STATE OF THE UNION SPEECH, SOTU, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS

After a president gives a big speech, the analysis comes in waves. First, he's judged on delivery and performance. Then, consensus develops on what the "big news" in the speech was.

George W. Bush's first State of the Union Message may have played well domestically, but it has not won the same acclaim abroad.

In France, the influential daily newspaper Le Monde described it as "alarmist." In Australia, the moderate Sydney Morning Herald described the U.S. president's worldview as "worryingly simplistic and selective." In England, the nonaligned Independent predicted that "many outside America are likely to find [his views] distinctly disturbing." And in Iran, Iraq and North Korea--the three countries singled out by Bush as part of an "axis of evil"--the response ranged from "arrogant" to "baseless." A sample of some of the international reaction:

BRITAIN

"Mr. Bush has embraced the Washington hawks' view of the universe. This was not a speech written by the State Department or by Colin Powell....

"Of the Middle East there was not a mention: no acknowledgment of the rising death toll among civilians, no hint of a new initiative to try to quell the violence in the region and restart negotiations towards a settlement....

"The most vital issue in the contemporary world is how America, whose global hegemony is perhaps unmatched by any single state since ancient Rome, chooses to use its power. America is already envied and disliked because of its domination. The danger is that Mr. Bush's speech, with its simple certainties and pronounced unilateralist flavor, will merely fuel that resentment further."

"Mr. Bush's specific reference to Iraq, Iran and North Korea is likely to unsettle European capitals including London, where [Prime Minister] Tony Blair and other EU leaders have cautioned the president that he would lose support abroad if he overreached America's war aims ... Mr. Bush skirted around the biggest domestic controversy, the shadow of the collapse of Enron, the biggest financial backer of his 2000 presidential campaign."

IRAN

"With these arrogant remarks, the American government unmasks its true face and proves its desire to spread its hegemony through the entire world ... Bush's objective is to divert public opinion from events in the Middle East and to prepare American public opinion for continued support for Israel in its repression of the Palestinian people."

FRANCE

"Every American citizen listening to the traditional State of the Union speech Tuesday evening had good reasons for being worried. For the president's tone and his words were ... alarmist. Of course, the attacks of September 11 are there to justify the alarmism manifested Tuesday evening by Mr. Bush. But we remain a bit incredulous about the means evoked to stand up to this new threat: a military budget increased by 15 percent to reach a sum of $366 billion!

"That's not all. In the battle against terrorism that he announced yesterday, Mr. Bush declared he was satisfied to have China and Russia by his side. We won't get into a debate here--however fundamental it is--on the moral and political pertinence of an antiterrorist alliance formed with these two regimes. From Chechnya to Tibet, they have shown that the exercise of terror against civilians--and that is called terrorism--was a part of their practice. We will limit ourselves to pointing out that China and Russia are the principal suppliers of military programs to Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Which also undermines somewhat the credibility of Mr. Bush's speech."

"France still doesn't consider countries as terrorist states. What counts for us is the degree of cooperation of all states in the fight against terrorism."

IRAQ

"Little Bush's accusation against Iraq is baseless. The American administration led by Bush has been threatening Iraq from time to time to prepare world opinion for a new aggression against Iraq."

AUSTRALIA

"International attitudes towards Mr. Bush have also mellowed, with even skeptical Europeans accepting that he is a more considerable and formidable figure than they had thought. Yet even allowing that yesterday's was a speech for a peculiarly American occasion, delivered at the beginning of a year that will end with congressional elections for the House of Representatives and half the Senate, some of his rhetoric will raise concerns abroad, even among U.S. allies. It suggests that the Bush worldview remains worryingly simplistic and selective.

"Nowhere was this more obvious than in Mr. Bush's warning to governments that were 'timid' in the face of terrorism ... No hint here that he understands that he is talking of sovereign nations, some of whose governments are not so much timid as bankrupt and powerless. No acknowledgment, either, that 'terrorist' is a term used not only to describe misguided fanatics intent on destroying Western civilization, but also by oppressive regimes to demonize their internal enemies, who are often drawn from suffering ethnic or religious minorities."

NORTH KOREA

"The U.S. loudmouthed 'threat' ... is sophism intended to justify its military presence in South Korea and persistently pursue the policy of aggression against the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea.]"

THE NETHERLANDS

"It's very difficult for Bush's political opponents in the Democratic Party to challenge the president on his very popular execution of the war on terrorism and his emphasis on homeland security."

CANADA

"A lot of wind and whistle. Thank goodness we Canadians are more conservative."

"Vested interests. That's what I heard coming out of President Bush's speech ... The world should be wary of this dangerous man and his administration."