Chavez leads for­eign gloat­ing over elec­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By David R. Sands

Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Hugo Chavez on Nov. 8 led a global cho­rus of Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion crit­ics gloat­ing over the out­come of the pre­vi­ous day’s midterm elec­tions, but some for­eign lead­ers ex­pressed con­cern over what the Demo­cratic vic­tory will mean on is­sues such as global trade and the Mid­dle East.

Latin Amer­i­can pop­ulists, Euro­pean left­ists and Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­istswe­re­al­lquick­to­point­totheU.S. voteasare­pu­di­a­tionofMr.Bush’sag­gres­sive,go-it-aloneap­proa­chonIraq and the global war on ter­ror.

The res­ig­na­tion of De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld also sparked­praise­from­lead­er­sof­coun­tries from the heart of what Mr. Rums­fel­don­ce­mem­o­rably­dis­missed as “Old Europe.”

The Demo­cratic sweep ranks as “the­be­gin­ningoftheend­o­fasix-year night­mare for the world,” 200 mem­bers of the So­cial­ist bloc in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment de­clared in a joint state­ment.

SaidI­tal­ianFor­eignMin­is­terMas­simo D’Alema, “A cy­cle has ended. The cy­cle of pre-emp­tive wars, of uni­lat­er­al­ism, ends in great fail­ure.”

WithMr.Bush­still­inchar­ge­ofU.S. for­eign pol­icy for an­other two years, the pug­na­cious Mr. Chavez was one of the few world lead­ers to com­ment pub­licly on the elec­tions.

“It’sareprisalvotea­gain­st­the­war inIraq,again­st­thecor­rup­tion”inside the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, he told re­porters in Cara­cas. “All this fills us with op­ti­mism.”

In­formed of Mr. Rums­feld’s res­ig­na­tionashe­wass­peak­ing,Mr.Chavez said,“Head­shaves­tart­ed­toroll.The pres­i­dent should re­sign on moral grounds, and Rums­feld should go to jail.”

Iran’s state-con­trolled television said­i­na­com­men­tary­thatU.S.vot­ers wer­ere­ject­ing“Bush’swrongstrat­egy in the Mid­dle East,” as well as “fi­nan­cial cor­rup­tion in the United States.”

Su­dan,which­has­clashed­with­the United States over the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in its Dar­fur re­gion, is hop­ing for“re­la­tion­sof­co­op­er­a­tion,not­con­fronta­tion”with­thechas­tenedU.S.ad­min­is­tra­tion,Min­is­terofS­tate­forFor­eign Af­fairs al-Sa­mani al-Wasiyla said.

The cel­e­bra­tion was not uni­ver­sal, with some for­eign com­men­ta­tors wor­ry­ing that the new Demo­crat-led Congress will be more pro­tec­tion­ist on trade and will dis­ap­point those hop­ing for a ma­jor U.S. shift on is­sues such as Iraq, North Korea, global warm­ing and the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

JoseManuelBar­roso,pres­i­dentof the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­peanUnion’sex­ec­u­tivearm,urged theUnit­edS­tatestom­akea“re­newed com­mit­ment” to re­vive fal­ter­ing World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion talks for a new global trade pact.

A spokesman for Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Vi­cente Fox said the Demo­crat­ic­gain­scould­sof­t­en­theU.S.standin talks on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Mr. Bush’s di­min­ished clout also was a cause of con­cern for some al­lies.

Ja­panese press com­men­ta­tors wor­ried that a weak­ened Mr. Bush will­not­be­able­to­pushthrough­ma­jor trad­edeal­sor­stick­tothe­hard­linehe has taken against North Korea’s nu­clear-weapon­spro­grams.An­a­lystsin In­dia pre­dicted Democrats may de­mand­new­con­ces­sion­sinthe­mas­sive civil­ian nu­clear pact Mr. Bush has cham­pi­oned, putting the deal in doubt.

Alexan­derPikayevoftheMoscow­based think tank Schol­ars for Global Se­cu­rity noted that U.S.-Rus­sian re­la­tion­shis­tor­i­cal­ly­fared­bet­terun­der Repub­li­cans than Democrats.

“As a re­sult of the elec­tion, we ex­pect the po­lit­i­cal strug­gle in the United States to toughen, and this may lead to sud­den, spon­ta­neous jumps of the Amer­i­can ele­phant in the in­ter­na­tional arena,” he told a Moscow ra­dio in­ter­viewer.

This ar­ti­cle is based in part on wire ser­vice re­ports.

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