International Information Programs
February 7, 2005

February 7, 2005






**  Praise for the "robust, daring" vision to spread "peace and democracy."   

**  Dailies applaud the SOTU's "relative emphasis and specificity" on the Middle East.

**  The SOTU's "much less bellicose attitude" towards the outside world draws kudos.

**  Writers warn that Bush's proposed social security reform will be a "Sisyphean task."




'Undimmed' idealism--  Rightist papers backed Bush's call to make "the price of supporting repression...intolerably high"; Denmark's Berlingske Tidende noted that "freedom, freedom and more freedom...was the main message."  Critics saw "glaring contradictions" in Bush's "mission to end tyranny," citing his "penchant for adventurism."  Pakistan's center-right Nation alleged that the U.S. talk of democracy is just "a useful stick to beat those Washington dislikes."  A Chinese observer agreed it is "not America's job to be the world's watchdog."  Several judged the "accusing finger" pointed at the "corruption and autocracy" in U.S. allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia was "new and....suprising" in light of historical U.S. "double standards." 


A 'renewed push' for peace--  Papers identified the "troubled" Mideast as the "main focus of the address."  Lebanon's moderate Daily Star hailed the U.S. willingness to "play a more active role," but Jordan's mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm warned against "increased intervention in the domestic affairs of Arab countries."  On Iraq, papers split between seeing the "heroic" election as proof that "freedom is winning ground" and the view that Iraq is a "broken and violent powder keg."  Asian media hailed the "softer stance" towards the DPRK; Seoul's moderate Hankook Ilbo stressed that North Korea must "respond proactively" given that Bush "refrained from making harsh statements."


Hopes for a 'more pragmatic' foreign policy--  Many Euro and Asian writers cited Bush's "approving reference" to European diplomacy with Iran to predict a more "prudent and tolerant diplomatic policy" in the second term.  France's right-of-center Le Figaro concluded that Bush will "allow diplomacy to override confrontation," and Japan's business-oriented Nihon Keizai stated that the "mild tone" of the SOTU was "aimed at winning worldwide cooperation."  Other outlets criticized the "harsh and accusatory tone towards Iran and Syria."  Uganda's state-owned New Vision advised Bush to "go slow on Iran and Syria" because military action would only "widen the area of conflict" in the region.


An 'excitingly radical' domestic agenda--  Conservative Euro papers welcomed Bush's "wide-ranging domestic program" for social security reform.  Britain's Telegraph judged the plan "robust, daring and infused with political nerve," while Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine said pension reform is "indispensable."  Other dailies opined that domestic support for reform is "far from assured"; the center-left Irish Times noted that Bush has a "narrow mandate for such radical change."  India's financial Hindu Business Line argued it is "to the credit of Bush" that he is determined to introduce "sorely needed corrective measures."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprites foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 82 reports from 42 countries over 3 - 7 February 2005.  Editorial excerpts are listed in the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Bush's Conviction Politics"


The conservative Telegraph judged (Internet version, 2/4):  "In the first State of the Union speech of his new presidential term, George W. Bush reiterated the unapologetic optimism of his inaugural address.  But where the earlier speech had dealt primarily with foreign affairs and his commitment to supporting democratic movements around the world, this address developed ideas for radical domestic reform....  The crisis in pension provision facing the U.S. government is precisely analogous to the one looming in Britain:  a smaller and smaller workforce is paying to support a larger and larger retired population.  But unlike our own timorous party leaders, Mr. Bush states clearly that he is unafraid of drastic measures for modernizing this sacrosanct economic structure before it actually collapses.  As with his international policy, his tax and welfare proposals are robust, daring and infused with political nerve.  It was that sense of conviction, along with serious political disagreement between the parties, that gave such life and vivacity to the last presidential election, which recorded one of the highest voter turnouts in living memory.  British politicians take note:  the antidote to public apathy is courageous policy and fearless argument that offers real choice.  Perhaps what we need is a Campaign for Real Politics."


"Iraq's Elections Will Change History" 


Gerard Baker wrote in the conservative Times (Internet version, 2/4):  "The meat of the president’s speech was the same, animating foreign policy goals that he laid out in his inaugural address two weeks ago.  Mr. Bush restated the ultimate aim of U.S. strategy as ending tyranny on Earth.  This time, perhaps anticipating a little better the carping criticism that this is crazy/dishonest/hypocritical, the president added some specifics that are likely to shape U.S. policy for years ahead.  In doing so he demonstrated that rhetoric has its own consequences.  George W. Bush is slowly, steadily ratcheting up the rhetoric, not to threaten all-out war, as his screaming critics claim, but to create an international climate in which the price of supporting repression is intolerably high.  By calling explicitly on Saudi Arabia and Egypt to liberalize, he made it harder than ever for the U.S. to return to an approach that connives at those regimes’ corruption and autocracy.  By challenging Iran and Syria to stop their support for terrorism, and in Iran’s case, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, he emphasized again that the post-September 11 world is not a safe one for dictators and fanatics who thrive through mass murder.  But the entire speech...was ventilated by the extraordinary air that has blown around the world from Iraq since Sunday’s elections....  If the world could only strip away some of its blind resentment it might start to see without prejudice what Mr. Bush and Tony Blair are seeking to achieve in their grand and noble venture in the Middle East.  But in the end, it will matter not how the world reports a president’s or a prime minister’s words.  It will be the inescapable logic and reality of events that will eventually persuade even the most cynical critic."


"Flourishes Of Freedom"


The left-of-center Guardian had this to say (Internet version, 2/4):  "The principal theme was familiar and simple:  America will fight, at home and abroad, for 'the guiding ideal of liberty for all'....  The president's critics argue that he has no strategy for achieving his goals.  Instead, in a speech that was more sermon than program...he uttered some selective words of warning:  Iran, a member of his original 'axis of evil,' was told not to pursue nuclear weapons or sponsor terror.  Europeans will have noticed, with qualified relief, his approving reference to their diplomatic efforts with Tehran, a message being repeated by Condoleezza Rice, the new secretary of state....  Syria, not in the original 'axis,' was also ordered to end terror and 'open the door to freedom'.  To balance those warnings there were gentler signals to two Arab allies which are not beacons of the values Mr. Bush so fervently espouses:  Saudi Arabia...[and] Egypt....  But there was no suggestion that either would face any negative consequences....  Perhaps the president had them in mind when he explained that democracy was an 'ultimate' rather than an immediate American goal.  If that signals a cooling of his world-changing zeal and the more 'consensual' approach Tony Blair says he now expects from Washington, that might be good news.  It bears repeating that democracy and freedom are fine things....  But how they are to be achieved, at what cost, and by whom, remain as controversial as they were before Saddam Hussein fell.  Many Arabs and Europeans still suspect American motives as well as questioning the wisdom of deploying 'Jeffersonian tanks' to bring democracy along with liberation to 'outposts of tyranny'.  That the president, so single-mindedly ambitious in the greater Middle East, found nothing to say about China, Russia, Africa or Latin America is worrying.  But Mr. Bush did repeat his commitment to an independent, democratic Palestinian state.  If he were to really achieve that and thus help, in his own eloquent words 'to eliminate the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder', the judgment of history would be a lot kinder than it looks like being right now."


FRANCE:  "Bush As the Defender Of ‘The Axis Of Good’"


Philippe Gelie observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/4):  “Three years after having pointed a finger at ‘the axis of evil’ President Bush is making a semantic shift to show himself as the leader of ‘the axis of good.’  The nuance allows diplomacy to override confrontation, but does not completely do away with warnings.  Good and bad marks will be awarded in keeping with the ‘values’ put forth by the White House....  President Bush was more pragmatic than in his inaugural address....  In the Middle East he singled out Iraq as counting among the allies, but fingered Egypt and Saudi Arabia for lacking democracy.”


"Bush:  A Vision Of The World"


Jules Clauwaert wrote in regional, Lille-based Nord Eclair (2/4):  "George W. Bush's grand design remains essentially unchanged: America will not turn away from its duties--to block the path of oppressive regimes which support an anti-Western terrorist network, and to help peoples who wish to free themselves and democratize....  The targets are clearly named, led by Iran, suspected of preparing WMD par excellence, under the pretext of developing a civilian nuclear program. But George W. Bush seems to have admitted that the U.S. alone cannot wage several wars at one time. Also, he did not fail to cite the initiatives of European diplomacy to convince the Iranians to play the game of transparency....  As for the invitation to Saudi Arabia to let the winds of liberty blow there also, we don’t know what to think--everyone knows that the Americans don’t seem to have pushed their oil partners, who are so close to the radical Islamist movements, from their entrenched positions in the past.  This is, however, a positive point in this contrasting fresco of a world to which America has a messianic mission to separate the wheat from the chaff....  George W. Bush...did not forget--this time--the involvement of the U.S. in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Recently, his position has been clear: the objective is to lead the two peoples to live together....  Especially, he invited all the Arab oil states to show an active solidarity with a people whom they have generally supported only with inflammatory language."


"Democratic Contagion"


Ivan Rioufol wrote in right-of-center Le Figaro (2/4):  “One of President Bush’s ideas that has Parisian intellectuals smiling is the idea of ‘democratic contagion.’  What if our French lesson-givers were once again wrong?  A parallel has become clear between the dynamics of democracy emerging in Iraq and in Palestine....  If one adds the elections in Afghanistan it is impossible not to note that a consciousness of freedom is taking place in the Arab Muslim world which has for centuries lived under the hold of mullahs....  France, because it tried to spare Saddam and aimed to protect Arafat, has appeared as their allies....  France cannot continue to look ambivalent....  Will France know how to grasp the hand that the U.S. is extending?  Its place is with democracies.”


