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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 November, 2004, 16:39 GMT
Challenges facing a second Bush term
Paul Reynolds
By Paul Reynolds
World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website

President George W Bush
President Bush will face a range of global challenges in a second term
President Bush rode to re-election because he managed to persuade enough Americans not to change their leader in time of war.

His supporters feel that his projection of American power around the world will keep them safer. They also responded to the moral values he presented.

His opponents at home and abroad will heave a sigh of frustration heard round the world. They fear that an America rampant will rule for another four years.

George Bush won despite the problems in Iraq from which there appears no early way out and despite the failure of his administration to capture Osama Bin Laden.

Indeed, the sudden appearance of Bin Laden just before the election might actually have rallied support for the president as it so clearly defined who the enemy was.

The capture or killing of Osama Bin Laden might well become even more of a priority in the second Bush term.

A video from the arch-enemy before the next election would not be a challenge as it was this time - it would be a humiliation.

The morning after

People do not necessarily desert their governments when things are not going that well. What they require is a vision that things might get better.

Mr Bush did enough to convince people that he can still stabilise Iraq and can keep al-Qaeda on the run.

He has, to use his own words, "smoked out" many of the al-Qaeda leadership and the fact is that there has been no further 9/11 type attack on US soil.

President Bush
The president also managed to destabilise the image of his opponent, portraying him as a man who could not be trusted to be tough enough. It was a classic tactic of attack.

John Kerry might not have been toppled - after all he fought a good campaign - but he tottered.

And Mr Bush delivered enough on the domestic front not to have the economy undermine him as it undermined and destroyed his father against Bill Clinton in 1992.

He also won the popular vote, unlike in 2000, so he has laid some of the ghosts from then. His legitimacy will not be in doubt. He did not win thanks to the Supreme Court.

Four more years

So the world is just about where it was the day before the election.

HAVE YOUR SAY
He needs to finish what he started
Maria Kemp, Derbyshire, UK

The issue now is whether the second Bush term will be any different from the first.

It is sometimes argued that this will be a term of consolidating not creating policies.

Unpredictable challenges

One cannot be certain of that. Unforeseen crises arise. China might threaten Taiwan, for example.

The foreseen crises might themselves develop into conflicts or, in the case of Iraq, worse conflicts.

And there is always the spectre of Osama Bin Laden hovering in the background.

Mr Bush might make an effort to reach out to disaffected US allies like France and Germany but the reach might not be very long. Relations are likely to remain in cold storage for the time being.

Osama Bin Laden in his new video
Osama Bin Laden is back in President Bush's thinking
However, in the view of America-watcher Professor John Dumbrell of Leicester University, one thing will change: "There will be no more invasions," he said.

The US public and the US budget would not stand for one, he believes.

It is certainly very hard to envisage the United States launching an attack on North Korea over its nuclear programme. The US military is configured to fight on two fronts but a war with North Korea would dwarf the war in Iraq.

An attack on Iran's nuclear facilities cannot be ruled out, but Israel is the more likely spear than the US air force.

Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 so has form in this area and has over recent months been conducting a diplomatic campaign claiming that Iran will try to build a nuclear bomb.

New term, same issues

Mr Bush's major problem remains Iraq, though al-Qaeda could of course come back into the reckoning.

The exit strategy for Iraq looks shaky though not impossible.

It depends on the establishment of a stable and representative Iraqi government.

This is supposed to happen in two stages. Elections for a transitional government are due in January. Then at the end of 2005 there will be full elections on the basis of a new constitution.

At that time the Security Council mandate for the foreign troops in Iraq will run out though a new Iraqi government could ask them to stay.

Mr Bush might be hoping that they will be asked to go or at least a lot of them.

Nobody is expecting much movement on other policies.

In the Middle East, there is uncertainty about the future of Yasser Arafat but no certainty about a role for the United States or anyone else.

On the environment, Mr Bush will not sign up to Kyoto protocol on climate change.

He will continue to be pre-occupied by security issues.

And that seems to be what most Americans want.


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