Chavez leads foreign gloating over election
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.