"A New Beginning"


Jean-Claude Kiefer remarked in regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d’Alace (2/4):  “In his speech President Bush gave his vision of democracy for the Middle East, in other words for the entire Arab-Muslim world....  But the example of Tehran proves that toppling the regime did not lead to democratization, but rather to Islamization.  This is why the problems posed by Syria must be handled with extreme care....  As for Iraq, Sunday’s success does not mean the triumph of democracy.  There is no doubt that the Middle East is the main, indeed the exclusive, question.  Europe must not hold back its support from President Bush in finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It is also the best way to re-establish confidence in transatlantic relations.”


GERMANY:   "Titan Or Devil"


Washington correspondent Wolfgang Koydl editorialized in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/4):  "He wants to cure the world, not less and not more.  Bush's speech covered all areas of changes.  It is understandable that some people in the audience listened with bated breath.  Never before has a president targeted so many titanic projects at once--and staked everything on one card.  One thing is clear:  if Bush fails he will fail greatly.  But if he succeeds he will go down as one of the greatest presidents in history....  Bush realizes that he lives in times of great changes and he believes the stream of history is carrying him.  Indeed, an essential element of this time is the movement towards democracy.  It started a quarter of a century ago when the regimes in Portugal and Spain were toppled, and it continued in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, where dictators, juntas and politburos were ousted.  And Bush now believes it is the Middle East's turn.  Bush is also exceptional because he combines two apparently conflicting features:  the moralism of Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter and the power of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.  Both are American features that have been irritating the rest of the world.  It does not come as a surprise that Bush is hated and feared, since he is taking the whole world with him on his adventurous journeys.  But we should fear something different.  Bush, who tries to defuse a highly explosive bomb with the enthusiasm of a teenager, appears to be the only one who is bold enough to face the challenge.  It does not take a genius to realize that the problems of the pension system and the Middle East require quick and radical replies.  But it is also clear that Bush does not know all or even the right answers.  Intelligent, bold and unorthodox alternatives would be important--but there are none."  




Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (2/4):  "By now, it is known that President Bush is not a conservative in the original meaning of the word:  somebody who is skeptical about the state and argues against over-regulation.  He is a radical politician--excitingly radical in his objectives and not hypersensitive in his methods.  In his first term, his impatient nature to reform shook foreign alliances.  This time around, Bush's 'revolutionary' ambition targets America's domestic policies.  He wants to reform and partly privatize the pension system.  The reform of America's social welfare system is ambitious and risky because a political sword hangs over this project, as in Europe....  A reform that prepares the country for the demographic changes is indispensable and makes political sense."


"A Cowboy Without Horse"


Michael Braun opined in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (2/4):  "With respect to the 'war on terror' and the 'export of democracy' the new Bush administration continues where the old one stopped.  That is why it will hardly calm anyone that a new campaign is currently not on the agenda and that the U.S. pins its hopes first of all on 'diplomatic efforts to convince.'  It is obvious that this kind of diplomacy lives on the threat to use force.  And it is also obvious that these threats of war are meant very seriously....  But regardless of whether it is Poland, Denmark or Great Britain, Bush's alliance is increasingly turning into a coalition of the unwilling.  They do not feel like expanding their engagement in Iraq and certainly do no feel like entering a new war adventure.  They are interested in only one thing:  get their troops back home.  There is only one ally who has firmly sided with the United States:  Silvio Berlusconi....  Bush's Secretary of State Rice should not rejoice too soon at Italian support during her first trip to Europe.  Since deeds hardly match words in Italy.  The Iraq war was extremely unpopular among Italians, and a war against Iran would be even more unpopular."


"Free From Self Doubt"


Right-of-center Fränkischer Tag of Bamberg said (2/4):  "Free from any self doubt and carried by a missionary zeal, President Bush announced the most important domestic and foreign policy goals of his second term, knowing quite well that the entire world would listen closely.  The master in the White House did not mention all obstacles, which the Americans must remove on their path to happiness but did not concretely say how he wants to shape the planned social welfare reforms, but even the promise of a better future caused thunderous applause.  Was this a political theater or a good omen?"


"Nothing New To Iran"


Business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg wrote (2/4):  "If something was striking in Bush's passage on Iran then that it was that it remained unspectactular.  He dedicated three phrases to Iran in a speech that lasted one hour....  Mullah theocrats may consider this provoking, but from a U.S. viewpoint these cloudy statements of solidarity are self-evident....  That is why the most remarkable aspect of Bush's speech was the signal to the Europeans:  [the U.S.] is cooperating with the European allies to urge Iran to change course.  This time, we did not hear a word of military 'options.'...  Of course there is still a great potential for conflict between Europeans and Americans in the Iranian question.  But the political assessment of the mullah regime is uncontroversial.  The sticking point is what kind of means should be used to achieve common goals.  The Europeans should use energy to talk with Bush about them.  And Iranian critiques of Bush address are irrelevant for this purpose."


ITALY:  "Less Rhetoric, But Same Force In Foreign Policy"


Mario Platero held in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (2/4):  “Two strong indications emerged from President Bush’s speech the other night: regarding the war on terrorism, the president informed us that apart from the rhetoric the course will remain the same.  Regarding social security, he said he would change course by 180 degrees.  These two themes are central to the historical inheritance that Bush intends to leave at the end of his second term.  And knowing him, there is no doubt he will go all the way, with direct consequences for political and economic debate in Europe....  The rhetoric regarding the war on terrorism has softened.  In his speech, he didn’t talk about the ‘axis of evil’--the war has become ‘a mission for democracy.’...  And yet behind this restrained tone, which was well received by the American media, the fundamental White House doctrine remains the same:  preemptive action is still possible.”


"Return To America, Bush’s New Creed"


Vittorio Zucconi observed in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (2/4):  “Every speech on the 'State of the Union' is in fact a speech on the State of the president in office.  It a temperature check of the person delivering it, to make a prognosis of his intentions, his state of mind, and his plans....  The president...wanted to give the impression that the war in Iraq, the thousands of dead soldiers and civilians...and the billions spent for a mission with no end in sight, are part of a closing chapter, just as the episode entitled Osama bin Laden closed and was replaced with the current villain Jordanian al Zarqawi....  Bush didn’t address the war until 40 minutes into his speech....  It was a skillful and wise choice, demonstrating George Bush’s keen political sense.”


RUSSIA:  "Bush's Advanced Posts Of Democracy"


Boris Volkhonskiy said in business-oriented Kommersant (2/4):  "Most observers agree that many of the president's assessments of the situation inside the country and out are not nearly as harsh as those made by members of his administration over the last few weeks.  But George Bush remains committed to fighting tyranny in the world and speaks of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Ukraine as outposts of democracy."


"Pension Reform Could Use More Support"


Artur Blinov wrote in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2/4):  "According to many observers, support for the President's pension reform is far from assured.  Given that, the war on tyranny, more than pension reform, sounds like George Bush's plan of action in his second term."


"War On Terror Is Main Topic"


Vadim Markushin held on the front page of centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (2/4):  "U.S. President George Bush made it quite clear that America will keep fighting terrorism at all costs, bringing its own brand of democracy to the 'darkest corners' of the world.  Bush named Iran and Syria as countries which Washington suspects are involved in sponsoring terrorist organizations.  There was nothing sensational about that.  He merely summed up the numerous accusations leveled at the governments of those countries, making his statement sound ultimate.  Other opinions don't matter.  Whatever others say is up to them.  That is very characteristic of  the American approach."


AUSTRIA:  "A Show Master And His World Of Illusions"


Foreign affairs editor Livia Klingl opined in mass-circulation Kurier (2/4):  "Moving people is an easier way of winning them over than through grim blustering.  George Bush moved people and was moved....  As far as content was concerned, the president did not offer much that was new, at least not in the area of foreign politics.  According to Bush, Iraq is on its way to a happy future, as are probably Israel and the Palestinians.  Iran is bad, due to its greed for nuclear weapons and its support of terrorists.  The worst regime of all, that in North Korea which already has the bomb, was treated mildly in comparison.  Bush gave much praise to freedom, whatever that may be exactly.  He did not outline a plan for withdrawal from Iraq to his voters.  On the domestic front, the privatization of the pension system and the reduction of the deficit are on the agenda--but without concrete plans of how these projects are to be put into practice."


BULGARIA:  "Bulgaria And Bush's New Coalitions"


Leading Trud judged (2/4):  "George Bush continues to cleanse the world of the remnants of tyranny.  For this purpose, Washington will build new coalitions....  For Bulgaria, the most important new task will be the new coalitions.  After joining the 'Coalition of the Willing,’ Bulgaria remains a steadfast partner in Iraq and it seems will be one of the last coalition members to pull out of there.  This makes our country a desired U.S. partner and Bulgaria is most certainly part of the U.S. calculations for the next phase of the fight against tyranny....  As for Bulgaria, the participation in any new coalitions should be considered with less enthusiasm and more pragmatism, after having it cleared with our European partners."


