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Monday, September 27, 2004

Global Warning 

As of today, 1,052 American troops have died in Mr. Bush's Excellent Adventure. That's reason enough to vote for Kerry, but there are plenty of others: for example, by dropkicking Bush, we will win the gratitude of Europe and the world, perhaps even their help in rebuilding Iraq. If, on the other hand, we re-elect Bush, we will certainly have to claw our way out of the quagmire alone:
"Why Bush must be beaten," screamed the headline of Le Nouvel Observateur, a left-leaning French newsweekly. Smaller type above the U.S. president's half profile provided the answer: "His re-election will be a catastrophe for the world and for America."

That sentiment may have been expressed more bluntly than the opinions of many Europeans, yet it captured the passions on this continent over who will occupy the White House come January.

Poised halfway between the political wrangling in Washington over the war in Iraq and the suicide bombs and kidnappings in Baghdad, Europeans have rarely felt so involved in a U.S. presidential race.

Many Europeans, analysts and regular citizens alike, argue that their own security is increasingly at risk, while violence spirals in Iraq and anti- Western hostility hardens in Europe's backyard -- the Arab world.

Some on the continent have suggested, only half-jokingly, that with one superpower remaining in a globalized world, Europeans ought to have a say in who should be America's next president.

"Americans will choose their president, and the rest of the world will have to live with that decision," said Bernhard May, a senior analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. "All we can do is talk to people" . . . .

May points out that Kerry has already made clear his belief that Europe should participate more in Iraq's reconstruction. The Democratic candidate has called for sending European troops to help with January's elections in Iraq. The county's first democratic elections will probably require thousands of peacekeeping troops to secure election monitors and polling sites amid escalating violence.

Europeans might find it hard to provide such help, because tens of thousands of their soldiers are already deployed in Afghanistan and the Balkans. Yet it would be harder for the continent's leaders to refuse the man they greatly prefer for president over Bush, says May.

"If Kerry is elected, he'll present us with this challenge perhaps in his very first week in office," May said. "Bush won't put the same kind of pressures on Europeans to help out. He's been rebuffed before" . . . .

[Journalist Jean-Gabriel] Fredet's article listed numerous reasons why Bush should go: "unprecedented" American isolationism since 2000; "unequaled arrogance" in Bush's leadership style; intolerant religious fervor; and the growing millions of Americans without proper health insurance. On a continent with largely free health services, many Europeans cite that last reason as their major dislike for the U.S. system and are often dumbfounded about why Americans do not push politicians for universal health care.
A quick sampling of overseas poll numbers:

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