We discussed President Bush's second term in our global phone-in programme, Talking Point. Our guests were Professor Laura Tyson, Dean of the London Business School and Dr Robert McGeehan an Associate Fellow of Chatham House.
US President George W Bush has been sworn in for a second term in office.
In his 16-minute inaugural address, President Bush mentioned the word "freedom" 27 times and claimed that "the best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world".
In a previous interview Mr Bush said his re-election vindicated his administration's policy on Iraq.
What is your reaction to the inauguration speech? What do you hope to see achieved during the next four years under President Bush? What direction do you see the US heading under his leadership, both domestically and in its foreign policy?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
I am optimistic about the next 4 years under Bush. Reform of our social security program is definitely overdue. It is a World War II-era program that has been robbed by our own congressman and senators for decades. On foreign policy, I hope Bush will maintain a tough stance against nations that harbour and finance terrorists.
David, Aberdeen, NC, USA
As reported recently in a leading financial paper, the Central Banks around the world have drastically reduced their support for financing the growing US deficit. Bush is running out of credit so he is going to face enormous problems in the up-coming budget debate in Congress. Bush cannot afford to run on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and meet his election obligations such as reducing poverty in the US. There are going to big problems at home, let alone Iraq etc.
John Farmer, UK
Bush's foreign policy rule is "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". His "friends" include despots with appalling human rights records. Despite Bush's idealistic utterances, he plays footsie with any regime of any kind he can use to further his ambitions.
Robert, El Prado, USA
I am always amazed at so many negative reactions from Western Europeans and Canadians concerning the USA's goals in Iraq. It is a sorry sight to see that so many forget what placation and minimalizing a dictator did for Europe in the 1930s. I am totally disinterested in whether you love or hate the United States but its goals in Iraq are righteous and noble. Saddam had to go for the good of the entire world as well as the Iraqi people.
Richard Kiester, Warrenton, VA
I would like to ask the President, why he is more concerned about Iraqi freedom than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Khaled, Oran, Algeria
I believe that President Bush is a great leader, strong and resolute, a man of principle. In difficult times like these, when the West faces new challenges, I am glad that the world has such a man at the helm of the most powerful nation on earth. While the Europeans talk the Americans are doing the hard work that needs to be done.
Edward, Melbourne Australia
In the next four years President Bush will unjustly invade more countries and widen the social and political gap between the US and the rest of the world.
Jonah Klemm-Toole, USA
It's great to see the diversity of opinion presented here. That is what Bush and America represents. With any strong opinion or political position, you will have people in opposition. Not everyone has the right to voice their opposition. Bush believes in fundamental human rights as expressed in the American Bill of Rights. While you may disagree with some of his tactics, he is a man of conviction that does not shape his beliefs around public opinion. Bush represents a great number of Americans in his fundamental beliefs. As a leader, he is simply communicating a vision of his direction for the rest of his term. It is certainly not perfect. But is there anyone in the world who has demonstrated more support for human rights and freedom?
Eric, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
President Bush has a desire to help our world. America is the economic engine of the world and it also has the best military machine in the world. However I think America will collapse one day through hyper inflation, just like the Roman Empire. Empires come and go and America has had its day.
Paul Serrio, Wigan, UK
Blah blah blah. So many pessimists out there! A very, very small percentage of the critics of President Bush could do a fraction of the job he is doing. Lay off and know he has so much more information than we'll ever have. He is a man of his word, whether you agree with it out not. But many do hate what is true and just and right in this world.
Avey, Seattle, USA
It's all just a clever sales pitch and about half the US population is sufficiently gullible to buy it. The sad truth is that the Bush administration only supports "freedom" when it suits their purposes to do so - in all other cases it is brutally repressed.
Tom Hunsberger, Canadian in Mexico
I do not see any problem in so-called American thinking. People of Europe! You are spoiled by you freedom! I live in Russia and I have seen (and still can see) with my own eyes the results of despotism and absence of democracy. While most of Europe is talking, the US President is acting. And talkers will always be angry with doers! No doubt the only way for peace is to help democracy worldwide. President Bush has become so controversial just because he is strong man with clear goals and most people feel much more comfortable with less challenging leaders.
