Heaven forbid another Bush presidency
One cannot remember in recent memory a US presidential election that has aroused so much international interest as Tuesday's battle royal. By all accounts, it is going to be a close call between the incumbent, George W Bush, and the democratic candidate John Kerry.

Sensing legal challenges in many more states than four years ago when George Bush became president of the United States with the blessings of the Supreme Court, albeit by a very close 5-4 decision, the black coats are circling like vultures over carrion.

Thanks to the Bush campaign's political dirty tricks four years ago that disenfranchised thousands of voters in Florida, where, of course, Dubya's brother is governor and the officer who decided to reject so many legitimate votes was a Bush campaigner, the whole sordid affair ended up in the courts.

So while the Democratic Party candidate Al Gore won the popular vote, Bush got the thumbs up from a slender majority of judges.
So much for judges and for democracy.

Three cheers for the most powerful democracy in the world where each state decides who should vote and who could not and the mechanics of balloting at what surely is a national election.

And let's not forget the judges, particularly this time round when hand-picked neo-conservative judges must be donning their gowns already and smacking their lips in anticipation of another grand opportunity to select the president of the United States.

True, the judges have a vote too and they can vote for whomever they choose. That is what is called, I suppose, refined democracy. Would it not save a lot of money, time and lawyers fees, if the judges were allowed to make the decision to start with? There would be only nine votes to count and it would save countless counting agents the trouble of peering at every ballot like it was a counterfeit currency note.

Some judges being what they are, and we know it from empirical experience don't we, it might be useful to keep a close eye on them and their doings. Better still disenfranchise the public and just give the vote to your cronies in the big corporations that are fudging their account books.

Anyway the man who entered the White House by a side door, if not the backdoor, kicking democracy in the teeth, tells the American people and the world how he will bring democracy to Iraq and set the marker for democracy in the whole of the region.

Of course, the dumb American voters, well at least half of them, do not seem to realise that Bush is not bringing democracy. He is trying to rob the Iraqi people of their right to participate in an election and cast their ballot just as he and his cronies robbed thousands of people in Florida of their constitutional right.

Some would argue, understandably, that the Iraqis never had a free vote under Saddam Hussein, and they would be correct. But at least those people were alive then. Now many of them are dead. Even now not everybody could be a contender at the elections planned for January.

So George Bush's planned election for Iraq is the kind of selective democracy that brought him to the White House and will keep him there for another four years if the electoral frauds are repeated.

It is this neo-con adventurism born of some ill-conceived religious zeal that he is here on earth to civilise the rest of the world in his fashion that has roused international apprehension at the prospect of another Bush White House.

Never in recent years has foreign policy played such a central role in a presidential election. Those who followed the campaigns, the presidential debates and the media coverage, would have noticed the time and space devoted to foreign policy, particularly Iraq and, to some extent, Afghanistan.

It matters to the domestic constituency because of 9/11, worries over America's homeland security and who could best deal with the international terrorist threat.

George Bush has been exploiting this fear and sense of insecurity following 9/11 and has projected himself as the decisive leader who could assert US supremacy and deal with the forces of evil that threaten the country.

Even the more neutral media - and that certainly excludes Rupert Murdoch's Fox news channel that had to apologise for falsifying a story about John Kerry - have been reluctant to expose the Bush blunders for fear of being dubbed unpatriotic.

Former president Bill Clinton who appeared on the Kerry platform was right when he said that Bush was playing on the fears of the American people.
The fact that domestic economic issues were downgraded in this election campaign illustrates how much Bush's so-called war of terror and Iraq have come to dominate it.

Understandably Bush has downplayed his fiscal and monetary policies that have served to enrich his already wealthy cronies and their companies and have brought misery to millions of Americans.
If many Americans believe that Bush has proved a great military leader and their lives are more secure with him at the helm that is not the way much of the world sees him.

Most people outside the United States simply loathe the man. That goes for those who otherwise welcome Americans as people.
The growing hostility to the US during the Bush administration, particularly post-Iraq, was shown quite convincingly in a poll conducted this month in 10 leading countries.

The survey showed that voters in eight of the 10 countries are keen to see the Democratic Party's John Kerry throw Bush out of the White House.
The poll conducted by 10 leading newspapers in the world also showed that on balance, international opinion leans to the belief that the war on Iraq has not made a major contribution to the war on terror.

As The Guardian, one of the newspapers involved in the survey wrote: "The results show that in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Japan, Spain and South Korea, a majority of the voters share a rejection of the Iraq invasion, contempt for the Bush administration, a growing hostility to the US and a not-too-strong endorsement of Mr Kerry."

According to the survey, rarely has a US administration faced such isolation and absence of public support among its closest allies.
The only exceptions to the general findings of the poll are Israelis who voted Bush 2-1 against Kerry and the Russians who were surveyed immediately after the Beslan tragedy in which hundreds of school children died.

If the American voters have had their eyes and ears open these last few months, they would surely know how badly the Bush administration has been exposed over Iraq, especially by those who played key roles and were in a position to know.

If the American people really believe that the world has been made a safer place since President Bush launched his fig-leaf of a war on terror, then they deserve him. The rest of the world could well do without him, thank you- Milinda Moragoda notwithstanding.

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