Asian press urges Bush to heal rifts

Asian newspapers have greeted US President George Bush's re-election with calls for Washington to overhaul its foreign policy in order to restore the superpower's standing in the region.

    Bush had 51% of the popular votes against Kerry's 48%

    The unilateralist tendencies of the Bush administration's first four years cannot be repeated if Iraq is to be successfully rebuilt and peace brought to the Middle East, several newspapers said on Thursday. 

    Japan's liberal Asahi Shimbun said Bush "should aim to restore a respected United States instead of a hated United States by changing his policy towards Iraq and the Middle East". 

    On Iraq, it warned that if Bush "continues to give international cooperation only secondary importance and rely on its military might to suppress anti-US forces, the chances of stability and reconstruction will be reduced". 

    Respect criticism

    The Tokyo Shimbun appealed to Bush's humility, reminding him
    that there was still "persistent opposition" to his security policy. "We want him to respect the criticism humbly," it said. 

    Japanese papers want the US to
    change its policy towards Iraq

    Similar sentiments were echoed by newspapers in South Korea, another key regional US ally. 

    The Joong Ang Ilbo said the US had "suffered great damage from its unilateral diplomacy over the past four years" and urged it to be more considerate of its allies. 

    "The new US administration must promote a cooperative foreign policy, different from the unilateralism of the Bush administration's first term, to regain the confidence of the international community." 

    Victory for divisiveness

    Other dailies said the deep divisions among US voters highlighted by the election could limit Bush's effectiveness on the world stage. 

    "Repairing this schism should be the top White House priority
    because American authority abroad depends on unity at home," Australia's Sydney Morning Herald said.

    Hong Kong's South China Morning Post meanwhile labelled Bush's win a "victory for divisiveness". 

    "Great challenges lie ahead. But they will be confronted by a
    nation that is at odds with itself," said the Post. "History will
    judge the price his country will have to pay for this most divisive of victories." 

    Other newspapers focused on Iraq and what they felt was the underlying cause of Islamic anger: The Israeli-Palestinian


    The Bangkok Post, expressing a pessimism common among Thai papers, called for Middle East pragmatism. 

    "It is time Bush re-engaged American diplomacy in the most
    important issue behind terrorism: The Israel-Palestine dispute," it said. 

    "Success in helping to declare a Palestinian state beside a
    secure Israel will remove most of the wind from the sails of the extremists, and make the world a safer place." 


    Dailies called for engagement  in
    the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Malaysia's Berita Harian accused US voters of having "deafened their ears and blinded their eyes from the screams of babies and children who died in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine as a result of Bush's actions". 

    The newspaper warned that other Muslim nations could be next in Bush's sights and that Israel will continue its "aggressive policies" with impunity with Bush's backing. 

    Dailies in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation,
    predicted US relations with the rest of the word would continue to suffer. 

    "Isn't it a fact that under President Bush, the United States
    has had to endure difficult relations with the United Nations, with allies in Europe?" the Kompas Daily asked. 

    "Isn't it a fact that under President Bush, the US has become
    increasingly at odds with many Muslim countries?"

    Positive reactions

    But positive reactions came mainly from papers in India and
    state-run dailies in China. Apart from splashing banner headlines such as "Bush is back" and "By George, no need to Kerry favour", Indian papers were heartened by the prospects of continued warming ties but queried the US's electoral process. 

    "Today's Bush is no longer the ignorant, arrogant Western cowboy of the past"

    The Beijing Youth Daily

    "It would appear that a strong case has been made for seriously rethinking the utility of the electoral college," The Hindu warned, while the Times of India cheekily touched on a growing trade issue with the US by asking "should the US outsource its electoral process to India's remarkably efficient election commission?" 

    Meanwhile, Zhang Guoqing, an expert on US issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, wrote in the Beijing News: "Bush's relatively clear policy towards China will help maintain the good momentum of Sino-US relations." 

    The Beijing Youth Daily said it had seen a more mature Bush emerge. "Today's Bush is no longer the ignorant, arrogant Western cowboy of the past," it said.



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