It seems as though everywhere around the world politicians, commentators and regular people are celebrating the political blow dealt to President George W. Bush in the midterm elections. Not to mention the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
It also seems, however, that amidst the very vocal merriment there is a growing concern over the perceived polarity on the Hill between Republicans and Democrats, is the chasm deep enough to bring Washington foreign policy to a standstill when there are so many global issues on the agenda?
Iraq was the main issue for most voters this election and analysts believe that American are simply exacting their revenge on the administration and president for the continued bloodshed and failed policy.
Now the world fears that Democrats will force the president to withdraw from Iraq prematurely, leaving the country and region in ruins. On the other side some say that the change of landlords won't bring about a dramatic change in America's Iraq policy because Democrats themselves are at a loss for a better way to handle the situation.
Conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard reaffirmed his support for the war in Iraq on Thursday, saying that he doesn't believe that the US will withdraw its troops from Iraq despite the election results.
''The strategy is not going to change,'' Howard told reporters in Canberra. Howard, a staunch Bush supporter, described the decision to replace Rumsfeld as ''a gesture'' to voters unhappy with the deteriorating situation in Iraq. But he said he did not believe the United States would substantially alter its position on the war. 'Clearly the president has reacted to the vote, obviously he has and that is sensible, but his reaction does not amount to a fundamental change in direction,'' he said.
Bush learned his lesson
Iranian newspapers took particular joy in Bush's loss, but warned of the good relations between Democrats and Israel. One paper said that most Americans had joined the opinion of the rest of the world and turned their backs on the militant, irresponsible and arrogance of the Bush administration which undercuts regional stability.
Many in the world hope that the humiliation he suffered will force Bush to adopt a more moderate, appeasing attitude towards international issues, as apposed to the gun slinging cowboy image he's developed over the years of his presidency.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi said Rumsfeld's surprise resignation underscored the depth of what has happened in America. Even though US politics had already started changing, Rumsfeld's resignation means an accentuation of this change," Prodi said. "We'll see over the next few days what the new direction will be. But certainly we have a political structure ... deeply different from that of a few days ago."
Much more blatant in their glee were more than 200 Socialist members of the European Parliament who issued a joint statement, hailing the midterm election results as "the beginning of the end of a six-year nightmare for the world."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has consistently railed against the Bush administration, called the election "a reprisal vote." In Nicaragua, president-elect Daniel Ortega told thousands of cheering supporters during his victory speech that the GOP lost because "Republicans always want to be at war, and that has been rejected."
Danish political analyst Jehan Perera said that "The Americans have made it clear that current American policy should change in dealing with the world from a confrontational approach, to a more consensus-based and bridge-building approach." He says that the Democratic win will mean "more control and restraint" over US foreign policy.
In Denmark, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he hoped the president and the new Congress would find "common ground on questions about Iraq and Afghanistan." "The world needs a vigorous USA," he said, alluding to the opinion that a Democratic congress would paralyze the Republican administration.
In Pakistan opinions are split.
One the one hand, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's administration is allied with the US in the war on terror and recieved billions in aid and support. The public however is extremely hostile towards Bush who they see as having declared war on Islam.
Opposition lawmaker, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, said he welcomed the election result, but was hoping for more. Bush "deserves to be removed, put on trial and given a Saddam-like death sentence," he said.
Concern in the Kremlin
In Russia the media provided extensive coverage of the elections and the potential change in relations between Washington and Moscow. The general opinion is that the Democrats will mean a tougher line toward Russia on human rights, this compared to Republicans who only kept admonishment to a minimum due to Russia's global and regional significance.
A commentator for the Gezeta newspaper said estimates that Democrats would make it more difficult for Russia to enter the World Trade Organization. But analyst Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, said that Russian-US relations were bad enough that the Democratic victory would not make much difference.
He predicted a rocky ride in bilateral relations for the two years remaining until both President Bush and President Putin leave office.
''Democrats and Republicans in the United States argue over a lot of issues,'' Izvestia quoted him as saying. ''But they are united in one thing: their critical attitude toward Russia.''
News agencies contributed to this report