European Media, Others Fret Over Bush Re-Election

By Eva Cahen | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

Paris ( - While European leaders have sent congratulatory and diplomatic messages to President Bush on his re-election, newspaper headlines reflected widespread concern of continued divisions between the United States and Europe over the next four years.

"Bush Re-elected, the French Disappointed," ran the lead headline in the tabloid Le Parisien , which reported on a poll indicating that 65 percent of the French believed a second Bush term was a "bad thing."

In Belgium, the daily La Derniere Heure wrote that it now fears "four more years in which America will again be arrogant, sure of its righteousness and often deaf to its European allies and friends."

The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung urged Europe not to give in to accepting strained relations for the next four years, even if "reconciliation with the United States under Bush may seem unthinkable to many nations."

Sweden's Dagens Nyheter said any hopes the president would be "more attentive to other points of view" could be swept aside, while in the Netherlands, the Telegraaf predicted that Bush "will continue to divide Europe."

Some politicians reacted with equally negative views. Jack Lang, a former Socialist Culture Minister in France, warned that Bush will be "more of a warrior than ever" because of his large victory margin and called on Europe to impose itself as a counterweight.

The European Green Party also saw the president's re-election as an opportunity for Europe to be more ambitious.

"It [Europe] is now a priority because we have this ambition to represent a viable and more democratic, friendlier and more gentle alternative to the Bush way," said Monica Frassoni, an Italian delegate and co-president of the Greens at the European Parliament.

Frassoni said the Greens and the Europeans would keep the dialogue open but had little hope for anything to change during Bush's second term.

Analysts see a range of issues that Europe and the U.S. will have to tackle seriously in the next four years. Steven Everts, director of the Transatlantic Program at the Center for European Reform in London, said the top two were Iran's nuclear arms program and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Everts said Europeans and the U.S. agreed that Iran must prove its nuclear program was not military in nature, but "Europeans feel that the Americans are a one-instrument orchestra. It's all sticks and no carrots."

European governments would like to offer Iran incentives to give up their nuclear program, but the Americans argued that "if it does not comply it must pay the price through economical and political sanctions, moving on swiftly to military options," said Everts.

As for the Middle East, Europeans were waiting for Bush to do what he said he would do, "when he said to [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair that he would devote as much time to peacemaking in Israel-Palestine as Blair had done in Northern Ireland," Everts said.

Fraser Cameron, director of studies at the Center for European Reform in Brussels, also believed movement in the Middle East would be a key issue in helping to improve trans-Atlantic relations.

"The United States is the most influential power with Israel, and Bush has to fully commit to getting the road map moving again or nothing's going to happen," said Cameron.

But if Bush is looking to Europe for additional military help in Iraq, "there's no way in hell" that will happen, said Everts.

"Why would Europe contribute to a failed policy that they opposed from the beginning? Instead, Bush should ask for the things he could get - help with the civilian reconstruction, building up the police forces, helping to write the constitution," he said.

Another major disagreement between Europe and the Bush administration is the U.S. rejection of the Kyoto Protocol setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

Lars Friberg, a policy officer with Climate Action Network Europe in Brussels, said his organization would continue discussions with American officials to work for climate control.

"Now that Russia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol the process will be revitalized, and this might be the issue for Bush to re-engage in with Europe," Friberg said.

Russia's recent ratification pushed the convention beyond the required threshold for Kyoto to enter into force, probably within months.

Other non-governmental organizations are more pessimistic at the outcome of the presidential elections.

Kursad Kahramanoglu of the International Lesbian and Gay Association in Brussels said he expected more of the same over the next four years.

Kahramanoglu accused Bush of "poisoning the atmosphere" in a way that has led to such strong opposition to same-sex "marriage."

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