DENMARK:  "So Far So Good For President Bush"


Center-right Berlingske Tidende stated (2/4):  "Judging by President Bush's SOTU address, it appears that the U.S. is ready to  take up a central position in the Middle East peace process.  If the U.S. is to succeed, it will be necessary for it to put pressure on both sides, just as we saw in the early 1990s when the U.S. forced the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiation table.  Judging from Bush's speech, it appears that the U.S. is on the right lines.  The peaceful co-existence of two states in the region is, at the present time, nothing more than a pleasing vision of the future, but there is no question that this is the right way forward.  The resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict could have a knock-on effect in the entire region and Bush is clearly keenly aware of this.  So far so good for President Bush."


"Bush's Actions Speak As Loud As His Words"


Bente Bundegaard wrote from Washington in center-right Berlingske Tidende (2/4):  "Freedom, freedom and more freedom.  That was the main message from President Bush during his SOTU address.  According to the president, freedom is the only force great enough to stop the advance of tyranny and terror.  The speech was clearly a study in political theater, but regardless of that,  Bush is a man of action as well as words, as can be seen from the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Another example of this is the fact that Bush hiked support for the Palestinians from $75 million dollars to $350 million dollars.  This initiative indicates that the U.S. after Arafat, sees an important opportunity to create peace in the Middle East and that the U.S. is ready to play an important role in this."


FINLAND:  "Pensions And The Middle East Dominate Bush's Speech Of No Surprises"


Leading, centrist Helsingin Sanomat commented (2/4):  "The U.S. does not intend to withdraw from Iraq before it has reached its goals.  That was Bush's unambiguous answer to those critics who have demanded for a timetable for the withdrawal.  In the Israeli-Palestine conflict, the United States is committed to its policy of two states, which calls for the creation of a democratic Palestinian state as a neighbor to Israel.  In his first term, Bush actively avoided engaging in the peace process but he appears ready to reassess the situation at the beginning of his second term."


"Bush Strongly Committed To Promote Mideast Peace"


Social-democratic Demari editorialized (2/4):  "The underlining themes in President Bush's speech were freedom, democracy and the elimination of tyranny.  These principles are in demand around the world.  Also Europe, which has experienced Nazi and Communist tyrannies, puts high value on these principles.  President Bush's words of warning to Iran, regarding its nuclear weapons development plans, and Syria, regarding its support to terrorism, show how focused the  Bush Administration is in the Middle East and Central Asia.  During the second term,  he will be compelled to honor the pledge that the U.S. will support the creation of a peaceful future for Israel and the state of Palestine.  That requires that the key country of the peace process maintain the trust of the state of Israel and gain the trust of the Palestinians."


HUNGARY:  "Bush And His World View"


Prestigious business-oriented Vilaggazdasag editorialized (2/7):  “In the first situation report of his second presidential term last week, President Bush seemed more conciliatory than ever since September 9, 2001, but this conciliatory spirit might be misleading. His choice of words and syntax was much less bellicose than before and he also mentioned the allies more than once, but it is clear that he still fails to look at the world as something the U.S. is part of, rather than as something that is attached to America.”


"Bush 2.0"


Liberal-leaning Magyar Hirlap opined (2/4):  “Bush is committed to bringing freedom to the world and hopes that he will be ‘the first American president to spread freedom and that this will become one of the key points of his legacy.’...  The timing of the Iraqi elections coincided with the start of Bush’s second presidential term. The elections, due to the high turnout, are a success, but they are just a first step on the road towards creating a democratic and united country.  That the Iraqi democracy has not yet been created is demonstrated by the fact that Bush, even under great (mainly European) pressure, was reluctant to set a time for withdrawal.  By saying that withdrawal will take place when the democratically elected Iraqi government representing its people is able to live in peace with its neighbors and defend itself is understood by certain democratic analysts to mean that the U.S. forces will be temporarily deployed in Iraq for decades.”


IRELAND:  "Bush's Ambitious Domestic Agenda"


The center-left Irish Times declared (2/5):  "President Bush laid out an ambitious, activist political and legislative program in this week's State of the Union address....  There is a lot more detail on domestic policy, which will clearly absorb much more of his political energy in the next four years. His plans to overhaul the US Social Security system by privatizing part of its funding will have a major impact on citizens if he is able to gain congressional approval. The message is that he is determined to achieve it despite deep partisan disagreement and his narrow mandate for such radical change. Mr Bush resists any timetable for US withdrawal from Iraq, saying this will depend on the readiness of Iraqi forces to take over. He continued his warnings on Iran's emergence as a potential nuclear power and a source of terrorism in the Middle East, with harsh words for Syria's rulers as well. North Korea did not figure as prominently as before....  Bush realizes he must work more closely with allies; the theme will be prominent in his visit to Europe this month. If he is to get support he must demonstrate a willingness to work in partnership and to listen to those who have a different approach. Foreign policy success in his second term will depend greatly on this, since Mr Bush is unprecedentedly unpopular in Europe compared to recent US presidents. He was upbeat about the US economy and did not mention the falling dollar, which is troubling other major economic blocs and interests.... Bush justifies his plans to substitute individual investment accounts for state savings by saying the system will become bankrupt within 30 years if it is not reformed....  The alternatives to his plan to cover future shortfalls are drastic tax increases, severe cuts in benefits or later retirement. He will need all his powers of persuasion to push this domestic reform package through.”


LUXEMBOURG:  "Said, Unsaid"


Foreign affairs writer/editor Paul Katow Said said in conservative Luxemburger Wort (2/4):  "Bush stayed true to expectations and to himself in that he claimed to be making the world a better place. Interesting was not only what was said, but also what was left unsaid or only vaguely alluded to....  Bush mentioned the greater chance of peace in the Middle East, but the rest of the world, i.e. Europe, Russia, China, Latin America and Africa were hardly or not at all mentioned. Bush preferred to concentrate on Iran and Syria, which he accused of supporting international terrorism....  New, and perhaps because of that, surprising, was the soft but distinct criticism of a lack of democracy in Saudi Arabia and Egypt."


NORWAY:  "The Boy In The Bubble"


Anne Thurmann-Nielsen commented in independent Dagbladet (2/4):  "I would have loved to believe in a conciliatory President George W. Bush when he the night before Thursday gave Congress his State of the Union address. And that everything is going so much better. And that success is secured both domestically and abroad with Bush behind the wheel....  The reelected President quickly accepted a small election majority as proof of his successful political line. Now he sees heroic Iraqi voters as proof that freedom is winning ground in Iraq. Thanks to the U.S.  Like the boy in the bubble, the President of the U.S. is happily thinking that he is actually a kind of savior of the world....  President Bush has been described as anything from the man of appeasement to a cynical utopian after his address. One thing is for sure; Bush has radical plans both domestically and abroad. And the state of the President after four years in the White House is excellent. He loves being the crusader of freedom."


SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO:  "Bush Threatens Iran And Syria"


Independent liberal Danas commented (2/4):  “The American President challenged both his friends and opponents abroad on many issues, however, he discussed North Korea in a reconciling tone.  Bush promised a ‘new phase’ in Iraq--i.e. training of Iraqi forces--which will enable the American troops to withdraw in some future time....  The American President, who three years ago labeled Iran and North Korea as the ‘axis of evil,’ emphasized this time the role of diplomacy.  And although he described Iran as a leader in the sponsorship of terrorism in the world, he did not say such things about Korea. He also criticized Syria because it allowed terrorists to use its territory. President Bush at the end of his speech promised that the U.S. would not impose its specific system on other countries.”


"Warnings To Iran And Syria"


An editorial in Belgrade-based influential Politika read (2/4):  "President Bush confirmed that, in his second mandate, the U.S. will continue to change the world more than it will change its present course. However, while outlining his ambitious foreign policy objectives he almost burst into tears, seeing two ladies who, inspired by a part of his speech that wove together international and personal dramas, hugged each other. [Referring to an Iraqi lady whose father was killed by Saddam’s forces and an American lady whose son got killed in Iraq]. The scene was a mix of feelings, a very intimate picture and an emotional outbreak so unusual for political gatherings. It also suggested that a firm link has been established between the U.S. and Iraq. The speech indicated that Washington is ready to establish such links in other critical areas of the world that are ready for remodeling. Bush warned several regimes that it is time to change their behavior. First of all Iran, but also he warned Syria. He accused of allowing terrorists to use their territories. The observers noticed that the Near East was touted as a top priority in US foreign policy.”


SLOVENIA:  "Wishes And Reality Of The Second Term"


U.S. correspondent Barbara Kramzar commented in left-of-center Delo (2/4):  "The president who began two big wars...does not want to silently withdraw into history in his second [presidential] term....  Bush has--in the best manner of Ronald Reagan--announced a sweeping of his domestic backyard.  The 20th century's great Republican reformer did away with the belief...that a large state role in an individual's life was a good thing....  The Americans had already become used to working hard....  If the president succeeds to persuade the skeptical Congress, they will also have to become financial experts....  Experience tells us that grand second term plans are Sisyphean tasks faced by each American president.  It is very possible that also George Bush will have to be satisfied with more modest achievements."


