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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 01:37 GMT
Bush: Bestriding the world?
George W Bush
Bush: Confident he can prove critics wrong

The superpower you know, now there is the superpresident.

Time, perhaps, to repeat those lines which Shakespeare gave to one of the conspirators against Julius Caesar:

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves."

That is the fear. But is it the reality?

Anti-war protesters
Opponents fear more unilateralism from Mr Bush
Not to the Americans who voted for his party. To them, President George Bush is simply doing what he is supposed to - defending them.

He has, in their view, emerged as a good leader who has steadied the country after 11 September and who has made his case on Iraq.

For them, America is not on the offensive because it wants to be. It is on the offensive because it has to be.

Nor to those who support his foreign policies.

In Kuwait, Fouad al-Hasem, a columnist for Al-Watan newspaper told the Associated Press: "The news made me very, very happy... It means that a strike on Iraq is not in the realm of rumour and hearsay anymore... Now we just have to count the days for when the Iraqi people and the whole area will be saved".

But to some around the world, and not a few at home, President Bush's new endorsement and the control he has over Congress spells an ever more powerful American president which brings the risk of ever more unilateralist policies.

Mural of Saddam Hussein
For supporters, Mr Bush is protecting them from threats
Mohammed Shaker of the Egyptian Council on Foreign Relations commented: "We are dealing with a power that has no limits in its dealing with foreign issues".

Certainly, Mr Bush will feel himself strengthened.

There has been a fear among his senior advisers, whose thoughts have trickled down through Washington's opinion makers, that the prospect of a war against Iraq was really quite unpopular.

Open in new window : In pictures
Click here to see what voters are saying

It was partly this which led the administration to go to the United Nations in the hope that Saddam Hussein could be dealt with without a war.

But the strong public support for the security policies of the president must have lessened those fears.

Someone said to me recently that a society in which firefighters entered threatened buildings with such determination as they did in New York is not one which will lack the resolve when it comes to a war it feels it must fight.

The Vietnam syndrome vanished on 11 September.

Mr Bush therefore will continue with his policy towards Iraq.

He is prepared for a war though he is preparing for a quick war in the hope that casualties all round will be kept low.

Political commentator Thomas Mann, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution in Washington said:

"A narrow Republican victory in the House and Senate has produced a huge political win for President Bush. This is unlikely to alter, only reinforce, his approach to any decisions on foreign policy and the use of military force".

George Bush used to say to people who asked him what qualities he could bring to high office that he was a "uniter not a divider".

He probably still says it. It might have been so in Texas politics when he was governor and it has been so in the Congress from time to time, but he has not united domestic or foreign public opinion around his policies.

In reality, few presidents do.

But nor has he reached the stage of being a Lyndon Johnson who saw public opinion at home and abroad unite against him over Vietnam.

Mr Bush remains confident that he can disarm or remove Saddam Hussein and that, as in Afghanistan, the critics who prophesied doom will be proved wrong.

If he is wrong, then the support which these elections have brought him, will vanish.


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Results Latest: 13:58 GMT
House:
206 seats 227 seats 2 seats
Senate:
49 seats 51 seats 1 seats
Seats: House/Senate
Democrats: 206 / 49
Republicans: 227 / 51
Independents: 2 / 1
See also:

06 Nov 02 | Americas
06 Nov 02 | Americas
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