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Europe

European Press Review: The Politics of Bush

Many newspapers in Europe looked critically at U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday, criticizing his Mars plans and his conservatism. Some even lamented the ‘inevitability’ of his reelection this fall.

The editors of the Russian paper Nezavisimaya Gazeta don’t think much of U.S. President George W. Bush's plans for a manned mission to Mars, which are scheduled to be unveiled later this week. Experts agree that it is a cheap electioneering trick, out of touch with reality and hugely expensive. But ever since the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the first manned space flight by the Chinese, many are expecting Bush to come up with a breakthrough.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote there are people in America who doubt whether Bush can generate the same enthusiasm for space that John F. Kennedy did 43 years ago. Back then, the world depression, World War II and the Korean War had just only just receded from memory and Americans were optimistic about their future. These days the country is divided over the Iraq war, and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have not only damaged Americans' self-confidence. Many citizens feel civil liberties have been curtailed, and they now distrust Washington.

In Italy, La Repubblica looked ahead to next Monday's caucuses in Iowa. The paper wrote that it appears that none of the candidates for the Democrat nomination will be able to unseat Bush, especially now that the economy is looking up. But there are many ways to lose an election and the Democrats will have to chose how they want to lose this one. They should remember that the caliber of their defeat will shape their opportunities for returning to power one day in the future. America doesn't only need a new president, the Italian paper concluded, it is also needs a new opposition.

The editors of the Financial Times wrote that when any president seeks reelection the contest is largely a referendum on his performance. This year will be no exception. Despite the closeness of his election, Bush has pursued an aggressive conservatism. An assertive foreign policy has left the U.S. with fewer friends than three years ago and a reckless fiscal policy has threatened its longterm economic health.

On a financial note, the Swiss paper Neue Zürcher Zeitung forecasted that it won't be easy this year for investors to make quick fortunes on the stock markets. They will have to vie with the risk of higher interest rates and expectations of meager profits.

Meanwhile, a human tragedy preoccupied the French paper La Croix. The deaths of 21 Albanian refugees in the Adriatic is an "indictment of our times," the paper wrote. "This single item of news encapsulates the chaos that reigns in world -- the injustices, the illusions, the craziness. "Faced with a growing flood of refugees, the countries of Europe went looking for solutions, first on their own, then jointly. First they closed their borders. That didn't help, it just catapulted to new heights the number of asylum-seekers, illegal immigrants and people smugglers. To reverse this trend, European countries must take decisive action to overcome the North-South divide. How else could one persuade hundreds of thousands that there is an alternative to flight to a rich country, the paper asked.