploited by employers."


THAILAND:  "The Grand Illusion Of President Bush"


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (1/23):  “President George W. Bush’s State of the Union speech was a big disappointment because he continues to refuse to accept reality as it is.  He chose, instead, to relentlessly stress the threat of terror.  Certainly, he said, the U.S. is not safe from terrorism and, for that matter, neither is the world.  So for the upcoming election, the American public has to choose between the fight against terrorism or, to quote Bush’s phrase, ‘dangerous illusion’.  That is the way he would like to word things.  Bush has no choice:  he started the war and now has to make sure that he finishes the job.  Otherwise, Americans history will not be kind to him.  The American public indeed has a choice to make come November.  They can choose between the threat of terrorism or its absence.  If the U.S. as the world’s most powerful nation had followed the rules sanctioned by international laws and the United Nations, a question such as ‘Why do they hate us?’ would never have occurred in the first place....  In the end, the American voters will have to choose their own exit-strategy because that is the only way to get rid of Bush--to refuse him a second term.”




INDIA:  "State Of The Bush" 


The centrist Calcutta-based Telegraph opined (1/23):  "The job of the president of the United States of America is never done.  There is nothing surprising, therefore, in George W. Bush's declaration that he wants to finish his work....  Behind Bush's defiance, evident in the State of the Union speech, is a hidden and deeper agenda.  By not making public his intentions, Bush is somewhat betraying the trust the American people have reposed in him....  Events have forced Bush to look outwards rather than at domestic issues.  For one thing, there was the perceived direct threat to the U.S. after 9/11 and for another, there was the pride in being the world's only superpower.  Bush, more than Bill Clinton, his predecessor, has taken the job of being the global sheriff very seriously.  Bush has part-created and part-ridden the tide of jingoism.  But even he cannot claim that he has the support of, and his policies have the approval of, all Americans....  No country loves to go to war.  The people of the U.S. have got a president who clearly does."


"Illusion And Truth Of Peace-Welfare" 


Nationalist Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika editorialized (1/23):  "Bush has naturally spoken these in order to buy support toward his own aggressive 'peace' avenue and has drawn attention of his countrymen toward the necessity of his vigorous foreign policy....  Whether Bush's policy is acceptable or not may warrant debates but one thing that does not have any scope for controversy at all, is his real foresight about the sheer transience of apparent peace....  Whoever knows or not, at least India has realized the true nature of this apparent peace-welfare repeatedly at the cost of huge sacrifice.  So, Indian leaders too should learn something from President Bush's diplomacy when he says that he wants to bring the situation within his grip as long as the reins are in his hands....  It is not only caution but considerable presence of mind needs to be shown on behalf of India to drive Musharraf in a positive direction.  Does the Vajpayee government possess that?  Do President Bush and his administration also have the will and capacity to get these two South Asian neighbors move along the desired path of peace?  Seemingly, they are walking on the right track.  However, the taste of the cake lies in its eating."


"American Bullying" 


Hindi-language national Dainik Hindustan declared (1/23):  "President Bush's tough talk on Iraq in his State of the Union address demonstrates the mind of a man drunk with power.  Also, the wording of the speech has been selected clearly with an eye on the next U.S. presidential elections....  The president of such a great nation should not display such belligerence; he is expected to be the world's peacemaker." 


PAKISTAN:  "Bush’s Eye-Opener Address"


The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer maintained (1/23):  "The State of the Union address shows that Bush has not learnt any lesson from past mistakes and has every intention to turn the Earth into a hell.  He has earmarked several hundred million dollars to destabilize Middle East and hurled threats on Iran, Libya and North Korea.  It is all the more shocking that he intends to further marginalize the UN and even ignore his so-called allies.  We hope that the U.S. public opinion would analyze the factors that have created hatred for American policies.  Already Democrats have warned that the President is isolating the country through his policy of pre-emptive wars.  The world would remain apprehensive of the U.S. until and unless Washington introduces the element of justice in its policies and respects sovereignty of other States."


"Bush Doctrine" 


An editorial in the centrist national English News asserted (1/23): "President George W. Bush’s declaration that U.S. will never seek permission to wage war can be easily translated to mean that any state can become a victim of American aggression without the due process of being warned first....  This is the twenty-first century dictum of a sole great power that has embarked upon the modern version of the wars of conquest of the great subjugators whose hordes thundered across feeble frontiers.  This could even mean that criticism of America could be interpreted as a threat to that country and invite an immediate pre-emptive strike....  President Bush’s warning to the world, however, has been made possible by a supine world sitting on its hands, unwilling to act even as it witnessed a super power increasingly speaking in the idiom of modern day conquerors.  Ironically, the traditional critics remained silent while some even extended full or partial support.  There was much to be gained from joining the winning side. It is not clear when this license the American chief executive has acquired will expire.  With still much to be done to dismantle the Al-Qaeda set up, states across the globe will remain on tenterhooks as to when they could be targeted next."


