BROOKE GLADSTONE: We turn now, as we so often do, to United Press International's Editor in Chief Martin Walker for a review of the press beyond these shores. Martin, welcome back.
MARTIN WALKER: Hello there.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So, what says Europe?
MARTIN WALKER: It depends whether you're a conservative or if you're a liberal. It really depends, I guess, whether you're owned by Rupert Murdoch [LAUGHTER] whose best-selling tabloid, The Sun, declares in a big editorial: The world is a safer place today with George W. Bush back in the oval office. His re-election is bad news for terrorists everywhere. By contrast, my old paper, The Guardian, a British liberal paper, its second section the entire front page was simply black, and in the middle, two tiny words in little white type -Oh God. [LAUGHTER] Some of its columnists, though, were I think rather more thoughtful. One made the point that "once the Bush administration looked like an aberration. Now it is an era. This is more than a mere election triumph. It's a turning point in American life. A re-alignment."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Speaking of The Guardian, we've been following its interesting effort to affect the voters in Clark County, Ohio with a letter-writing campaign. From what we understand, that didn't go so well.
MARTIN WALKER: On the contrary. It was a wonderful success! [LAUGHTER] Here is Clark County, which four years ago in 2000 had a turnout of just 39.8 percent of its 90,000 registered voters. This time it had 76.8 percent of its registered voters turned out to vote. The problem was that the Guardian's attempt to rally support for John Kerry didn't quite come off. Four years ago, Clark County went for Al Gore by a margin of 320 votes. This time, Clark County went for Bush by a margin of 1279 votes. Thank you, The Guardian.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And how goes France?
MARTIN WALKER: It's so deliciously French. First of all, Le Figaro is saying "Well, perhaps now under the shock of the Bush election, the Europeans will finally realize that if they are to be taken seriously by the Americans, they're going to have to start spending real money on some kind of defensive force that can match up to the Pentagon, and the only question is whether that military effort we must now make is going to be alongside the United States and, preferably, not against them." Le Monde was in-- (as you might have expected) really exceedingly gloomy about the way things are developing. In a front page editorial signed by Jean-Marie Colombani, who is the editor of, of the paper, he says: "It's the very least that we can say that the re-election of George Bush is bad, bad news, certainly for Europe and also for the rest of the world."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And what about the rest of Europe?
MARTIN WALKER: Well, most of them are trying to look sort of, if they possibly can, on the bright side. Suddeutche Zeitung, which I think is the best of the German papers, said that "we have to realize that this America will continue its global war on terror, will unwaveringly strike with military force whenever and wherever it deems necessary, and we see little hope for the soothing of relations between Americans and Europeans. In Bush's eyes, we Europeans will remain at best useful backup troops; at worst, awkward troublemakers." Tageszeitung, which is a leftish paper in Germany, tries to look on the bright side. "Well, at least one thing is clear. If John Kerry had been elected, Germany would have been under much more pressure to cooperate, [LAUGHTER] but now, if George Bush were to embark on new military adventures, there is no reason for Chancellor Schroeder to ride alongside. We might be spared this."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: As we followed the papers throughout the Bush administration, there was always this notion that Bush was perhaps not quite legally elected; that he didn't really have a mandate. Now, he appears to. Do the American people now seem different to Europe?
MARTIN WALKER: That has been said by several columnists --one in Libération, who said that "it was always possible to say that Europe's reaction was not against America; it was against Bush. But now it is clear that the Americans themselves, by a significant majority, have elected Bush." This is Libération's own editorial: "A new reactionary majority has consolidated its hold on American democracy. The rest of the world may deplore it, but we all have to adapt to this reality."
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And what about the Arab press? The president of the United Arab Emirates died on our election day, so I imagine the American election story had some competition.
MARTIN WALKER: It did, but only really in the Emirates. Most of the Arab world, I think, like most of the rest of the world, have no doubt what was the big story of the day. Several of the Arab papers are making the point that better the devil you know, in effect. In Asharq, in Qatar, said that "Bush has the opportunity to learn from the mistakes that he made in his first term on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the war on terrorism and invading Iraq." I suppose the most respected or, in my opinion, the best of the Arab papers which is the London-based Al Hayat wrote a commentary which I think speaks for a lot of people in the Middle East when they said "There was really very little difference between Bush and Kerry as far as we all were concerned. On Israel, they simply competed over which was the more supportive of the Jewish state, being led by a war criminal like Ariel Sharon. The Arabs will not likely forget that the majority of Israel supported Bush, who abandoned the peace process in favor of Sharon." And I think that probably is the bottom line for a great deal of Arab opinion. It's certainly what one hears on Arab radio and television.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Martin, thank you very much.
MARTIN WALKER: You're welcome.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Martin Walker is editor in chief of United Press International.
BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, a look back on freedom of information and secrecy in the president's first term. You better sit down.