- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 7, 2004

The editorial reaction of prominent European newspapers to the U.S. election ranged from mildly hopeful to sweeping denial of reality. Thus far, most seem to be taking a grimly realistic approach.

Many newspapers highlighted the need for bridging the trans-Atlantic divide and tempering a West vs. West cultural clash of civilizations. Some editorials expressed scorn for the American people’s decision to re-elect President Bush. More prevalent, however, was a kind of mournful resignation. “We may not like it. In fact, to tell the truth, we don’t like it one bit. But if it isn’t a mandate, then the word has no meaning,” said Britain’s Guardian in an editorial. “Mr. Bush has won fair (so far as we can see) and square. He and his country — and the rest of the world — now have to deal with it.”

That lament from the Guardian contrasts with the hard-edged contempt of Britain’s Daily Mirror, which asked in a front-page banner headline: “How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?” The article described the election result as a “disaster” and predicted “war more years.”

France’s Le Monde, meanwhile, suggested that the global struggle against terrorism was little more than an electoral device. The election, it said, was “all about President Bush’s ‘world war on terror,’ a concept he has managed to impose as a new mindset.”

Germany’s Der Tagesspiegel, meanwhile, saw the U.S. election as a signal to Europe to begin taking a more pragmatic approach to world affairs, stating: “Europe should reconsider its ambitions, which seem naive, to act as a political counterweight to the U.S.” The paper also said that Mr. Bush would “have to do a lot to make sure that at least Europe’s leading politicians regain trust in the only superpower.”

Spain’s conservative ABC daily, meanwhile, said Washington “would appreciate from some [Europeans] a greater sense of responsibility. Let the lesson of faith in democracy we have received from the American people be an incentive and an opportunity for ensuring that the cause of freedom is victorious again.”

In sum, early indications are that many Europeans are still groping toward a coherent way to evaluate the implications of John Kerry’s defeat and Mr. Bush’s victory on Tuesday.

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