"World Doesn't Need Threats, But Peace"


Leading mass-circulation Urdu-language Jang editorialized (1/23):  "The indirect threat hurled by President Bush in his State of the Union address towards other countries is a new danger signal for the world peace and demands that the international community must take a serious notice of it.  President Bush’s unambiguous and aggressive posture against the 'non democratic' governments in the Middle East leaves no doubt that the American administration is now eyeing the resources of other Muslim Arab countries after Afghanistan and Iraq.  President Bush’s whole speech is reflective of his expansionist mentality."


IRAN:  "Bush Portrays Iraq Events As 'Reverse of What They Are'"


Mr. Qannadbash, an analyst at the news research and commentary unit of the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran Radio 1 asserted (Internet version, 1/21):  "To assess the American president's remarks about the Middle East and Iraq, as well as to weigh Bush's claim about the roots of terrorism being destroyed or about movement towards democracy in Iraq, it suffices for us to point to the events that have occurred in Iraq over the past few days and are still continuing: The people of Iraq have called, with one voice, for the establishment of democracy and direct elections, whereas officials in Washington are explicitly emphasizing the need for the establishment of an appointed government in Iraq. Of course, in his remarks, Mr. Bush tried to give the impression to the people of America that he has destroyed the roots of terrorism in the Middle East or advanced in the direction of overthrowing terrorist movements, whereas we can see that what the West calls terrorist movements are not only continuing but are also being perpetrated in the worst possible way by the Zionist regime on a daily basis."


SRI LANKA:  "An Impressive Defense"


Independent English-language MTV (Maharajah Television) News reported (1/22):  "George W. Bush had made an impressive defense of his administration record in his third State of the Union address to the Congress. He insisted that his Foreign policy including the invasion of Iraq has made the Americans and the World safer.  The speech is being seen as Bush is setting up his case for re-election in November."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Bush Twaddle"


The liberal Star opined (1/22):  "The extraordinary thing is not that George W Bush believes what George W Bush says, but that such a large number of Americans do.  His State of the Union address was largely war talk and blatant dishonesty.  We can understand that he would wish to defend the invasion of Iraq, but suddenly the absolute certainty about weapons of mass destruction has transmogrified into 'dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related programme activities.' That is gobbledegook intended to assure all and sundry that Bush had good cause to launch his war. The only problem is that his chief weapons hunter has said that he cannot find any actual weapons.  Bush also saw fit to assure his nation's citizens that those people they were helping to kill, actually were ecstatically grateful.  Try these two passages: 'The men and women of Afghanistan are building a nation that is free, and proud, and fighting terror - and America is honoured to be their friend.' And on Iraq: 'Since we last met in this chamber, combat forces of the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other countries enforced the demands of the United Nations, ended the rule of Saddam Hussein - and the people of Iraq are free.' Try telling that to the people of Kabul and Baghdad."




CANADA:  "Bush Act Starts To Wear Thin"

Editorial page editor emeritus Haroon Siddiqui held in the liberal Toronto Star (1/22):  "It is unrealistic to expect total honesty from politicians. Their partisanship guarantees self-praise and self-serving arguments. Still, citizens expect them to operate within reasonable rhetorical limits. In the case of the president of the United States, whose constituency is not confined to his nation, the world expects his words to bear some resemblance to reality. Non-Americans tuning in to George W. Bush's State of the Union address would have been disappointed. Even allowing for his domestic needs in an election year, it was riddled with disingenuous, at times dishonest, formulations as well as logical inconsistencies. That was the conclusion I went to bed with Tuesday night. However, I woke up yesterday heaving a sigh of relief that, at least, he was not off to another war.... The Democratic response to his speech, especially by Senator John Kerry and Gen. Wesley Clark, was tough. Similar sentiments last year would have got them labelled as unpatriotic. They should be saluting Howard Dean. By being bold enough to speak the truth, he has liberated them. He may not go any further in the primaries, but he has already served his party and his nation well. The world should take comfort that the wheels of American democracy are grinding."