SPAIN:  "The American Dream"


Left-of-center El País noted (2/4):  "The U.S. president, George Bush, is perhaps more unilateral, less diplomatic, more abrupt than the majority of his predecessors in the 20th Century, but even so he joins a strong tradition, generous and idealistic, that the U.S. in its foundational mythology has a 'manifest destiny':  not only the domination of America, but also the building of the world at its image in democracy, justice, and the fulfillment of the most honest objectives....  What is essential, and is the unifying principle of presidencies otherwise so apparently so different, is foreign policy, the wish or the need to adapt the world to a dense paste of coexistence and altruist objectives.  And it would be false to believe that Washington normally acts as a blind agent of its naked ambition of power, that it doesn't aspire to the sincere fulfillment of its best intentions....  The war in Iraq...was not inevitable, but that it or another similar war was coming could have been read in the tea leaves.  President Bush personifies an implacable historical logic, a consolidated way to exist, as he showed yesterday in his State of the Union Address.  The problem is that the American dream will end up being a nightmare for many innocent people."


"Bush's Priorities"


Left-of-center El País took this view (2/4):  "Although (the State of the Union speech) doesn't convince half of America's citizens, Bush has as the international backdrop the encouraging elections in Iraq and a climate of hope in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict....  The relief given by the Iraqi elections, the first ones in 50 years, has given Bush the central argument to his foreign policy speech....  Bush correctly considers that the moment to determine a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has not come.  But his emphasis...on an appropriate training of the Iraqi a too limited in a situation such as the occupied Arab country's.  It is one thing not to decide when to act and another thing to lack a politically coherent strategy.  The elections represent a hint of hope, but they must be corroborated with the Iraq that is a broken and violent powder keg around ethnic groups and beliefs."


SWEDEN:  "That Darned Texas Man"


Conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (2/4):  “In his State of the Union message President Bush emphasized that ‘the goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, is within reach.’  If the Israelis and Palestinians really infuse life into the roadmap for peace, it would not be a miracle but rather the result of American foreign policy.  Reality is that a lasting peace cannot be obtained without U.S. involvement....  The State of the Union message was a setback to all Bush-eaters who describe his motto as ‘bombs for freedom.’  It is obvious that the president during his second term will pursue another foreign policy agenda....  In a time when it is common wisdom that a politician can only gain success by midstream policy, it says a lot about Bush when he challenges his opponents with a wide-ranging domestic program....  Nobody can doubt that George W. Bush is an ideological president....  That darned man from Texas.  The image of George W. Bush as a political clown and religious fanatic has stuck in Europe and Sweden.  But that image says more about his critics than about President Bush...who during his speech sounded like a great president.  And he may be one.  He has already provided an impulse for democracy to the world.  However, more important will be whether democracy gets a foothold in Iraq, and peace prevails in Palestine.”


TURKEY:  "The Sheriff Points At Iran And Syria"


The mass-appeal daily Sabah concluded (2/4):  “President Bush dedicated the State of the Union to the issue of the expansion of freedom and democracy.  He declared Iran to be the prime supporter of terrorism, while making a plea for Egypt to accelerate the democratization process.  The tone of President Bush’s speech was no different from recent statements by other high level American officials.  Like them, President Bush once again took a harsh and accusatory tone toward Iran and Syria.  His speech will undoubtedly fuel ongoing speculation about the possibility that Iran and Syria will be the new American targets.”




ISRAEL:  "What The Iraqi Elections Allow Bush To Do"


Nathan Guttman wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/4):  "The elections in Iraq, at which Bush pointed [in the State of the Union address], as well as to democratic moves in the Palestinian Authority, Afghanistan and Ukraine, serve the President as evidence of the rightness of his international policy.  They have also given him the political resource that allows him to point, for the first time, an accusing finger at Egypt and Saudi Arabia--among the most important U.S. allies in the Middle East, and to demand that they do something in the field of democracy."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Bush’s Saber-Rattling"


The English-language pro-government Arab News contended (Internet version, 2/4):  "Buoyed up by what he clearly sees as his personal Iraqi triumph, Bush Wednesday restated his list of countries where he says tyranny prevails and where he intends America to see democracy succeed. Iran and Syria are, he says, not only tyrannies but also sponsors of terrorism. Nor did he omit Saudi Arabia from criticism because the pace of its reforms has not pleased him. His words were extraordinarily ill-timed....  For Iran there were no soft words, no attempt to line up with the more measured European response to allegations that it is diverting its civil nuclear program toward the production of warheads. There were some glaring contradictions in Bush’s saber-rattling approach to Iran....  The issue here is not Iran’s right to possess nuclear weapons. That is a debatable point. But what needs to be questioned is the argument that the possession of nuclear weapons makes some nations terrorists and others crusaders against terrorism.  There is also a lesson that many will draw from the speech. North Korea which, along with Iran, was a member of the 'Axis of Evil' a while ago--because both of them were developing nuclear weapons--is suddenly out of it. There is no threat against it....  Why this sudden change of tone? Could it be that, unlike Iran, North Korea is deemed now to have at least two nuclear devices. Is that the reason why Washington is using every diplomatic avenue it can find to talk to the maverick regime in Pyongyang and negotiate the country’s abandonment of its atomic arsenal? If it is, the lesson is clear for all: If you don’t want to be kicked around, get a working bomb. Whatever Bush may think, it does not seem to be the best way of making this a nuclear-free world.  Bush’s mission to end tyranny and promote democracy does not look like a campaign against global terror but more a clear attempt to extend US power and influence."


JORDAN:   "The State Of The Union Address"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan said in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/4):  “President Bush began his second term by stressing that the Middle East, once more, is going to be the major arena for his foreign, military and political policies....  Bush presents himself as a man of war and peace, calling for freedom and democracy in the region.  His tools for achieving his goals are the American army in Iraq as well as the diplomacy of blockades and military and economic pressures....  As for the Palestinian-Israeli peace, there exists in Arab and European countries a great level of acceptance for Bush’s proposals for establishing the Palestinian state.  Yet, the level of optimism for the chances of achieving a genuine settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis remains low, and that is because of the loss of hope that the Bush administration would exercise serious pressures on the Sharon government towards achieving a just and acceptable solution....  The most significant factors in Bush’s speech are his explicit call for democratic reforms in Egypt and Saudi....  What one may conclude, however, is that the U.S. President is still under the influence of the policies of the neo-conservatives...seduced by the task of increased intervention in the domestic affairs of Arab countries, because they think that the war on terrorism includes changing peoples’ cultures and societies and giving women social and cultural freedom....  True, the U.S. President did not mention Israel in his speech, but all the major lines of Middle East policies as stated in the speech revolve around the American-Israeli relationship and the network of military, security and economic interests between them.  This starts with the issue of Iran’s nuclear reactor and the possibility of air strikes against Iran, going through the stance on Syria and Lebanon, and ending with the future of the regime in Iraq.”


LEBANON:  "Our State With Bush"


Sahar Baasiri opined in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/4):  "The foreign policy reflected in the State Of The Union Address demonstrates President Bush’s first term policies...lead to fundamental changes in his priorities....  For example, it pushed the peace process in the Middle East forward....  During President Bush’s first term in office, he started with almost a total disregard for the region and the Palestinian-Israel conflict.  President Bush thought that he would be able to continue this way.  Following September 11, he thought that he could generalize about the whole region and impose change through what he is doing in Iraq.  Now, in his second term he wants to bring...peace to the region in priority order: A solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, combating terrorism, and spreading democracy....  We have noted the following, however:  On the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Bush still thinks that the solution is possible through combating terrorism....  This does not work...a solution cannot be worked out if we continue to ignore the real problem behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  President Bush did not even mention once the Israeli occupation....  As for combating terrorism, it is not enough to believe that it can be combated by spreading democracy....  Terrorism needs several solutions: political, social and economic....  The bottom line is the following:  The State Of The Union address placed very important issues on the U.S. agenda, however, finding a solution for these issues still needs a different U.S. approach.”


"The Last Stop"


Sateh Noureddine noted in Arab nationalist As-Safir (2/4):  "For the first time, Lebanon was mentioned in the annual State Of The Union address...when President Bush said that Syria allows the use of parts of Lebanon for terrorists....  Obviously, it is well known that the terrorists President Bush meant are Hizballah....  Other than that Bush did not mention Lebanon or all these issues....  The Lebanese think they are a priority on the U.S. agenda such as UNSCR 1559....  This resolution was ignored by President Bush...but is on its way to igniting a Lebanese civil war....  The same for Syria which Bush only mentioned in the context of terrorism....  Our real concern over President Bush’s address is that Israel might view it as a green light and decide to take steps against the its own axis of evil.”


"Bush Speech Clarifies Continued Focus On Syria, Iran, Palestinian-Israeli Conflict"


Rami Khoury observed in the moderate English-language Daily Star (2/4):  "President...Bush’s State Of The Union Address...did not break new ground in terms of foreign policy in his second administration, but in its rhetoric and omissions both, it seems to clarify some short-term U.S. priorities in this region.  Arab analysts and diplomats...seemed to concur that Bush’s speech positioned the U.S. to play a more active role once again in Israeli-Palestinian peace-making efforts, while signaling Washington’s determination to keep pressuring Syria and Iran on charges including promoting terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction.  Perhaps the most noteworthy aspects of the speech from a Middle Eastern perspective were the relative emphasis and specificity it gave to Middle Eastern issues, in view of the fact that this speech is traditionally seen as charting major domestic policy issues for the administration in the year ahead....  The emphasis on the war on terror and the situation in Iraq were clearly expected, and the speech did not seem to break new ground on either issue....  Two common criticisms of Bush speech that were already heard around the region...were the continued sense of the U.S.' divine mission to promote global freedom and democracy...and the tendency to lay out principles and promises but not always to follow through.”