President Bush typically misused the words "Freedom and democracy" even more than most US presidents in the last 50 years. These words are nothing else than a phoney slogan. In our view, America and its foreign policy has never really cared for democracy in other countries. It always played along with every leader whether he was democratic or a crook - as long as it served its policy. America in its foreign policy only looks out for its own economic and strategic interest. The Islamists don't hate the American people - but the foreign policy of the US.
Guenter W. & Sylvia H. Korek, Germany
Mr Bush is right when he claims that his re-election vindicates his policies. That's exactly what elections are about.
The people of the USA have chosen to continue his policies. Whatever the rest of the world thinks is immaterial.
All the rest of the world can do is understand how the American voter thinks and what he/she believes in.
The best way to win a war against terrorism is to be diplomatic and work on differences with nations who you have called upon as "axis of evil". As the ruler of the world's most powerful country, prove it to the world that you seek peace by dialogue and Christian values preach even loving your enemies. Please bring about peace in this world by being a diplomat and by open dialogue.
Hussein Jiwani, Atlanta, GA USA
Bush and the Republican Party are frequently attacked over their foreign policy, however, what many people are overlooking is how worrying their domestic policy is and how incompatible it is with the liberal values of Europe. Right-Wing Christian fundamentalism, opposition to equal rights for homosexuals, a death penalty are all concerns that get obscured by the Iraq conflict. Is this really the man that we want Tony Blair to be following on our behalf? John Kerry was derided by many in the US as "the most liberal senator" in US politics, it seems that the United States has missed the best opportunity it's had for a long time.
I congratulate Mr. Bush on his election for a second term in office. It's great he has such a concern for freedom in all the countries of this world and specially so, for the Middle Eastern countries. But let's see if it is his is selective freedom - freedom for only those citizens whose regimes do dance to the tune of American dictates. The world is watching whether he has the freedom to administer the road map for peace (which he himself promoted) in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Syed Irfan Ahmed, Hyderabad, India
I'm not sure that Bush mentioned anything about the economy. I cannot say I remember hearing much about it in his speech. And yet, America is carrying a trillion dollar deficit that is growing bigger every day. Sooner or later, he will have to concentrate on and take control of the economy or it will collapse and lead the world into global recession.
Roger Hart, Deal, UK
The problem with Bush administration is that they have founded a theory of freedom on the axioms of neo-con convictions. Logically, there was nothing wrong with the Bush's inaugural freedom speech. But for any sensible person, it is clear that the axioms of the theory are pillars on the sand.
Hassan Malik, Houston, TX
More people voted for George Bush than voted for any president in U.S. history. More people in America believe that he's doing the right thing. And the fact that he won the majority of the vote suggests that the majority of America believes that we, as a nation, are on the right path.
Chris, Houston, TX
Bush's re-election is more a reflection of the lack of a credible alternative rather than an endorsement of his policies.
Arun Karna, New Delhi, India
If President Bush can bring peace to Israel and true freedom to the Palestinian people during this, his 'second watch', he will be remembered as one of the greatest American presidents ever. George - go for it!
Darrien Watson, Bracknell UK
I think Mr Bush should not pose as the contractor of liberty for whole of the world; but should concentrate on the welfare of general Americans and pull his troops out from Afghanistan and Iraq stopping the daily bloodshed of innocent people.
Satmanjit, Salley Stream, USA
I hope he will not make things worse. Not only for the sake of America but for the sake of world (it affects us too). Since he become a president the only headlines we hear is war war war!
Adelaide, Bangkok, Thailand
The fact that he won the presidential election for the second time in spite of huge criticism at home and abroad shows how important he is for the Americans and the world. We always criticised him on foreign relations, wars and battles but we tend to forget the changes he brought about in the living standard of people across the world. He is a great person and an able president and we need to accept this and support him.
Suraj Chhetri, Kathmandu, Nepal
Congratulations Mr Bush for your second term. Mine is a plea that you put Sub-Saharan Africa on your top agenda for aid and debt relief. Southern Africa is the hardest hit by the Aids pandemic.