"America's Testy Union"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (Internet version, 1/22):  "Bush...invited 60 million viewers to believe that 'because of American leadership and resolve the world is changing for the better.' a stretch.  In Afghanistan...Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida are still active, plotting terror....  In Iraq, American troops are mired in a $120 billion military mess that has drained resources from the war on terror.  North Korea is equipping itself with nuclear weapons.  The Mideast lurches toward catastrophe.  Meanwhile, relations with allies like Canada continue to be tested by Bush's defiant unilateralism....  And at home Americans are struggling....  For many in the U.S. and overseas, the world is indeed changing, as Bush says, but not for the better....  Mercifully, Bush offered no hint of more 'axis of evil' adventurism, or threats of invasion.  Overall, though, his address left some asking:  Is that all there is?  The odds still favour Bush getting re-elected.  Americans do feel threatened.  They give Bush credit on security.  And the economy is getting stronger.  But the union is not nearly so 'confident and strong' as Bush made it out to be.  The president himself sounds vulnerable, as he prepares to face the electorate."


"An Unfortunate Omission"


The conservative Ottawa Citizen editorialized (Internet version, 1/22):  "'This man is not for turning.'  With apologies to Margaret Thatcher, the phrase summarizes President George W. Bush's latest State of the Union address.  When you compare what he said Tuesday to the speeches of 2002 and 2003, it is obvious terrorism remains his central concern.  Last year, he sought to prepare his nation (and the world) for war; his 2002 address, which came four months after the 9/11 attacks, served notice that the war on terror would be extended beyond al-Qaida to an 'axis of evil.' This year, too, he reminded Americans that 'we have not come all this way -- through tragedy, and trial, and war -- only to falter and leave our work unfinished.'"


ARGENTINA: "Criticism Of Bush's Address"


Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarín, highlighted (1/22):  "With his re-election in the spotlight, U.S. President George W. Bush attempted to use his State of the Union address to present himself as a head of State who is beyond the political and election debate. But his strategy failed. While he never mentioned Democrats by their names, the text of his address was drafted in such a way that it became a strong answer to the criticism from Democratic candidates of his foreign policy and his domestic agenda....   According to a CNN opinion survey, only 45 per cent of the people interviewed approved his address, while last year's message had a 54 per cent approval rate."


"War, People And Elections"


Marcelo Cantelmi, international editor of leading Clarin judged (1/21):  "The State of the Union Address was not the typical evaluation of the status of the country, but a campaign message loaded with re-election promises."   


"Bush Gave His State-Of-The-Election Address"


Claudio Uriarte, international analyst of left-of-center Pagina 12 wrote (1/21) "National security, national security and more national security was all George W. Bush had to sell in the first half of his  State of the Union Address, which was strongly influenced by his re-election campaign. In contrast with this, the second part of his address was devoted to describing what he made appear as the economy of some other country. In all, it was an effort to showcase a radiant but combative tone, far from the gloomy and threatening tone of the message he gave last year when he prepared U.S. citizens for an imminent invasion of Iraq. The Republican audience strongly applauded, the Democratic audience almost did not applaud while Senator Edward Kennedy was all the time moving his head in sign of disapproval."


BRAZIL:  "World Concerned About U.S. Fiscal Balance"


Business-oriented Valor Economico editorialized (1/23):  "The World Economic Forum is devoting its major concern this year to the increasing problem of the U.S. public debt....  Forty members of Congress belonging to the Republican Party's most conservative wing complained this week about the administration's inaction on the nation's budgetary imbalance....  However, Bush apparently remains indifferent to these warnings.  In the State of the Union address, the president ignored the negative analyses of his tax-cut program made by both allies and adversaries.  He defended tax reduction with the simplistic reasoning that 'people use their money much better than the government,' and with illusory data about economic recovery.  He announced more extravagant plans for public spending that most likely will not be realized....  His speech was unquestionably one of the most frustrating and electoral in the SOTU's history.  The public reacted to it coldly....  If this keeps up, Bush's problems with re-election may increase....  The prowess of pre-candidates John Kerry, Wesley Clark and John Edwards has increased the opposition's chances of victory."


"Bush Opens Reelection Campaign In Ohio”


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo Washington correspondent Paulo Sotero reported (1/22): “One day after having stated before the Congress that under his leadership the U.S. is ‘strong,’ fighting terrorism and expanding the economy, President George W. Bush started yesterday a two-day trip calculated to be the opening of his reelection campaign.... Although even his Democrat adversaries recognize that Bush is beginning the reelection campaign in a comfortable position, the choice of Ohio points in the opposite direction. Ohio was one the states more affected by the recession/stagnation of the first two years of the Republican administration.... As an illustration of the political division expected to mark this year’s presidential elections, Bush’s visit to Toledo led hundreds of opposing voters to demonstrate near the place he was addressing.” 


