L.A. Youth contacted teens in other countries–Israel, New Zealand, Uganda and Wales–to find out what they thought about America’s new president, as well as asking some Los Angeles youth for their views.
Israel: We hope Bush will bring peace to the Middle East
I am very glad that President Bush has been re-elected. The aim of Bush was to stop terrorism and I hope that in this second term he will succeed in finishing the work that he started. And of course I hope his efforts to bring peace to Middle East will be fruitful. I hope that his bipartisan efforts will succeed.
—Kfir Aberman, 16, Sefad, Israel
As surprising as it sounds, Israeli citizens—both adults and children—are exposed whether they like it or not to the elections in U.S. In spite of the events around us, the constantly changing situation, the political developments, the economic problems, a substantial amount of our media devotes time to U.S. elections.
I must admit that, at first, my interest in the elections was passing, the elections seemed physically and intellectually distant; however, as the elections drew closer, I became more and more interested in them. I began to listen more to the news, to current events programs and to updates on the Internet.
I discovered two people who, for the most part, seemed similar. I felt trapped between two figures that said confusingly similar things. Both spoke about Iraq and the war on terror and then spoke about internal matters, mainly the economy, the massive debt and increasing unemployment.
Only by looking deeply did significant essential differences between the two candidates appear. The first, George Bush, the incumbent president, formally had a drinking problem. He conquered it only with the help of his family who introduced him to a minister who helped him recover. At the beginning of his term, Bush didn’t have a large following; however, after the attacks of September 11th, his position on terror drew great popular support. The war in Iraq which Bush initiated brought disappointing results becoming his Achilles heel.
Senator John Kerry used this painful weak point. Kerry began the race with a large gap behind Bush, slowly narrowing the gap. He did not seem to be a man of vision, but in spite of this, he managed to draw all young people who are against the war in Iraq, both those who are afraid of war and those who want a return to peaceful times.
Obviously, each candidate presented his foreign policy, including among others—our region. Bush, for his part, appointed key people who support Sharon’s politics. Bush sides with the road map of disengagement and evacuation passed in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. Even though Kerry speaks about world peace in general, he anticipates establishing international committees (conferences) in conflict areas and, thereby, arriving at solutions. One of the areas Kerry spoke about is, obviously, ours, i.e., peace between Palestine and us.
I noticed that the election was extremely close up to the last moment. It is no wonder. I’m not the only one who is confused by all the promises, which are not always kept, but so is the entire voting public and even the world.
—Gal Bachar, Israel
New Zealand: I fear Bush’s terrible wars
I have been following the U.S. election quite closely. It isn’t hard to get information about it. On most nights it is the first thing on the news. Television New Zealand has a reporter in America specifically to cover the election. We had live coverage of the vote counting on satellite TV.
It is amazing the amount of interest my school friends have in the election. Even those who are usually apathetic are talking about it with their friends and some are even making artwork about it. Most of my friends are very disappointed that Bush won. Many are very upset about the huge amounts of civilians who have died in the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan.
I am also unhappy that Bush has been re-elected. In the past four years many of his decisions have helped make the world a more dangerous and violent place. The Bush administration has lifted bans on developing new nuclear weapons. Proposals have been made to produce two new nuclear weapons—"bunker busters" and "mini-nukes." In 2001 the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review said the U.S. could use nuclear weapons against nations that don’t even have them.
When the U.S. military used fuel-air explosives on the caves in Tora Bora, Afghanistan, 200 civilians 20 miles away died as a result of the blast trauma. Imagine how many innocent people would die if nuclear weapons were used in the same way. Furthermore nuclear radiation would cause many people to die of cancer and radiation sickness. Huge areas of land would be made uninhabitable for centuries.
Last May U.S. Marines launched an offensive against the Iraqi city of Fallujah in order to hunt down terrorists. However 600 civilians died during the offensive. The Marines blockaded the city, not even letting in ambulances, while bombing slums inhabited by civilians. U.S. forces continue to bomb Fallujah every week, killing scores of innocent people. Imagine if the U.S. military bombed the whole of L.A. in order to capture just a few criminals—that is what they’re doing in Fallujah! Tactics like this are making Iraqis feel as though they have been conquered, not liberated.
I’m scared Bush’s victory may mean some New Zealand politicians will try taking part in these terrible wars in order to get a free trade agreement. Since the start of Bush’s "War on Terror" some have even said that New Zealand should scrap its nuclear-free policy, which prohibits visits by nuclear armed and powered warships. For many New Zealanders, including myself, the nuclear-free status is a symbol of the need for international cooperation and peace.
—Cameron Walker, 17, Auckland, New Zealand
The ‘re-election’ of President Bush was definitely a hot topic after the election, and the feelings amongst the young people I spoke to were a mixture of anxiety and disappointment. To say the least, Bush isn’t a popular person here, and his already troubled reputation has been worsened by the invasions of Afghanistan and then Iraq, the way in which they’ve been handled, and the dishonesty in the reasons behind the wars in the first place. All we can see is another four years of conflict and violence in the Middle East, with the humanitarian crises in these two countries not improving. There are a number of problems on home soil that need to be looked at too, including the poverty, racism and work problems associated with large countries. Team these with other issues such as environmental problems, global warming, and human rights concerns in many other countries and regions like Sudan and Central America, I feel the world’s only superpower needs to start seriously trying to help make peace, as opposed to creating war. I thought having a new president could be the change needed to initiate all of this, but with the commencement of Bush’s second term this looks doubtful.
At this stage I’m not sure how the elections will affect New Zealand. I know that there will be a vast number of people from many allied countries needed to help clean up the mess—both geographical and humanitarian—in the Middle East left in the wake of these wars, and that there will be changes to policies in many countries due to issues like dwindling oil reserves, global warming and terrorism. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens.
