November 1, 2004


In an anti-Bush world, key backers: Although generally unpopular around the globe, the US president has notable pockets of support abroad. (Abraham McLaughlin, 11/01/04, CS Monitor)

Popular President Alvaro Uribe has invoked the war on terror to mount a successful offensive against the country's leftist rebels. He's relied heavily on US help via the antidrug and antiterror "Plan Colombia," which has been beefed up under Bush. The US Congress last month doubled the number of US troops allowed in Colombia to 800, no small feat with American forces overstretched around the world.

Recently, there's been a sharp decline in kidnappings and killings of civilians in Colombia, leaving many citizens thankful for US help. Now the guerrillas are "considered terrorists," says Rosario Rodriguez, a beauty-salon owner in Bogotá, adding, "We are not alone in the struggle. We are supported by the United States."

Here, and elsewhere in Latin America, there's concern that free-trade talks would be derailed under a President Kerry. [...]

Bush as good for business echoes in India, too. The country's intelligentsia adamantly opposes Bush over the Iraq war. But many in the middle class focus on bread-and-butter issues of jobs and trade. Anything that hinders India's rising stature in the cyberworld of computer-software engineering and telecommunications is a bigger long-term threat than an amorphous notion like global terrorism. Thus Kerry's positions on "outsourcing" - and keeping American jobs at home - make him unattractive. "Many Indians are beginning to see IT as a way out ... a panacea to all the ills India faces," says Dipankar Gupta, an anthropologist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Thus Bush, who's more of a free-trader than Kerry, appeals.

In Japan, however, support for Bush is based not so much on business but on regional and global power politics. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is a Bush supporter, sending 500 noncombat troops to Iraq. In October he broke tradition, saying, "I am very close to President Bush, so I want him to do his best." This despite a poll showing just 30 percent of Japanese backing Bush and 51 percent favoring Kerry.

"The Japanese government has vested interests" in supporting Bush, explains Sheila Smith, at the East West Center, a think tank in Hawaii. Japan is seeking a bigger role in Asia. While Bush sees Japan as a strategic anchor in the region, Kerry's plans for one-on-one talks with North Korea, for instance, would sideline Japan. It also wants a larger presence on the world stage, including a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, a bid that would be helped by US support.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, recently elected to a fourth term, has been one of Bush's staunchest allies in the war in Iraq and the war on terror. Australia currently has 920 troops in Iraq and the region, and Mr. Howard has resisted all calls to bring them home. "I express my strong support for the leadership that the president has continued to display," Howard told Bush earlier this year.

Leaders in South Africa may quietly support Bush, experts say, in part because he sees sub-Saharan Africa's wealthiest nation as the regional power broker and peacemaker.

The African continent in general is one region Bush where seems to have gained kudos simply because of his strong involvement. He's promised $15 billion for fighting AIDS. He has revamped foreign aid, demanding accountability on good governance and other standards - an effort that dovetails with growing African efforts to address the continent's problems. And he has invested far more political capital than many expected to halt genocide in Sudan. "None of us forecast Bush would be as favorable to Africa as he's been," says international relations professor John Stremlau at Witswatersrand University.

One of the most important achievements of the Bush presidency has been to reorient the U.S. from a dated Atlanticism towards an Axis of Good, which relies on the commonality of interests we share with major players on each continent--Britain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Israel, Turkey, India, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Colombia, etc. One of the ways this will be formalized in the next term is through the formation of a Caucus of Democracies within the U.N.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 1, 2004 5:06 PM

Who cares about his friends. It's his choice of enemies that I like.

Posted by: some random person at November 1, 2004 6:13 PM

Creating such a caucus within the UN is merely shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: brian at November 1, 2004 6:57 PM

Western Europe is dead. We should treat it like the cadaver it is.

Posted by: Bart at November 1, 2004 10:03 PM

Did your paycheck arrive on time, Bart?

Posted by: Eugene S. at November 2, 2004 8:13 AM

Your point is?

Posted by: Bart at November 2, 2004 10:38 AM


Didn't you say that you work for a German company headquartered in Munich?

Dead people don't pay salaries.

Posted by: Eugene S. at November 2, 2004 10:48 AM

Societies may die off but reinsurance marches on. No need to worry about me, boyo! LOL!

Posted by: Bart at November 2, 2004 11:14 AM