MEXICO:  "The U.S. Proposes, But It Also Gives The Instructions"


Alán Arias wrote in the nationalist Milenio (1/22): "President Bush rudely disdained, during the State of the Union address, the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.  He mentioned quickly his political stance regarding immigration, providing legal mechanisms to allow the hiring of foreign workers for jobs Americans would not be willing to accept.  He also mentioned the war against terror and the need for homeland security, warning that better immigration rules would allow the Border Patrol to be more efficient in managing threats...  At this point, who would believe that the Bush administration had any real intent to put the bilateral relationship among the priorities of the American foreign policy, when the most important issue for America is to guarantee world security, especially the defense of the so-called 'perimeter of North America' which begins in Central America?... The lack of both a Mexican strategy and a plan for the relationship with the U.S. has worsened dramatically the treatment from and interaction with the Bush administration." 


"The Secret Iraqi Weapon"


Ángel Guerra judged in the left-of-center La Jornada (1/22): "The Bush speech had the clear intention of getting votes in the next elections. However this is not important, since it is a normal behavior of an American President who wants to run for a second term. The most important part of his message is the Nazi ideology, which underlies the push to global hegemony and repression - inside and outside the U.S.- imposed by the power of weapons, which is typical of excessive state controls....   As proof, we have the call to renew the Patriot Act, plus the statement saying that 'we will not ask to anybody for permission to preserve the security of the U.S."


CHILE: "War On Terrorism, Domestic Issues Underpin Bush's Address"


Leading-circulation, independent Santiago La Tercera wrote (1/21):  The president--who is seeking reelection--warned that his country is still 'on the offensive against terrorism' and congratulated himself for Libya's decision to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction.  On the domestic front, Bush was optimistic about the economy's upturn and also addressed the health system....Upon launching his reelection campaign and seeking to strengthen his position in the face of upcoming November elections, the president focused his message on Iraq and domestic issues."


"Bush Spoke With Reelection In Mind"


Government-owned but editorially independent Santiago La Nacion noted (1/21):"The president responded to the opposition's criticism by pointing out the accomplishments in the war on terrorism and the domestic economy, two issues that could favor him in this year's presidential elections....  U.S. President George W. Bush's advisors were cunning when they suggested the president deliberately schedule his State of the Union address between the Iowa Democratic Convention...and the one in New Hampshire.... Thus, Bush's speech yesterday addressed Democratic criticisms of his administration without yet having to confront an opponent.  The White House saw the address as a chance for the show 'great vision facing the elections,' asserted Ed Sarpolus, a University of Michigan analyst, and to 'disarm the Democratic opinions against him.'  Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said last week that 'Americans are paying the price of Mr. Bush's distorted priorities.'... Pelosi probably referred to two issues that jeopardize a new term for Bush in office: the budget deficit and unemployment."


COLOMBIA:  "U.S. First Round Of Elections"


The lead editorial in top national El Tiempo argued (1/22): “In two very different scenarios...the election of the next U.S. President has just begun....  In Iowa on Monday the democratic candidates...and on Tuesday, it was the President’s turn, who took advantage of the...annual report to Congress on the 'State of the Nation’ to trace the outlines of his strategy.... The presidential speech...referred briefly to topics on which opinion is unfavorable to the government, like reform of Social Security and the...conflict between Israel and Palestine; other topics in which Bush is even more unpopular, like the environment and his recent initiative to conquer Mars, were not even mentioned.” 


"State Of The Union"


Lead editorial in economic business La Republica noted (1/22): “Although this time the annual speech on the State of the Union was mainly about the war against terrorism, there was also a large segment on economic matters, to be  expected both as a good (thematic) balance and because Bush is in an electoral campaign.”  


"A Speech In Minor Key"


The lead editorial in Medellin-based El Colombiano stated (1/22): “The words of the President of the most powerful nation in the world...were an attempt to justify his questioned performance and were loaded of promises.... His speech was moving and not very deep in crucial topics; it received systematic applauses from the Republicans and silence from the Democrats... The State of the Union speech was incomplete and it did not even seemed to have pleased the people of the United States.”


PANAMA: "Bush’s Message"


Conservative El Panama America held (1/22):  “Nothing new was said in the speech.… We don’t believe that promising temporary visas for three years to six million illegal Hispanics in the U.S. will be enough to ‘make them come out from the shadows,’ as stated by the President … The majority of the speech was dedicated to exalt the principle and values of the Armed Forces.… With such scenario, we have very little doubt he [Bush] will win his re-election by a wide margin, although not in an overwhelming way like his staff expects.  The economy is recuperating, but unemployment is still high.… Anyway, re-election was without being said, the subject of the speech.  An in that arena, ironically, George W. Bush will win the presidency again thanks to the subject that caused his father to lose re-election against Clinton: war over economy.”


Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere

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