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Friday, 26 January, 2001, 17:25 GMT
Stephen Sackur quizzed
The Cabinet of US president George W Bush is now almost complete, with most of his nominees already approved by the Senate.
Many in his team, like state secretary Colin Powell and vice president Dick Cheney, worked for the administration of George Bush senior.
His first act as President was to reinstate a ban on giving federal money to international groups that lobbied for or provided abortions.
So what tone do these first actions set for the next four years? What does his choice of Cabinet say about the new administration?
The BBC's Washington correspondent, Stephen Sackur, has answered your questions.
To watch coverage of the forum, select the link below:
In terms of how big business and corporate America sees the economy and sees the relationship between politics and the economy, I think right now everybody agrees that we are at the crossroads. There is the possibility of a recession in the United States albeit probably a small, short-lived recession, but at the same time there are some signs in the economy i.e. fairly resilient consumer spending, which suggests that there may be a "soft landing". There may not be a recession.
However, there is no doubt that George W. Bush is deeply sympathetic to big business - he comes out of the oil business himself. I think he launched his political career on the back of success in business both oil and then baseball.
If you look at his Treasury Secretary and many members of the team he is developing in the economic field, they are inclined towards big business. They have links with big business and clearly their policies are designed to help the business sector in the United States but whether you could go from there to say that this administration has been formed simply to serve corporate interests - I think that perhaps is going too far. No doubt George Bush is aware of that accusation which is why he has made the first priority of his administration the education policy which no one could argue is being driven simply by corporate America.
In their meeting senior Democrats at the White House were invited in by George Bush and requested early initiatives on electoral reform. George Bush simply said - "I hear what you say - I will think about it". I don't think George Bush regards this as a big priority, I think philosophically he is inclined to leave it to the individual states. He doesn't think that federal government should be dictating to the states how they run elections. I wouldn't expect too much initiative there from George W. Bush.
The Brits don't like it - it is as simple as that. They are very sceptical about it both on a technical level but also there is a different view in Europe of what the threat is. The limited national missile defence approach is supposed to specifically safeguard America from threats from rogue nations e.g. North Korea and Iraq. Many people in Europe have a real doubt as to whether there is such a threat. The Bush idea then takes it further - Bush imagines an umbrella which protects not only America but European allies and other allies as well from any global nuclear ballistic threat. The Europeans by contrast prefer the notion of continuing the disarmament process - reducing the levels of nuclear weapons.
Also on a whole raft of issues concerned with human rights I think we can expect the Bush team to be somewhat less effusive about a moral humanitarian foreign policy. For example, interventions in countries like Haiti and Somalia, which the Clinton team undertook - those sorts of intervention, he is not keen on. He believes that is not what US forces are for. So around the world you are going to a more limited, more specifically focused national security oriented US foreign policy which is going to be less ambitious but perhaps easier for the rest of the world to understand.
There is one impending showdown and that is over the Arctic national wildlife refuge. The Bush camp has said they favour drilling for oil and natural gas in this area - about 8 per cent. of the entire refuge might be given over to the exploration of oil and gas. It seems the environmental groups are girding up for a huge fight on some of these issues and it will get very nasty because both sides feel very strongly that they have right on their side.
As regards Ralph Nader. Goodness knows what he has been thinking and what his supporters have been thinking since the end of the Florida election fiasco. However, I think you have to say that the fundamental point Nader made was that GWB and Al Gore are exactly the same - a vote for one is like a vote for the other - they are both tied to corporate America and they will not change the money politics and the sickness at the heart of American democracy.
But on a whole host of issues - the Arctic national wildlife refuge, abortion, appoint Supreme Court justices, there are fundamental differences between what GWB is going to do and what Al Gore would have done. So as Bush is now in power people are realising he is going to do some very important things, Gore wouldn't have done them and perhaps Nader supporters are regretting it.
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