"Bush And The Middle East: A ‘State’ In Three Colors"


Rafiq Khoury said in centrist Al-Anwar (2/4):  "President Bush’s State Of The Union in fact an address about the state of the world...more specifically about the state of the Middle East....  For the U.S., its greatest problem in the...Middle East is terrorism....  However, for the Middle East and the world, the greatest problem is with the U.S. hegemony.  The paradox is that continuous fighting of terrorism will lead to stronger U.S. hegemony in the world...and increased hegemony will lead to additional terrorism....  When President Bush looks at the region he see it in three colors:  The first is white and it extends from Morocco to Jordan to Bahrain....  The second is gray and is the color of America’s friends in the region which are Saudi Arabia and Egypt...that should pursue democracy....  However, the third color is black and it focuses on Syrian and Iran."


MOROCCO:  "Bush Has Defined His Second Tenure In His State Of The Union Speech"


Mubarak Lamrabet commented in independent Arabic-language Al Ahdath Al Maghrebiya (2/4):  "In his State of the Union speech...Bush defined the roadmap of his second tenure and may have presented the pivotal leitmotif of his policy for the coming four years: the ongoing fight against terrorism and action to bring 'freedom' to the world, especially the Middle East....  In fact, Bush...has not entirely dropped the aggressive tone that characterized his first mandate, and which earned him the deep enmity of many world regions.”


"U.S. President In His State Of The Union Speech:  The Planning Of The Greater Middle East"


Driss Guenbouri asserted in moderate-Islamic Arabic-language Attajdid (2/4):  "President Bush's State of the Union speech signals a qualitative change in U.S. foreign policy, which the U.S. Administration wants to inaugurate during Bush's second tenure....  The speech contained many points reflecting the Bush Administration's interests, especially as regards the Middle East, and foremost, the Palestinian and Iraqi portfolios. However, what was more important was the tone of the speech this time, which was stronger and more determined, as if the U.S. President wanted to declare to the world that his policies on hot issues, despite broad criticism from the France-Germany axis, have borne fruit and confirmed the credibility of America’s strategy on an international level."


"Bush's Roadmap"


Atika Haimoud noted in independent French-language Aujourd'hui le Maroc (2/4):  "George Bush has just announced the themes for his second term. In his traditional State of the Union address to Congress, he expressed optimism with regard to the Middle East peace process and even congratulated himself on the ‘expansion of democracy after the elections in Iraq.’ George W. Bush did not provide information on the timing of withdrawal of American troops from Iraq....  He also reminded members of Congress of the reasons for the U.S. presence in Iraq....  On the international level, George W. Bush did not hold back from threatening the governments of Iraq and Syria.”


UAE:  "Bush's Lopsided View Of Utopia"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News asserted (Internet version, 2/4):  "A very self-satisfied US president gave his State of the Union address to fellow Americans. It got the usual standing ovations now observers count the number and length rather than the importance of what is said.  But the address also, unusually, got some boos. They were from Democrats when he mentioned revising social security. So the boos were not considered important.  All in all, US President George Walker Bush can be well-pleased with his speech. He is, after all, totally convinced his re-election gave him a mandate to continue what he has been doing and to charge bull-headed into areas from which previous presidents have tended to fight shy.  The fact is the majority of issues Bush thinks he has clearance on were never mentioned in his campaign, and are now taking much of the public by surprise.  There was no surprise, though, when it came to mentioning his war on terror, or war against terrorism or fight against terrorists. (A different classification according to whom he is speaking to at any given time).  As expected, he singled out Iran and Syria as being the instigators of much that is wrong in the world. It is always unclear when Bush refers to these countries, and links them with North Korea, whether he is beating the drums of war or calling for increased diplomacy (from his European allies, since it is unlikely to come from the State Department, even with the new incumbent).  But on Iraq, Bush is quite clear in his own mind: it is an American-inspired and backed victory that has succeeded in democracy taking root in the Middle East.  Now the region is ready to fall like dominoes for similar political conversion … We shan't mention all the dead and buried Iraqis, of course."




AUSTRALIA:  "A Man Of His Word--Like It Or Lump It"


Foreign editor Greg Sheridan opined in the national conservative Australian (2/4):  "US President George W. Bush got a huge political shot in the arm from the success of the Iraqi election on Sunday and his State of the Union address demonstrates that renewed confidence....  Bush's presidency will be judged by Iraq and he gave out a strong message yesterday--the US will stay the course....  The speech also showed how deeply the Middle East will define the Bush presidency. Bush gave substance to his inauguration address by naming and shaming two US allies, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He dealt with them politely and sweetly, but by calling on them to embrace democracy he made it clear that their present political arrangements are a serious problem. But perhaps the biggest news out of the speech were the continued tough words for Syria and Iran....  The Bushes have a history of matching tough talk with tough action. This speech will certainly be analyzed closely in Tehran."


"Bush's Idealism Is Undimmed"


An editorial in the national business-oriented Australian Financial Review read (2/4):  "Bush's State of the Union address reveals no change of plan. Heartened by Iraq's elections, he still intends to spend capital pursuing big-government conservatism at home and freedom and democracy abroad. Mr Bush was bolder and more detailed on social security reform than expected, more forthright in denouncing Syria and Iran than his European partners might want, and more positive about peace between Israel and the Palestinians than they might have hoped....  By setting such a bold agenda Mr Bush has given himself a shot at going out in 2009 as one of the most significant modern presidents. Even if he achieves half of it, he will have earned that accolade....  Mr Bush's idealism remains undimmed. His utopian dream of inspiring planting democracy in Iraq remains the key to his legacy. Close allies such as Australia will be relieved that this dream has been advanced by the success of Iraq's election. But they should remain apprehensive about what still has to be done, and by what they may yet be asked to do in the service of Mr Bush's idealism.”


"Gunpoint Democracy For Whoever Wants It"


International Editor Peter Hartcher commented in the liberal Sydney Morning Herald (2/4):  "In the State of the Union, Bush burned just as brightly with the fire of his democratic revolution, but he was more careful to specify how and where America wants it to catch alight. Bush was not retreating in any way from his fervor of a few weeks earlier. Indeed, he explained that it was not only in the service of the high ideal of liberty that Bush framed his vision, but also in American national self-interest....  But this time he differentiated. First, he limited his remarks to the Middle East. Second, he differentiated between friendly states and hostile states…. Bush has set himself the great cause of unblocking the autocratic obstacles to the tide of history in the Middle East. He appears to be about to intensify the use of friendly pressure on friendly tyrants and gunpoint democracy on unfriendly ones. It will be a dangerous and difficult test of American resolve and wisdom.”


CHINA:  “A Soft Landing For Bush’s Tough Diplomacy”


Wang Yiwei commented in official international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (2/7):  “After being bogged-down in foreign affairs during the first term, Bush’s State of The Union speech shifts the focus to domestic affairs....  Bush hoisting the flag of freedom is an act with a hidden motive--to have a soft landing for neo-conservative diplomacy.  Bush submits the fight against tyranny and autocracy as a legitimate base for his hegemonic diplomacy.  These principles characterized Bush diplomacy during the first term, and were also part of a bigger goal: to leave a historical legacy for Bush and the Republicans.  Looking to the future, Bush will face major challenges in domestic affairs; therefore, the U.S. will become more conservative in foreign affairs.  U.S. diplomacy will return to a more traditional style of diplomacy, focusing on picking up and repairing the ‘smashed pots and jars’ of the first term.”


"Bush Faces New Challenges In Second-Term"


Liu Aicheng stated in official People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (2/5):  “In his State of the Union speech, George W. Bush listed several new challenges in the second-term....  Bush’s first challenge will be how to implement social security reform.  Bush’s reform plan...has already received extensive criticism from many groups even before it is formally issued....  Bush’s second challenge will be how to withdraw U.S. troops from the Iraqi swamp, and do it with dignity.  Bush can’t, or dare not, issue a withdrawal schedule....  Bush’s third challenge will be how to build democracy in the Middle East.  The U.S.’ own actions in the Middle East will be the biggest obstacle to U.S. plans in the troubled region....  Bush hopes the Iraq election can help him promote democracy, but the U.S.’ forceful actions will undoubtedly continue to arouse even greater anti-U.S. sentiment in the region.”


CHINA (HONG KONG AND MACAU SARS):  "Bush Will Make Adjustments In Dealing With Foreign Affairs"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (2/5):  "U.S. President Bush delivered the first State of the Union Address of his second term.  Although he shifted the focus of his address to domestic issues, he continued to give relatively large coverage to foreign affairs.  People find that Bush has taken a softer stance in many major issues in his State of the Union Address than when he was reelected.  It seems that he will make some adjustments in handling foreign affairs....  In regards to Iran, Bush used strong words.  Nevertheless, he dared not talk about the military action.  It may be because the lesson he learned from Iraq has stopped him from taking rash action.  Bush accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons, but he continued to stress that the problem should be settled by multilateral efforts.  This time the U.S. is seeking cooperation with Europe....  For the DPRK, Bush's attitude has obviously softened.  The DPRK has always paid attention to Bush's State of the Union Address and his attitude.  The DPRK has waited for the U.S. presidential election and Bush's State of the Union Address before deciding whether or not to resume the six-party talks.  Bush and his senior assistants recently encouraged the DPRK to return to the negotiation table.  Now, it seems that the six-party talks will resume soon.  The U.S. is still seeking to cooperate with China.  The main direction will unlikely change.  Some frictions may occur but both sides will increase dialogue.  Better Sino-U.S. relations are, after all, good for world peace."


