Feature

The Americans Finally Wise Up

The rest of the world wonders what took so long.

Democracy has triumphed in America, said Ezio Mauro in Italy's La Stampa. The voters punished President Bush and his Republican Party for the "original sin of provoking a war without reason and without cause by cynically capitalizing on the wounds of 9/11." The message was so unmistakable that it got through even to the notoriously dense president. In a "spectacularly symbolic event," Bush actually fired Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the man most responsible for the Iraq debacle.

At last, the U.S. can move on, said Evita Neefs in Belgium's De Standaard. Five years after 9/11, voters have finally rejected Bush's insistence on equating the war in Iraq with the war on terror. Their president told them that a vote for Democrats was a vote for terrorists, but this time they refused to swallow such nonsense. It is now apparent to Americans that "anger is not a good counsel and war not the best weapon against terror." Perhaps now they will start treating terrorism as the international crime that it is, best fought by intelligence services from different countries working together.

Americans may have had an overdue epiphany, said Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, but there's no guarantee that they will suddenly align themselves with us. When the Republicans were in control of both Congress and the presidency, the relationship with the U.S. was easy for Europeans. "Since we disagreed ideologically and practically with the policy of unilateralism, America's partners were off the hook." If the U.S. chooses multi-lateralism now, Europeans may have to do more about such messes as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. Yet while we may hope for a newly enlightened vision from Washington, "we should prepare for protectionism and other new challenges." Democrats may be closer to Europeans than Republicans are, but Democrats are still Americans. "Their politics, like those of their rivals, will put America first."

Bronwen Maddox

The Times

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