Derek Chiwanda, Lilongwe, Malawi
I am encouraged by your courage to forge ahead despite enormous opposition to your leadership. My advice to you Sir is to follow your conscience to do things and allow God to lead you.
Morris Olurinto, Ibadan, Nigeria
One of Bush's last acts in his first term was to approve a multi-billion dollar tax relief package for the many special interests who had done him and his party favours over the years. This was done very quietly, and though reported in the media was down-played and hardly heard. These billions of dollars represent taxes that must be collected to pay for public services. So if the special interests aren't paying them, then the people must pay them or the services must be cut - the current trend of things. In his second term, I expect more of the same - an unwinnable war in Iraq, serving special interests, more environmental destruction by allowing corporations to ravish protected land, and a major assault upon Social Security, the last bastion of social protection that the American poor and lower middle classes have. America is no longer the Land of the Free.
Victor, Oxford, UK
I am normally an optimistic person but this latest election has left me very pessimistic. I plan to bide my time and be very cautious in all my daily life. Hatred and cynicism in the name of freedom and religion will make the next 4 years very difficult to navigate.
TRW, TX USA
I am a born-again-Christian, and I think Bush is doing everything but God's work, so please don't confuse Bush with Christianity.
Sam, Wisconsin, USA
People who didn't like President Bush in his first term are probably going to hate him during his second. He is not going to kowtow to decadent, corrupt, cynical, or prejudiced views. President Bush will continue to meet problems face on and use strength to solve them no matter who doesn't like it.
I do not think this country would improve under him. In fact, I fear for the financial viability of this country. Many people who support Bush hark back to America's nobler days when it was a large foreign aid donor, and rescued so many from persecution. In all honesty, I'm tired of people hanging those days over our heads all the time in their attempt to over-generalize the state of US affairs as it stands right now. Countries change, and the US has gone from a benefactor of millions to a place where Bush's manipulation of the media has torn down freedoms by ironically crying the same word (freedom) to rally the religious masses.
Sathish V, NYC, USA
Bush clearly views the rest of the world as America-in-waiting. Bush, you are not the sole bastion of hope and goodness in the world, why don't you understand that just because some people do things differently from Americans it doesn't mean they need to be 're-educated'.
President Bush's greatest asset is his devotion to the concept of human liberty. In that, he is a very American president. Americans escaped persecution in Europe and returned to save it from itself - twice. They faced down Communism and contributed to the liberation of all of eastern Europe. For me, Bush's leadership is an uplifting, if uncompromising voice in an increasingly cynical world. It is a shame that other nations and citizens do not share his commitment. Those of us who enjoy liberty and self-determination should never be content in a world where others do not.
Tim Crowther, Leeds, UK
Mr President, keep up the good work. The "ownership" society will mean opportunity for all and responsibility from all. Your foreign policy in the last three years and four months means that the USA shall remain a beacon of freedom and strength throughout the world. The United States will not bow down to any outlaw or any tyrant!
Nicholl M, Manchester, USA
Whatever the opinions of his policies, no one can deny that Bush is one of the more decisive leaders in recent memory. He takes definitive action and is definitely not a fence-straddling coward as so many other politicians are. That alone is a bit refreshing and it is perfectly logical that a man like him would polarize public opinion.
Tom, Chicago, USA
I believe the next four years will prove to be difficult ones for the world in general and the USA in particular. The President's economic policies will weaken our economy in the long run, and his foreign policy will breed terrorists faster than our already overstretched military can kill them.
Sven Tice, Seattle, WA USA
My advice is that forcing free choice (i.e. democracy) onto people is a contradiction in terms. By forcing it onto people, you deny it.
Dave Ward, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Reading this forum proves just how much Bush affects people. Both his supporters and critics believe things that are clearly ridiculous. For example: Iraqis are not enjoying freedom, many risk their lives just by leaving their homes. On the other hand, one man couldn't 'destroy the environment' or even do much damage to it in four years even if he were trying - let alone by refusing to sign a treaty of questionable science that has yet to be fully implemented by anyone. I don't know where Bush is taking the US over the next four years and I'm pretty sure he's not entirely certain either. But I can already tell that he will continue to polarize people to such an extent that both sides resort to the absurd when arguing with the other.