"Forethought Essential Bush Second Term"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (2/4):  "U.S. President George W. Bush received 61 rounds of applause from lawmakers during his state-of-the-union address yesterday.  As the war in Iraq shows, however, what wins favor in America does not necessarily gain international approval.  Mr. Bush's speech, mapping out the first year of his second term as president, outlined a vision of the future as he would like it.  His biggest concerns were domestic issues, the centerpiece being a revamping of the pension system....  Mr. Bush yesterday toned down his rhetoric on North Korea, simply saying talks on settling its nuclear proliferation were under way.  But he kept up the pressure on Iran and upgraded his opposition to Syria, accusing both long-time U.S. enemies of supporting terrorism....  But it is not America's job to be the world's watchdog of what is good or evil--that is the role of the UN and other democratically created organizations, such as the EU.  The flaw of Mr. Bush's approach is no better on show than in Iraq, which although inching towards democracy, remains mired in instability.  Ever louder calls by Iraqis for U.S. troops to leave, to prove Washington's commitment to democracy, are not being heeded.  Members of the U.S. Congress must approve Mr. Bush's wish list for it to become policy.  That they must first please their constituents cannot be avoided, but they, and Mr. Bush, would do well to also consider the global implications of their decisions when dealing with foreign issues.  The world cannot afford another mistake like Iraq."


JAPAN:  "Prudent And Tolerant Diplomatic Policy Needed"


Liberal Mainichi declared (2/4):  "In his annual policy address this year, President Bush toned down his confrontational stance against terrorist-sponsoring nations displayed during previous speeches.  In addition to revealing his constructive aim of spreading peace and democracy across the world, the President indicated his further efforts to promote cooperation with European and Asian allies.  Despite his criticism of terrorist-sponsoring nations, such as Iran, Syria and North Korea, he refrained from naming them as members of the 'axis of evil.'  The President suggested that he would respect the initiative of Arab nations to promote their own forms of democracy.  Bush seems to have realized that international division and confrontation will not help in the rebuilding of Iraq.  The success of Baghdad's first free elections may have urged him to take a 'tolerant' line.  Spreading freedom is a sublime goal.  To achieve this, the U.S. must cooperate with the U.N. and other members of the global community.  Washington needs to exercise a prudent and tolerant diplomatic policy by promoting dialogue instead of taking 'unilateral' action."


"World's Sole Superpower Faces Tough Challenge"


Top-circulation moderate Yomiuri stressed (2/4):  "As the world's sole superpower, the U.S. bears the heaviest responsibility for the world economy and global security.  During his address, President Bush reiterated his support for democratic change in the Middle East by cooperating with nations that share U.S. ideas and values of freedom.  While stressing Washington's efforts to stop terrorism and end tyranny, the President emphasized that the U.S. does not intend to force other nations to adhere to American ideals.  In his dealing with Iraq, the President must prove that his words are not an empty promise....  Iraq should be stabilized as soon as possible in order to encourage Iraqi independence and international reconstruction efforts.  Stability in Iraq will not be achieved without the cooperation of European and Middle East nations.  We welcome Secretary of State Rice's tour to such regions as a signaling positive diplomatic efforts by the U.S."


"Bush Expresses Ambition To Go Down In History"


Liberal Tokyo Shimbun observed (2/3):  "President Bush's State of the Union address, which focused on U.S. initiatives to spread freedom around the world and on reform of domestic social security systems, demonstrates the U.S. leader's ambition to go down in history as a great leader.  The president, who narrowly won his leadership four years ago, has survived enormous diplomatic challenges, such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  However, his 50-percent approval rate has remained unchanged since he was first elected four years ago.  In addition, the security situation in Iraq remains unstable.  Bush's ambitious address suggests that the president is now be able to set his own agenda--a departure from his first administration under which major policy initiatives were based on the 'anything but Clinton' principle."


"Presidential Address Presents Wide Range Of Policy Choices In Aim To Spread Freedom"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (2/4):  "During his Wednesday address, President Bush expressed his firm determination to spread freedom across the world.  Despite his strong criticism of Iran and Syria, he did not name North Korea a member of the 'axis of evil' or a 'rogue state.'  The president's mild tone appears to be aimed at winning worldwide cooperation in order to spread freedom to the world.  We need to closely monitor Washington's future approach to Tehran."


"President Anxious To Achieve Middle East Peace"


An editorial in liberal Asahi read (2/3):  "President Bush outlined specific U.S. policy goals in the Middle East during his State of the Union address.  The Bush administration is trying to expand and establish democracy in the Middle East, including Afghanistan and nations in North Africa, by addressing stalled peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the unstable security situation in Iraq....  The U.S. hopes that democratic values will spread in Iraq and among the Palestinians and create a ripple effect in the region.  Washington's focus will now be on to what extent it can encourage the spread of democracy in such nations as Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which take a basically pro-U.S. policy despite exercising an autocratic domestic approach.  If the U.S. fails to take a tough line with such nations, it is likely to be criticized for adopting a 'double standard.'"           


INDONESIA:  "U.S. President Reiterates Links Between Freedom And Peace"


Leading independent Kompas commented (2/4):  "We should not deny some of the facts, such as when Bush noted that the efforts to attain freedom--in Afghanistan, Palestine and Ukraine--constituted major instances in the history of freedom.  But his vision on changing hatred into the spirit of co-existence has yet to pass the test in the Middle East....  The Israel-Palestinian issue might as well become the focus of Bush’s foreign policy during his second term.  A success in creating peace between the two peoples...would no doubt become one of the tests to place George Bush as one of the great leaders....  Bush emphasized U.S. efforts to reduce the proliferation of WMD, by North Korea and Iran in particular.  But the U.S. has never questioned Israel on the issue.  In fact, one of the preconditions for stability in the Middle East is that all countries, Israel is no exception, should abandon their nuclear programs.  When the image of a U.S. double standard remains strong in the minds of many people, will the optimism that Bush touched on in his speech be shared by the people in the Middle East?”     


MALAYSIA:   "High-Sounding Talk"


Petaling Jaya-based Chinese-language government-influenced Nanyang Siang Pau noted (2/3):  "In foreign policy, Bush continued the high-sounding talk on his plan to spread freedom and democracy in the world....  The successful holding of the Iraqi election will provide a powerful defence for Bush's Iraq policy....  Bush has succeeded in continuing in office, and he will no longer need to be constrained by a re-election campaign, and there will obviously be greater room provided for his administration; and overseas developments, including the smooth completion of elections in Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq, have made the democratic process take a step forward, and made Bush very ambitious to forge a more magnificent place in history for himself."


PHILIPPINES:  "Freedom From Fear"


The moderate Philippine Star editorialized (2/4):  "The US president vowed to pass along to the next generations all the freedoms that Americans now enjoy, foremost of which is freedom from fear....  Freedom-loving people around the world will not argue with the ideal of liberty for all, or a goal of freeing everyone from fear. Getting there, however, is another story. Bush has learned painful lessons from Iraq. Those lessons, learned at the cost of American lives and at great cost to American taxpayers, must not be unlearned as he embarks on his second term.”


SINGAPORE:  "Opening For Pyongyang"


The pro-government Straits Times concluded (2/4):  "It was a small mercy US President George W. Bush did not wheel out any new 'axis' to honor North Korea in his State of the Union speech....  He only said this time the U.S. would work with its Asian partners to disabuse the country of its nuclear pretensions. As form matters in diplomacy where substance is murky, the mildness shown is an enabling act of statesmanship. North Korea should reciprocate, as its room for maneuver is tight with each passing season of grain and energy shortages....  Bush's neutral mention leaves open a crack. Pyongyang should quickly show it wants a settlement--and cut out the theatrics....  The new US Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice...needs to make clear where the U.S. stands on giving Pyongyang a credible quid pro quo for dismantling its nuclear program. Demanding a shutdown and giving nothing in return will doom the process to failure. The diplomatic and energy inducements the US offered at the third session last June are a workable basis for talks....  Pyongyang has to be sincere about the timetable for dismantlement. As always, China's influence on Pyongyang will be crucial....  Provided the parties are focused on the primary threat of a North Korean loose cannon, they can take their time to craft a solution that will stand."


SOUTH KOREA:  "Bush Did Not Provoke North Korea"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo argued (2/4):  “The fact that President Bush refrained from making harsh statements on North Korea...can be seen as reflecting President Bush’s willingness to create an atmosphere for North Korea to rejoin the Six-Party Talks.  We assess this move positively.  In addition, it is interesting that President Bush, stressing the spread of freedom, the core theme of his second-term inaugural speech, mostly targeted the Islamic world while avoiding the North.  Noting that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made waves by listing the North as one of the ‘outposts of tyranny’ during her confirmation hearing, this move by President Bush shows that he has taken the North into consideration.  Furthermore, President Bush’s assertion that the U.S. has no right, no desire, and no intention to impose its form of government on anyone else can be interpreted to mean that the U.S. will not seek regime change in another country by force.  Since North Korea has said that it will decide whether to resume the Six-Party Talks only after watching President Bush’s inaugural speech and State of the Union Address, it is time for the North to respond proactively to the resumption of the multilateral talks.”




