BROOKE GLADSTONE: From WNYC in New York, this is NPR's On the Media. I'm BROOKE GLADSTONE.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield. This week, in advance of the second George W. Bush administration, the White House began that storied post-election dance known as the cabinet shuffle. One of the biggest changes, of course, was the resignation of Secretary of State Colin Powell, who for many on the left was considered one of the administration's very few voices of reason. Then the president announced his choice for a replacement: Condoleezza Rice. Rice will be the first African-American woman to serve as America's face to the world, and it solidifies her position as one of the most powerful women on the face of the earth. Well, if that's the case, we thought Martin Walker should tell us what the earth thinks. Martin is editor in chief of United Press International, and he joins us often to review headlines from around the globe. Martin, welcome once again.
MARTIN WALKER: Hello there.
BOB GARFIELD: Let's start with Colin Powell. How did they react to his resignation?
MARTIN WALKER: The broad view, certainly in Europe, was that "Europe Loses a Friend." Germany's Die Welt, which is a fairly conservative newspaper and often very supportive of President Bush, said "For Europeans, the American secretary of state was the John Kerry of the Bush administration, the last hope on that side of the Atlantic, and a man who stood for a reasonable and measured foreign policy." Tagesspiegel, another German paper, said "Powell was the only class act in the Bush administration. The only person who will be missed on both sides of the Atlantic. The only man in Bush's team on whom the Europeans felt they could count. The problem is that since September the 11th he became just a naked instrument in the hands of the holy warrior, Bush." For the Financial Times of London, it was "a tragic figure, and Powell's career had some of the stuff of Shakespearean tragedy. He was torn between his soldier's loyalty, his sense of duty, and his evident dislike of the unilateralist policies he was being asked to carry out," and that "Powell, to be frank, had lost most of his international standing after presenting to the United Nations evidence of weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to be all together reliable."
BOB GARFIELD: Well, how delighted the secretary must be to be sympathized in Europe as a pitiful figure. But what about in the Arab world? Was he viewed as the good cop among bad cops there as well?
MARTIN WALKER: To a degree. I mean one of the things you have to realize is that even in the Arab world and even in Israel there are people who took this broadly European point of view. The mass market Israeli Tag Blinder Yediot Ahronot, for example, said that Powell's resignation "holds four more years in which the same old zealot sect will control Washington and the world." Another of the columnists in the same paper called him "the only moderate voice in the Bush administration -- the dove in the cage of hawks has finally raised his hand in surrender." In the Arab press, we had some rather over-heated reactions. In As-Safir of Lebanon, "Now we see that Bush in his second term will make us long for the Bush of the first term, just as Bush, Jr. made us long for Bush, Sr. and just as Bush, Sr. made us long for Reagan. This is a black day in world history. There are capitals in Europe and the Middle East which at this very term are planning to dig trenches and open up their bomb shelters."
BOB GARFIELD: And along comes Secretary of State designate Condoleezza Rice. Tell me what the reaction is to her.
MARTIN WALKER: Surprisingly, there's been a certain amount of guarded welcome for her. In one of the most liberal papers in Europe, in Holland's Zwolse Courant they say, "Well, remember it was Condoleezza Rice who reportedly advised the president in a memo just after the elections to aim for closer ties with Europe and new peace initiatives with the Middle East." Other newspapers, Germany's Berliner Zeitung, says "It really is a remarkable feature of George Bush that he turns out to be very much more progressive than anybody might have thought in his appointments. We have now had two African-Americans, one of them a woman, appointed to the job, which is the face of America to the rest of the world. This has to be seen as hopeful." However, Israel's Maariv, I was very struck, said "Condoleezza Rice comes from a place where black is black and white is white -- not in the racial sense, but in the biblical sense. She comes from a region where the church instills in its faithful simple truths of good and evil. Where Europe sees a freedom fighter, people like Rice see a terrorist with a Kalashnikov." Russia, Novie Izvestia, "The coming four years the U.S. president, it is clear, will carry out an even harsher foreign policy. He has placed his own personal bodyguard in the White House in the key positions." From Turkey's Cumhuriyet, "By preferring Rice to Colin Powell, and by raining death on Fallujah, George Bush gives new messages -"everything will be worse."
BOB GARFIELD: Martin Walker is editor in chief of United Press International. Well, Martin, as always, thank you very much.