—Erin Young, 17, Wanganui, New Zealand
Uganda: Bush may be good for Africa
The following three youth live in Kampala, Uganda
I congratulate Bush for having made it through what has been termed as one of the toughest races. I think this re-election has proved the real sentiment of the Americans and his victory implies people (Americans) still have confidence in him as their president. It has also showed the degree of democracy in the new America.
This being his last term, he has got to prove to the Americans and the world that he is a God-loving and charismatic president. Some of this has already been evidenced in his campaign against homosexual marriages and against abortion. It’s now a big challenge for him to ensure that he practices what he preached for the next four years.
Another challenge comes with his bet to rectify and bring about economic progress after a lot has been spent on defense. His external opponents are also eager to see what he delivers this term especially with the wounded Iraqis and the others.
Africans stand to benefit from his re-election because of his campaign to reduce the AIDS scourge.
—Nangira Samuel, 20
The re-election of Bush has brought about mixed emotions, the joy of winning and the agony of defeat. The race to winning was not an easy one for Bush because "the skeletons in his closet" mainly the war in Iraq and war on terror were exposed by his opponent.
The good part of it is that his opponent accepted a defeat and even congratulated Bush on his re-election, although these two were constantly exchanging not-so-good words in debates before the elections.
As Bush is an advocate for democracy and world peace, let us hope that he will achieve this in his second term of office.
—Kisitu Samuel, 16
The re-elected president, George.W.Bush is capable of being a president. There are many things about him that show he is a good man. He was right to fight terrorism. He is a God-fearing man who has discouraged gay practices and marriages, which are not right. He brought peace and security in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan by fighting against dictatorship. He donated funds to some of the organizations of Uganda like UWESO (Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans). He has put more effort in supporting poor nations of Africa through introduction of AGOA. He has visited four African countries–Uganda, South Africa, Senegal and Rwanda.
Yet I do not like the fact that he never respected the United Nations resolutions against the Iraq war.
—Buduma Maureen, 16
Wales: Bush has bullied other countries
The following four teens live in Swansea, Wales, Great Britain.
I think Bush is a dangerous man who bullies the rest of the world to do what the U.S.A wants. Apart from the fact he is fighting an illegal war, he has terrible management of world issues, such as the environment. He would not sign the Kyoto agreement [on global warming]. He has a poor social conscience and does not rate issues that don’t affect white middle-class people. I think if Americans knew how negatively the rest of the world views him and America at the moment, they would not have voted him in!
—Gary Harding, 16
Who is he?
—Sarah Sheldon, 13
I don’t think that he is right to fight the war in Iraq because they have no weapons of mass destruction and Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have no connection to Iraq. Also innocent people are dying like Iraqis and hostages such as Ken Bigley. But I do think he knows a lot about the war on terror and someone else being president would not know as much as him. But he also says stupid things that make him look dull!
—Callie J. Harding, 15
I think that it is good so many people came out and voted but I think they voted for the wrong person. He doesn’t seem clever enough to be President and is fighting a war his daddy started. He also does not seem to care much about the rest of the world and what they might think and goes ahead without listening to what others say. I think the next four years could be important for the whole world, I just hope Bush realizes this.
—Dai Thomas, 17
United States: Youth have mixed views of the president’s re-election
Upon hearing of his win, I was happy, because I’ve kept the faith that our world is better because of him. Not only have we caught one of the world’s most dreaded tyrants, but we’ve also confiscated millions of dollars worth of drugs and illegal paraphernalia … all of which supported Al Qaeda. In the next four years I’m expecting a lot of domestic issues to improve, such as health care and better education programs for our schools. My friends were depressed all day, and I wasn’t about to be the Republican that taunted and teased. Instead I kept in mind a part of what President Bush said in his acceptance speech, "To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one constitution, and one future that binds us."
—Valentina Cardenas, 17, L.A. Youth staff writer of Alhambra, California, United States of America
It was a dark morning when I found out that George W. Bush was re-elected as president of the United States of America. It was like when you do something bad and your parents are not mad at you, they are just disappointed which is much worse. Well, that’s how I felt. I am so disappointed. It’s just sad what happened—after all the anti-Bush talk the last few months, all the organizations, all the artists and movies against him, he still won. It’s not like he won big, he just won by a few percent. That’s not victory! It still means that half the country is against him.
I just feel bad for all the people that were so passionate about starting anew. All the parents whose children died in Iraq for nothing, the soldiers out fighting who wanted to get Bush out of office, the voters I met who told me "I don’t know what I am going to do if Bush wins." So many peoples’ hopes were crushed.
The thing that amazes me the most is that people know he messed up for four years and that he lied and made many unnecessary decisions and with this war he got us in a mess that’ll be very hard to get out of. Despite all these things he still won. Even if he has good intentions now, I don’t believe he should be rewarded after all the harm he’s done the last four years. It’s just stupid, there’s too many stupid people in this country who can’t think for themselves and tell right from wrong. I’m ashamed of America. The only good thing that came out of it is that so many people voted and so many people like me got really into politics and got passionate about the issues.
—Larry Zamel, 17, of Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Students at Bell High School of Bell, California, United States of America expressed optimism and pessimism.
"I guess I can live in Mexico."
"During the election, I was Pro-Kerry. But now, after finding out that Bush got I re-elected, I feel that this is a good thing because Bush was the one who started the war. I feel that he is the only one that can finish it. I would feel unsafe if Kerry was the one left in charge, knowing that he does not support the war."
"I’m very glad, relieved, and pleased, but I feel sympathetic for John Kerry and his family."
"It’s gonna be a long four years."
"I am happy to have such a great president."
Comments gathered by Ashley Zartner, 16, L.A. Youth staff writer of Bell, California, United States of America