INDIA:  "George Bush:  Second Imprint"


Kolkata-based independent Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika observed (2/7):  "Continuity on one hand and change on the other--both aspects were expected in SOTU. The anticipation has been partially fulfilled. The success of electoral processes in Afghanistan and Iraq and the coronation of the new leadership in post-Arafat Palestine may usher in some changes in the US war strategy in West Asia....  However, warning Syria and terming Iran as the 'primary state sponsor of terrorism' with Bush's plan to counter them may escalate tension and instability in West Asia as well as the entire world. The most enchanting part of Bush's speech was no doubt his take on democracy especially in Egypt and Saudi Arabia....  But what about Pakistan? Since it is a regional coalition partner of the US defense strategy he did not even censure Pakistan. The positive signs of democratic reforms in the governance of countries from Morocco to Bahrain to Jordan...that elated Bush was in most part the fanciful imagination of the Pentagon. In fact, Bush certified these Islamic nations as they were serving the US strategic interests....  How can the US strategic interests and the spread of free democracy be synonymous?....  Succinctly, duplicity in the world view of the Bush II Presidency remains intact. There is no sign of proper reforms, nor was none hoped for.  On the other hand, Rice's comparatively softer remarks that kindled hopes of prioritizing diplomacy instead of war were not clear in Bush's statement. Whether Bush, while trying to make America 'safer and more secure', will make the globe more vulnerable still remains a big question."


"Thus Spake Bush 2"


The nationalist Hindustan Times declared (2/6):  "Ever since January 2002, when Bush made his first State of the Union address, the international community has been taking copious notes, analyzing every turn of phrase and dissecting every point that he has made-or not made....  The first State of the Union address during his second term as president marks a different starting block: the just concluded-and surprisingly successful-elections in Iraq.  Bush once again pledged to confront governments that promote terror and pursue WMD.  This is going to be a mandatory refrain from presidents even after Bush has vacated his present seat, so let's not read too much into that.  What needs to be noted, however, is that without genuflecting to the idea of dealing with the 'roots of terrorism', Bush has promised to push for a West Asia peace plan that includes an Dols. 350 million aid offer to the Palestinian people....  This time round, Bush has stapled the idea of a safer America to a more welcoming America.  Not only has he spoken about the need to install a system which 'permits temporary guest workers to fill jobs that Americans will not take'--something that may be directed to Mexican ears--but he has also announced the need for America to open its doors to talent and a high-skilled workforce--addressing a problem that has seen high-skilled immigration down from 195,000 in 2001 to 65,000 in 2004. The speech, though, was most specific on an issue that is of purely domestic importance: social security reforms.  The fact that being more pragmatic about the outside world, is heartening.  If words can be an indicator of how his administration will proceed in the next four years, Bush v.2 should be an improvement on the beta version."


"Controlling Mr. Bush"


The centrist Indian Express opined (2/6):  "George Bush appears determined to carry the adventurism that characterized his first four years in office into the second term. In his State of the Union Address, he followed up on the theme that formed the core of his speech at his second inaugural--of spreading liberty to benighted corners of the world. This statement of intent must be read along with the president's skewed understanding of the idea of freedom. The repeated invocation of the term `liberty' is grotesque when juxtaposed against the reality of the U.S. invading and occupying sovereign nations....  With Iran and Syria apparently marked out as the next targets of Washington's drive to promote democracy, there is understandable apprehension that these two countries could be attacked in the next few years. However, concern on this score might turn out to be overblown since the U.S. military forces are so overstretched by the ongoing operations in Iraq that they are not likely to be available for action anywhere else....  The Bush administration might also need to give up its penchant for adventurism overseas, for the simple reason it is likely to be caught up in an intense domestic battle over plans to revamp the system of Social Security. While Bush did touch upon the various items on his domestic agenda in his State of the Union address, he clearly perceives Social Security `reform' as a priority....  Bush has displayed unbelievable chutzpah in defending policies that have gone horribly wrong. He appears further emboldened to follow this approach since he could get away with it in the presidential election campaign....  Democrats...seem to be more alert to the dangers of the President's ideology-driven approach....  They will...try to rein in a President on the rampage."


"Proceed With Care"


An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer read (2/5):  "It was only to be expected that, re-elected with a convincing majority, President George W. Bush would pursue his known domestic and foreign agendas with renewed vigor and confidence. His annual State of the Union address, his first since his second coming, was therefore eagerly awaited for clues to the major thrust areas on which he would concentrate and such specific programs as he may adopt to achieve his goals.  In the event, it understandably hailed, in the area of foreign policy, the successful holding of elections in Iraq, which is undoubtedly one of his major achievements....  While the statement needs to be welcomed as an indication that the US is fully aware of its responsibility towards Iraq, the absence of any significant mention of Afghanistan warrants concern. The US has an equally strong responsibility to ensure the survival of the Hamid Karzai regime....  There is also some cause for concern in the address's affirmation of his intention to take on Governments that promoted terrorism and pursued the acquisition of WMD.  It identified Iran, his old bete noire, and also Iraq, as countries under his scanner....  While most countries of the world which strongly oppose any drastic US action against Iran would be reassured to some extent by the indication that he would, for the present at least, pursue the diplomacy route to cap Tehran's nuclear program, the question arises as to what would happen if the results did not satisfy him.  An attempt at the use of force would widen the area of conflict in West Asia....  On the domestic front, the address put his ambitious scheme to re-shape the social security system at the top of the agenda....  Here, too, the need for caution can hardly be over-emphasized. Particularly, the diversion of contributions people now make to retirement schemes to stocks and bonds, is not without risk."


"Well Done, Mr. Bush"


A commentary in the Chennai-based independent financial Hindu Business Line read (2/4):  "The Address by Bush on February 2 this year roused keen interest for being his first after his re-election. He rose to the occasion in terms of both matter and manner, as evidenced by the standing ovation he received almost for every alternate sentence throughout his hour-long speech. In fact, the clapping was so frequent--even in the midst of a sentence--as to remind me of the method sometimes adopted by students to express their impatience with a boring speaker! He took head-on the contentious social security issue, braving the loud 'No's' from a section--presumably the Democrats--of the audience. I thought he made out a strong and convincing case for revamping a system which, after 70 years of its operation, has reached a state of financial breakdown. It had also become a holy cow which vested interests would not allow any Administration to touch.  It is to the credit of Bush that he is determined to introduce the sorely needed corrective measures. His tribute to the people of Iraq for participating in the election despite terrorist attempts to disrupt it was as well-deserved as his stern warning to Syria, Iran and North Korea against harboring terrorists and his call to the Muslim countries of West Asia to turn away from tyrannical modes of government and take to the path of democracy. Well done, Bush!"


PAKISTAN:  "State Of Union Address"


The center-right national English-language Nation declared (2/4):  "Anybody hoping that President Bush would adopt policies conducive to peace and international harmony in his second term, would be dismayed by his State of the Union Address.  The address in fact would lead many to conclude that the world is likely to become even a more dangerous place than before.  The address focuses especially on the Middle East and a number of Muslim countries in the region.  President Bush has promised to topple tyranny, promote democracy and win the war on terror through building coalitions....  The address is liable to strengthen the already strong anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world, weakening the moderate forces and strengthening extremist trends.  Two Muslim countries were targeted in the first term.  Two more seem to be in the firing range now. Iran and Syria have been categorized top sponsors of terrorism....  For President Bush democracy is not an ideal itself but a useful stick to beat those Washington dislikes.  The policies pursued by President Bush in his first term have turned a stable and prosperous Iraq into a country which the so called elected government would find difficult to govern even with the support of American troops.  The civic infrastructure has been destroyed, the subsidies provided to a vast section of population are no more there, while country has become a recruiting ground for terrorists endangering the region and the world at large.  One shudders to think what will become of Iraq and Iran if the same fate was to befall them."


BANGLADESH:  "Bush's Hard-Fisted Diplomacy"


The independent English-language New Age commented (2/6):  "President George W. Bush has demonstrated in his latest State of the Union address the characteristics, which his earlier two-term predecessors have shown, which is to emphasis America’s role in the world. But where this president differs from those earlier ones is in his determination to see the world in terms of black and white. Mr. Bush and the people around him have had little time in the last four years to consider anything of the grayish kind in their politics. It now appears that the habit or inclination has not changed. For Bush supporters in America, that may be a good instance of strong leadership. For the outside world, it is a matter of serious worry.  The US President has singled out Iran and Syria in his speech as sponsors of terrorism. He has thus made it clear that the war on terror he inaugurated in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 will go on as long as he does not get his way. That attitude is fraught with huge risks, for it once more raises the specter of a world where American soldiers, in company with their allies, will take upon themselves the job of correcting what they think is wrong."


"President Bush's State Of The Union Address"


The independent English-language News Today held (2/5):  "Reading through President George W. Bush’s second state of the union address one gets the chilling feeling that the next four years of his presidency would be no different from his first term as he continues to speak in the language of weapons. In fact there is nothing in the address to feel cheerful about or to raise the spirits of a world living in constant fear of unilateral U.S. decisions.  The main focus of the address is the troubled Middle East. He refused to set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, has warned Syria and Iran in no uncertain terms, rebuked allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt for not doing enough to democratize their countries and was ecstatic in claiming that a Palestinian state was within reach at long last. It was never in doubt that U.S. troops would stay in Iraq indefinitely or may even permanently if the new Iraqi regime so desires but that perhaps means until a sufficiently stooge-like regime is in place to request a permanent presence."