Jim , NJ, USA
Mr. Bush is spending all this money on security and I'm here struggling to buy m a comfortable house to live in. Working as hard as I work I just want a percent of what's being spent on everything else. My family and I are in desperate need or we will be out on the street. Please, please, please help us Mr. Bush and good luck.
Amanda, Atlanta, GA
I hope Bush continues the process of saving Social Security and continue the War on Terror. Say what you want about the man, he is not afraid to tackle issues most politicians run away from. His predecessor failed on so many levels on domestic and foreign policy that I'm glad President Bush has stood firm, no matter how unpopular he is outside the US.
Mike Daly, Miami, USA
My message to Bush is go and fight your own wars in future don't involve British troops lives in any more of your illegal 'go it alone' invasions.
Neil, Bournemouth, UK
Since President Bush is already the President, a second inauguration is unnecessary and a waste of the taxpayer's money. Just carry on with the job and save inaugurations for first term Presidents only.
Greg Palmer, Carlisle, PA USA
Never mind Bush for President, Bush for Prime Minister!!! At least he is up front and in your face. Love him or hate him he gets the job done! Viva La Dubya!
Phil Palmer, Birmingham
My advice has got to be "Play some golf, go shooting, have some nice holidays, visit some primary schools, but please don't invade anywhere"
Joel, Skelmersdale, Lancashire
I think you spend too much money on the inauguration ceremony. I think that you should use the money on people who need it, for example on the victims of the catastrophe in Asia.
Carina Hesleskaug, Mysen, Norway
A couple of things I think Bush should realise. Firstly, being a born again Christian doesn't mean he is beyond reproach or that God supports his every move. Secondly, the democratic governments we enjoy in the UK and the US weren't established because some superior nation decided to invade. Democracy came to because of civil war and protest; even then it took centuries to develop to its present state.
Stephen King, Bristol, England
My advice to George Bush is to keep going. He is committed to peace and democracy, and unlike the UN is prepared to stand up to the oppressive military regimes like Saddam, and the terrorists like al-Qaeda. It's only because Bush and the Americans are prepared to make sacrifices for freedom that we stand a chance of a better world.
Paul, Stourbridge, England
To spend tens of millions of dollars on 'festivities' like this while young Americans and others are dying in a phoney "war" is appalling. The US economy is dying daily. All concerned should be ashamed of themselves.
Steven J. Bennett, Montana, USA
My advice to Bush would be to look at his own country and deal with the people who no longer trust him, rather than deal with the people in the Middle East who hate him. He has not only divided his own nation, he has made every country feel uncomfortable about their future.
William Main, Glasgow, UK
One can only hope that the next Bush administration shows some international sensitivity. But it's listing, by Condoleezza Rice, of the countries viewed by the US to be unacceptable, once again shows their extreme arrogance, which is the characteristic behind the mistakes they make and the rest of the worlds dislike.
What I think is that Bush should be allowed to continue his infuriating policies. This will either help the US public to wake up from the slumber it has fallen to or will force the rest of the world to clearly distance itself from the policies of the US. Face it people we are either following Bush or we are against him.
Karagiozis George, Greece
I see him getting a lot done and the rest of the world throwing a fit over it. Heaven forbid a democratically elected leader actually does something. Is that supposed to happen?
Jon, Chicago, USA
To Jon, Chicago, USA - Bush wasn't democratically elected by the peoples of the countries he wants to invade and control. Let him continue turning the clock back in the US and destroying your economy and environment, but leave the rest of the world alone.
I see so many short memories here. I also see a lot of people who don't respect history. Saddam had a death grip on his own people for about 25 years. He made weapons of mass destruction and used them on the people of Iran as well as the Kurds. The UN gave man sanctions which were ignored. The Oil for Food program was being exploited by people on both sides. Mr. Bush did not wake up one day and decide, for no reason, to invade Iraq. If there had been backing in the UN for the war in Iraq, there would be no discussion now. However, simply because some countries on the Security Council did not agree, and I personally think it is because of their business contracts with Saddam, they voted against military action. President Bush was looking out for America and that is what we elected him to do.
