WHEN Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as President of the United States for a third period of office in January 1945 he insisted that the Washington ceremonies and celebrations should be scaled down because America was at war. In contrast, President Bush's inauguration today will be the start of a four–day extravaganza estimated to cost US$40 million, much of which will come from the President's big–business supporters. Four more years! What can Europe and the rest of the world expect from the victorious George W Bush? Much has been said and written about the ineffectiveness of previous second term Presidents but Mr Bush is in a better position than such Republican predecessors as Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan who each found themselves returned to presidential office but without power in Congress. At least until the mid–term elections in 2006 Mr Bush is assured of Republican majorities in the House and the Senate and he can be expected to put this to advantage with a vigorous programme of change in domestic policies. Foreign policy is a different matter because to a considerable degree he will be at the mercy of events; for instance if the Iraq elections at the end of January are a failure the whole trend of US policy in the Middle East could be affected. However, to judge by Condoleezza Rice's performance at her Senate confirmation hearings this week, there will be no let up in confronting states and leaders who incur the White House's displeasure. She listed Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Belarus, Iran and Zimbabwe as “outposts of tyranny” (the new axis of evil) but reserved her most personal attack for President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela about whom she said ”it's pretty hard to find something positive to say”.


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