UGANDA:  "George Bush Breeding Terror"


The state-owned New Vision noted (2/6):  "It seems US President George Bush is planning to export the Iraq mess to Iran and Syria. In his State of Union address, he accused both countries of having ties with terrorism and also told the people of the two countries that as they stand for their own liberty, America is with them.  This sounds like an appendage to his post-September 11 war slogan--you are either with us or against us--that has seen the people of Afghanistan and Iraq suffer after the US toppled their governments.  From a secure distance Bush can say the fall of the two has made the world a safer place.  Everyone but Bush knows that Iraq is unsafe. So is Afghanistan. Iraqis are living in hell and the US soldiers on duty in Iraq are facing danger as they patrol the volatile country.  Bush should go slow on Iran and Syria. Creating another Afghanistan or Iraq in the region will make the world a dangerous place. More insurgents will rise up and terror will spread throughout the world. It is clear America’s involvement creates more problems than it solves."


"Bush's Voice Better Than America's Dollar"


The independent Monitor declared (2/5):  "President George Bush's State of the Union address was 5,115 words and not a single one of those words was 'Africa.'  What a shame!  Bush's pledge to promote the ideal of liberty at home and around the world will remain hollow unless the President's world is expanded beyond the Middle East, oil and war.  Since his first term, backers of the President's policies have pointed to his pro-African actions to temper criticism of the absence of policy commitment to the poorest continent from the richest nation.  Many point to the annual incremental rise in America's international HIV/Aids assistance.  They also gleefully point at the President's five-year $15 billion Emergency Plan for Aids Relief that aims to provide treatment for two million people living with HIV/Aids.  But such emphasis on the dollars that the Bush administration continues to pledge to African causes misses a poignant point: Money cannot buy democracy, but the pressure of voice and persuasion promotes the torch of liberty in all nations.  As the Darfur case in Sudan showed, Bush's dollars can never reach every corner of the African continent, but his voice can be heard on Africa's highest mountaintops of corruption and its deepest valleys of terror.  Mr. Bush should put his mouth where his money is."




CANADA:  "Bush's Mideast Push"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (Internet version, 2/4):  "After a season of neglect, U.S. President George Bush says he is ready to throw America's support behind a renewed push for Mideast peace.  That was the big foreign policy promise in an ambitious State of the Union address....  While Bush expects to be busy with domestic issues such as pension reform in his second term, he could do nothing better for the security of Israelis and Palestinians, and for his own legacy, than deliver on Mideast peace in the next four years.  A trifecta of freedom and stability--Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel/Palestine--would hearten democrats in a volatile region, buttress U.S. interests and weaken extremists.  That said, Bush could easily exhaust himself delivering on these priorities.  Afghanistan and Iraq still risk becoming anarchic, failed states.  And there's no sense that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is ready to tolerate a viable Palestinian state.  Given these challenges already at hand, it was disquieting to hear Bush talk of pushing his already burdened Mideast agenda even further.  He insisted the U.S. 'must confront regimes that continue to harbor terrorists and to pursue weapons of mass murder.'  He singled out Syria and Iran.  He demanded Syria 'open the door to freedom,' as well as stop supporting terror.  That means Iraq-style regime change.  Similarly, he implied Iranians should rise up against their clerical leaders, in addition to Iran renouncing its nuclear weapons ambitions, and cutting ties to terror.  Trying to force regime change in Iran and Syria, directly or indirectly, would plunge the Mideast into two more crises, before three others have been sorted out.  That seems overly ambitious, even for a president with energy like Bush.  The risk is that it will bleed U.S. energy from important tasks already at hand."


"Riding High"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (2/4):  "Everybody loves a winner, and U.S. President George W. Bush is looking like one--at least for the moment in the area of his foreign policy.  Sunday's successful election in Iraq has most critics of the war scrambling to jump on the bandwagon....  Nowhere did spots change more dramatically--and temporarily--than in the U.S. Congress...when Mr. Bush delivered the state of the union address. Any mention of Iraq, of the elections in Afghanistan and in the PA, brought the senators and congressmen to their feet, enthusiastically applauding, almost to a politician, like teenagers at a rock concert. It must have seemed like a moment of vindication for President Bush, and he played it superbly, riffing on the theme--freedom and democracy for everyone--that was at the centre of his inauguration speech. He was far less bellicose toward previously identified enemies--Iran and North Korea, for example--than he has been, and slightly more critical of traditional friends, cautioning nations such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan that they too must join in the movement toward democracy. Mr. Bush has a right to enjoy for the moment this chorus of approval, but he must remain aware that if things go awry in Iraq, the cheers will quickly turn into catcalls....  The Democrats see Mr. Bush's plans for Social Security as a call to arms. Everyone may like a winner, but politicians do dearly also love a war, particularly a political one over a domestic issue that touches on every voter's economic fears. The president, for his part, appears to be as gung-ho for this war as he was for the one in Iraq. Mr. Bush's second term looks to be as hard-fought as his first."


ARGENTINA;  "The Election's Paradox"


Franco Castiglioni concluded in left-of-center Pagina 12 (2/4):  "How will Bush's State of the Union address influence foreign policy? It is true that elections in Iraq had an unexpectedly high turnout, and that Iraqis went to vote in spite of bomb threats, but in my opinion, what really happened last Sunday is still a riddle. At first sight, Bush defeated terrorism in this hand wrestling by managing that elections were held in the country. Nonetheless, I do not understand well how this Iraqi election can be construed as a victory of democracy if the winner is a candidate promoted by Iran. Then, Iran would win in Iraq, and, according to Bush's statements, Iran is allegedly one of the members of the 'axis of evil'....  On the other hand, regarding Latin America, it does not even appear in the Bush administration's  map, and it is only mentioned along with Venezuela, which has been included as another country of 'evil.' Beyond all this, I doubt the US will ever attempt to intervene in the region."


"Expansionism Is On The Horizon"


Claudio Lozano asserted in left-of-center Pagina 12 (2/4):  "In the framework of the legitimacy President Bush obtained in the November elections, a State of the Union just like the one he granted, the US economic situation, its commercial and fiscal deficit, the American hemisphere is likely to suffer a expansionist strategy and a discharge of investment on the region....  Last Wednesday's State of the Union address only confirmed that there will be a reinforcement of a pro-FTAA strategy in the region and it is a call of attention for our democracies to fight this advance through reinforcing regional integration and promoting Mercosur....  We should not succumb to the temptation to strike bilateral deals with the US....  The threats included in Bush's speech are not rhetoric....  The only way to put a brake on him is continued opposition to demonstrated by the international community with the Spanish crisis, the Italian decision not to let Berlusconi continue in his position, Blair's political wearing out and the emergence of Latin American (left-wing) political leaders such as Lula in Brazil, Chavez in Venezuela, Kirchner in our country and Tabare (Vazquez) in Uruguay."


"Turning Point: Bush Demands Changes From Middle East Allies"


Business-financial Ambito Financiero stated (2/4):  "Bush urged key allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to take decisive steps towards democracy, in an unusual turning point of his foreign policy. Up to now, the Republican leader has focused his criticism on authoritarian regimes like Iran, Syria, North Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, without including the governments of countries that are aligned with the White House....  Based on the successful elections in Iraq, Bush has maintained the democratization of the Big Middle East as one of his top priorities."


BRAZIL:  "Bush’s New ‘War’"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo commented (2/4):  “The dominant role performed by the U.S. as the only global superpower requires a close attention to its internal democratic rituals....  In regards to domestic policy, the speech generated more controversy.  Bush insisted on his plan to privatize the social security system....  The proposed system is similar to the one recommended by the World Bank to emerging nations some years ago....  By resuming the proposal, which had already been presented during the electoral campaign, the speech opened a controversy that is expected to mobilize the U.S. public opinion intensely.  It is already possible to anticipate that the bill, when submitted to Congress, will cause a true political battle.  Bush, however, does not seem the type of president who fears such confrontations.”


MEXICO:  "Partial Immigration Agreement"


Business-oriented El Financiero editorialized (2/4):  "In his state of the union speech, President George W. Bush reiterated that one of his priorities was to urgent immigration reform to replace the present immigration laws, which he labeled as obsolete, and he said they do not serve either U.S. economic interests or values.  But Mexico should expect little from the initiative presented by the White House over a year ago, because it is hardly consistent with the immigration proposal presented by President Vicente Fox at the beginning of his administration. The regularization of more than four million Mexican illegal immigrants in the U.S. is not part of the White House agenda. The White House is more concerned with border security and we will have to wait for the right time.  At least, on the positive side, a temporary workers' program is being considered, but it will be necessary to learn more about the details now that the decision is in the hands of Congress."


PARAGUAY:  "The State Of The Planet"


Most influential ABC Color asserted (2/6):  "But the inevitable international issue was, as expected, the situation in Iraq.  The recent elections in that distressful nation was the most strong, factual and sensitive component of a cold night when the President tried to picture a very encouraging panorama of his country and the world.  A world very much limited indeed as Latin America never existed--as it was immediately pointed out by the Democrats."


VENEZUELA:  "Bush’s Speech"


Antonio Sánchez García wrote in liberal tabloid El Nuevo País (2/4):  “Bush has given us, this Wednesday night, one of the most exceptional lessons of political speech: addressing all the issues, confronting his nations and showing them a goal to be accomplished in forty, fifty and one hundred years.  As a great American singer would say, a politician thinks of the coming elections--and of how to win them, even if it is by hurting his people with a huge fraud--and a statesman thinks of the next generations.  In his message to the nation, Bush went beyond that border that separates a politician and a statesman.” 




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