Jack, Memphis, USA
Wake up America and smell the coffee! The rest of the world doesn't like your brand of 'freedom'. Many of us feel safer in our own countries than in the 'great' US of A. Deal with it.
There are lots of Americans who have mixed feelings about President Bush and their comments are very valid. We are not all either screaming liberals or born again conservatives. There are many nuances about politics in America that will never be fully understood as long as these stereotypes are continually perpetuated in the international media.
Mike, Cleveland, USA
My advice is imposing your belief system on others is called Imperialism. Christian fundamentalism is still fundamentalism and by definition restrictive and bigoted. Just remember the majority of the country didn't vote for you and although you will be gone in four years I presume you don't want to render the Republican party unelectable for years to come.
I believe the leader of any nation reflects the average national consciousness. If we don't like what we've got, we need to look within and change ourselves by raising our own consciousness, increasing our own love and humility and becoming more peaceful within. I do believe time is running out on peace. We need to choose it now before it's too late. In my opinion, we have little time left before real worldwide disasters far worse than the recent tsunami. Many of the world's problems are aggravated by pride, suppressed fear and hate, and will be alleviated automatically when we practice love (unity) instead of fear (separation).
Peter, New Jersey, USA
I would ask George Bush to stop believing that he has a mandate. More Americans voted against him than voted for any president in history. I would also ask him to remember that he promised when running for his first term to be a "unifier, not a divider". His rhetoric lately indicates that he has forgotten his promise. The truth about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military and civilian casualties, the damage to their infrastructure, and the real economic cost of those efforts must not be concealed further. Instead of opening more land for exploration, he ought to be supporting alternate energy sources in order to decrease foreign oil dependence. Mr. Bush also needs to admit that has made mistakes in his first term, other than just off-the-cuff comments. The budget deficit, foreign trade, and the weakening dollar should also be priorities. If he can overcome all of the above, then he can tackle Social Security and the moral crisis that he insists are problems!
John C. Christman, Spokane, WA, USA
There are other alternatives to war. Work with and respect the international community. The US is not the only nation on earth. Concentrate on domestic issues, specially unemployment and health insurance. What really we are achieving in Iraq? We need to work at listening to our allies.
Jafet Varela, San Juan, P.R.
I would ask the President to continue to take a strong pro-life stand. I hope that his second term is characterised by bold action to restrain an activist judiciary at home. This must be done to protect the integrity of our constitution. I hope that he will be unafraid of world opinion in making foreign policy decisions. I think the next four years will result in a stronger, more united country provided that Bush and the Republicans do not compromise constitutional rights in the name of the 'War on Terror'.
Vickie Keiser, Columbia, MO
He will do the best job possible. He has lots of faith, hope and love for this country and is doing for it the best he can do - getting guidance from God and his cabinet members. I think people should be more supportive of our president, not knock him and try to find fault in his every move. He has a very difficult task and doesn't need others to be critical of his every movement.
June Marshall, USA
Stay the course. Listen to world opinion but in the end do what is right for America. She alone is the bastion of hope and freedom and in the end, however haphazardly she gets there, she does right.
Dominick B, Virginia, USA
I see an America growing more and more alienated from the world. I see more countries being "bettered". Wasn't there a quote that said "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"? Bush's approach was tried in the 1960's in a place called Vietnam, and remember how well that worked out? We need to focus on clean, efficient energy sources so we can cut our ties with oil and start rebuilding economic and social alliances with the rest of the world, not military alliances.
From a young person's perspective I can only see the country heading toward more problems for the second term. President Bush has managed to reverse a national budget surplus, start a war that cannot be won, and alienated every other nation. Open dialogue between the US and other countries is the only way the US can reach the once high esteem it had in the world.
Charles Pankey, Washington, DC
My advice to Bush is to resign before he takes the oath. But that's not going to happen. I predict an escalation of the war in neighbouring countries and the draft.