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World Opinion Roundup by Jefferson Morley

World Pundits Pounce on Bush

By Jefferson Morley
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, August 30, 2004; 10:02 PM

The Republican Party is about to nominate him by acclamation.

Almost half of all American voters polled say they will vote for him in November.

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But in the international online media, the vast majority of commentators are harshly critical of President George W. Bush. On every continent pundits are faulting Bush for his persona as well as his policies. Most dislike his conduct of the war in Iraq. Many say his attitude toward the rest of the world is contemptuous, misinformed and dangerous.

This chorus of criticism is part of the globalization of U.S. politics. In a world with only one superpower, many people feel a stake in the U.S. election, even if they don't have a vote.

It's not that Bush doesn't have defenders. Rupert Murdoch's newspapers in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia are generally supportive. But, on the eve of Bush's nomination, his critics in the foreign press are much more outspoken and numerous.

In Europe, suspicion of Bush's veracity is both wide and deep.

The Guardian of London said in a news story Monday that the Republicans launched "an ambitious exercise in political agility today, putting a centrist face on its New York convention while adopting a manifesto even more rightwing than George Bush's administration."

The lead editorial of Le Monde in Paris likens Bush's evangelical Protestantism to the Islamic fundamentalism in its rejection of Western modernity.

Bush, in their view, has a "biblical vision of the world where the forces of Good confront the forces of Evil and where the Americans, new people chosen by God, take on a universal mission of conversion and reform."

One of the few pro-Bush papers in Europe, Madrid's ABC (in Spanish), says Bush's emphasis on security and defense will appeal to American voters who have been "living in a state of shock" since Sept. 11.

In the Middle East, even those whom Bush professes to help are vocal in spurning his policies.

In Iraq, which now has a free press thanks to Bush's invasion, one independent daily in Baghdad, Sabah al-Jadeed, declared last week that Bush's policy adjustments have been "late, poor or wrong."

The administration, the editors said, has relied too much on U.S. generals and politicians who judge Iraq "unfairly" and "inaccurately" and on self-interested Iraqis who are "obedient and isolated."

The Daily Star in Lebanon is one of the leading voices of reform in the Arab world, a cause that the Bush administration has sought to advance.

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